Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse at the Mill Valley Film Festival

Saturday afternoon, my wife and I drove across the Bay to the Lark for a Mill Valley Film Festival screening of the thoroughly outrageous comedy Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse.

We arrived at the Lark just as the rain started falling. People think that a rainy day is perfect for movie going, but that’s not the case when you have to wait outside in a line without cover. Luckily, a kindly festival volunteer moved us to the sidewalk, where we could stand beneath awnings. They also let us in about 10 minutes earlier than they originally promised.

Now then, about the movie:

Stand-up comedy duo and romantic couple Gabriel Diani and Etta Devine play themselves in this utterly absurd dark comedy that they also wrote and directed. After civilization collapses, they go off into the desert, carrying their pets, searching for food, drinkable water, and safety. It soon becomes clear that working nightclubs didn’t provide them with the right survival skills. It’s a very funny film, with cannibals, violent hippies, Mad Max types, and song and dance.

I give it an A-.

The movie screens one more time at the Festival–Sunday, October 16, 11:15AM, at the Sequoia. I hope you read this in time to catch it.

Gabriel Diani attended the screening, and did a Q&A. Etta Devine, who couldn’t be there, pitched in over the phone. Some highlights, edited for clarity:

  • On the difficulty of developing a project with your partner: It’s really easy. We had to make up stuff to have some conflict in the movie. [Note: He was joking.]
  • There’s so much that’s autobiographical in this apocalypse movie.
  • On finding locations: The desert is free production design. We did a lot of scouting in the Los Angeles area. You drive a bit and you’ll find something.
  • Scripted or improvised: The script was pretty much locked down. We didn’t have time to not know what we were doing. But there’s definitely some improvisation in there.
  • On the animals: They’re our pets. We wrote the parts to their strengths.
  • Any deleted scenes: There were some really terrible scenes that were cut out.

Mifune and The Handmaiden at the Mill Valley Film Festival

Quick notes on two films screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Both films have one more screening at the festival, and both will soon get a theatrical release.

Mifune: The Last Samurai

I caught this documentary at the Lark Friday night. Director Steven Okazaki introduced the film, describing his first Mifune experience: The Seven Samurai, projected off a 16mm print onto a bedsheet that was not secured at the bottom. When someone opened the door, wind fluttered the sheet, and everyone complained.

Fortunately, the screen at the Lark is properly mounted, and we had no such problems.

As the title suggests, this biography of Toshiro Mifune concentrates on his samurai films, especially those he made with Akira Kurosawa (arguably cinema’s greatest collaboration between auteur and actor). If you have any interest in Japanese films, you’re going to enjoy this movie. And you’ll probably learn a few things about them, as well–including information about the earliest sword-fighting silents. Interview subjects include Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

I give Mifune: The Last Samurai a B+.

After the film, Okazaki came back on stage for Q&A. Some highpoints, lightly edited for clarity:

  • I wanted to do a history of samurai movies, but my producer told me that that was impossible [because of rights issues].
  • On the breakup of the Kurosawa/Mifune relationship: People want one clear explanation, such as Mifune getting mad because the beard Kurosawa made him grow for Red Beard
    kept him from making other films. In reality, I don’t think there was ever a moment when Mifune didn’t want to work with Kurosawa.
  • He never stopped smoking.
  • Despite Mifune’s impressively athletic physique, he insisted he never worked out.

Mifune: The Last Samurai will screen again this Sunday, October 16, at 2:15, at the Century Larkspur. According to Okazaki, it will play at Bay Area theaters in November.

The Handmaiden

I saw this erotic noir recently at a press screening, not realizing that it was also playing at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

This atmospheric Korean thriller boils over with lies, double crosses, larceny, surprise plot twists, and a lot of sex–much of it quite kinky. At 90 minutes, it would be a great entertainment, but at its actual length of 144, it often drags. The handmaiden of the title works for a young Japanese lady she plans to rob. Things get messy. Overall, the good scenes in The Handmaiden are worth wading through the bad ones.

I give The Handmaiden a B-.

The film has one more Festival screening, tonight, at the Lark, at 8:15. It opens in Bay Area theaters on October 28.

What’s Screening: October 14 – 20

Five festivals, multiple Keatons, Trump vs. Clinton, and A Man Called Ove on Bay Area screens this week.


New films opening

A- A Man Called Ove, Embarcadero, Albany, opens Friday; Rafael, opens Monday

Here we have the cliché of the crotchety old man who hates everybody, and the good-hearted people who melt his resistance and bring him back to the human race. Writer/director Hannes Holm makes this worn-out plot new by adding a deep understanding of the inevitable tragedy of human life, without losing the humor of the situation. Filled with comic suicide attempts and flashbacks of love and loss, A Man Called Ove manages to be both dark and heartwarming. Read my full review.

Promising events

The Final Presidential Debate, New Parkway, 6:00.

What will Trump do next to prove his manhood? Yell louder? Threaten the moderator. Physically attack a member of the audience? The suspense is killing me. (Okay, yes, you can also watch this at home as well.)

Viridiana, Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA, Friday, 8:00

I haven’t seen Luis Buñuel’s satire on sex, religion, and capitalism (yes, that defines most of his work) in decades, but I recall liking it. Buñuel’s favorite actor, Fernando Rey, plays the aristocrat sexually obsessed with his niece, who’s about to become a nun (Silvia Pinal). The Vatican denounced the film when it opened in 1961. Part of Modern Cinema.

Film & Notfilm, Rafael, Monday through Thursday, 7:00

Samuel Beckett’s one motion picture, simply called Film, tends to confuse almost everyone who sees it. Running 20 extremely surreal minutes, with almost no sound, it stars Buster Keaton as a man who apparently doesn’t want to be seen–even by his pets. Notfilm, which I haven’t seen,
is a feature-length documentary about Film.

Comedy Shorts Night, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

I can guarantee three of the four short comedies screening. Charlie Chaplin’s Easy Street comes from his excellent Mutual period, and is near perfect. The same goes for Buster Keaton’s The Playhouse, where he plays multiple roles (including an ape). In Should Married Men Go Home, Laurel and Hardy try to play golf and turn the course into a battlefield–very funny. I haven’t seen the Charlie Chase vehicle, No Father to Guide Him.

Recommended revivals

A- Dead Man, Castro, Wednesday

Here you have a western written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, which by definition makes it a very weird flick. The plot, concerning a timid accountant (Johnny Depp) who becomes a wanted outlaw within a day of getting off the train, sounds like a Bob Hope comedy. But despite some quirky humor, Dead Man is is mostly dead serious. It’s also, to my knowledge, the first black and white western since The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The supporting cast includes John Hurt, Gabriel Byrne, and Robert Mitchum. On a double bill with Ghost Dog, which I liked long ago.

A Safety Last!, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 3:30

Even Alfred Hitchcock never mastered the delicate balance between comedy and suspense as well as Harold Lloyd, who made that balance perfect in Safety Last’s final act. The first two thirds of the feature, with Harold struggling with a lousy job and a girlfriend who thinks he’s a successful executive, makes an excellent piece of comic work, with more than enough laughs for a comedy twice as long. But the final third, where Harold climbs a skyscraper, tops any other comic sequence I’ve seen. Read my Blu-ray review. Musical accompaniment by Judith Rosenberg.

The River, Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA, Saturday, 1:00.

The clash of civilizations appears as a friendly melting pot in this coming of age story set in British India. A happy English family begins to get unglued when the two oldest daughters develop competing crushes on an American veteran. There’s tragedy and near-tragedy, and gentle comedy, and the warm envelope of people who love each other, even when they’re angry. Renoir paints, in beautiful three-strip Technicolor, an idealized version of British India, where everyone gets along, no one rejects a mixed-race girl, and western and eastern ways of life merge happily.

B The Day the Earth Stood Still, Alameda, Tuesday and Wednesday

They made a lot of science fiction movies in the 1950s, but few as good as this left-leaning, anti-McCarthyite Christian parable. An alien (Michael Rennie in his first major American role) comes to Earth with a message of peace, finds a populace unwilling to listen, and then becomes the target of a manhunt. A fine film, despite some overly-done symbolism. Not to be confused with the 2008 remake.

A Bringing Up Baby, Vogue, Friday, 5:00

How does one define a screwball comedy? You could say it’s a romantic comedy with glamorous movie stars behaving like broad, slapstick comedians. You could point out that screwballs are usually set amongst the excessively wealthy, and often explore class barriers. Or you could simply show Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby, a frivolous and hilarious tale about a mild-mannered paleontologist (Cary Grant), a ditzy heiress (Katharine Hepburn), and a tame leopard (a tame leopard). Part of the Katharine Hepburn Weekend.

A The African Queen, Vogue, Friday, 7:30; Sunday, 2:30

Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Africa, and Technicolor all make for splendid entertainment in John Huston’s romantic comedy action adventure. The start of World War I traps an earthy working-class mechanic (Bogart) and a prim and proper missionary (Hepburn) behind enemy lines and hundreds of miles of jungle. It’s a bum and a nun on the run, facing rapids, insects, alcohol (he’s for it; she’s against it), German guns, and an unusual (for Hollywood) romance between two moderately-attractive middle-aged people in filthy clothes. See my Blu-ray review. Another part of the Katharine Hepburn Weekend.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

A Man Called Ove returns to community

A- Comic drama

Written by Hannes Holm, from a novel by Fredrik Backman

Directed by Hannes Holm

Even the most warn-out, commercial plots can work when the filmmakers do something original with them. And that’s very much the case with this dramatic comedy from Sweden.

Consider the cliché of the crotchety old man who hates everybody, until good-hearted people melt his resistance and remind him what love and community are all about. Writer/director Hannes Holm makes this overused device new again by adding a very real sense of darkness, and a deep understanding of the inevitable tragedy of human life.

He also makes the film, when appropriate, very funny.

When we first meet Ove (Rolf Lassgård), he lives by himself in a condominium within a gated community. He boils with anger at every minor transgression of the community’s rules. He threatens cats and small dogs.

He shows tenderness only to the dead. He visits his wife’s grave every day.

He’s already mad at the world when, early in the film, something happens that gives him something to be mad about. He’s fired from his job after decades of service.

With apparently nothing else to look forward to, he attempts suicide. Several times. But every time he tries, something–usually other people–interferes. He finds himself reluctantly helping them instead.

These suicide attempts also launch many of the film’s several flashbacks. Holm and cinematographer Göran Hallberg bathe these scenes of Ove’s youth in a nostalgic glow, and show much of what had been wonderful in his life. His widowed and working-class father loved him and taught him not only a sense of right and wrong, but also the mechanical and carpentry skills that would serve Ove throughout his life. He had a long and very happy marriage to a wonderful and generous woman who loved him deeply.

But the flashbacks also showed the many losses in his life. Tragedy, in the form of horrible accidents, destroyed much of his happiness. And as a builder who could work wonders with his own hands, he learned to hate the “white shirts” who always found ways to take away what he had created.

When he’s not remembering the past or trying to kill himself, he’s reluctantly spending time with other people in his community–especially the family that just moved in. It’s a mixed-race family, with a white husband, an Iranian wife, and two adorable daughters. Another child is on the way.

The very pregnant mother, Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), becomes the major force to bringing Ove back into the human race. She’s open, friendly, and cheerful. After her husband is injured in a domestic accident, she keeps coming to Ove for help, and much to his surprise, he provides it. Much against Ove’s own wishes, the kids bond with him.

The concept of modern Sweden as a melting pot is a minor theme here. Grumpy as he is, Ove never once uses a racist slur. He reluctantly takes in a young, brown-skinned gay man who has been thrown out by his homophobic father.

The best feel-good movies have a dark and disturbing core. Consider It’s a Wonderful Life. A Man Called Ove, with its disappointing ending, doesn’t reach the magic of Frank Capra’s masterpiece. But the film shows us the inevitable tragedy of human life and the ability to heal–and all done with good, dark humor.

Saturday at the Mill Valley Film Festival

I spent Saturday at the Sequoia, where I caught three films in the Mill Valley Film Festival.

They were all very good, and each was better than the one before it.

She Started It

We all know about tech industry sexism. Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed’s documentary follows five young women (concentrating on two of them) struggling to create new companies in a competitive world run almost entirely by men. Consider Vietnamese immigrant Thuy Truong, whose company creates a popular iOS app but can’t attract financing. Since this is a documentary, there’s no guaranteed happy ending. But there is a sense that Thuy, and the other subjects, will succeed.

I give She Started It a B+.

After the screening, a full ten people–filmmakers and subjects–stood up for Q&A. Some highlights (edited for brevity and clarity):

  • Choosing these five: We chose people with enough business traction so that there would likely be a story.
  • On why so much was centered on two of the five: Part of it is the access you get. We wanted to show the struggle. It’s really hard for an entrepreneur to show that. Brienne was so successful there was nothing to say.
  • Making the film was very much like creating a startup. The filmmakers had to raise money and sleep on other people’s floors. “They’re living the movie.”

She Started It will screen one more time as the Festival: Wednesday, October 12, 10:00am. It may get a theatrical or television release in the future.

Green Is Gold

A 13-year-old pothead moves in with his adult brother, who lives in the backwoods and grows pot for a living. Clearly not the best way to raise a troubled adolescent, but they bond and the older brother teaches the younger one a lucrative yet dangerous trade. A funny, touching, suspenseful story about victimless crime. The shaky, handheld photography seems annoying at first, but eventually makes sense as you realize the instability of their life together.

I give Green is Gold an A-.

After the screening, writer/director/editor/star Ryon Baxter led a group of his collaborators in a Q&A. Among the filmmakers were his real-life kid brother, Jimmy Baxter, who played the fictitious kid brother in the movie.

  • On conceiving the story: I was inspired by someone I shared a jail cell with–for a non-violent, marijuana-related crime.
  • We’re the only actors we could afford.
  • On the use a handheld camera: That’s what we could afford. The camera had to be either locked down or handheld. We couldn’t afford a Steadicam.
  • Producer Anthony Burns on the size of the budget: Less than a million dollars and more than a dollar.

There’s one final screening of Green is Gold at the Festival, but you’ll have to act fast. It’s today, Sunday, at the Rafael, at 6:30. It’s sold out, but tickets may be available at rush.

However, the film has been picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films, so it will probably get a theatrical release.

Katie Says Goodbye

Olivia Cooke gives a stellar performance in this bleak small-town drama. Only 21 when the film was shot, she finds reservoirs of emotion and character subtleties that would be impressive in an actor twice her age. I think she’s going to be the Michelle Williams of her generation.

Here she plays Katie, living in a rundown trailer park and working as a waitress to support herself and her all-but-worthless mother. To make ends meet, she turns tricks on the side. Her only warm relationships are with her boss (the always wonderful Mary Steenburgen), and a fatherly truck driver who’s also one of her regular johns (Jim Belushi in the only likeable performance of his I’ve seen).

Then she falls in love with the new guy in town (Christopher Abbott). He’s strong, rarely talks, and is difficult to read emotionally. Her world is already on edge. With all of her secrets, true love can only make things worse.

I give this one an A.

After the film, writer/director Wayne Roberts, along with several of his collaborators (but not Cooke) stepped up for Q&A. Some highlights:

  • On a male filmmaker creating a story about a woman: I wanted to be moved. I find that hard with a male protagonist.
  • On working with Cooke: First of all, she’s brilliant. I gave her a very detailed backstory. We had a lot of discussion, but she’s very intuitive. We met three weeks before we got on the set.
  • On getting Mary Steenburgen: Mary’s agent loved the script.
  • On the size of the budget: Not nearly enough.
  • On the film’s bleakness: It was by intention. But ultimately, it’s about hope. Katie doesn’t need redemption. She doesn’t need anyone else.
  • On the trilogy:
    Katie Says Goodbye is the first film in a planned trilogy. I’m not exactly sure how that will work. The second film will be a dark comedy with no characters from the first. Katie will appear in the third film.

You have one more chance to see Katie Says Goodbye at the festival…maybe. It’s screening at the Rafael Monday, October 10, at 3:30. The presentation is sold out, but you may be able to buy tickets at rush.

As far as I know, no distributor has picked up this film. But I truly hope one of them does.

What’s Screening: October 7 – 13

This week we have Gene Wilder, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, dead teenagers, and a whole lot of classics that don’t get screened as often as they should.

Also, four film festivals, including Mill Valley.


Promising events

Gene Wilder Celebration, Castro, Sunday and Monday

Two days and two double bills of the late, great comic actor. On Sunday, they’ll screen The Producers (I love it) and Wlly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (I don’t care for it). On Monday, you can catch Blazing Saddles (I kind of like it), and Stir Crazy (never saw it).

The Good Fight: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00

I know nothing about this documentary aside from what’s on the PFA’s website. But the story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War is a fascinating one. Historian Peter Carroll, who wrote a book on the subject, will introduce the film.

Slumber Party Massacre, New Mission, Tuesday, 10:00

The early 80s saw a lot of low-budget slasher movies, mainly about helpless victims (usually nubile teenage girls) getting killed in all sorts of horrible ways. But this one was supposed to be different; it was written by feminist icon Rita Mae Brown, and was supposed to be a feminist satire. But when I saw it on VHS soon after its theatrical release, it just looked like another dead teenager flick to me. Maybe I missed something.

Recommended revivals

A+ Rashomon, Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA, Friday, 6:00

In his first true masterpiece, Akira Kurosawa reminds us that we can never really know anything. Visually beautiful and deeply atmospheric, this eight-character chamber piece recounts the same crime four times by different eyewitnesses, and none of their stories match. The film that opened Japanese cinema to the world. See my Kurosawa Diary entry and my Blu-ray review. Part of Modern Cinema.

A+ Annie Hall, Castro, Wednesday

Almost every Hollywood film deals with romantic love on some level, but very few capture the complex, dizzying ups and downs of that common experience as accurately and entertainingly as Woody Allen’s masterpiece–the rare romantic comedy that doesn’t resort to silly plot-driven contrivances or paint-by-the-number characters. It captures, in flashback, the entire arc of a modern relationship, from cautious flirtation through giddy joy to the moment when the couple must accept the reality of their “dead shark.” Read my Blu-ray review. On a Diane Keaton ’70s double bill with Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which I saw and didn’t like when it was new.

A Let the Right One In¸ New Parkway, Thursday, 9:30

This is one of the great vampire movies. After all, what better place for a vampire than a Swedish winter? The nights are very long, snow covers everything, and people drink heavily and seem depressed to begin with. It’s like Bergman, only with undead bloodsuckers. Let the Right One In is also a coming-of-age story, about first love between a boy about to turn 13 and a girl who has been 12 “for a very long time.” Read my full review.

The Seventh Seal, Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA, Saturday, 5:45

A knight (Max von Sydow) returning from the Crusades plays chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot) while the plague ravages the land. But while the knight thinks about eternity, his life-embracing squire (Gunnar Björnstrand) reminds us what it really means to be human. Filled with wonderful characters, religious allegory, and sly humor, it bursts with a love of humanity and a fear for our place in the universe. Another part of Modern Cinema.

B+ Grandma’s Boy, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

The best of Harold Lloyd’s early features, Grandma’s Boy hints at the brilliant comic story teller that Lloyd would soon become. Shy Harold lacks the courage needed to win the girl (or anything else), so his grandmother improvises a magic talisman and concocts a story to help him build up his nerve. Not Kid Brother or The Freshmen, but an important step in the direction of those masterpieces. Also on the program: Felix the Cat and Charlie Chase shorts. Judy Rosenberg provides the piano accompaniment.

B+ Detour, Stanford, Saturday and Sunday

If Double Indemnity, shot on a comfortable if not extravagant budget, started the trend now called film noir, this quick cheapie proved that the genre didn’t need production values. Tom Neal plays a broke musician who hitchhikes across the country and runs into some very bad luck. So bad, in fact, that a wicked woman (Ann Savage–what a name for an actress playing a femme fatale) can blackmail him for murder. Short, quick, and deeply disturbing, Detour provides 67 minutes of dark entertainment. On a double bill with The Strange Woman. Part of the series Vienna and the Movies.

L’Avventura, Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA, Saturday, 8:00

Michelangelo Antonioni’s story of the young and amoral hardly counts as an adventure–although it almost starts as one. A group of wealthy young adults take a yacht to a deserted island, where one of them mysteriously disappears. Her friends search for her, then casually give up. L’avventura isn’t about rescuing a loved one; but about the shallowness of modern relationships. Another part of Modern Cinema

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

  • Vertigo, Castro, Thursday through next Monday. Presented in 70mm. With a different Brian DePalma movie each day.

Joyful Amorality: Films written by Ben Hecht

Talented screenwriters, like the best directors, put their own stylistic fingerprints onto the films they make. And few did it as well as former Chicago newspaperman Ben Hecht. At his best, Hecht’s pre-war work showed a playful approach to ethics. Many of his protagonists, such as Paul Muni’s gang leader in the original Scarface, appear to have no sense of right and wrong. And others, such as The Front Page‘s newspaper editor, will use every dirty trick in the book to save a man’s life–even if he’s really just trying to break up a marriage and save his paper.

Screenwriters are truly the forgotten artists of the cinema. While tracking Bay Area repertory cinema since 2004, I’ve noted a great many series and festivals celebrating directors and actors. Composers, cinematographers, art directors and novelists have also been celebrated.

But screenwriters? Almost nothing. And yet, without screenwriters, the greatest actors in the world would be at a loss for words.

If I were in position to program a film series, I’d honor one of the greatest talents to ever create motion pictures on a typewriter: Ben Hecht. Here some films I’d like to include:

Scarface (original 1932 version)
Screen story by Ben Hecht, from novel by Armitage Trail

The best of the early ’30s gangster movies, Scarface tracks the rise and demise of Tony Camonte (Paul Muni), a violent thug who becomes a big shot by virtue of his total lack of virtue. When he first sees a tommy gun, he joyfully cries out “Hey, a machine gun you can carry!” And that’s when one is shooting at him. Directed by Howard Hawks.

The Front Page (original 1931 version)
Written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, from their stage play
The first of many adaptations of the popular stage comedy. Adolphe Menjou plays the newspaper editor who will do anything to keep his best reporter (Pat O’Brien). He’ll even go so far as to save the life of an innocent man. Very much a filmed stage play, but it works anyway. Directed by Lewis Milestone.

Story by Ben Hecht

I haven’t seen Josef von Sternberg’s silent gangster film, sometimes credited with jump-starting both the genre and Sternberg’s career. But I know it by reputation.

His Girl Friday
Based on Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s stage play, The Front Page

Howard Hawks turned The Front Page on its head, changing the top reporter’s gender so she can be unhappily married to the hard-driving editor. Easily the best film version of The Front Page.

Wuthering Heights
Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, from the novel by Emily Brontë
Romantic melodrama in the old world of class-oriented England. Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon, and all those fine British actors slumming in Hollywood. Directed by William Wyler.

Design for Living
Screenplay by Ben Hecht, from the play by Noel Coward

Miriam Hopkins acts as muse (and more) for struggling artists Gary Cooper and Fredric March, creating a complicated threesome. Edward Everett Horton takes the role of the disapproving bluenose. A very funny and sexy pre-code charmer. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

Twentieth Century
Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, from a play by Charles Bruce Millholland
John Barrymore and Carole Lombard play egotistical theater people as they argue and fight on a train. Directed by Howard Hawks.

The Black Swan
Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Seton I. Miller; officially based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini, but I’ve read the novel and it’s entirely different

Better a pirate than a politician. Tyrone Power’s pirate hero tries to go straight, but the cards that are very much stacked against him. A surprisingly fun and sexy swashbuckler where the good guys often act like bad guys. Directed by Henry King. Not be confused with the recent ballet movie.

Nothing Sacred Screenplay by Ben Hecht, from a story by James Street
Yet another screwball comedy. Small-town girl Carole Lombard tells the world, via newspaperman Fredric March, that she’s dying of radium poisoning. She isn’t dying, but the lie makes her the toast of New York. Directed by William Wellman.

Screenplay by Ben Hecht; suggested by the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes

Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological mystery doesn’t’ quite work as a thriller, but it has enough Hitchcock style, plus star wattage from Ingrid Bergman and newcomer Gregory Peck, to make a fine entertainment.

Crime Without Passion
Written and directed by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
The first of seven films that Hecht not only wrote but directed. None reached classic status or are currently available on the Internet (at least legally).

Written by Ben Hecht

A scandal-ridden Ingrid Bergman proves her patriotism by seducing and marrying Claude Rains’ Nazi industrialist while true love Cary Grant grimly watches. Sexy, romantic, thought-provoking, and scary enough to shorten your fingernails. Read my Blu-ray Review.