Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut, 1960)

“I don’t want to get involved, you hear?” Plot Summary: An emotionally detached honky-tonk piano player with a tragic past reluctantly gets involved in his brother’s troubles with gangsters, which puts him and his new girlfriend in mortal danger. Review: The protagonist of Francois Truffaut’s sophomore feature is a genuine existential antihero: once a famous concert pianist named […]

Footlight Parade (Lloyd Bacon, 1933)

 “We’ve got to have three of the greatest prologues ever put on!”   Plot Summary: A Broadway stage director (James Cagney) tries to save his production company in the midst of the talkie revolution by putting on live musical numbers, called “prologues,” for movie houses. Review: This vintage Depression-era Warner Bros. backstage musical, which climaxes with […]

Decoy (Jack Bernhard, 1946)

“It’s all mine!” Plot Summary: Femme fatale Margo Shelby (Jean Gillie) manages to have her recently executed boyfriend revived long enough for him to reveal where he hid $400,000. Review: Despite its reputation as a “forgotten gem” the first act of this poverty row film noir from Monogram pictures is not promising. Some of the […]

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (Mike Hodges, 2004)

“Davey was buggered the night before he killed himself.” Plot Summary: A former mob boss (Clive Owen) living in self-imposed exile returns to London to avenge the death of his brother (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Review: Brothers Davey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Will Graham (Clive Owen) make quite a contrast. Davey’s a little stinker, a small-time drug dealer […]

The Way to the Stars (Anthony Asquith, 1945)

“Better by far for Johnny the bright star, to keep your head and see his children fed.” Plot Summary: In this WW11 drama British and American bomber crews live together at a RAF airfield and carry out dangerous missions over Germany. Review: Within the first forty minutes of this wartime drama, bomber pilots Trevor Howard and Michael […]

Under the Sand ( François Ozon, 2000)

“I am his wife, and I’m telling you, this is not him.” Plot Summary: A happily married woman, Marie (Charlotte Rampling), goes into a state of denial after her husband disappears during a seaside vacation and is presumed dead.  Review: After the mysterious disappearance of her husband, 50ish college literature professor, Marie (Charlotte Rampling), carries on […]

Diary of the Dead (George Romero, 2008)

“Are we really worth saving? You tell me.” Plot Summary: A young student filmmaker decides to make a video document of the zombie apocalypse for posterity’s sake. Review: George Romero’s landmark debut, Night of the Living Dead, remains one of the greatest of all horror films, one depicting a world in which the human species […]

The Man from Earth (Richard Schenkman, 2007)

“What if a man from the upper Paleolithic had survived until the present day?” Plot Summary: At a farewell party, a retiring college professor tells his friends and colleagues that he’s 14,000 years old. Review: Jerome Bixby was a respected science fiction writer best known for the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” and the […]

Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952)

“Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously.” Plot Summary: The biggest silent stars at Monumental Pictures, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), are in the middle of filming their latest movie, ‘The Dueling Cavalier’, when the sound revolution takes the industry by storm. With the help of his partner and […]

Joshua (George Ratliff, 2007)

“I’ll give you five dollars if you let me throw a rock at you.” Plot summary: An evil kid, Joshua, gets mighty upset over the arrival of a newborn into the family. Review: Brad has it all. He’s got a high-paying job on Wall Street, a beautiful wife who’s just given birth to a healthy baby […]