Knight Without Armour (1937)- Jacques Feyder



Novelist and Academy Award winning screenwriter James Hilton is best remembered for his touching, often romantic, epic-feeling stories that to some are slightly melodramatic. Many of these novels were made into successful films, with some of the day’s top directors at the helm, such as “Lost Horizon” (1938) by Frank Capra, “Goodbye Mr. Chips” (1939) by Sam Wood, and “Random Harvest” (1942) by Mervyn LeRoy. (All three of which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture.) Hilton also penned another lesser known (at least today) novel in 1933, that was then transferred to the screen by legendary filmmaker Alexander Korda, and directed by Jacques Feyder, titled “Knight Without Armour” (1937). Although wildly unpopular in its time, today “Knight Without Armour” stands out for its courage to improve the art of filmmaking, the innovative style that embodies the production, the larger-than-life Knight Without Armour (1937)realism of a war-torn country, and marvelously touching and emotional performances from the films stars: Robert Donat and Marlene Dietrich.

Set in Russia in 1913, an Englishman (Robert Donat) in love with the country of Russia is being forced to leave, until the British Secret Service offers him a job going undercover as Russian Peter Ouranoff in a revolutionary group, in order to report upon the group’s movements. He succeeded in passing himself off as a revolutionary, but a failed assassination attempt on a high-ranking officer and his daughter, Alexandra (Marlene Dietrich), goes wrong, and the would be assassin leads his pursuers directly to Ouranoff’s home. As punishment for his involuntary involvement, Ouranoff is sent to Siberia, just before the beginning of World War I.

He sits in Siberia, in almost constant darkness, throughout the duration of the War with another of “his” revolutionaries, Axelstein (Basil Gill). But after the war ends and the Bolsheviks have come into power, Axelstein becomes Commissar and makes Ouranoff his right-hand man. Alexandra, meanwhile, is now a widow, living the life of luxury as an aristocrat. However, when the Bolsheviks take over her estate, Alexandra is taken captive and Commissar Axelstein commands Ouranoff to Knight Without Armour (1937)deliver her to Petrograd to stand trial.

That is when the heart of the film finally makes its way to the surface, as Ouranoff and Alexandra share a love-at-first-sight experience, and Ouranoff puts himself (and her, for that matter) in tremendous peril as he attempts to deliver her to safety through the war-torn country.

“Knight Without Armour” is brilliant and innovative in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start. Jacques Feyder  is not a director that is mentioned often these days, but not because of a lack of talent. It was more that he had trouble finding a comfortable place to call home, and the eclectic group of directorial efforts that he left behind are a lasting example of how far across the spectrum his films traveled. “Knight Without Armour” benefits from his strengths as a foreign director, as he (along with the film’s producer, Alexander Korda) seems to bring a European feel to things, that an American director may have lacked. Knight Without Armour (1937)Miklos Rozsa contributes as well, with a Russian inspired score that is intoxicating- perhaps even on the verge of unsettling (much in the way so many of his later scores would be).

Cinematographer Harry Stradling, using a flowing camera that appears to be embarking on the love affair with the actors, only improves things more. He has photographed Dietrich much in a way that reminds one of her von Sternberg films, but without losing sight of the heart of the picture. It’s not just a Marlene movie after all, and too much focus on her would have ruined the romance of the picture. In addition to Dietrich’s strong, more than capable performance, Donat is at his very best here. (In fact he is significantly superior to his award-winning role in “Goodbye Mr. Chips” .) In a turn that is perhaps somewhat surprising, the stars’ chemistry is extremely believable, as the passion between them is executed extremely well as it buildsKnight Without Armour (1937) throughout the entire film.

In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s the “spy thriller” emerged in a new way as the impending war drew nearer. “Knight Without Armour” fits nicely into the spy genre, along with more notable pictures like Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” (1935), “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), or “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), as well as Carol Reed’s “Night Train to Munich” (1940). There is plenty of suspense and international intrigue, and the characters are all well-developed and interesting. The sole problem with the overall splendor of this film is that is doesn’t dig deep enough to fully satisfy. There is already an undeniable “Doctor Zhivago” (1965) feeling here, and to be completely honest, “Knight Without Armour” could have been an unbelievable film with another 30 to 40 minutes of story scattered throughout (especially during the last reel). My own personal love affair with “Doctor Zhivago” illustrates my longing desire to have drawn-out epic romances, and perhaps that is part of the allure here, but I don’t see how more of any aspect of this film could possibly be a considered a negative.

Blue Jasmine (2013)- Woody Allen



“Blue Jasmine” (2013) is exactly the kind of picture that we have come to expect (and love) from Woody Allen. Smooth, slightly laid-back, with enough pain, despair, jazz music, and laughter to keep anyone more than entertained. The plot revolves around Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) as she moves from her posh, upper-class life in New York to start a new life, beginning by moving in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), in San Francisco. Jasmine has had a breakdown after her husband, Augie (Alec Baldwin), is arrested when it is discovered that his businesses are all frauds, thus leaving her penniless and desperate.Blue Jasmine (2013) She is looking to start a new life, but without any money (and after being ostracized by her friends) Jasmine has no one to turn to except Ginger, who although loves her sister, has nothing in common with her and neither one of them seems to really understand one another.

Through perfectly written (Woody Allen again) and edited flashbacks (Alisa Lepseller) we learn about Jasmine’s past, including her recommendation to have Ginger and her husband at that time (Andrew Dice Clay) give their lottery winnings to Augie to invest. Of course their money disappeared (along with everyone else’s), leaving them in financial ruin, and perhaps even causing the end of their marriage. Meanwhile Jasmine attempts to get herself back on her feet by working a “meaningless” job and returning to school in order to learn about computers, with interior design online classes as a long-term goal. Believing that everyone determines their own outcome based on their mindset, Jasmine pushes towards finding another well-to-do-husband (Peter Sarsgard), and even encourages Ginger to dump her mechanic boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale) in order to move up her standing in the world.

One of the things that I love about a Woody Allen picture is that there seems to be so little going on, but in reality it is just the opposite. Of course that does make it difficult to give any kind of accurate synopsis for his films. Blue Jasmine (2013)There is a lot going on in this movie, and because Allen has written an entire menagerie of characters from different places and all with a variety of goals for their own lives, “Blue Jasmine” ends up filling every second with something substantial and meaningful, even if it isn’t obvious at the moment. Additional viewings will only enhance the overall splendor and craft of this one.

Of course having actresses like Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins can’t hurt any film, and they seem to have pulled out all the stops on this one. Hawkins always seems to have an infectious, overly-happy personality that can fill a viewer with pleasure all the way to their very soul. When she is happy, you want to rejoice with her, when she’s sad, one can’t help but be feel depressed. Her performance is grand, but is also easy to overlook because Blanchett dominates the film with her tour-de-force performance that is running full bore through every frame. Blanchett has always been a stand-out performer throughout her career. From “Elizabeth” (1998) to “Aviator”(2004)- from “Notes on a Scandal” (2006) to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons”(2008). There truly seems to be nothing she can’t do, but her performance in “Blue Jasmine” takes things to a different level completely by adding a new dimension of despair and complete dilapidation to a woman who is so hopeless and helpless that you can do nothing except feel sorry for her, while quietly laughing at the direction her life has taken.

Blue Jasmine (2013)

Year after year Woody Allen continues to surprise with films that perfectly combine thought-provoking analysis, and intelligent and witty humor; even if sometimes in an uncomfortable way. He lets his actors control their characters and depends on them to take his carefully written words and bring them to life on the screen. It is the ease with which he creates these films that makes them so entertaining, and “Blue Jasmine” is no exception.

Criterion Collection Releases for May 2014

Well, it’s that time again. Time for the Criterion Collection to announce the latest grouping of films to be honored with an induction to their illustrious vaults this coming May. Some of these titles are already part of the Collection, just obtaining a new (and much appreciated) blu-ray upgrade, with a couple of other films making their Criterion debut (and after much speculation, I might add). So, without further ado, here are the newest films that are now available for preorder.

Being released May 6th, 2013

  • “Ace in the Hole” (1951): Billy Wilder made so many great films, it can be easy to overlook one (or even a few in his case) every now and then. That is exactly what many movie-lovers have done to “Ace in the Hole”, aka “The Big Carnival”. Ace in the Hole (1951)The film revolves around a New York newspaperman (magnificently played by Kirk Douglas), who ends up at a small town New Mexico paper, waiting again for a chance- his chance to move back into the “big time”. That opportunity comes when a man (Richard Benedict) gets trapped in an old Indian cave while digging for artifacts. Instead of focusing on getting the man out, Douglas makes the event the largest possible story he can, creating a media circus the likes of which were rarely seen at the time (but we fully understand-and flock towards today). Quite simply, “Ace in the Hole” is a must see film in every sense of the phrase. Billy Wilder does some of his most underrated work here, and you will never forget the power of Douglas’s performance, or that of the hardened, unloving wife, perfectly performed by Jan Sterling.

Being released May 13th, 2013

  • “Like Someone in Love” (2012): This film, from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, is a French-Japanese production about a young woman attending college, Like Someone in Love (2012)who spends her nights working as a prostitute. She ends up getting a call that leads her to the home of an older professor, and the two spend the night bonding (in the non-physical way). The morning only brings problems for both of them, as together they run into her boyfriend, who knows nothing about her night job. “Like Someone in Love” has received much praise and admiration from audiences since its initial release, and is a welcomed addition to the Criterion Collection, particularly after Kiarostami’s previous films (“Taste of Cherry”, “Close-Up”, & “Certified Copy”) have proven to be such glorious additions to the Criterion Collection.

Being released May 20th, 2014

  • “Overlord” (1975): This is another film that is already part of the Criterion Collection, but the blu-ray upgrade is not only deserved, but also encourages fans to watch it yet again.Overlord (1975) This film, directed by Stuart Cooper, centers on a young man fighting during the D-Day invasion. He is an average man, except for the fact that he has already had a premonition of his own death, and now contemplates “his part” in the war, as well as the world, while waiting for what he considers his own inevitable end. The real beauty of “Overland” is in the mastery of the picture’s construction. Its portrayal of war is as real as it can be in a film, and in ways feels more documentary than anything else.

Being released May 27th, 2014

  • “Red River” (1948): Yee-haw!! Need I say more? Well, I will anyway. Red River (1948)“Red River” is one of those movies that never gets old no matter how many times you have seen it, and with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift leading the way, it is easy to enjoy yourself. What is also amazing about the way director Howard Hawks pieced this one together is how is mixes the light-hearted western atmosphere from so many westerns of its time, with a darker, much more mean-spirited side that keeps the audience off-balance. It jumps back and forth between these two opposite styles, and feels so often the entire picture almost seems jumbled, keeping the audience constantly intrigued, sitting on the edge of their seat, waiting for that climactic conclusion. “Red River” is a movie that has been rumored to be joining the Criterion Collection for years, and I for one, am thrilled to see it finally make the list.
  • “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004): Creative The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissoufilmmaker extraordinaire Wes Anderson is one of the most regular directors around the Criterion office these days. All but one of his currently released films (Where is “Moonrise Kingdom”, Criterion?) are already part of the collection, including his sometimes misunderstood (but still brilliant) 2004 film, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”. With an all-star cast, and enough subtle humor to fill two films, Anderson has brought the world of Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his life on the water, to our hearts and minds- never to be forgotten. Also starring in this hysterical tale are Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum.

Well, that’s all for this month. Happy shopping movie fans!

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)-Martin Scorsese



One thing that you can always expect from a Martin Scorsese movie is quality in the filmmaking. His latest undertaking (and his longest running picture to date) is “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), based on the memoirs by the movie’s crooked Wall Street con-man, Jordan Belfort, enthusiastically played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film begins while Belfort is still a young man learning the ropes of the business from his mentor, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey).The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Hanna encourages Jordan to change his lifestyle to include large amounts of drugs and sex to relax from the stressful conditions that fill his days. After “Black Monday” Jordan finds himself without a job and is encouraged by his wife (Cristin Milioti) to join a low-level, penny-stock company that with high commissions promises to be profitable.

Jordan begins making large amounts of money very quickly, and after meeting the odd yet energetic Donnie (Jonah Hill), the two open their own film, Stratton Oakmont, employing a handful of drug-dealing friends who know how to sell…anything. Jordan comes up with the crazy idea that if he trains people properly, he can teach anyone and everyone how to sell large amounts of penny stocks to the richest 1% of the country, all while making obscene amounts of money for himself. And that is exactly what he does. Of course he also manages to consume more drugs than you would believe possible, have sex withThe Wolf of Wall Street (2013) more women than you would think possible, and come up with the most insanely ludicrous ways to entertain himself and his friends that one could imagine.

Along his travels Jordan gets himself a new wife (Margot Robbie), a crooked Swiss Banker (Jean Dujardin), a mansion that looks as big as Disneyland, a large, extravagant yacht, oh yes, and a secret admirer in FBI agent Denham (Kyle Chandler), who along with the SEC, would love to put an end to Jordan and his company.

Let me start off my thoughts by stating, just to have it on the record, I love Martin Scorsese and his films. I truly believe he is not only one of the best filmmakers of his time, but of all time, and each year I eagerly and anxiously anticipate his next film. However, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is not the type of picture that attracts me as a viewer. At one point in the film, Jordan makes a speech to his various minions about the different types of people in the world and how his office doesn’t have room for a “certain type”, and the truth of the matter is that I fall into that certain type. Jordan Belfort would laugh at me if we were to meet…and I would laugh at him. His life doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and as many have called this movie obscene, distasteful, andThe Wolf of Wall Street (2013) that it glorifies the ridiculous events of Jordan’s life, I have to say that I disagree and found nothing glamorous about the story, the characters, or any of their ways of life. I only felt sorry for their unhappiness.

I did, however, find myself blown away by my interest in the way this film was put together. I believe that if you handed Scorsese a horrible story or script and turned his genius loose, you would inevitably wind up getting a finished product with technical achievements galore. It still might not be a great story, but he will tell that story better than anyone. I have often found this same thing to be true in watching his documentaries. Even if they are about a subject that doesn’t particularly interest you, because of the skill that he embodies as a filmmaker and the way he shares his own passions, everything he brings to the cinematic world finds a way to be interesting to watch.

And then there is Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as a complete cast of supporting players turning each scene into something unique, even if just in an obscenely hard-to-forget way. Everybody appearing here is in top form, particularly Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio. The difference is that Jonah Hill is great in a funny, easy-to-laugh-at-him kind of way. We (as regular movie watchers) are used to laughing at him, and he finds a way to outdo himself once again- even if it’s just his teeth. DiCaprio, on the other hand, has consistently been improving over the years, and is now capable of almost anything. A few years ago a role such as Jordan Belfort would have been too much for him to undertake.The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) He wouldn’t have been able to fully capture the combination of powerful money-hungry maniac, with the laughable, farcical antics of this character. I have always been impressed by his abilities,  but never would have thought that a role this preposterous would be the one that grabbed my attention so drastically.

As a film that tells a story (good or bad), “The Wolf of Wall Street” has everything it takes to teach, educate, and grab us by our throats and force its audience to pay attention. When it ends, however, one can’t help but feel dirty and polluted. Technically the film is a masterpiece, but personally I am just glad that it’s over.

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)- Jean-Marc Vallee



In director Jean-Marc Vallee’s Best Picture nominated film “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013), Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is portrayed as a hell-raising, hard-drinking, cocaine-using, homophobic living in Dallas in the mid 1980’s. That is until he discovers that he has become diagnosed with HIV (which quickly becomes a diagnoses of AIDS), and his doctors (Denis O’Hara and Jennifer Garner) give him 30 days to live. Ron immediately finds a way to obtain an experimental drug (AZT), but his body continues to deteriorate over the next month due to the drug’s side effects that are attacking his body, which is also heightened by his cocaine use.

Ron heads to Mexico where he meets a former American doctor stripped of his license (an unrecognizable Griffin Dunne). He sets Ron up with some ddC and peptide T, which is a protein, and though not approved by the FDA can still be brought into the United States for personal use. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)After three months of treatment, Ron sees the potential for the distribution of these medications and begins his own “business” back in Dallas.

In order to help find potential buyers, Ron teams up with a transgender woman named Rayon (Jared Leto). Although it is hard for Ron to spend time with homosexual people, he begins to change his outlook, especially after many of his own friends ostracize him after believing him to be a homosexual as well. Together, Ron and Rayon prove to be a formidable team and gain quite an extensive clinic list. In order to stay out of trouble with the authorities, they institute the Dallas Buyers Club, where instead of selling drugs to their clients, they sell “memberships” that include access to all medications- until, that is, the FDA sets out to shut down both the Dallas Buyers Club, and Ron Woodroof himself.

Remember years back when Matthew McConaughey was appearing in countless romantic comedies with little or no plot and adventure movies that seem about as realistic as a cartoon? Those days are long over. After taking all of 2010 off, McConaughey surprised everyone with a series of roles that challenged him and his abilities in a variety of ways. “Bernie” (2011), “Killer Joe” (2012), “The Paper Boy” (2012), and “Magic Mike” (2012) all showed new range and depth for him, and even had us talking about a possible Academy Award nomination for “Magic Mike”. If 2012 made us sit up and take notice of him, 2013 was like getting a slap in the face. “Dallas Buyers Club” is easily the highest point of his career, that seems to only be heading up from here.Dallas Buyers Club (2013) (Although I enjoyed him quite a bit in “Mud” as well.) His performance is both physically and mentally exhausting to watch, and one can only imagine how intense it must have been to undertake.

Likewise, Jared Leto goes through an enormous undertaking here to transform himself into Rayon. His performance seems more subtle in comparison to that of McConaughey (probably because everyone can easily recognize McConaughey and understand how much he physically changed), but thankfully Leto is still getting the attention (and the awards) that he deserves.

Unlike many other acting  focused films, “Dallas Buyers Club” benefits from a delicate yet successful team of professionals, who have crafted not only an engrossing story, but also an entertaining one. The direction by Jean-Marc Vallee is effective, but is smart enough to stay out-of-the-way of the actors. The screenplay (written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack) runs smoothly and patiently, and it is enhanced even further by wonderful editing (Martin Pensa & John Mac McMurphy) that compliments every other aspect of this production. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)Usually when there is a film that is so focused or reliant on the performances, the other aspects of the film seem to be ignored, but “Dallas Buyers Club” is not just a great acting movie- it’s a great all-around movie.

It has been 20 years since Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia” (1993) hit theaters and earned numerous accolades as a pioneering film centered around AIDS and the devastating effects of the disease. Tom Hanks earned his first Academy Award for his performance, and it won’t surprise me (or anyone else I assume) if both McConaughey and Leto follow in his footsteps. It is interesting to think that with the way the Academy Awards has changed to include up to 10 Best Picture nominees, a film like “Dallas Buyers Club” can earn a Best Picture nomination- continuing to gain more viewers. If the same system was in place in 1993, perhaps “Philadelphia” could have achieved that same honor.

Scarlet Street (1945)- Fritz Lang



Chris Cross (Edward G. Robinson) is a man who lacks perspective. Not only in his paintings that are the sole source of joy that life has to offer, but also in his hum-drum, monotonous everyday life. Scarlet Street (1945)After the opening credits for Fritz Lang’s film noir “Scarlet Street” (1945) have ended, we see Chris sitting at a formal dinner with his co-workers and boss, congratulating him on 25 years of exemplary service as a trusted cashier. He is married to a bitter, mean-spirited widow (Rosalind Ivan) who obviously has no love for Chris and even requires a shrine to her dearly departed spouse to watch over them. In fact, their entire marriage seems to be one of convenience… and nothing more. It’s almost as if this honorary dinner is congratulating Chris on a lifetime of insignificance and disappointment.

Scarlet Street (1945)

Then Chris gains some perspective. On his slightly inebriated, middle of the night walk home, Chris sees a young woman being assaulted in the distance. Scarlet Street (1945)Enraged, perhaps because of the alcohol, or perhaps because deep down he knows he has little reason to live, Chris rushes to her aid and hits the man with his umbrella. Staring down at Kitty (Joan Bennett), sitting seemingly helpless in the gutter- looking discarded and dirty, Chris regains his normally safe and sound composure and goes to fetch a policeman. What he couldn’t possibly know at this point (and what we as the learned film noir loving audience already have guessed) is that the man he has just struck is Kitty’s boyfriend, Johnny (Dan Duryea), and while Chris is getting the policeman, Kitty gets Johnny out of there.

Chris is instantaneously smitten with Kitty and invites her for a drink. She mistakenly thinks he is a wealthy artist and he does nothing to fill her in on the reality of his dreary existence. Scarlet Street (1945)He continues to send her letters of affection, which she discards until Johnny sees the potential to make some money. Johnny convinces Kitty to play the part of the young love-struck girl, pining over a man she can never have because of his marriage. Chris wants to keep her with him, so he sets Kitty up in an apartment (that he can’t afford), doubling as his studio. Unfortunately, in order to keep up the ruse of being wealthy and successful, Chris has to steal money from both his wife and his employer to keep Kitty living in her extravagant ways. Things get even more difficult when Johnny begins selling Chris’s paintings (passing them off as  Kitty’s), keeping the money for himself and forcing Kitty to continue her charade.

Scarlet Street (1945)

I don’t think that there is anyone out there who can honestly say that director Fritz Lang is anything but a genius. His films are revolutionary endeavors that completely redefined the way the cinematic world functions. Sadly, like a handful of other directing legends, Fritz Lang is mostly remembered for his early films like “Metropolis” (1927) and “M” (1931). Granted, these groundbreaking and near-perfect movies are themselves the very best of Lang’s work, but to overlook his later films would be an injustice to his filmography.Scarlet Street (1945) I have yet to see a Lang picture that doesn’t have something of significance to offer, and “Scarlet Street” in no exception. Despite unnecessarily negative reviews upon its initial release, this film has an assemblage of technical and aesthetical aspects for any audience to enjoy… and to teach.

As Chris meets Kitty, sitting on the dirty sidewalk, frustrated and tired, waiting for some poor sucker to see her and be overcome by her exuberant sex appeal, we, as the audience, are already aware that Chris is doomed. From the second that they meet, Chris is helpless. Just the way she sits there and stares up toward him says everything. Both Robinson and Bennett give amazing performances in “Scarlet Street”, not flashy or overly intense, because they aren’t playing characters that require anything that extravagant. They actually have to pull back the reins and stay grounded because they are playing ordinary people, living smaller, less prominent lives. Then there is Dan Duryea, who is flashy because Johnny is a man who requires attention and danger. Every time he appears on the screen you can’t help but somehow enjoy his seedy behavior. It’s one of Duryea’s very best performances, and at points he actually steals the attention from the film’s stars.

Scarlet Street (1945)

It’s unusual to see the great Edward G. Robinson as the loveable loser. He’s even more extreme than the usual heart-strung characters we see in other noir films. He typically plays the smartest, most observant man in the room, especially in his other film noir pictures like “The Stranger” (1946)) and “Double Indemnity” (1944).Scarlet Street (1945) As Chris in “Scarlet Street” he isn’t smart- or at least he doesn’t act that way. He is blind to the reality of his situation, and has no way to stop spiraling out of control. He also happens to be scary as hell, particularly when he gets that crazy look in his eyes once he realizes what a fool he has been. He is the loser to beat all losers.

Likewise, Joan Bennett doesn’t just play your typical femme fatale, she is an extreme version of a femme fatale. (If you don’t believe me, just look at the way she glares at Robinson, while laughing about his simplistic stupidity.) She also happens to be incredibly sexy here, in a way that is extremely alluring and intoxicating. It’s rather surprising, not because she isn’t capable of being sexy, but because here she quite simply makes all the other women blend into the background. Scarlet Street (1945)Everything just oozes with raw, passion filled sexuality-the tight-fitting black dress, her high-heeled shoes with the straps that wrap her ankles, the way she lies on the sofa or sprawls out on the bed-everything about her screams “look at me!I promise to give your life whatever it may be lacking”. Incidentally she also promises to ruin you.

In many ways “Scarlet Street” is film noir taken to the edge. The sordid, disreputable city seems dirtier than other films. (Milton R. Krasner’s cinematography helps in this area greatly.) Because these details are taken to the extreme, the climax and consequences of these characters and their various decisions are all the more extreme as well. “Scarlet Street” is one of the true, without-a-doubt film noir movies. It embodies everything that is great about the genre, and Fritz Lang’s genius is apparent in every frame, making this picture one that should not to be missed.

Scarlet Street (1945)