Evelyn Brent

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Underworld (1927) Review


Good
Josef von Sternberg's 1927 Underworld was given a rare airing at the New York Film Festival, introduced by festival director Richard Pena as the "ur-gangster film." Whether it is ur remains to be seen, since gangster films have been floating around the edges of American movies since the early silent period in D. W. Griffith's Musketeers of Pig Alley and Raoul Walsh's 1915 feature Regeneration. In fact, with von Sternberg as director, it is hardly a gangster film at all. It more of a reverie on what a gangster film could have become if the Depression hadn't got in the way.

The only way Underworld whispers "gangster film" under its baited breath is from the input of screenwriter Ben Hecht, who wanted to make a film based on his experiences as a Chicago crime beat reporter. And to be sure, there are instances in Underworld that directly link it to 1930s gangster movies, specifically Scarface, also written by Hecht, particularly the neon sign spelling out "The City Is Yours" to a mob chief and the brutal, shooting gallery gun battle at the film's climax. Also in evidence are Hecht's sarcastic Front Page style one-liners -- for example, one gangster tells another to attend a gangster get-together by saying, "You've got to show. Everybody with a police record will be there." This was von Sternberg's second feature and at the outset, Hecht had the most clout, but as the film progressed, von Sternberg emerged victorious.

Continue reading: Underworld (1927) Review

The Seventh Victim Review


Very Good
Best known for its "pre-Psycho" shower scene, this mid-career Val Lewton horror film has Kim Hunter in search of her missing sister (Jean Brooks), who has unfortunately fallen in with a bunch of devil worshippers. (This may explain why she has a goth haircut now.) Foreboding and creepy, it's not a traditional slasher flick, and there's no gore to speak of. Rather, it's a very well-made psychological thriller (before such a term even existed) filled with good performances.

Aka The 7th Victim.

Continue reading: The Seventh Victim Review

The Seventh Victim Review


Very Good
Best known for its "pre-Psycho" shower scene, this mid-career Val Lewton horror film has Kim Hunter in search of her missing sister (Jean Brooks), who has unfortunately fallen in with a bunch of devil worshippers. (This may explain why she has a goth haircut now.) Foreboding and creepy, it's not a traditional slasher flick, and there's no gore to speak of. Rather, it's a very well-made psychological thriller (before such a term even existed) filled with good performances.

Aka The 7th Victim.

Continue reading: The Seventh Victim Review

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