Otto Preminger

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Angel Face Review


Excellent
There is a moment in Otto Preminger's film noir classic Angel Face, when you realize along with film's prize chump fall guy, ambulance driver turned chauffeur Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum), that the night has collapsed and that he is getting in too deep. Jessup is alone in his room and is trying to hook up with his true love Mary (Mona Freeman). Mary is out with another guy and Mitchum proceeds to loosen his tie, take a long drag on his cigarette and allows the coffin nail to hang from his lips as he gazes into the abyss with a stark, haunted, and hopeless expression. He then loosens his tie a bit more.

In Angel Face, Robert Mitchum, the poster boy of film noir, signs off on the genre with his last great portrait of doom. As Jessup, Mitchum is a hunk of a man and knows it but his laconic self-assurance belies that fact that all the women he meets in Angel Face, both good and safe (Mary) and evil and possessed (Jean Simmons' Diane, a cute and an attractive but not-so-innocent package of venality and psychosis), overpower him, and the evil one wins out.

Continue reading: Angel Face Review

Fallen Angel Review


Very Good
Don't you just love a good film noir? Turn down the lights, pop the popcorn, and sit back. Those suits. Those hats. Those dames. Those schemes. Those big black cars. Those fatal gunshots that leave no bullet holes and cause no bleeding. What's not to love?

Otto Preminger's Fallen Angel is a textbook example of well-crafted noir. It has the just right mix of atmosphere, characters, and flim-flammery. The mysterious Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) arrives in a small coastal California town and stops in at a diner called, naturally, Pop's Eats, to do some advance promotion for an itinerant phony psychic who will be putting on a show the next night. Within moments, he's deeply in love with the waitress, the classicly noir Stella (Linda Darnell), a real looker with great gams and a tough attitude. Those lips, those eyes, those barbed remarks... Eric's in love.

Continue reading: Fallen Angel Review

The Hobbit Review


Weak
Given the ability of cinema to ruin almost any book, it has always been comforting that a few books were considered unfilmable. Until recently, The Lord of the Rings was apparently one of those books. Two animated versions for children were produced in the late 1970s, but both were unsuccessful and ignored even by the legions of fanatics. In spite of the new trilogy's blockbuster potential, filmmakers forbore to make a Lord of the Rings movie for decades, until finally emboldened by recent technology.

Regardless of whether the upcoming Lord of the Rings turns out to be a cinematic milestone, the point is that there are probably some books, whether unfilmable or not, which should remain un-filmed. Even the inoffensive animated version of The Hobbit by Rankin/Bass, which was a lot easier to produce than the forthcoming live-action trilogy will be, illustrates why adapting popular books to movies is rarely successful. The storyline of The Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins goes on trip, finds ring, kills dragons, etc.) is not so powerful that it demands to be retold. And in spite of a good cast of voices and decent animation, the animated film adds nothing to the book. This is usually the case, because the best qualities of books are not the best qualities of movies.

Continue reading: The Hobbit Review

Laura Review


Very Good
Gene Tierney stars as the woman whose murder everyone wants solved, while question after question keeps popping up (in 85 spare minutes). With a stellar cast and a laser-guided plot, Laura stands as a classic thriller/whodunit of the 1940s. Unfortunately, it remains solidly in the past, as implausible and as dated as any WWII propaganda reel. When was the last time a detective let a writer tag along on his murder investigation interviews? I'd guess it was probably right about the time of Laura.

Whirlpool Review


Good
Hypnosis is always good for thriller fodder: Here we have poor Gene Tierney, a shoplifter, used and abused by a crackpot hypnotist named Korvo (José Ferrer), much to the chagrin of hubby Richard Conte (a psychologist in his own right). Korvo uses Tierney's Ann Sutton by framing her for his dirty work, but the inability of Conte's supposedly genius husband to put any of the mystery together (or the cops, for that matter), make Whirlpool a rather tedious affair.

The Man With The Golden Arm Review


Good
Otto Preminger turns in this interesting, early attempt at the drug drama, and it's probably not what you're expecting. Frank Sinatra turns in a credible performance as a reformed heroin addict straight out of the joint -- and finds his options aren't so sweet upon his return to the world. Dreaming of a job as a jazz drummer, he instead falls back into his "golden armed" card dealing job... not to mention a return bout with the H.

Things don't turn out too well for Frankie Machine (Sinatra), as the sauce is constantly calling (and causing his drummin' arms to jitter), he has to resort to cheating at card games, and then there's his wife (Eleanor Parker), who's bound to a wheelchair, not to mention her many neuroses.

Continue reading: The Man With The Golden Arm Review

Anatomy Of A Murder Review


Excellent
This very adult and daring (for 1959) courtroom thriller gives us a truly tricky case: James Stewart defends a man (Ben Gazzara) who murdered the guy who raped his wife (Lee Remick). He's pleading insanity. She has a history of not wearing panties. For close to three hours, Stewart makes his case in meticulous legal detail, with George C. Scott on the other side of the courtroom. All the principals are fantastic, with the possible exception of Remick, who just doesn't fit the part nearly well enough. Duke Ellington's score is a classic.

Stalag 17 Review


Good
Highly acclaimed, this precursor of everything from The Great Escapeto Hogan's Heroesto M*A*S*H to Life is Beautiful is hardly a masterpiece, but it does get credit for being one of the first films made to laugh about war. While the film has a few moments of seriousness, by and large it's a comedy -- mocking Hitler and POW life as we follow the daily rituals of Americans held prisoner by the Germans during WWII. Too bad the gags are so over-the-top they deserve a laugh track (hence Hogan and co. -- though Hogan's Heroes was sued for infringement, the TV series won the case). And speaking of which... a 2 1/4-hour comedy???

Advise And Consent Review


Extraordinary
Everybody loves Henry Fonda -- but what if he was a freakin' commie!?

Otto Preminger turned his eyes from the legal system (Anatomy of a Murder) to American politics in the underseen and tragically underappreciated Advise and Consent.

Continue reading: Advise And Consent Review

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Otto Preminger Movies

Fallen Angel Movie Review

Fallen Angel Movie Review

Don't you just love a good film noir? Turn down the lights, pop the popcorn,...

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