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  • Blonde Venus

    Blonde Venus

    ★★★★★

    I remain baffled that it's not commonly accepted that Sternberg's American films with Dietrich are a systematic deconstruction of patriarchy. His Dietrich character is basically an existential superhero, and Sternberg is always on her side--whether she's entirely sympathetic, as here, or entirely unsympathetic (Devil Is a Woman). The ending, in which the patriarchal household is reconstituted, is of course as much of an absurd fantasy as everything else that happens, although one in which the film has a degree of…

  • The Crime of Monsieur Lange

    The Crime of Monsieur Lange

    ★★★★★

    If someone told me the plot of this film, I wouldn't have believed it. Really? This is generally viewed as a light-hearted, optimistic comedy about the establishment of a socialist utopia? A movie in which women are getting raped and pimped out left and right by a capitalist monster, and the only way to stop his exploitation of ordinary, non-sociopathic people is to outright murder him? Also, haven't seen such a lack of sentimentality about an unwanted child since Ophuls's Caught. Not only politically but also formally (as a comedy) radical.

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  • The Reckless Moment

    The Reckless Moment

    ★★★★★

    Ophuls' Sirkean noir has James Mason's Irish criminal and Frances Williams' black housekeeper scrambling to protect a useless white middle-class family from their own recklessness. All of that irony plus great suburban noir cinematography from Burnett Guffey (all of those chiaroscuro leaves!). I want to see the sequel, where Joan Bennett has to carry on with this life after being taken to the brink of the abyss.

  • Caught

    Caught

    ★★★★½

    Why so little love for this great woman's picture/noir, moodily shot by the brilliant Lee Garmes? Like Ophuls's other woman's picture/noir from the same year, The Reckless Moment, this very much looks forward to the caustic analysis of American life in Sirk's 50s films, while its male hysteria and Expressionist melodrama anticipate 50s Ray. In other words, the 40s turn into the 50s, here.