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  • The Virginian

    The Virginian

    ★★½

    Gorgeous Technicolor version of Owen Wister’s archetypal Western novel seems a throwback to the pre-WWII era, with its villain dressed all in black and its unambiguous approach to moral dilemmas — ‘a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’. However, the troubling source of the film’s emotional core is a lynching, which the story attempts to justify. This is three years after The Ox Bow Incident, so it must have raised a couple of eyebrows in 1946. In 2021,…

  • Planet of the Vampires

    Planet of the Vampires

    ★★

    A showcase for Mario Bava’s ability to conjure other worlds with the barest of cinematic resources: coloured lights, dry ice, miniatures, plastic, etc; and Dan O’Bannon, the original architect behind Alien, has apparently come clean about stealing the sequence with giant alien skeletons in an ancient derelict spaceship. Unfortunately, the splendid art direction and occasional creepy moment are unable to paper over the gaping plot holes and general narrative confusion, the plethora of ridiculous incident or the deadly pacing.

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  • Foreign Correspondent

    Foreign Correspondent

    ★★★★

    With David O Selznick off his back, Hitchcock revels in the Hollywood playground and produces his first blockbuster. It's also, arguably, his most typical adventure thriller until North by Northwest (which is, in some ways, a rehash of this film). It lacks the psychological complexities of Hitchcock's best films (including Rebecca), and even though WWII is on the doorstep, it's less pressing a propaganda piece than The Lady Vanishes, for example, apart from the earnest (and pretty terrific) tacked on…

  • Man's Favorite Sport?

    Man's Favorite Sport?

    ★★★★½

    Paula Prentiss's Abigail is so consumed by Rock Hudson's Roger Willoughby — a fraud but also a sweet, gentle soul — she goes a little nuts. She can't leave him alone, which causes Roger no amount of grief, but it also leads him to become the best version of himself. In other words, she makes an honest man out of him. This is Howard Hawks's most extreme statement concerning the battle of the sexes. At one point, Easy (Maria Perschy),…