The Mating Season

BBB.5 (out of 5) John Lund plays an ambitious worker at an Ohio industrial company who meets and marries a gorgeous socialite (Gene Tierney) after he saves her from falling down a cliff. The day of their marriage, his mother (Thelma Ritter) comes to visit, having just shut down her New Jersey hamburger joint after the…

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Detective Story

BBBB (out of 5) A New York police headquarters is the nexus of intense activity in this smooth adaptation of the hit Broadway play by Sidney Kingsley.  William Wyler keeps it stagebound without sacrificing cinematic style in a small world of action, at its head an incorruptible but darkly cynical cop (Kirk Douglas) who sticks…

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The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The imagery in this groundbreaking science-fiction film is unforgettable: a perfectly designed spaceship arrives from the sky and lands in Washington; a giant robot emerges from it but doesn’t say a word or do anything until provoked. An intergalactic traveler (Michael Rennie) also emerges from the craft, but the gift he…

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Decision Before Dawn

BBBB (out of 5) Twentieth century-Fox head Darryl Zanuck liked to temper the success of the studio’s splashier hits by producing “prestige pictures”, his pet projects often gritty World War II dramas.  This film, shot on location, is an absorbing and upsetting adventure based on the true story of German POWs recruited by Allied forces…

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Quo Vadis

BBB (out of 5) Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr throw Christians to the lions, then live to feel the conscientious guilt. Huge sets and thousands of extras in ‘authentic’ Biblical period costumes are exciting and eye-popping, but the only thing that makes this film worth reaching for instead of similar sandal epics like Ben-Hur and The Robe…

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A Place In The Sun

BBB (out of 5) A good but strongly overrated film about a superficial tragedy that besets the lives of superficially pretty people in New England in the 1930s (though it never for a second convinces you of its time period, nor does it seem to try). Montgomery Clift is excellent as a young working-class man…

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A Streetcar Named Desire

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The most faithful adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play produced in Hollywood at the time, the story revolves around an unhappy working-class couple (Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter) and how their lives are disrupted by the arrival of Hunter’s mentally unbalanced sister (Vivien Leigh). Leigh never had the strong career in cinema…

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An American In Paris

BBBB (out of 5) The visual splendor of this Vincente Minnelli musical has made it one of the most successful uses of colour film in cinema history.  Gene Kelly is perpetually charming as a Yank painter trying to make a living selling his canvases on the streets of Paris. Constantly looking for the perfect inspiration,…

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