Sidney Gilliat’s Green for Danger is a cozy little whodunnit where everyone has something to hide and the main victim is a mailman. It also takes place in England against the backdrop of the Germany’s doodlebug bombing campaign and came out barely a year after the setting. It’s lighthearted. It’s dark. It’s delightfully weird. We spend a lot of time discussing why we think Criterion might want us to see it.
A great story, perhaps especially a great short story, leaves the reader to answer some of the questions. A bad one does, too, mind you, but a good one does it well? I digress. Ernest Hemingway's The Killers is a great short story that leaves a lot of questions for its readers, and for some reason people making film adaptations seek to answer them all. We're watching two such adaptations this week, and a third that leaves well enough alone. Andrei Tarkovsky's short student film version from 1956 is the most straightforward adaptation of the bunch, for better or worse. Likewise, Robert Siodmak's 1946 version starts with a straightforward retelling then veers into wildly unlikely directions with it's solid Noir adaptation. Meanwhile Don Siegal's 1964 version veers so wildly it would be nearly unrecognizable as an adaptation if it weren't for the title. But then, Siegal's is the only version with Lee Marvin as an anti-hero and Ronald Reagan in his only villainous roll. Watching any of them is a great way to spend your time, watching all three is a, well, something we did.
In 1946 Alfred Hitchcock was still under contract to David O. Selznick and they still hated one another. But Selznick realized a scheme to make a little more money out of the star director: instead of producing Notorious himself, he sold it off to RKO just before shooting started. Of course he still tried to exert a bit of control, attempting to get Joseph Cotten in the lead instead of Cary Grant. Oh that David O. Selznick! This is the last in our short run of Hitchcock/Selznick pictures, and the best of the bunch.
This week marks the second David Lean film we've talked about and next week will be a third, which is a good indication that, like the British Film Institute, Criterion considers Lean a pretty important director.
This week it's the first of his adaptations of the work of another British great Charles Dickens and one of the best book to movie adaptations I've ever seen: 1946's Great Expectations. Dickens is verbose, which is a polite way of saying that he was paid by the word, and Lean and his co-adapters masterfully trim the fatty bits down to a, well, lean little sirloin.
This week Pat and Adam discuss Jean Cocteau's 1946 adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, a film that clearly had a heavy visual and structural influence on later adaptations (we're looking at you, Disney) but still managed to leave us wanting. We also discuss the merits of telling your audience that they'd like your movie better if they weren't so dull.
Listen in and feel free to tell us we're dumb, especially if you're correcting Adam's established inability to say words correctly.