The Fallen Idol

Graham Greene called his thrillers “entertainments”, which sounds dismissive of his own work but really it was an accurate contrast to the more heavy Catholic novels he apparently preferred to write. Greene himself adapted two of his entertainments to film for director Carol Reed, one being The Third Man and the other (and first) being this week’s episode The Fallen Idol (1948) adapted from a short story called The Basement Room, a significantly worse name.

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Late Spring

After well over a year we are finally finishing Yasujiro Ozu’s Noriko Trilogy with the first in the series, Late Spring. While Early Summer remains our favorite of the bunch, Late Spring serves as a more overt reckoning with Ozu’s view of post-war Japanese society. It is rather different than, say, Suzuki’s. As such we have a talk about false nostalgia, and how occupation is bad, but that doesn’t mean that life before the occupation was good.

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Unfaithfully Yours

Preston Sturges's most intellectual film, Sullivan's Travels, was an argument that non-intellectual films are ok. People love them! Not everything needs a deeper point! Still, as we mentioned last week with Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait, Criterion has a tendency to serve us intellectual films, and that makes talking about a movie that doesn't want to say anything an ever unique experience for us.

Of course 1948's Unfaithfully Yours is still a very smart film. It's pitch-perfectly crafted and intensely funny even while maintaining a certain level of suspense. 

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We've seen Laurence Olivier nationalistic take on Shakespeare before in Henry V, but in Hamlet (1948) he runs a different approach, casting the moodier play in German Expressionism-like starkness. Like any filmed Shakespeare there's a lot of editing from the source material, but the end product is representative of the play, at least Olivier's interpretation of it. But that's how adaptations work, right?

The Peter O'Toole and Orson Wells discussion on Hamlet that we refer to can be seen here. It's a great chat from a group of people who really know what they're talking about but can't all agree.

The Red Shoes

The pinnacle of a genre neither Pat nor I have ever really been aware existed. Well, I suppose Black Swan also counts as a ballet movie.  Darren Aronofsky certainly owes quite a bit to Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (who credit themselves as The Archers) and their hallucinatory, layered 1948 adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Red Shoes.

The film is intense and gorgeous, fantastic and tragic. Pat didn't really like it.

Oliver Twist

There's a lot of good in David Lean's 1948 adaptation of another Dickens classic. Oliver Twist has all the artful design and framing of Great Expectations, and once again Lean manages to trim down the story into a movie people will actually sit through. And Alec Guinness is back! Well, those last two aren't wholly good. Particularly Guinness's Fagin. Oh there is so much wrong with Guinness's Fagin.