Although James M. Cain's memorable novel of crime and passion, The Postman Always Rings Twice, predated his equally potent, similarly themed Double Indemnity by almost a decade, it is Indemnity that has proven the more influential, due largely to the uncompromising and suspenseful film writer-director Billy Wilder made from it. Wilder's film remains the model for just about every film noir of this type (Born to Kill, The Prowler, The Pushover, Body Heat, et al.) to come our way since.
Cain's novel was translated to the screen with the full force of the author's ugly tale of lust, greed, and murder intact. In fact, the film version is in many ways tougher than its source. Wilder's intention to make it so prompted his longtime partner, writer-producer Charles Brackett, to back away from the project even though he and Wilder were one of Hollywood's most successful teams. Brackett found Cain's book distasteful and felt the film would be little more than a "dirty movie." He told Wilder to get another collaborator. Wilder tried to get Cain himself, but the author was busy on another project, and Wilder opted for Raymond Chandler instead.
Chandler detested working with Wilder and disliked the final film. Cain on the other hand totally approved of what Wilder had done to his book, even considered it an improvement. The two works are certainly different. In addition to changing the names of Cain's main characters (in the book they are Walter Huff and Phyllis Nirdlinger), Wilder changed the ending and altered other aspects of the story as well. Whereas Cain unfolded his tale in a linear manner, Wilder revealed the fate of his protagonist in the opening scene. Insurance investigator MacMurray arrives at his office mortally wounded and confesses into the dictaphone...Read More
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader grabbed the top spot this week, the family film earning $24.5 million over the weekend. Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie's The Tourist came in 2nd with $17 million. Both films have received mixed to poor critical reviews, respectively.
Disney's Tangled fell to 3rd...Read More
First of all, I liked the first two Narnia films, but I always found it hard not to look at the series and immediately shout, "Harry Potter rip-off!" After all, both film series are based on books (seven of them, oddly enough), both are about children caught up in mystical fantasy battles, and both replaced their directors after the second films (a coincidence,...Read More
Mirrors are a key symbol in many horror films, suggesting hidden aspects of mysterious characters, mocking and scrutinizing its subject into madness. The Wicked Queen of Snow White was undone by a particularly catty mirror and so is Swan Queen Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, a film ostensibly about the world of ballet but is at its essence one...Read More
Do you know that ratty old shirt you love, but no one else seems to appreciate? That shirt is The Tourist. Some of the buzz for this movie hasn't been very impressive, but if you're looking for a fun two hours, The Tourist can help. It's an unthreatening caper flick that should appeal to most viewers.
It Happened One Night is the film generally credited with launching the "screwball comedy" genre popular in the 1930s and 1940s. A difficult genre to define, the screwball comedy revolves around the characters' contradictory desires for individual identity and complete union in heterosexual romance. The films pit the couple's erotic moments of courtship against their verbal combats, battles of wit spiced with rapid-fire,...Read More
Yang has just slaughtered the last of his rival clan in a misty grey dawn to win the title of "World's Greatest Swordsman" only to find an infant left hidden in a travelling box. Currying no favor from his own clan The Sad Flutes for letting the enemy child survive, Yang is banished and hunted by his own Master in The Warrior's Way,...Read More
Screenwriter Ernest Lehman wanted to write the definitive Hitchcock movie. The assignment Hitchcock chose for him, an adaptation of Hammond Innes' novel The Wreck of the Mary Deare, was not it; in Lehman's opinion the novel, about a Marie Celeste-type sea mystery, began with an intriguing premise but concluded with a let-down of a denouement the writer felt was impossible to lick. He...Read More
The film West Side Story is based on the 1950s Broadway stage play, from an idea inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The idea of taking one of the most famous and tragic love stories of all time and translating it to modern America, focusing it around the racial and inner city problems arising at that time (and which still exist today) was...Read More
In his article on "Film Production" for the 1968 Encyclopaedia Britannica Alfred Hitchcock gave the following example of "pure cinema:" "Show a man looking at something, say a baby. Then show him smiling. By placing these shots in sequence – man looking, object seen, reaction to object – the director characterizes the man as a kindly person. Retain shot one (the look) and...Read More