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The desperate hours (Wyler, 1956)

Three prison escapees invade a family's home where they wait for the getaway cash to arrive. But the money courier is arrested and the family members try to the thwart the plans of the fugitives where ever they can.

Apart from being another very nice script taken on by Wyler, this is not a typical film-noir. It has a very straight ending, and it was not nail-biting suspense that sat me through the last third. Although Bogart was quite a surprise playing a heavy, devoid of moral whatsoever and the cast was  impressive, there was something artificial about the story.

Most interesting aspect of the film is the caricature it draws of a "perfect family" in the 50s. This family, especially the father, Mr. Hilliard, has everything that Bogart's character wants and despises at the same time. A nice, boring job, nice, boring home, with a nice and boring wife, a clueless kid and and an adolescent teenager dating a even more boring guy in a sports car. It is hard to tell if Wyler made fun of the concept, or he's playing it as straight as it might have been meant. 

This would make a sensational remake, although I doubt if things would progress as peacefully in a modern rendition of the script. Tarantino would turn this into a deluge of blood.


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In terms of interesting characters, Ida Lupino as the selfish wife that tries to seduce George Raft's Joe she is definitively at the most intense when she slowly sheds all the layers of sanity towards the end. Although her motives are a bit unclear - the amazing thing about her behavior is that she values love over money. In that perspective the movie feels like a tragedy, as (except for the loan shark) everybody has comparatively sophisticated understanding of emotion and life.

Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987)

During second world war the monk running a boarding school for upper-class kids hides Jewish kids.

This highly personal movie is very touching and manages to avoid all the pitfalls of being overly emotional. Music and editing are very subdued and carefully used to underline situations. This makes the story ring true (which it was) and gives the viewer good time to settle into the universe that these kids live in.

There are many quite complicated scenes and I was interested in one particular: When Jean gets invited on parent's day by the mother of his new best friend into a posh restaurant. In that very restaurant there are Nazis at one side of the room and an elderly Jew sitting on the other side. The table of the family is right inbetween. Many things about France during the war are told during this scene, I'll just try and focus on camera placement.

The focus shifts twice in the scene: From the family table to the French Jew's table  (who I have been told wears the red …

Glory (1989, Edward Zwick)

A young commander in the civil war is asked to recruit and lead the first all-black Confederate battalion into the Civil War.

I am not too interested in details of the American Civil War but the film managed to stir my interest in some ways. I might want to look up the difference in treatment of the many Chinese laborers that were employed in the development of the West and what kind of legacy this particular group of people has to suffer from in contrast to the better-known fate of African-Americans.

There are some interesting scenes in the film. I decide to examine the battle scene in the beginning. It introduces Broderick's character as a naive and brave but inexperienced soldier - a great choice of casting, especially in contrast to the hardened appearance of Washington. According to imdb footage was used from re-enactment groups and intercut with the staged film.

Before the battle scene commences Broderick walks in row of soldiers and talks over the pictures of the gathering…