Now With More Than 3000 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

WELCOME! Use the search engines on this site (or your own off-site engine of choice) to gain easy access to the complete MAKSQUIBS Archive; over 2500 posts and counting. (New posts added every day or so.)

You can check on all our titles by typing the Title, Director, Actor or 'Keyword' of your choice in the Search Engine of your choice (include the phrase MAKSQUIBS) or just use the BLOGGER Search Box at the top left corner of the page.

Feel free to place comments directly on any of the film posts and to test your film knowledge with the CONTESTS scattered here & there. (Hey! No Googling allowed. They're pretty easy.)

Send E-mails to MAKSQUIBS@yahoo.com . (Let us know if the TRANSLATE WIDGET works!) Or use the Profile Page or Comments link for contact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

REIGN OF TERROR (aka THE BLACK BOOK) (1949)

Anthony Mann’s smashingly effective low-budget historical takes on the French Revolution . . . and wins! Deep dark serious fun, with a zestful pace, a purposefully jarring visual flair (lensing by John ‘Prince of Darkness’ Alton, with likely assists from production designer extraordinaire William Cameron Menzies, credited here as exec producer), a suspense-filled/action-charged story, and a level of supporting character actors rarely seen in an indie pic. Robert Cummings, sans his usual ersatz charm, makes a dashing hero, searching the back alleys of Paris to find Robespierre’s secret book of proscribed revolutionaries. It’s the only thing that can stop the unhinged zealot from becoming dictator. Old love Arlene Dahl is suspicious of Cummings' motives, and various VIPs of the distressed Republic (Norman Lloyd, Richard Hart, a marvelous Arnold Moss) are either too politically slippery to trust or stuck in jail cells awaiting M. Guillotine. Nonsense as history, of course, but great for film noir mavens, with Richard Basehart in clover as a wily, villainous Robespierre. ‘Don’t call me Max!’ Tremendous stuff.

LINK: Alas, DVDs on this much abused Public Domain film are (inter)laced with troubles. DVD Beaver helps sort things out, but you’re probably okay if you just avoid the mushy ALPHA transfer. http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews21/black_book_dvd_review.htm

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Victor Hugo’s NINETY-THREE (as in 1793) set the template for French Revolutionary figures for generations. But Hilary Mantel, of WOLF HALL fame, turns many accepted ideas on their (barely attached) heads in A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY.

DOUBLE-BILL: Follow Mann & Alton on their next collaboration, a crisply shot & plotted immigration drama, very rough for its day, BORDER INCIDENT/’49. From M-G-M, of all places, starring a commanding Ricardo Montalban & an unexpectedly effective George Murphy.

No comments: