Playing Catch-Up — The Other Side of the Wind; Three Identical Strangers; All the Money in the World

The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018). Nearly fifty years after Orson Welles shot its first footage and over thirty years since the master filmmaker’s death, The Other Side of the Wind finally sees release. Completed by a … Continue reading Playing Catch-Up — The Other Side of the Wind; Three Identical Strangers; All the Money in the World

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number One

#1 — Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) Back when I had my first opportunity to share my opinions on the vast swath of cinematic offerings, foisting thick clusters of film criticism upon the defenseless radio listeners of Central Wisconsin, I took the task of crafting lists very seriously. The only time that particular duty really came into play was as one film year gradually gave way to the next (for those of us well-removed from the major metropolitan areas and the eager attention of studios and publicity agents hoping for consideration for timely awards seasons accolades, we were lucky if … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number One

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Twelve

#12 — The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942) Orson Welles was happy to cultivate legend. The towering wunderkind brought an overwhelming panache to absolutely everything he did, but he was rarely more at comfortable home than when engaging in something that burnished his own monumental reputation, either as genius, a showman, or, increasingly as his career progressed, a semi-tragic figure discarded by the very entertainment establishment that could have most benefited from his distinctive brilliance. Just one look at Welles facing the press in the aftermath of the infamous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, playing every variant of chastened … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Twelve

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Forty-Four

#44 — The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947) After his debut feature accomplished nothing less than redefining the possibilities of cinema itself, Orson Welles never delivered another film that wasn’t compromised in one way or another. Even with his smaller, scrappier efforts, on which he came closest to the unquestioned creative authority of Citizen Kane, he was constrained by tight budgets and his own bad habits, which only grew the further away he got from Hollywood’s irritating controls. And when Welles was trying to work within the system, it often seemed as though he was thwarted at every turn, in part … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Forty-Four

Cocteau, Keaton and Crisp, Kent, Reed, Welles

Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946). Cocteau’s take on the famed French fairy tale is elegant and unsettling, standing as a cunning exploration of the ways in which imagery and mood can reshape a familiar story. Beginning with opening credits written on a chalkboard (and then promptly erased) and an explanatory that calls for the film to be viewed with the appropriate childlike wonder, Cocteau also establishes a terrific playful quality. The resulting mix of the sublime and the goofy gives Beauty and the Beast (or, if you prefer, La Belle et la Bête) an absolute surplus of charm. … Continue reading Cocteau, Keaton and Crisp, Kent, Reed, Welles