Directed by Nicholas RayFrance, United States | 1957
The action scenes are grisly, unromanticized and terse, brutal slashes of explosions and shrapnel that have no glorifying outcome, only death. Even the early raid on the Nazi headquarters, the only out-and-out action setpiece of the movie, is too blistering (yet still classically shot) to be all that rousing, and the shot of a soldier busting a portrait of Hitler seems more a show of childish impudence than a victorious gesture. Throughout the film, the action filmmaking quotes, directly and indirectly, the same training exercises seen at the beginning of the film, making war into a sick game. Ray frames numerous shots to maintain suspense while robbing the film of its potentially inspirational power, his framing always emphasizing the isolation of the commandos instead of overpowering dedication and conviction.
Directed by Nicholas RayUnited States | 1954
Her appearance is silent, but it might as well have been accompanied by a lightning strike and peal of thunder, so dynamic and convention-upturning is Crawford’s presence. Her tacit, masculine strength instantly awes the men conversing about her down below. Speaking to the titular character who just rode into town at Vienna’s invitation, one of the locals meekly confides, “Never seen a woman who was more of a man. She thinks like one, acts like one, and sometimes makes me feel like I’m not.” Crawford immediately establishes Vienna’s liberated, aggressive demeanor, her wide eyes bulging with a combination of of authority, power and a lust she knows she can satisfy at any moment.
Directed by Nicholas RayUnited States | 1950
Only an actor with the talent, charisma, authenticity and magnetism of Humphrey Bogart could play a character by the name of Dix Steele with the kind of conviction that slowly morphs our inevitable giggles to terror and sadness. It goes without saying that Bogey is an undisputed cinematic legend, but what continues to strike me about his work is the raw humanism that he displays. There’s a darkness and danger that seems to permeate his being in every role. That razor’s edge tone especially seems to stand out in an era of Hollywood’s Golden Age that had a penchant for stock, sympathetic, archetypal characters and stories that either feigned tragedy or provided light, comic escapism. Bogart is always a shot of existential angst into an era that seemed to be going through a kind of dramatic Enlightenment.