Tag: Epstein Brothers

November 23, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Peggy Nelson

Casablanca – 1942 – dir. Michael Curtiz

So.  Here you are, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), a young woman in your twenties, newly hatched and out and about in the world, meeting the usual suspects.  Among them is Victor Laszlo (Paul Heinreid); he’s handsome, passionate, committed to a good cause, the only cause: liberté, égalité, fraternité.  In fact, he’s actually the leader of the resistance!  And single.  And he singles you out.  You cannot believe your luck.  There are many late nights in the café, and then later nights at his apartment.  Your relationship is secret, this is for your protection he says, but that just adds to the aura.  There’s a lot of travel, too; it isn’t safe to stay too long in one place, especially for him.  There seems to be one “it” city every half-century, Paris is currently “it,” and you’ve arrived.

Then the Nazis pick him up.  Then you fall in love.  But not with him.

November 17, 2009 / / Main Slate

The Man Who Came To Dinner – 1942 – dir. William Keighley

We call a film ‘classic’, while sometimes forgetting why and how it came to be labeled that way.  “Oh”, we say, “The Man Who Came To Dinner. A classic movie!!” But why?

In the case of this Epstein Brothers-produced gem, the answer is easy. A super boffo comedy romp, it follows all the rules of how to make a movie that lasts, past time, past fashion: keen direction, faultless dialogue and performances, perfect pacing, plus a theme whose lessons remain timeless.

November 3, 2009 / / Main Slate

Mr. Skeffington (1944) – dir. Vincent Sherman

The great Bette Davis had many cinematic tricks up her sleeve. Three of these held her in good stead over a nearly-seventy year career: her eyes, her voice, her cigarette.

Never enough can be said about the famous “Bette Davis eyes”; they had their own three-ring circus going; they cartwheeled, they jumped, they batted, they flew, they flirted, they lied, they fluttered, they drooped.  They were wet with tears when she wanted to deceive some man. They raised their joys to heaven and poured their poisons into the cups of those who worshiped at their altar.  Davis knew what to do with them, and even when she over-used or over-relied on them, there seemed to be a reason for it.  Entities unto themselves,  they worked overtime for her and made her the finest screen actress of her time.