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Nel primo periodo della sua carriera diresse film horror per Val
Lewton come The Seventh Victim (1943) e
Isle of the Dead (1945) is typical of the best of these amateurish horror tales.
An American visits a cruel but victorious general in the Balkans wars. The
general takes him to see the island where his wife is dead but discovers that
all the tombs have been opened and the bodies burned. Nearby they find a
house inhabited by a Swiss archeologist and his guests. The old servant warns
the general about the young beautiful servant, but he doesn't listen to her.
Invited to spend the night, the general gets stuck there when one of the guests
dies of the plague and it is decided that noone can leave the house until
the disease has run its course, in order to avoid spreading it to the troops.
It turns out the young servant hates the general because she knows of his cruel
acts. The general, in turn, begins to believe the old woman's tales, that this
young woman is an evil spirit. The American, instead, falls in love with her.
The archeologist believes in spirits and bets with the doctor that his
prayers will work better than medicine. In fact, the doctor dies.
A woman who is subject to cataleptic trances seems to have fallen to the
plague and they put her in a coffin. When she awakes, she screams in vain.
The general also falls sick, just when the wind has come that will make the
island safe again. Since he fears the young woman, the American asks her
to take a walk. She ventures into the woods, hears the moaning of a woman and
finds the coffin of the cataleptic broken.
There is in fact a woman wandering among the trees. She enters the house and
kills the old servant, while the young servant tells the American what she has
seen. The American searches the woods for the mad woman, but she is still inside
the house, and saves the young servant when the general, mustering his
remaining strength, tries to kill her. Then the mad woman runs outside, chased
by the American, and she falls from a cliff to her death.
The plague is gone and the survivors can finally leave the island.
Con Champion (1949) diede un
classico del genere pugilistico: un diseredato cinico ed ambizioso che vagabonda in compagnia del fratello
zoppo affettuoso e umano si impegna come cameriere in un bar, seduce la brava figlia del proprietario e,
saputo da questi che è obbligato a sposarla controvoglia, è però deciso a tentare la
strada della boxe e la abbandona subito dopo la cerimonia; allenato da un manager comprensivo, riesce ad
imporsi ed inizia una carriera folgorante; finisce però per montarsi la testa, abbandonando il
fratello e l'allenatore per mettersi con l'amante; l'ambizione gli è fatale; oltre agli amici, perde
anche il titolo e il posto; pieno di debiti, non gli resta che tornare dal vecchio allenatore e dalla moglie;
vince allora l'ultimo match, ma muore. Ancora il mito-miraggio di uscire dai quartieri poveri e diventare
qualcuno, con l'inesorabile sconfitta all'orizzonte. La corruzione, il feroce cinismo di chi vuole il successo,
e poi la sconfitta, la solitudine.
Home of the brave (1949) è un film antirazzista che narra invece
l'odissea di un veterano negro, smemorato e paralizzato in seguito alle esperienze di guerra, finché
un medico riesce a guarirlo.
Dopo grossi successi di cassetta nel campo della commedia coniugale (Phffft,
'54) e del bellico aviatore (The bridges at Toko-Ri, '54), tornò all'ambiente pugilistico con
The Harder They Fall (1956), ultimo film di Bogart, in cui un boss assolda il giornalista Bogart per affidargli
l'ennesima truffa: fare di un imbecille grande e grosso un'attrazione nazionale; Bogart ci riesce, ma in un
incontro con un vecchio pugile, questo muore, e il gorilla in lacrime vorrebbe andarsene; Bogart lo
convince a rimanere facendo leva sulla sua ingenuità e sul suo desiderio di tornare al paese con un
po' di quattrini; il gorilla sta pertanto al gioco, ma alla fine Bogart scopre che il boss gli vuole dare
soltanto pochi dollari; gli dà invece la propria paga, lo mette su un aereo tutto contento e comincia
una campagna giornalistica contro le truffe pugilistiche.
Peyton Place (1957) ritrae la vita di provincia di un villaggio del New England
e From the terrace (1960) è una commedia su un uomo d'affari che pianta moglie e carriera per
una ragazza semplice.
The Prize (1963) is a spy thriller reminiscent of Hitchcock's
North to Northwest.
Alas, it's slow and overlong.
Andrew (Paul Newman), a young alcoholic writer from the USA, has been given the
obel Prize for Literature. Another winner from the USA is
professor Max (Edward Robinson), a renown physicist.
The six winners have to meet in Stockholm to receive the prize.
They arrive at the Grand Hotel and are welcome by the staff. Each of them has
a personal story.
The professor arrives with his loving and caring niece Emily.
Andrew arrives drunk. He is assigned a beautiful and efficient Swedish
Andrew is a notorious rebel. He meets the professor who
promises to scold him for his attitude. Andrew is more interested in the night
life of Stockholm than in preparing for the ceremony.
An old friend meets professor Max outside the hotel. The professor is not
happy to see him. The friend is a former colleague who wants to recruit him
for the Soviet Union. Max dismisses him and walks away, but someone kidnaps him.
Meanwhile two friends have taken his niece Emily to a night-club. In the same
club Andrew is getting drunk and making a scene. Emily rescues him.
Emily seems immediately seduced by the drunk Andrew even if he doesn't try.
Inger watches amused.
Then Emily retires to her room where she talks to her uncle Max in a strange
tone, as if she just accomplished a mission. When he checks the time on his
watch, she reminds him that he cannot see well: this is not the real professor,
and she is part of the plot.
The following day the professor does not recognize Andrew, and notices a
remarkably different behavior. Later, after shocking
the journalists with his disrespectful answers
at the press conference, Andrew tells Emily of his impression.
While he is dining with the beautiful wife Denise of one of the winners,
Andrew receives an odd phone call by someone who wants to talk to him about
the professor. Andrew rushes to meet him but finds him dead.
Seeing the murderer leave the building, Andrew follows him, but is almost
However, when Andrew brings Inger and a police officer to the flat, they only
find the man's wife who claims that her husband is on vacation.
Inger is amused and even falls in love with Andrew.
At a reception Andrew recognizes one of the waiters as the murdered.
Andrew hears that Denise's husband has seen someone looking like the professor
been wheeled unconscious into a sanatorium, and decides to investigate.
Emily joins him and, unbeknownst to him, the waiter follows them.
At the hospital Andrew sees evidence that the professor was there,
but the doctor denies it. Then Emily disappears in a car and Andrew narrowly
escapes another assassination attempt by the waiter.
Inger is slowly beginning to believe his stories and helps him figure out
that there is a ship leaving for the Soviet Union. Just then Inger is kidnapped
and a sinister individual warns Andrew that she will be killed if he doesn't
stop his investigation.
Andrew instead boards the ship and, after finding the corpse of the murdered
man, finds the real professor, sedated but alive. With the help of Inger, who
has followed him, the professor is taken back to the city just when the
award ceremony is about to begin. The other Nobel winners are already sitting
in the auditorium, including Max's double. The only missing person is Andrew
but the ceremony begins anyway. When they call Max's name, the real professor
walks in. The fake tries to flee but is killed by the waiter in front of Emily,
who turns out to be his daughter. Andrew chases the evil waiter on the roof
until the man plunges to his death, then rushes back to the auditorium in time
to receive his prize.
The Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Earthquake (1974) appartiene invece al filone catastrofico: il dramma di un
borghese che tenta di salvare la moglie, un terremoto, la conseguente alluvione che distruggono Los
Angeles; morirà annegato.