Robert Wise

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6.8 The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
6.8 The Body Snatcher (1945)
6.0 Born To Kill (1947)
7.0 The Set-up (1949)
4.5 So Big (1953)
7.0 Executive Suite (1954)
7.0 Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
6.5 This Could Be The Night (1957)
6.4 I Want to Live (1958)
6.2 Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
6.8 Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)
6.6 West Side Story (1961)
6.4 The Haunting (1963)
6.6 The Sound of Music (1965)
6.9 Andromeda Strain (1971)
6.0 Hindenburg (1975)
6.0 Audrey Rose (1977)

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.

La gavetta di Wise si svolse all'ombra di Orson Welles, del quale fu montatore, e di Val Lewton, del quale diresse due horror. The Curse of the Cat People (1944) is more of a fairy tale than a horror film.

Amy is a strange child. She has a lot of imagination and shuns the other children. Her father is worried because his first wife died of madness. On her birthday her father makes her promise that she will play with the other children. The other children are made at her, and run away. Amy tries to follow them and ends up at a mysterious house. The voice of an old lady calls her from a window. Amy doesn't see anyone but someone throws a ring at her. A younger woman comes out of the house and sends Amy away. Amy goes home and is reproached by her father who doesn't believe the story and thinks Amy just made it up as an excuse for not playing with the other children. Amy uses the ring as a wishing ring to wish for a friend. The friend materializes in her imagination and she plays with him while her parents see her playing alone. At night her mother sees the rings and orders her to return it. The following day Amy walks to the mysterious house and tells the younger woman that she wants to return the ring to the older lady. The old lady appears in person and introduces herself as an old star, Julia, who played in theaters around the world. The old lady tells Amy that the younger woman is an impostor, liar and cheat. Then she tells Amy the story of the headless horseman. Just then her parents' black servant comes looking for her. The younger woman stares coldly at them without saying a word. When Amy and the black servant have left, the younger woman reproaches the old lady for calling her a fake: she is her daughter Barbara, but the old lady is convinced that her daughter died as a child. That night Amy has a nightmare about the headless horseman and calls her secret friend to lull her back to sleep with his song. The following morning Amy accidentally sees a photo of Irena. She is mesmerized by the beauty of that face and uses the wishing ring to invoke her ghost. Irena appears to her in the garden and they become good friends. On Christmas eve Amy walks outside in the cold and gives a gift to Irena. On Christmas day Amy walks to Julia's house to give her a gift that the old lady is happy to receive, while the gift from her daughter lies unopened next to her. One day her father learns that Amy's secret friend is Irena and gets angry. He wants Amy to repudiate the friend but Amy refuses. Later he tells Amy's teacher how Irena went mad, killed a man and then killed herself. He is frightened that Amy would pick that ghost from the past as a friend. Meanwhile Irena appears to Amy in her bedroom and bids her goodbye for her own good. Irena runs after her in the woods as it starts snowing. Amy looks for shelter in Julia's house but now Barbara hates her out of jealousy. Barbara is about to strangle her but Amy sees Irena in her and calls her "my friend". Her father finds her there and brings her back home.

The Body Snatcher (1945), based on Robert Louis Stevenson's short story "The Body Snatcher", is a morality tale before being a horror story.

In 1831 medical student Donald is having a picnic in a Scottish graveyard and chats with the mother of a man who has just been buried. She is afraid of grave robbers but he reassures her. Meanwhile a kind cabman (Boris Karloff) delivers a paralyzed girl, Georgina, to the mansion of a famous doctor. The mother describes the accident in which her husband died, and how the girl is feeling more and more pain. Donald happens to be one of the doctor's student and is more successful at befriending the girl. The doctor refuses to operate the girl because his first duty is to train new doctors. When the mother and her girl have left, Donald tells the doctor that he would like to quit. To convince him to stay, the doctor makes him his personal assistant who can live in his mansion. The doctor lives with his loving wife and a horrible servant, Joseph (Bela Lugosi). The doctor confesses to Donald that not all the corpses they use for their studies come from the morgue as prescribed by the law. In the middle of the night a man digs up the body of the old woman's son, just the woman Donald had met. Later Donald hears knocking at the door and helps the cabman carry the corpse into the doctor's house. The doctor pays for each corpse that the cabman digs up. Georgina's mother comes to beg Donald to help her and he promises to talk to the doctor. Walking around town, Donald meets the old mother, who is crying because her son's corpse has been stolen. Donald wants to quit again, this time on moral grounds, but the doctor explains that those corpses are needed to perfect their science and save more lives in the future. At the tavern the doctor and Daniel meet the cabman, who invites them to join him at the table and then treats the doctor like an old friend. The cabman is sarcastic about their profession, disrespectful of the doctor's pompous attitude and hints that he once saved the doctor's life. When Daniel asks the doctor to operate Georgine, the cabman forces the doctor to accept. Donald tells Georgine and her mother the good news. At home the doctor is angry and his wife guesses why: she knows that her husband hates the cabman and wishes him dead. The doctor tells Donald that he was just kidding: he cannot operate the little girl because it would require a lot more research. Now Donald realizes the need for corpses and he personally asks the cabman to find one, so that the doctor can experiment before performing the surgery. On the way he gives a coin to the blind girl dressed in black who sings in the streets. The girl is still singing when Donald walks back home in the deserted street. The cabman ties the horse to his carriage and drives out to look for the corpse. The singing stops abruptly... Hours later the cabman shows up at the doctor's mansion and delivers to Donald the corpse of the blind singer. Donald accuses the cabman of murder but still pays for the corpse. When Donald tells the doctor about the murder, the doctor tries to find excuses and refuses to call the police, especially since Donald was, de facto, an accomplice in the murder. The doctor's servant Joseph overhears the conversation.
The doctor finally performs the operation on Georgina, letting the students watch so they can learn. The operation seems successful. Later the doctor informs the cabman that he won't need his services anymore. Outside Joseph tries to talk to the cabman but Donald arrives. Donald tells the doctor that Georgina's wound has healed but she still doesn't walk. The doctor is devastated. At the tavern the cabman makes fun of him, hinting that the doctor is not a real doctor and that he, the cabman, was once convicted of a crime to save the doctor. Having learned of his murders, Joseph makes the mistake of blackmailing the cabman, who does not hesitate to kill him and to send the corpse to the doctor as a gift. When the doctor realizes whose corpse it is, he orders Donald to dissect it like all the previous ones (to make the evidence disappear) and then goes to confront the cabman. The doctor's wife warns Donald to leave and reveals that the cabman took the blame for a crime that the young doctor had committed: robbing graves. Meanwhile the doctor kills the cabman after a furious argument, and then carries the corpse home to show it to his wife. Donald tells Georgina's mother how disappointed he is but just then Georgina gets up and stands up, proving that the operation was successful. Donald wants to inform the doctor and finds him in a town where he plans to unearth a fresh corpse. On the way back, riding in the storm, the doctor hears the voice of the cabman. He checks the corpse and believes he sees the cabman's face during a lightning. The thunder scares the horses that take off and carry the doctor and his corpse over a cliff. Donald finds him dead at the bottom of the ravine, next to the corpse: it's the corpse of a woman.

Born To Kill (1947) was his first film noir, a bitter portrait of two cynical souls, a psychotic man and an amoral woman; but the plot is implausible and amateurish.

Helen gets her divorce and is ready to leave town. She bids farewell to her landlady and meets another tenant, the young and vain Laury, who boasts how she's going out with a new boyfriend. Helen visits a casino where she loses money and is scrutinized by a silent gambler. She briefly meets Laury and her boyfriend. When the two lovers return home in the evening, there's a man waiting for them: it's the silent gambler, Sam, Laury's former boyfriend. Sam and the new boyfriend fight and Sam beats him to death. Then he kills Laury too. Helen discovers the bodies when she returns home. She is tempted to call the police but then she doesn't. Meanwhile Sam has returned to his flat. He tells his housemate Marty what happened. His housemate reproaches him for killing people but then helps him come up with a plan. The best thing is that he takes the first train out of town. Helen happens to be on the same train and recognizes the silent gambler. He is not shaken at all. He is self-assured and confident. He flirts with her, and she doesn't do anything to discourage him. So Sam visits her at her new address: a wealthy mansion. Helen coldly introduces him to her vain and rich sister Georgia and to her aristocratic fiance Fred. They invite Sam to follow them to a night club. Georgia reads about the double murder on the newspaper and Helen tells her that she found the bodies but didn't want to get involved since she was leaving town. When alone with Helen, Sam is still aggressive and even offensive (hinting that she's marrying only for the money), but she seems to like it. However, Sam immediately turns to Georgia and easily seduces her. They decide to get married. Helen does not believe in his love and warns him against hurting his innocent sister. Meanwhile, the landlady has hired a private detective (the first one she finds on the telephone book, who happens to be broke and inept). At the wedding the detective, who has tracked down Sam by followed Marty, manages to sneak in as a kitchen helper. Helen catches him gossiping and forces him to confess his true identity. She then shows him to the door but realizes that Sam is hiding something. Helen invites Sam's only friend, Marty, to a restaurant and starts asking him questions. She even invites him to stay at the mansion. Sam wants to run the newspaper that Georgia owns, but Georgia is opposed to the idea because he has no business experience. Sam and Helen finally confront admit each other's attraction. They exchange compliments about each other's depravity and get more and more excited until they kiss. She says that she's afraid of what she could become without Fred's money (a prostitute? a killer?) Marty catches them kissing and warns Sam against getting in a mess, but Sam does not listen. Then he overhears Helen calling the detective and begins to suspect that Helen has been only pretending to be in love with him while in reality plotting to destroy him. Helen meets the detective. The detective has no doubt that Sam is the killer but tells Helen that he has not yet informed his customer nor the police. Realing that Helen has an interest in suppressing the case, the detective does not hesitate to blackmail her. When she returns home, Sam confronts Helen in front of Marty. She tells him the truth but he is still suspicious. The faithful friend Marty (whose motive is never clear but is ready to risk jail for Sam) follows the detective and finds out who the sender is: the landlady. He visits her and offers to help her investigation. He gives her an evening appointment in a remote place, presumably to kill her. Back at the mansion he talks to Helen trying to dissuade her from having an affair with Sam. Sam sees Marty walk out of Helen's room and behaves rudely to him. Later Marty meets the old lady and is about to kill her with a knife but Sam attacks him: convinced that Marty is trying to steal Helen from him, Sam kills Marty, and the old lady manages to escape. Back at the mansion Sam admits to Helen that he killed his only friend out of jealousy. Helen is mad at him and treats him like an idiot who always gets himself in a mess. Helen visits the old lady trying to make it look like Sam saves her life, but the old woman has guessed that Sam is a killer. Helen threatens her with death if Sam is arrested. The old lady spits on Helen's face. Back at the mansion Fred confronts Helen: he realized that Helen does not love him and wants to call off the wedding. She begs him in vain not to leave her. The detective calls demanding the money, despite the fact that the landlady has dropped the case as Helen wanted. Helen now refuses to pay. The detective calls the police. Helen tells Georgia the truth about Sam. Georgia still wants to defend and save Sam, the man she still truly loves. Georgia accuses her of being simply bitter because Fred dumped her, of wanting her to break up with Sam because she lost Fred's money and Georgia's marriage to Sam deprived her of Georgia's money too. Just then Sam enters the room and, not seeing Georgia, kisses Helen, thus proving to Georgia that Helen was telling her the truth. The police has surrounded the mansion. Sam, who has been suspicious of her motives just like he's been suspicious of everybody else, thinks that Helen called the police on him and kills her before the police kill him.

Blood On The Moon (1949) is a western adapted from Luke Short's novel "Gunman's Chance" (1941), mostly notable for Nicholas Musuraca's noir cinematography.

Si impose con due drammi d'ambiente pugilistico. The Set-up (1949) è una parabola sulla dignità dell'uomo.

Un anziano pugile non vuole arrendersi nonostante sia dato per spacciato da tutti e la moglie lo supplichi di ritirarsi. Quando scopre che l'incontro è stato truccato e che il suo manager vuole la sconfitta, fa appello a tutte le sue forze e riesce a vincere. All'uscita lo attendono però gli uomini del Sindacato, che lo picchiano e gli rovinano la mano destra. Si trascina nel vicolo a fatica, mentre intorno strombazzano le orchestrine jazz dei locali notturni. La moglie, che lo sta aspettando a casa, lo vede trascinarsi a fatica e accorre. La sua carriera è finita, ma è riuscito a dimostrare ciò che voleva. The Set-up (1949) is a film noir with expressionistic overtones about the existential crisis of a man who keeps chasing the dream that has always eluded him. In front of a boxing venue spectators are in line to get in and watch the match of a boxer, Stoker. His manager thinks that Stoker is finished and "sells" the match to a racketeer without even telling Stoker. Stoker is in his hotel room with his wife. For the first time in their marriage, Julie refuses to attend the match. Stoker is an aging boxer who has lost the last matches, and tonight has to fight against a much younger boxer. She is worried and hopeless. She tries to talk him out of it. But he is still dreaming of the big break of his career and doesn't listen to her. Backstage in the dressing rooms the world of boxing has no mercy. As Stoker gets ready, he sees young inexperienced boxers as well as one who is almost killed on the ring. In the meantime his wife is walking around the city, pondering if she wants to attend the match or not. Stoker is going to be the last boxer to get on the ring: he has plenty of time to see all the others go and come back. When his turn comes, Stoker is disappointed to see his wife's seat empty. His young rival is much stronger and more agile, and Stoker is repeatedly on the verge of collapsing. Only desperation keeps him fighting. To make him give up, the manager tells him of the deal he struck with the racketeer. But Stoker finds the strength to beat the young rival and win. He has only two fans in the entire audience, a journalist and a newspaper boy. Everybody else leaves the hall in silence. His manager has already left, afraid of the racketeer's revenge. Stoker's dream has come true, but he doesn't have time to rejoice. The gangsters corner him in an alley, beat him senseless and break his right hand, so he will never be able to box again. His wife sees him limp towards the hotel and runs down in the street. They hug. He is happy that he won. She cries but is happy that he will never fight again. They both won. L'azione si svolge durante una sera ed è descritta con un realismo vigoroso fino alla brutalità. Il mondo del pugilato offre un milieu unico in fatto di spettacolo, questioni sociali, suspence, criminalità, avventura, psicologia, mito del successo, corruzione, crudeltà, giochi di potere, etc. Il pubblico e` un pubblico di bruti, selvaggi, maniaci.

So Big (1953) is a terrible melodrama, a loose adaptation of Edna Ferber's "So Big" (1924).

Two men and a woman drive to a suburban house surrounded by fields to visit a Selina. A flashback tells her story.
Selina is one of the schoolgirls in a nice boarding school. All the girls come from wealthy families A business associate of her father brings the bad news to Selina: her father died after losing all his fortune. Her best friend Julie cries for her: Selina does not shed a tear. Julie's father finds Selina a job as a teacher in a small town settled by Dutch immigrants. Besides the usual stress of teaching unruly children, she also has to deal with the strange family who rents her a room: the primitive farmer Klaas, his meek and dejected wife Maartje, and their teenage son Roelf, a little rascal who already works at his father's farm. Selina befriends the boy and brings out the best of him: he loves music and she teaches him piano. One day the family attends a charity auction. One of the items on sale is a humble object made by Selina. Roelf has saved money and is ready to buy it, but a rich widower, Pervus, steps in and buys it for an outrageous amount of money. Pervus has fallen in love with the new girl. She starts teaching him arithmetic, a fact that makes Roelf jealous. When she is alone with the boy, she tells him that his jealousy is pointless: she would never marry a farmer. Instead she does just that: he is aggressive and she can't resist the temptation. She soon learns how Maartje became so ugly: the work at the farm is merciless. She gives birth to a boy, Dirk (nicknamed "So Big). Maartje dies and Roelf, who now hates that godforsaken land, bids farewell, while the widower remarries promptly. The next victim of the farmer's lifestyle is Pervus, and Selina is left a widow with a still young son. Selina decides to take care of the farm herself. She defies tradition by personally going to the market to sell her produce. The market is a rough and rowdy place for men. The only women are prostitutes. The men try to expel her. She is stubborn and want to stay, but none of the men are willing to buy from her. The only people who are nice to her and her son are the prostitutes. Desperate, she drives to her old neighborhood and goes from house to house peddling her vegetables. She is almost arrested by a police officer because she doesn't have a license to sell, but she is saved by a wealthy lady who comes out of her mansion: it's her old friend Julie. Julie is divorced and has two children, and lives with her father. Julie's father drives her home on the first automobile ever seen in that corner of the world. Julie's father also decides to invest in her innovative ideas. Her vegetables bring her a modest wealth. She can pay for her son to go to a college. Dirk falls in love with Julie's daughter Paula. He wants to be an artist, and his mother always nursed that ambition, but Paula only wants money and talks Dirk into throwing away his artistic ambitions and become a business man. Her mother is disappointed: her entire life was a plan to turn Dirk into a special man, not a mediocre employee in a firm. When Selina visits Dirk at his office and sees how busy he is, she simply walks out. Her consolation is Roelf, who has become a world-famous composer: he has fulfilled her dreams that her son has betrayed. Selina and Dirk attend a performance of Roelf's work, and Dirk, whose relationship with Paula is collapsing, is with a new friend, the artist Dallas. Dallas whispers to him that she met the composer in the old days. Dirk proposes to Dallas, but she is not interested in money: she wants a man who has done real hard work. Dallas introduces Dirk to Roalf, who has come to see Selina after so many years. She is still tending her farm. Dallas and Roelf leave together. Dirk realizes that his mother is prouder of Roelf than of him, and that Dallas likes Roelf better than him. Dirk realizes he made the wrong choice but his mother forgives him.

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) parte dagli stessi presupposti sociali ed esistenziali nel raccontare la biografia di un altro campione: Newman si fa strada in un universo violento e corrotto attraverso il quale conquista una propria personalità.

Rocky (Paul Newman) è un teppista del ghetto italiano, figlio di un operaio prepotente e di una massaia premurosa, dotato di un destro micidiale: furtarelli, risse, fughe per vicoli miserabili, angoscia dei genitori. Anche il padre rifiuta di aiutarlo quando viene colto in flagrante. In riformatorio si mette subito in luce come uno dei piu` violenti: un giorno colpisce una guardia e fa evadere tutti i prigionieri, e ucciderebbe anche la guardia se uno dei compagni non lo stordisse. Finisce in un vero penitenziario. Dopo aver scontato la condanna, si lascia convincere dalla madre a rigare diritto, ma proprio allora viene arruolato di forza. Evade anche da li`, dopo aver litigato con un ufficiale. Trova un lavoro come pugile, ma viene ritrovato dalla polizia e condannato di nuovo al carcere. Quando esce, decide di darsi al pugilato, aiutato da un manager comprensivo. Una brava ragazza che diviene sua moglie compie la trasformazione. Affronta diligentemente la sua carriera e in breve arriva alla soglia del titolo. Il passato però ritorna, sotto forma di un ricattatore che minaccia di smascherarlo se non perderà l'incontro. Rocky si dà malato, ma la giustizia e la stampa scoprono la verità e d'un tratto la nazione gli si rivolta contro e i suoi stessi fan lo insultano. Newman ha una crisi di sconforto, ma una visita agli slum, al padre umiliato, lo convince a lottare ancora. La sera del match c'è soltanto un angolo della nazione dove si tifa per lui: l'angusto bar del suo quartiere. Newman, benché inferiore, trova la forza di vincere per il ghetto, per il padre, per la moglie. Ha vinto per loro e loro lo accoglieranno a trionfatore. Rispetto al precedente è molto più sentimentale, ma conferma lo stile drammatico secco ed essenziale ed un puntiglioso realismo.

Fra questi due diresse il fantascientifico The Day The Earth Stoo Still (1951). In this sci-fi film the aliens are a superior civilization (rather than murderous monster) and they simply want to bring peace to the Earth (rather than destroy it).

A UFO lands in Washington. The alien, Klaatu, brings a message of peace, but a trigger-happy soldier shoots him. While the alien is being hospitalized, his robot, Gort, mounts guard to the spaceship. Klaatu asks the USA politicians to be allowed to deliver a message to the entire planet, but the USA is reluctant and basically keeps him prisoner. Klaatu escapes and assumes the human identity of Carpenter, a good man looking for a room, while the country is swept by sheer terror because the alien cannot be found. Klaatu befriends his landlady, Helen, a widow and mother of Bobby. Carpenter asks to see the most intelligent person in the world, a scientist, who is soon convinced by Carpenter's prodigious intelligence that he is indeed the alien. Carpenter asks the scientist to organize a special conference of scientists, with the goal, again, to deliver his message. One night the child, Bobby, follows Carpenter and sees that he can communicate with the robot. Carpenter orders the robot to sedate the guards and walks into the spaceship. Bobby runs home and tells his mom and her boyfriend Tom, who never trusted the stranger anyway. They don't believe Bobby's story, but they see the diamonds that he gave the child and begin to suspect he is a crook. The following day Carpenter tells Helen the truth about himself, and his peaceful goal. In the meantime, is sending a dreadful signal to the Earth: all power goes off for thirty minutes all over the world. Everything stops: trains, assembly chains, amusement parks... even the government and the military are cut off. The only one who enjoys it is the scientist. The government gets so scared that it deploys thousands of soldiers in the streets to capture the alien, now that, thanks to Helen's boyfriend, it knows who he is. Carpenter is not afraid for his own life, but for what Gorn would do to the Earth is Earthlings killed him, so he instructs Helen on the keywords that would deactivate Gorn's program of total destruction. The soldiers shoot him dead, and Helen rushes to tell Gorn the magic words. Gorn stops, but hauls her in his arms to the spaceship. Klaatu's corpse is kept in a cell, but Gorn has no trouble disintegrating the wall and rescuing it. The scientist had received approval for his conference of scientists, but now the military deny him access to the spaceship, afraid of what the robot might do. Inside the spaceship, the robot resurrects Klaatu. The scientists are allowed to approach the spaceship, and Klaatu talks to them. He warns the Earth to stop warfare or it will be destroyed.

Il dramma Executive Suite (1954), sulla lotta senza esclusione di colpi fra manager per la carica di presidente, fu il suo primo film sul mondo del business.

Executive Suite (1954) is a highly original thriller. It is set in motion by a murder, but we never see the faces of the murderer or the murdered, and we never learn the identity of the murderer. In fact, the thriller is not about the murder at all. The thriller is about the effects of the death on the comanpy that the victim was running. Basically, Wise finds a powerful metaphor to show that life and death are less important than board meetings in the world of business.

On a friday afternoon, a man walks into a telegraph office to send a message to his secretary, calling for an executive meeting that evening. He then walks out and is murdered on the sidewalk (we never see his face, and we don't see the murderer). When the police arrive, someone has already stolen his wallet. It turns out this is Bullard, a powerful man who runs a company with an iron fist. George, a businessman who recognizes the body being taken away in the ambulance stands to profit from learning the news before the rest of the financial markets: he immediately orders to sell stock of the company, knowing that it will collapse during the weekend when the news spreads. He doesn't know that the police have not identified the corpse... they found no wallet. Thus there is going to be no news.
Bullard's secretary receives the telegram and proceeds to instruct the vicepresidents to attend the executive meeting. Each of them gets nervous at the news. It turns out that they are expecting Bullard to appoint an executive vice-president and any of them could be the winner. The least excited to be called to the meeting is the vicepresident of engineering, Don, who is supervising a crucial experiment. But they all have to cancel their appointments to convene to the executive suite.
George, the businessman who sold the stock of the company, and who lives a rather decadent and expensive life, is worried that no newspaper is printing the news of the murder. He is counting on the news to spread like wildfire. Instead, there is no such news in the paper. He calls the hospital and is told that noone named Bullard has been hospitalized. He begins to wonder if the dead man was indeed Bullard and makes a phone call to... Bullard: he is told that Bullard is on his way to an executive meeting. In the meantime, the vicepresidents are waiting in the executive room. To further complicate things, a young woman, Julia, walks into Bullard's office threatening to sell all her stock. She claims she was tipped off by George (who turns out to be one of the company's directors) to sell as soon as possible because a bad news is about to break out. She is obviously attached to Bullard and resentful. But she also appears to be a stockholder in a position to blackmail Bullard. Fred, the only one of the vicepresidents who seems to be concerned about Bullard, reproaches her as ungrateful. When she is alone, Julia seems to contemplate jumping from the window.
The driver calls that Bullard was not on the train. The vicepresidents assumed that he missed the train and won't come till monday, so they go home. Don is truly upset: the experiment failed because he couldn't be in the laboratory.
Finally, George realizes what has happened when he reads in the newspaper that the police found a dead man with no id. He calls the police and tells them who the dead man is. Soon the news is on the radio. Fred hears it at his house and is honestly shocked. His wife is happy: Fred, the man who was closer to Bullard, is next in line. Fred is also one of the few people who is honestly sorry. Don to some extent too. Erica, the secretary, who was secretely in love with the boss, too. The others are only interested in their career. The most ambitious is Loren, who starts immediately giving orders around, taking it for granted that he is the most qualified to be elected president. In fact, he calls for a board meeting to elect the new president. Fred himself admits to Don that Bullard wouldn't trust him as president: Fred is a good man, but is not cynical enough. Loren also knows everybody's weaknesses: he knows where to find one of the vicepresidents, Walt, at the apartment of his lover Eva.
While these men fight for power, George is concerned about his investment: he makes money if the company's stock goes down. Loren has just done something that hurts him: announce to the press that the company's revenues have increased.
Loren tries to get from Erica something compromising about the relation between Bullard and Julia. Erica simply states that Bullard saved the company after Julia's father died, and that they remained good friends. Erica refuses to say more.
George confronts Loren and understands that Loren has done it on purpose: he has released the good news to the press precisely to send George bankrupt unless... he votes for him at the board meeting.
Don, a scientist honestly intersted in the good of the company, could care less about the power struggle, but at the same time he knows that Loren as president would be bad news. Fred is looking for an alternative to Loren, and Don is the only one who can make it. Don first refuses, but then realizes there is no alternative and accepts. Don is also the only one trusted by the workers. The workers have not been happy that the company was not living up to its past standards anymore: they were feeling betrayed by Bullard.
To elect Don, they are counting on Walt's vote (not knowing that Loren is de facto blackmailing him about Eva) and they need Julia's vote. Don confronts her, but she tells him coldly that she has decided to sell out and has given Loren instructions. She has been sacrificed first by her father and then by her lover to the company. This is her way to take revenge against both.
Loren the ambitious, Fred the good man, Don the scientist, Walt the weak salesman, Jessie (who simply wants to retire), Julia the heiress and George the womanizer are called to the board meeting. Loren is assured of winning the four required votes (his own, Julia's, George's, Walt's), but someone backs out. Everybody things it's Julia. Instead, it's George, who wants to be reassured by Loren that he will get his money. This gives Don a chance to address the board. He accuses the company of becoming too cynical, of building cheap products to maximize profits. He gets everybody's vote except Loren. On the way out, Julia congratulates Don's wife, who is waiting outside: she's going to live the hell that Julia lived all those years.

Dopo affrontò come in un film a tesi la pena di morte: I Want to Live (1958).

Una donna viene accusata di un omicidio che non ha commesso, ma gli articoli di un giornalista creano un'atmosfera che porta alla condanna a morte. Un criminologo, convinto della sua innocenza, e lo stesso giornalista, che, forse anche per i rimorsi, ha cambiato opinione, tentano fino all'ultimo di salvarla, ma, dopo un susseguirsi di speranze, la donna deve affrontare la camera a gas. In the first Orson Welles-ian scene, a jazz band plays in a night club for a decadent audience. In a room upstairs a prostitute, Bonnie, is teasing her married customer. Two police officers knock at the door and arrest her for prostitution. Bonnie's main occupation is wild parties. In order to help some friends, she perjurs herself and spends one year in jail. She is fundamentally a drifter, enjoying the atmosphere of Hollywood clubs and the company of gangsters. When she needs money, she accepts any role in any scheme, from robberies to gambling, and, if necessary, prostitutes herself. She gets a child from a bad husband. She gets involved in another criminal scheme and this time an old lady is strangled. The police surroundes their building and arrests them in front of a crowd of photographers. While she is in jail, Bonnie reads in the newspaper that she is suspected of the murder. Desperate to get out, Bonnie accepts an offer from a fellow prisoner: a man is willing to be her alibi for a little money. Bonnie makes the mistake of admitting to him that she was in the victim's house the night of the murder. It turns out that the man is an undercover agent who testifies against her at the trial. The trial is covered by a press eager for morbid stories. A journalist is particularly cynical in attacking her character. She is condemned to the gas chamber, among the delight of the press. She insults them and sarcastically invites them to the execution. But she is desperate about her child. As she awaits for the execution, the press switches sides. Led by the same cynical journalist, they now believe that she is innocent of the murder, no matter how amoral her life. Appeal after appeal is denied, though, and eventually she is executed.

Non e` tanto un atto d'accusa contro il sistema giudiziario e la pena di morte, quanto un ritratto della party-girl dai suoi torbidi privati fino alla camera della morte.

Wise diede un singolare gangster in Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), su una rapina che si svolge in chiave depressa in una grigia New York invernale.

The photography is somewhat hallucinated. It depicts a sleepy city, often observed from odd angles. The neighborhoods are examined in an almost documentary-like style.
David is an old crook who thinks he has found the perfect caper. He asks two old friends, Earl/Slater and Johnny, to partner with him. Earl/Slater is a rude, arrogant and racist fellow. Johnny is a black vocalist and xylophonist, a nice man who has lost a lot of money betting on horses and now is in trouble with the mob. Neither is too excited about the plan, particularly racist Slater who hates blacks. Most of the film is about the failed lives of these two men, and why they end up accepting David's plan. Johnny has a wife and a daughter. The wife dumped him, but he still loves them. Slater is a frustrated veteran. He makes love with the sexy neighbor who is morbidly fascinated by the fact that he once killed someone. The bank robbery goes horribly wrong when the police see David leave the bank with a bag full of banknotes. David, who has the keys of the car, is fatally wounded and shoots himself rather than surrendering. Slater and Johnny are stuck, and end up shooting each other. The shootout with the police turns into a duel between the two, who hate each other. The duel ends when they shoot at each other on top of two oil tanks that explode.
The plot is implausible and the acting is amateurish, but the atmosphere is almost expressionistic.

This Could Be The Night (1957) is a comedy (with lots of jazzy musical numbers and some that borrow the rock'n'roll rhythm) that is worthy mostly for the fresco of offbeat characters and the contrast between the virginal protagonist (symbol of the middle class) and the night-club gangsters (symbol of the undergroud that threatens the values of the middle class).

Anne (Jean Simmons) is a prudish elementary-school teacher, in vain pursued by fellow teacher Bruce. She needs to make more money so she applies for an evening job as a secretary and accountant of a nightclub, owned by disreputable former bootlegger Rocco, as her affectionate landlady warns her. On the way to work, she witnesses Rocco's right-hand man Tony beating a man. Anne gets to meet the crooked lawyer, sexy singer Ivy and other questionable characters. Then she has a fight with rude Tony and decides to quit. Rocco, platonically in love with Anne, is furious with Tony and tells him to go and apologize. Tony meets her at school and convinces her to go back, despite all sorts of bitter exchanges. Her charm rapidly conquers everybody, from the teenage immigrant busboy, Hussein, who is beaten by other boys and needs her help to pass his algebra examination, to Patsy, whose mother Crystal (Joan Blondell), a former entertainer herself, wants her to become a stripper (while making sure that Tony and other playboys don't touch her), but who in reality dreams of becoming a chef and needs Anne's secret recipe to win a contest for a stove. In the meantime Rocco keeps protecting her and giving her presents, but Anne is morbidly attracted to the (for her) mysterious Tony, who, in turn, treats her like a sex-less sister (while sleeping with a different girl every night). Her former suitor Bruce comes to the club and is seduced by one of the girls... and threatened by Tony if he doesn't behave. Anne does not resist the temptation and knocks at the door of Tony's apartment to tell him that she doesn't need his protection. But she ends up making love to him. He behaves like he is ashamed and tells her to get out. But Rocco sees them leave together the apartment and draws the obvious conclusion that Tony has seduced her. He attacks Tony and then confronts Anne, who confesses that she loves Tony. Rocco apologizes to Tony. Tony visits Anne at school (and uses is gangster-like systems to teach discipline to the children) but just to give her the last salary. Hussein, who has passed the exam, is disappointed that Anne is gone. Anne looks for another job. One day Rocco receives a phone call from a rival club owner, asking for references on Anne. But Tony knows that Anne is getting into something dangerous because that club is running an illegal gambling joint. Tony rushes over to the club and saves her from a police raid. Anne goes back to work for Rocco for the delight of all her friends.

Run Silent Run Deep (1958) is a war movie set in a submarine, and vaguely reminiscent of Melville's "Moby Dick".

Rich (Clark Gable) is the captain of a submarine that is sunk by a Japanese warship. He lives to take his revenge. He is given a second chance, relieving Jim (Burt Lancaster) of the command of another submarine. Soon, Jim understand that the enigmatic behavior of the new captain disguises a carefully planned operation: find and destroy that warship, no matter how dangerous the task is. The men almost mutiny, but Jim, faithful to the regulations, orders them to obey the captain. The first attack against the mighty Japanese warship fails, and almost results in the destruction of the submarine. Since Rich is wounded, Jim takes over the command of the submarine and, first thing, orders a retreat. But then he changes his mind, when he realized that the Japanese are following their garbage sacks, which gives their submarine a chance to fool them. Jim is puzzled by a mysterious trasmission that the radar picks up, and Rich, despite his worsening conditions, realizes that a Japanese sub is tracking them and order a manouvre to avoid it. It works, and they manage to destroy the mythical warship. Rich has barely time to see its arch-enemy blow up before he dies.

Wise directed a film version of West Side Story (1961), the musical scripted by Stephen Sondheim and scored by Leonard Bernstein.

Flower Drum Song (1961)

Two For The Seesaw (1962), adapted from William Gibson's play,

The Haunting (1963), tratto dal romanzo di Shirley Jackson, segna il ritorno all'horror con un racconto ambientato in una villa infestata dagli spiriti. Vi si danno raduno un antropologo, l'erede e due parapsicologhe.

The protagonist of the film is a haunted house, "Hill House", a maze of vast staircases and tall corridors that the director turns into a living being, the equivalent of the "monster" in the traditional horror film. The plot unravels at a slow pace, creating terror by suggestion, not by shocking scenes (Val Lewton's technique).
Several previous tenants have died in the house (the owner's two wives died in mysterious circumstances, the owner drowned, his only daughter became a bed-ridden old lady who willed the house to a young woman, who, upon inheriting it, hanged herself). An anthropologist, John, wants to conduct a psychic experiment and invites two women (Eleanor and Theodora) who have had previous encounters with the supernatural, and the young heir to the property, Luke. Eleanor, a single woman who just lost her mother and who as a child was protagonist of the only documented case of poltergeist, has to steal her sister's car to get to the house, where she is hardly welcomed by the servants. Intimidated by the house, she is relieved when Theodora (a world-famous psychic) arrives. The two complement each other: Eleanor is weak and Theodora is strong.
John appears and introduces them to Luke, who is skeptical of the whole ghost thing. They have supper together and then they withdraw to their rooms. Of all the characters, we only hear Eleanor's thoughts, who is obsessed with her dead mother.
The two women are terrified by a loud knocking and footsteps that seem to be approaching the door of the room where they took shelter. Of all the characters, we only hear Eleanor's thoughts, who is obsessed with Someone laughs and then the noise is over. They open the door and find Luke and John chatting and walking: they didn't hear anything.
The following morning they realize that someone has written "Help Eleanor come home" on a wall. Eleanor, who is by far the most vulnerable of the company, is frightened to death: the house knows her name.
The following night the two women go to sleep in the same bed. Eleanor hears voices all night long and holds the hand that she believes is Theodora's. In the morning, she realizes that Theodora has slept in another room...
Theodora is arrogant (accuses Eleanor of having hallucinations) and perhaps lesbian. Eleanor is in love with John and just wants his affection. Luke doesn't believe any of the ghost nonsense.
John's wife Grace comes to stay at the house, uninvited, and chooses to sleep upstairs to find out the truth about these ghosts. The others sleep in a large downstairs and are besieged by the loud footsteps. Someone tries to turn the handle and open the door. Then walks upstairs. Eleanor, convinced that the house is after her, runs upstairs to surrender herself. Grace has disappeared. Eleanor has lost her mind and dances with the statue of the original owner. John rescues her from a winding stairs that is about to collapse. She swears that she saw Grace staring at her through a trap-door from the attic. John is tired of her visions and, despite her protestations that the house wants her, sends her home. Delirious, Eleanor now considers the haunted house as her home. Eleanor loses control of the car that crashes against a tree killing her, and narrowly avoiding Grace, who was wondering frightened in the garden.

The Sound of Music (1965)

bellico Sand Pebbles (1966)

Andromeda Strain (1971), tratto da un romanzo di Michael Crichton, è invece un classico della fantascienza, che crea una suspense del tipo horror dalle stesse conquiste tecnologiche umane.

Una base militare sta cercando un satellite che e` caduto nei pressi di un paesino. Si rendono presto conto che in quel paesino sono morti tutti. L'alto comando richiede immediatamente che la zona venga chiusa al pubblico e che alcuni scienziati vengano precettati e spediti sul posto. Mentre gli scienziati vengono prelevati quasi di forza dalle loro case sotto il segreto militare piu` stretto, due uomini cominciano a perlustrare il paese (imbacuccati in tute protettive). Scoprono cosi` che i morti non hanno piu' sangue, ma scoprono anche che qualcuno e` sopravvissuto: qualcuno e` impazzito ma ha avuto tempo di suicidarsi. Un bambino e un vecchio sono ancora vivi. A Washington i politici discutono come eliminare il pericolo di contaminazione, ma per adesso rimandano il piano di annientare il paese. Spiegano al presidente che la base militare venne fondata su consiglio di uno scienziato per essere preparati contro organismi extraterrestri. Nell'evento di una contaminazione interna, la base e` programmata per autodistruggersi con una bomba atomica. I due uomini tornano alla base e incontrano i due scienziati che sono appena arrivati. Al piu` giovane dei quattro viene affidata la chiave che puo` fermare l'esplosione atomica nel caso in cui venga automaticamente attivata. I quattro sono litigiosi, e in particolare il piu` giovane e` ostile a tutta questa tecnologia e a tutti questi sapienti. Attraverso una serie di esperimenti riescono a misurare e vedere al microscopio l'organismo. L'organismo non si comporta come nulla di umano, per cui gli scienziati ne deducono che debba provenire dallo spazio. Intanto un pilota dell'aeronautica muore misteriosamente e precipita nei pressi del paese: nel suo ultimo comunicato, prima di impazzire, racconta che tutta la gomma si dissolve. Per un'interruzione delle comunicazioni (alla faccia dell'ultratecnologia della base) il team di scienziati viene avvertito in ritardo di questo incidente e del fatto che il presidente ha deciso di rimandare la distruzione del villaggio. Il capo degli scienziati chiede che una bomba atomica venga sganciata immediatamente sul villaggio per evitare che l'epidemia si sparga. Ma proprio quando hanno convinto il presidente scoprono che l'organismo di ciba di energia: quindi un'esplosione atomica non lo distruggerebbe, lo farebbe crescere a dismisura. Bloccano l'ordine del presidente. I due scienziati esterni scoprono che la base conosceva gia` l'organismo, segno che non si tratta di un essere extraterrestre, ma semplicemente di un errore umano: quella base costruita per prevenire epidemie extraterrestri e` stata usata per generarne una a scopo militare. Non c'e` comunque tempo per questioni morali poiche' uno dei due rimane chiuso dentro un laboratorio in cui c'e' stata una contaminazione. Il giovane riesce finalmente a capire cos'hanno in comune il vecchio e il bambino che li ha salvati dal germe, e quindi cosa bisogna fare per impedire al germe di crescere e propagarsi. Ma proprio allora Andromeda corrode una guarnizione di gomma e i sensori della base, individuata la contaminazione, attivano la procedura per autodistruzione, ovvero per l'esplosione di una bomba atomica, proprio l'esplosione che aiuterebbe Andromeda a crescere. Il giovane ha la chiave per bloccare l'esplosione e con una corsa avventurosa riesce a fermarla appena in tempo. Intanto l'aviazione sta usando un antidoto progettato secondo la sua intuizione per sterminare Andromeda. Nessuno, ovviamente, puo` essere certo che Andromeda sia stato davvero disintegrato. Il film si perde in lungaggini tecniche, lengthy descriptions of the controls of the military base, dalle sue procedure di sanitanizzazione, etc. In questo modo spreca la suspense creata dalla catasfrote e dal mistero circa la provenienza del virus. Gli autori del film pensavano probabilmente che il fascino del film stesse nell'atmosfera fantascientifica della base militare, mentre con il passare degli anni la base sembra tecnologicamente obsoleta. Cio` che valeva e` l'idea dell'organismo sconosciuto che deve essere identificato, isolato e distrutto. Purtroppo questo tema passa a lungo in second'ordine rispetto ai deliri tecnologici. La base assomiglia un po' alla stazione spaziale di Star Trek e il team di scienziati riecheggia i rapporti fra i protagonisti del celebre serial. La seconda meta` e` molto piu` eccitante perche' diventa un thriller.

Hindenburg (1975) è un film catastrofico che ricostruisce l'attentato di un antinazista contro un dirigibile tedesco.

Audrey Rose (1977) è di nuovo un horror: un nonno sostiene che la propria figlia si è reincarnata in un'altra bambina ma per dimostrarlo la uccide.

Star Trek (1979) è l'apice delle sue libidini fantascientifiche, ma è soltanto la riduzione sotto forma di kolossal di un serial televisivo del '66-'68.

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