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Friday, Apr 3, 2015
This is a charming, bucolic, and splendidly unhealthy atmosphere populated by a gallery of busybodies and wrongheaded local boobs.

Robert Siodmak’s The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry might be confused in some minds with Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, because both are small-town crime stories about murder and uncles. The latter film features Uncle Charlie, an evil man visiting a small town from the big, sophisticated outside world. However, Siodmak’s film has an arguably more disturbing premise, as its moral rot is homegrown from the town’s oldest and most illustrious family.


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Thursday, Apr 2, 2015
As Furious 7 rapidly approaches, it's time to look back on the 10 films that created our concept of the car chase and its place in the modern action effort.

It’s almost here. No, not the summer movie season; that’s still a good month and a highly anticipated Avengers sequel away. In this case, we are talking about the latest entry in the fluke franchise known as The Fast and the Furious. What started out as a celebration of all things racing, including an unnecessary diversion into “drifting”, has now become one of the biggest multi-cultural action series ever. We can thank the various creative forces behind the scenes for transporting said narrative away from the illegal street car challenges of the original movie to the dizzying heist drama of Fast Five and the international intrigue and spy games of Fast and Furious 6.


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Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015
As this obscure Warner Archive reissue proves, sometimes a film falls to obscurity for a reason.

One useful aspect of on-demand and streaming titles from Warner Archive is the chance to see obscurities that sound halfway interesting, as well as to confirm that, in some cases, obscurity is merited.


Shot in Italy with a mostly Italian cast and crew (and obvious dubbing in certain scenes), Panic Button  offers several points of half-interest. Top-billed Maurice Chevalier spends the whole movie winking and shrugging and mugging as though paid by the tic, twice bursting into jaunty if unmemorable songs by George Garvarentz. It will also appeal to fans of Jayne Mansfield, who has a reasonable role showing off her assets, although this film is shot in a flat, unflattering black and white that devalues what should have been all its pleasing vistas.


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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
This late '50s seafaring comedy is pleasant if uninspired.

All at Sea, called Barnacle Bill in England, is an Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness, but there’s a reason you never hear it mentioned in the same breath with Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Man in the White Suit, or The Lady Killers—except in the hopeful trailer, which claims it’s the best of them all. It’s a nice, modest, and pleasant little effort that clearly comes from the same sensibilities without being as inspired.


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Monday, Mar 30, 2015
by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick
Double Take heads out West and into the disfigured psyche of Ethan Edwards. Do we figure him out completely? That'll be the day. But we went out looking hard for him anyway.

The Searchers asks one main question: What makes a man to wander?


Steve Pick: We come to the first Western in our series, the John Ford masterpiece The Searchers. I say “masterpiece” because there are few films so tightly focused, so beautifully filmed, and so aware of ambiguities. From that wonderful opening shot through the door of the small home out on the Texas prairie on through the final shot through another door, as John Wayne saunters away from family, friends, and purpose, this is a movie which takes away breath so often it should come with an inhaler. Yet, there are issues to discuss, not the least of which include the treatment of Native Americans, questions of cultural identity, the meaning of the word “family”, and the general concept of the “hero” in American films. The Searchers exists in the context of hundreds of other western films, not to mention thousands of dime novels, pulps, and paperbacks. While delivering the thrills inherent in the genre, it seems to me that The Searchers does not take its tropes for granted, but digs deeper into their meaning than we are used to seeing.


So, Steve, I’ll let you start by asking your take on The Searchers in general, and more specifically your opinion of John Wayne’s character in the context of the film.


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