The Homecoming

US (1973): Drama
111 min, Rated PG, Color

Harold Pinter's mannered, floating ominousness has been used to tone up many movies (it was at its most effective in his script for ACCIDENT), but his own plays-The Caretaker, The Birthday Party, and The Homecoming, too-transfer to film badly. When this play is presented on the stage, the tensions bounce around, and one can respond to the actors' relish in their roles, but on the screen the material is so lethally set that Pinter sounds Pinteresque. The movie seems cheaply theatrical, with cryptic reversals of attitude, and sudden outbreaks of violence and sex, plus a coronary and some unspecified sort of seizure. And the attitudes are cheap; Michael Jayston, smiling a tiny, tight smile, plays the philosophy professor who, accompanied by his wife, Ruth (Vivien Merchant), returns from America to visit his Cockney family; the role is none other than that old standby of middlebrow theatre-the prissy, unfeeling, vaguely impotent intellectual. Stoic Ruth, the one woman in this archetypal-rancorous-family play, is mother-wife-whore and, of course, is sphinxlike-the ultimate, controlling mystery of life. The suggestiveness of the play remains, along with some of its charge, and so does Pinter's idiom, with its wit, though in the movie the language sounds crisped-overcalibrated. With Paul Rogers as the domineering butcher-father, Cyril Cusack as the weak uncle, Ian Holm as the satanic pimp son, and Terence Rigby as the thick-headed son; they are all playing so high they cancel out each other's performances. Directed by Peter Hall; cinematography by David Watkin; music by Thelonious Monk. Produced by Ely Landau, for American Film Theatre.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Reeling.

Honey

US (1930): Musical/Comedy
73 min, No rating, Black & White

Paramount in its frivolous, popular-musical-comedy glory, when it was raiding Broadway and the Algonquin. The original material was by Alice Duer Miller and A.E. Thomas; Herman J. Mankiewicz did the adaptation; and the star is Nancy Carroll, as the aristocratic young Southern girl who rents her family mansion to rich New Yorkers and takes the job of cook, while her brother (Skeets Gallagher) plays butler. A great hit, it was followed by dozens of movies that aped its characters and situations; television sit-coms finally exhausted them. (The picture itself looks very tired.) The cast includes Lillian Roth, Mitzi Green, ZaSu Pitts, Harry Green, and Jobyna Howland; Wesley Ruggles directed. The musical numbers include "Sing You Sinners."

The Honey Pot

US (1967): Comedy
131 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette

Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote and directed this movie, based on Frederick Knott's play Mr. Fox of Venice, which was adapted from Thomas Sterling's novel The Evil of the Day, which was based on Ben Jonson's Volpone. And the movie feels at that far a remove from the play (which was filmed by Maurice Tourneur in French in 1939, starring Harry Baur and Louis Jouvet). In this overcomplicated, talk-infested Mankiewicz version, set in the present day, Rex Harrison is Cecil Fox, reputedly a millionaire, who lives in Venice. After attending a performance of Volpone, he decides to trick three of his ex-mistresses (Edie Adams, Capucine, and Susan Hayward) into believing he's dying. The story then plunges into conventional 20th-century mystery, complete with a corpse, a bungling detective, misleading clues, locked attic rooms, and flickering electric lights. Even Mankiewicz may have wondered how he was going to get out of the whole damn thing. Maggie Smith is also around, and Cliff Robertson, Adolfo Celi, and Herschel Bernardi. Originally it ran 150 minutes, but it was cut to 131 minutes; count your blessings. Cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo. A Charles K. Feldman Production, released through United Artists.

The Honeymoon Killers

US (1970): Crime
108 min, Rated R, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Based on the lives of the multiple murderers Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, who met their victims through Lonely Hearts clubs, and who were put to death at Sing Sing in 1951. This low-budget black-and-white movie is so literal-minded that it resembles a True Detective account of the case; it's as if someone re-created the Grade-Z pictures of the 40s and did so in absolute seriousness. The movie goes through the chronicle of the Beck-Fernandez crimes with pedestrian relentlessness; it's paced as if the actors were walking in lockstep. After the almost incredible lack of depth of the first half-hour, the film begins to acquire a fascination because of its total superficiality-it becomes something resembling Minimal art. The writer-director, Leonard Kastle, whose first (and thus far only) picture this was, keeps the images so brightly lighted and so exactly planned and worked out that every ugly detail is in place-the hammer blow on the head, the trickle of blood, the ludicrous tongues sticking out of dead faces. As the 200-pound Martha Beck, Shirley Stoler is much too shrill at the start but quiets down and improves as the movie plods on; as the sleazy charmer Ray Fernandez, Tony Lo Bianco is alarmingly authentic to the pulpy genre. The women victims include Marilyn Chris, Barbara Cason, and Mary Jane Higby. Produced by Warren Steibel; the film uses music by Gustav Mahler.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

Honeysuckle Rose

US (1980): Drama
119 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

The film seems color-coordinated to Willie Nelson's hippie-Indian earth-tone clothing; he plays Buck Bonham, a country-and-Western singer, a regional idol who has never quite attained national success. Buck loves travelling in his tour bus with his backup band; life on the road is the answer to his restlessness. As Buck's wife of 15 years, Dyan Cannon (who sings in a good torchy blues voice) is so full of energy and humor and knowingness that she gives the audience hope: if this is maturity, then life looks pretty good. Having stumbled onto this affirmation, the director, Jerry Schatzberg, knows what he's got and doesn't overplay his hand and wreck it. The songs (by Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Leon Russell, and others) have a lot of energy, and the music and the imagery move together. The film has no big dramatic conflicts, but in its loose, non-linear way it has more going on than most movies, though what's going on is understated and sometimes a little screwed up, with story points undeveloped or left dangling. The story is INTERMEZZO out West, with Amy Irving as the young musician who is in love with Buck. (Willie Nelson has a calm, rascally sexual magnetism.) The film is very sensual in its color, in the looks that the two central women characters exchange with Buck, and in the music itself. Also with Slim Pickens, who has come to sound even more endearingly hoarse and scratchy than Andy Devine, and Charles Levin, Joey Floyd, Priscilla Pointer, and a guest appearance by Emmylou Harris. Most of the musicians are members of Nelson's actual backup band, and the byplay among them is unforced and funny. Cinematography by Robby Müller; music supervised by Richard Baskin; the almost nonexistent script is credited to three writers; many others reportedly worked on it, too. Released by Warners.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Taking It All In.

Honky Tonk

US (1941): Romance
105 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

Practically indistinguishable from several other Clark Gable pictures featuring sheriffs, cardsharps, and girls in net stockings and feather boas, but a bigger hit. The lush, 21-year-old Lana Turner is a New England lady out West to catch up with her father (Frank Morgan); she speedily becomes entangled with the town's good-bad man (Gable), gets him drunk, and marries him. That's only the start of the picture; from then on it's turgidly predictable. Jack Conway directed, from a script by Marguerite Roberts and John Sanford; with Claire Trevor, Marjorie Main, Chill Wills, Albert Dekker, Esther Muir, Betty Blythe, and Veda Ann Borg. MGM.

Hope and Glory

UK (1987): War/Drama/Comedy
113 min, Rated PG-13, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

A great comedy about the blitz. In this autobiographical film, the writer-director John Boorman has had the inspiration to desentimentalize wartime England and show us the Second World War the way he saw it as an 8-year-old-as a party that kept going day after day, night after night. The movie has a beautiful pop clarity. He doesn't deny the war its terrors, but it also destroys much of what the genteel poor like the Rohans have barely been able to acknowledge they wanted destroyed. Boorman lets his characters say the previously unsayable. Bored with crouching indoors during the nightly raids by the Luftwaffe, the dimply blond 15-year-old Dawn (Sammi Davis), the eldest of the three Rohan children, runs outside, watches the firefighters at work on a blazing house, and dances in the Rohans' postage-stamp-size front garden. "It's lovely!" she calls out. The movie is wonderfully free of bellyaching; it's a large-scale comic vision, with 90-foot barrage balloons as part of the party atmosphere. The large cast includes Sebastian Rice Edwards as the 8-year-old Bill, Geraldine Muir as his little sister, Sarah Miles as his mother, David Hayman as his father, Ian Bannen as his grandfather, and Susan Wooldridge, Derrick O'Connor, and Jean-Marc Barr as the Canadian jokester. Released by Columbia.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Hooked.

The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus

France-Italy (1959): Horror
88 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc
Also known as LES YEUX SANS VISAGE and EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

This famous film by Georges Franju opened in this country on double bills in a dubbed version called THE HORROR CHAMBER OF DR. FAUSTUS, but it's perhaps the most austerely elegant horror film ever made. Franju called it "a poetic fantasy," and it's a symbolist attack on the ethics of scientists. Though in its way it's as simpleminded as the usual romantic young poet's denunciations of war or commerce, it has a vague, floating, lyric sense of dread which goes beyond the simpler effects of horror movies that don't make intellectual claims. Franju's approach is almost as purified and as mystic as Bresson's. The story is about a surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) who, in systematic experiments, removes the faces of beautiful young kidnapped women and tries to graft them onto the ruined head of his daughter (Edith Scob). He keeps failing, the girls are destroyed, yet he persists, in a terrible parody of the scientific method. In the end, the daughter-still only eyes without a face-liberates the baying hounds on which he has also been experimenting, and they tear off his head. The film is both bizarrely sophisticated (with Alida Valli as the mad surgeon's mistress, doing the kidnapping in a black leather coat) and ridiculously naïve (in its plot elements). With Juliette Mayniel as Edna, and François Guérin as Jacques, and Claude Brasseur. The cinematography is by the great Eugen Schüfftan; the music is by Maurice Jarre; the superb gowns are by Givenchy. From Jean Redon's novel; Claude Sautet was one of Franju's troupe of co-writers. In French.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book I Lost it at the Movies.

Horse Feathers

US (1932): Comedy
68 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

The Marx Brothers in one of their niftiest corny-surreal comedies; it isn't in the class of their DUCK SOUP but then what else is? The setting is academic, with emphasis on football; Groucho is Professor Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College, who explains his policy in the song "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It," and Thelma Todd is the college widow to whom all four brothers make overtures. So there's some naughty sense to it when Groucho sings the picture's theme song to her, "Everyone Says 'I Love You!'" Norman McLeod directed, for Paramount, from a screenplay by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby (who also wrote the songs) and S.J. Perelman and Will B. Johnstone. Produced by Herman J. Mankiewicz; with Robert Greig as the solemn-voiced biology professor, David Landau as the villain, and Nat Pendleton.

The Horse's Mouth

UK (1958): Comedy
93 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Joyce Cary's painter-hero, Gulley Jimson, is a fabulous, lewd creation: the modern artist as a scruffy, dirty little bum. Gulley's antic self-destructiveness is partly based on the behavior of Cary's friend Dylan Thomas, and his approach as a painter is derived from the tradition of William Blake. Alec Guinness's sly, likable Gulley isn't all that one might hope for (Guinness lacks passion and innocence and the real fire of insolence), and the movie is too literal-minded-it's a conformist movie about nonconformity-but, with that said and out of the way, let's admit how marvellously enjoyable it is. Set in London. With Ernest Thesiger as Hickson; Renée Houston as wily old Sara; Kay Walsh (less successful) as Coker, the conscience-ridden barmaid; and Michael Gough (wretched) as the sculptor. Ronald Neame directed Guinness's adaptation; Gulley's paintings were done by John Bratby. The score is adapted from Prokofiev.

The Hospital

US (1971): Drama/Comedy
103 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette

That great spangled ham George C. Scott in Paddy Chayefsky's farce about the killing incompetence in a modern big-city hospital. The picture strains for seriousness now and then, but even when it makes a fool of itself it's still funny. Arthur Hiller directed. With Diana Rigg, Barnard Hughes, Nancy Marchand, and Richard Dysart. United Artists.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

The Hot Rock

US (1972): Crime/Comedy
105 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

A cheerful caper movie set around New York City. The dialogue is often painfully hip-cute, but the actors manage to be funny anyway. Ron Leibman plays a demonic getaway driver, George Segal is a panicky lock picker, Paul Sand is a spaced-out bomb wizard, and Robert Redford is the straight-man leader of the gang. Peter Yates directed, from William Goldman's screenplay. Music by Quincy Jones. 20th Century-Fox.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

Hotel

US (1967): Drama
124 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette

In his novel, Arthur Hailey used the same omnibus formula that he was to use for AIRPORT, but this production, directed by Richard Quine, isn't as paralyzing. Quine manages to wring a little humor out of the collection of junk passing for a plot. With Rod Taylor, Melvyn Douglas, Karl Malden, Merle Oberon, Catherine Spaak, Richard Conte, Michael Rennie, and Kevin McCarthy, and with Carmen McRae playing the Dooley Wilson role from CASABLANCA. The script is by Wendell Mayes. Warners.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

US (1939): Mystery
80 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

"Murder, my dear Watson," Holmes announces, with undisguised satisfaction, in this handsome, gripping, semi-serious version of the Conan Doyle story-the first appearance of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. Immaculately right in the role, Rathbone played Holmes suavely (though with diminishing wit) for the next eight years, always with Nigel Bruce as his bumbling Dr. Watson. Here, among the moors and mists, Holmes investigates the mystery involving "the footprints of a gigantic hound," and at the end he actually says, "Quick, Watson, the needle." The cast includes fatuously dimpled Richard Greene, and Lionel Atwill, Wendy Barrie, John Carradine, E.E. Clive, Beryl Mercer, and Ralph Forbes. Sidney Lanfield directed. 20th Century-Fox.

The Hour of the Furnaces

Argentina (1968): Political/Drama
113 min, No rating, Black & White
Also known as LA HORA DE LOS HORNOS.

An attempt to use film as a revolutionary weapon. A didactic, explosive semi-documentary on Peronism and the necessity to create national consciousness in Argentina and other Latin-American countries. By the Argentine director Fernando Solanas. (4 hours and 20 minutes.) In Spanish.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

The Hour of the Star

Brazil (1986): Drama
96 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette
Also known as A HORA DA ESTRELA.

A lot of the scenes don't quite work, but something numinous happens when you watch this first feature by the Brazilian Suzana Amaral, the mother of nine, who, at the age of 52, shot it in four weeks on a budget of $150,000. It's as if the characters' souls became magically visible. Working from a script adapted from the novella by Clarice Lispector, Amaral tells the story of Macabéa (Marcelia Cartaxo), a 19-year-old orphan from the Northeast, a girl without skills or education or even training in keeping herself clean, who comes south to São Paulo, a city of 14 million. Macabéa smiles serenely as she celebrates her Sunday by taking a ride on the subway, and her terrible aloneness gets to you. Like De Sica's UMBERTO D., this film has moments of uncanny humor and painful intuition, but it goes from neorealism to magic realism. The hallucinatory effect seems somewhat alien to Amaral's temperament; she's better at the plain, level scenes-they have a truer magic. Still, this Latin-American mash of dreams and reality and American advertising art and images from the movies has an awkward, mystic sanctity. It's contrived, yet affecting. With José Dumont as Olimpico and Fernanda Montenegro as the macumbeira. The script is by the director and Alfredo Oroz; the cinematography is by Edgar Moura. In Portuguese.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Hooked.

Housekeeping

US (1987): Drama
116 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette

Marilynne Robinson's novel about two orphaned sisters and the nature-loving, itinerant aunt who arrives to keep house for them has a wonderful representation of a psychological state: Aunt Sylvie seems to spend her life falling into a non-verbal world-staring at nothingness. But the novel also has a bag-lady mystique-a poetic view of vagrancy. The idea seems to be that if you give up conventional values and material things you can wander the earth and lead a magical life. Bill Forsyth, who adapted and directed the movie version, was perhaps too respectful of the internalized and estranged nature of Robinson's vision. (It's all subtext.) He doesn't make the material his own; he doesn't find his own rhythms. The early scenes are whimsical and promising, but the later ones have a clammy, awkward lyricism. Since Sylvie is always remote and has to wake up out of her basic trance to respond to a situation, Christine Lahti, who plays the part, can't call on her full resourcefulness. Gaunt here, and with her curly hair and huge, curlicue dimples, she suggests a pioneer woman who's been bopped on the head. Sara Walker and Andrea Burchill are the sisters; with Margot Pinvidic, Anne Pitoniak, and Barbara Reese. Cinematography by Michael Coulter. Shot in Nelson, British Columbia (the mountain town used in ROXANNE). Columbia.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Hooked.

How Green Was My Valley

US (1941): Drama
118 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

John Ford's much-honored movie about the decline of a Welsh mining family is moving and impressive in a big-Hollywood-picture way. Roddy McDowall and Walter Pidgeon are the leads, and the cast includes Maureen O'Hara, Sara Allgood, Barry Fitzgerald, and many other Irish actors (though the singers are really Welsh). 20th Century-Fox.

How I Won the War

UK (1967): War/Comedy
109 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Richard Lester's big try that failed disastrously-an anti-war black comedy, from a script by Charles Wood, and with ideas and techniques from the Theatres of Cruelty and the Absurd. Similar to the film of CATCH-22, though more British in subject and tone. At first, it seems daring for Lester and Wood to have picked the Second World War-the war that many people consider a just war-for an attack on war. But the film concentrates on the class hatreds of British officers and men, who aren't engaged in defending London or in bombing Germany-they're dying in the course of building an officers' cricket pitch in Africa. The surreal vaudeville is painfully flat. With Michael Crawford as a modern Candide and bespectacled John Lennon as a Cockney soldier, and Roy Kinnear, Jack MacGowran, Sir Michael Hordern, and Alexander Knox. Based on a novel by Patrick Ryan; cinematography by David Watkin.

How the West Was Won

US (1962): Western
155 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

"How the West Was Lost" would be a more appropriate title for this dud epic, since, as conceived by the writer, James R. Webb, the pioneers seem to be dimwitted bunglers who can't do anything right. The film is in segments, directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway, and George Marshall, and the cast includes John Wayne, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Debbie Reynolds, Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, Carroll Baker, Richard Widmark, Karl Malden, Robert Preston, Lee J. Cobb, George Peppard, and Raymond Massey as Lincoln, and Henry Fonda, in a walrus mustache, as a buffalo hunter. MGM. Cinerama,

How to Steal a Million

US (1966): Crime/Comedy
127 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

An expensive cast in an anemic suspense comedy-romance. Audrey Hepburn is the devoted daughter of a vain, roguish art forger (Hugh Griffith): in order to save him from jail, she persuades a detective (Peter O'Toole) to help her steal a bogus Cellini "Venus" that her father has exhibited in a Paris museum. William Wyler directed, from a rather tired screenplay by Harry Kurnitz. The picture isn't offensive, and it's handsome enough, but it's just blah. With Charles Boyer, Eli Wallach, Marcel Dalio, and Fernand Gravet. 20th Century-Fox.

The Howards of Virginia

US (1940): Historical
122 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

Cary Grant, miscast as a rough-hewn surveyor at the time of the American Revolution. Costume pictures were never his forte, and he gives one of his rare really bad performances in this one. Martha Scott is the highborn woman he courts; Sir Cedric Hardwicke is her proud, aristocratic brother. The script, by Sidney Buchman, from Elizabeth Page's novel The Tree of Liberty, also saddles Grant with a crippled son, whom he rejects until the maudlin end, when his son's bravery wins him over. Glimpses of Jefferson (Richard Carlson), Washington (George Houston), and Patrick Henry (Richard Gaines) provide a cultural note without adding much to the party. Frank Lloyd directed; some scenes were filmed in Williamsburg. Columbia.

The Howling

US (1981): Horror
91 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

This werewolves-in-California movie has a spoofy erotic tone and isn't afraid of being silly-which is its chief charm. The director, Joe Dante, seems a mixture-in just about equal parts-of talent, amateurishness, style, and flake. You're entertained continuously, though you don't feel the queasy, childish dread that is part of the dirty kick of the horror genre. There are no embarrassments in the cast, which includes Patrick Macnee as a plump, bland psychiatrist; Dee Wallace as a pretty blond TV newscaster; Dick Miller as a gabby bookshop owner; Elisabeth Brooks as a fiery slut; and Christopher Stone, John Carradine, Kevin McCarthy, Slim Pickens, and Dennis Dugan. When the characters turn into werewolves they transform on camera: you see the stages they go through-growing fur and fangs, their chests expanding and their teeth yellowing-and you see each long snout shoot out of the face like a locomotive. It's a funny, elegant effect, devised by Rob Bottin. John Sayles, who rewrote the Terence H. Winkless script (based on the novel by Gary Brandner), appears as an attendant at the morgue; Roger Corman, for whom Dante, Sayles, Bottin, and the editor, Mark Goldblatt, all worked together on the 1978 PIRANHA, turns up waiting outside a phone booth. Released by Avco Embassy.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Taking It All In.

Hud

US (1963): Drama
112 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Hugely entertaining contemporary Western, set in the Texas of Cadillacs and cattle, crickets and transistor radios; handsomely designed, and shot in black-and-white (by James Wong Howe), it's visually simple and precise and unadorned. The film is schizoid: it tells you to condemn the nihilistic heel Hud (Paul Newman), who represents modern "materialism," but casting Newman as a mean materialist is like writing a manifesto against the banking system while juggling your investments to make a fortune. Newman has energy and wit and his physique and "them there eyes," while his clean-old-man father (Melvyn Douglas), who stands for high moral principles, is a pious fuddy-duddy-inhuman, except for a brief sequence when he's at the local movie house and he follows the bouncing ball and sings "Clementine." The plot involves Hud's wanting to sell off a herd that is possibly infected with hoof-and-mouth disease, and his father's rectitude in having the cattle slaughtered. As the ranch housekeeper, Patricia Neal, full-bodied and likable, has an easy, raunchy good humor, and talks seductively, in a deep-toned Texas twang; the sexual byplay between her and Newman has just the right summertime temperature-this is some of the best work the director, Martin Ritt, has ever done. The script is by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., from Larry McMurtry's novel Horseman, Pass By. As Hud's nephew-our observer-Brandon de Wilde is a less appealing, adolescent version of the boy he played in SHANE. With Whit Bissell as the vet. Paramount.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book I Lost it at the Movies.

Humain, trop humain

US (1972): Documentary
77 min, No rating, Color

A study of assembly-line work. Louis Malle shot this 77-minute documentary in the Citroën assembly plant in Rennes and at the 1972 Automobile Show in Paris. The film is not a confirmation of the typical movie view of factory labor as dehumanizing, nor does it make any large claims about the workers' being happy. Malle's film is so open and neutral a look at the work process that although one may feel that it gets beyond the usual bromides, it still doesn't seem to go very deep. The surfaces of the auto industry are very photogenic, but there are no revelations in this film. In French.

The Human Comedy

US (1943): Comedy
118 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

William Saroyan wrote the script for this deliberately unsensational wartime family story set in a small town, and his love and woozy high spirits come pouring through. You can fight it, but part of the time you lose-especially when freckled 5-year-old Jackie (Butch) Jenkins waves hopefully at passing trains. Mickey Rooney plays Jackie's older brother, and Van Johnson is his oldest brother, who's in the Army. Fay Bainter is the impossibly lofty mother of this brood. Saroyan and the director, Clarence Brown, were trying for something-and the film is worth seeing-but there's also a cloying MGM shininess to it. With Donna Reed, Barry Nelson, Marsha Hunt, James Craig, Alan Baxter, Ray Collins, and Darryl Hickman.

Human Desire

US (1954): Drama
90 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

Fritz Lang's melodramatic Hollywood version of Zola's novel about blind instinct, La Bête humaine, which had been turned into a classic film by Jean Renoir in 1938. There's nothing very special about this updated version, set in America, and starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame as a ruthless, taunting wife, and Broderick Crawford as her jealous husband. Lang didn't want to make the film but was contractually forced into it by Columbia, which hoped for a success comparable to his THE BIG HEAT of the year before, also with Grahame and Ford. With lots of high angles and night scenes, and also Edgar Buchanan and Dan Seymour.

Humoresque

US (1946): Drama
125 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

In this second version of Fannie Hurst's hokey weeper, the heroine (Joan Crawford) is myopic, dipsomaniacal, dissatisfied with her husband (Paul Cavanagh), older than her ghetto-born violinist lover (John Garfield), and given to brooding heavily about the futility of a life devoid of everything but sables, limousines, Napoleon brandy, town houses, seashore estates, and enough liquid assets to make a Morgan partner's eyes widen. She bears her burdens gallantly, and when she realizes that her career as a social butterfly has not prepared her adequately to be the helpmate of her violinist she bravely wades out into the ocean and gurgles to her doom, wreathed in seaweed and clamshells. (The music that accompanies her demise is the "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde.) Clifford Odets worked on the update, and some of the dialogue is sharp-witted, but with frequent interruptions for big yeasty passages on the meaning of life and art. If Carol Burnett were to step in and take over, she'd hardly have to change a thing. Garfield saws away impressively while Isaac Stern is heard playing several violin concertos, and there are lines to treasure, such as Cavanagh's remark about the music: "It has fire-rather like what you'd feel in a van Gogh painting." Jean Negulesco directed. (Possibly Odets was called in because he'd used a violinist hero in his 1937 play Golden Boy.) As the hero's old neighborhood pal, Oscar Levant plays the piano and makes jokes; with J. Carrol Naish, Craig Stevens, Ruth Nelson, John Abbott, Fritz Leiber, and Robert (then Bobby) Blake. Warners.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

US (1939): Horror
115 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Playing Quasimodo (Lon Chaney's old role), Charles Laughton seems determined to outdo Chaney's horrifying makeup. With only one eye and a hump so big his head seems to be in the middle of his chest, this Quasimodo is so distorted and misshapen that little of the human being, much less of the actor, survives. It's an appallingly masochistic performance. The adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel (by Sonya Levien and Bruno Frank) seems rather perfunctory, but the film, directed by William Dieterle, is an elaborate, well-photographed mixture of historical spectacle and Grand Guignol. Maureen O'Hara is a ravishing Esmeralda, and the cast includes Edmond O'Brien (in his film début), Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Thomas Mitchell, George Zucco, Alan Marshal, Walter Hampden, Minna Gombell, Fritz Leiber, Etienne Girardot, and Harry Davenport as Louis XI. RKO.

Hunger

Denmark-Norway-Sweden (1966): War/Drama
115 min, No rating, Black & White
Also known as SULT.

Per Oscarsson plays a starving young writer-a performance with brilliant, glinting variations on self-mockery and paranoia. Henning Carlsen has transcribed the Knut Hamsun novel to the screen with amazing fidelity. It's an intense and remarkable movie-a classic of the starving-young-artist genre. With Gunnel Lindblom. In Swedish.

Hunters of the Deep

US (1955): Documentary
77 min, No rating, Color

Unlike the mystic and didactic film excursions into life undersea in which each gelatinous blob reveals God's purpose, this film is not weighted down with messages and interpretation. Curiosity and aesthetic sense are its unpretentious tools. The camera follows the antique creatures of the sea: lolling sea elephants, gloomy mantas, giant groupers-and captures the iridescence and opulence of an inexplicably beautiful universe. Produced by Allan Dowling; narrated by Dan O'Herlihy.

The Hurricane

US (1937): Disaster
102 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Handsome and exciting adventure film, directed by John Ford, with some exteriors shot in Samoa. The tall-corn story seems to enhance this particular movie; Dorothy Lamour, in her sarong, is the native girl, and chesty Jon Hall is her sweetheart, who is unjustly sentenced to prison by a vicious European governor (Raymond Massey). With Mary Astor, Thomas Mitchell, Jerome Cowan, John Carradine, and C. Aubrey Smith. The hurricane itself is a knockout. Dudley Nichols did the screenplay, from Oliver H.P. Garrett's adaptation of the Nordhoff and Hall novel; Samuel Goldwyn produced, lavishly. Music by Alfred Newman. (A 1979 remake, directed by Jan Troell, was a disaster of large proportions.) Released by United Artists.

Husbands

US (1970): Drama
138 min, Rated PG, Color

Three actors (John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazzara) playing three suburban husbands in a semi-improvised movie directed by Cassavetes. The actors have occasional intense and affecting moments, going through emotions that they set off in each other, but Cassavetes is the sort of man who is dedicated to stripping people of their pretenses and laying bare their souls. Inevitably, the results are agonizingly banal. Columbia.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

US (1965): Thriller
133 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

Bette Davis in a Grand Guignol melodrama directed by Robert Aldrich-an attempt to reproduce the box-office success of their camp gothic WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, in which Davis's co-star was Joan Crawford. Crawford was to have appeared in this one also, but became ill and was replaced by Olivia De Havilland. Davis is a rich, dotty recluse living in a moldy mansion in Louisiana; she wanders about the shadowy rooms in streaming hair and billowing nighties, whispering telepathic endearments to her long-dead daddy. De Havilland is her treacherous cousin, Agnes Moorehead the witchlike housekeeper, and Joseph Cotten the family doctor. The story, redolent of mutilation and assorted horrors, is from a novel by Henry Farrell, who also was the source of the earlier film. A lot of people seemed to enjoy the spectacle of Davis crawling and howling and looking wildly repulsive. With Victor Buono, Mary Astor, Bruce Dern, George Kennedy, and Cecil Kellaway. 20th Century-Fox.

Hustle

US (1975): Mystery/Crime
120 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette

As a Los Angeles police officer, Burt Reynolds despairs over the American loss of innocence and, since the system is rigged on the side of the rich, he takes the law into his own hands. He's a romantic-liberal Dirty Harry in this sloshy melodrama, which is caught between the pulpy weltschmerz of the writer, Steve Shagan, and the harshness of the director, Robert Aldrich. When Aldrich tries for tenderness, it turns to sleaze. With Paul Winfield, Catherine Deneuve, and Eddie Albert. Paramount.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book When the Lights Go Down.

The Hustler

US (1961): Drama
135 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

The test of what a man has inside him-the basic Hemingway-style masculine story that's frequently set in the bullring in this country, in the world of sports, especially among prizefighters-is set here in the world of pool sharks. Paul Newman is the young contender, Fast Eddie Felson, and Jackie Gleason is the old champ, Minnesota Fats. But Hemingway would cut out extraneous material, thereby raising the simple, unadorned test to the level of myth; the director Robert Rossen and his co-writer, Sidney Carroll, surround the test with an extra 40 minutes or so of flabby "poetry." The dialogue comes out of the 30s and borrows heavily from Clifford Odets. A character does not ask a simple question like "Are you his manager?" He asks, "Are you his manager? His friend? His stooge?" And there's a tortured, crippled girl (Piper Laurie) who speaks the truth: she's a female practitioner of the Socratic method who is continually drinking her hemlock. The picture is swollen with windy thoughts and murky notions of perversions, and as Eddie's manager the magnetic young George C. Scott seems to be a Satan figure, but it has strength and conviction, and Newman gives a fine, emotional performance. You can see all the picture's faults and still love it. It's the most vital and likable of Rossen's movies. With Murray Hamilton, Myron McCormick (who is stuck with the worst pseudo-Odets role), Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, and Vincent Gardenia. Based on the Walter Tevis novel; cinematography by Eugen Schüfftan; production design by Harry Horner; music by Kenyon Hopkins; editing by Dede Allen. (In 1965, the theme was adapted to poker, in THE CINCINNATI KID; in 1986, Paul Newman appeared in the sequel to THE HUSTLER-THE COLOR OF MONEY.) 20th Century-Fox. CinemaScope.

Back to Home

Hosted by www.Geocities.ws

1