The Fatal Glass of Beer

US (1933): Comedy
18 min, No rating, Black & White

This is the wildest of W.C. Fields' 2-reelers, and the best. It also has the easiest-to-remember title and a great punch line-"It ain't a fit night out for man or beast."

Father Brown

UK (1954): Comedy
91 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette
Also known as THE DETECTIVE.

Father Brown, the detective priest of G.K. Chesterton's stories, is perhaps too facile a role for Alec Guinness, and he shows a hitherto unsuspected tendency toward endearing, owlish coyness. But the film is an amusing series of chases, well directed by Robert Hamer (KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS). Peter Finch is the connoisseur-thief who steals beautiful things simply to round out his collection of objets d'art; when he makes off with the cross once owned by Saint Augustine, Father Brown goes after him. Joan Greenwood plays a rich, pious widow; Cecil Parker is Father Brown's bishop; the exquisitely desiccated Ernest Thesiger is a librarian. With Marne Maitland, Sidney James, and Bernard Lee. From the story "The Blue Cross," adapted by Thelma Schnee; music by Georges Auric.

Father Goose

US (1964): War/Comedy
115 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette

An imitation of THE AFRICAN QUEEN. This time it's Cary Grant who's a scroungy unshaven sot. (When the Cary Grant voice comes out of this stumblebum, the performance seems like a masquerade.) Alone, on an island in the South Seas during the Second World War, this air observer for the Australian navy is suddenly stuck with six or seven little girls and Leslie Caron, who's out to reform him and hides his booze, so he won't be a bad example to the kids. This dismal confection was directed by Ralph Nelson, from a script by Peter Stone and Frank Tarloff. The cast includes Trevor Howard. Universal.

Father of the Bride

US (1950): Comedy
93 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Deeply conventional, plushly middle-class view of normal romance and marriage, seen from the point of view of the banker-father (Spencer Tracy) of the bride (Elizabeth Taylor, still in her teens). Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich wrote this comedy with an eye to the father's misgivings about the groom and his Oedipal fixation on his daughter; it's an archetypal sit-com situation. Vincente Minnelli directed very simply and skillfully, keeping us at a discreet distance; we look on at the follies of sensible, prosperous people in their clean, comfortable, Waspy homes. Within its own terms the picture is sensitive and very well done, but it's also tiresomely fraudulent-an idealization of a safe, shuttered existence, the good life according to MGM, 24-karat complacency. Tracy, at the center of things, gives his basic sturdy-clod performance, somewhat better modulated than usual. Elizabeth Taylor is gentle and soft-toned, and Minnelli uses her sparingly, resisting the temptation to feast on her in closeup; she and Joan Bennett, who plays her mother, match up together neatly. Don Taylor as the groom is a mistake, though; he lacks solidity-he's so nice-boy lightweight he's like an updated David Manners. With Leo G. Carroll, Melville Cooper, Billie Burke, Moroni Olsen, and Russ (then "Rusty") Tamblyn. From the book by Edward Streeter; produced by Pandro S. Berman.

Fellini Satyricon

Italy (1970): Historical
129 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Fellini's big pagan ball, with the debauchery of the pre-Christian Roman world at the time of Nero as an analogue of the modern post-Christian period. In LA DOLCE VITA, he used the orgies of modern Rome as a parallel to ancient Rome, and now he reverses the analogy to make the same point-that man without a belief in God is a lecherous beast. The film is full of cautionary images of depravity that seem to come out of the imagination of a Catholic schoolboy: an unconscionable number of performers stick out their evil tongues at us, and there are leering cripples, fat freaks with hideous grins, and so on. Fellini draws upon his master-entertainer's feelings for the daydreams of the audience, and many people find this film eerie, spellbinding, and even profound. Essentially, though, it's just a hip version of De Mille's THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (also a photogenic demonstration of the highly dubious proposition that godlessness is lawlessness), and it's less entertaining than De Mille's kitsch-maybe because no one is given a role to play; Fellini is the only star. He uses Petronius and other classic sources as the basis for a movie that is one long orgy of eating, drinking, cruelty, and copulation. We seem to be at a stoned circus, where the performers go on and on whether we care or not, and, for a work that is visual if it is anything, the film leaves disappointingly few visual impressions. The fresco effect becomes monotonous; we anticipate the end a dozen times. There's a charming episode with a beautiful slave girl (Hylette Adolphe) in a deserted house, and some of Danilo Donati's set designs (a ship like a sea serpent, a building with many floors and no front wall) have a hypnotic quality. With Max Born as Gitone, Martin Potter as Encolpius, and Hiram Keller as Ascyltus; Mario Romagnoli as Trimalchio, Magali Noel, Alain Cuny, Capucine, Lucia Bose. Written by Fellini and Bernardino Zapponi. In Italian.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

Fellini's Casanova

Italy (1976): Biography
158 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette

Fellini has done something no one else in screen history ever has: he has made an epic about his own alienation. And perhaps this can't be done successfully-not with all this pageantry, anyway. When an artist moves inward yet deals with his own spiritual crises on a spectacular and lavish scale, there is a conflict in form. Something goes rotten. With Donald Sutherland, who is used as a deliberately unfunny caricature of Casanova.

Fellini's Roma

Italy (1972): Drama
128 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

It's an imperial gesture at documentary: a sketchbook about the city of Fellini's imagination, that love-hate dream-nightmare city which is more familiar to us by now than Rome itself. This autobiographical fantasy includes extras painted up as voracious citizens, a high-camp ecclesiastical fashion show, and a mock excavation in a subway which uncovers a Roman villa. Designed by Danilo Donati, who is a magician, and shot by the great Giuseppe Rotunno, the film is like a funeral ode to an imaginary city under purplish, poisoned skies. Some of the images are magisterial and marvellous, like a series of stormy Turners, but whenever there's dialogue or thought, the movie is fatuous. Fellini is at the center of the film, played as a young man fresh from the provinces by a toothsome, lusciously handsome actor (dimply Peter Gonzales, from Texas), and then by himself, speaking in English-most of it dubbed-in this version. He interacts with no one; he is the star, our guide, and like many another guide he often miscalculates our reactions, especially to his arch, mirthless anticlerical jokes. The ambiance is least oppressive when he stages a 40s vaudeville show-a return to the world of his early movies. The picture reaches its nadir when he goes celebrity-chasing and interviews Gore Vidal, who informs us that Rome is as good a place as any to wait for the end of the world. Fellini appears to see himself as official greeter for the apocalypse. In English and Italian.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Reeling.

Femmes Fatales

US (1975): Drama/Comedy
107 min, No rating, Color
Also known as CALMOS.

The first half hour of this sexual extravaganza by the highly original French writer-director Bertrand Blier is a peerless dirty-boy romp. The heroes (Jean-Pierre Marielle and Jean Rochefort) are two 40-year-old Parisian boulevardiers who look like wax grooms on a stale wedding cake. Marielle is a gynecologist who can't bear to inspect women's genitals anymore, and Rochefort is a baby-blue-eyed pimp who is exhausted by women's sexual demands. They run away to the countryside, to a village where they eat and drink and wear old clothes and begin to stink. Calm, that's what they want. Up to this point, the film is an inspired exploitation-porno fantasy, with Claude Renoir's Panavision images and Georges Delerue's music providing a feeling of grandeur and folly. But then the story takes a science-fiction turn. It shifts from the lunacy and regressions of these two men to the sexual revulsion felt by men en masse, and Blier and his co-scriptwriter (Philippe Dumarcay) lose the flavor and the characters. Yet no one but Blier has matched such raunchiness with such beauty; you have to have a true respect for raunchiness to do that. With Brigitte Fossey, who's like sensual porcelain, as the doctor's blond cat of a wife. In French.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book When the Lights Go Down.

Fiddler on the Roof

US (1971): Musical/Dance/Comedy
181 min, Rated G, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

This joyously square musical succeeds in telling one of the root stories of American life. Tevye, the shtetl dairyman pulling his wagon, is a myth-sized version of a limited, slightly stupid Common Man. As Tevye's daughters marry and disperse, and the broken family is driven off its land and starts the long trek to America, his story becomes the story of the Jewish people who came to America at the turn of the century-what they left behind and what they brought with them. The movie offers the pleasures of big, bold strokes; it's American folk opera, commercial style. It's not a celebration of Jewishness; it's a celebration of the sensual pleasures of staying alive and of trying to hang on to a bit of ceremony, too. Isaac Stern plays the theme (as he does in the solo parts throughout the movie) with startling brio and attack, and Topol's Tevye has the same vitality and sweetness and gaiety as Stern's music; he's a rough presence, masculine, with burly, raw strength. Directed by Norman Jewison, from Joseph Stein's play, based on Sholom Aleichem's stories. The music is by Jerry Bock, the functional, uninspired lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. With Leonard Frey, Rosalind Harris, Paul Mann, Molly Picon, Neva Small, Michele Marsh, Norma Crane, Paul Michael Glaser, and Raymond Lovelock. The picture was originally 3 hours long and was run in two parts, with an intermission; then it was trimmed, and then trimmed again when it was reissued in 1979. Altogether, it lost 32 minutes. (In 1939 a Yiddish film, TEVYE, starring Maurice Schwartz, was adapted from the same stories.) United Artists.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

Field of Dreams

US (1989): Sports
106 min, Rated PG, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Kevin Costner, a New Age farmer in Iowa, longs to be reconciled with his dead father, a minor-league baseball player whose outlook he had rejected in the 60s. He hears a whispered command to build a baseball field, and when he obeys the command the spirits of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the other White Sox who were barred from baseball for life after the 1919 World Series scandal arrive and play regularly. This is only the beginning of the hero's mystical encounters. The writer-director, Phil Alden Robinson (who adapted W.P. Kinsella's 1982 novel, Shoeless Joe), may treat us as if our brains were mush, but he'd just about have to be sincere to work so methodically, putting each new miracle in its narrative slot, and providing this doggerel emotion, these corn-fed epiphanies. That the film is sincere doesn't mean it's not manipulative; when the weepers in the audience start up, you may feel like a pariah if you're not moved. With Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Dwier Brown as the father, and Gaby Hoffman. Universal.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Movie Love.

The Fighting 69th

US (1940): War
90 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

James Cagney and the patriotic gamut. He plays a First World War coward-a mean, loudmouth runt from Brooklyn who turns yellow in his first charge over the top, screaming in panic and drawing the fire of the Germans upon his regiment. He reforms, of course (the picture was made during the Second World War), and becomes a hero of the Argonne, losing his life willingly. Cagney is an expert in the jangled rotten-nerves department, but you have to be doggedly devoted to him to watch a picture like this voluntarily. You really have to be a masochist, considering that the humor is of the sentimental, fighting-Irish variety, and that Pat O'Brien plays a priest and Jeffrey Lynn is Joyce Kilmer dreaming up Trees. It's sometimes forgotten that Warners was just as high on patriotic nobility in the 40s as it was on social protest in the 30s. With George Brent, Frank McHugh, Guinn Williams, Alan Hale, William Lundigan, Henry O'Neill, John Litel, and Dick Foran. Directed by William Keighley; written by Norman Reilly Raine, Fred Niblo, Jr., and Dean Franklin; produced by Hal B. Wallis.

The File on Thelma Jordon

US (1949): Thriller
100 min, No rating, Black & White

Did any other actress-even Joan Crawford-get herself into as much heavy melodramatic trouble as Barbara Stanwyck? This time, she's on trial for murder, and the assistant district attorney (Wendell Corey) falls in love with her and deliberately loses the case. Robert Siodmak directed very efficiently (there's a sequence with the camera following Stanwyck from her jail cell to the courthouse which is a model of film craft), and Ketti Frings's script has some sharp dialogue (Stanwyck has a first-rate last line). But the movie is unexciting, and despite Stanwyck's professionalism we don't much care whether or not Thelma Jordon is a killer, or whether she's purified by love, either. This may be because of the plot contrivances (from a story by Marty Holland) and also because the male actors aren't in Stanwyck's league. Corey demonstrates innate goodness by being blankly wide-eyed, and the bad guy in Thelma's life-played by Richard Robert-has no sexual threat in his nastiness. With Stanley Ridges, Joan Tetzel, Paul Kelly, and Minor Watson. Cinematography by George Barnes; music by Victor Young. Produced by Hal B. Wallis, for Paramount.

Film Without a Name

Germany (1947): Comedy
79 min, No rating, Black & White
Also known as FILM OHNE TITEL.

This is one of the most original and nonchalant comedies of the immediate postwar period-a satirical improvisation on the theme that there are no movie themes in the German shambles. The star is Hildegarde Neff, the hungry-voiced, alluringly sad-eyed actress who at the time seemed more or less the female equivalent of Curt Jurgens. Neff (that's how Knef spelled it then) is joined by Willy Fritsch and Hans Sohnker as they act out a group of romantic episodes, including a succulent little parody of THE BLUE ANGEL, and do a routine on the actors' pox-vanity. Helmut K�utner, Ellen Fechner, and Rudolf Jugert wrote the script; Jugert directed. Made in the British Zone. In German.

The Final Test

UK (1953): Sports/Comedy
84 min, No rating, Black & White

Robert Morley-a famous aesthete and man of letters-doesn't enter until the scene has been so thoroughly prepared that he can trundle off with the rest of the picture. Terence Rattigan did the adaptation of his own television play and Anthony Asquith directed. Jack Warner is the aging cricket batsman who is going to the wicket for the last time; Ray Jackson is his poet son, who is blithely indifferent and, on the great day, goes to visit the literary eminence. We Americans are clued in to what's going on: there's a visiting American senator, who cannot understand what cricket is all about, and a superbly contemptuous Englishman who explains the game to him. Rattigan has cleverly underlined the meaning of the game by having it apply to the movie itself-and by extension, to English humor and character. There's something too snug about this kind of affectionate English comedy, yet the picture is so cleverly done that you enjoy it in spite of yourself. With Valentine Dyall in a pseudo-Greek play, George Relph and Adrianne Allen, and a collection of famous cricketers.

A Fine Madness

US (1966): Drama
104 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette

Sean Connery brings ravenous energy to the role of a New York poet who's engaged in the daily battle to express himself. He falls into the hands of a group of psychiatrists who are appalled by his nonconformist impulses. He cuckolds one of them (Patrick O'Neal), who decides to have him lobotomized (i.e., castrated). Directed by Irvin Kershner, from a script by Elliott Baker, based on his novel, the movie suggests a farcical cross between Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth and Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma. There's a well-substantiated Hollywood story that Jack Warner suddenly got the point of the picture, discovered that it was "antisocial," and ordered it recut. What's left is uneven and it has unresolved areas, but it also has a 60s charge to it. Connery walks across a bridge in a way that tells you the world is his. (Women, though, may be puzzled about why the poet's socking his wife-Joanne Woodward-is meant to be hilarious.) The film has a great look (it was shot by Ted McCord) and an amazing cast: Jean Seberg, Colleen Dewhurst, Zohra Lampert, Sorrell Booke, Jackie Coogan, Clive Revill, Harry Bellaver, Kay Medford, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Bibi Osterwald, Mabel Albertson, and Sue Ane Langdon. The music is by John Addison. Produced by Jerome Hellman, for Warners.


US (1978): Drama
91 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette

Directing his first film, the writer James Toback seems to be playing the literary-adolescent's game of wanting to go crazy so he can watch his own reactions. Because he doesn't censor his masculine racial fantasies, his foolishness and his terrible ideas pour out freely. The protagonist (Harvey Keitel) is an artist with the soul of a violent hood. Toback doesn't just risk self-parody-he falls into it. Yet the film never seems ridiculous, because he's got true moviemaking fever. With Jim Brown, Tisa Farrow, and Michael V. Gazzo. Produced by George Barrie; a Brut release.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book When the Lights Go Down.

Finian's Rainbow

US (1968): Musical/Fantasy
145 min, Rated G, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

Some of the whimsey in this message operetta is hard to take, but, considering the moldering ponderousness of the whole project, the young Francis Ford Coppola did his best to keep things moving in a carefree, relaxing way. (But the filtered, gauzy lyrical effects are so soft that the occasional hard-focus closeup of the principals is really brutal.) Coppola is helped by Petula Clark, Al Freeman, Jr., and Keenan Wynn; however, Fred Astaire is miscast, and, as the Puckish leprechaun, Tommy Steele doesn't know how to scale down his thumping stage personality, and probably no matter who played it the Susan the Silent routine would be beyond sufferance. With Avon Long, Roy Glenn, and Jester Hairston as the Passion Pilgrim Gospeleers. Warner-Seven Arts.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Going Steady.

Finnegans Wake

US (1965): Drama
97 min, No rating, Black & White

Not great, certainly, but a pleasant and inoffensive attempt to convey the fun of the jokes and enigmas and metamorphoses of the Joyce dream book. Martin J. Kelley is Finnegan, Peter Haskell is Shem, and Jane Reilly is Anna Livia Plurabelle. Directed by Mary Ellen Bute; based on the play version by Mary Manning.

Fire Over England

UK (1937): War/Historical/Adventure
89 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc

The Armada is a toy fleet, but the actors are full-scale and stirring-a young daredevil Laurence Olivier leaps about the battle scenes and makes love to an incredibly pretty Vivien Leigh, while Flora Robson plays a great-hearted Queen Elizabeth, and Raymond Massey is Philip II of Spain. It's swashbuckling nonsense (and slow to get under way), but with a fine spirit. Alexander Korda produced, William K. Howard directed, James Wong Howe was the cinematographer.

The Firefly

US (1937): Musical
131 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

Jeanette MacDonald partnered with Allan Jones in a long and lavish costume operetta, set in the early 19th century, during the war between France and Spain. She's a Spanish spy (in disguise) and sings wearing a Napoleon hat. (She's very hard to take.) Strictly for those who are prepared to listen to such songs as "Love Is Like a Firefly" and "He Who Loves and Runs Away" and "When a Maid Comes Knocking at Your Heart"-and, of course, Allan Jones going at "The Donkey Serenade" energetically. (He's alive in a way that Nelson Eddy never was.) Rudolf Friml dominates the music department; the movie is based on his 1912 Broadway show, sans the original libretto. The script is credited to Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Ogden Nash. With Henry Daniell, Warren William, George Zucco, Douglass Dumbrille, and Billy Gilbert. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard. MGM.

Fires on the Plain

Japan (1959): War
105 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette and laserdisc
Also known as NOBI.

Based on the book by Shohei Ooka, which is said to be the greatest Japanese novel to have come out of the Second World War, this film, set on Leyte, is an obsessive cry of disgust. It's an appalling picture; it's also a work of epic poetry. The subject is modern man as a cannibal, and after a few minutes this subject doesn't seem at all strange or bizarre: it seems, rather, to be basic. Tamura, the hero, is one of the stragglers of the disintegrating retreating Japanese army-terrified of the Americans, the Filipinos, and of each other. Tamura walks across the plain unharmed because he is already a dead man: he is tubercular-no one wants his flesh. In the middle of this desolation, there are bonfires-ambiguous flames in the distance that kindle hope. (Perhaps they are signal fires? Perhaps Filipino farmers are burning corn husks? Perhaps there is still some normal life going on?) At the end Tamura approaches the flames and his last illusion is dispelled. Like the novel, which, as its translator, Ivan Morris, said, draws a shocking analogy between "the cannibalism of the starving soldiers � and the Christian doctrine of the Mass," the film is very simple. The passion that informs the character of Tamura is so intense that he seems both painfully close to us and remote-detached from what is ordinarily thought of as emotion. The atmosphere of the film is also remote from our ordinary world: there is nothing banal, nothing extraneous to the single-minded view of man in extremis. Directed by Kon Ichikawa; the script is by his wife, Natto Wada. It's a masterpiece. In Japanese.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book I Lost it at the Movies.

The First Circle

Poland (1972): Drama
No rating, Color

Aleksander Ford, once head of the Polish film industry, made this version of the Alexander Solzhenitsyn novel in Denmark. It's not a great film, but it's good enough to raise the issue of the moral and intellectual choices left open when political freedom is gone. Gunther Malzacher plays Nerzhin-Solzhenitsyn-the lean, ironic gadfly-hero who is sent to Siberia to starve and die but who feels morally triumphant. Because the Scandinavian, Polish, and German actors spoke in accented English, non-accented voices have been dubbed in for them. Under the circumstances, this seems a sensible solution, and the somewhat impersonal voices make the argument of the film easy to follow.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Reeling.

First Love

US (1939): Romance
84 min, No rating, Black & White, Available on videocassette

The high moment comes at a Cinderella ball. Cinderella Deanna Durbin, in her first party dress, meets her Prince Charming (Robert Stack), sings to him, and at midnight bolts down the stairs, her slipper left behind. Working for the producer Joe Pasternak, the director, Henry Koster, patented a kind of toothsome niceness that some people used to take for wonderful entertainment. With Eugene Pallette. The script is by Bruce Manning and Lionel Houser. Universal.

First Love

France-Switzerland-UK (1970): Romance
90 min, Rated R, Color, Available on videocassette

Nymphomania and moth-eaten passion and decadence poured on top of a fine Turgenev novella about an adolescent boy's crush on his father's mistress. With the English John Moulder Brown as the boy, the French Dominique Sanda as the mistress, and the Austrian Maximilian Schell, the Italian Valentina Cortese, and assorted actors like Marius Goring and John Osborne-all playing Russians. The movie is elaborately and cleverly dubbed and post-synchronized; you're never really certain whether the slightly disembodied voices are issuing from the people you're looking at. At times, as when John Osborne, in a big black hat, recites "How Do I Love Thee?" to a gathering of sows, you may prefer to think you're not looking at the real person, either. In between the poetry readings, people visit a crypt or play with daggers and shriek and laugh. At the end, when what should have been the theme is summed up by the narrator in Turgenev's own words, the precise intelligence of what his story was about comes as a complete surprise. Schell, who directed this m�lange, has a penchant for enigmatic passions and he confuses mystification with lyricism, but the film was superbly photographed by Sven Nykvist (though edited by a butcher's helper). Adapted by Schell and John Gould.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book Deeper into Movies.

First Name: Carmen

France-Switzerland (1983): Drama
85 min, No rating, Color, Available on videocassette and laserdisc Also known as PRENOM: CARMEN.

In this modern-day version of the Carmen story, the director, Jean-Luc Godard, looks at the performers with the eyes of an apathetic stranger. From the way the movie is put together, it appears that he is resigned to having to tell some sort of story, but he feels it's an imposition on him-an irritation, or worse. He displaces the sensuality that people expect from a Carmen movie onto images that have no specific relation to her story-waves breaking against rocks, Paris traffic at dusk, views of a string quartet that is practicing and (sometimes) performing the Beethoven we hear on the sound track. Godard keeps all his sets of images in motion: he's the rare case of an artist whose command of his medium becomes more assured as his interests dry up. Working with Raoul Coutard as cinematographer, he gives you the feeling that he can do almost anything and you'll keep watching it, mesmerized by the rhythms of sound and image. The picture is Godardian in a dissociated way that is sometimes amusing but makes us condescend to it, fondly-and, after a while, not so fondly. Godard himself plays Uncle Jean, a dotty, broken-down filmmaker who mutters spacey epigrams and whacks himself in the face; his slapstick self-parody makes more connection with the audience than anything else in the shallow, withdrawn movie. Godard gives the impression that maybe he'd rather sit around listening to Beethoven quartets than make movies. He wryly (and ambivalently, of course) celebrates being out of it. The basic feel of this CARMEN is "What's the use?" Uncle Jean's niece Carmen is played by a very pretty young Dutch actress, Maruschka Detmers; Joseph is played by Jacques Bonaff�. The script (which uses no more than a few familiar signposts of the femme-fatale genre) was adapted by Godard and/or his collaborator, Anne-Marie Mi�ville, from Prosper M�rim�e's brief novel that became famous because of Bizet's opera. In French.
For a more extended discussion, see Pauline Kael's book State of the Art.

Fist in His Pocket

Italy (1966): Drama
105 min, No rating, Black & White
Also known as PUGNI IN TASCA.

This first film by Marco Bellocchio must surely be one of the most astonishing directorial d�buts in the history of movies, yet it is hard to know how to react to it. The direction is exhilaratingly cool and assured, and the whole movie is charged with temperament, but the material is wild. It's about a bourgeois family of diseased monsters; epileptic fits multiply between bouts of matricide, fratricide, and incest. The material is so savage that the movie often seems intended to be funny, but why it was so intended isn't clear. It features the best strange-brother-and-sister act since LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES (1948): Lou Castel, with his pug-dog manner, and Paola Pitagora, looking like a debauched gazelle. Cinematography by Alberto Marrama; music by Ennio Morricone. In Italian.

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