Category Archives: Might See

Hangmen Also Die! (1943) | A must-see wartime melodrama for all Fritz Lang fans

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

At the height of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, four German exiles in Hollywood – director Fritz Lang, playwright Bertolt Brecht (earning his only US credit here as Bert Brecht), composer Hanns Eisler and actor Hans Heinrich von Twardowski – pooled their efforts into Hangmen Also Die!, an important historical film from 1943 about the Czech resistance, which gets a 2k restoration release from Arrow in the UK from 29 August.

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

Taking as its starting point, the assassination of the real-life Nazi ‘Reich-Protector’ of Czechoslovakia, Reinhard Heydrich (Twardowski), Lang’s studio-bound suspenser sees an act of kindness by the courageous Marsha (Anna Lee) – hiding the culprit (a deadpan Brian Donlevy) from the Gestapo – result in her professor father (Walter Brennan) and 400 Czech compatriots facing execution unless Donlevy’s resistance fighter is turned over…

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

Shot in atmospheric black and white by the legendary James Wong Howe, and featuring a Oscar-nominated score from Eisler, Lang’s anti-Nazi gift to wartime American cinemagoers is a masterful blend of war picture, film noir and political thriller. It may loose points for its overly melodramatic Hollywood treatment of the story (all the non-Nazi’s have American accents and Twardowski’s Heydrich comes off like Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes), but its revolutionary spirit shines through.

Eagle-eyed cinephiles can watch out for Dracula‘s Dwight Frye as one of the hostages (it was his last film role before a heart attack cut short his life aged 44 in 1943), and hear the unmistakable growl of Cul-de-sac‘s Lionel Stander as the getaway driver.

Hangmen Also Die! (1943)

The Arrow release features a 2012 2k restored print by Pinewood from the Cohen Film Collection, and includes an audio commentary by film historian Richard Peña, along with an interview with author Robert Gerwarth on Reinhard Heydrich, plus newsreel footage, restoration comparison anda trailer. The first pressing of this release comes with a collector’s booklet.

A must-have for fans of Fritz Lang fans and lovers of wartime cinema.

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Une Femme Est Une Femme (1961) | Jean-Luc Godard’s delightful tribute to the Hollywood musical

Une Femme est une Femme (1961)

Parisian striptease dancer Angela (Anna Karina) yearns to have a child, but her bookseller husband Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) is only interested in cycling. Angela then turns her attentions to Emile’s best friend Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who ends up falling in love with her.

This delightful light comedy from 1961 was Jean-Luc Godard’s second feature, but his first to be shot in colour and in a studio. It also earned him and his then wife Anna Karina awards at the Berlin Film Festival.

Une Femme est une Femme (1961)

Channelling the spirit of American screwball comedies and musicals of the 1930’s, with an affectionate nod to director Ernst Lubitsch (Belmondo’s character is named after the Hollywood legend), this off-centre tribute is dominated by an engaging Karina as the naïve dancer and Belmondo as the gauche, tongue-tied Alfred. A colourful confection indeed.

Godard The Essential Collection

 

Une Femme Est Une Femme (Cert PG, 80min) is available on StudioCanal’s Jean-Luc Godard The Essential Blu-ray Collection five-disc box set alongside featuring Breathless, Le Mépris, Pierrot le fou and Alphaville.

The special features include and introduction by Colin McCabe, an interview with Anna Karina, and galleries of photos and posters.

 

Querelle (1982) | Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s surreal take on Jean Genet’s homoerotic tale of lust and murder

Querelle blu-ray

Brad Davis is Georges ‘Jo’ Querelle, a sexually brazen, amoral sailor who struts his sensuality for all to admire and swoon. An opium smuggler and serial killer, Querelle murders fellow sailor Vic and takes refuge at a seaside brothel, where he must submit himself to a drug dealer in order to win the affections of aging chanteuse Madame Lysiane (Jeanne Moreau). With a predatory cop looking for Vic’s murderer, Querelle hatches a plan to make a construction worker (Hanno Pöschl) take the fall for him, unaware that his closeted commanding officer (Franco Nero) knows he murdered Vic.

Brad Davis in Querelle

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was personally at his lowest ebb when he worked on Jean Genet’s 1947 existential homoerotic novel of lust and murder. The irascible wunderkind of New German Cinema – and one of the most original film talents to emerge from Europe in the 1970s – was highly sought after for his creative talent, but deeply troubled. Shortly after filming Querelle, Fassbinder died, aged just 37, from a combination of cocaine, sleeping pills and alcohol, leaving behind a wealth of 44 films and career that spanned less that 13 years.

Brad Davis in Querelle

Querelle may lack the magic and power of Fassbinder’s greatest works, like The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant or the supremely elegant Effi Briest, but the director’s final film does show him ‘perilously venturing into new frontiers’. With unabashed queer sensibility Fassbinder captures the raw energy of Jenet’s themes of violence, passion, degradation and sexual submission, while his stylised, purposefully artificial sets, complete with it’s cock-shaped towers and other exaggerated phallic symbols (which are reminiscent of James Bidgood’s 1971 arthouse cult Pink Narcissus), give Jenet’s highly-charged novel the ideal surreal stage to swagger about on (and harks back to the French artist’s own experimental stagings of The Maids and The Balcony and The Blacks) – all set against an eternal technicolor sunset that channels Fassbinder’s love of Douglas Sirk’s 1950s melodramas. Querelle may not be Fassbinder’s best film, but its potent themes, stylised staging and Davis’ narcissistic performance make it a fascinating, and dare I say it, arousing, oddity.

Brad Davis in Querelle

THE UK DVD RELEASE
The Artificial Eye Blu-ray and DVD release presents the film in its 16 x 9/ 2:35:1 aspect ratio with a choice of English, German or French languages, with English subtitles. The extras include an introduction by Tin Drum director Volker Schlöndorff (in French, with subtitles), and the mini-documentary, Twilight of the Bodies: Fassbinder in Search of Querelle (33mins, in French with subtitles).

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from 10 March 2014, and is also available to stream on-line from Artificial Eye Films on YouTube

Certificate: 18

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGYtVqXcoi0%5D
Sources:
Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video, Raymond Murray, TLA Publications, 1995
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