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Old October 24 2010, 02:46 AM   #761
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Re: Movies Seen in 2010

238. Casablanca [A]
239. Blackmail (silent version) [C+]
240. The Keep [D-]

Casablanca: It has all kinds of story problems (the infamous "letters of transit" being a rather silly plot device), but who cares? Bogart is excellent, and so are Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman, and all the rest. It's wonderful from start to finish, and I need to pick up the Blu-Ray of it at some point, because the DVD just doesn't do the picture justice.

Blackmail: This is more often seen in the sound version (which I'll be getting to on Tuesday), but Hitchcock also filmed a silent version at the same time (mostly with the same cast, but there's a few minor changes). It's an imperfect picture, without a lot of action or intertitles for the first 20-30 minutes, which drags the film to a hault, but once the inciting event (a police officer's wife goes off with a man behind her husband's back, the man tries to rape the woman, she kills him with a knife and sneaks away) occurs, the film takes off. A chase through the British museum, which eventually ends up on top of the structure, is a prototype for many sequences in later Hitchcock films, especially the opening chase in VERTIGO. The ending, which lets the crime be pinned on a man who is innocent of the crime (though guilty of blackmail), was particularly surprising. The music, however (recently composed for the DVD version I saw) is plodding and nearly put me to sleep.

The Keep: Michael Mann's second feature film, this one is a mess from beginning to end. A promising premise, taken from a popular novel, is quickly demolished as the film gets more and more ridiculous. Instead of going through the film's many faults, I'll just link to this article and leave it at that. Since it's not available on DVD (I saw it on 16mm), I doubt many people here will see it, anyway. Don't be confused by the film's compelling cast--it's for Mann completists only.
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