Movie Diary 6/3/2018

American Animals (Bart Layton, 2018). Indie look (at some hapless art heisters) that comes on like Coen-lite but becomes manages to sink its teeth into the material. (full review 6/6)

Eight Iron Men (Edward Dmytryk, 1952). Based on a play (and script) by Walk in the Sun writer Harry Brown, this taut little item is set entirely around a nameless WWII location, where a bored platoon gets orders to move on at exactly the moment one of them gets pinned down by a nearby enemy sniper. Should they obey orders and leave the guy behind, where a rescue patrol – or a German one – might pick him up after dark, or should they try and get him? Smart dialogue, and an interesting group of actors thrown together – most notably Lee Marvin, in one of his first substantial things, as the sergeant in charge. Bonar Colleano is a wiseass, Richard Kiley a PTSD hothead, Arthur Franz a philosopher, Dickie Moore a very amusing space-case. Produced by Stanley Kramer – but whose idea was it to put in the dream sequences of dishy Esquire-style babes? One such sequence is a rare example of early-50s surrealism in film.

The Traitor (aka The Accursed, Michael McCarthy, 1957). A group of Germans gather in a house every to honor their dead leader, a great anti-Nazi resistance fighter from the war. Ah, but this year someone in the group will be unmasked as the great leader’s betrayer – a pretty decent set-up, until the movie introduces two American military guys, who take over the investigation for no apparent reason. Donald Wolfit is in fine plummy form as the one-armed host of the get-together, Anton Diffring a composer, Christopher Lee a doctor, Robert Bray the dull American. Runs out of steam pretty early, but I am a sucker for movies about people who convene every year for something or other.

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