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The Films of Robert Wise

Guy de Maupassant's Mademoiselle Fifi

The Body Snatcher

A Game of Death

Criminal Court

Born to Kill (July 13/16)

Born to Kill casts Lawrence Tierney as Sam Wild, a short-tempered thug who successfully romances Audrey Long's Georgia, a wealthy newspaper heir, while also pursuing her cold-hearted sister (Claire Trevor's Helen). (This is after Sam has brutally murdered two people, including a girl he presumably likes, out of pure jealousy.) It's a fairly typical film-noir premise that's employed to watchable yet entirely unmemorable effect by Robert Wise, as the director, working from a script by Eve Greene and Richard Macaulay, proves unable to wholeheartedly draw the viewer into the proceedings - with the hands-off atmosphere compounded by a lack of compelling characters. (Tierney's tough-guy performance is entertaining, certainly, but awfully one note.) There's little doubt, as well, that Born to Kill suffers from a midsection best described as stagnant, with the narrative taking a number of twists and turns that few viewers won't see coming (which wouldn't be quite so problematic, of course, if Wise hadn't employed an often oppressively deliberate pace). The surprisingly nasty bent of the screenplay, then, proves instrumental in keeping things interesting, as Greene and Macaulay demonstrate an impressive willingness to portray their ostensible protagonist doing some seriously nasty things. It's in that regard that Born to Kill ultimately succeeds, with the film's engrossing final 10 minutes, in which everything comes to a head, essentially, ensuring that the whole thing ends on an exceedingly positive note.

out of

Mystery in Mexico

Blood on the Moon

The Set-Up

Two Flags West

Three Secrets

The House on Telegraph Hill

The Day the Earth Stood Still (December 24/08)

Though not quite able to live up to its reputation as a classic example of the science-fiction genre, The Day the Earth Stood Still nevertheless remains a cut above the majority of its campy '50s brethren - as the film boasts a number of overtly positive elements that prove effective at capturing (and sustaining) the viewer's interest. The story follows an alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) as he arrives on Earth with an urgent message of peace and understanding, although - after a soldier shoots him within minutes of his arrival - the outer-space visitor eventually decides to hide in plain sight by taking a room at a boarding house (which is also home to a widow and her inquisitive son). It's interesting to note that The Day the Earth Stood Still primarily comes off as a low-key drama, as screenwriter Edmund H. North emphasizes Klaatu's efforts at understanding just what makes humankind tick. There's little doubt, however, that director Robert Wise does a nice job of infusing the proceedings with a distinctly ominous vibe, with Leo Tover's moody visuals and Bernard Hermann's spacy score certainly contributing heavily to the film's foreboding atmosphere. The expectedly preachy bent of North's script only becomes a problem as the movie approaches its admittedly underwhelming finale, as Klaatu delivers a lengthy sermon that feels oddly out of place when compared to the relatively subtle nature of everything that preceded it. It's nevertheless impossible to deny that The Day the Earth Stood Still is - for the most part - far more entertaining and engaging than one might've expected, with Klaatu's fish-out-of-water shenanigans ultimately standing as an obvious highlight.

out of

The Captive City

Something for the Birds

The Desert Rats

Destination Gobi

So Big

Executive Suite

Helen of Troy

Tribute to a Bad Man

Somebody Up There Likes Me

This Could Be the Night

Until They Sail

Run Silent Run Deep

I Want to Live!

Odds Against Tomorrow

Two for the Seesaw

The Haunting

The Sound of Music

The Sand Pebbles


The Andromeda Strain

Two People

The Hindenberg

Audrey Rose

Star Trek: The Motion Picture


A Storm in Summer

© David Nusair