Deadwood (2019)

(teeny spoiler) This is how you capstone a series. I was a bit disappointed that Swearengen didn’t have a more heroic ending, but then he uttered that last line. Bam!

CHERNOBYL

Well, I didn’t intend to see this but people kept saying how good it was. Glad I did. It’s a gripping tale of rampant incompetence and the dangers of statism. I was struck when, with a reactor completely destroyed, one of the scientists was told that nuclear disasters simply don’t happen in the Soviet state. I immediately flashed back to “Citizen X” when the psychiatrist investigating the child murders was told “There is no serial killer in the Soviet state.” Party affiliation trumps competence – the head of the nuclear energy department didn’t know how a reactor worked, and on and on. You have to ask yourself: How could a disaster NOT occur?

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940)

Enjoyable, involving, suspenseful, unpredictable. Hitchcock is hitting his stride here. The only quibble is the somewhat incongruously light tone compared to the grim subject matter. This might have something to do with Robert Benchley being one of the screenwriters (and actors). As usual for the time, Hitchcock preferred to shoot indoors for outdoors and the sets have a wonderful hyper-real effect, especially the interior of the windmill. The Escheresque quality of its crisscrossing stairways is fascinating (even though this preceded Escher’s most famous works). Very much worth a look.

A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER (1953)

With Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, and Gary Merrill. I’d never heard of this film but I’ve cast a wide net during my current noir binge and I’m glad I found it. Despite two glaring (at least to me) plot holes, this tight, cerebral thriller is riveting. Not one of its 77 minutes is wasted. IMHO a lot more films could benefit by being edited down to a similar running time. (I was impressed by the way Catherine McCleod steals all her scenes as Gary Merrill’s pulp-writer wife)

TOO LATE FOR TEARS (KILLER BAIT)

I watched this 1949 noir thriller without knowing its tangled history. Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, and Don Defore (eventually of “Hazel” fame) star in a screenplay that’s a lot busier than most noirs of the period (i.e., the plot keeps accelerating instead of plodding). Typical noir situation of one bad decision leading to another and another until someone is murdered. Lizabeth Scott isn’t the most expressive actress, but love that voice! I won’t go into the copyright travails here. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_Late_for_Tears)

The Big Clock

Quite the cast with Laughton, Milland, O’Sullivan, Elsa Lanchester (in a comedic turn), Harry Morgan (I don’t think he says a word) and an uncredited cameo by Noelle Neill. The strange thing is the shifting tone, from dark to comedic and back, as if the director was never sure what kind of film he wanted to make. Lots of good supporting performances. Worth a watch simply for all the familiar faces.