Corinna, The Actress (The Film, “Die Schauspielerin”)

A German film from 1988, The Actress (Die Schauspielerin), directed by Siegfried Kuhn, is about an emotionally vulnerable but also strong-minded theatre actress (Corinna Harfouche) who discards her career in Nazi Germany in order to be with her relocated Jewish beau (Andre Hennicke).  Strange times, with their ludicrous (anti-Jewish) propaganda, drive the actress to do some strange things.  A major theme in the film is that political injustice, political evil, works on the mind.  Indeed, a person may even embrace what is fatal.

An East German production, Kuhn’s opus is subtle, unpretentious and lovely-looking.  Harfouche is extraordinary: talk about power, incisiveness and personality!

(In German with English subtitles)

Hang It All! “The Hanging Tree”

The Hanging Tree

The Hanging Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope the novel The Hanging Tree, by Dorothy M. Johnson, is better than the Delmer Daves movie adapted from it, for the flick, a Western, is frequently quite dumb.  For example, the Montana townspeople here are willing to execute their only doctor (Gary Cooper) for a killing they know absolutely nothing about (it was done, in fact, in self-defense).

Yes, it is entertaining—it is gripping that Cooper gets rough with a sexual harasser (Karl Malden) who becomes a sexual assaulter (let this be a warning to YOU, Al Franken)—and Nile, Washington, where the film was shot, must be a gorgeous place.  But it’s a wonder The Hanging Tree, available on TV, DVD and Blu-Ray, is still hanging around.


American Lafayettes In The Movie, “Lafayette Escadrille”

Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Arch, 1928

Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Arch, 1928 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 1957 Lafayette Escadrille, a punk kid (Tab Hunter) at the time of the Great War travels to France to join (with other Americans) an elite air force corp—the Lafayette Escadrille.  The corp is training to fight before the U.S. has entered the war.  In Paris, the young rebel falls in love with a French prostitute (Etchika Choureau) but he also aggressively strikes his drill sergeant and, after being sprung from jail by his Yank buddies, runs away.  He is now a deserter until he is given a second chance.

A personal project for Hollywood’s William Wellman, this is not one of the director’s better movies.  Not only does it seem partly dishonest, it is also rather imperfectly directed and Tab Hunter’s acting is utterly by-the-numbers.  Further, for a long time it makes French men, soldiers and otherwise, look like fools.  By the time it reaches midpoint, however, it gets a bit better.  Its anodyne love story, though it receives too much screen time, assuredly has its moments; and there is some nifty stuff involving the old WWI fighter planes.  But it’s a shame for Lafayette Escadrille to have to be a half-enticing failure.

Back in The Day
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