Spellbound

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: David O Selznick
  • Writers: Story, Hilary Saint George Saunders, John Palmer, Screenplay, Angus MacPhail, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G Carroll, Rhonda Fleming

But in Ourselves…

The film opens with Shakespeare’s proverb, and words on the screen announcing that its purpose is to highlight the virtues of psychoanalysis in banishing mental illness and restoring reason.

Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychoanalyst at Green Manors, a mental hospital in Vermont, and is perceived by the other (male) doctors as detached and emotionless. The director of the hospital, Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll), is being forced into retirement, shortly after returning from an absence due to nervous exhaustion. His replacement is the much younger Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck).

Dr. Peterson notices that there is something strange about Dr. Edwardes. He has a peculiar phobia about seeing sets of parallel lines against a white background, first displayed in an inappropriate reaction to seeing a diagram drawn with the tines of a fork on a tablecloth.

Dr. Peterson soon realizes, by comparing handwriting, that this man is an impostor and not the real Dr. Edwardes. He confides to her that he killed Dr. Edwardes and took his place. He suffers from massive amnesia and does not know who he is. Dr. Peterson believes that he is innocent and suffering from a guilt complex.

‘Dr. Edwardes’ disappears during the night, having left a note for Dr. Peterson that he is going to New York City.

A heartbroken Dr. Peterson returns to her position at the hospital, where Dr. Murchison is once again the director. After reconsidering her notes from the dream, she realizes that the ‘wheel’ was a revolver and that the man hiding behind the chimney and dropping the wheel was Dr. Murchison hiding behind a tree, shooting Dr. Edwardes and dropping the gun. She confronts Murchison with this and he confesses, but says that he didn’t drop the gun; he still has it. He pulls it out of his desk and threatens to shoot her. She walks away, the gun still pointed at her, and explains that while the first murder carried extenuating circumstances of his own mental state, murdering her as well surely would result in the electric chair. He allows her to leave and turns the gun on himself. Dr. Peterson is then reunited with Ballantyne.

Angel Face

  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Producers: Otto Preminger
  • Writers: Story, Chester Erskine, Screenplay, Ben Hecht, Oscar Millard, Frank S Nugent
  • Genres: Drama, Film-Noir, Crime
  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Mona Freeman, Herbert Marshall

One night, Beverly Hills ambulance driver Frank Jessup and his partner Bill are called to the cliffside estate of Charles and Catherine Tremayne. By the time they arrive, Catherine has already been treated for gas inhalation, which the police believe occurred accidentally, but which the wealthy Catherine suspects was deliberate. As he is leaving the house, Frank notices Catherine’s beautiful English stepdaughter Diane playing a melancholy piano piece and assures her that her stepmother will be fine. When Diane becomes hysterical, Frank slaps her face to calm her. Confused, she slaps him back, then apologizes. Later, after getting off work, Frank goes to a nearby diner, unaware that Diane is following him in her sports car. In the diner, Frank tries to call his girl friend, Mary Wilton, a hospital receptionist, but gets no answer. Diane then comes in and strikes up a flirtatious conversation with him. When Mary finally calls him, Frank turns down her dinner invitation, claiming that he is too tired. Frank takes Diane out, and over dinner, she tells him that her father is a well-respected novelist but has not finished a book since her mother’s death during the war. Diane then asks Frank, a former race car driver who dreams of owning his own garage, about Mary, and he reveals that Mary has been saving her money to help him. The next day, Diane invites Mary to lunch and, while pretending that she wants to contribute to Frank’s garage fund, lets her know that he spent the evening with her. Seeing through Diane’s tactics, Mary rejects her offer but admits that her faith in Frank is shaken. That night, Mary is about to go out with Frank when he lies again about his date with Diane.

To help Diane, Vance hires Fred Barrett, a renowned defense lawyer. Just before the trial is to start, Fred convinces Frank and Diane to marry so that he can propose that Diane’s suitcase was in Frank’s room because they were planning to elope. During the trial, Barrett skillfully deflates expert testimony regarding the car’s transmission and steering mechanism, which appears to have been tampered with, and paints Frank and Diane as innocent lovebirds. Frank and Diane are acquitted, but once back at the estate, Frank tells Diane he is divorcing her. Diane finally talks about the jealousy and loneliness she felt when her father married Catherine and the grief she suffered upon seeing their crushed bodies. Despite Diane’s remorse, Frank insists he is returning to Mary. After Diane bets Frank her sports car that Mary will not take him back, Frank goes to Mary, who rejects him in favor of Bill. Diane, meanwhile, visits Barrett’s office and insists on confessing to the murders, detailing how she asked an unsuspecting Frank to explain the car’s transmission. Reminding Diane about the double jeopardy rule, Barrett tears up the confession. Upon returning home, Diane finds Frank packing for Mexico and asks if she can go, too. Frank says no, but agrees to let her drive him to the bus station. After Frank gets in, Diane shifts into reverse, jams her foot on the gas pedal and sends the car over the cliff.

Wuthering Heights

  • Directors: William Wyler
  • Producers: Samuel Goldwyn
  • Writers: Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald

A traveler named Lockwood (Miles Mander) is caught in the snow and stays at the estate of Wuthering Heights, where the housekeeper, Ellen Dean (Flora Robson), sits down to tell him the story in flashback.

Gunga Din

  • Directors: George Stevens
  • Producers: George Stevens
  • Writers: Rudyard Kipling, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Joel Sayre, Fred Guiol
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, War
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Eduardo Ciannelli, Sam Jaffe, Joan Fontaine

On the Northwest Frontier of colonial India, circa 1880, contact has been lost with a British outpost at Tantrapur in the midst of a telegraph message. Colonel Weed (Montagu Love) dispatches a small detachment of British Indian Army troops to investigate, led by three sergeants of the Royal Engineers, MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Cutter (Cary Grant), and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), long-time friends and veteran campaigners. Although they are a disciplinary headache for their colonel, they are the right men to send on a dangerous mission. Accompanying the detail is a regimental bhisti (water-bearer), Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who longs to throw off his lowly status and become a soldier of the Queen.

They find Tantrapur apparently deserted and set about repairing the telegraph. However, they are soon surrounded by hostile natives. The troops fight their way out. Colonel Weed and Major Mitchell (Lumsden Hare) identify an enemy weapon brought back as belonging to the Thuggee, a murderous cult that had been suppressed for many years.

Ballantine is due to leave the army in a few days to wed Emmy Stebbins (Joan Fontaine) and go into the tea business, a combined calamity that MacChesney and Cutter consider worse than death. Meanwhile, Gunga Din tells Cutter of a temple he has found, one made of gold. Cutter is determined to make his fortune, but MacChesney will have none of it and has Cutter put in the stockade to prevent his desertion. That night, Cutter escapes with Din’s help and goes to the temple, which is all that Din had claimed. Unfortunately, they discover that it belongs to the Thugs when the owners return. Cutter creates a distraction and allows himself to be captured so that Din can slip away and sound the warning.

When the regiment comes to the rescue, the guru boasts that they are marching into the trap he has set, with the three sergeants as bait. He orders his men to take their positions, but when he sees that they are unwilling to leave him in enemy hands, he leaps to his death in a pit full of cobras to remove that obstacle. Thugs then climb the temple and overwhelm the soldiers, shoot and bayonet Cutter. Gunga Din is also bayoneted, but manages with the last of his strength to climb to the top of the gold dome of the temple and sounds the alarm with the bugle. He is then shot dead, but the British force is alerted and defeats the Thuggee forces. At Din’s funeral pyre, the colonel formally inducts Gunga Din as a British soldier and reads the last lines of the Kipling poem over the body:

Notorious

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Drama, Film-Noir, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Claude Rains

Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), the American daughter of a convicted Nazi spy, is recruited by government agent T. R. Devlin (Cary Grant) to infiltrate a group of Germans who have relocated to Brazil after World War II.

While awaiting the details of her assignment in Rio de Janeiro, Alicia falls in love with Devlin. His feelings for her are complicated by his knowledge of her wild past. When Devlin is ordered to convince her to seduce Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), one of her father’s friends and a member of the group, Devlin tries to convince his superiors that Alicia is not fit for the job. But upon seeing Alicia again, he puts up a stoic front, choosing duty over love. Alicia concludes that he does not love her, and she soon marries Alex to better spy on him and his associates.

Alicia and Devlin discover the key element of the plot by accident, but in the process leave a clue that her husband traces back to her. Now Alex has a problem: he must silence Alicia, but cannot expose her without being discredited by his fellow Nazis. Alex discusses the situation with his mother (Leopoldine Konstantin), who suggests that Alicia “die slowly” by poisoning. The poison is initially mixed into Alicia’s coffee, and she quickly falls ill. Devlin becomes alarmed when she fails to appear at their next rendezvous. After driving to Sebastian’s house, he sneaks into Alicia’s quarters, where she tells him that Alex and his mother are poisoning her. After confessing his love for her, Devlin carries her out of the mansion in full view of the conspirators. Alex privately begs to go with them, but they abandon him to the non-existent mercy of the Nazis, who had previously disposed of another co-conspirator for a far lesser indiscretion.

Lifeboat

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Writers: Novella, John Steinbeck, Screenplay, Jo Swerling, Uncredited, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Thriller, War
  • Actors: Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee

Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Walter Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (John Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. Cooler heads prevail with Garrett (Hume Cronyn) asserting the German’s prisoner of war status and he is allowed to stay.

Kovac takes charge, rationing the little food and water they have; but Willi gradually takes control away from him and is later revealed to be the U-boat captain. One morning, while the others are sleeping, the injured German-American Gus Smith (William Bendix) catches Willi drinking water from a hidden flask. Too delirious and weak to wake anybody up, Gus is pushed overboard by Willi and drowns while the others sleep. Upon waking, the others discover Gus missing and Willi is questioned. When they notice that the Nazi is sweating, the other passengers discover the hoarded flask in his jacket. In a spasm of anger they beat him up and throw him overboard, striking him multiple times to prevent him from reboarding. Musing on Willi’s treachery, Rittenhouse (Henry Hull) asks, “What do you do with people like that?”

The survivors are subsequently spotted by the German supply ship to which Willi had been steering them. Before a launch can pick them up, both are sunk by an Allied warship. A frightened young German seaman is pulled aboard the lifeboat and the passengers argue about keeping him or throwing him overboard to drown. The rescued seaman brandishes a gun and after being disarmed asks, “Aren’t you going to kill me?”. Kovac repeats, “What are you going do with people like that?”

Stagecoach

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Walter Wanger
  • Writers: Ernest Haycox, Dudley Nichols, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Action, Western, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Andy Devine, George Bancroft

In Arizona Territory in 1880, a motley group of strangers boards the east-bound stagecoach to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. Among them is Dallas (Claire Trevor), a prostitute who is being driven out of town by the members of the “Law and Order League”; an alcoholic doctor, Doc Boone (Thomas Mitchell); Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt), who is traveling to see her cavalry officer husband; and whiskey salesman Samuel Peacock (Donald Meek).

When the stage driver, Buck (Andy Devine), looks for his normal shotgun guard, he is told by Marshal Curly Wilcox (George Bancroft) that he has gone out to look for a fugitive, the Ringo Kid (John Wayne). Buck tells Marshal Wilcox that Luke Plummer (Tom Tyler) is in Lordsburg. Knowing that the Kid has vowed to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at Plummer’s hands, the marshal decides to ride along.

As they start to pull out, U.S. cavalry Lieutenant Blanchard (Tim Holt) informs them that Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath, and that they will have no escort until they get to Dry Fork. Gambler and Southern gentleman Hatfield (John Carradine) joins them to provide protection for Mrs. Mallory. At the edge of town, the stage is flagged down by pompous banker Henry Gatewood, (Berton Churchill), who is sneaking away with $50,000 embezzled from his bank.

When the passengers finally arrive in Lordsburg, Gatewood is arrested by the local sheriff, and Lucy is told that her husband’s wound is not serious. Dallas begs Ringo not to go up against the Plummers, but he is determined to settle matters. In the ensuing shootout, the Kid dispatches Luke and his two brothers. He returns to Wilcox, expecting to go back to jail. He asks the lawman to take Dallas to his ranch. However, when Ringo gets on a wagon to say goodbye to her, Curly and Doc laugh and start the horses moving, letting him “escape”.

Angels with Dirty Faces

  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Producers: Samuel Bischoff
  • Writers: Rowland Brown, John Wexley, Warren Duff, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
  • Actors: James Cagney, Pat O Brien, The Dead End Kids, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, George Bancroft

Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) and Jerry Connolly (Pat O’Brien) are childhood friends who robbed a railroad car as kids. Rocky saved Jerry’s life during the chase by pulling him out of the way of a steam train. Rocky was then caught by the police, but Jerry – who could run faster – escaped. Rocky, after being sent to reform school, grows up to become a notorious gangster, while Jerry has become a priest.

Rocky returns to his old neighborhood, where Jerry is running a home that intends to keep young boys away from a life of crime. Six of those boys, Soapy (Billy Halop), Swing (Bobby Jordan), Bim (Leo Gorcey), Patsy (Gabriel Dell), Crabface (Huntz Hall), and Hunky (Bernard Punsly), idolize Rocky, and Jerry attempts to keep his former friend from corrupting them. (These boys were to star in Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/The Bowery Boys films).

Meanwhile Rocky gets involved with Frazier (Humphrey Bogart), a crooked lawyer, and Keefer (George Bancroft), a shady businessman and municipal contractor. They try to dispose of Rocky, but he finds the record book that they keep where they list the bribes to city officials. Jerry learns of these events and warns Rocky to leave before he informs the authorities. Rocky ignores his advice and Jerry gets the public’s attention and informs them all of the crooked government, causing Frazier and Keefer to plot to kill him. Rocky overhears this plot and kills them to protect his childhood friend.

Rocky is then captured following an elaborate shootout in a building, and sentenced to die. Jerry visits him just before his execution and asks him to do him one last favor – to die pretending to be a screaming, snivelling coward, which would end the boys’ idolization of him. Rocky refuses, and insists he will be “tough” to the end, and not give up the one thing he has left, his pride. At the very last moment he appears to change his mind and has to be dragged to the electric chair. The viewer is never told whether Rocky genuinely was afraid, a “rotten sniveling coward”, or if he does it for the Father and the boys. The boys hear about what happened and decide he was a coward. Then Father Jerry asks them to say a prayer with him, “for a boy who couldn’t run as fast as I could”.

His Girl Friday

  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Producers: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Play, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Screenplay, Charles Lederer
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a hard-boiled editor for The Morning Post whose ex-wife and former star reporter, Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is about to marry bland insurance man Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and settle down to a quiet life as a wife and mother in Albany, New York – but Burns has other ideas. He entices the reluctant Johnson into covering one last story: the upcoming execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen).

Walter does everything he can to keep Hildy from leaving, including setting Bruce up so he gets arrested over and over again on trumped-up charges. He even kidnaps Hildy’s stern mother-in-law-to-be (Alma Kruger). When Williams escapes from the bumbling sheriff (Gene Lockhart) and practically falls into Hildy’s lap, the lure of a big scoop proves to be too much for her. She is so consumed with writing the story that she hardly notices as Bruce realizes his cause is hopeless and leaves to return to Albany.

The crooked mayor (Clarence Kolb) and sheriff need the publicity from the execution to keep their jobs in an upcoming election, so when a messenger (Billy Gilbert) brings them a reprieve from the governor, they try to bribe the man to go away and return later, when it will be too late. Walter and Hildy find out just in time to save Walter from being arrested for kidnapping.

Afterwards, Walter offers to remarry Hildy, promising to take her on the honeymoon they never had in Niagara Falls, but then Walter learns that there is a newsworthy strike in Albany, which is on the way to Niagara Falls by train.

Rope

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein
  • Writers: Play, Patrick Hamilton, Adaptation, Hume Cronyn, Screenplay, Arthur Laurents, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier

On a late afternoon, two brilliant young aesthetes, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) murder a former classmate, David Kentley (Dick Hogan), in their apartment.

After hiding the body in a large antique wooden chest, Brandon and Phillip host a dinner party at the apartment which has a beautiful panoramic view of the city skyline (in what appears to be Manhattan). The guests, unaware of what has happened, include the victim’s father (Cedric Hardwicke) and aunt (Constance Collier) (his mother is not able to attend), as well as his fiancee, Janet Walker (Joan Chandler) and her former lover Kenneth Lawrence (Douglas Dick), who was once a close friend of David’s. In a subtle move, Brandon uses the chest containing the body as a buffet for the food, just before their maid, Mrs. Wilson (Edith Evanson) arrives to help with the party. “Now the fun begins,” Brandon says when the first of the guests arrives.

Brandon’s and Phillip’s idea for the murder was inspired years earlier by conversations with their erstwhile prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (James Stewart). While at school, Rupert had discussed with them, in an apparently approving way, the intellectual concepts of the Гњbermensch and the art of murder, a means of showing one’s superiority over others. He too is among the guests at the party since Brandon in particular feels that he would very likely approve of their so-called work of art.

As the sky outside the apartment darkens into night, the sirens of police cars can be heard heading their way.