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?”

Brute Force

  • Directors: Jules Dassin
  • Producers: Mark Hellinger
  • Writers: Screenplay, Richard Brooks, Story, Robert Patterson
  • Genres: Thriller, Film-Noir, Drama
  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford

The film opens on a dark, rainy morning. Prisoners of Westgate Prison are crammed four into a small cell watch out the window as Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster) leaves his term in solitary confinement. Joe comes out angry, and talking about escape. The warden is under pressure to improve discipline. The prison doctor warns that the prison is a powder keg and could explode if they are not careful, not to mention that there is little rehabilitation going on.

Joe’s attorney comes to visit and tells Joe his wife Ruth (Ann Blyth) is not willing to go forward with an operation unless Joe is there with her. Her life is at risk if she does not have surgery for her cancer. Joe asks his attorney to get some cash together and have it at his office. In the machine shop the prisoners plan to attack Wilson (James O’Rear) at 10:30. While other prisoners cause a commotion, Wilson is pushed into a compactor and killed. Not coincidentally, Joe is in Dr. Walters (Art Smith office when the murder takes place.

Joe presses Gallagher (Charles Bickford) to help him escape but Gallagher has a good job at the prison newspaper and could get a parole. But after instigating a prisoner suicide, the administration revokes prisoner privileges and cancels parole hearings. Gallagher decides breaking out with Joe may be a good idea after all. Joe and Gallagher plan an assault on the tower where they can get access to the lever that lowers a bridge they have to cross to escape.

While the escape plan is taking shape, the cons in cell R17 each tell a story, via flashback, about how being in love somehow got them all in trouble with the law. Standing in the way of the prison break is a sadistic prison Capt. Munsey (Hume Cronyn). When the break goes bad the normally subdued prison yard turns into a violent and bloody riot.

The Pelican Brief

  • Directors: Alan J Pakula
  • Producers: Alan J Pakula, Pieter Jan Brugge
  • Writers: John Grisham, Alan J Pakula
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard, John Heard, Tony Goldwyn, James B Sikking, William Atherton, Robert Culp, Stanley Tucci, Special Appearance by, Hume Cronyn, And John Lithgow

Two Supreme Court justices are assassinated. A terrorist named Khamel, who works as a hired assassin, shoots one of the justices as he lies in his sickbed. He strangles the other in a gay porn film theater. The two had been very different in their voting patterns and opinions in cases that had come before them. Tulane University Law School student Darby Shaw theorizes that there may be some similarity in their otherwise-different voting patterns that may provide a motive for their assassinations. She discovers that both were protective of the environment (the only subject the two agreed on) in their votes. Her research also reveals that the Fifth Circuit ruling, contrary to the interest of an oil company owned by Victor Mattiece, had ruled in favor of protecting an expanse of wetlands in Louisiana used by pelicans and other wildlife as a habitat.

The Supreme Court was expected to eventually hear the corporation’s appeal of that Fifth Circuit ruling; but now, two pro-environment justices who have been assassinated will not be able to take part in any Supreme Court vote on the appeal, and oil magnate Mattiece (a close friend of and political contributor to the President) hopes to have pro-oil justices named as their replacements.

In a dark, empty hangar, Darby and Grantham board a plane and fly to an undisclosed location. Upon arrival, they are given a copy of the day’s Herald with their story and many related articles on the front page. Darby hugs Grantham goodbye before getting into a van and vanishing. Finally, we see Darby in her new safehouse watching Grantham being interviewed by a television news station. She smiles as he deflects questions about her identity, and we are left with the impression that they may meet again.

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.