Lady in the Lake

  • Directors: Robert Montgomery
  • Producers: George Haight
  • Writers: Story, Raymond Chandler, Screenplay, Steve Fisher
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Romance
  • Actors: Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames, Jayne Meadows

The story is set on Christmas Eve. Hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe (Montgomery) is asked by a publishing executive, Adrienne Fromsett (Totter), to locate the wife of her boss, publisher Derace Kingsby (Ames). One month earlier she had sent her husband a telegram saying she was heading to Mexico to marry a man named Chris Lavery.

However Kingsby had recently seen Lavery in the neighboring Bay City, and Lavery seemed unaware of the trip to Mexico. Marlowe pursues his investigation at the Kingsby’s lakeside cottage, where Mrs. Kingsby was last seen. There, he finds Lavery shot dead, and he then becomes involved in a complex web of intrigue.

Hannah and Her Sisters

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Robert Greenhut
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Maureen O Sullivan, Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Lloyd Nolan, Max von Sydow, Daniel Stern

The story is told in three main arcs, with almost all of it occurring during a 12-month period beginning and ending at Thanksgiving parties hosted by Hannah (Farrow) and her husband, Elliot (Caine). Hannah serves as the stalwart hub of the narrative; her own story as a successful actress (a recent success as Nora in A Doll’s House) is somewhat secondary, but most of the events of the film connect to her.

An adulterous romance between Elliot and one of Hannah’s sisters, Lee (Hershey), provides the main romantic entanglement of the film. Elliot’s discontent with his wife’s self-sufficiency and resentment of her emotional strength causes him to look elsewhere. Lee has lived for five years with a reclusive artist, Frederick (von Sydow). She finds her relationship with Frederick no longer intellectually or sexually stimulating, in spite of Frederick’s professed interest in continuing to teach her. She leaves Frederick, much to his sorrow (for he has grown dependent upon her), and has a secret affair with Elliot lasting for several months.

Mickey, another of Allen’s neurotic characters, provides the comic relief. Parts of his story are scenes from his previous marriage to Hannah and his horrible date with the cocaine-addicted Holly (Hannah’s other sister, played by Wiest), shown in flashbacks. Mickey’s main story is one of a hypochondriac confronting the possibility of an actual serious disease. After a clean bill of health, it turns into a career-pausing existential crisis, and leads to unsatisfying experiments with religious conversion to Catholicism and Krishna Consciousness, before a long walk and the fortuitous opportunity to see again the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup (part of the ‘joyous’ declaration of war sequence is featured) help to remind him why life is worth living. The revelation helps prepare him for a second date with Holly, which this time blossoms quickly (and mostly off-screen) into a relationship and marriage.

By the time of the film’s second Thanksgiving Lee has ended her affair with Elliot. In a final coda-like act, another year has elapsed and the film ends happily for the three sisters, now all married, and infertile Mickey has somehow impregnated his new wife Holly.