LADY ON A TRAIN
1945, Universal, 94 min, USA, Dir: Charles David

Nikki Collins (Deanna Durbin) witnesses a murder while waiting for a train, but can’t get the police to believe her when no body is discovered. While they dismiss her as daft, she enlists the help of a mystery writer to sleuth out the culprits on her own. Based on a story by veteran mystery scribe Leslie Charteris (The Saint), this is a wildly entertaining mix of comedy, musical and suspense, rendered in evocative noir style by cameraman Woody Bredell (PHANTOM LADY, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, THE KILLERS), and featuring a superb cast of sinister and suspicious supporting players (including noir fave Dan Duryea) who swirl ominously around “America’s Sweetheart.”


LA BOHÈME
1926, Warner Bros., 105 min, USA, Dir: King Vidor

Sumptuously designed (costumes are by an uncredited Erté), King Vidor’s follow-up to THE BIG PARADE was this luminous silent romance, based on the Henri Murger book that also inspired the classic Puccini opera. In this tale of struggling artists in 1830 Paris, embroiderer Mimi (Lillian Gish) and playwright Rodolphe (John Gilbert) are next-door neighbors who grow closer after each is threatened with eviction – though her self-sacrifice and his tempestuous nature set the stage for tragedy. Gish’s final odyssey through the cobblestone streets of Paris’ Latin Quarter is one for the ages. With Edward Everett Horton.


BLUEBEARD’S EIGHTH WIFE
1938, Universal, 85 min, USA, Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

Gary Cooper plays multimillionaire Michael Brandon, who changes wives as if they were underwear (or, in this case, pajama tops) until he marries the daughter (Claudette Colbert) of an impoverished marquis. As lucrative as divorce would be, the young woman is determined to be the final Mrs. Brandon. Director Ernst Lubitsch’s first pairing with the Charles Brackett-Billy Wilder writing team was a match made in heaven.


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