ACT OF VIOLENCE
1948, Warner Bros., 81 min, USA, Dir: Fred Zinnemann

A dark masterpiece made during the Metro tenure of producer Dore Schary, this is emblematic film noir. Psychically scarred Robert Ryan stalks war hero Van Heflin from sylvan Big Bear Lake to the nocturnal underbelly of postwar downtown L.A. Robert Surtees’ stunning cinematography captures the dark side of the postwar boom, as well as superb performances from the entire cast, including a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 20-year-old Janet Leigh and a revelatory Mary Astor as a blowsy, street-wise hooker. Director Fred Zinnemann’s only foray into film noir is one of the best of the classic era.


THE PROWLER
1951, Crystal Pictures, 92 min, USA, Dir: Joseph Losey

A perverse, provocative film about a corrupt cop (Van Heflin) who sexually dominates a married woman (Evelyn Keyes) for material gain. Oh yeah, he murders her husband in the process - then marries her. And she ends up giving birth in a Nevada ghost town. Hands down, Keyes’ best performance. Heflin’s desperate pursuit of his skewed vision of the American Dream lingers in the memory – potent, haunting and disturbingly similar to today’s headline news. A rediscovered masterpiece not to be missed!


SHANE
1953, Paramount, 118 min, USA, Dir: George Stevens

George Stevens infuses the Western genre with mythic grandeur in this timeless classic. Alan Ladd is at his most iconic as the title character, an ex-gunfighter forced out of retirement when a family of homesteaders (Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Brandon de Wilde) comes under attack by a vicious rancher’s hired guns. Jack Palance is one of the most threatening villains in movie history, and the film itself is both a summing up of the Western genre and a sign of things to come in later masterworks such as UNFORGIVEN. One of the most influential films ever made - and one of the most entertaining. Loyal Griggs won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.


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