GATES OF THE NIGHT
PORTES DE LA NUIT
1946, Janus Films, 100 min, France, Dir: Marcel Carné

Director Marcel Carné and collaborator Jacques Prévèrt, the toast of French cinema in 1945 with the release of the epic CHILDREN OF PARADISE, found themselves in the doghouse with critics and audiences alike when they released their follow-up, GATES OF THE NIGHT. A troubled production history (original stars Jean Gabin and Marlene Dietrich bailed out), a contentious storyline (no one was happy with the pointed references to the black market that had sprung up after the Liberation) and the film’s unremitting darkness raised eyebrows and hackles when it was released in 1946. Seventy years later, however, the film can be seen as a singular, masterful work, filled with colorful and mysterious performances - including a young and highly appealing Yves Montand. With Pierre Brasseur, Serge Reggiani, Jean Vilar and Nathalie Nattier.


LE MONTE-CHARGE
1962, Gaumont, 90 min, France/Italy, Dir: Marcel Bluwal

A highly fruitful collaboration between actor-director Robert Hossein and hard-boiled novelist Frédéric Dard (THE WICKED GO TO HELL, BLONDE IN A WHITE CAR) comes to an end with this spooky sendup of ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS, where ex-con Hossein returns to his old criminal haunts on Christmas Eve only to hook up with a mysterious, alluring woman (Lea Massari) whose circumstances become more complicated and bizarre as the evening progresses. In the midst of the “elevating” terror, one senses director Bluwal’s tongue subtly in cheek.


WORLD ON A WIRE
WELT AM DRAHT
1973, Janus Films, 212 min, Germany, Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Originally created for German television, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s sci-fi epic lends a tense, noir-ish atmosphere to virtual reality head games that THE MATRIX would play a quarter-century later. Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch) takes over a computer simulation program at the Cybernetics and Future Science Institute after the death of a top researcher. The man reportedly had been on the verge of a major discovery, but as Stiller investigates, others begin to vanish mysteriously as well.


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