THE SERPENT’S EGG
1977, Park Circus/MGM, 118 min, USA/West Germany, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

A large U.S./West German co-production shot entirely in English with a fascinating mystery at the center of its plot, THE SERPENT’S EGG is an underappreciated anomaly in Bergman’s filmography. Starring David Carradine alongside Bergman regular Liv Ullmann, the film takes place in 1920s Berlin, as Nazi sentiment was beginning to brew just below the surface of German society. While it was originally panned by critics (perhaps due to its significant departure from his other work), the film offers an honest reflection on the director’s early memories of fascism during his time in Germany as a teenager.


BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE
L’UCCELLO DALLE PIUME DI CRISTALLO
1970, AGFA, 96 min, Italy/West Germany, Dir: Dario Argento

Director Dario Argento’s debut feature film was a huge success all over the world and served to codify the classic giallo thriller formula like no picture before or since. Visiting American writer Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses an attempted murder when he becomes trapped in the foyer of a small art gallery. Although our hero has failed to glimpse the assailant’s face, the black-clad killer nevertheless starts dogging his trail when not busy dispatching beautiful young women. Suzy Kendall, as Musante’s girl, is stupendous as always, and a great catalogue of character actors joins in the fun, including disturbed gallery owner Eva Renzi, hitman Reggie Nalder and itinerant, cat-loving painter Mario Adorf. A pure giallo lover’s delight from beginning to end, with perhaps Ennio Morricone’s all-time greatest giallo score.


THE FALLEN IDOL
1948, Rialto Pictures, 95 min, UK, Dir: Carol Reed

Carol Reed, one of England’s most celebrated directors, probes the complexity and callousness of human relationships in this Oscar-nominated adaptation of a story by Graham Greene. Told through the naive eyes of an upper-class boy, the film centers on his idealization of his father’s butler, Baines, who entertains him with extravagant (and fictional) accounts of heroic adventures. Contrasting this is the reality of Baines’s unhappy, loveless marriage and his dreams of escaping his lot in life. Top-shelf performances from Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, and young Bobby Henrey fuel this suspenseful, exceptionally written story of loyalty, betrayal, and everything in between.


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