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Review: The Battle of Algiers

The Algerian War of Independence was one of the defining conflicts of the twentieth century: a potent symbol of the collapse of European colonialism and the emergence of national self- determination and political agency on the part of previously subjected indigenous populations. The war provoked a UN resolution in support of Algerian independence, an international […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)

Whale’s Frankenstein wasn’t the first film to be based on Shelley’s cautionary gothic fable – J. Serle Dawley’s short film of the same name, one of three from the silent era, predated it by 20 years – but it and its sequel The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) invented a powerful visual archetype to complement the robust […]

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Features Screengems

Screengem: The Remington Portable Typewriter in The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945)

Billy Wilder’s Oscar Winning picture, The Lost Weekend (1945) starring Ray Milland as a washed-up New York writer, is one of the more frank depictions of alcoholism on film; unusual in 1945 for its candid depiction of dissolution and for its unflinching portrayal of a self-indulgent and unsympathetic ‘hero’ driven to despair by frustrated ambition. […]

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Features Lost Classics

One Sheet: The General (Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman, 1926)

Buster Keaton’s 1926 masterpiece The General is one of the defining works of silent cinema, providing some of the greatest comedic moments ever committed to celluloid, while helping to forge the language of that most characteristically American genre, the Western. Fittingly, this benchmark piece of cinema has also inspired a series of surpassingly beautiful designs […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: The Signalman (Lawrence Gordon Clark, 1976)

Throughout the 1970s, the BBC television series A Ghost Story for Christmas provided a chilling counter to the gaudy frivolity of the season, brilliantly dramatising some of the great tales in the English ghost story tradition. Director Lawrence Gordon Clark initially concentrated on filming stories written by the great master of this tradition, MR James, […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)

The Innocents – Jack Clayton’s adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw – was once described by the famous New Yorker magazine film critic Pauline Kael as “the best ghost movie I’ve ever seen”. Miss Giddens, a brittle and idealistic young governess, is newly employed as custodian of two orphaned children, Miles and […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes, Jules Dassin, 1955)

Jules Dassin had already made a number of important political thrillers and film noirs, notably The Naked City (1948) and Thieves’ Highway (1949), before falling victim to the House of Un-American Activities in 1952. His subsequent exile, first in London – where he directed the magnificent noir Night and The City (1950) – and later in Paris, culminated in his […]

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Features Four Frames

Four Frames: Macbeth (Roman Polanski, 1971)

Shot on location in the gritty and windswept landscapes of North Wales and Northumbria, Macbeth contains a masterly but understated demonstration of the film-maker’s art. At this transformative moment, ambition takes root in the heart of the eponymous antihero as Polanski transmutes an already famous Shakespearian scene into a piece of compelling visual drama. It […]