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  • June 28, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: The Narrow Margin

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses one of the most thrilling crime pictures with a surprise ending.

    The Narrow Margin (1952)

    What It’s About:
    Tough-talking LA detective Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) arrives in Chicago to escort a cynical mobster’s wife (Marie Windsor) to a California grand jury, where she plans to testify against her estranged husband. The mafia has other plans for Mrs. Neall-namely, to rub her out. After his partner is gunned down leaving Neall’s apartment, Brown is on high alert, and must outwit a team of gangsters who follow them onto a sleeper train but seem to have no idea what their female target looks like.

    Why I Love It:
    A smart, edge-of-your-seat thriller set almost entirely on a West Coast-bound train, “Margin” captivates thanks to its many sudden plot twists and ingenious central tension: Brown doesn’t know which of the men on-board is a gangster, and the hit men don’t know which of the female passengers to bump off. McGraw’s gritty, hardboiled cop and Windsor’s catty moll play off each other extremely well, and portly actor Paul Maxey adds a bit of mystique as an irritating, perhaps devious passenger. Snappy dialogue, crisp pacing, and even-handed direction keep Fleischer’s “Margin” flying like a bullet. Infinitely better than the 1990 remake.

  • June 25, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: Notorious

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses one of his favorite Ingrid Bergman films.

    Notorious (1946)

    What It’s About:
    At the end of World War 2, American intelligence officers are busy tracking Nazis who’ve escaped to South America. They approach Alicia Hubermann (Ingrid Bergman), daughter of a condemned Nazi spy, to use her feminine wiles to implicate more of her father’s colleagues, including Alex Sebastian (Rains), ringleader of a clandestine group which is up no good. Before her specific assignment gets disclosed, however, Alicia and American agent Devlin (Cary Grant) become romantically involved, complicating matters going forward.

    Why I Love It:
    With director Hitchcock at his most subtle and inspired, this brilliant nail-biter seems only to improve with each viewing. The story of a fallen woman-first redeemed by love, then put in peril- is riveting throughout, and stars Grant and Bergman emit powerful on-screen chemistry. Acting laurels also go to supporting player Rains, who’s never been smoother or slimier than here, playing a Nazi agent who falls for the wrong girl. Don’t miss the climax, which is nothing less than pure, understated genius.

  • June 24, 2012

    Nantucket Film Festival

    This week Reel 13 celebrates the Nantucket Film Festival. All three of our short film contenders are past NFF selections. The 17th annual Nantucket Film Festival will take place June 20-24, 2012.

    Be sure to watch each of the films and vote for your favorite – voting continues through Wednesday, June 27th at 5pm. The winner will be broadcast this Saturday, June 30th along with our Classic and Indie features, D.O.A. and Accidental Death of Joey by Sue.

  • June 18, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: The Awful Truth

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses one of Cary Grant’s finest comedies.

    The Awful Truth (1937)

    What It’s About:
    (Cary) Grant and (Irene) Dunne play Jerry and Lucy Warriner, an affluent, attractive young couple who temporarily drift apart and initiate divorce proceedings. Both are unwilling to admit the obvious fact that they’re still in love. Jerry plays the field, but always seems to be turning up (mostly to visit their dog, Mr. Smith). His visits only increase once Lucy gets involved with oil man Dan Leeson (Ralph Bellamy), a wealthy rube from Oklahoma.The couple’s slow but inevitable rapprochement becomes one hilarious, delightful dance.

    Why I Love It:
    Leo McCarey was renowned for his comedic flair (he had directed the Marx Brothers in “Duck Soup”), and this consistently sharp, often side-splitting picture shows why. Reportedly the director actually improvised many of the comic set-pieces right on the set, causing rising star Cary Grant much anxiety. He needn’t have worried. The film was a hit, and cemented the reputations of both stars as much more than pretty faces, but in fact, gifted comic players with superb timing. Both Dunne and Bellamy received Oscar nods, while McCarey won for Best Director. Among the top screwball comedies ever made- and that’s the truth!

  • June 10, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: The French Connection

    by John Farr

    What is the best chase scene ever? John Farr gives you the answer.

    The French Connection (1971)

    What It’s About:
    “Connection” relates the fact-based story of narcotics detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider), who use unorthodox means to track down the source of an upcoming heroin influx to New York City. Their obsessive, hard-driving style leads them to a smooth French drug lord (Fernando Rey) attempting to smuggle in a huge shipment of dope from Europe.

    Why I Love It:
    Gene Hackman’s electrifying performance as Popeye Doyle won him an Oscar and transformed him from supporting player to star. Shot verité-style by William Friedkin, this spellbinding movie evokes the slightly fraying quality of New York thirty years ago, when a fiscal crisis loomed. This only adds to the grit and edginess of this intense film, without question one of the best cop movies ever.

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