Touch of Evil (1958)

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A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. (IMDb)
Brilliant cinematography and editing, from the opening 3 minute take (and many other mesmerizing tracking shots to follow) to the ingenious overlapping of scenes (a character in the background of one becomes the focus of the next) to the stark use of shadow and light. It’s got a solid noir plot, too, with a unique focus on the cops, not the crime, though here a white-washed lead role, a cringe-y damsel-in-distress, and some questionable performances from the supporting cast mar things a bit.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

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While travelling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train. (IMDb)
The lazily paced opening act kept me waiting for the thriller part to come, but then I realized it was actually super funny (see C+C at dinner with Miss Froy) and it ended up setting up the ensemble cast of characters perfectly for the uniquely comedic thriller to follow (see Caldicott during the gun fight: “We’ll never get to the match now”), with the witty banter of Gilbert and Iris carrying us breezily through the engaging mystery right to its ending that hits all the right (piano) notes.
8/10 (Great)

 

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

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Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. (IMDb)
Flawless turns and a snappy script bring forth a captivating character dynamic: Three men down on their luck, brought into tenuous partnership by their common pursuit of gold. Howard foretells the greed and paranoia early on, and the plot doesn’t disappoint as it expertly builds the tension with calculated conversations (see the debate about dividing the wealth), heated stand-offs, and a suspicious 4th party. The bandit action interrupts the flow a bit, but it adds another element of excitement.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

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An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. (IMDb)
Devastatingly dark and scathingly satirical comedy (“10 to 20 million killed, tops”), brilliantly executed with biting irony (see the “Peace is Our Profession” sign amidst the gunfire; “You can’t fight here, this is the War Room!”), goofy juxtaposition of the mundane and the life-or-death (see Mandrake’s pay-phone call to the president), and visuals both horrifying and humorous (see Kong’s bomb-ride and the final Vera Lynn-backed explosion montage). Sellers is stellar in his three roles.
8/10 (Great)