Drama · Thriller

Jack Nicholson vs. the Dept. of Water and Power

Chinatown (1974) is not a Feel Good film. Jack Nicholson stars as 1930s-era private detective Jake Gittes, a cynical and persistent investigator who stumbles upon corruption in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The film is loosely based on the so-called California Water Wars of the 1920s, when water was being diverted from… Continue reading Jack Nicholson vs. the Dept. of Water and Power

Film Noir

The Sam Spade Business Model

Fictional private eye Sam Spade doesn’t believe in sugar coating. In The Maltese Falcon, he tells a client, “We didn’t believe your story. We believed your $200.” This, to us, reveals Spade’s genetic makeup – shrewd, blunt, knows the value of a dollar. He doesn’t care about feelings; he cares about truth. Sam Spade, one of the best-known… Continue reading The Sam Spade Business Model

Adventure · Drama · Thriller

Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges

B. Traven (18??-1969?) was a popular novelist who never gave interviews. Not even his publishers knew him; they communicated with someone claiming to be his agent via a Mexican postal box. Traven might have been onto something. The great thing about not generating your own publicity is that others will do it for you – and they’ll create fantastic stories. For example, some… Continue reading Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges

Comedy · Gangster

The Amazing Edward G. Robinson: Is He or Isn’t He?

Sometimes movies pose tantalizing questions, such as: Is the main character off his rocker? Hamlet is a famous example of a character with ambiguous mental health; so is another lesser-known figure, Dr.  Clitterhouse. The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) is a black comedy about a successful medical doctor (Edward G. Robinson) who becomes fascinated by what he calls “the… Continue reading The Amazing Edward G. Robinson: Is He or Isn’t He?