"Nowadays, Alberto Cavalcanti is well-known among film history buffs, but otherwise more or less forgotten. This is a shame for a number of reasons, one of them being that he made a handful of the most polished, imaginative and downright enjoyable films of the 1940s." The occasion for Kevin Jackson's biographical overview in the Guardian is the opening today of the Cavalcanti season at the BFI Southbank in London (through August 5).
Jackson: "His accomplishments include Went the Day Well?, an extraordinary combination of war film and thriller; Champagne Charlie, an exuberant musical comedy; They Made Me a Fugitive, a taut and grimy thriller that rivals the best contemporary gangster films; and Nicholas Nickleby, a fine Dickens adaptation. He was also the co-creator of the supernatural portmanteau film Dead of Night, to which he contributed the much-imitated yarn about the tormented ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) and his demonic doll. Martin Scorsese, no less, recently nominated Dead of Night as one of his top 10 scary films. That's a track record most directors would contemplate with intense pride, yet it's only the most visible fraction of a long and prolific career that fell into four main stages: one in Paris, one as an itinerant director, working as far afield as East Germany and his native Brazil, and two in England."
More in the Guardian on Went the Day Well?: "This slice of wartime propaganda from Ealing — directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and adapted from a short story by Graham Greene — is very different from the comedies for which the studio is best known, though our introduction to the quaint English village of Bramley End, where it takes place, makes us think we're in store for an everyday story of country folk. But the emotion I felt wasn't amusement; it was shock. To be precise, I was shocked by the violence." And that's an experience Anne Billson actually misses; she explains.
Film Forum's Anthony Mann festival rolls on through July 15 and today, for Artforum, Melissa Anderson sings the praises of Barbara Stanwyck's performance in The Furies: "Stanwyck makes wrath a virtue, never once letting go of the reins." Then there's Susan King's list of memorable movie madams in today's Los Angeles Times, including the "always watchable" Stanwyck sinking "her teeth into the role of the brittle Jo, the madam of a 1930s New Orleans bordello" in Edward Dmytryk's Walk on the Wild Side.
You'll have seen Gabe Klinger's dispatches from Il Cinema Ritrovato, which wraps today. Even so, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson have a few fresh dispatches themselves.
Updates, 7/9: Went the Day Well? is "a wartime conspiracy thriller, a black-comic nightmare and a surrealist masterpiece in which stoutly English-seeming army types reveal themselves to be Nazis, like the reflected figures turning their backs on us in René Magritte's mirror," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "The movie's influence shows up in Dad's Army, in Village of the Damned, and maybe even, with a twist, in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds."
It's "perhaps the greatest British war-movie you've never heard of," writes Neil Young. More from Tom Huddleston (Time Out London), Anthony Quinn (Independent) and Sukhdev Sandhu (Telegraph).
Update, 7/10: Cavalcanti is "arguably the greatest expatriate influence on our national cinema," writes Sight & Sound editor Nick James in a survey of the oeuvre.
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