May was a pretty busy month for me. It started with the tail end of the Atlanta Film Festival (one of those last films made my favorites list for the month) and ended with me writing my very first professional film (and TV!) reviews. So in case you missed it, here is everything I wrote in May: movie recs and a poem over at the Classic Film Collective, I profiled Marielle Heller for Netflix Queue, I interviewed Aubrey Plaza for RogerEbert.com, dropped several more episodes of Prog Save America, speaking of podcasts I talked small town cinema on Movies With Gravy, still talking Zodiac with Zodiac Minute, talked the sled scene with Citizen Kane minute, for Moviefone I wrote about women who made films while pregnant for Mother’s Day, curated a watchlist for The Fast Times, for Nerdist Vampire Week I wrote about vampire films directed by women, Jean Painlevé’s Le Vampire, and the horniest Dracula movie of them all, for The Playlist I reviewed Natalie Morales’ directorial debut Plan B and the new YA show Panic, and lastly for my Moviefone column I interviewed Gia Coppola, Haifaa al-Mansour, and Danielle Lessovitz, and wrote about a couple of rock docs.
Whew. And now to everything I watched in May! After the cut, as always, you’ll find the list, a breakdown by decade, and a handful of my favorite first time watches!
As we continue with Noirvember, I bring one of my favorites from the era, Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire. I read one critic who said it is more of a “message film” than a film noir and I think that is kind of a ridiculous statement, as it assumes the two are mutually exclusive. If you’ve seen The Celluloid Closet, then you know that originally the crime in this film was perpetrated out of homophobia, rather than anti-Semitism. Under the Hays Code, clearcut mention of homosexuality was prohibited because it was consider “sexual perversion.” I’m going to write a little more about the origins of the film after the cut. Crossfire was nominated for five Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Robert Ryan, Best Supporting Actress Gloria Grahame, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best picture that year were The Bishop’s Wife, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street and winner Gentleman’s Agreement (which is also about anti-Semitism). Crossfire was one of the twenty highest-grossing films of 1947, along with three other noirs: Body and Soul, Possessed and Dark Passage.
Ginny: Okay, where were you when he needed you? Maybe you were someplace having beautiful thoughts. Well, I wasn’t. I was in a stinkin’ gin mill, where all he had to do to see me was walk in, sit down at the table and buy me a drink and that’s all I know about it. I didn’t ask him if he killed anybody.
This is an interesting film. It’s a satire, for sure. But I can’t help but think its satirical tone was probably lost on many a person when it first came out (and anyone who’s watched it since). That or it made them uncomfortable because it’s satirical about religion, but not in a Monty Python kind of way. Regardless, I thought it was fantastic. I think Richard Brooks is one of the great underrated directors of the transitional period from Old Hollywood to New Hollywood. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning three: Best Score (Comedy or Drama), Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actress Shirley Jones (won), Best Actor Burt Lancaster (won), Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were The Alamo, Sons and Lovers, The Sundowners and winner The Apartment.
Margaret “Maggie” Pollitt: You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Brick Pollitt: Then jump off the roof, Maggie. Jump off it. Cats jump off roofs and land uninjured. Do it. Jump.
Margaret “Maggie” Pollitt: Jump where? Into what?
Brick Pollitt: Take a lover.
Margaret “Maggie” Pollitt: I don’t deserve that.