1. Os deuses E Os Mortos / Of Gods and the Undead (Ruy Guerra, 1970) Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
2. A Vida Invisível de Eurídice Gusmão / Invisible Life (Karim Aïnouz, 2019) Cinema Tropical's Best Latin American Films 2010-2019
3. Roman Holiday
(William Wyler, 1953) (re-watch) AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions
I was thinking that I might have seen this twice - the second time about 15 years ago - but my memory of it was so dim while watching it last night on TCM that I now think I probably only saw it once, with the girlfriend I lived with at the time, around 1993-4 or so. She was a much bigger classic American cinema fan than I was at the time but she also had very strong likes & dislikes and I feel like she had mixed feelings about Audrey Hepburn, and found Gregory Peck boring - and those influenced my own opinions. Maybe. It's too long ago. In any case I've gotten to like Hepburn MUCH more over the past several years, while Peck remains for me a solid enough actor who I don't care enough about to give much thought to, except in one or two roles. At this point I may investigate watching all of Hepburn's filmography - Peck's, probably not (though admittedly it's much larger).
Anyhoo... Audrey is a bored princess of some unnamed country who is in Rome on a state trip, and decides to slip out and explore the city on her own, and she is rescued, more or less, by American reporter Peck when she's fallen asleep on a stone railing. He doesn't know who she is, even though he's been assigned to interview her the next day (a little weird but, ok - the fact that NOBODY they run into knows who she is seems a bit odder, but maybe her country is tiny and maybe Romans in the early 50s didn't have any kind of royalty obsession?), and he takes her to his apartment to let her sleep off what he thinks is drunkenness (really it's just a slight overdose of a sedative given by her doctor). And the next day they have fun on the town and more or less fall in love - though it's clear that this is a romance not to be. Eddie Albert is also along for much of the ride as Peck's photographer buddy, and the two at first plan to get a story and pictures and make themselves rich, but it's impossible to believe Peck as a scheming sort of two-faced guy and that part of the story kind of falls flat - somebody like Kirk Douglas would have done better I think with this element of the role. Then again, I don't think we're supposed to ever think the reporter is a sleazy guy so perhaps not. In any case it's one of several elements in the film that seem a bit at odds with each other - more problematic I think is the incredible naivete of Hepburn's princess which is undermined by her obvious intelligence. It doesn't ever sink to the level of misogyny or anything but there is something of a paternalistic quality - not helped by Peck being obviously considerably older - that I can't totally forgive.
But... all in all, it works, thanks mostly due to Hepburn's incredible charm and likability, and the really terrific b/w cinematography by a couple of the greatest names in the business, Henri Alekan (La belle et la bête
and Der Himmel über Berlin
among others) and Franz Planer (Letter from an Unknown Woman, Criss Cross
) both Europeans who knew how to present both cityscapes and fashion icons with equal polish; Planer became associated in particular with Hepburn's films until his last credit, 1961's The Children's Hour
. The night-time focus of much of the film gives it a strange noirish quality at times that would seem to be at odds with the romantic comedy story, but it also lends a certain "anything can happen in the big city" quality that I think adds to the magic. And the ending is really nice, and the kind of thing that seems unlikely to be allowed in the Hollywood rom-com of today, such as it is. What I remembered in particular from that long-ago early viewing was, strangely, the dance on the boat sequence, which I don't think is the best in the film, but I do like the lighting with the lamps there. All in all it's a pretty good but for me certainly not great film, and I think it had an interesting influence on the production of more on-location films during this period and into the 1960s that weren't big spectaculars or westerns - there are a whole bunch of "American holiday in Europe" films that came after this, most of them lesser films (maybe all of them) but it's a little sub-genre that I kind of treasure.
4. Hoodlum Empire
(Joseph Kane, 1952) TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
This would seem to be a b-noir (Republic Pictures, lower-tier director and lesser-known secondary cast) elevated to A status (first-billed stars Brian Donlevy and Claire Trevor, an Oscar nominee and winner respectively, and a 98-minute run time). Or vice versa. In any case it ends up looking to my eyes a fairly cheap product (apart from those stars who I think were both still getting decent money at this time), with a fairly simple storyline (one-time gangster (John Russell, who is really the star and protagonist of the picture) trying to go straight but being hamstrung by former associates putting his name up on all kinds of illegal activities) stretched out and made more complex by a narrative choice that includes framing the whole thing in a courtroom proceeding led by a couple of Senators (Donlevy and Gene Lockhart), and innumerable flashbacks showing Russell's wartime exploits and various other bits of his past and those of the other characters. It really doesn't add up to much in the end, though the several brief violent scenes in the second half and a certain hamminess in Trevor's performance (I get the impression she knew it was kind of a shit screenplay and just wanted to have fun with it) make it modestly entertaining. Still all in all one of the weaker films on the list IMO.