Where The Sidewalk Ends (1950) Otto Preminger, Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Crime, Film-Noir, Drama

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Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon always wanted to be something his old man wasn’t: a guy on the right side of the law. But for a good guy, he’s awfully vicious. After several complaints over his roughing people up, his boss, Insp. Nicholas Foley, demotes him. Foley tells him he’s a good man, but needs to get his head on straight and be more like Det. Lt. Thomas, who has just gotten a promotion. Meanwhile, Tommy Scalise has an illegal dice game going and is looking to make a sucker out of the rich Ted Morrison, who was brought in by Ken Paine and his beautiful wife Morgan. She figures out too late her husband is using her as a decoy. Paine strikes her when she refuses to play along. The chivalrous Morrison intervenes but Paine knocks him out cold. That seems to be the worst of it, but later it turns out the guy is dead; and Paine looks guilty. Soon Dixon has fallen in love with Morgan – but not before losing his temper again and committing a terrible deed that he tries to cover up. Morgan’s father, a tale-spinning taxi driver, may take the rap for it. It’s up to Dixon to try to pin the blame on Scalise.

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Eskimo (1933) W.S. Van Dyke, Edgar Dearing, Peter Freuchen, Edward Hearn, Drama

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The remarkable location-filmed Eskimo was adapted from two books: Die Flucht Ins Wiesse Land and Der Eskimo, both written by naturalist Peter Freuchen. Director Woody Van Dyke, in the tradition of his White Shadows on the South Seas and Trader Horn, took his cast and crew on location to the Arctic, arriving by whaling schooner at the topmost settlement in Alaska with author Freuchen as his guide. Van Dyke, Freuchen, and cinematographer Ray Wise also played prominent on-screen roles in the film. Eskimo Ray Mala (billed only by his last name) essays the title role, speaking in the tongue of his ancestors (even though his English was excellent). Rather than use superimposed titles, Van Dyke resorted to old-fashioned silent-movie subtitles in several dialogue sequences. The story concentrates on the more exotic aspects of Eskimo life, notably the race’s (alleged) casual approach to sex. Though tribal leader Mala has, by his own admission, slept with 20 women without benefit of clergy, woe betide anyone who tries to steal his current sweetheart – as a rapacious trader discovers when he’s harpooned to death by the cuckolded hero. Mala is ultimately undone by the Canadian Mounties, whose efforts to civilize the Eskimo community result in a sudden and tragic shift of the balance of power. Editor Conrad A. Nervig won an Oscar for his Herculean efforts to bring cohesiveness to the story. Performing respectably at the box office, Eskimo inspired another location jaunt in 1935: Last of the Pagans, which also starred Ray Mala.

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R.P.M. (1970) Stanley Kramer, Anthony Quinn, Ann-Margret, Gary Lockwood, Drama

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R.P.M. stands for (political) revolutions per minute. Anthony Quinn plays a liberal college professor at a west coast college during the hedy days of campus activism in the late 1960s. Radical students take over the college, the president resigns, and Quinn’s character, who has always been a champion of student activism, is appointed president. As the students continue to push the envelope of revolution, Quinn’s character is faced with the challenge of restoring order or abetting the descent into anarchy.

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Beyond the Reef (1981) Frank C. Clarke, Dayton Ka’ne, Maren Jensen, Kathleen Swan, Adventure, Romance

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Tikoyo lives by the Bora Bora lagoon in the South Pacific, where he found a man-eating tiger shark when it was an orphaned baby, just a foot long. He named it Manidu, and it grew to be sixteen feet long. Tikoyo believes that his companion houses the soul of a wise old man, and helps him guard the sacred black pearls in the lagoon. In fact, Manidu does protect Tikoyo and his girlfriend Diana, only eating those who are their enemies, or who seek to destroy their environment, or steal the pearls.

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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) Max Ophüls, Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Drama, Romance

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In Vienna, about 1900, a dashing man arrives at his flat, instructing his manservant that he will leave before morning: the man is Stefan Brand, formerly a concert pianist, planning to leave Vienna to avoid a duel. His servant gives him a letter from an unknown woman, which he reads. In flashbacks we see the lifelong passion of Lisa Berndle for him: first as a girl who was his neighbor; next as a young woman who, in secret, has his child; then as a mature woman who meets him again and abandons husband and son to be with him. Each time he does not remember who she is or that they have ever met. By morning, he has finished the letter, and her husband awaits satisfaction.

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The Fallen Idol (1948) Carol Reed, Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller

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Philippe, a diplomat’s son and good friend of Baines the butler, is confused by the complexities and evasions of adult life. He tries to keep secrets but ends up telling them. He lies to protect his friends, even though he knows he should tell the truth. He resolves not to listen to adults’ stories any more when Baines is suspected of murdering his wife and no-one will listen to Philippe’s vital information.

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Bianca (1984) Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Roberto Vezzosi, Comedy, Drama

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Michele is a mathematics professor who just started a new job in a school with some peculiar teaching methods. After a woman in his neighborhood is murdered, Michele meets beautiful colleague Bianca, and a relationship begins between the two. Where is this relationship heading, and will Michele be able to help the police catch the murderer?

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