Monday, February 23, 2009

A blog (and movie) worth your time

My friend Paul has a blog that reviews books and films most of us have never heard of, but he makes them sound worth seeking out. Lately he has been reviewing classic examples of Film Noir that the Seattle International Film Festival organization has been showing. Unfortunately the most recent, and most interesting sounding, film is not yet available on DVD.

In related news, one of my all time favorite movies, Our Man In Havana, has finally been released on DVD in glorious wide-screen black and white. Like the films Paul had reviewed, it too is a classic, though often overlooked, film noir. It was the last western film shot in Cuba before the embargo. It stars Alec Guinness as James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman struggling to pay his bills and whom dotes on his teenage daughter to the point of going broke fulfilling her every whim. In order to pay for the room and board of a horse she was given by her suitor, the villainous Chief of Police (Ernie Kovacs, in an Oscar worthy, but never nominated performance) Wormold takes a side job as the Cuban section chief for MI-5 (the British version of the CIA).Wormold, not wanting to be an actual spy, starts making up reports to send to England, basing his "operatives" on people he bumps into on the street. Soon, these strangers start to disappear, or worse, are murdered and Wormold must try to fix things and get himself and his daughter out of the country before it's too late. Written by Graham Greene, based on his novel, and directed by Carol Reed (both whom made the classic The Third Man) Our Man In Havana costars Maureen Ohara, Noel Coward, and in another underrated performance, Burl Ives, Our Man in Havana is a movie worth your time.

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