John Huston

New on Video: ‘The Killers’ (1946/1964)

With enough similarities and differences to make each film stand apart in their own right, Robert Siodmak’s version of “The Killers” is better in almost every way.

‘Key Largo’ features a smartly directed face-off between two Hollywood titans

Key Largo is both pulpy and thought provoking. The obvious allusions to sexual and physical abuse, the overt racism demonstrated towards Native Americans (one of the odder inclusions to the story), the misogyny, all of these are balanced out by an intelligently woven battle between two wildly different personalities. True enough, Maltese Falcon and Asphalt Jungle have a greater sense of style about them and in that sense Key Largo might be considered a ‘lesser’ film, but lesser John Huston is plenty better than most other films in any event.

‘Chinatown’ is neo-noir at its best

Film noir comes full circle in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974). Thirty years before its release, crime dramas saw the birth of a fundamental character – the noir hero. From Dashiell Hammett to Raymond Chandler, The Maltese Falcon (1941) to The Big Sleep (1946), the noir hero inhabits a world of hopelessness and dark tragedy. The Maltese Falcon saw Humphrey Bogart’s inaugural portrayal of this amoral anti-hero and began film noir as we know it.

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