#171 (tie) – Notorious (1946), dir. Alfred Hitchcock


Crooked dealings. Alfred Hitchcock gets noiry with his angles and lighting in the post-WWII political thriller Notorious, starring Cary Grant (pictured), Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains.

And lo! Fan With a Movie Yammer has finally reached its first film by arguably the most famous director who ever lived. Yes, Alfred Hitchcock takes the stage in this yammer with his oldest entry on the Sight & Sound list: Notorious (1946). The British director certainly made a name for himself in his native land, getting into the directing biz back in the silent era, but it was in Hollywood where the “Master of Suspense” principally made his mark. And Notorious is a very Hollywood production in many ways, with its A-list stars, pro-America plotting, and Edith Head costumes. But the film runs darker than a lot of American studio productions, incorporating noir elements in its story of a federal agent (Cary Grant) enlisting the daughter of a Nazi spy (Ingrid Bergman) to infiltrate a ring of Nazi émigrés up to some sort of shady business down in Brazil. Though set after World War II, the film harnesses the trauma of that conflict and the brand new concerns of the nuclear age to craft a clockwork espionage thriller. And the movie largely lives up to its title, dealing in murky ethical waters with some very unsavory or emotionally damaged characters who are working to balance love and duty — even if the duty part may be quite distasteful indeed. (101 min.) Continue reading


#84 (tie) – Casablanca (1942), dir. Michael Curtiz


Of all the gin joints. Humphrey Bogart became a mega-star following his iconic portrayal of the cynical, drunken anti-hero Rick Blaine in Casablanca — a story of romance and the perils of neutrality in the face of Fascism.

Here at Fan With a Movie Yammer we are right smack in the middle of a huge run of American films, a situation that is largely the result of much of the world in the early 1940s having been an active war zone or under the control of autocratic governments that stifled the arts. The United States finally entered the fray in late 1941 with troops and weapons, but also with cultural products aimed at boosting morale at home, supporting its allies, and vilifying its enemies. Tons of pro-war/anti-Axis films were rushed into production, and perhaps none is more famous than 1942’s Casablanca. The unproduced play upon which Casablanca is based landed at Warner Bros. studios literally the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the rush to get the story into production meant that much of it was still being written as the movie was filming. But out of this chaotic process a gaggle of screenwriters somehow managed to capture lightning in a bottle. As you probably already know, Casablanca is the story of an American nightclub owner in Morocco who has to struggle between conscience and desire when his former love re-enters his life. The film is often thought of as a classic romance, but in many ways it is really more about its setting — a world of refugees and ruthless oppressors that must be set right, no matter the sacrifice. And you’re sacrificing a lot if you are willing to give up Ingrid Bergman. (102 min.) Continue reading