BATTLE OF THE BULGE
1965, Warner Bros., 167 min, USA, Dir: Ken Annakin

In November 1944, the German army surprised the Allies with a last-ditch offensive on the western front, near the Ardennes forest. This entertaining (if fictionalized) look at the pivotal conflict features an all-star cast including Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews, Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas (a Golden Globe nominee), as well as some superbly executed action sequences.


THE LAVENDER HILL MOB
1951, Rialto Pictures, 81 min, UK, Dir: Charles Crichton

The distinctive blend of comedy and crime that made Ealing one of Britain’s most revered studios is on full display in this tale of a bank clerk (Alec Guinness) and a foundry owner (Stanley Holloway) who concoct a nearly perfect plot to steal a fortune in gold bullion. The film struck some gold at the Academy Awards, with a Best Actor nomination for Guinness (his first) and a Best Original Screenplay award for writer T.E.B. Clarke. Keep your eyes peeled for young Audrey Hepburn and Robert Shaw in minor roles.


THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
1968, Disney, 127 min, USA, Dir: William Friedkin

Based on Harold Pinter’s celebrated play, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY stars the great Robert Shaw as Stanley, the put-upon tenant - with the menacingly enigmatic Patrick Magee and Sydney Tafler as the unwelcome strangers out to make Shaw’s barely marginal life a perfect hell. An underrated master of adapting stage drama to film (see THE BOYS IN THE BAND), Friedkin pushes Pinter’s savage material to the limit here, creating an unnerving sense of despair and paranoia.


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