THE CHASE
1946, 86 min, USA, Dir: Arthur Ripley

Scripted by Philip Yordan, from the novel The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich. In this hallucinatory adaptation, Robert Cummings plays a drifter hired as a chauffeur by two Florida crooks (Steve Cochran and Peter Lorre). He falls for Cochran’s dishy wife (Michelle Morgan) with dire, unpredictable results. As close to Lynch-ian as movies got in the 1940s.


M (1931)
1931, Kino Lorber, 99 min, Germany, Dir: Fritz Lang

Peter Lorre is unforgettable as serial killer Hans Beckert, preying on children and whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King” as he works. When the ensuing police crackdown proves bad for criminal business, all of Berlin’s underworld begins a manhunt for Beckert. This engrossing crime thriller was Fritz Lang’s first sound film, as well as the director’s personal favorite. In German with English subtitles.


SECRET AGENT
1936, BFI, 86 min, UK, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham, this espionage tale stars John Gielgud as Richard Ashenden, a British officer dispatched to Switzerland to kill a German spy. Sent to assist him on the mission are seasoned assassin (and scene-stealer) Peter Lorre and Madeleine Carroll, who is posing as Ashenden’s wife – which does little to stop suave Robert Young from chasing her. With several years of sound filmmaking under his belt, Hitchcock makes brilliant use of such audio effects as a sustained organ note and a dog’s howl.


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