THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS
1946, Warner Bros., 88 min, USA, Dir: Robert Florey

Volatile (and dead) concert pianist Francis Ingram (Victor Francen) has left his Italian estate to his American nurse (Andrea King), much to the chagrin of an avaricious brother and nephew. Peter Lorre is the dead musician’s astrology-obsessed, mentally unbalanced librarian who becomes convinced that his late employer’s left hand - now missing from the corpse - is creeping about the villa, bent on murdering all those who oppose Ingram’s last testament. The rest of the household, including King’s paramour Robert Alda and police commissioner J. Carrol Naish, soon become convinced he may be right. The over-the-top Max Steiner score ably punctuates the deranged proceedings.


THE VAST OF NIGHT
2019, 89 min, Dir: Andrew Patterson

Over the course of one exhilarating night in New Mexico during the 1950s, a young switchboard operator and a DJ attempt to uncover the mystery behind a strange frequency while the residents of their town are focused on a crucial high school basketball game. What they uncover not only sends them down a rabbit hole of gargantuan proportions but also threatens humanity in ways they could never imagine. Channeling the aesthetics of classic sci-fi films but doing it in a way that is wholly unique, Patterson’s wildly imaginative debut is awash with long single takes and intriguing one-on-one interviews, and features incredible lead performances by Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz.


THE SLEEPING CAR MURDER
COMPARTIMENT TUEURS
1965, French Institute, 90 min, France, Dir: Costa-Gavras

A virtually lost and forgotten jewel in the crown of French crime films, Costa-Gavras’ (Z, MISSING) suspenseful debut feature is a genuine classic. Six people share a sleeping compartment on a Paris-bound train. After they arrive, one of them is found strangled, and before long, the killer starts knocking off the remaining passengers. Yves Montand is superb as a harried police inspector coming down with the flu, who doggedly follows up every lead. Red herrings abound and the twists and thrills are masterfully executed. Enormously influential on not just other French crime films that followed but the Italian giallo thriller genre as well. With a dream cast that includes Michel Piccoli, Simone Signoret, Jacques Perrin, Catherine Allegret and Jean-Louis Trintignant.


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