THE 39 STEPS
1935, Park Circus/MGM, 86 min, UK, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

"What are the 39 Steps?" And why is a network of foreign spies so desperate to stop stalwart hero Robert Donat from uncovering the mystery of this most cryptic of Hitchcock puzzles? And will lovely Madeleine Carroll really come to trust that Donat is an innocent man and not an escaped criminal running from the law? With its nonstop suspense, breathtaking setpieces and brain-twisting plot turns, THE 39 STEPS set the pattern for nearly all the great Hitchcock thrillers to come.


THE THIN MAN
1934, Warner Bros., 93 min, USA, Dir: W.S. Van Dyke

Adapting the Dashiell Hammett novel, W.S. Van Dyke helms the first and best in what was to become one of MGM’s most successful franchises of the 1930s. William Powell and Myrna Loy are transcendentally flighty as the carefree rich couple Nick and Nora Charles - a wise-cracking, hard-drinking detective and his heiress wife, a gal who aspires to fight crime too (along with their terrier, Asta). Their partying lifestyle is interrupted when friend Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan) asks them to help find her father, an inventor who has been missing for three months. Set over Yuletide in New York City, the pair piece together clues while barhopping and hitting holiday cocktail parties (which always seem to be crawling with Nick’s former shady underworld acquaintances). Watch for hungover Nick shooting ornaments off the tree on Christmas morning! Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


ROAD TO NOWHERE
2010, Monterey Media, 121 min, USA, Dir: Monte Hellman

In this expectation-confounding, enigmatic film-within-a-film, a director (cleverly named Mitchell Haven, and played by an excellent Tygh Runyan) struggles with a series of unsettling catastrophes that beset his small film based on a "true story" murder mystery and the following disappearance of a young woman. Haven's lead actress (played with alternating relish and calm assurance by Shannyn Sossamon) bears an uncanny resemblance to the actual missing femme fatale, and the crew begins to uncomfortably wonder if the actress and murderer are one and the same. Meanwhile, Haven's obsession with his beautiful lead grows deeper and more profound. Shot with economic practicality on the Canon 5D and using traditional still-photo lenses, Monte Hellman's mind-bending mood piece is as aesthetically hypnotic as it is emotionally beguiling. Official selection of the Venice Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival and SXSW. "A certifiable masterpiece." - Film Comment. "May also be as significant to the indie feature as AVATAR is to the popcorn movie." - The New York Times. "Monte Hellman's first feature film in 21 years is one of his finest and deepest, a twin peak to his 1971 masterpiece, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP." - Variety. Be sure to check out the trailer for ROAD TO NOWHERE, dubbed by the Austin Post as “the most beautiful trailer ever.”


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