RYAN’S DAUGHTER
1970, Warner Bros., 187 min, UK, Dir: David Lean

Initially planned as a return to the small-scale storytelling of David Lean’s BRIEF ENCOUNTER days, RYAN’S DAUGHTER instead became an epic contest between the director and the Irish landscape, as he attempted to tell the tragic story of a married Irish woman (played by Sarah Miles, wife of the film’s screenwriter, Robert Bolt) and her affair with a shell-shocked British soldier (Christopher Jones). A flawed gem, the film boasts some great performances (John Mills, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Leo McKern) and some still-underrated ones (Robert Mitchum, as a meek schoolteacher). Freddie Young’s astonishing cinematography ranks with his best work on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.


QUEEN AND COUNTRY
2014, BBC Worldwide North America, 115 min, UK, Dir: John Boorman

In this assured sequel to HOPE AND GLORY, Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) has grown up and is ready for service during the Korean War. But rather than shipping off to combat, both Bill and his friend Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) become army instructors, remaining in England to bedevil their superior officer (a wonderfully fastidious David Thewlis), search for romance and spend time with the Rohan family members so beloved from the earlier film.


THE DARK VALLEY
DAS FINSTERE TAL
2013, 114 min, Austria, Germany, Dir: Andreas Prochaska

In this adaptation of Thomas Willmann’s best-seller, a classic Western plays out in a late-nineteenth century alpine village. When a man named Greider (Sam Riley) arrives on horseback carrying a camera, he is met with distrust by the locals, who are led by the sons of Old Brenner, a brutal patriarch who holds the entire community under his thumb. The stranger has come to do more than take photographs, as a series of mysterious deaths exposes a terrible tradition as well as Greider’s connection to the remote valley. Prochaska’s fresh approach to the genre, along with cinematographer Thomas Kiennast’s stunning visuals and Matthias Weber’s ominous orchestral score earned THE DARK VALLEY eight German Film Awards. In German with English subtitles.


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