"North by Northwest" (1959) ticks off a lot of Hitchcock’s favorite boxes: a Sexy Blonde; modes of transit (in spades); elaborate chase scenes; espionage; and a Wrong Man. And yet, it seems always to have lingered in the shadow of "Vertigo" (1958).
The film has a complicated history, including a frosty reception upon its first (and second release). But even if the film weren’t importantly historically, with one of the first moments of moving technicolor (rather than hand-tinted film), it allows us to watch Chaney in all his sympathetic, oddball glory.
On his best day, Peter Lorre's Dr. Gogol has at least one foot in la-la land. A refined madman, he's got Lorre's soft, soothing voice and self-effacing manner. Gogol is, however, equally likely to slip into hysterics at the drop of a hat.
Just a laboratory and a dream...and a lot of disemboweling. Udo Kier's Baron Frankenstein is a mad scientist by way of a porn film. Frankenstein, as portrayed by Kier, is the crazed cousin of Shelley's anti-hero, godfather to the grown-up children of "Spider Baby" (1967).
It's ridiculous but totally worth seeing to get a sense of the generally cheerful lunacy that seems to guide a lot of pre-code films. "Murder at the Vanities" is a clown car of bat-shittery, with one misbegotten scenario after another tumbling out.
#2 You probably don't spend as much time as I do thinking about how amazing Robert Ryan is, but you might, if you watched this movie. One of Ryan's specialities is a barely suppressed rage that's constantly in danger of erupting into violence.
Although the "message" of "The House on Trubnaya" (1928) (aka "The House on Trubnaya Square" aka "The House on Trubnaya Street") is, predictably, that the Soviet state is just super, the film does not throw its hands up in the air, in classic Russian fatalism. "The House on Trubnaya" is a hoot.
The clothes are, well, you can see the pictures. Unfortunately, although the fashion-forward Aelita may be a queen, she is not the ruler, as Tuskub (Konstantin Eggert), the ruler, likes to remind her. People on Mars are very frowny, if the two of them are anything to go by.