Dan Erdman is an at-large Alt Film Guide contributor.

Author Archives: Dan Erdman

'Senso' Movie: Visconti Classic Stars Tragically Passionate Alida Valli

Senso with Alida Valli and Farley Granger. Critical consensus regards Luchino Visconti's Senso as a radical departure, a sign of the director's shift in focus from the gritty world of downtrodden proles (such as in his neorealist classics Ossessione and La Terra Trema) to a rather more exciting historical fantasy involving […]

'The Girl': Quiet & Observant Character Becomes Audience Surrogate

The Girl. In rural Sweden, a young girl's parents jet off to Africa on a charity trip, leaving the child (Blanca Engström) in the care of an inattentive aunt. The Girl – that's how she's listed in the credits, her name is never revealed – quickly tires of her caretaker's […]

'Riot' Movie: Jim Brown & Gene Hackman Generically Entertaining Prison Drama

Riot movie: Jim Brown and Gene Hackman. “A protest, a riot, I don't care what you call it,” says Red (Gene Hackman), the mastermind of an audacious plan to break out of an Arizona prison in the 1969 release Riot, produced by William Castle, directed by Buzz Kulik (Brian's Song), […]

'Sounder' Movie: Paul Winfield & Cicely Tyson in Old South Drama

Paul Winfield, the canine Sounder, Kevin Hooks, Sounder Sounder probably features more extremely wide shots than any movie besides Lawrence of Arabia – and Martin Ritt's movie is only half as long. Time and again, humans become antish dots on the horizon, visually overwhelmed by the vast wilderness around them. […]

'Fantômas': Louis Feuillade Master Criminal & Super-Terrorist

René Navarre as Fantômas True cinephiles know what to say when asked to explain the relative aggregate crumminess of the films they've bothered to see in 2010: “Too many lousy genre movies … everything's based on some pre-sold franchise property … one sequel after another…” Well, bully for true cinephiles […]

'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence': David Bowie Stars in Nagisa Oshima World War II Drama

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence with 1970s pop icon David Bowie. He stands in the courtroom, fully inhabiting his allotted space behind the bar, clad in fatigues and a rakish scarf, radiating a self-possession that goes beyond mere military bearing. Ladies and gentlemen, playing the part of Maj. Jack Celliers, David […]

'Hardware' Movie: Unable to Navigate 'Generic Wilderness'

Hardware with Dylan McDermott and Stacey Travis. What did you get your sweetie for Christmas? Mo (Dylan McDermott), a Marine just barely scratching a living out of the post-nuke wasteland of Richard Stanley's Hardware, valiantly favors the thoughtful approach over blind expense. For only a pittance - “fifty” of whatever-the-official-currency-in-this-particular-dystopia-is […]

'Black Rain' Movie: Hiroshima A-Bomb & Its Aftermath

'Black Rain.' Animego's DVD release of Shohei Imamura's Black Rain includes as a bonus feature a selection of World War II-era anti-Japanese propaganda films.  Sponsored by various U.S. government bureaucracies, most of these shorts traffic in the usual sort of wartime racism and paranoia which, depending on your sensibility, you […]

'Death in the Garden': Simone Signoret-Luis Buñuel Subversive Collaboration

Death in the Garden with Simone Signoret and Georges Marchal. I hadn't even heard of Death in the Garden before its recent DVD release on the Microcinema label.  It ranks as among the least-known of Luis Buñuel's films, probably because it's the least obviously Buñuelian. Aside from some fairly incidental bits […]

Esther Williams: Swimsuit Star's DVD Box Set Features Athletic Prowess & Parade of Cultural Aspirations

Esther Williams: swimsuit star. Following the release of George Sidney's 1944 comedy musical Bathing Beauty, former competitive swimmer Esther Williams briefly became one of MGM's top box office draws, starring in fluffy Technicolor fare like Easy to Wed, Neptune's Daughter, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Battered by […]

Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi Horror Classics

Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi horror classics “With a few exceptions,” wrote Andrew Sarris in You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet, “The Bride of Frankenstein represented the last gasp of the horror film as a serious genre.  The creeping disease of facetiousness crippled the genre even more distressingly than it had […]

'The Human Condition' Movie Trilogy Review: Japanese Cinema Classic

Michiyo Aratama, Tatsuya Nakadai in The Human Condition Masaki Kobayashi's The Human Condition, based on Jumpei Gomikawa's novel, is probably as well known for its scope and scale as for any other reason.  Originally released as three films – No Greater Love (1959), The Road to Eternity (1959), and A […]