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Bruno Hunchback
Bruno Hunchback

One Night With A Hero Laura Kaye

Orphaned as a child, community center director Joss Daniels swore she'd never put herself in a position to be left behind again, but she can't deny herself one sizzling night with the sexy soldier who makes her laugh and kisses her senseless. When Joss discovers she's pregnant, Brady's rejection leaves her feeling abandoned. Now, they must overcome their fears before they lose the love and security they've found in each other, but can they let go of the past to create a future together?

one night with a hero laura kaye

Special-effects master Ray Harryhausen provides the hero (Kerwin Mathews) with a villanous magician (Torin Thatcher) and fantastic antagonists, including a genie, giant cyclops, fire-breathing dragons, and a sword-wielding animated skeleton, all in glorious Technicolor. And of course no mythological tale would be complete without the rescue of a damsel in distress, here a princess (Kathryn Grant) that the evil magician shrinks down to a mere few inches. Harryhausen's stunning Dynamation process, which blended stop-motion animation and live-actions sequences, and a thrilling score by Bernard Herrmann ("Psycho," "The Day the Earth Stood Still") makes this one of the finest fantasy films of all time.Expanded essay by Tony Dalton (PDF, 900KB)

At a little less than 90 minutes, "42nd Street" is a fast-moving picture that crackles with great dialogue and snappily plays up Busby Berkeley's dance routines and and the bouncy Al Dubin-Harry Warren ditties that include the irrepressably cheerful "Young and Healthy" (featuring the adorable Toby Wing), "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and the title number. A famous Broadway director (Warner Baxter) takes on a new show despite his ill health, then faces disaster at every turn, including the loss of his leading lady on opening night. The film features Bebe Daniels as the star of the show and Berkeley regulars Guy Kibbee, Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, and Ruby Keeler, whom Baxter implores, "You're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!"

When Richard the Lion-Hearted is captured and held for ransom, evil Prince John (Claude Rains) declares himself ruler of England and makes no attempt to secure Richard's safe return. A lone knight, Robin Hood (Errol Flynn), sets out to raise Richard's ransom by hijacking wealthy caravans traveling through Sherwood Forest. Aided by his lady love, Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), and band of merry men (including Alan Hale and Eugene Pallette) Robin battles the usurper John and wicked Sheriff of Nottingham to return the throne to its rightful owner. Dashing, athletic and witty, Flynn is everything that Robin Hood should be, and his adversaries are memorably villainous, particularly Basil Rathbone with whom Flynn crosses swords in the climactic duel. One of the most spectacular adventure films of all time, and features a terrific performance by the perfectly cast Flynn. Only a spirited and extravagant production could do justice to the Robin Hood legend; this film is more than equal to the task. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score won an Oscar, as did the editing and art direction.

This film's appeal may lie in its reputation as "a haunted house movie in space." Though not particularly original, "Alien" is distinguished by director Ridley Scott's innovative ability to wring every ounce of suspense out of the B-movie staples he employs within the film's hi-tech setting. Art designer H.R. Giger creates what has become one of cinema's scariest monsters: a nightmarish hybrid of humanoid-insect-machine that Scott makes even more effective by obscuring it from view for much of the film. The cast, including Tom Skerritt and John Hurt, brings an appealing quality to their characters, and one character in particular, Sigourney Weaver's warrant officer Ripley, became the model for the next generation of hardboiled heroines and solidified the prototype in subsequent sequels. Rounding out the cast and crew, cameraman Derek Vanlint and composer Jerry Goldsmith propel the emotions relentlessly from one visual horror to the next.

Fresh off the success of "The Godfather," producer Francis Ford Coppola weilded the clout to tackle a project pitched to him by his friend, George Lucas. The film captured the flavor of the 1950s with ironic candor and a latent foreboding that helped spark a nostalgia craze. Despite technical obstacles, and having to shoot at night, cinematographer Haskell Wexler gave the film a neon glare to match its rock-n-roll soundscape. Lucas' period detail, co-writers Willard Huyck's and Gloria Katz's realistic dialogue, and the film's wistfulness for pre-Vietnam simplicity appealed to audiences amidst cultural upheaval. The film also established the reputations of Lucas (whose next film would be "Star Wars") and his young cast, and furthered the onset of soundtrack-driven, youth-oriented movies.Movie poster

At the heart of David Lean's antiheroic war epic about a band of British POWs forced to build a bridge in the wilds of Burma is the notion of men clinging to their sanity by clinging to military tradition. The film's cast, which reflects a broad spectrum of acting styles, includes Alec Guinness as the British commanding officer and Sessue Hayakawa as his Japanese counterpart, and William Holden as an American soldier who escapes from the camp and Jack Hawkins as the British major who convinces him to return and help blow up the bridge. Lean elects to keep the musical score to a minimum and instead plays up tension with nature sounds punctuating the action. For many film critics and historians, "Bridge on the River Kwai" signals a shift in Lean's directorial style from simpler storytelling toward the more bloated epics that characterized his later career.Sessue Hayakawa and Alec Guinness in a scene from "The Bridge On The River Kwai"

One of the most beloved of American films, this captivating romantic adventure directed by Michael Curtiz is the story of a world-weary ex-freedom fighter (Humphrey Bogart) who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, led by the wily Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), Rick's cafe has become a haven for refugees. One of those refugees is Rick's true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris (Ingrid Bergman) and her Resistance leader husband (Paul Henreid). How the triangle would resolve itself wasn't known even to cast members until the last days of filming. Though often lacking logical cohesion, the film's dialog and the timeliness of world events swirling around Casablanca made the eventual Best Picture winner a favorite with wartime audiences.Expanded essay by Jay Carr (PDF, 565KB)

In this comical adventure parody written and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, the mercurial Danny Kaye plays a traveling minstrel who is persuaded by a Robin Hood-like hero and his beautiful lieutenant (Glynis Johns) to impersonate the jester of the evil, unlawful king to aid in their quest to restore the true king to the crown. The film is filled with lilting tunes, tongue twisters about "the vessel with the pestle and the brew that is true" and catch phrases like "Get it? Got it? Good." Basil Rathbone is his reliably swashbuckling self as the wicked king's henchman, and Angela Lansbury is Princess Gwendolyn, who falls for the jester.

Told entirely in flashbacks, "D.O.A." is even more cynical than the average film noir, and this cynisism helps distinguish if from other films of the genre. Directed by Rudolph Mate, the film is fast-paced and suspenseful. The use of jazz music, combined with intense close-ups of the musicians, adds to the chaotic, claustrophobic feeling of the film. Edmond O'Brien plays a certified public accountant who awakens after a hard night of drinking feeling worse than the worst hangover. When he goes to the doctor, he learn he's suffering from "iridium" poisoning and has only a few days to live. Determined to find his killer, and aided by his secretary and fiancé Paula (Pamela Britton), he traces a shipment of iridium and kills the men who poisoned him with the lethal chemical. O'Brien is excellent as an ordinary man doomed by circumstance and trapped in a nightmare world.

Bob Kane and Bill Finger's dark, enduring creation first flew onto the screen in a 1943 B-movie serial and would return to theaters several times in treatments both camp and action-oriented. But Christopher Nolan's evocative 2008 work reinvented the already vast Batman mythos thanks in no small part to its two intense, now legendary, lead performances: Christian Bale as the titular character and Heath Ledger, in a remarkable, Oscar-winning take on Bat super-villain "The Joker." Set in a dark, modern-day Gotham City, "The Dark Knight" is a visual feast of memorable set pieces, screenwriting flair, and characters and situations imbued with a soul and a conscience. "Pitched at the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, "The Dark Knight" goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind," wrote Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. The theme of a world turned upside down by fear and dystopian chaos resonates eerily well in the pandemic havoc of 2020.

This ultra-cheap melodrama shot in six days by Edgar G. Ulmer has developed cult status as one of the most stylish B pictures ever produced. Hitchhiker Al Roberts (Tom Neal) gets mixed up with a femme fatale (Ann Savage) who "looked like she'd just been thrown off the crummiest freight train in the world." The story is told in narration addressed directly to the audience who hears not what happened, but what Al wants us to believe happened. Its hackneyed dialog, quick-and-dirty camera work, and shabby no-budget rear projection combine to create a bleak nightmare existence.Expanded essay by J. Hoberman (PDF, 525KB)

A visually stunning portrayal of a man facing fatherhood in a nightmarish industrial world, this film introduced American audiences to David Lynch's unique, surrealistic style of sparse dialogue, unsettling characters, horrific imagery and a paradoxically abstract narrative. "Eraserhead" secured Lynch's place as a hero for fans craving unorthodox filmmaking.Expanded essay by David Sterritt (PDF, 786KB)


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