Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Robert Sweeney ""

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 - Robert Sweeney

R. Emmet Sweeney writes a weekly column for Movie Morlocks, the official blog of Turner Classic Movies. He also contributes regularly to Film Comment.
Follow him on twitter at:

Also, check out his list from last year:

1. Laughter in Hell (1933, directed by Edward L. Cahn)
 This despairing chain-gang rarity screened as part of Film Forum’s 1933 series, and floored me with its expressionistic death-drive. Convinced me that Cahn is kind of a big deal. Wrote about it here:

2. Allan Dwan in general
 The Museum of Modern Art hosted a massive retrospective of this irrepressible director, and it took over my life for months. His films are subversive, playful, and value movement and humor above all other virtues. I was introduced to his effervescent silent films with Gloria Swanson (Star Struck and Manhandled), his offbeat Western-comedies (Trail of the Vigilantes and The Woman They Almost Lynched) and his manic screwball gems Up in Mabel’s Room, Brewster’s Millions and Getting Gertie’s Garter. And I still have so much left to see. I wrote about the retro here ( and here (

3. Caravan (1934, directed by Erik Charell)
 Contains some of the most astonishing camera movement this side of Ophuls. Screened at the  To Save and Project series at MoMA. My article:

4. Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937, directed by Sadao Yamanaka)
 In Yamanaka’s masterpiece, he uses his deep focus compositions as a trap for his feckless dead-ender characters. Released on DVD by UK company Masters of Cinema, as part of The Complete Existing Films of Sadao Yamanaka. My review of the set:

5. Appointment in Bray (1971, directed by Andre Delvaux)
 An enigmatic, ravishing ghost story set during WWI. Another To Save and Project discovery, with a profound Anna Karina performance.

6. Hangover Square (1945, directed by John Brahm)
 Another stunner screened at To Save and Project, this is a turn-of-the-century London-set noir about a somnamublist composer who may or may not be strangling the ladies of England. Contains one of the greatest endings of all time. Laird Cregar does Laird Cregar things.

7. Cry Vengeance (1954, directed by Mark Stevens) 
I became fascinated with actor/director Mark Stevens this year. He was a second-tier actor in the late 40’s for 20th Century Fox (The Dark Corner, The Snake Pit), who went on to direct two self-lacerating noirs in the 50s. Cry Vengeance is the superior bummer, and is out on DVD and Blu from Olive FIlms. (

8. Darktown Strutters (1975, directed by William Witney) 
I spent a lot of time researching prolific B-movie director William Witney this year (for this article:, and one of the more surprising items was this raucous blaxploitation comedy written by George Armitage. In no way representative of Witney’s work (check his incredible serials for that), but it’s wildly entertaining nonetheless, and complete with evil fried chicken magnate who has The Dramatics sing “What You See is What You Get” in his underground prison. Out Pooties Pootie Tang.

9. Hollywood Boulevard (1976, directed by Joe Dante and Allan Arksuh) 
The feature debut for both Dante and Arkush, this is a gonzo parody of Roger Corman’s exploitation features. Mary Woronov! I’ve got more here:

10. A Fine Day (2001, directed by Thomas Arslan) 
I went all-in on the Berlin School directors this year, and this is one gem that doesn’t seem to get much attention, so I’m highlighting it here. Part of Arslan’s “Berlin Trilogy”, it’s a lazy hang-out movie of one. It follows actress and voice-over artist Deniz (Serpil Turhan) as she wanders the streets, auditions for gigs, and flirts half-heartedly with a lonesome stranger. Arlsan’s Rohmer movie.

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