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The Criterion Collection | Eclipse

The Complete Mr. Arkadin

Spine #322
Orson Welles's Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report) tells the story of an elusive billionaire who hires an American smuggler to investigate his past, leading to a dizzying descent into a Cold War European landscape. The film's history is also marked by this vertigo. There are at least eight Mr. Arkadins: three radio plays, a novel, several long-lost cuts, and the controversial European release known as Confidential Report. Criterion gathered all of these elements to create this landmark box set-which also includes outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage, and a new comprehensive version of the film-at last unraveling one of cinema's great mysteries.
Kind Hearts and Coronets

Spine #325
Director Robert Hamer's fiendishly funny Kind Hearts and Coronets stands as one of Ealing Studios' greatest triumphs, and one of the most wickedly black comedies ever made. Dennis Price is sublime as an embittered young commoner determined to avenge his mother's unjust disinheritance by ascending to her family's dukedom. Unfortunately, eight relatives-all played by the incomparable Alec Guinness-must be eliminated before he can do so.
Au revoir les enfants

Spine #330
This intensely personal film from LOUIS MALLE tells a heartbreaking story of friendship and devastating loss concerning two boys living in Nazi-occupied France. At a provincial Catholic boarding school, the precocious youths enjoy true camaraderie-until a secret is revealed. Based on events from writer-director Malle's own childhood, Au revoir les enfants (Goodbye, Children) is a subtle, precisely observed tale of courage, cowardice, and tragic awakening.
A Canterbury Tale

Spine #341
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's beloved classic A Canterbury Tale is a profoundly personal journey to Powell's bucolic birthplace of Kent, England. Set amid the tumult of the Second World War, yet with a rhythm as delicate as a lullaby, the film follows three modern-day incarnations of Chaucer's pilgrims-a melancholy "landgirl," a plainspoken American GI, and a resourceful British sergeant-who are waylaid in the English countryside en route to the mythical town and forced to solve a bizarre village crime. Building to a majestic climax that ranks as one of the filmmaking duo's finest achievements, the dazzling A Canterbury Tale has acquired a following of devotees passionate enough to qualify as pilgrims themselves.
The Fallen Idol

Spine #357
The Fallen Idol was the first of three masterpieces to result from the legendary meeting of director Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene, who together would also create The Third Man and Our Man in Havana. Elegantly balancing suspense and farce, this tale of the fraught relationship between a boy and the beloved butler he suspects of murder is a delightfully macabre thriller of the first order and a visually and verbally dazzling knockout.
Pandora's Box

Spine #358
One of the masters of early German cinema, G. W. Pabst had an innate talent for discovering actresses (including Greta Garbo). And perhaps none of his female stars shone brighter than Kansas native and onetime Ziegfeld girl Louise Brooks, whose legendary persona was defined by Pabst's lurid, controversial melodrama Pandora's Box. Sensationally modern, the film follows the downward spiral of the fiery, brash, yet innocent showgirl Lulu, whose sexual vivacity has a devastating effect on everyone she comes in contact with. Daring and stylish, Pandora's Box is one of silent cinema's great masterworks and a testament to Brooks's dazzling individuality.
Green for Danger

Spine #375
In the midst of Nazi air raids, a postman dies on the operating table at a rural English hospital. But was the death accidental? A delightful and wholly unexpected murder mystery, British writer/director Sidney Gilliat's Green for Danger features Trevor Howard and Sally Gray as suspected doctors and Alastair Sim in a marvelous turn as Scotland Yard's insouciant Inspector Cockrill. A screenwriter who had worked with Hitchcock on such films as The Lady Vanishes and Jamaica Inn, Gilliat slyly upends whodunit conventions with wit and style.
49th Parallel

Spine #376
At once a compelling piece of anti-isolationist propaganda and a quick-witted wartime thriller, 49th Parallel is a classic early work from the inimitable British filmmaking team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. When a Nazi U-boat crew, headed by the ruthless Eric Portman, is stranded in Canada during the thick of World War II, the men evade capture by hiding out in a series of rural communities, before trying to cross the border into the still-neutral United States. Both soul-stirring and delightfully entertaining, 49th Parallel features a colorful cast of characters played by larger-than-life actors Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey, Anton Walbrook, and Leslie Howard.
Fires on the Plain

Spine #378
An agonizing portrait of desperate Japanese soldiers stranded in a strange land during World War II, Kon Ichikawa's Fires on the Plain (Nobi) is a compelling descent into psychological and physical oblivion. Denied hospital treatment for tuberculosis and cast off into the unknown, Private Tamura treks across an unfamiliar Philippine landscape, encountering an increasingly debased cross section of Imperial Army soldiers, who eventually give in to the most terrifying craving of all. Grisly yet poetic, Fires on the Plain is one of the most powerful works from one of Japanese cinema's most versatile filmmakers.
The Burmese Harp

Spine #379
An Imperial Japanese Army regiment surrenders to British forces in Burma at the close of World War II and finds harmony through song. A private, thought to be dead, disguises himself as a Buddhist monk and stumbles upon spiritual enlightenment. Magnificently shot in hushed black and white, Kon Ichikawa's The Burmese Harp is an eloquent meditation on beauty coexisting with death and remains one of Japanese cinema's most overwhelming antiwar statements, both tender and brutal in its grappling with Japan's wartime legacy.
The Naked City

Spine #380
"There are eight million stories in the Naked City," as the narrator immortally states at the close of this breathtakingly vivid film-and this is one of them. Master noir craftsman Jules Dassin and newspaperman-cum-producer Mark Hellinger's dazzling police procedural, The Naked City, was shot entirely on location in New York. As influenced by Italian neorealism as American crime fiction, this double Academy Award winner, The Naked City remains a benchmark for naturalism in noir, living and breathing in the promises and perils of the Big Apple, from its lowest depths to its highest skyscrapers.
Brute Force

Spine #383
As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was the first of Jules Dassin's forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama that takes a critical look at American society as well. Burt Lancaster is the timeworn Joe Collins, who, along with his fellow inmates, lives under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey (a riveting Hume Cronyn). Only Collins's dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey's chains? Matter-of-fact and ferocious, Brute Force builds to an explosive climax that shows the lengths men will go to when fighting for their freedom.
Army of Shadows

Spine #385
Jean-Pierre Melville's masterpiece about the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation went unreleased in the United States for thirty-seven years, before its triumphant theatrical debut in 2006. Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville's most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their own brand of honor in their battle against Hitler's regime.
Ace in the Hole

Spine #396
The Naked Prey

Spine #415
Glamorous leading man turned idiosyncratic auteur Cornel Wilde created in the sixties and seventies a handful of gritty, violent explorations of the nature of man, none more memorable than The Naked Prey. In the early nineteenth century, after an ivory-hunting safari offends an African tribe, the colonialists are captured and hideously tortured. Only Wilde's marksman is released, without clothes or weapons, to be hunted for sport, and he embarks on a harrowing journey through savanna and jungle, back to a primitive state. Distinguished by vivid widescreen camera work and the unflinching depiction of savagery, The Naked Prey is both a propulsive, stripped-to-the-bone narrative and a meditation on the notion of civilization.
This Sporting Life

Spine #417
One of the finest British films ever made, this benchmark of "kitchen-sink realism" follows the self-defeating professional and romantic pursuits of a miner turned rugby player eking out an existence in drab Yorkshire. With an astonishing, raging performance by a young Richard Harris, an equally blistering turn by fellow Oscar nominee Rachel Roberts as the widow with whom he lodges, and electrifying direction by Lindsay Anderson, in his feature-film debut following years of documentary work, This Sporting Life remains a dramatic powerhouse.
The Thief of Bagdad

Spine #431
Legendary producer Alexander Korda's marvel The Thief of Bagdad, inspired by The Arabian Nights, is one of the most spectacular fantasy films ever made, an eye-popping effects pioneer brimming with imagination and technical wizardry. When Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu (the incomparable Sabu, in his definitive role) to win back his royal place, as well as the heart of a beautiful princess (June Duprez). With its luscious Technicolor, vivid sets, and unprecedented visual wonders, The Thief of Bagdad has charmed viewers of all ages for decades.
The Furies

Spine #435
Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston are at their fierce finest in master Hollywood craftsman Anthony Mann's crackling western melodrama The Furies. In 1870s New Mexico Territory, megalomaniacal widowed ranch owner T. C. Jeffords (Huston, in his final role) butts heads with his daughter, Vance (Stanwyck), a firebrand with serious daddy issues, over her dowry, choice of husband, and, finally, ownership of the land itself. Both sophisticated in its view of frontier settlement and ablaze with searing domestic drama, The Furies is a hidden treasure of American filmmaking, boasting Oscar-nominated cinematography and vivid supporting turns from Judith Anderson, Wendell Corey, and Gilbert Roland.
Vampyr

Spine #437
With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer's brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (as in The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath) was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result-concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers at an inn outside Paris-is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creating a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema's great nightmares.
The Small Back Room

Spine #441
After the lavish Technicolor spectacle of The Red Shoes, British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger retreated into the inward, shadowy recesses of this moody, crackling character study. Based on the acclaimed novel by Nigel Balchin, The Small Back Room details the professional and personal travails of troubled, alcoholic research scientist and military bomb-disposal expert Sammy Rice (David Farrar), who, while struggling with a complex relationship with secretary-girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron), is hired by the government to advise on a dangerous new German weapon. Frank and intimate, deftly mixing suspense and romance, The Small Back Room is an atmospheric, post-World War II gem.
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