McQueen’s masterful film is the kind that works on multiple levels simultaneously—as pure pulp entertainment but also as a commentary on how often it feels…
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
"Port of Shadows" begins a revival run at the Music Box on 1/25, and is in the Criterion Collection.
Noir revolves on a shorthand of recognition; a cruel fact expertly utilized by Marcel Carné, when he cast two of the most identifiable of French film stars in his 1938 classic, "Port of Shadows" (Le Quai des Brumes). A pressing fog floods Le Havre in the director's pre-WWII drama, but even in the thickest mists, Jean Gabin and Michel Simon, then catapulted to fame recently in "Pépé le Moko" and "Boudu Saved from Drowning" could never find secrecy from their characters' shame-ridden pasts.
• Introduction to The Great Movies III
You'd be surprised how many people have told me they're working their way through my books of Great Movies one film at a time. That's not to say the books are definitive; I loathe "best of" lists, which are not the best of anything except what someone came up with that day. I look at a list of the "100 greatest horror films," or musicals, or whatever, and I want to ask the maker, "but how do you know?" There are great films in my books, and films that are not so great, but there's no film here I didn't respond strongly to. That's the reassurance I can offer.
Editor's note: The 2005 edition of Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook is now on sale, and features this introduction in which the critic explains how the movies helped him through a difficult year.