Need help figuring out what to watch this week on Warner Archive Instant? From a devious Bette Davis (is there any other kind?), to a power-hungry Burt Lancaster hellbent on a military coup–The Retro Set has you covered.
Each week we will pick a small handful of titles from the Warner Archive Instant catalog: some hidden gems, others well-known and beloved classics. All deserving of a look or two (or five).
Here are the must-watch picks from Warner Archive Instant for the week of 09.10.14:
Like your Humphrey Bogart a teensy bit homicidal, coupled with a slow spiral into madness?
Yeah, we do too.
Bogart’s Richard Mason is in a predicament: he married the wrong sister. Richard is madly in love with his wife’s younger sibling, Evelyn (played by the charming Alexis Smith). Kathryn (Rose Hobart) is well aware of Richard’s feelings toward her sister, so she keeps it handy in her nag bag to be used against him at any time. After a party, Richard, Kathryn, and Evelyn are in a car accident. The two sisters escape unharmed, but Richard suffers a broken leg. His injuries heal quickly and without incident, but Richard remains in a wheelchair insisting he cannot walk. Here’s the score: Richard can walk just fine. He feigns illness as part of an elaborate scheme to murder Kathryn. You might say Richard has successfully orchestrated the elusive “perfect murder.” The only thing that stands in his way is a guilty conscience. Oh, and Sydney Greenstreet.
The best kind of Bette Davis is a naughty Bette Davis, don’t you agree? In Irving Rapper’s Deception, Davis’s Christine Radcliffe just wants to live a happy existence with new husband, professional cellist Karel Novak (Paul Henreid). Prior to their marriage, Christine believed Karel, who spent much of the war as a prisoner, to be dead. So she did what any woman would do: strike up a steamy affair with renowned composer/fur-buying sugar daddy, Alexander Hollenius (Claude Rains). When Christine discovers her true love Karel to be alive and well, she tries to hide her past relationship with Hollenius; but Karel knows something is up. For starters, Christine lives in too swank of an apartment for a struggling pianist. And the furs! All of the furs! Oh, and there’s that whole incident with Hollenius awkwardly crashing Christine and Karel’s wedding…
Seven Days in May (1964)
Director John Frankenheimer had a knack for making nail-biting thrillers filled with heaping doses of mind-fuckery (ever see Seconds? Whoa).
In Seven Days in May, we helplessly watch as General James Scott (Burt Lancaster) publicly lambasts President Jordan Lyman (Fredric March) for his unpopular, pacifist-leaning policies–all while secretly orchestrating an elaborate plan to stage a military coup. Col. Martin “Jiggs” Casey (Kirk Douglas), a man who respects the President no matter his own personal political beliefs, suspects Gen. Scott has his sights set on the Oval Office. Jiggs works alongside President Lyman and a small group of trusted advisors (played by Martin Balsam and Edmond O’Brien) to thwart Scott’s plan. And it’s some intense stuff, folks. Actually, it’s downright terrifying. With a screenplay by Rod Serling (yes, that Rod Serling) and an all-star cast, Seven Days in May sets the bar incredibly high for the political thriller genre.
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