Movie Mondays: Seeing Red

Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento is most famous for his over-the-top tale of witchcraft, Suspiria, but his previous film, 1975’s Deep Red is the better picture. David Hemmings stars as a pianist trying to track down a serial killer whose increasingly grisly crimes give the film its title. It’s a boilerplate premise turned masterful work of art thanks to Argento’s indelible images, the film’s cool milieu, and the ear-splitting prog rock soundtrack courtesy of Goblin.

Terrence Malick’s elliptical take on James Jones’ novels turns The Thin Red Line into arguably the greatest World War II picture of the last quarter century. The film was Malick’s first feature in twenty years since Days of Heaven in 1978. The Thin Red Line was overshadowed a bit by Steven Spielberg’s more straightforward film, Saving Private Ryan, which won the Oscar that year but Malick’s depiction of intersecting lives on the front lines is the real masterpiece. Pair it with Samuel Fuller’s color-coordinated war film The Big Red One for one heck of a double feature.

With Stagecoach, director John Ford gave John Wayne the role that launched him to super stardom but it wasn’t until a decade later when Howard Hawks cast “Duke” in his Western Red River that Ford realized “that big son-of-a-bitch could act”. The film follows a contentious cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. It is suffused with Hawks’ obsession with professionals and his peerless depictions of relationships. Plus, Walter Brennan’s in it so you’ve really got nothing to lose.

There are plenty of other great red films out there including Bugs Bunny’s sadistic twist on a favorite fairy tale, Little Red Riding Rabbit and the concluding chapter in Krzystof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy but the best of the best is Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, the film follows Moira Shearer as she must decide between a life of love or art. The Red Shoes is one of the most sumptuous, heartbreaking works of cinema ever created. It’s Martin Scorsese’s favorite film of all time. Are you going to argue with Marty?

~posted by Mike

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