Hidden Gem #70: Invasion of the Body Snatchers - The Director's Cut (1956, U.S.A.)
Director: Don Siegel
This very special cut of the film is without its "safety net", namely the studio imposed prologue and epilogue, and useless, irritatingly intrusive narration, so the previously "recollected" events are now much more immediately suspenseful and horrifying especially in the profound way they affect the characters psychologically and emotionally in the present, elevating this film to masterpiece status.
Hidden Gem #69: The Invitation a.k.a. L'invitation (1973, Switzerland/France)
Director: Claude Goretta
An insurance company man inherits a small fortune and throws a big party at his new lavish home in the country for his work colleagues, revealing insights into their true morals and vulnerabilities, as the liberally dispensed alcohol goes to work on inhibitions in this brilliant homage to the other masterful observers of human foibles and frailties - directors' Bergman (Smiles of a Summer Night) and Renoir (The Rules of the Game).
Hidden Gem #68: Split Image (1982, Canada/U.S.A.)
Director: Ted Kotcheff
The sensational subject of a cult group's mind control of a young man is explored with precision by director Kotcheff who elicits strong performances from his ideal cast including James Woods as a confidently aggressive de-programmer, Brian Dennehy as the emotionally distraught father and a chillingly subdued Peter Fonda as the cult's leader.
Hidden Gem #67: The Big Risk a.k.a. Classe Tous Risques (1960, France)
Director: Claude Sautet
One of the two gangsters on the run (Lino Ventura) has his family in tow but that doesn't stop him or anyone else from committing ruthless, violent acts in this ultra-realistic underworld expose' of loyalty, sacrifice and betrayal; its gritty and explosive narrative twists and turns are courtesy of ex-con Jose Giovanni's sourced novel, and co-adaptation of the script.
Hidden Gem #66: Monkey on My Back (1957, U.S.A.)
Director: Andre De Toth
Compared to all of the films about famous boxers (Somebody Up There Likes Me, Raging Bull) or drug addiction (A Hatful of Rain, The Man with the Golden Arm) this true story of Barney Ross with its magnificent performance by Cameron Mitchell and underrated director at the helm is practically unheard of, but more engaging than most of the films in either category.
Hidden Gem #65: Scandal Sheet (1952, U.S.A.)
Director: Phil Karlson
Its plot is similar to The Big Clock and The Man Who Cheated Himself but this little potboiler has the added dynamite of Broderick Crawford in the lead, creatively trying to hide his murderous guilt from protege John Derek in this lean and mean noir adapted from a novel by director Samuel Fuller.
Hidden Gem #64: Never Take Candy (a.k.a. Sweets) from a Stranger (1960, U.K.)
Director: Cyril Frankel
This courageous, insightful, intelligently forthright story, which concerns a couple of young girls who fall victim to a pedophile, and the subsequent attempts to cover for the accused (since he's the town's rich, elderly benefactor), was shunned upon its release and has been unjustly neglected since.
Hidden Gem #63: Blonde Crazy (1931, U.S.)
Director: Roy Del Ruth
This little pre-code gem might as well have been titled "Slap Crazy" the way Joan Blondell dishes them out to James Cagney: A couple of cons who together sizzle like shrimp on the barbie.
Hidden Gem #62: Samurai Rebellion a.k.a. Rebellion a.k.a. Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu (1967, Japan)
Director: Masaki Kobayashi
This incredibly moving story pitting deeply felt emotional reason against an unjust higher authority is better known than some of the director's earlier works, but should still be held in higher regard especially as it's written by the finest screenwriter of all time, Shinobu Hashimoto (i.e. Ikiru, The Seven Samurai, Harakiri, Samurai Assassin et al).
Hidden Gem #61: The Landlord (1970, U.S.A.)
Director: Hal Ashby
One wouldn't expect a director's debut film about such important issues as wealth, class and racial divides in New York City to be so charming, funny and endearing but it is that and much more because the storytellers never shy away from the serious relationship problems depicted; instead they cleverly infuse them into a learning curve for our naive but lovable central character.