Review: Thou Art the Man! (2003) TV movie

Original title: Vrah jsi ty! Directed by Lucie Bělohradská Rating: 6/10 IMDB

Jiří Langmajer as a police inspector

Czech TV director Lucie Bělohradská seems to have a soft spot for stories with some sort of mystery and healthy touches of morbidity in them. After writing a script for an adaptation of a darkly humorous German play A Fish For Four (1987, directed by Pavlína Moskalyková) and directing an adaptation of no less macabre Stanley Ellin´s short story A Speciality of the House (1999), she directed a solid, even if somewhat old-fashioned, crime story based on Edgar Allan Poe.
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Review: The Cry (1964)

Original title: Křik Directed by Jaromil Jireš My rating: 6/10 IMDB Wikipedia

Once nominated for Palme d´Or* at Cannes´ film festival and later completely overshadowed by better known films of it´s director (especially Valerie and Her Week of Wonders), Jaromil Jireš´s feature debut The Cry is a typical film of so-called “Czech new wave” era. As many of those, it combines professional actors with non-actors, it´s focused on a life in then present time Czechoslovakia, and it´s rough visual style is inspired by documentaries. Continue reading “Review: The Cry (1964)”

Review: Thoughts of a Crime Fiction Reader (1966) short film

Original title: Nápady čtenáře detektivek Director: Václav Táborský Rating: 7/10 IMDB

“Could it be a suicide?”

During his long career, Czech writer Josef Škvorecký tried various genres from poetry to memoir literature. But what he was most famous for among his readers, was a long line of affectionate parodies, pastiches, tributes to and deconstructions of a crime fiction genre. As rumor has it, his life-long admiration of this sort of literature started during four months in 1962, when he was hospitalized with an infectious jaundice. To kill the time of forced inaction, he reportedly managed to read about 150 crime fiction paperbacks. As he recalled it later, “All those murders helped me to survive.” Continue reading “Review: Thoughts of a Crime Fiction Reader (1966) short film”

Review: A Dime a Dance (1983) TV Movie

Original title: Síť na bludičku Directed by Jaroslav Dudek Rating: 8/10 IMDB

Dagmar Veškrnová Havlová as Sandy

Of all Czech foreign crime fiction adaptations, this one belongs among my personal favourites. It´s based on a short story called A Dime a Dance, written by Cornell Woolrich (under his pen name William Irish). Original Czech title of the play – Síť na bludičku – is derived from a title of a song which plays a key role in the story, and has a different meaning. But I think its English translation “The Net for a will-o’-the-wisp” sounds and even looks so clumsy and confusing, that it will be better to use the short story title. Continue reading “Review: A Dime a Dance (1983) TV Movie”

Review: Aksál (1969) short TV movie

Original title: Aksál Directed by Jiří Bělka Rating: 9/10 IMDB

Josef Abrhám and Marie Drahokoupilová

Similarly to Milan Kundera and some other Czech writers of his generation, playwright Pavel Kohout went through a major personal development during his profesional life. Starting as a devoted communist, writing enthusiastic hymns on Stalin in the early 1950s, he ended up being among the totalitarian regime´s worst enemies, expelled from Czechoslovakia by its government in the fall of the 1970s. I am far from being a fan of his work in general, since it tends to be just manifestative and pretentious sometimes, but there are some exceptions. Thirty minutes long TV short Aksál, directed by an acclaimed stage and TV director Jiří Bělka, is one of them. Continue reading “Review: Aksál (1969) short TV movie”