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Mini Movie Reviews: Otherworldly Romances

Today's theme is loves stories with a supernatural twist featuring films by Albert Lewin, Wim Wenders, Tony Ching Siu-Tung, Curtis Harrington, Jean Cocteau, Tsui Hark, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)
Pandora is a former lounge singer living in small town on the Spanish coast. Although surrounded by suitors who will kill or die for her, Pandora is only interested in a mysterious new arrival, a sailor who may just be the legendary Flying Dutchman. This is one of those films where we're repeatedly told that the main characters are so passionately, so maddeningly, and so tragically in love with each other, but Ava Gardner and James Mason are so poised and restrained you never quite buy it and the film ultimately suffers as result. Looks nice though, thanks to Jack Cardiff's cinematography.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Wings of Desire (1987)
Set in Berlin before the wall came down, a city full of unseen angels who watch over the population, hearing their thoughts and offering comfort where they can. One of the angels (Bruno Ganz) chooses to become mortal after falling in love with a lonely trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin). Wim Wenders' fantasy is an enchanting and exceptionally made movie that brilliantly mixes black & white and colour photography to show the contrasting world of angels and humans. Unlike the diluted American remake (the sappy City of Angels), the romance takes a backseat to the angels themselves and the complicated relationship they share with the people of Berlin. Oh, and there's also a charming glorified cameo by Peter Falk as angel turned actor Peter Falk.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
A bumbling tax collector (Leslie Cheung) is forced to take shelter for the night in a haunted temple where he meets and falls in love with the beautiful Nip Siu-sin (Joey Wong), unaware that she is a ghost. Evil Dead 2 is a slapstick comedy as well as a horror movie, but imagine for a second if it was also a sweet, yet tragic romance where a Taoist swordsman does a completely random rap halfway through and there's a giant tongue monster for the hero to battle. That is basically the kind of movie A Chinese Ghost Story is, and the really amazing thing is it all somehow works.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Orpheus (1950)
For the second film in his Orphic Trilogy, Jean Cocteau takes the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice and relocates it to contemporary Paris. Jean Marais (Cocteau's own muse and lover) plays Orpheus, a poet beloved by the public, but seen as a sell out by his fellow poets. When his wife is killed, he must journey into the underworld to save her, but instead finds himself falling in love with Death herself. Dreamy and well crafted, but the romance doesn't entirely ring true and ultimately a little too poetic for my liking.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Green Snake (1993)
Sisters White and Green (Joey Wong and Maggie Cheung, both terrific) are snake spirits who assume human form. White, the eldest and more experienced, adjust well to her new life and soon falls in love with a human teacher, but the younger and more impulsive Green struggles. More polished than Hark's earlier films, and often quite stunning to look at, but still suffers from being too franticly paced and never letting scenes just settle. Think I would've loved this more if it had been a low-key affair focused almost entirely on the sister and how each dealt with being human and finding love. It kept losing me any time a demon hunting monk showed up for a OTT fight scene.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
To escape her overbearing in-laws, widowed Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) rents a cottage by the coast, but soon discovers that it is haunted by the ghost of its former owner, a crotchety sea captain (Rex Harrison) determined to keep the house to himself. Anchored (no pun intended) by a pair of great performances by the leads, this is a charming and bittersweet romance that sadly loses some of its drive towards the end.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Night Tide (1961)
Written and directed by Curtis Harrington, this genre hybrid stars a fresh faced Dennis Hopper as a sailor out on shore leave in Santa Monica where meets and falls for Mora, a performer in a mermaid sideshow attraction. As they grow closer, the sailor begins to suspect that Mora may indeed be a real mermaid who murdered her previous lovers. The film mixes together elements of horror, film noir, and romantic fantasy, but is never able to make any of them work effectively thanks to a limited budget, plodding pace, weak ending and a stiff central performance from Hopper.

Rating: ⭐⭐
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. That's an interesting group of movies, Mark. The only one I've seen is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

    This is something I should have said long ago, but Mark, I'm genuinely impressed with the breadth of your movie knowledge.

    1. Thanks Billie, I credit it to my complete lack of a social life.

  2. Man, I haven't seen any of these, that makes me sad.

    And I agree with Billie, Mark, that's some catalog of movies you have!


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