Valkyrie (2008)

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WW2:  the gift that keeps on giving. I’m sure it was  more than his similarity to Claus Von Stauffenberg’s photo that persuaded Tom Cruise to make this, but that apparently was the raison d’etre for this production about a group of high-ranking German soldiers who wanted to take Hitler out in summer 1944.  Claus has lost his eye in action but he becomes the key to planting a bomb following one failed assassination attempt on der Fuhrer and enacting Operation Valkyrie. With a slew of Brit actors including Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp and Eddie Izzard as the High Command running the plot, this never really works in terms of tension or thrills in a conspiracy that was well laid but never got its man. Probably overshadowed by the German version Operation Valkyrie (2004) starring Sebastian Koch. Written by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander and directed by Bryan Singer.

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His Girl Friday (1940)

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The originating play The Front Page had already been filmed in 1931 and the Ben Hecht-Charles Macarthur hit was turned into a battle of the sexes/career woman comedy by Howard Hawks at a reading in his home one Sunday afternoon when Rosalind Russell was visiting. She becomes Hildy, the ex of Walter Burns, go-getting newspaper editor, who wants her to cover an execution at Cook County Jail just as she’s going to get married to a man who will let her settle down. The overlapping dialogue is legendary and the performances classic, yet it’s still not my favourite screwball, despite its great newspaper jibes and submerged violence. Adapted by Charles Lederer with some uncredited help from Hecht and Morrie Ryskind. And that’s Ralph Bellamy in the Ralph Bellamy part, as Grant helpfully informs us.