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The Seventh Seal (1957)

The Seventh Seal, known in Swedish as Det Sjunde inseglet, is probably the most famous of Ingmar Bergman's films, and therefore probably the most famous film in Swedish cinema history. It's the film that made Bergman a star of the European art house and began his mostcelebrated period as a film director.

The film is set in Sweden in the Medieval era. Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) is a knight, returning from the Crusades with his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand). But the land they are returning to is one ravaged by a plague, the Black Death. Death, decay, fear, suspicion and despair haunt the landscape.

Death in fact is literally present, in human form. Resting on a beach, Block sees a tall mysterious, pale skinned figure (played by Bengt Ekerot), clad in a black cloak. The figure reveals himself to be Death, come to claim him at last.

"Who are you?" Block asks.

"I am Death."

"Have you come to fetch me?"

"I have long walked at your side."…
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Book Review: Robert Wise - The Motion Pictures by Joe Jordan

Film buffs may not know the name Robert Wise, but they are very likely to know at least some of his movies. Because in a career spanning five decades Wise directed many memorable films, including the seminal sci-fi drama The Day the Earth Stood Still, classic ghost story The Haunting, the Steve McQueen epic The Sand Pebbles and two 1960s Best Picture Oscar winners, West Side Story and The Sound of Music.
To those films can be added a handful of notable film noirs, cult sci-fi The Andromeda Strain, the war film Run Silent Run Deep and even Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And if that isn't enough, Robert Wise originally got his start in the editing room, where he worked on Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane, often claimed to be the greatest film ever made.
Perhaps surprisingly then, Robert Wise is not that celebrated a director now, and has been oddly neglected, despite his impressive list of credits. Joe Jordan, the author of Showmanship: The Cinema of William Castle, seeks…

The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971)

The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins is a comedy film comprised of seven separate stories, each illustrating one of the Seven Deadly Sins - avarice, envy, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. The film was directed and produced by the comic actor Graham Stark, and pressed into service a variety of British comedy writers, actors and comedians of the early 1970s.
In the first story, Avarice, Bruce Forsyth (an actor and comedian at one time, but now much better known as a TV game show host) plays Clayton, the chauffeur for greedy business tycoon Mr Elsinore (Paul Whitsun-Jones). When Clayton sees a fifty pence piece lying in the street, he and Elsinore both try to pick it up, accidentally knocking it into a drain in the process. Elsinore orders Clayton to retrieve the coin, leading to an increasingly absurd set of circumstances involving Clayton, a passing fisherman (Roy Hudd), a policewoman (Joan Sims) and a sewer worker (Bernard Bresslaw).
Avarice was written by popular sitcom writers Jo…

Quiz (2020): The Game Show, the Cough and the Criminal Trial

Quiz tells the story of one of the more unlikely scandals of early 21st Century Britain. It's a story of a phenomenally successful TV game show, a million pound prize, a court case, and a lot of coughing.

In the 1990s and early 2000s British television became good at creating reality TV formats that sold around the world. Before the likes of Pop Idol and The X Factor came the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Part of Millionaire's appeal is summed up by that title. Its top prize was a then unprecedented £1 million. Or, as Doctor Evil might say, One Million Pounds.

Unlike later reality TV shows, the programme's contestants weren't filtered by how photogenic they were or what heart-rending backstory they could produce. Almost anyone could phone the production company's hotline, answer a few questions, and theoretically have the chance of going on to compete for the million.

Once on the show, the cash prizes got bigger with each question successfully answered, …