Cinema Versus ‘THE BROOD’ and Other Monsters

SPOILER WARNING: In this article, I’m going to be discussing a number of key plot points for my Criterion Blogathon film of choice, THE BROOD. If you haven’t seen the film (and you should), or care about spoilers, perhaps you shouldn’t read the essay below. I realize this is a great way to maintain regular viewership for my new blog and promise to be less spoilery (even for 36 year old films) in the future (unless otherwise noted). Anyways, without further adieu, let the blogathoning begin.

Criterion Brood

Monsters have always fascinated movie goers. From Nosferatu in the early twenties, to Frankenstein in the 30s, to Godzilla in the 50s and 60s,  to the zombies of today, audiences love a good monster. They are a foreign force, something wicked that taps into our instinctual fear of predators that go bump in the night. But, what happens when the real monster isn’t some mythical creature? What about when the real monster is us?

So, what better film to discuss on the topic of human monsters than David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD? What, did you expect a compelling human drama, or period piece that highlights the darkest aspects of the human soul? No, I’m going to talk about a film with actual, albeit unconventional monsters.

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Cinema Versus ‘Night and the City’ and Unlikable Characters

One of the first things you learn when you’re learning to become a screenwriter is that your protagonist (see: main character) should be likable. It makes sense, you want someone the audience can see themselves in so they can form an emotional attachment to their plight and their story. Considering that most people see themselves as “good”, you obviously want your main character to be some form of “good guy” with a few flaws to humanize him or her. But what happens when the story you want to tell doesn’t call for a good guy? What if your story is about bad guys?

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Lobby card for NIGHT AND THE CITY

1950’s NIGHT AND THE CITY, directed by Jules Dassin and written by Jo Eisinger, based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh, is a prime example of a film with dastardly, wicked, and some may say irredeemable characters. A staple of noir, NIGHT AND THE CITY is the story of Harry Fabian (played by Richard Widmark), a hustler and insufferable heel, and his attempts to make it big in the seedy underworld of the East End of London. He finds what might be his last and only shot in wrestling, an industry controlled by ruthless gangsters and racketeers. His doomed journey towards the big time is speckled with a fantastic and equally dark supporting cast, including Phil Nosseross (played by Francis L. Sullivan), a portly and imposing gentleman who owns the Silver Fox nightclub, his wife Helen (Googie Withers), a conniving femme fetale, Kristo (Herbert Lorn), the dangerous racketeer who runs wrestling in London, and The Strangler (Mike Mazurki) one of Kristo’s violent and unstable star-wrestlers.

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