Of Human Bondage is the 1934 black & white John Cromwell drama/romance starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard along with Frances Dee, Kay Johnson, Reginald Denny, Alan hale and Reginald Sheffield based on the 1915 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. This film tells the story of an English medical student who abandons his artistic aspirations when he falls for a callous and manipulative waitress. Despite her abuse he becomes completely obsessed with her as she storms in and out of his life. Whenever he seems ready to move on, she bursts back into his life in a seemingly inescapably cruel and viscous cycle. We all have people like this in our families – are they attending your holiday dinner?
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Into the Fire (also known as The Legend of Wolf Lodge) is a 1988 Graeme Campbell horror/drama starring Susan Anspach, Art Hindle and Olivia d’Abo telling the story of a lone unemployed musician aimlessly riding around the neighborhood and stopping at the wrong time in the wrong place when he accidentally becomes involved in a love triangle between a femme fatale and her cruel husband. Filled with family politics and awkwardness – perfect for the holidays!
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Death in Small Doses is a 1995 drama directed by Sondra Locke and starring Richard Thomas, Tess Harper, Shawn Elliott, Glynnis O’Connor, Gary Frank, Matthew Posey and Ann Hearn. It tells the story of a wife who mysteriously falls ill and dies and then its revealed that she died by arsenic poisoning. As the police investigation heats up, the woman’s husband becomes the prime suspect. A terrible family secret eventually breaks the case and reveals the true killer. Isn’t Thanksgiving the time when most family secrets are revealed?
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In 1988, Tony Bill directed the intriguingly offbeat crime drama Five Corners starring Jody Foster, Tim Robbins, Todd Graff and John Turturro telling the 24-hour tale of a disturbed neighborhood rapist, his victim with whom he is now in love with, and her two protectors – one of whom is an invalid, and one who is committed to the civil-rights movement and non-violence. These actors portray a wide range of emotions and perspectives begging the viewer’s empathy for each and every character’s plight.
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Directed by Jack Gold, Escape from Sobibor is a 1987 war drama that stars Rutger Hauer and Alan Arkin telling the story of Sobibor concentration camp during WWII where members of a resistance movement within the camp attempt a daring uprising and escape. As the underground group devise a plan, they must contend with Nazi officers, Ukrainian guards and the realization that anyone caught will likely be killed. Initially plotting for a few people to escape, they ultimately decide that all 600 prisoners must break out.
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Commandos is a 1968 Italian war drama directed by Armando Crispino and starring Lee Van Cleef and Jack Kelly. It tells the story of two Americans leading a band of seemingly Italian commandos on a World War II mission to secure a North African oasis. Not just a few complications arise as the storyline twists and turns, enhancing the soldier’s commitment to the original mission.
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Centurion is a 2010 Neil Marshall drama starring Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, and Olga Kurylenko, telling a story based in ancient Scotland where the Ninth Legion liberates a Roman officer named Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) from his Pict captors. The soldiers are in pursuit of the Pict leader, and Quintus joins their quest. Soon afterward, the Romans’ Pict guide betrays them, resulting in the slaughter of all but a handful of men. The Roman survivors try desperately to reach safety, as the indigenous warriors pick them off one by one.
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A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 black & white war drama directed by Frank Borzage and staring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou. It tells writer Ernest Hemingway’s famous story of an American ambulance driver during WWI who falls in love with a nurse who is suddenly transferred by her jealous commanding officer. When the ambulance driver is injured on the battlefield, he is taken to the nurse’s new hospital, where there love is renewed against the backdrop of a horrible and inhumane war. This is a great film with great actors telling a great love story that won Academy Awards for both Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing.
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Two Women is a 1960 Italian war drama directed by Vittorio De Sica and stars Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Eleonora Brown. Two Women tells the poignant story of a devout mother and daughter forced to leave Rome under attack by the Allied forces, fall for the same man and are attacked and assaulted by soldiers. They struggle to overcome the tragedy that changes them both forever. Ms. Loren won an Academy Award for her magnificent performance.
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The Bridge is a West German 1959 Bernhard Wicki war drama starring Folker Bohnet, Fritz Wepper, Michael Hitz and Frank Glaubrecht telling the story of seven brave but inexperienced teenage boys pulled from their small town’s school to defend the town’s bridge from the advancing American troops during the end of WWII. The Bridge won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the National Board of Review Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
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