Kim Ki-Young’s Hanyo or The Housemaidis a gripping and in many ways astonishing horror thriller. Shot in 1960 it is a dark story about greed, lust and power, an almost classic
Greek moral tale about the fact that not being happy with what you got can easily be the first step towards complete moral downfall.
It tells the story of a seemingly straight-laced music teacher and father who decides to take in a housemaid in order to help with his growing family. One thing leads to another and before long the housemaid is pregnant while the wife is about to give birth to the third child. And this is only the beginning of a lot of things going awfully wrong.
The Housemaid is shockingly modern not only in the way Kim uses camera angles and movements (Brian DePalma eat your heart out) but even more so looking at the psychological complexity of all of its main characters.
With this film easily living up to the works of Hitchcock or Fritz Lang (yes, you should really watch it) Kim Ki-Young looks like a long forgotten directing genius. His work has slowly been re-discovered over the last decades. Now it is finally made accessible through the Korean Film Archive, the World Cinema Fund and eventually the fantastic work of the folks behind Mubi.com. Watch the restored version here.
John G Avildsen would go on to direct Rocky and the first three outings in The Karate Kid franchise, but his sixth movie, 1973’s Save the Tiger, is a different thing entirely. Featuring Jack Lemmon (who won the Oscar for his work) as a businessman on his uppers, the film is a drama of morality, nostalgia, and failure.
Lemmon’s character is obsessed by the seemingly simple years of his pre-war youth, a time of jazz, baseball and patriotism. But his conviction that the American Dream has turned sour blinds him to his own failings, and when his bourgeois lifestyle is threatened he ends up complicit in a shabby criminal act.
It was a commercial failure, and contains some obvious sermonising. But because of its tight focus on its central character, and an extraordinary performance from Lemmon, it remains one of the more interesting and vivid of the ‘social comment’ films of the era.
…the good times…
Page 1 of 8