Vail’s at the center of more than a simple case in Primal Fear. Hoblit manages to take a spritely charity dinner and suffuse it with hidden terror, as a boys’ choir’s gloomy opera parodies Vail’s chummy handshakes with the city’s finest smiles. Vail discovers that he himself is the fulcrum in all the foul events floating up in the harbor like bad news no one can stop from breaking.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day stays in your memory like soda bubbles on your lip because it’s just as fizzy, confectionary, and neutral to your health. It’s the most “nothing movie,” as Billy Wilder said of The Seven Year Itch, but today that reminds me so achingly of the frivolous oldies that I can’t help but swoon.