Author Spotlight

Philip Kemp

Philip Kemp is a freelance reviewer, film historian, and regular contributor to Sight & Sound and Total Film. He teaches film journalism at the University of Leicester in England.

14 Results

Dark of the Moon

By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
May 8, 2018
Moonrise: Dark of the Moon
Moonrise: Dark of the Moon

In his uncharacteristic final masterpiece, the great Hollywood melodramatist Frank Borzage approaches the shadowy violence of film noir with his unique brand of romanticism.

By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
May 8, 2018
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog: The First True Hitchcock Movie
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog: The First True Hitchcock Movie

After nearly a decade of honing his craft, Alfred Hitchcock firmly established his reputation with this silent thriller.


By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
Jun 27, 2017
Charulata: “Calm Without, Fire Within”
Charulata: “Calm Without, Fire Within”

Satyajit Ray’s delicate masterpiece about forbidden love in the late nineteenth century is lovingly adapted from a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore.

By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
Aug 20, 2013
The Ballad of Narayama: Abandonment
The Ballad of Narayama: Abandonment

Keisuke Kinoshita’s most experimental film is a resplendent, kabuki-inspired, folk-derived drama about mortality.

By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
Feb 5, 2013
Shallow Grave: A Film Called Cruel
Shallow Grave: A Film Called Cruel

Tasteful British cinema got a refreshing dose of amorality with Danny Boyle’s stylish and violent tale of greed and paranoia.

By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
Jun 13, 2012
The Music Room: Distant Music

The Music Room: Distant Music

In May 1956, an Indian film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It wasn’t well attended. The Indian delegation had done little to promote it, arranging only a single midnight screening that clashed with a party in honor of Akira Kurosawa. In …

By Philip Kemp

On Film / Essays
Jul 19, 2011
Au revoir les enfants: Childhood’s End

“Do you realize,” muses the twelve-year-old Julien Quentin, rapt in the solipsism of early adolescence, “that there’ll never be another January 17, 1944? Never again? . . . I’m the only one in this school who thinks about death. It’s i…

By Philip Kemp


Mar 15, 2011
A Time of Honor:
Seven Samurai and Sixteenth-Century Japan

There’s an old Chinese curse that runs, “May you live in interesting times.” And sixteenth-century Japan was certainly an interesting time from a dramatic point of view—which is undoubtedly why Akira Kurosawa chose it as Seven Samurai’s …

By Philip Kemp


Oct 20, 2010
Night Train to Munich: A Last Laugh

“Wittily written and spare as a coded message . . . The year’s most perilous ride . . . , we wouldn’t exchange it for a season’s commutation ticket on most of the similar vehicles running out of Hollywood.” So wrote Theodore Strauss in t…

By Philip Kemp


Jun 23, 2010
The Human Condition: The Prisoner

“It’s not my fault that I’m Japanese . . . yet it’s my worst crime that I am!” The words are those of Kaji, hero of The Human Condition, but in their anguish and existential despair, they also speak for the film’s director, Masaki Kobayas…

By Philip Kemp


Sep 9, 2009
Kind Hearts and Coronets:
Ealing’s Shadow Side

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) is an Ealing comedy in name only. True, it’s undeniably a comedy and was made by (though largely not at) Ealing. But in virtually every other respect, it deviates startlingly from the commonly accepted stereotype. Ea…

By Philip Kemp


Feb 22, 2006
Touchez pas au grisbi: A Neglected Master

Jacques Becker may well be the most seriously underestimated director in the history of French cinema. Even in his own lifetime, he suffered disparaging comments. Wrote Jacques Demeure about Touchez pas au grisbi in a 1957 Positif article: “Here we…

By Philip Kemp


Jan 18, 2005
Casque d’or: Tenderness and Violence

Along with Touchez pas au grisbi and Le Trou, Casque d’or is now widely recognized as the summit of Jacques Becker’s achievement as a filmmaker, a distillation of everything that’s most personal and central to his vision. All the more surprisin…

By Philip Kemp


Jan 18, 2005