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Steppenwolf, the Hesse novel that all my friends and I loved but didn't understand in high school, has been made into a movie just so I won't understand it in college. The last Hesse story that got a film treatment, Siddhartha, turned out horrendously, but the new film has the potential to be at least interesting. The cast for this one is quite good: Max von Sydow and Dominique Sandra star. The Orson Welles is having a one-time-only "sneak" preview tonight, so if you're interested be forewarned.

The Maltese Falcon, the best detective movie ever made, plays this week beginning tomorrow at the Brattle Theater. Humphery Bogart is Sam Spade, cool, calm and marvelous. Mary Astor plays the shady woman, a sexist stereotyped role that is nonetheless irresistible in the context.

I Am a Fugitive on a Chain Gang was a leading film in the Hollywood Depression-era movement toward socially involved films. It was also one of the best. It is a story of a veteran forced into prison by his circumstances and the abuse he suffers at the hands of society. The film is a little dated, but remains compelling. Paul Muni stars in this Mervin LeRoy effort.

The Story of Mankind is a 1957 Warner Bros. star vehicle that never is shown anymore, but the Welles borrowed it from Warner's library and it's clearly worth a look. Groucho Marx plays Peter Minuit and Harpo stars in a vignette about Isaac Newton. Dennis Hopper, Virginia Mayo and Peter Lorre are also featured. Weekend at midnight.

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