This picture should have been made in the 50s in color and 'scope, by MGM or 20th Century Fox. Think of "The Sun Also Rises", "Imitation of Life", "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit", or other Lana Turner vehicles, but not of the epics like "Lawrence of Arabia". "Havana", being a remake of "Casablanca" doesn't have the epic quality.
But made in 1990, it suffers from the losses of the studio system, especially the stars, but also the skills of editing and telling a story.
"Retro-Noir-In a nutshell, these are noir period pieces. Films like The Man Who Wasnít There, Devil in a Blue Dress, LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia, Hollywoodland, and 2010ís The Killer Inside Me are crime stories set during the classic period of noir in the forties and fifties. Like all period films, they fetishize the details of the eraís speech, cars, and clothing (though Curtis Hanson made the decision to forego hats in LA Confidential for fear they would be too distracting). The Maltese Falcon of Retro-Noirs is Chinatown, a perfect blend forties detective flick and seventies art house."
"Havana" does extremely well in its 1950 setting, not overdoing it as retro movies have a tendency to do, "fetishize", the man says. It's helped by being set in Havana, and by its predecessor, The Godfather.
"A Kind of Murder" definitely overdoes the art and costuming.
Chinatown is such an excellent movie that it hardly seems retro at all. "Kansas City" and "The Cotton Club" have such musical feasts that we forgive any retro negatives.
Yet, if I watch a retro movie, a period movie, from Hollywood's classic era, I'm totally immersed in it. "Bluebeard" (1944), "The Lodger", "Spiral Staircase" and "Hangover Square" do not break the 4th wall. I don't sit there thinking that I'm watching a period piece. It's not the same experience when I watch the ones made after 1970. The last 50 years seem better suited to contemporary settings.