by Allan Fish
As Ralph Fiennes once said in Schindler’s List; “today is history.” After several years of devoted red-carpeting beyond the call of anyone’s duty, this weekend marks the first time since it was established that the Monday Morning Diary was not completed by our beloved
Führer, Phooey Sam. Even when recently in the UK terrorising the oxygen supply of Blighty’s fair capital, he still managed to haul his sore ass to the hotel PC or my own PC to write a brief piece.
While the picture may make one think that Sam has been hospitalised, inconsolable at the loss of his The Wizard of Oz Blu Ray box set – more than any grizzly bear can think to overcome - it’s rather those stones. Dem stones, dem stones, dem dry (expletive deleted) stones. After weeks of prevarication from the medical establishment that always it seems are out to make an extra buck, he was finally admitted into hospital for what they called a ‘procedure’. One has to admit, it’s one of the great euphemisms, procedure; makes it sound like a series of items to do when baking a cake. Said procedure took place on Friday 13th September (yup, only Sam could get booked in for an operation on Friday 13th).
The doctor’s managed to remove all bar one of the offending rock formations, aside from a small one which hopefully he can emit without going through another procedure. Sadly, however, they were unable to do anything about his pig-stubborn obstinacy. That was beyond the surgical craft of those at the hospital.
As such it falls to me to do the Diary. In terms of what Sam has done this week or seen, he’ll let you know about that when he returns. As for what I have been doing, it’s essentially raping Youtube of rare TV and film. Among this week’s downloaded nuggets are several Michael Wood documentaries (Art of the Western World, In Search of the Dark Ages, Legacy, King Alfred and the Anglo Saxons), John Romer’s Testament and Neil Oliver’s History of Celtic Britain. Other gems included TV play Our Day Out (with Alun Armstrong), a better print of Alan Clarke’s Penda’s Fen, Vojislav Rakonjac’s Before the Truth (1968), Miklós Jancsó’s Cantata (1963), August Blom’s very early sci-fi The End of the World (1916), The Dance of Life (1929), an early talkie with a key Nancy Carroll performance, several Evgenii Bauer films including the charming Daydreams (1915), Paul Czinner’s Don Giovanni (1954), Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Bremen Brethren (1972) and The Stationmaster’s Wife (1977) and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Ludwig’s Cook (1973).
In terms of viewing over the last week or two, I have again been delving into rarities, such as Roberto Rossellini’s Acts of the Apostles (1969), Naruse’s Five Men in the Circus (1935, another Youtube acquisition which I found subs for), Autumn Has Already Started (1960) and A Mother Never Dies (1942), Yasujiro Shimazu’s A Brother and His Younger Sister (1939), as well as wading through the complete The Pallisers (1974), featuring excellent performances from Philip Latham, Susan Hampshire, Barbara Murray, Roger Livesey, Roland Culver, Sonia Dresdel and Fabia Drake among others, as well as featuring Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons together seven years before their immortal visit to Castle Howard. Oh, and of course checking out a few DVD and Blu Ray acquisitions. Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux (***½), Shion Sono’s The Land of Hope (***½), and Jeff Nichols’ Mud (***½) were among the recent first time viewings, while I also savoured volumes 6 and 7 of Warner Archive’s Forbidden Hollywood series. 7 is clearly superior, containing Skyscraper Souls (1932, ****), The Hatchet Man (1932, ***), Ex-Lady (1933, ***) and the superb Employees Entrance (1933, ****½). Only Ex-Lady was a first time viewing. In Volume 6, I’d only seen Downstairs (1932, ***½), but there were moments of interest in both Mandalay (1934, ***) and Massacre (1934, **½), though the latter wasn’t helped by the ridiculous casting of Richard Barthelmess and Ann Dvorak as native Americans. The fourth film, The Wet Parade (1932, *½) was pretty much purely a curiosity, seriously overlong at nearly two hours and of little to no worth at all. It seems strange that such pre-code classics as Blonde Crazy (1931) are still without releases and clearly lesser work gets in ahead of them.
Anyway, enough from me, what did you lot do? Sam will reply when he’s out of hospital and back to terrorising his family again. I told Lucille to slip the doctor 20 bucks to keep him in for a week, but she won’t.