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Archive for the ‘author Allan Fish’ Category

safety-last-1

Note:  This twentieth entry in the superlative Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series was chosen by Marilyn Ferdinand, who was fully cognizant of Allan’s particular affinity for silent cinema.  This is again a case of a great review for a great and iconic film.

by Allan Fish

(USA 1923 70m) DVD1/2

I’ll be back as soon as I ditch the cop

p  Harold Lloyd  d  Sam Taylor, Fred Newmeyer  w  Harold Lloyd, Tim Whelan, Sam Taylor, Hal Roach  ph  Walter Lundin  ed  Thomas J.Crizer  m  Carl Davis  art  Fred Guiol

Harold Lloyd (Harold), Mildred Davis (Mildred), Noah Young (the cop), Bill Strothers (Limpy Bill), Westcott B.Clarke (Stubbs, the floorwalker),

Safety Last is one of those movies cherished in the memory long before you actually see the full film.  My first glimpses of it were probably exactly the same as many other people’s in the UK, courtesy of a half hour teatime show on BBC2 showcasing Lloyd’s comedy, with an inimitable nine note theme tune unforgettable to those who heard it.  Of course that glimpse was only an edited version of Last and, indeed, of its most famous sequence, but it was enough for me.  I would only have been about ten years old, but to a childhood friend and I, it was pure bliss.  Even now, over twenty years later, though I reaffirm that fact that The Kid Brother is Lloyd’s best feature, there is nothing on his CV to match Last.  It’s one to cherish.

Harold is a country boy from Great Bend who goes to the city to make his fortune so he can send for his beloved Mildred.  “She’s just got to believe I’m successful until I am” he tells new found friend Bill, and he spends every cent he has on buying her pretty trinkets and doing without such comparative expendables as food.  His life made into a living hell by a supercilious floorwalker at the store where he works (a man “muscle-bound from patting himself on the back” the caption reads), he cooks up a publicity stunt (in more ways than one) to have his expert climber friend Bill climb the building where his place of work, the De Vore department store, is situated.  Unfortunately a hostile cop has his eye on Bill after an earlier encounter and Harold has to undertake the climb himself. (more…)

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marketa

Note:  This review of the Czech masterpiece ‘Marketa Lazarova” is the nineteenth in the ongoing Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series.  I considers a film Allan has championed for a number of years dating back to the time when he led a petition drive well before it was eventually released by Second Run and then on blu-ray by Criterion.  It is my own choice among Allan’s reviews for this series, and like its subject is spectacular  -S.J.

by Allan Fish

(Czechoslovakia 1967 162m) DVD2

Do not be an animal

p  Josek Ouky  d  Frantisek Vlácil  w  Frantisek Vlácil, Frantisek Pavlicek  novel  Vladislav Vancura  ph  Bedrich Batka  ed  Miroslav Hajek  m  Zdenek Liska  art  Oldrich Okác  cos  Theodor Pistek  sound  Frantisek Fabian

Josek Kemr (Kozlik), Magda Vásáryová (Marketa Lazarova), Nada Hejna (Katerina), Jaroslav Moucka (Jan), Frantisek Velecký (Mikolas), Karel Vasikek (Jiri), Pavla Polaskova (Alexandra), Ivan Palúch, Václáv Sloup, Martin Mrasek,

In the 1964 epic The Fall of the Roman Empire there is a wonderful funeral scene in the snow on the German frontier where you really could “hear the Gods laughing.”  If the Gods of Rome were still around in the 13th century, they would doubtless weep at the goings on here.  Yet as one old crone, as she is called, says, “weeping is the gift of relief.  Men do not know it.”  Here men are animals, no different to any other creature that hunts in packs, but his prey are stray travellers, to satisfy his lust for money and women.  This is a medieval world like no other.  If you thoughtThe Lion in Winter or The War Lord were stark, you’re about to get a rude awakening.  The film may have been influenced by Bergman, Dreyer and Jancsó, but it’s bleaker than any of them.  As the opening narration tells us, “our tale takes place during a savage winter with frosts as passionate as Christianity at the time.”  So frozen are the wastelands depicted that one half expects the screen to freeze over completely.  The huge snow-covered trees may look Christmassy, but these are not mere tannenbaums, but living wooden statues marking time, crying like weeping willows.  Even the wolves stand back here and let the humans get on with it, knowing there will be enough corpse meat to last them through the winter.  Death really is a steady diet here. (more…)

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life-and-death-of-colonel-blimp-1-copy

Note: To celebrate Allan’s departure from the ICU -glowingly reported today by his dear maternal Aunt Anne Cafferkey- I offer you one of Allan’s own favorite reviews of all time of a film he holds closest to his heart of them all.  This is the eighteenth entry in the series.  Enjoy!

by Allan Fish

(UK 1943 163m) DVD1/2

War starts at midnight!

p  Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger  d  Michael Powell  w  Emeric Pressburger ph  Georges Périnal, Jack Cardiff (and Henry Haysom, Geoffrey Unsworth)  ed  John Seabourne  m  Allan Gray  art  Alfred Junge

Roger Livesey (Maj.Gen.Clive Candy), Deborah Kerr (Edith Hunter/Barbara Wynne/Johnny Cannon), Anton Walbrook (Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff), John Laurie (Lce.Cpl.Murdoch), Roland Culver (Col.Betteridge), James McKechnie (Spud Wilson), Albert Lieven (Von Ritter), Arthur Wontner (Embassy Counsellor), Ursula Jeans (Frau Von Kalteneck), Muriel Aked (Aunt Margaret), A.E.Matthews, Valentine Dyall,

There is something about the most ambitious of Powell and Pressburger’s wartime masterpieces that is rather nostalgic, even after all these years.  Sixty years on, it seems to belong to another age, an age and way of life also encompassed in a more insular way by TV’s later Upstairs, Downstairs.  Just as that series presented all that was most peculiarly English about us in the first third of the twentieth century, so does this 1943 masterpiece.  Yet it does so much more that that, for it encapsulates the very soul of not only England but what it is like to recognise your own nationality.  I am certainly no patriot, but even I feel my heart warmed by the timelessness of this film, a feeling increased by the fact that, in one of its numerous subtexts, it is not a patriotic film at all, but rather a study in the triumph of the human spirit, overcoming tragedy, heartache and more besides through inherent decency and affection for one’s friends, whatever their nationality. (more…)

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promise-1

Note: This seventeenth entry in the towering Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series was recommended by Allan’s great friend ‘James’, who has long appreciated Allan’s tireless attention to great cinema that never received the proper exposure.  ‘A Promise’ was directed by one of Allan’s favorite directors, Yoshishige Yoshida.

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1986 123m) DVD2 (France only, no English subs)

Aka. Ningen no Yakusoku; A Human Promise

Let me die

p  Yusuyo Saito, Matsuo Takahashi  d  Yoshishige Yoshida  w  Yoshishige Yoshida, Fukiko Kiyauchi  ph  Yoshihiro Yamazaki  ed  Akira Suzuki  m  Haruomi Hosano  art  Yoshie Kikukawa

Rentaro Mikuni (Ryosaku Morimoto), Sachiko Murase (Tatsu Morimoto), Choichiro Kawarazaki (Yoshio), Orie Sato (Ritsuko), Tetta Sugimoto (Takao), Kumikmo Takeda (Naoko), Koichi Sato (Detective Yoshikawa), Choei Takahashi (Takeya Nakamura),

It was one of those returns from the wilderness, like Moses leading the faithful through 40 years in the desert.  Like Lean before him and Kubrick and Malick to come, Yoshida’s return was something to rejoice about, or at least would have been if anyone in the west (France aside) had cared or known who he was.  His previous film, Coup d’Etat, had been 13 years previously, and he had entered middle-age, 52 when the film was shot.

An old woman, Tatsu, has died.  The police arrive and ask questions of her old widow, Ryosaku, who openly confesses to killing her.  He’s suffering from dementia so the authorities take his confession if not lightly then with due caution.  The film then goes back to the events leading up to the death, with Yoshio shown to be unfaithful to his wife, Ritsuko, whose bitterness about having to take care of her in-laws and Tatsu’s hysterical accusations towards her, are turning her inside out.  Meanwhile, Yoshio’s children have differing feelings about the subject, from daughter Naoko’s concern for her elderly grandparents to Takao’s callous references to them as no longer their family, merely animals to be put in a home like animals in a zoo.   (more…)

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onlyangels2-copy1

Note: This is the sixteenth entry in the fabulous Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series.  The choice Howard Hawkes’ classic “Only Angels Have Wings” was chosen by the renowned film writer Judy Geater, the erstwhile proprietor of ‘Movie Classics’

by Allan Fish

(USA 1939 121m) DVD1/2

Calling Barranca

p/d  Howard Hawks  w  Jules Furthman (and William Rankin, Eleanor Griffith) story  Howard Hawks  ph  Joseph Walker, Elmer Dyer  ed  Viola Lawrence  md  Morris Stoloff  m  Dimitri Tiomkin, Manuel Maciste  art  Lionel Banks  cos  Robert Kalloch

Cary Grant (Geoff Carter), Jean Arthur (Bonnie Lee), Rita Hayworth (Judith McPherson), Richard Barthelmess (Bat McPherson), Thomas Mitchell (Kid Dabb), Sig Ruman (John ‘Dutchy’ Van Reiter), Victor Kilian (Sparks), John Carroll (Gent Shelton), Allyn Joslyn (Les Peters), Noah Beery Jnr (Joe Souther), Donald Barry (Tex Gordon),

Howard Hawks directed many masterpieces, but I’ll be darned if this isn’t my favourite of them.  It may not be the best of his films, but it’s the most typical, a truly uplifting (in more ways than one) tale of camaraderie in the toughest of environments, a tale of men loving, losing and drinking their way through life taking each minute as it comes.  Quite simply it’s the sort of film that Alexandre Dumas might have made, had he been a film director in the 1930s.

Geoff Carter runs a business for a Dutch bar owner in Ecuador running mail over the Andes in planes that can, at best, be described as rust-buckets.  Under him is his best friend, a flyer of more than twenty years, Kid, who is coming to the end of his flying days because of failing eyesight.  Into their mix comes a showgirl just off the banana boat who gets caught up in their mentality and lifestyle and falls in love with Carter.  However, things start to go awry when Carter’s old flame turns up as wife to the new flyer, who also happens to be the guy responsible for Kid’s brother’s death. (more…)

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halliwell-1-copy

Note:  This longer piece from Allan on Halliwell’s famous Film Guide is the fifteenth in the ongoing Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series.  It was selected by site regular and impassioned film buff Peter M.

by Allan Fish

I can well remember my first Film Guide.  It was the Halliwell’s, 6th edition, from around 1987.  Harold Lloyd was on the cover, his hands sticking out in front of him to stop that flying girder in his classic short Never Weaken.  My acquaintance with that guide, at the age of fifteen in late 1988, came less than 12 months before Leslie Halliwell’s premature death in his 60th year in early 1989.  He’d spent over two decades updating the ‘Filmgoer’s Companion’ and, latterly from the mid 70s, the ‘Halliwell’s Film Guide’.  The third reference book he wrote, the ‘Television Companion’ died with him, the last edition going out in 1986, and a fair proportion of that work had, in the immediately preceding years, been done by Philip Purser.  Besides, Britain in 1989 was the cusp of satellite television, of Sky and BSB before they merged, and the time when cable TV really started coming into its own in the US. 

In short, that book was no longer practicable.   The Guide and the Companion continued, however, and under the auspices of John Walker the Guide maintained its former glories, and whindled away the prejudice – not without just cause – that modern films were given short shrift in the Guide (at Halliwell’s death in 1989, no films since Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 had the maximum **** rating).  Both books entered the new millennium more valuable and exhaustively researched than they’d ever been, but then but a year or two ago the decision was made – who by, who knows? – to replace Walker with David Gritten.  I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but when you consider the book was published by Harper Collins, well known as part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, then one has to have grave suspicions about the motives for the change. (more…)

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death-1

Note: This fourteenth entry in the stupendous Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series was chosen by Allan’s very good friend ‘James,’ an impassioned film buff, who has benefited greatly by Alan’s generosity and film scholarship.  This is first of several choices made by James that will appear.

by Allan Fish

(Philippines 2007 540m) not on DVD

Aka. Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga Engkanto

The Tomb of Mother Nature

p  Lav Diaz  d/w  Lav Diaz  ph  Lav Diaz  ed  Lav Diaz  m  Lav Diaz  art  Dante Perez

Roeder Camanag (Benjamin Agusan), Angeli Bayani (Catalina), Perry Dizon (Teodoro),

When the super typhoon Durian ripped through the rural Filipino area known as the Bicol in November 2006, one cannot help but have responded with a sense of déjà vu.  Images of the wreckage and desolation wrought firstly by the Sri Lankan tsunami of 2004 and then hurricane Katrina in 2005, one could forgiven for thinking that the Book of Revelation was being writ in letters large enough to even impress C.B.de Mille.  A fortnight after the first distressing scenes relayed around the world on CNN, director Lav Diaz journeyed to the Bicol region surrounding the village of Padang, the area where, but a few years earlier, he’d shot his docu-drama Evolution of a Filipino Family and where he’d also made Heremias.  His original intention was to make a documentary, to film the devastation for himself.  Interviews were conducted with various dispossessed, but still thankful to be alive, locals.  Yet somehow the documentary wasn’t enough, he needed to express his feelings in a more narrative-focused way, so that though the interview footage was used intermittently through the piece, they would be merely footnotes to the piece.

The main story focuses on a poet, Benjamin Agusan, who has been living for several years in the Russian town of Kaluga and who, upon hearing about the tragedy, returns to his Bicol village to find out what happened to his parents and family.  He finds that they are all dead, some buried alive, but he also meets up with two old friends; firstly his former lover, artist and sculptor Catalina, who he left over a decade earlier, and a fellow poet, Teodoro.  All three have their spectres, corporeal or otherwise, and their recollections, ruminations and emotional traumas form the core of the film. (more…)

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