by Sam Juliano

The schedule for the upcoming Sixth Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival is as follows:

Saturday, May 28             Jamie Uhler
Sunday, May 29               Joel Bocko
Monday, May 30               Bobby Josson
Tuesday, May 31              Robert Hornak
Wednesday, June 1          J. D. Lafrance
Thursday, June 2              Marco Tremble
Friday, June 3                   Sachin Gandhi
Saturday, June 4               Tony D’Ambra
Sunday, June 5                 Sam Juliano
Thanks so much to all the writers and those who will be following the festival.
Lucille, Bill Kamberger and I experienced a fabulous Broadway musical on Saturday night.  Girl from North Country is a stirring and soulful work featuring riveting staging of Bob Dylan songs.  I am not at all surprised it has garnered seven Tony Award nominations.

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by James Clark

Those of us who love serious filmmaking, know filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, to be not only brilliant but unique. How unique? In our film today, A Ship to India (1947), the two protagonists embark in 1940-neutral Sweden, without a word about World War II! Not only that, but everyone in the large cast also seems to regard the War as nothing but a bore. What’s going on here? You can be sure that serious business is on the table. Serious and pertaining to the artful vision of the German Expressionist movement, having derived by the strangeness of the battlefields of World War I. Much of Bergman’s aesthetic zeal had been fired up by such conundrum. Where, though, could such strange creatures become a work for a film writer/ director, for a Swedish studio? (Along with his theatre work, giving scope for the sensate, the sensational.) His first film after the war would have to be below his lofty thoughts (money speaking in this game), and hard to swallow for a young fireball. But he comes across amazingly, here.

Bergman’s solution was to encrust serious work, while the supposed Hollywood endeavor could thrill the armies. Perhaps not a thing of beauty; but a unique undertaking in those dodgy precincts. As we see it in its “sexy,” “violent,” “madcap,” “charming,”way, there is, of course, the real McCoy. Here cinematography takes us to another world.

In the darkness, three men stand on a dock. One is black, the others white. Their stance bestows them an intensity, as if danger. Lightning dears the sky. They are alert, to a point. In that same darkness, one of the protagonists, Johannes, a young officer in a sailor suit, just arrived, has a cigarette whose smoke bestows a white ripple. Another craft proceeding. The waters churning. Before that, a gangway. A forest of shadows along the craft. Along a murky sidewalk, a beautiful woman rushes out of a bar. His shadows on the facades.    (Now for the wide-open saga.) The other protagonist, Sally. Her room, being a play of a modern palace. Uncanny! His shadow on the door. Johannes sleeping on the rocky beach. A place to dream. Forest around. Birds singing. Continue Reading »


by Sam Juliano

The site will again be staging the Allan Fish Online Film Festival in observance of our late master’s May 28th birthday.  Remarkably, this will be the sixth consecutive year we will be moving forward with a project tribute that has yielded some of the finest writing we’ve ever exhibited.  Founded by Chicago native and staffer Jamie Uhler in 2017 – nine months after Allan’s tragic passing – the idea was to continue as long as physically possible and as long as the site continues to exist and add new material.  Alas, we have no intentions in the immediate future to close our doors and we’d like to think our lifespan here has a ways to go, what with yeoman contributions continuing from our exceedingly talented writers, led by site Co-Editor James Clark and by his fellow Canadian veteran film writer J.D. Lafrance.  The festival will launch on Saturday, May 28th – Allan’s birthday – and will continue until the line-up is completed.  I will be sending out a group email this week to the past participants to alert them of our intentions.  Thanks to all for your anticipated cooperation.

The Best Films of Spain and Portugal polling is underway and will continue until 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, May 24th.  Thanks to all who voted or will be doing so in the future on the polling thread.

I attended the annual 8th Grade Washington trip as a chaperone this past week from Wednesday to Friday.  I posted many photos of the memorials and locations we managed, but unfortunately my phone broke after an unexpected tumble at the foot of the Jefferson Memorial.  This is what I posted about the mishap on FB:  “My deepest apologies for disappearing suddenly last night, and not being able to access FB again until just now back in Fairview, New Jersey. Unfortunately I took a tumble last night while attempting to snap a picture at the Jefferson Memorial in the dark. My cell phone busted, and now must be replaced, so I had no use of my phone since last night. I am presently up at the school on a desk top. My right knee and right arm remain sore, and I was up almost all night. Thanks to the ever-concerned trip coordinator Sandy DeVivo and to Steve Russo for attending to me immediately. Needless to say I have not yet seen any comments or likes that may have been posted. The Jefferson Memorial of course is one of the greats, though the sublime pink cherry blossoms are now there only in April.” Continue Reading »

Next stop, the Iberian peninsula! Voters are hereby asked to list their Top fifteen (15) films from Spain and/or Portugal. The deadline for submissions will be Tuesday, May 24th at 5:00 P.M. As always, Bill Kamberger will determine eligibility for any questionable titles. As always everyone can decide between a chronological, alphabetical or ranked order for their ballots! Good luck! Here are my fifteen choices, listed alphabetically:
All About My Mother (Spain, 1999) Pedro Almodovar)
Aniki Bobo (Portugal, 1942) Manoel de Oliveira
Belle Epoque (Spain, 1992) Fernando Trueba
Carmen (Spain, 1983) Carlos Saura
Chimes at Midnight (Spain,1965) Orson Welles
Death of a Cyclist (Spain, 1955) Juan Antonio Bardem
The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, 2001) G. Del Toro
The Impossible (Spain, 2012) J. A. Bayona
La Morte Rouge (Spain, 2006) Victor Erice
Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal, 2010) Raul Ruiz
Placido (Spain, 1961) Luis Garcia Berlanga
The Spirit of the Beehive (Spain, 1973) Victor Erice
Talk to Her (Spain, 2002) Pedro Almodovar
El Verdugo (Spain, 1963) Luis Garcia Berlanga
Viridiana (Spain, 1961) Luis Bunuel


by Sam Juliano

I will be departing the area early Wednesday morning to serve as a chaperone on the annual 8th grade Washington D. C. trip, and will return late Friday night.

Over the past week I have been able to put some quality time into Irish Jesus in Fairview, and am moving close to 60,000 words total.  The French polling results are included here on this post and with 55 voters choosing 30 films, it was quite a remarkable project.  Kudos to Voting Tabulator Bill Kamberger and everyone who handed in such fabulous, comprehensive ballots.  The results do speak for themselves.  This week the next poll (The Greatest Films of Spain and Portugal) will debut with each voter allowed fifteen (15) picks to be presented as usual in chronlogical, alphabetical or ranked order.

“The 400 Blows,” “Children of Paradise,” “The Rules of the Game,” “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Grand Illusion,” “L’Atalante,” “Playtime,” “Au Hasard Balthazar” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” lead the Top 150 French films in massive, marathon polling tabulated by Bill kamberger!!

1. The 400 Blows / Les quatre cents coups (François Truffaut, 1959) – 725
2. Children of Paradise / Les enfants du paradis (Marcel Carné, 1945) – 679
3. The Rules of the Game / La règle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939) – 673.5
4. The Passion of Joan of Arc / La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928) – 554.5
5. Beauty and the Beast / La belle et la bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946) – 513.5
6. Grand Illusion / La grande illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937) – 445.5
7. L’Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934) – 442
8. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967) – 420.5
9. (Au hasard) Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966) – 418
10. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg / Les parapluies de Cherbourg (Jaccques Demy, 1964) – 410
11. Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927) – 397.5
12. Army of Shadows / L’armée des ombres (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) – 392.5
13. A Man Escaped / Un condamné à mort s’est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (Robert Bresson, 1956) – 339.5
14. The Wages of Fear / La salaire de la peur (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) – 335.5
15. (The Earrings of) Madame de… (Max Ophüls, 1953) – 332.5
16. Diary of a Country Priest / Journal d’un curé de campagne (Robert Bresson, 1951) – 326
17. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie / Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972) – 322.5
18. Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959) – 296
19. Jules and Jim / Jules et Jim (François Truffaut, 1962) – 290.5
20. Breathless / À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960) – 285.5
21. The Red Balloon / Le ballon rouge (Albert Lamorisse, 1956) – 281.5
22. Diabolique / Les diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955) – 265
23. Le Trou / The Hole / The Night Watch (Jacques Becker, 1960) – 255
24. Belle de Jour / Beauty of the Day (Luis Buñuel, 1967) – 242.5
25. Goodbye, Children / Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987) – 221.5
26. Three Colors Trilogy: Blue (1993) / White (1994) / Red (1994) / Trois couleurs: Bleu / Blanche / Rouge (Krzysztof Kieslowski) – 217.5
27. Celine and Julie Go Boating / Céline et Julie vont en bateau / Phantom Ladies Over Paris (Jacques Rivette, 1974) – 211.5
28. Forbidden Games / Jeux interdits (René Clément , 1952) – 211
29. Contempt / Le mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) – 209.5
30. Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985) – 196
31. La Jetée / The Pier (Chris Marker, 1962) – 194.5
32. Last Year at Marienbad / L’année dernière à Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) – 194
33. Mon Oncle / My Uncle (Jacques Tati, 1958) – 190
34. Eyes Without a Face / Les yeux sans visage (Georges Franju, 1960) – 187
35. Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) – 185.5
36. Wild Reeds / Les Roseaux sauvages (André Téchiné, 1994) – 185.5
37. Elevator to the Gallows / Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Louis Malle, 1958) – 176
38. Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources (Claude Berri, 1986) – 172
39. Les Misérables (Raymond Bernard, 1934) – 171
40. The Mother and the Whore / La maman et la putain (Jean Eustache, 1973) – 169.5
41. Lacombe, Lucien (Louis Malle, 1974) – 169
42. Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967) – 162
43. Day for Night / La nuit américaine (François Truffaut, 1973) – 153
44. Rififi / Du rififi chez les hommes (Jules Dassin, 1955) – 153
45. Cléo from 5 to 7 / Cléo de 5 à 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962) – 150
46. My Life to Live / Vivre Sa Vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962) – 139.5
47. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011) – 139
48. La Cérémonie (Claude Chabrol, 1995) – 138
49. Pierrot le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) – 138
50. La Belle Noiseuse / The Beautiful Troublemaker (Jacques Rivette, 1991) – 137
51. Summer / The Green Ray / Le rayon vert (Éric Rohmer, 1986) – 136
52. Weekend / Week End (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) – 133.5
53. Orpheus / Orphée (Jean Cocteau, 1950) – 129
54. Le Cercle Rouge / The Red Circle (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970) – 122.5
55. Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959) – 122.5
56. L’âge d’or / The Golden Age (Luis Buñuel, 1930) – 117
57. Night and Fog / Nuit et brouillard (Alain Resnais, 1956) – 113.5
58. Band of Outsiders / Bande à part (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) – 113
59. Casque d’Or / Golden Marie (Jacques Becker, 1952) – 109.5
60. Vagabond / Sans toit ni loi (Agnès Varda, 1985) – 108
61. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly / Le scaphandre et le papillon, (Julian Schnabel, 2007) – 107.5
62. Caché (Hidden) (Michael Haneke, 2005) – 105
63. Lola Montès (Max Ophüls, 1955) – 101.5
64. Port of Shadows / Le quai des brumes (Marcel Carné, 1938) – 100.5
65. BPM (Beats Per Minute) / 120 battements par minute (Robin Campillo, 2017) – 100
66. Pépé le Moko (Julien Duvivier, 1937) – 98
67. Sans Soleil / Sunless (Chris Marker, 1983) – 98
68. Shoot the Piano Player / Tirez sur le pianiste (François Truffaut, 1960) – 96

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by Sam Juliano

We are fast-approaching May, and seasonal weather has been announcing this development almost daily.  The situation in Ukraine remains almost apocalyptic, though inspired resistance insures this horror will continue for several months, short of an unexpected truce.

Our French film poll is attracting a remarkable number of ballots (well over 50 at this point) and it will continue for one more week, with the deadline set for 5:00 P.M. on May 1st.  Those still wishing to cast a ballot can do so at the thread proper here at Wonders in the Dark.  For those interested in what the following poll will be, I can reveal it will be The Best Films of Spain and Portugal and will be a 20 film ballot.

Two more Paradise Atop the Hudson events are scheduled at local libraries, with the first this coming Saturday at Ridgefield Park for Arbor Day.  I will be sure to report back with photos and an assessment next week.  Meanwhile, I have resumed adding to Irish Jesus in Fairview, and yesterday surpassed 55,000 words.  I am pleased how things are going, and with some new ideas that have come to light.  Paradise has now sold 850 copies at Amazon, the vast majority paperbacks, and another 27 hardcovers at Barnes & Nobel for a grand total of 877.

Lucille and I will be visiting the Ridgefield Park multiplex tonight to watch the well-reviewed The Northman.  I will post a rating on it first thing in the morning.

The Northman  **** 1/2   )Ridgefield Park multiplex)   Sunday night

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by Sam Juliano

Wishing all our Jewish friends a Happy Passover and hoping those celebrating Easter had a happy and soulful Sunday.  Lucille and I attended the 10:30 mass at Our Lady of Grace Church in Fairview.

After two years of cancellations brought on by COVID concerns, my school system will again running the 8th grade Washington trip from May 4th to the 6th.  I will again be attending as a chaperone, and am wondering how many of the usual landmarks will be open and will be permitting tourists.  In any case, the outdoor memorials are always fair game.

I would have liked to write more during the present extended break, but I found myself diverted and needed to spend some time obtaining facts from some of those living people who are being represented in the narrative.  Still I made some modest progress and will resume in the coming days.

Many thanks to all who have submitted a ballot for the French Film Polling.  About 55 ballots have been submitted, and the project will run until early May. Continue Reading »


by Sam Juliano

This past week, Wonders in the Dark essayist extraordinaire Jim Clark published another fabulous entry in his ongoing Federico Fellini series, on the 1983 And the Ship Sails On.  Jim’s scholarship continues to be a guiding light here at this fourteen-year-old film and arts on-line depot.

Barbarism in Ukraine, perpetrated by war crime engineer Vladimir Putin continues to repulse many of us, and we can only wonder how much longer can the world accept such morally repugnant behavior without more decisive intervention.  My own interest in films, music and literature has taken a back seat over the past several weeks, as I have tuned in to all the events surrounding this unspeakable horror.

Still, life moves forward, and our Greatest Films of France polling has been getting a ton of attention, what with 44 ballots having already been cast in this 30 film polling bonanza.  But as France challenges the USA as the greatest cinema of all, I can’t say this level of enthusiasm has been any kind of a surprise.

Classes are on spring break through Monday, April 18th (the day after Easter), and will resume on Tuesday, the 19th.  I have been taking advantage of this down time to write more chapters in Irish Jesus in Fairview, though I won’t get a clearer picture of where I stand with it until the aforementioned Tuesday, the 19th.  I just yesterday reached 50,000 words.

Wishing all our friends and readers who celebrate, a Happy and soulful Easter Sunday, and the Holy Week that begins today! Continue Reading »

by James Clark 2022

      As with the scatter gun presentation I’ve been using for the films, when it came into the little clutch of “Fellini” films (driven by film writer, Tonino Guerra), I once again shuffled the deck. The order would be: Amarcord  (1973); And the Ship Sails On (1983); and Ginger and Fred (1985). All three were marvels. But our film today, And the Ship Sails On, needed special attention. Here was a saga of both molten commitment to art and molten commitment to politics. What kind of magic will be in the offing?

The era is the instance of early filmmaking, silent and intensely impressive. Its dynamics seems to be driven by a slightly different world. Into this organic stance the players have to attempt to discover if they are frightened or delighted, lucid or lost. They convene at a luxurious ocean liner, in order to play a part in the last rites of a won-of-a-kind soprano. The presentation would involve placing the ashes, on the sea, at an island whom she had found to be apt. Though the clientele is dressed in great finery and taste, there are moments before embarking which cause a pause. A burly tenor, noticing a frigid soprano, gestures as if passing gas. These are paragons of sensibility, but despite the solemness of the moment, there has, at least in his case, a mismanagement of equilibrium, a failure of authority. Many penniless souls had been attracted to such heights. Perhaps two young boys there, in the industrial miasma, teach “authority.” The bigger boy twists the little one over his back, and then they both happily run away. That swift twist had casually upstaged the fancy-pants. Many currents will complicate this voyage. The ship is called, Gloria N. (Perhaps meaning, Nothing.) But withal, there is a steady input of enigma. The cherished few enter the ship by a long ladder, in view of the envious. It could be a sign of the important. But it is also similar of mounting the gallows. Closing out this scene, someone close to the steel wall and its tight ribbits patterns, asks, “They tell me: ‘Does the news tell what happens?’ And who the hell knows what happens?” A journalist, covering the august event, plays with his hat. He’s, our protagonist. Continue Reading »


The Greatest Films of France Polling!!!

Choosing only thirty (30) films for one of the greatest cinemas in the world is a Herculeon task, and to have left off Clair, Clement, Guitry, Eustache, Pagnol, Feyder, Chabrol, Rohmer, Dassin, Godard (not his biggest fan but a few great ones, yes), and so many other masterpieces, is unconscionable. It is killing me to leave off La Promesse; Rosetta; Le Trou; Une Vie; Port of Shadows; Lola Montes; A Sunday in the Country; Pickpocket; Mouchette; La Roue; Boudu Saved from Drowning; Two English Girls; Breathless; Weekend; The Discreet of the Bourgeiosie; Les Enfants Terribles; Coup de Torchon; Panique; Blanche; Celeine and Julie Go Boating; Le Jour se Leve; Army of Shadows; Orpheus; The Mother and the Whore; An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge; Lacombe Lucien; Wages of Fear; Hiroshima Mon Amour; La Jetee; Sorrow and the Pity; Shoah; The Green Room and tons of others. But here we are. My thirty favorite French masterpieces in alphabetical order: (Deadline for voting will be 5:00 on May 1st; all determinations on voting eligibility will be made by Bill Kamberger).

The 400 Blows ‘Les Quatre Cents Coups’ (Truffaut; 1959)
The Artist (Hazananavicius; 2011)
L’ Atalante (Vigo; 1934)
Au Hasard Balthazar (Bresson; 1966)
Au Revoir Les Enfants (Malle; 1987)
Belle de Jour (Bunuel; 1967)
La Belle et la Bete (Cocteau; 1945)
La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette; 1991)
The Chorus (Barratier; 2004)
Diaboliques (Clouzot; 1955)
The Earrings of Madame de (Ophuls; 1953)
Les Enfants du Paradis (Carne; 1945)
La Grande Illusion (Renoir; 1937)
Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources (Berri; 1987-1988)
La Fin du Jour (Duvivier; 1939)
Le Journal un Cure de Campagne (Bresson; 1950)
Jules and Jim (Truffaut; 1962)
A Man Escaped (Bresson; 1958)
Les Miserables (Bernard; 1933-4)
Napoleon (Gance; 1928)
Night and Fog ‘Nuit et brouillard’ (Resnais; 1956)
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Demy; 1964)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer; 1928)
Playtime (Tati; 1967)
The Red Balloon, ‘Le ballon rouge’ (Lamorisse; 1956)
Rules of the Game ‘Le regle du Jeu’ (Renoir; 1939)
La Silence de la Mer (Melville; 1946)
Son Frere (Chereau; 2004)
Three Colors Trilogy (Kieslowki; 1993-4)
Wild Reeds ‘Les Roseaux sauvages’ (Techine; 1994)