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Archive for October 9th, 2008

by Sam Juliano

Charles Dickens must be turning in his grave.  Word is that he has commissioned Bill Sikes from his eternal sojourn down under to enact his very special form of justice to anyone connected with the new stage musical, A Tale of Two Cities, Les Miz  wannabe that attempts to cram in as much plot information as possible from the Dickens novel that was fueled predominantly by story line.  Even for avid admirers of the classic novel, the sequence of events is mited by convolutions, exasperating simplifications, and a preponderance of cumbersome melodies that define the essence of mediocrity.  It has been a number of years since I’ve heard a score this God-awful, reliant in large measure on bombastic ensemble singing and the booming voice of the lead star James Barbour, who is the show’s one big asset. (more…)

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Welles' mutilated masterpiece

Welles' mutilated masterpiece

by Allan Fish

(USA 1942 88m) DVD2

The tale of Vendonah…

p  Orson Welles  d/w  Orson Welles  novel  Booth Tarkington  ph  Stanley Cortez  ed  Mark Robson, Jack Moss, Robert Wise  m  Bernard Herrmann (and Roy Webb)  art  Mark-Lee Kirk  spc  Vernon L.Walker  cos  Edward Stevenson

Joseph Cotten (Eugene Morgan), Dolores Costello (Isabel Amberson Minafer), Tim Holt (George Amberson Minafer), Anne Baxter (Lucy Morgan), Agnes Moorehead (Fanny Amberson), Ray Collins (Jack Amberson), Richard Bennett (Maj.Amberson), Erskine Sanford (Benson), Donald Dillaway (Wilbur Minafer), Orson Welles (Narrator),

There have been many famous lost films, from the actually lost (such as Browning’s London After Midnight and Lubitsch’s The Patriot) to those which only survive in a butchered state.  Of these, with the possible exception of Von Stroheim’s Greed and The Wedding March, none is so mourned as Welles’ second masterpiece, based on Booth Tarkington’s rather forgotten turn of the century saga.

            In the last quarter of the 19th century, young Isabel Amberson is the daughter of Indianapolis’ biggest almost aristocratic family and marries dependable Wilbur Minafer instead of sweetheart Eugene Morgan.  A generation later, Eugene returns a widower with a daughter in tow, who attracts the attention of Isabel’s spoilt good-for-nothing son. (more…)

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Witches’ Hammer ****½

by Allan Fish

(Czechoslovakia 1969 103m) DVD1/2 (Czech only)

Aka. Kladivo no carodejnice

A woman’s womb is the gate to hell

d  Okatar Vávra  w  Okatar Vávra, Ester Krumbachová  play  Vacláv Kaplicky  ph  Josef Illik  ed  Antonin Zelenka  m  Jiri Srnka (including Antonio Vivaldi)  art  Karel Skva

Vladimir Smeral (Boblig), Josef Bláha (Count Stermberk), Eduard Cupak (Fárar Schmidt), Blazena Holisová (Sattlerová), Josef Kemr (Ignác), Miriam Kantorková (Tobiásová), Jiri Holy (Farár), Rudolk Kratky (Hutter), Blanka Waleská (Countess de Galle), Jaroslava Obermaierová (Liza), Jirina Stepnicková (Dorota Groerová),

What is it about witchcraft and possession that so intoxicates film-makers?  It’s a subject that has been at the centre of so many memorable films, including at least three others in this list (Haxan, Day of Wrath and Witchfinder General), as well as many more (including those vastly different studies of the infamous events at Loudon, Mother Joan of the Angels and The Devils, and various versions of Arthur Miller’s play that needn’t be named).  It’s perhaps to the Kawalerowicz and Russell films that this eclectic masterpiece is most closely related, though in truth it bears traces of all the above.  (more…)

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