Archive for October 17th, 2008

by Sam Juliano

Wonders in the Dark will be conducting the first of its scheduled series of ‘Movies of the Decade’ polls.  The first decade under the microscope will be the 1930s.  (Silent film lovers, do not despair, will come back to the silent era afterwards, but we feel that it’s more à propos to start with a decade that will generate more interest). 

Any film first seen in its native country from 1st January 1930 to 31st December 1939 is eligible for the poll.  Each person is allowed 25 choices in order preference, in descending order starting with the no. 1 choice.  The poll will begin today and close at midnight (EST) on Sunday 16th November. 

Potential voters have a terrific reference source that will enable them to conduct on-site research.  The Movie Timelines on the sidebars provide each voter with a year by year delineation of all the potential choices for such an undertaking.  It is to be noted that, while Allan Fish’s annual listings will invariably comprise the lion’s share of each individual list, there is the option to choose films not listed therein. 

I am concurrently launching a page at the top of the blog to allow people to leave their choices which will remain there for the duration of the poll.  These lists to be entered as comments on the above page. 

Wonders in the Dark writers aren’t concerned about the public display of lists as each individual voter is fully expected to reveal their own choices that won’t be influenced by previous submissions.  It is hoped that this polling will be the springboard for a successful consideration of the full scope of the history of the cinema and, popularity permitting, we will move on to the successive decades in the coming winter months…

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Thunder Rock ****½

by Allan Fish

(UK 1942 112m) DVD1/2

I see dead people

p  John Boulting  d  Roy Boulting  w  Jeffrey Dell, Bernard Miles  play  Robert Ardrey  ph  Max Greene  ed  Roy Boulting  m  Hans May  art  Duncan Sutherland

Michael Redgrave (David Charleston), Lilli Palmer (Melanie Kurtz), Barbara Mullen (Ellen Kirby), James Mason (Streeter), Frederick Valk (Dr Stefan Kurtz), Frederick Cooper (Edward Briggs), Finlay Currie (Captain Joshua Stuart), Sybilla Binder (Anne-Marie Kurtz), George Carney (Harry), A.E.Matthews (Mr Kirby), Jean Shepherd (Millie Briggs), Barry Morse (Robert), Miles Malleson (chairman of directors),

One of the great forgotten masterworks of British cinema, the Boulting brothers’ film of Robert Ardrey’s anti-fascist play may seem at first a strange choice for them, the sort of fare one would perhaps easier see accompanied by the Archers logo at the beginning of the credits.  It’s intriguing to think what Powell and Pressburger might have made of it, but in doing so we perhaps do the Boultings a disservice for it now stands, along with Brighton Rock, as one of their great films. 

            In 1939, officials working for the Canadian government are sent to the titular remote lighthouse on Lake Michigan to find out why the keeper doesn’t cash his cheques.  He’s met by one of his old friends, Streeter, who tries to convince him to come with him to China to help them against the Japanese.  The keeper, David Charleston, prefers his ivory tower, in which he has the company of a group of people who, it turns out, are not only figments of his imagination, but people killed ninety years previously in a shipwreck in 1849.  While talking with one of them, ship’s captain Joshua Stuart, he relates his own tale of how, as a newspaper reporter, he was sent overseas to report on the political state of affairs in Europe in the late 20s and early 30s, of the Spanish Civil War, of Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy and of the rise of Nazism and rearmament in Germany.  Sadly, editors and public alike are simply not interested, preferring the ‘stick the head in the sand’ mentality of the government.  Thus he retreats to the isolated rock on Lake Michigan – which Streeter accurately describes as only being of use as “a toilet for gulls” – and his departed imaginary friends.  However, when he realises that all those people were themselves running away a century before, he comes to realise he, too, is guilty of desertion of duty. (more…)

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