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Archive for October 29th, 2008

 

Something wicked this way comes...

Something wicked this way comes...

by Allan Fish

(USA 1942 73m) DVD1/2 (France only)

Moya sestra, moya sestra!

p  Val Lewton  d  Jacques Tourneur  w  De Witt Bodeen  ph  Nicholas Musuraca  ed  Mark Robson  m  Roy Webb  art  Walter E.Keller, Albert S.d’Agostino

Simone Simon (Irina Dubrovna), Kent Smith (Oliver Reed), Tom Conway (Dr Judd), Jane Randolph (Alice Moore), Jack Holt (Commodore), Alan Napier (Carver), Elizabeth Dunne (Miss Plunkett), Elizabeth Russell (the cat woman),

Situated exactly at the crossroads between horror and film noir, Cat People was the first of Val Lewton’s memorable series of forties thrillers made at RKO.  Cheap, often on recycled sets (this one utilising the memorable Amberson mansion staircase) and with often B movie casts, they were a wonderfully experimental series in horror movie history, though in actual fact it can be argued that they were noirs in all but their subject matter.  Visually, they are very much akin to the hardnosed thrillers that characterised that genre.  If I had to pick one I’d say I Walked With a Zombie would be the masterpiece of the strain, but Cat People remains a bona fide classic for horror aficionados.  (more…)

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and no 14…

by Allan Fish

(China 1934 77m) DVD0 (US special order)

Aka. Shen nu 

A mother such as this

p  Luo Mingyou  d/w  Wu Yonggang  ph  Hong Weilie  art  Wu Yonggang

Ruan Lingyu, Zhang Zhizhi, Li Keng, Li Junpan, Tian Jian,

The Goddess truly is a tragic film in many ways, one that cannot help but leave one mournful on any number of levels; firstly on account of its melancholy plot, secondly on account of it representing a national cinema soon to be snuffed out so violently by the Japanese in 1937, and finally as a memorial to that Eastern goddess (in the worshipful sense, not the euphemism from which this film gets its title) Ruan Lingyu.  Nowadays, she’s more famous for being the actress that Maggie Cheung played in Stanley Kwan’s Actress than for her films themselves.  Yet in her time she was as popular in Shanghai as Garbo was in Hollywood and, upon her tragic death only a year later (a suicide), mourned like Valentino.  For years it was impossible to see what all the fuss was about, her films seemingly flickered out for ever like the gas lamps of the Shanghai she knew so well.  She made other fine films – such as Love and Duty and Little Toys (covered later) – but The Goddess is often referred to as her definitive role and is also one of the few available for consumption.  All one can say is, eat your heart out Stella Dallas.  (more…)

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