Archive for November 9th, 2008


next up in the World War I classics series…

by Allan Fish

(France 1932 113m) DVD1

Aka. Wooden Crosses

Ou le Croix de Guerre

p/d  Raymond Bernard  w  Raymond Bernard, André Lang  novel  Roland Dorgelès  ph  Jules Kruger, René Ribault  ed  Lucienne Grumberg  art  Jean Perrier

Pierre Blanchar (Gilbert Demachy), Gabriel Gabrio (Sulphart), Charles Vanel (Breval), Raymond Aimos (Fouillard), Antonin Artaud (Vieublé), Paul Azais (Broucke), René Bergeron (Hamel), Raymond Cordy (Vairon),

Whenever I bring to mind Raymond Bernard’s long unseen anti-war tract I cannot help but recall the final sequence of Sam Peckinpah’s underrated World War II film, Cross of Iron, as James Coburn’s cynical fatalistic Sergeant Steiner offers to take cowardly Maximilian Schell to where “the iron crosses grow.”  There are no iron crosses here, but there are crosses.  Thousands of them, all identical, arranged in foreign fields like soldiers standing to attention, a fact encapsulated in the very opening shot, a dissolve from a regiment of soldiers into cross-shaped grave stones stretching off into eternity.  As a song tells us, it’s either a Croix de Guerre or a Croix de Bois (a medal for bravery or a grave).  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

next up in the 1930s countdown would be City Lights, but this has been covered before, so we move on to no 3.

(Japan 1939 143m) DVD2 (France only, no Eng subs)

Aka. Zangiku Monogatari

Your art is your life

p  Nobutaro Shirai  d  Kenji Mizoguchi  w  Yoshikata Yoda  ph  Minoru Miki, Yozo Fuji  ed  Koshi  Kawahigashi  m  Senji Ito, Shiro Fukai  art  Hiroshi Mizulani

Shotaru Hanayagi (Kikunosuke Onoue), Kakuko Mori (Otoku), Korichi Takada (Fukusuke), Gorijuro Kawarazaki (Onoue V), Yoko Umemuru (Osato), Ryotaro Kawanami (Eiju Dayu), Nobuko Fushimi (Onaka), Benkei Shiganoya (Genshun Anma),

If someone were to ask what the cinema’s most potent depiction of ill-fated romance was, the candidates would be rich indeed.  In this list alone one could recall Brief Encounter, Casablanca, Les Enfants du Paradis and Gone With the Wind.  Yet topping them all in impact, at least to these eyes, is Mizoguchi’s heartbreaking depiction of romantic sacrifice from 1939.  Like many Mizoguchi films it is fascinated with the often unfortunate fate of women and in 1936 alone he made two superb studies of this, Osaka Elegy (see elsewhere) and Sisters of the Gion.  Yet they are small films, mini-masterpieces both, but their combined running times falls short of the length of this later masterpiece.  (more…)

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