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Archive for November 20th, 2008

 340x

by Peter Danish

On August 7, 1974, the sky was dark and threatening, the winds were approaching ten knots and the chance of rain was sixty percent.  Despite these harbingers of bad-tidings, at 7:15 a.m., Philippe Petit stepped off the South Tower of the still not quite completed World Trade Center in New York onto a 3/4″ in diameter steel cable.

            “I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’-because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’-approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire….And when he got close to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle….He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again….Unbelievable really! Everybody was spellbound in the watching of it.”   Thus reported Port Authority Police Department Sgt. Charles Daniels, who was dispatched to the roof to bring Petit down.

            Those of us old enough to remember the event probably have no idea the kind of subterfuge and intrigue that went into the planning and daring execution of the stunt. (more…)

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 ace-2

by Kaleem Hasan

Billy Wilder is one of the genuine American movie greats with masterpieces like The Apartment, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard and a host of other excellent works. My own weakness within his oeuvre is for his late gem Avanti but his greatest work to my mind is the very dark Ace in the Hole. This movie is now available for the first time on DVD (anywhere) in a gorgeous Criterion transfer and this is therefore the best time to visit the film outside a movie theater.

The plot in a very skeletal sense concerns a cynical newspaper reporter (Kirk Douglas) who drifts into an ‘edge of empire’ town in New Mexico, lands a job and a year later finds an assignment that becomes life-altering for him. As in many other Wilder works Ace in the Hole features much social commentary but unlike just about any of his other works there is a strong visionary intensity to the narrative. Most importantly Wilder (as was his wont) eschews easy and conformist resolutions. (more…)

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