Archive for December 9th, 2008


by Allan Fish

(USA 1948 105m) DVD1/2

Be vulgar, by all means

p/d/w  Preston Sturges  ph  Victor Milner  ed  Robert Frich  md  Alfred Newman  m  Giaocchino Rossini, Richard Wagner, P.I.Tchaikovsky  art  Lyle Wheeler, Joseph C.Wright  cos  Bonnie Cashin

Rex Harrison (Sir Alfred de Carter), Linda Darnell (Daphne de Carter), Rudy Vallee (August Henshier), Barbara Lawrence (Barbara Henshier), Lionel Stander (Hugo Standoff), Kurt Kreuger (Anthony), Edgar Kennedy (Det.Sweeney), Al Bridge (house detective), Julius Tannen (tailor), Torben Meyer (Dr Schultz), Robert Greig, Isabel Jewell,

Of all his comic masterpieces, none has been so worthy of rediscovery as this black romantic comedy.  Sturges’ last major film was also his most highbrow, a film that, though enjoyable for all, contained subtleties surrounding the choice of music that only connoisseurs could appreciate.  It’s like a box of After Eight mints, dark on the outside, velvety smooth on the inside and leaving you craving for more.  Just a pity that Sturges wasn’t allowed to ever give us seconds.

            Sir Alfred de Carter is a famous British composer (modelled on Thomas Beecham, Carter’s liver pills being the name for Beecham’s pills in the US) who has married a young American, Daphne, whose younger sister is wife to a rich but dull financier.  When de Carter asks his brother in law to keep an eye on his wife while he’s away, he doesn’t realise how seriously he would undertake the task and is told that he believes Daphne is having an affair.  One night, while conducting a concert, he imagines three different ways of dealing with the situation; murder, surrender and Russian roulette.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1940 123m) DVD1/2

Music for the Masses

p  Walt Disney  d  Ben Sharpsteen  md  Edward H.Plumb  m  Johann S.Bach, Peter I.Tchaikovsky, Paul Dukas, Igor Stravinsky, Amilcare Ponchielli, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Modest Moussorgsky, Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy

Deems Taylor (introducer), Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra,

Fantasia is a folly. The idea of bringing home classical music for the everyday man by setting it to animation is certainly ambitious, even daring; yet it is also extremely pretentious, one might even say patronising.  For all this, Fantasia would bid fair to be Disney’s greatest achievement.  Certainly 1940 was the peak year in Disney’s five golden years from 1937 to 1942, spanning Snow White and Bambi.  It was also the year of his greatest animated feature, Pinocchio, but though that wonderful adaptation of Collodi is amazing, Fantasia is something else.  It is a film to stir the imagination, intoxicate the senses and, occasionally, baffle in its inappropriateness.  In short, it is essential viewing. (more…)

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