Archive for May, 2009

by Allan Fish

This only came to my attention today, being snowed under with viewing left, right and the proverbial centre.  But I implore, urge, and generally press gang in the fashion of Clark Gable on Eddie Quillan in 1935 (or 1789) to go to this site…


They are an organisation worthy of our and anyone’s support.  I quote Martin Scorsese’s Foreward on the title page…

I am proud to present this first line-up of films restored with the aid of the World Cinema Foundation. We launched the foundation in 2007 with the goal of restoring and preserving neglected films from around the world. We also understood, very quickly, that we needed to help create awareness of the films, to get them known and seen. That’s why we entered into a partnership with The Auteurs.

The diversity of these pictures reflects the foundation and all it stands for, but it also reflects world cinema itself, and the richness to be found in the lost corners of cinema history.

These films were made at different moments in history, under a variety of circumstances, all across the globe. Each title needed attention and care. I’m glad that the World Cinema Foundation was able to help with their restoration and preservation. Each and every title is precious to me, and my hope is that a viewing on this website will lead you to seek out screenings of these pictures or perhaps DVDs as they appear. They don’t deserve to be kept a secret. They deserve to be known.

I can only echo Martin Scorsese in saying that the films they are currently pushing for DVD release are essential.  The 1960 Korean film Hanyo (The Housemaid) in particular was a film that I wanted to see for many, many a long year, and it’s thoroughly deserving of its reputation.  Be aware these films are not available for download, but for free viewing, but that’s as it should be.  Take advantage of this and save some reddies for the necessary purchases of several of their films over the upcoming years.

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by Sam Juliano

     Our dear Jon Lanthier, who is one of WitD’s most loyal and gifted contributors hit it big yesterday, as his Slant Magazine review for the film Pressure Cooker, was used in the film’s promotional add.  Lanthier’s positive quote–“Breathtaking equal opportunity in its search for human poetry” was splashed between quotes by veteran critics V.A. Mussetto of The New York Post and David Denby of New York Magazine.  Lanthier, whose reviews appear on Slant’s pages, and at his “The Powership” blog, is a supremely gifted young man whose writing and insights are at the highest level of scrutiny, and his analytical skills are remarkable, especially for a man so young.

     Wonders in the Dark is extremely proud of what Jon has accomplished and we wish him continued success as his name becomes a standard in the world of film criticism.words of praise issued by critics of The New York Post and New York Magazine.  This honor, frankly could not have happened to a nicer and more talented guy, and it’s further proof of Slant Magazine’s pre-eminence in the world of cinema, and it’s talented publisher-critic, Ed Gonzalez.   The site is extremely proud of Jon and this terrific acknowledgement.




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big steal 1

by Allan Fish

(USA 1949 72m) DVD1/2

Oh – a two letter word meaning nothing in particular

p  Jack J.Gross  d  Don Siegel  w  Gerald Drayson Adams, Daniel Mainwaring  story  “The Road to Carmichael’s” by Richard Wormser  ph  Harry J.Wild  ed  Samuel F.Beetley  m  Leigh Harline  art  Albert S.d’Agostino

Robert Mitchum (Lieutenant Duke Halliday), Jane Greer (Joan ‘Chiquita’ Graham), William Bendix (Captain Vincent Blake), Ramon Novarro (Inspector Generale Artega), Patric Knowles (Jim Fiske), John Qualen (Seaton), Don Alvarado,

A film to bring a smile to the mere recollection, The Big Steal is one of those lucky flukes, a film for film buffs to adore.  It could so easily not have been made.  Howard Hughes had just taken over RKO and was making his likes and dislikes made pretty clear.  Robert Mitchum was persona non grata following his arrest and brief incarceration for marijuana possession, and was given the film as penance, a B movie to be directed by an effective novice called Don Siegel.  It would be shot on the cheap in Tehuacán in Mexico, and potential leading ladies were turning it down left, right and centre.  Then enter Jane Greer.  She and Mitchum had worked together immortally in Out of the Past a year or two earlier.  They were close friends, and Mitchum looked forward to working with her again, while his affection for her would help while she was in the early days of pregnancy and had to take it relatively easy.  There was one problem; Greer and Hughes had a history.  Hughes had brought her to California in the first place, but he obsessed over her, kept her under affective house arrest until she had enough.  She was now happily married, but it seemed like Hughes would hold fast to his promise that, though she would be paid, she’d never work again while he was head of RKO.  Thankfully, he relented, and Mitchum, Greer and Siegel set off south of the border.  What they made; though it wasn’t a masterpiece and was never intended to be, was one of forties Hollywood’s most purely fun films, a mixture of thriller with essences of romantic comedy.  (more…)

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Guess the pic

Jenny’s at it again…


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cleopatra 1 copy

by Allan Fish

(USA 1934 101m) DVD1/2 (France only)

I am dressed to lure you

p  Cecil B.de Mille, Adolph Zukor  d  Cecil B.de Mille  w  Waldemar Young, Vincent Lawrence  ph  Victor Milner  ed  Anne Bauchens  m  Rudolph Kopp  art  Hans Dreier  cos  Travis Banton

Claudette Colbert (Cleopatra), Warren William (Caesar), Henry Wilcoxon (Antony), Ian Keith (Octavian), C.Aubrey Smith (Enobarbus), Joseph Schildkraut (Herod), Gertrude Michael (Calpurnia), Leonard Mudie (Pothinos), Irving Pichel (Apollodorus), Arthur Hohl (Brutus), Ian McLaren (Cassius), Edwin Maxwell (Casca), Eleanor Phelps (Charmion), Claudia Dell (Octavia), Robert Warwick (Achillas), Harry Beresford,

Here, quite literally, is the queen of guilty pleasures.  After years of ridicule, de Mille’s films can be retrieved from the Room 101 they were unfairly sent to and emerge as among the most entertaining of their day.  He was a master of artifice, though unlike say Von Sternberg, who revelled in artifice for its own sake, de Mille allied this to spectacle for its own sake.  Cleopatra isn’t his best film – that’s The Sign of the Cross – but it was perhaps the last of real interest because it was the last made before the Hays Code enforcement of the summer of 1934.  His later spectaculars, Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments, since reclaimed by numerous filmmakers and critics, lack the opulent extravagance of his earlier films, perhaps because his favourite subject – sex – was forbidden after the Code crackdown.  Those later films, for all their camp value, are rather stolid affairs, and lack the moments of genius that punctuate the earlier work.  (more…)

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Movie Man’s most flattering acknowledgement of Allan Fish’s top choices for each decade can be found by clicking on link below.  It is to be noted that Movie Man scoured through older posts to secure Allan’s personal lists (which of course were informed by his excellent capsule reviews).

The results of each decade poll are now represented here as well. [updated 2010]

(The link can now be found on the sidebar)

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by Sam Juliano

     Top 25 ballots for the 1960’s poll will be accepted up until 11:00 P.M. EST on Wenesday, June 3rd.  Submissions can be made on the ‘Best Movies of the 60’s’ link under the site header.  The 60’s polling has been the most successful ever, what with over 40 ballots already submitted, some the result of the site getting over 11,000 hits over a two-day period near the conclusion of the 50’s poll.  The reason for the surge, of course was the great honor bestowed upon the site by the IMDB, which included Wonders in the Dark at the #4 position on it’s esteemed “hit list.”

     Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. has been monitoring the submissions since the poll launched, and has been keeping a running tally.  Mr. D’Arminio, of Binghampton New York and Fairview, New Jersey, is presently vacationing at Myrtle Beach, S.C., and he hopes to negotiate final results within just days of the June 3rd deadline.

     Thanks to all from all around the world who have spent their time and energy putting together lists-your participation is greatly appreciated, and to those who are still pondering a list, you have one week more.

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