Archive for May 4th, 2009


by Sam Juliano

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1938, Our Town may well be the most popular American play ever written, even eclipsing in audience affections the most prominent works of Eugene O’Neil and Tennessee Williams.  The play, the penultimate conscription of Americana, explores religion, family, community and life’s simple pleasures, while simultaneously instituting innovative permutations including minimalist stage sets, a Stage Manager, who serves as narrator and administrates the action, and another character who speaks from the grave.  The play’s ‘events’ are commonplace and focus on everyday life , yet erstwhile playwright Thornton Wilder addresses universal themes such as mortality, unfulfilled dreams, the human condition and the value of everyday life.  Wilder himself states: “Our Town is not offered as a picture of life in a New Hampshire village; or as a speculation about the conditions of life after death….It is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life.”  There is little question that Our Town is staged more often than any other American play and the fictional Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire is one of literature’s most sensory locations, a place that defines a place and era lost forever but always affectionately imagined.  Productions regularly appear in community and regional theatres, several Broadway versions have enjoyed long runs, and the work was filmed successfully in 1940 by Sam Wood with Martha Scott and William Holden in starring roles and Aaron Copland composing the score.  Unfortunately the film is in the public domain, and all DVD releases have been abysmal in both sound and picture quality.  A fine recent televised production is available. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1962 115m) DVD1/2

Aka. Samma no Aji 

Nights in Torys Bar

Shizuo Yamanouchi  d  Yasujiro Ozu  w  Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda  ph  Yuharu Atsuta  ed  Yoshiyasu Hamamura  m  Kojun Saito  art  Tatsuo Hamada 

Chishu Ryu (Shuhei Hirayama), Shima Iwashita (Michiko Hirayama), Keji Sada (Koichi Hirayama), Mariko Okada (Akira Hirayama), Shinichiro Mikami (Kazuo Hirayama), Teruo Yoshida (Tutoka Mirua), Noriko Maki (Fusako Taguchi), Nobuo Nakamura (Shuzo Kawai), Eijiro Tono (Sakuma), Kuniko Miyake (Nabuko Kawai),

I was first introduced to Ozu’s final masterpiece way back in the early nineties, when it formed part of a series of ten or twelve films shown as part of a “Screen Works” series on BBC2, introduced by the estimable Robert McKee.  As one might expect from that most eclectic of screen-writing gurus, there were some undoubted masterpieces mixed with some more questionable ones (Bringing up Baby mixed with The Terminator for example) in his list.  All the others in his list I was already acquainted with, but Ozu’s was the one I was most anticipating.  At the time I had only seen his masterpiece Tokyo Story and was hoping to see another masterpiece of that quality.  If I’m honest, it isn’t up to the standard of Tokyo Story, but that doesn’t make it any less a masterpiece, as few films are up to the standard of that piece.  (more…)

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