Archive for August 12th, 2009


by Sam Juliano

One of the most venerated films in movie history and the first-place winner here at Wonders in the Dark for the 30’s poll conducted months ago, The Wizard of Oz opened seventy years ago today at a special screening at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, three days before it’s Hollywood premiere.  No film in movie history has captured the heart and soul of filmgoers, even to the point of chronicling the lifespans of its characters and the iconic nature of so many of its components as this perennial classis has.  The life-affirming fantasy has enriched so many lives in the USA and worldwide, and is ingrained in the cultural consciousness.  It’s star Judy Garland, is associated with the film more than any other in her illustrious career, and the film’s cast of “munchkins” are integral to the film’s wide-appeal.

     Both surviving munchkin Meinhardt Raabe and composer Herbert Stothart were Wisconsin natives.

     The staff of Wonders in the Dark joins in the celebration for this timeless film, and calls upon all our readers to pop this beloved DVD into your players tonight, and revel in the supreme beauty and wonder of the cinema.  There’s no place like home!

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excalibur 1

by Allan Fish

(UK 1981 141m) DVD1/2

Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha

p/d  John Boorman  w  Rospo Pallenberg, John Boorman  book  “Le Morte d’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory  ph  Alex Thomson  ed  John Merritt  m  Trevor Jones (including Richard Wagner, Carl Orff )  art  Anthony Pratt, Tim Hutchinson, Neil Jordan  cos  Bob Ringwood

Nigel Terry (Arthur), Cherie Lunghi (Guinevere), Nicholas Clay (Lancelot du Lac), Helen Mirren (Morgana), Nicol Williamson (Merlin), Robert Addie (Mordred), Paul Geoffrey (Perceval), Gabriel Byrne (Uther Pendragon), Corin Redgrave (Duke of Cornwall), Liam Neeson (Gawain), Katrine Boorman (Igraine), Keith Buckley (Uriens), Patrick Stewart (Leondegrance of Camellard), Clive Swift (Ector), Ciaran Hinds, Carolyn Boorman,

There have been many Arthurian films over the years, conjuring up images of Richard Harris’ non-singing, Keira Knightley’s battle costume, and Stanley Baker glowering in a stone circle.  Most of them have been predictably awful, and only really two stand tall.  The first, Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac, is certainly a classic of sorts, but in trademark minimalist key.  His is the world of Chrétien de Troyes, and sets the legend in a very real medieval world.  History tells us that, if he existed at all, Arthur was a Romano-Saxon of the 4th-5th centuries, which tends to call for a fantastic take on the legend that, up until Excalibur, hadn’t been attempted.  Boorman’s masterpiece may be gory and, with its nude love scenes, not really for kids, but it’s a visual triumph of the film-maker’s art. (more…)

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