Archive for August 19th, 2009

    WitD’s good friend R.D. Finch is the toast of the movie world today as his essay on The Best Films of the 1970’s has been cited by the IMDB for their daily ‘hit list.’  R.D., a gentleman and a scholar is fully deserving of this honor, and anyone who has not yet been over to The Movie Projector needs to remedy this as soon as possible.  The post that was showcased was R.D.’s 1970’s list, a magisterial effort that was submitted and posted at WitD.

Congratulations R.D.!


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by Sam Juliano

     This is the first entry in the ‘Exceptional 80’s Cinema’ series that is planned to run once every three or four days during Allan’s countdown.  Most of the choices will be films that did not make Allan’s top 50, but in my eyes deserved that lofty designation.  Branagh’s ‘Henry V’ from 1989, is the first up in the series.  Tony d’Ambra may possibly contribute to this venture as well.

            But he’ll remember, with advantages, what feats he did that day.    Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words–Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester–Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.  This story shall the good man teach his son, and Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers…                                      

     In the pantheon of filmed Shakespeare, two versions of the rousing history play, Henry V now stand at the forefront of cinematic conscription, and in a number of ways they are like day and night.  Laurence Olivier’s wartime version was exactly what one might expect to see in 16th century Elizabethan England, where men played female roles, wore authentic period garb, and where there was an underpinning of patriotism, intended to impress the monarchy with the dramatization of English military might and bravery.   Of course, Olivier, who starred as Henry and directed the 1944 film had far more than loyalty to the Bard in mind, as Britain was engaged in World War II, and Sir Larry did his own version of a cinematic Churchill.  The set design was exquisite with the overhead pan of a Globe Theatre replica which preceeded the opening an inspired choice.  Olivier’s version was traditional, and impeccably executed in a way that would have done Shakespeare proud. (more…)

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elephant man 1

by Allan Fish

(UK/USA 1980 124m) DVD1/2

The Lord is my shepherd…

p  Stuart Cornfeld  d  David Lynch  w  Christopher de Vore, Eric Bergren, David Lynch  ph  Freddie Francis  ed  Anne V.Coates  m  John Morris (including “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber)  art  Stuart Craig  cos  Patricia Norris  make up  Christopher Tucker, Wally Schneiderman

John Hurt (John Merrick), Anthony Hopkins (Dr Frederick Treves), Anne Bancroft (Mrs Kendal), Wendy Hiller (Mothershead), John Gielgud (Dr Carr Gomm), Michael Elphick (Porter), Freddie Jones (Bytes), Hannah Gordon (Mrs Treves), Helen Ryan (Princess Alexandra), John Standing (Fox), Dexter Fletcher, Lesley Dunlop, Phoebe Nicholls, Frederick Treves, Patricia Hodge, David Ryall, Pauline Quirke, Kathleen Byron,

It’s quite ironic that a film about the unfortunate John Merrick should be in itself so shocking, being as his appearance shocked the populace of late Victorian London.  But when I mean shocking I don’t mean horrific, but rather perhaps surprising, for who could have foreseen that such a film could have been directed by David Lynch, whose only previous film was the impenetrable Eraserhead, be produced by Mel Brooks’ company, a man whose films could not be further from this one, and shot in ‘Scope black and white at a time when such practices were in themselves obsolete.  It seems thus a film not only displaced in time but in style, and could, prior to release, have been reasonably predicted a disaster waiting to happen.  It’s therefore a pleasant shock to find out that not only could no-one have predicted how well it would turn out, but that the film is such a moving, humanist tract of a type long thought past its sell-by-date. (more…)

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