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Archive for January 2nd, 2010

by Allan Fish

A naked child found on the coast of the silver devastation

It must have been early in 2004 when I first heard that the Beeb were resurrecting Doctor Who.  I say resurrected quite without any undue sense of hyperbole for here was one of its most famous Lazarus, a literal T-Rex of a dinosaur buried in the endless archives of Television Centre.  My initial reaction, one of utter incredulity, was also one accompanied by a rather audible groan.  This was a show for geeks, for nerds, and I was haunted by archaic sets and dodgy acting; my memories of the show growing up in the early 1980s.  But Who was an institution, the story of the Timelord from Gallifrey who, in 1963, first appeared on our screens accompanied by Ron Grainer’s legendary theme tune and the equally legendary noise of the disappearing/reappearing TARDIS time machine.  It had gone on for 25 years, the initial doctor William Hartnell replaced along the way by Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and, last and probably least, Sylvester McCoy.  In truth, any originality it had disappeared by the time Peter Davison took over, so that when I started watching it as a kid – I remember Tom Baker regenerating into Davison quite clearly – it was already on the slide.  Besides, I had my own monsters then; not Terry Nation’s legendary pepperpots, The Daleks.  No, it was rather the Smash men of the potato adverts of the late seventies and early eighties that scared me as a kid – or so my parents tell me.  Never was one for proportion. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Germany 1929 94m) DVD2

Is this need?

p  Erich Pommer  d  Joe May  w  Joe May, Hans Zsékely, Rolf E.Vanloo  ph  Günther Rittau  m  Willy Schmidt-Gentner  art  Erich Kettelhut  cos  René Hubert

Gustav Fröhlich (Officer Albert Holk), Betty Amann (Else Kramer), Else Heller (mother), Albert Steinrück (father), Rosa Valetti (Frau an der Theke), Hans Schlettow (Consul), Hans Albers, Artur Duarte, Karl Platen,

Joe May is largely a forgotten figure in critical echelons these days, overlooked in favour of the more accepted Germanic masters of the silent era, Lang, Murnau and Pabst.  Certainly if his later Hollywood output was anything to go by, he deserved consignment to oblivion, but in the 1920s he was a film-maker as important as any other in Germany.  He directed the first version of the two part The Indian Tomb, scripted by Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang, who would go on to direct a remake/homage in 1958.  He was also a man haunted by his own private life – his daughter, Eva, a rising star of the German cinema, shot herself at just 22 in 1924.  It may explain, to a degree, the doomed, forlorn nature of the protagonists in his films, and the sense of duty.  His other major work, Heimkehr, predated Westfront 1918 as an indictment of the First World War, in this case the return of several soldiers after the armistice.  Duty hangs heavily in the air, and that same feeling pervades every shot of Asphalt, his most famous and best film.

            Out on traffic duty in Berlin, a young policeman, Albert, is called over to a jeweller’s where a young girl, Else, is accused of stealing a valuable diamond.  He takes part in a search of her person and belongings, and just when it seems the authorities cannot find the missing jewel, he finds it on the end of her umbrella.  He takes her into custody and gives her chance to get her things from her apartment, but while there she stops at nothing to seduce him and get him to avert arresting her.  Finally, he succumbs, and they become lovers, but Albert doesn’t realise the full nature of her criminal involvement, which comes to a head in a massive argument which results in murder.  (more…)

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