Archive for July, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA/Spain 1961 184m) DVD1/2

Out of the gates of history into legend

p  Samuel Bronston  d  Anthony Mann  w  Frederic M.Frank, Philip Yordan, Ben Barzman  ph  Robert Krasker  ed  Robert Lawrence  m  Miklós Rózsa  art/cos  Veniero Colosanti, John Moore 

Charlton Heston (Roderigo Diaz de Bivar, El Cid), Sophia Loren (Doña Chimene), Geneviève Page (Urraca I of Castile), John Fraser (Alfonso VI of Castile), Herbert Lom (Ben Yussuf), Raf Vallone (Count Ordonez), Gary Raymond (Sancho II of Castile), Hurd Hatfield (Count Arias), Massimo Serrato (Fanez), Andrew Cruickshank (Count Gomez), Michael Hordern (Don Diego), Frank Thring (Al Kadir), Douglas Wilmer (Moutamin), Ralph Truman (Ferdinand I of Castile),

Watching Anthony Mann’s epic for the first time in 1989 was not a particularly memorable experience.  This particular sixteen year old wasn’t too impressed at all, but then again, there wasn’t just my meagre age to consider.  Consider the quality of print I was viewing, a bastardised, bleached out, panned and scanned travesty of a VHS on the cheap Cinema Club label.  All sense of scope, visual splendour, composition, framing and style was totally ruined.  It was like looking at the Northern Lights through sunglasses, the mythical grandeur not so much dead as extinct.  Nearly two decades on and the film can be seen as it was meant to be seen; with gloriously remastered picture and sound in an impressive Region 1 DVD package showcasing what Martin Scorsese rightly called “one of the greatest epics ever made.” (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1967 97m) DVD2 (Japan only, no English subs)

Aka. Joen/Flames of Love

Fishing for sympathy

p  Gendai Eigasha  d  Yoshishige Yoshida  w  Yoshishige Yoshida, Tsutomu Tamura  ph  Mitsuji Kanau  m  Sei Ikeno  art  Chiyoo Umeda

Mariko Okada (Oriko), Isao Kamura (Mitsuharu), Tadahiko Sugano (Furuhata), Shigako Shimegi (sister-in-law), Etsushi Takahashi (labourer), Yoshie Minami (Oriko’s mother),

The choice of title perhaps says a lot about Yoshida’s film and my opinions on it; in the too few places in the west where it is known, it’s seen as Flames of Love as often as The Affair.  Yet, Ozu-like, many of Yoshida’s films’ titles of this era can get confused.  Calling it Flames of Love ensures no confusion with the following year’s Affair in the Snow, but then confused it with the same year’s Flame and Woman, often necessitating that to be called Impasse.  Confused?  It doesn’t matter, but it showcases a similarity with Ozu, namely that though the themes are very different, for a period in the mid sixties there were several variations on the same theme, so much so that either title seems accurate with retrospect.  The Affair is certainly direct and to the point as it concerns love affairs, yet Flames of Love has a certain ambiguity to it, once you accustom yourself to the flames being ice cold. 

            Oriko is unhappily married to an executive.  It’s a year after the death of her mother and she’s returning to her one-time love of poetry, where she again meets sculptor Mitsuharu, her widowed mother’s former toyboy lover.  They meet again over the coming days and weeks, and her unhappiness in her marriage becomes as obvious as Mitsuharu’s previously undeclared love for Oriko.  At the same time, Oriko confronts her husband’s lover and becomes aware of her young sister-in-law’s love for a brutal labourer, with whom she has assignations in a deserted house by a nearby beach.  In trying to persuade the man to leave her sister-in-law alone, she herself succumbs to him, and realises her own need for love. 

            Essentially, if one analyse the plot, it seems like pure melodrama and yet the treatment couldn’t be less melodramatic, a maelstrom of hidden desires, frustrations and tempests occasionally bubbling to the surface like a brief thaw.  Mitsuharu’s profession is (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1958 100m) DVD1/2

The Girl with the Golden Voice

p  Walter R.Mirisch  d  Anthony Mann  w  Reginald Rose  ph  Ernest Haller  ed  Richard Heermance  m  Leigh Harline  art  Hillyard Brown

Gary Cooper (Link Jones), Lee J.Cobb (Dock Tobin), Julie London (Billie Ellis), Arthur O’Connell (Sam Beasley), Jack Lord (Coaley), John Dehner (Claude), Royal Dano (Trout), Robert Wilke (Ponch),

At the end of Anthony Mann’s profitable western partnership with Jimmy Stewart with The Man from Laramie in 1955, Mann would only make two more westerns of real note, both also starring Hollywood legends no stranger to the saddle.  The first, The Tin Star, featured Henry Fonda in one of his first roles since returning to Hollywood after a spell on the stage.  The second, Man of the West, was seemingly unconnected to The Tin Star in all but the director, but that isn’t entirely true.  In the same year as Fonda made the Mann film, he also made the iconic Twelve Angry Men, which was written by Reginald Rose.  Rose, and indeed Lee J.Cobb, would in turn collaborate with Mann on Man of the West.  It would prove not only the effective farewell to the genre for Mann, but also for Gary Cooper.

            Link Jones is making a journey by train to Fort Worth to try and engage a school-teacher for his burgeoning settlement back west.  He’s cagy and somewhat anxious, an anxiety increased when a local sheriff seems to think he knows him from some place.  He successfully fends him off, but when his train is ambushed by outlaws, though the train escapes, Jones and two passengers – saloon singer Billie Ellis and card shark Sam Beasley – are left stranded.  They walk off to find the nearest settlement, come across a homestead, only to find that it’s the outlaws’ hideout.  The ageing head of the band, Dock Tobin, knows Jones, and he knows him, for he was once his ‘right arm’ and fellow outlaw. (more…)

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Guess the pic

Courtesy of Allan Fish

The winner can submit their screen-cap to movieman0283@gmail.com. Do not include film title in file name so I can participate as well! (Give a day or two for the new picture to go up)

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Letter 3:
Viareggio, near Pisa (Italy)
April 23, 1903

You gave me much pleasure, dear Sir, with your Easter letter; for it brought much good news of you, and the way you spoke about Jacobsen’s great and beloved art showed me that I was not wrong to guide your life and its many questions to this abundance.
Now Niels Lyhne will open to you, a book of splendors and depths; the more often one reads it, the more everything seems to be contained within it, from life’s most imperceptible fragrances to the full, enormous taste of its heaviest fruits. In it there is nothing that does not seem to have been understood, held, lived, and known in memory’s wavering echo; no experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others. You will experience the great happiness of reading this book for the first time, and will move through its numberless surprises as if you were in a new dream. But I can tell you that even later on one moves through these books, again and again, with the same astonishment and that they lose none of their wonderful power and relinquish none of the overwhelming enchantment that they had the first time one read them.
One just comes to enjoy them more and more, becomes more and more grateful, and somehow better and simpler in one’s vision, deeper in one’s faith in life, happier and greater in the way one lives.
And later on, you will have to read the wonderful book of the fate and yearning of Marie Grubbe, and Jacobsen’s letters and journals and fragments, and finally his verses which (even if they are just moderately well translated) live in infinite sound. (For this reason I would advise you to buy, when you can, the lovely Complete Edition of Jacobsen’s works, which contains all of these. It is in three volumes, well translated, published by Eugen Diederichs in Leipzig, and costs, I think, only five or six marks per volume.)


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by Allan Fish

please note that The Naked Spur is not covered as it was previously published as part of the 1950s countdown.

(USA 1955 102m) DVD1/2

I belong where I am

p  William Goetz  d  Anthony Mann  w  Philip Yordan, Frank Burt  ph  Charles Lang Jnr  ed  William Lyon  m  George Duning  md  Morris Stoloff  art  Cary Odell

James Stewart (Will Lockhart), Arthur Kennedy (Vic Hansbro), Cathy O’Donnell (Barbara Waggoman), Donald Crisp (Alec Waggoman), Alex Nicol (Dave Waggoman), Aline MacMahon (Kate Canady), Wallace Ford (Charley O’Leary), Jack Elam (Chris Boldt), Frank DeKova (Padre),

It would be the final collaboration between Anthony Mann and James Stewart and their first in Cinemascope.  It wouldn’t be Mann’s final western, there were still a couple more to follow before turning his hand to his third genre – the historical epic – but it would perhaps be his most ambitious.  It’s said he always wanted to film King Lear in a western setting.  It had been done before by Joe Mankiewicz in the gangster world of House of Strangers and, in many ways, one can see where he was coming from.  He’d never get his wish, but despite elements in The Furies and Man of the West this is the nearest he came. 

            Stewart plays Will Lockhart, a former army captain who now makes money from transporting goods in his wagon to remote outposts on the trail and who has come to find out who sold the guns to Apaches who massacred a cavalry patrol which included his brother.  After delivering one such shipment of goods to Barbara Waggoman, the young store owner, he’s warned to leave, but he feels it’s a wasted journey to go back to Laramie with empty wagons.  He’s told there’s salt to be had at the local flats, but when he goes to take some he meets the psychotic Dave Waggoman, Barbara’s cousin, who burns his carts and kills his mules for sport before his father Alec’s manager, Vic, can stop him.  Vic has always looked up to Alec as a father at their ranch, The Barb, but Alec has always preferred to indulge his son, seeing it as Vic’s fault when Dave goes wild.  (more…)

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       Mulholland Drive is big winner for top spot in 2000’s polling

by Sam Juliano

   David Lynch’s surrealist mind bender, Mullholland Drive, captured the top spot in the long-running 2000’s poll conducted by WitD by a comfortable margin, according to Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. from his Fairview home yesterday.  D’Arminio announced that 40 ballots had been received, with a few of those revisions on earlier submissions.  The total represents the most ever received for any of the decade pollings, though this development was largely expected because of the younger age of most of the voters.  The Lynch masterpiece was probably the most cited film by professional critics as well, in assessing the best films of the past ten years.

    Terrence Malick’s ravishing ruminative tone poem The New World was a strong second-place finisher, while the hugely popular oil saga There Will Be Blood, and the Coens’ Oscar winner No Country For Old Men expectedly finished in the top five.  The No. 5 choice, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood For Love was the highest for any foreign-language film, and the #6, Steven Spilberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, represented a deep passion from WitD voters, who engineered this surprising high placement.

#2  The New World

#3  There Will Be Blood

#4  No Country for Old Men

#5  In the Mood For Love

#6  A.I. Artificial Intelligence

To access the top 25 choices, click on the continue icon: (more…)

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