Archive for March 28th, 2011

Mia Wasikowska in ravishing and atmospheric version of timeless "Jane Eyre"

by Sam Juliano

     Since the advent of the silent era there have been no less than 26 films and television properties based on Charlotte  Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  This would surely place the Victorian Age gothic melodrama among the most filmed stories of all time, standing in the overall pantheon with the likes of Bram Stoker’s parasitic count and two novels by Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.  Undoubtably the most famous adaptation was a brooding black and white version from 1944 directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Orson Welles as Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane.  With cinematographer George Barnes, composer Bernard Herrmann and writer John Housman making major contributions it is no wonder the film is still generally regarded as the finest Jane Eyre on record.  A few years earlier in 1942, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur used prominent elements from the story for the second of their low-budget horror films at RKO, the elegant and poetic I Walked With A Zombie, set in the West Indies.   Yet there always seems to be a filmmaker or screenwriter that falls smitten to this sensual story, and there is certainly no dearth of ardent movie goers in the willingness to sit through yet another interpretation. (more…)

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Director: Fred Zinnemann

Producer: William H. Wright

Screenwriter: Robert L. Richards

Cinematographer: Robert Surtees

Music: Bronislau Kaper

Studio: MGM Pictures 1948

Main Acting: Van Heflin and Robert Ryan

Many film noirs deal with the aftermath of World War II and the effects it had on the surviving combatants and their families. Act of Violence is one that is explicit in drudging up the pain that was still fresh on the minds of most viewers. Frank Enley (Van Heflin) is a former POW who has made it home and is looked upon as a war hero in his community. He succeeded in claiming a stake in the American dream: he’s got a good family, a stable job, and a loving wife (played by Janet Leigh). He leads an idyllic life in a normal suburb with citizens that respect and admire his bravery and courage. The fact that a menacing ex-soldier who walks with a limp shows up to rattle this perfectly cozy world indicates a past that maybe is not as admirable as everyone was lead to believe. Past infractions come bubbling up to the surface and we realize that the world is not as sunny of a place as Enley has created for himself. The grim reaper has arrived and he is looking to collect for past sins. Though this figure of death is not a supernatural being with cloak and scythe, but a crippled former comrade who is determined to set things straight. (more…)

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Modern 'diner' set used in Jonathan Miller's City Opera production of Gaetano Donizatti's "The Elixir of Love"

by Sam Juliano

Jamie Uhler’s ‘Rilke designs’ will now be published as part of an upcoming project.  As per Jamie’s recent report on an e mail:

“At least three of my ‘Letters’ from the Rilke designs will be published in an anthology book highlighting unique visual designs for classic works of literature. The publisher is Seven Stories press. http://home.sevenstories.com/    Will provide more details as they emerge.”

 Everyone at Wonders in the Dark is thrilled for Jamie, and we look forward to the completed work.  This is one of the site’s proudest moments, but more than that it finally gives recognition to Jamie’s artistry.

Things in Tokyo remain tenuous at best, but that man ‘Murderous Ink’ remains a role model of inspiration and tenacity as he has returned to blogging, while enduring all the consternation that seems to underline the daily reports out of his great city.  Our thoughts and prayers remain firnly affixed in the far East.

My own week included an appearance at Lincoln Center (with Broadway Bob and music teacher Frederick Fochesato) on Thursday night to take in a marvelous updated version of Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto opera masterpiece L’Elixir d’Amour by the City Opera, which I am planning to review soon at the site.  I loved that 50’s diner set and the soaring voice work by the leads, and thought “Una Furtiva Lagrima” came off magnificently. (more…)

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