Archive for September 24th, 2012

by Samuel Wilson

The Man Nobody Knows, one of the best-selling non-fiction books of the 1920s, described Jesus Christ as the ultimate salesman. That idea may have been floating in the mind of Hal Roach’s title writer H. M. Walker when he introduced Big Business as “the story of a man who turned the other cheek, and got punched in the nose.” But who is the man? Is it Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy or their antagonist James Finlayson? Which of them turns the other cheek? This is Big Business, after all – arguably Laurel and Hardy’s best-remembered silent comedy and a definitive example of the team’s “tit for tat” trope. “Tit for tat” is the opposite of turning the other cheek, it would seem, so what’s Walker trying to say?

Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy are trying to sell Christmas trees in California, a proposition that seemed more ludicrous in 1929 than it may today. Finlayson is their third stop of the day, after an embarrassing but uneventful encounter with a single woman and a confrontation with a hammer-wielding but otherwise unseen homeowner. Finlayson gives them another flat no, and that’d be the end of that, except that the boys’ sample tree gets stuck in his door. This happens twice but things might still have ended peacefully had Stan not gotten a “big business idea,” rung Finlayson’s doorbell yet again and asked whether he’d reserve a tree for next year. The title of the picture has been invoked, so maybe Stan’s the man the title writer means. Maybe turning the other cheek means not taking no for an answer. That’s the way of a salesman, and that might be a kind of martyrdom, depending on your point of view. Attention will be paid to such men. (more…)

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The Tin Drum

‘The Tin Drum’ a German masterpiece by Volker Schlondorf


 by Sam Juliano

     There is no more noble venture online than the sustained and impassioned efforts of Dee Dee, Lori Moore and Barbara LaMotta, who are continuing to gather signatures in a worthy project titled “The John Garfield Challenge” which urges the powers that be to release a DVD/blu ray box set of the acting icon’s most celebrated films.  Starting off with modest fanfare the project has now become something of a crusade, and is attracting attention and support on a daily basis.  The regular reports have been inspiring both for film lovers and those who have dreamed of the ultimate cinematic testimonial for an artist who made his mark through generations.  On a personal note, I was blown away when I saw signatures on the petition of people I hadn’t seen in many years from my high school class, and thought oh what a small world.

     Fall is now official, and it’s only a matter of time before pumpkins, colored leaves, cool night air and scare movies enter the equation.  Baseball pennant races are intensifying and football fans are shouting for their favorites.  Our own Bob Clark will soon be reporting on the New York Film Festival.  Jaimie Grijalba’s horror countdown at Exodus 8:2 continues with acute focus while here at Wonders in the Dark the comedy countdown moves closer to the half way point.      It’s been a real honor hosting some of the finest film reviews online by some of the best authors. (more…)

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