Archive for August, 2013

by Sam Juliano
Note:  The ‘Anthology Heaven’ series, which was temporarily abandoned before the U.K. trip will resume next Saturday, September 7th.
The western countdown is tentatively slated to launch on Monday, September  16th. However, it is not expected that the first entry will be the film that finished Number 50.   The reason for this is that some writers in our circle may opt to write essays on the twenty “runners-up” that follow from Numbers 51 to 70.  The titles of those films will follow at the end of this post.  Though I am anticipating that only a handful will be covered (maybe four or five) I could be wrong.  There may be more than that, or there may be not a single one reserved.  I won’t know this answer in all likelihood until people begin to answer the group e mail that I will send out soon.  I cannot of course unveil the titles of the films that finished 1 to 50, as one of the delights of the countdown is the surprise and suspense.    The circle of writers do know the full results but I will not post them at the site, and allow the actual countdown to succeed.  If my projections are right the Top 50 will probably start around Monday September 23.  But as I say it could be earlier or later depending on who claims some of the following twenty runner’s up.  As to the claims made on the Top 50, I will ask all the writers to respond to the group e mail with reiterations of what they had claimed weeks ago (I no longer have those e mails) and of new requests.  Any films in the Top 50 that are not ultimately claimed will be represented at the site with the title, number and a screen cap.  This will still maintain the possibility of an active comment section, even without an essay.  But I would expect such occurrences to be relatively rare.
So, here are the 20 runners-up that finished 51 to 70 in the tabulation conducted early this month by Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr:
51 The Westerner (Wyler; 1940)
52 Forty Guns (Fuller; 1957)
53 Django (Corbucci; 1966)
54 The Big Trail (Walsh; 1930)
55 Blazing Saddles (Brooks; 1974)
56 The Last Picture Show (Bogdonovich; 1971)
57 Bad Day at Black Rock (J. Sturges; 1955)
58 Canyon Passage (Tourneur; 1946)                                                                                         59 Hud (Ritt; 1963)
60 Duck, You Sucka (Leone; 1971)
61 Tombstone (Cosmatos; 1993)
62 The Shootist (Siegel; 1976)
63 The Magnificent Seven (Sturges; 1960)
64 Rancho Notorious (Lang; 1952)
65 3 Bad Men (Ford; 1926)
66 Brokeback Mountain (Lee; 2005)
67 Little Big Man (Penn; 1970)
68 Colorado Territory (Walsh; 1949)
69 The Long Riders (Hill; 1980)
70 The Furies (Mann; 1950)

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chicago 2

by Allan Fish


Roxie, Roxie!

p  Cecil B.de Mille  d  Frank Urson, Cecil B.de Mille (uncredited)  w  Lenore J.Coffee  play  Maurine Watkins  ph  J.Peverell Marley  ed  Anne Bauchens  m  Rodney Sauer  (reissue)  art/cos  Mitchell Leisen

Phyllis Haver (Roxie Hart), Victor Varconi (Amos Hart), Robert Edeson (Billy Flynn), Virginia Bradford (Katie), Eugene Pallette (Casely), Warner Richmond (Asst. D.A.), T.Roy Barnes (reporter), May Robson (Mama Morton), Viola Louie (Two Gun Rosie), Julia Faye (Velma Kelly),

Even when the 1942 version of Maurine Watkins’ play, Roxie Hart, was released, it was believed that the 1927 silent original was lost.  Over the decades the original praise was replaced by a certain incredulity that it was ever made at all.  It would have stayed lost but for the care of its maker, and when I say maker I don’t mean credited director Frank Urson.  He’d been de Mille’s assistant on The King of Kings, which was still showing in theatres and churches nationwide when de Mille began production of Chicago.  He soon took over directorial control and, while Urson was listed as nominal director on over half the days’ shooting records, de Mille then spent nearly two weeks in post-production doing retakes.  Yet when it came for its first public showing around Christmas 1927, de Mille’s name wasn’t on the credits.  He felt the subject unseemly and un-Christian for his name to be attached to, at least while the Christ film was still raking it in for the Paramount coffers.  Yet he kept an original nitrate print in his own collection and it was there, amongst the archives of his personal estate, that Chicago was found.  (more…)

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ariane 1931 a

by Allan Fish

(Germany 1931 78m) not on DVD

The Berlin itinerary

p  Paul Czinner  d  Paul Czinner  w  Carl Mayer, Paul Czinner  novel  Claude Anet  ph  Adolf Schlasy

Elisabeth Bergner (Ariane Kousnetsova), Rudolf Forster (Konstantin Michael), Hertha Guthmar (Olga), Annemarie Steinsieck (Tante Warwara), Theodor Loos (Dr Hans Adalmeit), Alfred Gerasch (the doctor), Nicolas Wassiljeff (the student),

It’s that age old question again, when the wounded male ego feels it has the right to ask of its beloved “how many?”  In this case, the response is “eight.”  She goes on; “with the first I was 16.  I wanted to know what it was like that they had been raving so much about.  With the second I thought I was in love, but I wasn’t.  The third had been a student.  The fourth had been a student, and the fifth was a student.  The sixth was an officer.  The seventh was in love with my aunt.  And then you came along, the eighth.  Your reign was the longest…”  He then reminds her she forgot one.  “Yes, I was forgetting”, she nods.  “Nine.”  (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

453……to…..Marylebone! and 453…..to…..Deptford Bridge!  This daily female intonation rendered in irresistible Queen’s English heard on a recording, accompanied every ride to and from our London Hotel on Old Kent Road.  The former declaration was heard at nearly every block heading from the Eurotraveller up to the Westminster Bridge and the Thames River concourse alongside the London Eye ferris wheel in a landmark area of the city that invariably served as a home base for six days of activities, on a red double decker bus line that was a model of efficiency.  It was rare that the carriers took longer than ten minutes to arrive at any destination around the city, and the frequency of usage made the 100 pound London pass worthwhile alone.  Of course the pass was also good for the handful of famed tourist sites we saw over our stay in the city, though the all-day bus tour we took on our final full day needed to paid for separately.  The concourse was frequented no less than about a dozen times over the six days, and included a first day ride on the breathtaking Eye after about a 45 minute wait to get on the city’s most popular moving attraction.  The concourse was almost always inhabited by a sea of tourists and locals and a food court that included indoor and outdoor seating and an international food festival as well as numerous incarnations of the country’s most celebrated meal -Fish n chips- and an always mobbed McDonald’s.  It was at this location that we met up with our good friend Judy Geater of Movie Classics, who trained in from Ipswich to meet the group (my entire family of seven and Allan Fish).  It was also the general location of the BFI store, (where Judy was actually first waiting at) one of the world’s most eclectic arthouse DVD and blu-ray store, and a mecca for film lovers.  The concourse also provided the opportunity to meditate on cool, breezy evenings, when Big Ben (like NYC’s Empire State Building) stood as the city’s most identifiable landmark.  It was along the river, with the steaming mass of people heading in both directions, that we navigated London’s “vibes” and the melting pot of ethnicity that has always made the city one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.  For the kids an amusement arcade could be -and was- accessed from the main traverse, and the breathtaking view of the Thames was a favorite spot for pictures. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Best Picture Dogville, Denmark & Los Angeles Plays Itself, US (3 votes each, TIE!)

Best Director Lars Von Trier, Dogville (5 votes)

Best Actor Bill Murray, Lost in Translation (4 votes)

Best Actress Nicole Kidman, Dogville (6 votes)

Best Supp Actor Tim Robbins, Mystic River (6 votes)

Best Supp Actress Hope Davis, American Splendor (4 votes)

Best Cinematography Harris Savides, Elephant (6 votes)

Best Score Kevin Shields, Lost in Translation & Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (4 votes each, TIE!)

Best Short 7:35 in the Morning, Spain, Nacho Vigalondo (2 votes)


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by Jaime Grijalba

File #6.1 – F.W. Murnau’s ‘Phantom’

Did you miss this? No? Well, here I come back not with the full feature that you’ve been used to, but with an Addendum to the sixth installment of this particular series of essays on the Masters of Horror. This comes up now because I had finally the time to watch one of the movies that I had piled up in watching schedule, a movie that wasn’t part of my retrospective of the horror films of F.W. Murnau, because in my personal database it wasn’t named as such, it was catalogued as in the ‘fantasy’ genre, and while it did have a horror-like name, it wasn’t included in my list because of what I said earlier. So, here comes the publishing date of the sixth installment (of a total of seven so far) that have been made, and everyone seems to enjoy and read it quite well, but there’s one particular guy who doesn’t seem to be pleased. You can read here the F.W. Murnau edition of my Masters of Horror feature, and in the comments you can read Peter asking me why I didn’t put ‘Phantom’ (1922) in the survey, to which I replied that I didn’t see it because of the reasons that I’ve already mentioned, but then I made a promise, that I haven’t been able to fulfill until this day, and here we are, reviewing ‘Phantom’ (1922) but not for a little paragraph as I said, but for a full review, as I need to say a few things about this silent movie. (more…)

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© 2013 by James Clark

 We tend to take for granted that ours is a filmic era uniquely endowed with reckless and unpredictable artists (like David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Refn and the Coens (Joel and Ethan), whereas the practitioners of the past were sworn to a sort of Hippocratic Oath tracing out to cryptic but definitely solemn assurances. The grand vizier of that latter company would have to be the sainted Robert Bresson, whom you wouldn’t be surprised seeing photographed in a lab coat or cassock. But, arguably, Bresson was the consummate gamester—fanning whole eras of film experts coming to (slo-pitch) bat for making contact with piety unseen since the waning of the Roman Empire.

There is in fact a world of hidden reaches paradoxically emanating from those melancholy tales of his, a sensual firestorm locked, temporarily, behind bars. And one of the great moments, to date, of that overt bid for a kick-ass jailbreak is the first film that Joel and Ethan Coen brought forward, in 1984, namely, Blood Simple, a work it would be a huge understatement to describe as irreverent. Bristling with indiscretion, this movie is, nevertheless as subtly designed as a Swiss watch; and hence it couches its kinship with the apparently stuffy but razor-sharp elder within a narrative which includes a second, far more flashy associate, namely, that commission to deadly resolve (well known to and beloved by Bresson), the Robert Aldrich/ A.I. Bezzerides noir, Kiss Me Deadly. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Note: We will be returning home on Wednesday, August 21, with expectations of a 7:00 P.M. arrival in Newark.  A massive report on the two-week trip will be posted on the 26th.


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Larks 1

by Allan Fish

(Czechoslovakia 1969 94m) DVD2

Aka. Skrivánci na niti

Enjoy work, enjoy life!

p  Karel Kochman  d  Jiri Menzel  w  Bohumil Hrabal, Jiri Menzel  novel  Bohumil Hrabal  ph  Jaromir Sofr  ed  Josef Lojik  m  Jiri Sust

Rudolf Hrusinsky (Union trustee), Vlastimil Brodsky (Professor), Vaclav Neckar (Pavel), Jitka Zelenohorska (Jitka), Jaroslav Satoransky (Angel, the guard), Vladimir Smeral (minister), Ferdinand Kruta (Kudla), Frantisek Rehák (Drobocek), Eugen Jegorov (saxophonist), Nada Urbánková (Lenka), Jirina Stepnickova (Pavel’s mother),

Of all the films banned by the authorities after the Prague Spring was turned into instant winter by the Soviet tanks in 1968, Jiri Menzel’s Larks on a String has come to be the most emblematic of the ‘lost’ films.  It didn’t get an official showing until 1990, held back even further than the Soviet hot potatoes that were released in the soon to be ex-USSR under Gorbachev’s Glasnost thaw.  Discussing when it was really first seen, though, is problematic.  There have been rumours of public showings all the way back to 1969 when it was shelved, and it was one of three films – along with Jasny’s All My Good Countrymen and Jires’ The Joke – to do the rounds on illegal VHS tapes in the 1980s.  When in the 1980s Czech film expert Peter Hames asked Jiri Menzel how he might see the film, he told him to look in hairdressers shops.  One imagines it being sold from under the counter, like Soho video shops who stocked US VHSs of A Clockwork Orange or the video nasties banned by Thatcher’s fun police.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1965 88m) DVD2 (Japan only, no English subs)

Aka. Kuroi yuki

She was like a pack of marshmellows

d/w  Tetsuji Takechi  ph  Takeo Kurata  ed  Hanzaburo Kaneko  m  Joji Yuasa

Kotobuki Hananomoto (Jiro), Yōichiro Mikawa, Chitose Kurenai, Yasuko Matsui, Takako Uchida, Mariko Taki, Akira Ishiyama, Chojiro Hanagawa, Chieko Murata,

The name of Tetsuji Takechi was always relegated to the margins and footnotes, even in traditional histories of Japanese cinema.  When people come to remember the Japanese new wave of the late 1950s to early 1970s in decades to come, it’s rather to Yoshida, Teshigahara, Shindo, Suzuki, Masumura, Wakamatsu and Oshima that people will be directed first.  The irony is Oshima would be the first to decry that summary expulsion to the periphery, for he was the biggest name in cinema to come forward to stand up for Takechi when Black Snow drew down censorial ire, and himself returned to film after a couple of years sabbatical.  The reason for the legal action officially was its sexuality, but that was merely a smokescreen to prevent bringing up its anti-Americanism, too.  It’s all too clear Takechi saw all those who lived off the American occupiers as parasites. (more…)

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