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Archive for August 2nd, 2013

This Land b

by Allan Fish

(USA 1943 106m) DVD2

 The rights of man

p  Dudley Nichols, Jean Renoir  d  Jean Renoir  w  Dudley Nichols  ph  Frank Redman  ed  Frederick Knudtson  m  Lothar Perl  art  Eugene Lourie, Albert S.d’Agostino, Walter E.Keller

Charles Laughton (Albert Lory), Maureen O’Hara (Louise Martin), George Sanders (George Lambert), Kent Smith (Paul Martin), Una O’Connor (Emma Lory), Walter Slezak (Major Erich von Keller), George Coulouris (prosecutor), Philip Merivale (Professor Sorel), Thurston Hall (Mayor Henry Manville), Nancy Gates (Julie Grant),

There was a time when This Land is Mine was seen as one of Renoir’s most disposable films, a routine piece made to pay his expenses during his sojourn in Hollywood; one among many flag-wavers designed to boost morale, films of the immediate moment with no eye to posterity.  In some respects one could argue that it is that, but it is still more besides.  While it’s true Renoir made no stone cold masterpiece in Hollywood, he made a few glorious second tier works worthy of discovery.

So let us take This Land is Mine.  In essence, it’s France, Renoir’s land.  Yet this is very much any land, as highlighted by the “somewhere in Europe” caption at the film’s outset.  Even that, however, is too restrictive, for the danger to the civilised world, and the United States in particular, is spelled out in no uncertain terms.  It’s the danger of an invasion not by force but by infiltration, subterfuge and collaboration.  (more…)

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Note:  This review has been posted as part of the William Castle blogothon, run by Joey at ‘The Last Drive In.”  A link back to that site will appear at the end of the review.

by Sam Juliano

When a freak accident claimed the life of Polish composer and jazz pianist Krzysztof Komeda at the age of 38 in 1969, the film community lost an invaluable talent at the peak of his artistic powers and a young man was cut short well before his time.  Indeed, director Roman Polanski, in the liner notes to a 1997 Komeda tribute album wrote: “Krzysztof Komeda was not only a valued professional collaborator but a close and dear friend, and it is my abiding regret that his untimely death robbed me of him in both those capacities.”  Komeda developed a personal style that brought the jazz form a new prominence in a communist country that frowned on what was seen as an American creation.  Komeda expanded the jazz parameters by injected a generous dose of ‘slavic lyricism’ and poetic atmosphere that eventually gained the young composer a following in his native country and abroad.  One of Komeda’s most enthusiastic fans was none other than Polanski himself, who courted the fellow Pole to score his first film, Knife in the Water, after engaging the composer on his student film, after many months of attending him on the nightclub circuit.  By that time the composer had received a few other offers (which he accepted) and he came through for Polanski with a low-key jazz score to serve as a counterpoint to the mounting tensions in Knife, employing saxophone and a string-bass driven sound.  The mournful romanticism of the main theme is what most remember most compellingly from the score, but the music throughout is exceptionally applied.  Polanski again called on Komeda for his 1963 Cul-de-Sac, allowing the composer to again write a nifty  jazzy composition, with a dominant use of the moog, bongo and warbling horns.  At around that time Komeda was also composing for the Danish director Henning Carlsen, contributing scores to Kattorna, People Meet and Sweet Music Fills the Heart and the director’s masterpiece, Salt (Hunger), for which a provocative chamber music design was written.  Komeda’s most famous album to this day remains his landmark jazz work “Astigmatic” (1965) which is noted for it’s extraordinarily sublime coordination of piano harmonies and rhythms.  Komeda also worked with Polish titan Andrzej Wajda, penning the score to Innocent Sorcerers, which exhibited the experimentation of form and dark tonalities typical of some of his earlier film music. (more…)

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