Archive for October 14th, 2014


Note: The twelfth entry in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series was selected by WitD site writer extraordinaire Maurizio Roca, who credits this review for his own coming around on the film in a big way.  Allan chose it for the No. 4 spot in his 70’s countdown.

by Allan Fish

(UK 1975 187m) DVD1/2

Saraband for Embalmed Lovers

p  Stanley Kubrick, Bernard Williams  d/w  Stanley Kubrick  novel  “The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon” by William M.Thackeray  ph  John Alcott  ed  Tony Lawson  md  Leonard Rosenman  m  Franz Schubert, W.A.Mozart, George F.Handel, J.S.Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Giovanni Paisiello, Frederick the Great, Irish folk music  art  Ken Adam, Roy Walker, Vernon Dixon  cos  Milena Canonero, Ulla-Britt Soderlund

Ryan O’Neal (Redmond Barry/Barry Lyndon), Marisa Berenson (Lady Lyndon), Patrick Magee (The Chevalier de Baribari), Hardy Kruger (Captain Potzdorf), Leon Vitali (Lord Bullingdon), Gay Hamilton (Nora Brady), Leonard Rossiter (Captain John Quin), Murray Melvin (Rev.Samuel Runt), Godfrey Quigley (Captain Grogan), Arthur O’Sullivan (Highwayman), Diana Koerner (German girl), Marie Kean (Barry’s mother), Frank Middlemass (Sir Charles Lyndon), André Morell (Lord Wendover), Philip Stone (Graham), Steven Berkoff (Lord Ludd), Pat Roach (Cpl.Tool), Ferdy Mayne, Bernard Hepton, Anthony Sharp, Michael Hordern (Narrator),

As the Radio Times put it, a.k.a “1789: A Georgian Odyssey”.  How can I put into words my feelings for this incredibly savage film?  Taken on face value, it is probably the most pictorially beautiful film ever made; a series of breathtaking painterly images put together with the barest threads of plot, with several exquisite uses of candlelight and sunlight that remain unsurpassed for their beauty, shot by Orange lenser Alcott with equally spectacular clarity and through natural light (and with the help of the groundbreaking lenses of Carl Zeiss).  Some have said that as a narrative it’s too drawn out and far too slow.  On that score alone they are absolutely right.  However, though neither was quite as long, the same could also be said of Kubrick’s two previous visions of the future,2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange.  He was forgiven there because they were prophecies of the future that must, by their very definitions, be symbolic to a point.  Those who praise A Clockwork Orange praise it not for its plot but for its savage (in more ways than one) damnation of society.  That is where people have made an understandable but fatal mistake with regards to this Thackeray adaptation.  (more…)

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Note:  The eleventh entry in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series, ‘The Dupes’ was chosen by longtime WitD adherent and gifted film commentator Kaleem Hasan, the erstwhile proprietor of ‘Satyamshot’

by Allan Fish

(Syria 1972 106m) not on DVD

Aka. Al Makh-du’un

The heartbeat of the earth

d/w  Tewfik Saleh  novel  Ghassan Kanafani  ph  Bahgat Heidar  ed  Farin Dib, Saheb Haddad  m  Solhi El-Wadi

Mohamed Kheir-Halouani (Abou Keïss), Abderrahman Alrahy (Abou Kheizarane), Bazzan Lofti Abou-Gazzala (Assad), Saleh Kholoki (Marouane), Thanaa Debsi (Om Keïss),

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to composing a work like this is to put aside but not entirely dismiss personal taste and familiarity.  Where this becomes most difficult is with regard to foreign classics tailored for home audiences.  The most obvious example is Bollywood, which western audiences can either embrace or shun, but there are others.  Take the often broad comedy employed in Hong Kong action films or the gypsy subculture that forms the heart of several important Yugoslav films from Petrovic to Kusturica.  Then there’s the biggest blind spot of all, African film, a true appreciation of which requires an immersing into the culture, flavour and aroma of what is, to western eyes, the most unknown of continents. 

All these cultures do at least have an identity and a home in those countries.  What, however, of Palestinians, the ultimate modern nomads, thrown out of their own country on a political expedient to cleanse the west of the guilt of its inaction over the Nazi Holocaust.  They’ve barely been touched by the cinema, so watching Tewfik Saleh’s criminally unseen film now seems a matter of historical and cultural necessity, almost irrespective of its cinematic worth, which is not to be underestimated. (more…)

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divine and kids

melanie and poe

by Sam Juliano

The Allan Fish Bonanza Encore Series is moving ahead magnificently, and will continue until October 28th.  I have decided to add a third full week in view of the series’ success, and simply because when Allan is around even if only in spirit, Wonders in the Dark is just such an incomparably exciting place.  Furthermore, even when we do reach the 28th, the series will not end, but will continue every weekend with postings on both Saturday and Sunday!  And this schedule will be rigidly maintained until May of 2015, at which time it is anticipated that Allan will be back in print with new stuff.  In any case we would like to thank all the readers and regulars who answered the call of duty by making some fantastic selections in the comment section of the announcement post, with a few others reaching me by e mail.  Deepest thanks too are extended to those who have contributed some wonderfully inspiring comments under the encore postings of some of the best film reviews ever written by anyone.  It has been a great ride and frankly the fun has only just begun.

Lucille, the kids, Broadway Bob and I took a day-trip down to Baltimore on Saturday, and managed an incredible number of stops until we departed home at around 8:30 P.M.  Arriving at around 11:00 A.M., we visited Divine’s (Glenn Harris Milstead)  grave at Prospect Hill Cemetery in bordering Towson about five miles out of downtown Baltimore.  We then toured the small cemetery alongside Westminster Church, where Edgar Allan Poe is laid to rest along with his beloved young bride and family members.  We visited the Poe House, a short distance away in a run-down area of town, where the literary icon lived in his late 20’s.  We then caught the pulse of the city, encircling Camden Yards, where thousands of Orioles fans descended on the popular ballpark for the 4:00 P.M. playoff game with the Kansas City Royals.  (The Orioles lost that game to go down 0-2 in the best-of-seven-series for the American League pennant).  One ticketless fan told me he’d pay a scalper’s price of $500 for a ticket, but of course we had none to offer.  It was quite an exciting place to be with the pennant fever in the air.  We then visited St. Jude’s Shrine, the mid-week home of our own Our Lady of Grave Pastor, the Rev. Peter Sticco.  We made a stop at The Senator movie palace, where John Waters movie all had their premieres and much enjoyed all the fantastic sidewalk engravings for many films that opened there dating back decades.  We also eyed the storefront that was once the “Hefty Hideaway” in Hairspray, and finally Fells Point along the harbor, where numerous quaint shops were toured, including the storefront once owned and operated by beloved Waters regular Edith Massey.  The kids absolutely loved the city and are hot to trot for a return visit.  We dined at an Old Country Buffet in a Baltimore suburb, and then headed back home.  We covered a remarkable amount of ground for the relatively short period we were there. (more…)

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