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Archive for October 30th, 2014

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Note: This fourth Halloween entry in the classic Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series is the twenty-fifth in the series overall to post over the past weeks at WitD.

by Allan Fish

(UK 1945 105m) DVD1/2

Just room for one more inside, sir…

p  Sidney Cole, John Croydon  d  Alberto Cavalcanti, Robert Hamer, Basil Dearden, Charles Crichton w  John Baines, Angus MacPhail  stories  Angus MacPhail, John Baines, H.G.Wells, E.F.Benson  ph  Douglas Slocombe, Stan Pavey  ed  Charles Hasse  m  Georges Auric  art  Michael Relph

Mervyn Johns (Walter Craig), Roland Culver (Eliot Foley), Judy Kelly (Joyce Grainger), Mary Merrall (Mrs Foley), Anthony Baird (Hugh Grainger), Sally Ann Howes (Sally O’Hara), Frederick Valk (Dr Van Straaten), Ralph Michael (Mr Courtland), Googie Withers (Joan Courtland), Esmé Percy (antique dealer), Renee Gadd (Mrs Craig), Basil Radford (George Parratt), Naunton Wayne (Larry Potter), Michael Redgrave (Maxwell Frere), Miles Malleson (hearse/bus driver), Elisabeth Welch (Beulah), Hartley Power (Sylvester Kee), Peggy Bryan (Mary Lee), Michael Allan (Jimmy Watson),

Considering their incredible reputation as a producer of classic British comedies, it would be easy to forget that Ealing also produced various classic dramas, among them Went the Day Well?, The Next of Kin, The Captive Heart, It Always Rains on Sunday, Mandy and The Cruel SeaBut it is this truly disquieting ghost story compendium that remains their non-comic masterpiece.  Considering that it has been parodied and pilfered in numerous other films and TV plays, it’s quite surprising how fresh it still remains after sixty years.  Even the use of several directors doesn’t harm it, adding a different style to each of the individual stories that adds to the dreamlike texture.

Architect Walter Craig drives out to spend the weekend with a potential customer, Eliot Foley, who wants extra bedrooms added to his country house in Kent, Pilgrim’s Farm.  Once he arrives he acts strangely around everyone who is there, until he admits to the other guests that he has seen them all in his nightmarish dreams and that each one plays a part in his dream.  Only the visiting psychologist, Dr Van Straaten, refuses to believe this psychological phenomenon, but when each of the guests relates a spooky tale of their own, everyone’s preconceptions are eradicated. (more…)

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Note: This third Halloween entry in the classic Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series is the twenty-fourth in the series overall to post over the past weeks at WitD.

by Allan Fish

(Germany 1922 96m) DVD1/2

Aka. Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens

A true symphony of horrors

Albin Grau  d  Friedrich W.Murnau  w  Henrik Galeen  novel  “Dracula” by Bram Stoker  ph  Fritz Arno Wagner, Günther Krampf  m  Hans Erdmann/James Bernard/Art Zoyd  art/cos  Albin Grau

Max Schreck (Count Orlock), Alexander Granach (Knock, the estate agent), Gustav Von Wangenheim (Wutter), Greta Schröder (Ellen),

Werner Herzog is of the belief that Nosferatu is the greatest German film ever made and certainly it would have to be a serious contender to that crown, and Herzog paid it his own homage with a fair remake with the loathsome Klaus Kinski in 1979.  However, there is only one version of the tale and Murnau’s film, freely adapted from Bram Stoker’s masterpiece of Gothic horror, is the greatest vampire film of them all, a film that truly lives up to its subtitle, “a symphony of horrors.”  If it were a symphony, it’s worthy of those eternal children of the night Dowland, Moussorgsky, Borodin and Kilar.

Many versions of Dracula have followed, with the 1931 Universal (with the immortal Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye) and the 1958 Hammer (covered previously) standing out and a mention in despatches for the romantic Frank Langella.  They may indeed stick closer to the novel and keep the characters’ names, but the very term ‘Nosferatu’ isn’t just referring to the undead, rather a sort of pestilent plague that spreads after sunset.  Indeed the opening titles refer to the tale that follows as “A Chronicle of the Great Death of Wisborg – 1838.”  The story, which we shall not waste space detailing, may be changed radically from the original, being set in Germany and Transylvania rather than England and with rather dramatic changes to the rest of the characters, but it’s still a truly disquieting movie to this day.  There are scenes here that truly chill over eighty years on; the first vision of the Count, beckoning on his guest into the castle with cadaverous glee, lusting after his blood when he pricks his finger; the shot of Orlock standing on the deck of the ship of the dead; the immortal shadow of Orlock climbing the stairs and unlocking Ellen’s room; his death as the sun rises over the very houses opposite which he owns; and arguably most memorably of all, the numerous shots of sunsets and sunrises over the German countryside.  Murnau has always been fascinated with temptation and the symbolism of sunlight and of the earth itself (just check outThe Burning Soil, for example), but never has it been more prevalent than here in his first true masterpiece.  It’s here that we first see the imagery that would be so perfectly deployed in Hollywood in Sunrise(more…)

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