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Archive for June 11th, 2018

At Gen. Lee’s headquarters in Gettysburg, Pa. on Saturday. We are staunch Unionists of course, but like to visit all the blue and grey sites.

by Sam Juliano

The second annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival has concluded, and all in all while not remotely besieged with tons of comments nor page views -blogging in general just isn’t what it used to be- it was still memorable because of the quality of the posts.  Taken as a whole they were just stupendous.  Special thanks to Jamie Uhler (project founder); John Grant, Roderick Heath, Marilyn Ferdinand, Sachin Gandhi, Adam Ferenz, J.D. Lafrance and Anuk Bahvkist for their fantastic scholarship and brilliant choices to make this endeavor fly.  Allan is no doubt looking down from above smiling and uttering the words “Good job!”  Heaven willing we will stage the third annual festival next year, and I’ll again be sending out a group e mail to the network, with hopes to expand.  In any case, we did get some fine comments and on some days very good page view totals.  Best of all of course is that all of us have our viewing schedule set for the next few weeks!

Tomorrow, the last leg of the Greatest Television Countdown Part 2 will commence, and it will run until mid July.  Thanks to all the writers and readers who have kept the show afloat.  Here’s hoping to a glorious final few weeks. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

American coming of age films became all the rage in the early 70’s.  Frank Perry’s sexually candid Last Summer appeared midway through 1969.  Peter Bogdonovich’s masterpiece The Last Picture Show, based on an acclaimed novel by Larry McMurtry took this sub-genre to new heights and Robert Mulligan’s Summer of ’42 showcased a splendid convergence of mood, atmosphere and period flavor.  Both released in 1971, the same year as the now virtually forgotten Red Sky at Morning, directed by James Goldstone from a popular novel of the same name by Richard Bradford.  1972 saw the release of two other long-anticipated novel-to-film adaptations, A Separate Peace, based on the great novel by John Knowles, and Bless the Beasts and Children from the Glendon Swarthout novella.

Red Sky has inexplicably been ignored on video tape and DVD and is only available in practically unwatchable bootlegs and online via a print hardly better.  Yet as Allan would often note when coming upon rarities he long sought after: “It is all we have and we much make do.”  Indeed there was a time when home video was a fledgling format and our acquisitions on tape of film treasures like The Passion of Joan of Arc and Nosferatu in beat-up-prints were thought at the time to be of great collector’s value when consumers hadn’t a clue how continued improvements were just around the corner.  But now, with the advent of greatly enhanced DVDs and the pristine quality of blu-rays it is unusual to come across a 70s film so poorly transferred, but the you tube incarnation is fairly decent. The aforementioned Last Summer and another early 70s film by Frank Perry, Diary of a Mad Housewife have not fared better.

Goldstone’s film is set in New Mexico during World War II, where an Alabama teenager relocates with his mother after the naval officer father has departed for his service.  The boy must deal with the culture clash solo and this includes race relations, a Hispanic bully, a flirtatious tomboy, and even the destructive ways of his mother who doesn’t seem to value her reputation.  Richard Thomas, the lead who plays this “nervous nelly” teen in his signature fashion (his previous work in Last Summer is comparable), one some critics at the time likened to “G rated James Dean.”  Thomas, who of course achieved his greatest fame as John Boy in “The Waltons” tries hard to fit in with the pack, and his scenes with Catherine Burns are especially compelling.  To be sure Red Sky at Morning sometimes loses focus as it tries to bring together sometimes myriad sub-plots:   Throughout the course of the movie, Joshua not only cares for his troubled mother, manages the household help, and befriends an eccentric local artist, but is introduced to a host of issues — including troubled race-relations, sex, bullying, and more — at his new high school. For instance, the local twin tarts — colorfully named Venery Ann, and Velma Mae — aggressively pursue Joshua and his friend Steenie, much to the ire of their shotgun-toting father; meanwhile, Joshua is bullied by two stereotypical Chicano hoodlums, the latter of whom is unnaturally protective of his busty yet religiously pious and naive sister who goes on to meet an awful fate at the hands of psychopathic Aniov.   (more…)

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