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Archive for June 1st, 2020

by Sam Juliano

Those who were fortunate and privileged to know Allan or just even to cross his path immediately understood he was someone quite out of the ordinary.  His incomparable obsessiveness guaranteed that any venture he embarked upon would be afforded a maximum level of accountability.  Most know him for his cinematic prowess, the go to guy for reference, film availability and quality control specs.  Some also knew that movies, astonishingly enough, were not his sole focus.  He was a remarkably astute historian and could hold his own with anyone hankering to discuss music, theater and soccer and his grasp of literature from around the world past and present was beyond exceptional.  His still-unpublished massive tome, though primarily about the cinema, also includes a masterly investigation of television, a field Allan was as passionate about as any other, even to the extent of insisting there be no differentiation with its most towering achievements with those comparable film works.  Any list Allan composed invariably included television mixed together in a somehow comfortable melting pot with motion pictures.  He was a fervent aficionado of British small screen landmarks -often by his own admission serving as his country’s mercenary with the exclusive intent of turning heads of those he derided as American xenophobes.  Mind you Allan was attuned to the best in American television as well and often championed the shows we all do, but he was educated on the international scene and was always proud of Britain, which he once boldly told me eclipsed American television, despite the long list of great shows produced stateside.

This takes me to our family’s trip to England in 2013 when we spent two weeks in London and at Allan’s home in Kendal.  A running joke at that time was a carry-over from online ribbing with Allan as an exasperated host who was beside himself with my lifelong infatuation with American anthology television, particularly the horror and science fiction shows that originally aired in the late 50s through the early and mid 60s.  In a secret conversation with my five kids Allan instructed them to get hold of my DVD collections and books on Boris Karloff’s Thriller, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and hide them so I couldn’t access them anymore.   To be sure Allan himself loved (and included in his book with perceptive and generous entries) them well enough, but were not programs he considered at the forefront of his life.  Due to my sometimes excruciating nostalgic slant and my fondness for anthology television I directed conversations with my friend to these shows much too often and the result was sometimes hysterical chiding.  Allan wasn’t always willing to embrace my incessant defense that this era was my “specialty”, as he knew only too well -as he did when I attended Manhattan movie theaters to see classic films for the umpteenth time – that watching stuff over and over came at the expense of delaying the negotiation of new discoveries was patently absurd.  My kids to this day are in stitches when relating what was said in those talks, though based on our phone and e mail chats I think I have a very good idea.

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