Friday, 25 November 2016

MANAGEMENT SPEAKING...


Some time ago I stopped writing about the films I'd seen an concentrated on listing the films in my DVD/Blu-ray collection. Several regulars who kindly follow this blog and a few friends have asked me to reconsider doing reviews - I hesitate to use the word "reviews" and prefer to describe them as "reactions" - so in the new year I will go back to commenting on the movies I've seen. As before I will try to concentrate on the obscure, the rare, the old and the unloved rather than modern mainstream productions, although I expect there will be a few exceptions. The DVD listings will continue as well. See you in January.

Monday, 7 November 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 25

F. W. Murnau

Before making a career in cinema, Wilhem Fredrich Murnau had been a pilot during the Great War. He is regarded today as one of the greatest exponents of German expressionism and later films fall into a category that is best described as poetic realism. Thankfully his best films are still available. He is one of my favourite directors of the silent era. He was played (not very accurately) by John Malkovich in the film SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE. Films in my collection are: DIE GANG IN DIE NACHT (1921) SCHLOSS VOGELOD (1921) NOSFERATU (1922) PHANTOM (1922) FINANCES OF THE GRAND DUKE (1924) THE LAST LAUGH (1924) TARTUFFE (1925) FAUST (1926) SUNRISE (1927) CITY GIRL (1930) TABU (1931)

Saturday, 1 October 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 24




The best American television drama is of a very high quality indeed. One only has to think of shows like THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD, THE BADGE etc. For me the work of one man, a writer, creator and producer, really stands out. His most famous achievement was THE WIRE. I had to be bullied into watching it by a friend and was hooked from episode one. David Simon is a man with a social conscience, liberal, dedicated. I can say little else but recommend all his work. Simon pulls no punches and his shows are not always easy watching. In my collection: HOMICIDE : LIFE ON THE STREETS (1993-1998) THE CORNER (2000) THE WIRE (2002-2008) GENERATION KILL (2008) TREME (2010-2013) SHOW ME A HERO (2015)

Michael Williams and Wendell Pierce in THE WIRE

Friday, 26 August 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 23

Fritz Lang 1890-1976
One of the greats. Austrian born, Lang, was one of the most important directors of the silent era who adapted very successfully to sound. His films, even the minor, ones remain very watchable. The first Lang film I saw was MOONFLEET and remember vividly the power of the opening scenes.
Films in my collection: DIE SPINNEN (1919/1920 two parts) DESTINY (1921) DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922 two parts) DIE NIBELUNGEN (1924 two parts) METROPOLIS (1927) SPIONE (1928) FRAU IM MOND (1929) M (1931) DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE(1933) YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE 1937) MANHUNT (1941) HANGMEN ALSO DIE (1943) MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944) WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944) SCARLET STREET(1945) HOUSE BY THE RIVER (1950) CLASH BY NIGHT (1952) THE BLUE GARDENIA (1953) THE BIG HEAT (1953) HUMAN DESIRE (1954) DAS TIGER VON ESCHNAPAUR (1959) DAS INDISCHE GRABMAL(1959) DIE 1000 AUGEN DES DR.MABUSE (1960)

Thursday, 25 August 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 22


The origins of the German "Krimi" crime dramas go back to Fritz Lang's DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) which itself owes a debt to the earlier French serials of Louis Feuillade such as FANTOMAS (1914). Lang followed the success of the first Mabuse film ten years later then revived the character in 1960 after his return to Germany - it was this film, DIE TAUSEND AUGEN DES DR.MABUSE and DER FROSCH MIT DER MASKE made a year earlier that really kicked off the "Krimi" as a distinct sub-genre.


Dr. Mabuse remained a popular character, personified in person or in absentia by the excellent Wolfgang Preiss, despite the first of the non-Lang films (a remake of his 1933 DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE) being quite terrible. The Krimis also drew heavily on the works of Edgar Wallace and his son, Bryan Edgar Wallace. Regular directors included Harald Reinl, Alfred Vohrer and Franz Gottlieb while regular cast members were Karin Dor (Mrs.Reinl), Gert Frobe, Peter van Eyck, Joachim Fuchsberger, Werner Peters and Klaus Kinski. London was a favourite setting, particularly Soho, old castles haunted by phantom archers, whip wielding monks etc although genuine supernatural denouements were rare - the main threat usually coming from a masked, hooded or otherwise concealed villain.


I don't think anybody would claim that the krimis of the 1960's produced any masterpieces but they can be entertaining - a bit dull at times, maybe. There were a few c0-productions such as CIRCUS OF FEAR and TRAITOR'S GATE but the krimi remains a very Teutonic sub-genre. The inspirational Dr. Mabuse went of to inspire Claude Chabrol's DR. M (1990) and there has been a recent American remake, so far unseen in the UK. Evidence of the popularity of the character is witnessed by the fact that Gordon Hessler's unrelated SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN was released in Germany as DIE LEBENDEN LEICHEN DES DR.MABUSE. The 1937 film listed below managed to invoke both Edgar Wallace and Dr.Mabuse, not to mention Conan Doyle while, seemingly being unrelated to any. Films in my collection are:
DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE (1933) DER MAN DER SHERLOCK HOLMES WAS (1937) DER FROSCH MIT DER MASKE (1959) DIE TAUSEND AUGEN DES DR.MABUSE (1960) DER FALSCHER VON LONDON (1961) DIE   IM STAHLNETZ DES DR.MABUSE (1961) DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE (1962) UNSICHTBAREN KRALLEN DES DR. MABUSE (1962) SHERLOCK HOLMES UND DAS HALSBAND DES TODES (1962) DER HENKER VON LONDON (1963) DER GEHEIMNIS DER SCHWARZEN WITWE (1963) DIE WEISSE SPINNE (1963) DIE TODESSTRAHLEN DES DR.MABUSE (1964) DER UNHEIMLICHE MONCH (1965)


Monday, 20 June 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 21

Bud Abbott (1897-1974)  Lou Costello (1906-1959)

Although not fashionable today I remain a big fan of Bud and Lou. Charles Laughton was another fan who said he enjoyed their "low comedy" and was happy to appear with them in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD. They certainly still make me laugh however many times I see their routines (often barely changed from film to film). Films in my collection are : ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS (1940) BUCK PRIVATES (1941) IN THE NAVY (1941) HOLD THAT GHOST (1941) KEEP 'EM FLYING (1941) RIDE 'EM COWBOY (1942) PARDON MY SARONG (1942)  WHO DONE IT? (1942) HIT THE ICE (1943) IN SOCIETY (1944) HERE COME THE CO-EDS (1945) THE NAUGHTY NINETIES (1945) THE LITTLE GIANT (1946) THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946) BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME (1947) THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP (1947) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) MEXICAN HAYRIDE (1948) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF (1949) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE FOREIGN LEGION (1950) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951) JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (1951) COMIN' ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (1951) LOST IN ALASKA (1952) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD (1952) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS (1953) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR.JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE (1953) ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (1955).

Friday, 3 June 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 20



Stanley Kubrick 1928 - 1999
 There can be little doubt about the importance of Stanley Kubrick but his films still cause controversy. I certainly count myself among his fans and find his movies powerful, albeit somewhat "cold" despite the passionate emotions often contained therein - 2001; A SPACE ODYSSEY and BARRY LYNDON are often cited as examples of this but this seems to have been intentional on the director's part. I can't say for certain which was my first experience of a Kubrick film but it was either PATHS OF GLORY on television or SPARTACUS at the cinema but about 1963 I came into contact with the man himself when, prior to the premiere of DR.STRANGELOVE, he took a temporary office in Columbia Pictures London office in Wardour Street. He was often visited there by Strangelove author, Peter George, who, sadly committed suicide in 1966. I found George a charming man but Kubrick seemed very unpleasant. Writing this I have begun a reassessment of Kubrick's films. My favourite Kubricks are THE KILLING and BARRY LYNDON followed by 2001; A SPACE ODYSSEY. For the record I hate THE CLOCKWORK ORANGE and refuse to have it in my collection even for the sake of completeness. At the time of writing I have not yet seen EYES WIDE SHUT although I recently purchased a copy. THE KILLING (1956) PATHS OF GLORY (1957) SPARTACUS (1960) LOLITA (1962) DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964) 2001A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)  BARRY LYNDON (1975) THE SHINING (1980) FULL METAL JACKET (1987) EYES WIDE SHUT (1999).

Steven Spielberg's A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE was intended as a Kubrick film and taken over by Spielberg at the time of Kubrick's death.