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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My Dream Movie

There I was lying in bed trying to get back to sleep, when I started thinking about the film that I would write about today. I decided to start by saying that I was tempted to write 'they really don't make them like that any more'. I would then go on to rave about the inky blacks and dazzling whites of the cinematography and the sophisticated production design, costuming, and banter. I had to keep reminding myself what movie I was thinking about before drifting off, and could not quite keep the title in mind. Can you guess why? The answer is that I viewed no such film in the last week or so, although this daydream speaks volumes about my fondness for so many movies from the 30s and 40s.

So what have I been up to? Well I am still having a ball with the infinite treasures available on YouTube. There one can find nearly all the Mary Pickford films that have managed to elude me and a host of other rare silents from Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and other long-departed geniuses. I have now saved so many movies to 'watch later' that my down-time is spoken-for for months to come, especially since I need to slot these in with my regular pattern of satellite and terrestrial showings, the DVD backlog, and now the occasional cinema outing. YouTube is also providing the opportunity for me to find other titles that have been loitering on my 'must see' list and in the last week I have been able to cross out "Street Scene" (1931) -- very dated from the award-winning Edgar Rice play but still fascinating, "Pitfall" (1948) and "99 River Street" (1953) -- moderately entertaining noirs, and "Baby Love" (1968) -- a fairly vile British exploitation movie wasting a good cast as foils to Linda Hayden's nymphet.

I have also been busy burning copies of those films which are either sufficiently rare or personal favourites to add to my collection, and  I have a number which I have yet to view. Did I hear someone mention the word 'obsessive' again? Two of these that I have managed to watch are "Destiny" (1920) and "Lady Windermere's Fan" (1925). The former, also known as "Der Mude Tod", is a Fritz Lang film which I saw at the National Film Theatre some years ago and which I thought I would never be able to view a second time. It's a bitter-sweet tale of a young girl who loses her beloved fiancĂ© to Death and begs Him to reunite them. They make a bargain that if she is able to prevent the deaths of three people whose 'candles are flickering low', her wish will be granted. We then move to three tales set in Arabia, Venice, and China, where a loved one can not be saved.  Brilliant stuff! As for 'Windermere', one of those stories that continues to be re-made, from 1916 right up to the modern-day "A Good Woman (2004) with Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson, the 1925 version directed by Ernst Lubitsch (he of the famous 'touch') is notable for an early role for the ever-dashing Ronald Colman. As luck would have it, he also starred in another of this week's movies, the early talkie "Condemned" (1929) with the gorgeous, but soon to be forgotten star, Anne Harding. As a further coincidence, she also appeared in 1935's "Enchanted April" -- one of her last pictures as a leading actress, a hoary chestnut of a movie remade to better effect in 1991 with Joan Plowright and Miranda Richardson, and another of this week's entertainments. What a happy bunny I should be...and am!

In closing I must offer my R.I.P. to darling Shirley Temple who brought joy to so many, not just back in the Depression era, but who still charms viewers today. 
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