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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
Perhaps Fear in the Night will never look or sound better, always like a nagging, half-forgotten celluloid memory.

The world of film noir is full of passive patsies and benighted saps, and one of the most passive and benighted is Vincent Grayson, played by skinny young DeForest Kelley in his debut film. The low-budget wonder Fear in the Night is one of the most oneiric and dreamlike of noirs.


The first reel is surreal in several ways. It opens with wavering montages of superimposed images to indicate the hero’s dream state. These images showcase a room with multiple mirrors and doors. This must naturally remind noir fans of Orson WellesThe Lady from Shanghai, which came out the following year. Of course, the Welles version is even more flashy and disorienting, although it wasn’t a dream sequence. But then, maybe this one isn’t either. One of this uncanny movie’s mysteries is whether or how much of what we see is a dream. Crime films discovered the power of surreal dreams following Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) and this trend was hitting stride in “psychiatric” items like Spellbound (1945) and Shock (1946). Fear in the Night is a high point.


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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
It's not the worst picture ever made, or even the worst Spaghetti Western, but its many low-points bury its few high-points.

God’s Gun (1976), one of the few Spaghetti Western’s filmed in Israel, opens with a catchy theme song as a puppet show being held for children in the middle of the street transitions into a show of violence when a gang of bandits ride into the town of Juno City, rob a bank, and kill everyone in sight. This promising start to the film is quickly forgotten after learning that a young boy named Johnny (Leif Garrett) is going to be a major player in the story. It’s not that Garrett is a terrible child-actor; it’s just that his character gets on my nerves due to the predictability of his melodramatic antics.


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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Flicker Alley's new Blu-ray/DVD combo We're in the Movies: Palace of Silents and Itinerant Filmmaking provides a glimpse into obscure corners of film history.

In a phenomenon that historians have called itinerant filmmaking, small companies made a living traveling to various towns and making films. They might advertise in the paper, or they might pitch the project to city councils or booster groups as a promotional idea. They got paid to shoot local amateurs in little stories around carefully chosen locations. The small crew, sometimes just a director and a cameraman, would shoot and edit the picture and then give the print (usually the only copy in existence) to whomever had commissioned it. Then they would move on to the next town.


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Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014
While his life was filled with many career triumphs, the late Richard Attenborough will always be remembered for these ten examples of his undeniable talent.

Richard Attenborough was born in 1923 to a founding member of Britain’s Marriage Guidance Council (a charity centering on advice for couples) and a scholar who wrote the standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. In World War II, he served with the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) film unit (where he recorded the outcome of Bomb Commander sorties) before taking to the stage. He would soon become one of Britain’s biggest box office draws.


He costarred in the original production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, taking a ten percent profit-participation in the production. It would go on to set a world record as the longest running stage play in history (over 25,000 performances and still going strong) and during the ‘60s, he recorded triumphs in both hero and villain roles. He even earned back to back Golden Globes (for The Sand Pebbles and Doctor Doolittle), becoming one of his homeland’s most celebrated stars in the process.


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Monday, Aug 25, 2014
This YA tearjerker could have worked, and it should have worked, but it had it's own demise already written into its DNA.

When the returns came in for The Fault in Our Stars, two studios must have been beyond happy. 20th Century Fox financed the film version of John Green’s popular YA novel, and were glad to see their old fashioned disease of the week tearjerker bring in over $48 million at the box office opening weekend. By the time the end of Summer rolls around, it will easily have banked more than $271 million worldwide.


This should have been good news for Warner Bros. as well, seeing as how it bet on another YA weeper, If I Stay, to further commercialize, and therefore capitalize on the trend. Prior to the 22 August release date, industry pundits had it easily winning the box office war, what with the nine years in the making Sin City sequel and a faith-based football title, When the Game Stands Tall, it’s only real competition. Surely it could mimic The Fault in Our Stars‘s success while beating back any lingering love for a bunch of mutant ninja turtles and a dancing tree creature and his pals.


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