WolfmanOz at the Movies #37

Guv’nor

After a weeks’ sorjorn in Auckland New Zealand visiting family, I’m back to resume my weekly film post.

The gangster genre has been a staple in cinema ever since the medium begun. In America, the emphasis tended towards the Mafia and other various ethnic origins, but in the UK the genre was never quite so strong or dominant. British gangster films tended to focus on their working class backgrounds although there was always an undercurrent of vicious violence.

Get Carter, released in 1971, was one of the better British gangster movies, and although I have always admired it, I can’t say it’s a film I find very enjoyable due to all the characters being pretty repellent – including Michael Caine in one of his few really nasty villainous roles.

However, for me, the British gangster film hit the jackpot in 1980 with the release of The Long Good Friday. Although completed in 1979 it was delayed for a year but burst onto the scene the following year as the storyline encompassed the events and concerns of the late 1970s, including political and police corruption and IRA fund-raising.

The protagonist is Harold Shand, a top London gangster, who aspires to become legitimate and is trying to form a partnership with an American Mafia boss; but his world is upended by a series of bomb attacks on his properties and numerous murders of his associates.

Believing a local turf war has erupted, Shand gets all the other gang bosses together in one very unique and unusual place.

Ultimately, Shand learns that people within his own team have been dealing with the IRA, which leads him to violently dealing with them plus setting up a showdown with the local IRA chiefs in London.

Although Shand now believes his enemies are all dead he finds the Americans preparing to leave, having been spooked by the carnage. In response to their dismissive comments about the UK, Shand berates them for their arrogance and dismisses them as cowards. But at the film’s end, Shand will face the consequences of his recent actions.

The film boasts a standout performance by Bob Hoskins which was his breakout role. Unfortunately, over the years, he never quite achieved the same quality of roles, but here he is absolutely dynamic whether showing the character’s ruthless violent streak and/or his character’s humorous cunning intelligence.

Helen Mirren co-stars as Shand’s girlfriend in a role that could very easily have been a cliche but she brings a strength and believability to the character that would see her continue as one of the best film actresses in the last 50 years.

The Long Good Friday is one of the best British gangster movie ever made, arguably the best-ever. It’s a film made with ferocious intelligence, is tightly plotted and with razor-edged thrills it still packs a punch over 40 years after it was first released.

Enjoy

WW Movie Clips



WolfmanOz at the Movies #36

Come and play with us Danny

When it was released in 1980, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining did well at the box office (after the relative failure of his previous film Barry Lyndon) but it perplexed critics and reviews were generally mixed. But over time, like so many of Kubrick’s films, it has been reappraised and is now considered one of the best horror films ever made.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, it tells the story of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in arguably his signature performance), an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies where he takes his wife Wendy and young son Danny with him. Danny has psychic abilities referred to as “shining” and when a winter storm leaves the family snowbound at the hotel, Jack’s sanity dissipates due to the influence of the supernatural forces that inhabit the hotel which wants to claim Danny’s “shining”.

In the last 40 years I can think no other film that has been analysed, written and discussed about as much as The Shining; there was even a documentary – Room 237 – which covered the many interpretations of the film. So what more can I add to write about this film ?

As a horror film it has a relatively low death rate – there’s only 2 deaths; it’s largely filmed in bright light not in darkness; it is full of ambiguities in which there are no clear answers; and the ending certainly does not neatly tie it all up. All of which adds up to a film that, for me, continually rewards the viewer with repeated viewings.

The films starts with one of the most amazing opening tracking shots (via a helicopter) as we follow Jack driving his VW Beetle through the Rockies to get to the Overlook Hotel. With the Dies Irae in the background it acts as sinister foreboding of dread.

The film also extensively uses the steadicam for many of its tracking shots, of which one of the most talked-about shots in the film is the eerie tracking sequence which follows Danny as he pedals at high speed through corridor after corridor on his plastic tricycle. The soundtrack explodes with noise when the wheel is on wooden flooring and is abruptly silent as it crosses over carpet. All of which come to a jarring halt when Danny is confronted by the ghosts of the Grady twins.

A lot of the dialogue in the film has a foreboding unease. Take for example this scene where Jack recognises the former caretaker Grady. At first, it appears Jack has the upper hand but note how the tone shifts and he becomes subservient to the suggestions and menace of the previous caretaker. Coupled with the unique colour and design of the mens restroom it is all very sinister.

The film’s sound design is another feature which adds immeasurably to the film’s atmosphere. In the following clip from the film’s most famous and iconic scene, note how it starts with an ominous sound of strings punctuated with sharp staccatos then suddenly it screeches as the true nature of Danny’s Redrum is revealed to be followed by Jack’s axe breaking down the door.

There is much more I could add about this film, but I’ll save it for including in the comments section.

Also, for those that are interested, I have created the following playlist from this film which features 17 clips in total.

The Shining Playlist

In summary, The Shining is a brilliantly made baroque journey into madness and horror, exemplified by Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable performance, and Kubrick’s total mastery of the film medium. In over 40 years it’s power and impact has not diminished at all and I have the film included in my top ten favourites of all-time.

Finally, I’d also add that Nicolson gave one of the best summaries of Kubrick in the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures“Everyone pretty much acknowledges he’s the man, and I still feel that underrates him“.

Enjoy

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #35

God Save the King !

Historical dramas have long been a staple of cinema, whether based on fact or fiction, they have provided a countless sources of topic/plots over the years.

One of my particular favourites is the film Cromwell starring Richard Harris as Oliver Cromwell and Alec Guinness as King Charles I. The film depicts the rise of Cromwell and the depiction of the English Civil War which lead to the trial and execution of the king.

One of the reasons why the film still resonates with me today is that I saw it on first release way back in 1970 and it was a special treat seeing the film with my mum at an evening session during the school week. We were also studying this period of history at school, and being a keen student of history (thanks again to my mum) I lapped up the film.

On reflection, the film does take some liberties with the events eg. it raises Cromwell’s profiles and leadership of the New Model Army whereas it was Sir Thomas Fairfax who was the main driver of it; which is disappointing as it depicts the look and feel of the period splendidly and it does present the complex issues of the conflict between parliament and king very well in a two hour plus movie.

Today, I look back at more to savour one of Alec Guinness’s finest film performances as the vain, weak but ultimately tragic king. It’s a great performance where he captures the king’s nuances, his stammer and his obstinate nature that ultimately cost him his crown and his life.

Of course Alec Guinness is most famous for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy, but really they were only a sideshow to his really great film roles – Fagin in Oliver Twist, eight D’Ascoyne’s in Kind Hearts And Coronets, his Ealing roles in The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man In The White Suit, Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge On The River Kwai (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor) Tunes Of Glory, Lawrence Of Arabia . . . the list goes on. For me, he’s one of cinema’s great actors.

One should not forget Richard Harris who brings enormous statue and earnestness to the role of Cromwell, one of English history’s most polarising figures.

For those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this film which features 10 clips in total.

Cromwell Playlist

Enjoy

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #34

Beyond the Infinite

I vividly recall the day I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, way back in 1976. It was on a fine Saturday afternoon and the soccer team I was playing for had a bye so along with a few of my teammates we decided to go and see the film which was on a re-release and being presented in 70mm on a huge theatre screen.

Of course, back then, before the days of the internet, our knowledge of the film and of Stanley Kubrick was quite limited but two and a half hours later one teenager came out of the theatre absolutely enthralled, amazed, bewildered and with a totally new perspective of movies and the art of cinema.

Back in 1964, after Kubrick had finished his nightmare black comedy Dr. Strangelove, he announced his next project would be about extraterrestrial life and resolved to make “the proverbial good science fiction movie”; his film would become as Spielberg remarked his film generation’s “big bang”, while George Lucas says it was “hugely inspirational”, calling Kubrick “the filmmaker’s filmmaker”.

The basic premise of the film is the discovery of an alien artefact (a black monolith) on the Moon which leads to a manned space expedition to Jupiter manned by five astronauts (albeit three are in hibernation) and a supercomputer called HAL.

The film is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects (no CGI) and ambiguous imagery. Kubrick avoided conventional cinematic and narrative techniques; dialogue is used sparingly, and there are long sequences accompanied only by music. The soundtrack incorporates numerous works of classical and avant-garde music.

This merging of image and music was never better exemplified when we leap forward from apemen a million years ago to spaceships in the future with the most audacious jump-cut in cinema history.

This will be the only clip I’ll post of the film in this post as there are so many scenes and moments that make this film so memorable and remarkable. But for those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this movie masterpiece which features 18 clips in total.

2001: A Space Odyssey Playlist

Kubrick made the film mostly nonverbal, to communicate on a visual and visceral level rather than through conventional narrative. Long periods without dialogue permeate throughout the film: the film has no dialogue for roughly the first and last twenty minutes.

Regarding the film as a whole, Kubrick encouraged people to make their own interpretations – “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point”.

However, I would be the first to admit that this is not a film for everyone. It tells its story in a very non-linear manner; its pacing is slow and deliberate; it has only approximately 40 minutes of dialogue in a film with a running time of close to two and a half hours and has no real development of the human characters.

When 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered in 1968, film critic Renata Adler called it ‘‘somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring” and respected critic Pauline Kael declared it ‘‘a monumentally unimaginative movie”. Nearly 250 people walked out of the New York premiere.

But from the initial indifference of the established critics the film has emerged to be regarded as one of the finest ever made and is now often cited in critics and filmmakers lists of the greatest films ever made, with many critics and filmmakers considering it Kubrick’s masterpiece.

This from a filmmaker who only made 13 feature films of which most are the benchmark or the pinnacle of their particular genre ie. horror – The Shining; black comedy – Dr. Strangelove; period drama – Barry Lyndon; historical epic – Spartacus; dystopian – A Clockwork Orange; war – Paths Of Glory and Full Metal Jacket; and, of course science-fiction – 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kubrick’s output was limited in quantity but in terms of quality, IMO, there has been no filmmaker in cinema history who has matched the incredible quality of his output. For me, a part of cinema died when Kubrick passed away in 1999; it is ironic that he never saw the year 2001 !

Therefore to summarise for me, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a brilliantly controlled venture into science fiction which exists on an almost subliminal level. A hypnotic, intensely visual film with a peculiar artistic power which comes from the obsession of its creator and director, Stanley Kubrick. A cinematic masterpiece that defines film in terms of abstract communication.

And in the 46 years since I first saw it, I reckon I’ve watched and bathed in the glow of this movie masterpiece with well over a hundred viewings. For me, it’s not only my all-time favourite film of but one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century by one of the great artists of the century.

Enjoy.

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #33

And All That Jazz

Cinema’s ability to produce top class musicals has been in decline for many decades now. I’ve seen numerous commentaries that public tastes have changed and they no longer desire to see musicals.

However, I disagree with this view.

Given the numerous musical stage shows that are continually being released and the public’s insatiable appetite for them and their popularity, albeit, IMO, the music and songs seem to pale into insignificance compared to yesteryear, I believe it’s simply a case that the filmmaker’s craft for producing such entertainments has dissipated over time.

However, the dearth of a really good musical was broken in 2002 with the release of Chicago, based on the 1975 stage black comedy musical which tells the tale of two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago.

The film starts with a bang with Catherine Zeta-Jones (in her Academy Award winning role) as Velma Kelly belting out the opening number.

The films’ numbers are cleverly presented as mostly cutaway scenes in the mind of the character whilst scenes in real life are filmed with a gritty hard-edged style. The film marked the directorial debut of Rob Marshall who seemed to get his cues from the late, great Bob Fosse who had directed the original 1975 Broadway production. However, Rob Marshall would go on to direct the absolutely dreadful Cats ! ! !

The film also boasts one of the great all-time show stopping numbers ever filmed for a musical.

It’s an absolute corker of a number, brilliantly choreographed, in which six women, at the Cook Country Jail, explain their presence in the prison, all of whom stand accused of killing their male partners.

The film also stars the excellent Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart, a bored housewife who dreams of becoming a musical star and Richard Gere as Billy Flynn the smooth-talking, slimy lawyer who turns his female clients into celebrities to gain public support for their acquittal.

Unusually for a musical, the characters are mostly unsympathetic and quite dislikable as the whole film eschews any sentiment. It’s the excellence of the execution in terms of direction, acting, choreography and the music that makes the film such a standout.

For those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this movie which features 13 numbers in total.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLt5qtosTj5OURSX3OyEzktcKEm067sD8

Singin’ In The Rain is my favourite musical of all-time, but I would include Chicago as one of the best 5 musicals ever made to come out of Hollywood.

Enjoy.

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #32

A miracle of a film

Lawrence Of Arabia was first released just under 60 years ago on December 10th, 1962. The film depicts T.E. Lawrence’s experiences during World War I in the Ottoman Empire provinces of Hejaz and Greater Syria where he united the warring Arab tribes in their fight to rid the Turks from Arabia.

Its themes include Lawrence’s emotional struggles with the violence implicit in war, his own tortured identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his new-found comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.

The film is not a wholly accurate portrayal of the events and most of the film’s characters were based on actual people to varying degrees with some scenes heavily fictionalised. Also the characterisation of Lawrence was somewhat controversial as Peter O’Toole at 6 foot 2 inches was considerably taller that the 5 foot 5 inch Lawrence whilst the film portrayed him as somewhat of an egotist.

But despite theses misgivings the film often appears in critics and filmmaker lists as one of greatest films ever made with O’Toole’s performance also cited as one of the best ever captured in celluloid.

This is one film that DEMANDS to be seen in a cinema. The epic scope of this film has never been surpassed and the dazzling cinematography by Freddie Young captures the awesome beauty of the desert that is simply breathtaking. Director David Lean was so transfixed by the desert that it was rumoured he never wanted to complete the film.

It is remarkable that for such a big film that the lead role of T.E. Lawrence went to the relatively unknown (at the time) Peter O’Toole. Producer Sam Spiegel had favoured casting Marlon Brando but Lean insisted on O’Toole after the success of his screen tests.

O’Toole is quite simply marvellous in which he features in nearly every scene in a film that runs for 3 hours and 47 minutes. This is quite an extraordinary portrayal where O’Toole depicts the inner demons of his character in a film performance I regard as my favourite movie performance of all-time.

In addition to the unknown O’Toole, the film introduced Omar Sharif to the cinema world with one of the most spectacular entrances ever filmed.

The rest of the cast featured a cavalcade of outstanding actors including Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal, Jack Hawkins as General Allenby, Anthony Quayle as Colonel Brighton, Arthur Kennedy as Jackson Bentley, José Ferrer as the Turkish Bey, Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden and last, but not least, the charismatic Anthony Quinn as Auda Abu Tayi.

Today, the woke brigade would object to Anthony Quinn (a Mexican-American) playing an Arab, but using the tools of his profession i.e. make-up and the immense talent he possessed, he created an unforgettable performance as the fearsome Arab chieftain.

At its core, the movie is a character study and it depicts the gradual disintegration of its Lawrence over the course of the film culminating in the climatic slaughter of a Turkish column.

Boasting a glorious score by Maurice Jarre that is one of the most famous ever composed for the screen, it is just another superlative in this magnificent movie.

This is another film that couldn’t be made today as we have seemed to have lost the craft and skills of the filmmakers of yesteryear that could put such a movie together. I doubt we will ever see the likes of David Lean, Robert Bolt, Freddie Young, Anne V. Coates, John Box and Maurice Jarre ever again.

But we can be thankful that this film was made and also to Robert A. Harris who painstakingly restored the film back to its former glory in 1989.

For those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this movie which features 14 scenes in total.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLt5qtosTj5MEenc5jBTqvykz648-Macb

I clearly recall first seeing this film nearly 50 years ago at the cinema in one of its many re-releases. I fell in love with it then and to this day I am still utterly in awe of this film; and, to put it simply, Lawrence Of Arabia is my second favourite movie of all time.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcwqoxIWa4cGW9hCESaUMg

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #31

Is it safe ?

A great anecdote in regards to the filming of Marathon Man, released in 1976, is the often quoted exchange between its two stars, Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier concerning their different approaches to acting.

Hoffman, a disciple of method acting, is purported to have prepared for a scene where his character had been awake for three days by doing the same himself. When told of this, Olivier suggested “Why don’t you just try acting ?”

Whether or not this was actually the case, it’s a great story, but 46 years after the film was first released, the movie still remains memorable as one of the best thrillers ever made.

Based on the novel of acclaimed screenwriter William Goldman (who also wrote the screenplay as well) it tells the story of Babe, a history graduate student (Hoffman) who becomes involved in the machinations of a Nazi war criminal Christian Szell (Olivier) to retrieve stolen diamonds from a safe deposit box owned by Szell’s dead brother. Babe becomes unwittingly involved due to his brother Doc’s (Roy Scheider) dealings with Szell.

Marathon Man is one of those films that when you analyse it in detail after the event there are a number of plot holes, but taking Hitchcock’s view that a good thriller film should be able to put the audience’s brain under their seat, then this film succeeds brilliantly as it is a superbly crafted escapist entertainment that is made with relentless skill.

The film is also memorable for the scene where Szell tortures Babe by first probing a cavity in one of Babe’s teeth and later drilling into another tooth, without anesthetic, while repeatedly asking the question “Is it safe ?” 

To this day, I always ask my dentist “Is it safe ?” before my regular half yearly check-up.

The film also doesn’t play it safe. Roy Scheider was now a big star after starring in Jaws the year before and it came as major shock when just half way through the movie Szell takes Doc by surprise and kills him with a blade concealed in his sleeve.

Olivier’s performance here is one of his finest that he ever gave in a film where he brilliantly conveys the cold evil nature of his character with intelligence and cunning.

Hoffman also shines as the confused Babe who, initially out of his depth, manages to improvise to ensure he can survive the mayhem he has been thrust into.

Marathon Man has always been a personal favourite of mine ever since I saw it when it was first released. Again, it’s a film we won’t see made today as the craft and skills it was made are no longer with us.

Enjoy . . . just don’t go to the dentist !

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcwqoxIWa4cGW9hCESaUMg

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #30

My Wicked, Wicked Ways

Born on June 20th, 1909 in Battery Point, Tasmania, Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn became one of cinema’s greatest movie stars who achieved everlasting fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood with numerous roles in swashbuckling adventure films that still endure today as the benchmarks for the genre.

Never one for taking himself too seriously he also enjoyed a reputation for womanising and a hedonistic personal life that, to be honest, would be the envy of any red-blooded male !

In 1933 he managed to snare the role of Fletcher Christian in the film In The Wake Of The Bounty which quickly got the attention of Hollywood where he featured in a couple of minor roles but his big break came in 1935 with the release of Captain Blood. Originally to star Robert Donat, who turned the role down due to ill-health, so Warner Bros cast Flynn, after a number of highly impressive screen tests. The film was a huge success and launched the careers of two stars – Flynn and his frequent co-star Olivia de Havilland.

A few films passed until in 1938 when Flynn starred in most famous, and beloved role, as Robin Hood in the magnificent The Adventures Of Robin Hood.

84 years later this is still the gold-standard benchmark for adventure films where Flynn’s bravado and charisma shines throughout.

He was ably assisted by a terrific supporting cast with Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion, Claude Rains as Prince John and Basil Rathbone as the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne. The climatic sword fight between Robin and Sir Guy has never been bettered.

Many years later de Havilland recounted in an interview: “And so we had one kissing scene, which I looked forward to with great delight. I remember I blew every take, at least six in a row, maybe seven, maybe eight, and we had to kiss all over again. And Errol Flynn got really rather uncomfortable, and he had, if I may say so, a little trouble with his tights.”

Flynn’s movie career was at its apex with such films as The Dawn Patrol, Dodge City, The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex, The Sea Hawk and Gentleman Jim.

He had another monster hit portraying General George Armstrong Custer in the highly fictionalised They Died With Their Boots On which still entertains today but not as a recounting of history.

Then in 1942, Flynn was accused of statutory rape by two 17-year-old girls and although he was eventually acquitted, the trial’s widespread and lurid details permanently damaged his screen image as a romantic idealised leading star.

He attempted to enlist but failed the physical exam and was pilloried by the press as a “draft dodger” which was not helped by his studio refusing to admit that Flynn, promoted for his romanticism and athleticism, had been rejected due to health issues.

His great swashbuckling adventure roles were now behind him but he arguably gave his best acting performance in 1949’s That Forsyte Woman as the cold-hearted Soames Forsyte. Although the film is rather dull, Flynn was terrific in a role that was the antithesis of what he usually did and showed there was a real acting talent behind the facade of his public persona.

In 1959, he died of myocardial infarction as due to coronary thrombosis and coronary atherosclerosis and portal cirrhosis of the liver – in other words he drank and screwed himself to death ! He was aged just 50.

He was buried with six bottles of his favourite whiskey.

A posthumous autobiography was released My Wicked, Wicked Ways in which Flynn detailed with honesty a self-portrait of his lurid escapades and life.

There hasn’t been a movie star quite like Errol Flynn and I doubt we will ever see one ever again to rival him.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcwqoxIWa4cGW9hCESaUMg

WW Movie Clips

WolfmanOz at the Movies #29


Bring me my Chariot of Fire

Composer Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, or more commonly known as Vangelis, died only a couple of months ago. A Greek composer mostly of electronic orchestral music, he was most prolific in the scoring of movies. His most best known score, and arguably his most beloved, was for the wonderful 1981 historical sports drama Chariots Of Fire.

On first appearances, it was certainly an unusual choice of scoring for this film, but it instantly hit a nerve with the public and has become an instant classic, likewise the film, which for me still resonants to this day in its depiction of two amazing British athletes – Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell – who both overcame major impediments in achieving their Olympic success in winning Gold medals at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

The film chronicles their rise to prominence in British athletics in the early 1920s with Abrahams running to overcome prejudice as he was Jewish, and Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God.

I have to admit that back in 1981 I had only heard of Harold Abrahams before due to his statesman like role in British athletics and Eric Liddell was a complete unknown to me. Subsequently I’ve read a lot about this remarkable and Godly man who became a missionary teacher in China where he eventually died in 1945 in a Japanese civilian internment camp.

Ian Charleson’s performance as Liddell is for me the standout performance in a film that is splendidly acted across the board. He perfectly captures the essence of a deeply religious man who can run fast, and, for want of a better word, a good man in the truest sense of the word.

The film’s depiction of their gold medal races is quite starkly different in tone, which is tremendously emphasised by Vangelis’ music in both scenes.

Abrahams triumph in the 100 metres is shown as methodical in its build up with the music ceasing with the firing of the starters gun and not resuming again until after Abraham’s has won followed by a montage of the race again in slow motion intercut with Abrahams accepting the congratulations of his win.

Then we have Liddell’s triumph in the 400 metres, where the scene commences without music as the runners prepare for the race, and where American runner Jackson Scholz hands Liddell a note of support quoting 1 Samuel 2:30 “In the old book it says: ‘He that honours me I will honour” – although in reality it was handed to Liddell by one of the teams masseurs.

As the race begins we hear Liddell’s thoughts as he says he runs as “He feels His pleasure” which then merges into Vangelis triumphant music which is marvellously stirring and emotional.

I have always viewed the film as one of those that celebrates the innate goodness of individual people which triumphs over adversities, in a time which seems to be less complicated than today. It also raises the issue of faith, of refusal to compromise and standing up for one’s beliefs, achieving something for the sake of it, with passion, and not just for fame or financial gain.

And to quote Kate Muir’s review of the 2012 re-release: “In a time when drug tests and synthetic fibres have replaced gumption and moral fibre, the tale of two runners competing against each other in the 1924 Olympics has a simple, undiminished power. From the opening scene of pale young men racing barefoot along the beach, full of hope and elation, backed by Vangelis’s now famous anthem, the film is utterly compelling.”

Enjoy.

PS – Many thank to those Cats who have subscribed to the new channel. It is greatly appreciated.

The URL link to the new channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtcwqoxIWa4cGW9hCESaUMg

WolfmanOz at the Movies #28

liberté, égalité, fraternité

Before I begin on my weekly post, I thought I’d let everyone know my YouTube channel was deleted a couple of days ago care of retrospective copyright strikes against a couple of Laurel & Hardy shorts that were uploaded approximately 11 months ago !

I was initially devastated, as 11 months of hard work and success was literally wiped out and I had no recourse to appeal even though I had documented proof that the copyright was OK with the uploads 11 months ago. It appears they can simply change their mind.

The channel had become therapy for me to get my mind off COVID and lockdowns (I started it during Daniel Fucking Andrews last long lockdown in the 2nd half of 2021) and from a base of ground zero it had reached 1,500 subscriptions, 1.3 million views and a daily view rate of 10K+.

Fortunately I had a separate test channel which had over 2/3s of my clips uploaded, so I have decided to give it another ago (albeit this time I won’t be uploading any L&H shorts !). I also maintained a detailed spreadsheet which I used to monitor the performance of the previous channel which I will be using to initially focus on those clips that were most successful previously.

I know a number of Cats had subscribed to my old channel, and if any feel so inclined, I’d appreciate if they could subscribe to the new channel – it’s still called WW Movie Clips.

So enough of woe is me . . .

Today I’m looking at the French Revolution, and to be honest, for such an interesting and momentous episode in human history there have been very few movies that have been successful, IMO, in presenting this in a satisfactory way.

I’m not really referring to such films as A Tale Of Two Cities (1935) which although it’s the best film version of my favourite Dickens novel, it doesn’t really tackle the ideals and politics of the revolution. The same goes for the many versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

There was La Révolution Française a 1989 two-part French production that tried to present an even handed version of the events but I found it rather tiresome and it came across as no more than a tedious history lesson.

But for me, one film which was successful in portraying the political machinations and their deadly consequences was Andrzej Wajda’s 1983 film Danton starring Gérard Depardieu in arguably his best film performance as Danton.

The film depicts the last weeks of Georges Danton and his conflict with Robespierre during when the Reign of Terror was at its zenith.

There was some criticism of the film as it appeared to be drawing parallels between what was happening during the Reign of Terror and the situation in Poland with the Solidarity movement and its conflicts with the Soviet-backed Polish government.

Danton superbly presents the way revolutions eat their own, which is dramatically depicted in the following clip:

But the National Committee decrees that anyone who speaks out of turn at the trial will be removed. As the accused, including Danton, are bundled out of court and a verdict of guilty is read.

The consequences of a guilty verdict during the Reign of Terror:

I find this film to be a stark warning of what the ultimate consequences of idealistic revolutions and leftism will be with it’s cynical depiction of power politics, show trials and cold-blooded judicial murder.

Enjoy.