Archive for pre-1945

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (a.k.a.: That really old Lincoln movie)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 8, 2013 by willontheinternet

In case there’s a rival film snob reading this, I’d like to clarify something: This is NOT about “Abraham Lincoln“, the 1930 movie by D.W.Griffith. This is about the 1940 movie by RKO Pictures, well known for ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘King Kong’ and a bunch of stylish cheap movies (Isle of the Dead, Curse of the Cat People.)

In it’s time, ‘Abe Lincoln in Illinois’, directed by the now-unknown John Cromwell, was critically acclaimed and nominated for 2 acadamy awards. (note; there were only 18 award categories at the time, as opposed to 24 today.) Today it is almost unknown, and stands as a sad example of how easily the film industry forgets it’s past.

Let's see who's been naughty this year...

Let’s see who’s been naughty this year…

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Street Angel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 23, 2012 by willontheinternet

I saw “Lincoln” yesterday, and hope to discuss it while it’s still in theaters. Today I’ll just say that it’s damn good, better then I thought it would be… Now, let’s talk about a movie from pre-communist China…

Street Angel (马路天使) is apparently famous in China, though this has not been confirmed by any of the Chinese people I mentioned it to… Probably it’s famous among the same kind of people who liked Dead End in the US.

Houses made from the finest cardboard

Those who live in cardboard houses… should start a revolution.

Like Dead End, the movie begins and ends in the slums, and has poverty as it’s central theme. Apparently it’s a ‘leftist’ movie, although I personally didn’t find it to be any more leftist then Dead End was. The fact that a revolution took place in China a decade later has nothing much to do with our heroes, who spend more time flirting and playing tricks then fighting to overthrow the bourgeois upper class. The characters are poor but optimistic, nothing like the ‘serious’ type of poor people we see in modern ‘important’ movies. In the 1930’s, poverty was more visible. Poor people on screen weren’t ‘tragic’ or ‘controversial’, they were just… well, poor. The male lead is laughable; a bad trumpet player, who also knows magic tricks. Continue reading

Introspection Tower

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 20, 2012 by willontheinternet

“Introspection Tower” (mikaeri no to, みかへりの搭) is a movie by Shimizu Hiroshi, an important Japanese Director of the 30’s and 40’s. When I was looking up reviews of the movie, I read one that said it was on the “lower tier” of Shimizu Hiroshi’s work, and I flew into a small rage. I knew I someone would have to correct this: Introspection Tower is his masterpiece.

The setting is a Japanese reform school. Before we begin, we watch a tour guide talking to ‘prospective parents’ as he explains how the school works. Most of the curriculum is practical in nature (farming and such.) Since it’s located in a remote mountain area, it looks more like a summer camp then a school.

 “last year, the number of bed-wettings reached 2,317. It is beyond our control.” [actual quote]

“last year, the number of bed-wettings reached 2,317. It is beyond our control.” [actual quote]

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