The overstuffed story begins when King Ahmad (John Justin), who truth be told looks more like an Oxford rower than an Arabian king, is tricked by his evil number two Jaffar (Conrad Veidt) into leaving the safety of his palace to meet his subjects. Once on the street, Jaffar has him arrested and tossed into a dungeon, where he meets Abu the thief (Sabu), a charismatic 15-year-old Huck Finn type who loves the life of the orphan adventurer.
Continue reading: The Thief Of Bagdad Review
That was a long time ago; Tinky-Winky would be in the closet for another 80-some years. Kino, distributors of the new DVD release of Different from the Others, makes the case that the film was the first to address the issue of homosexuality head-on - and to do so compassionately, no less - and it's hard to imagine that they're wrong.
Continue reading: Different From The Others Review
How disfigured? Think Joker. Gwynplaine (Veidt) is a member of royalty in England circa King James II who is abducted from his father as a little boy for political reasons and left in the "care" of the Comprachicos, a band of gypsies among whose ranks we find a surgeon named Hardquanonne. Gwynplaine escapes, but not before this surgeon has performed a ghastly procedure on him, leaving him with a permanent, eerie grin cut across his face. He becomes a successful circus clown ("The Man Who Laughs") performing with a woman named Dea (Mary Philbin), whom he loves and whose claim to fame is that she is both beautiful and blind. The Countess Josiana takes an interest in him when she sees him perform; as Gwynplaine's noble roots are uncovered, a scandal is born, and the story takes a Dickensian turn before ending in the kind of rampage that any member of the Frankenstein household could tell you all about.
Continue reading: The Man Who Laughs Review
A new double-disc DVD of Casablanca enhances the film for novelists and cineastes alike. I rarely do this, but I listened to Roger Ebert's entire commentary track, which he uses to discuss the film's curious shortcomings (what good would letters of transit signed by Charles de Gaulle be in getting you out of Morocco?), Bogart's past and rise to fame (this being his first starring role), Bergman and her foibles, endless points about the film's dozen or so famous lines, and extended commentary on the lighting, special effects (if you can call them that), and camerawork.
Continue reading: Casablanca Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.