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Archive for the ‘movie history’ Category

D.W. Griffith on location, 1923 October 31. (Library of Congress)

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"Mr. Wells evolving a cosmic thought" by William H. Cotton, 1935 (Library iof Congress)


Charles Dickens was still alive in September 1866 when H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, County of Kent, England. Wells died in 1946, a year after WWII ended. The technological, scientific and social changes which occurred during his life were huge. He spent his life pondering — and attempting to influence — the future.

While some of Wells’ ideas are shocking and repugnant, the pessimism he expressed in his last book, Mind at the End of its Tether, is well founded.

H.G. Wells, 1905 (Library of Congress)

“In the face of our universal inadequacy . . . man must go steeply up or down and the odds seem to be all in favor of his going down and out. If he goes up, then so great is the adaptation demanded of him that he must cease to be a man. Ordinary man is at the end of his tether.”

The current level of technological change has brought a degree of complexity to everyday life that cannot be sustained. People are indeed reaching the end of their tether.

Things to Come (1936) is a movie adaptation, which Wells wrote, of his 1933 novel The Shape of Things To Come, a dystopic view of life from 1936 to 2036 which questions the price of “progress.”

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Okay, so I was crawling around in Youtube initially looking at video of the moon landing in July 1969, then discovered a wonderful channel, Shakespeare and More, then another which then brought me to a third which has a movie I’m cuing up to watch later. It looks like hot stuff!

The Bed Sitting Room (1970)

Directed by Richard Lester

Cast:  Arthur Lowe, Michael Hordern, Ralph Richardson, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Marty Feldman

Script by John Antrobus, based on a play he wrote with Spike Milligan

John Hodson at From The Cheap Seats describes it this way:

Focusing on a tiny group of survivors following the “nuclear misunderstanding” that was World War 3, all of two minutes and 28 seconds long “including signing the peace treaty”, we find a disparate cross-section of British society muddling through in a radiation ravaged landscape…and slowly mutating into a parrot (Arthur Lowe in full pompous mode), a wardrobe (the ever delightful Mona Washbourne), a dog (get down Dudley Moore!) plus, best of all, the eponymous bed sitting room (the eye-wateringly wonderful Ralph Richardson, as the unfortunate Lord Fortnum of Alamein).

This is the first of nine parts. Go here to watch parts 2 through 9.

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Directors: Joan & Peter Foldes
Production Company: British Film Institute Experimental Film Fund
Producers: Joan & Peter Foldes
Written by Joan & Peter Foldes
Music : Mátyás Seiber
Commentator: James McKechnie

(British Film Institute) A Short Vision [1956] became one of the most influential British animated films ever made when it was screened on US television as part of the popular Ed Sullivan Show. Although children were advised to leave the room while it played, it still caused outrage and alarm with its graphic representation of the horrors of nuclear war. But it also caught the mood of the times, since the mid-1950s was the height of both the Cold War and nuclear paranoia, as depicted (sometimes allegorically) in such American films as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957).

Thanks to Buphonia for introducing us to the British Film Institute @ Youtube!

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Political cartoon showing Edmund Kean and Charles Mayne Young, both dressed as Richard III, struggling for Shakespeare, who stands between them.  Published by S. Knight, London, 1814.

Political cartoon showing Edmund Kean and Charles Mayne Young, both dressed as Richard III, struggling for Shakespeare, who stands between them. Published by S. Knight, London, 1814.

I was grazing the Daily Mail and saw a reference to Emma Thompson being married to someone other than Kenneth Branagh. Not being one to keep up with celebrity news and, thus, surprised, I popped over to Wikipedia to learn that Thompson and Branagh haven’t been married since 1995!

But more interesting was a quote in the “personal life” section that I tracked back to an October 2008 interview in The Australian regarding Ms. Thompson’s views of religion:

“I’m an atheist; I suppose you can call me a sort of libertarian anarchist. I regard religion with fear and suspicion. It’s not enough to say that I don’t believe in God. I actually regard the system as distressing: I am offended by some of the things said in the Bible and the Koran, and I refute them.”

She knows she’s being controversial, but she believes passionately in what she says, and passionately believes it needs saying.

“I think that the Bible as a system of moral guidance in the 21st century is insufficient, to put it mildly.”

Emma Thompson not only makes great movies, she makes great sense.

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Jimi Hendrix and Easy Rider

And just because we can … here’s some Steppenwolf  from the same film:

And some Smith:

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Tod Browning, married at the age of 16 to a circus “dancer,” directed, among many other movies, the 1932 Freaks which cast actual carnival performers.

(DeafMovier) When released theatrically in 1932, FREAKS was met with near universal disgust by critics and audiences alike, lasting in theatres for only a short time in the states and banned in England. The film stars Harry Earles as Hans, a suave midget who belongs to the sideshow of a seedy circus and who makes the mistake of falling in love with the beautiful Cleopatra, one of the “normal” circus performers. Learning that Hans is about to inherit a fortune, Cleopatra agrees to marry Hans even though she abhors him, planning to steal his money and get rid of him. When the freaks of the circus, who keep a watchful eye on Cleopatra, discover her scheme, they plan to exact an unforgettable revenge.

The original ending was changed multiple times after audiences and censors were horrified.

Here’s Prince Randian, “the human worm,” lighting a cigarette in a scene from the film:

The entire film is up at Youtube. Watch the first part here:

See also my earlier post about Fritzi Ridgeway.

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