Sunday, November 12, 2017


I know, I know. I was doing extremely well there for awhile, with new postings every day or practically every day, and I have dropped off again lately.

Not that I am being unproductive - anything but. I'm still turning out new audio commentaries like clockwork, including three for Kino Lorber's forthcoming Season One box set of THE OUTER LIMITS and another for Arrow Academy's upcoming THE WITCHES (the 1967 portmanteau film starring Silvana Mangano); I have already recorded 18 this year alone, and I've agreed to do more before the year is out.

Additionally, I'm working on two books simultaneously. I've already told you about my Joe Sarno project (for which I recently received an enthusiastic note of interest from a publisher I approached) but I have also agreed to write a couple of monographs for Electric Dreamhouse Press in the UK. One of these will be devoted to Georges Franju's JUDEX (1963), but for a variety of reasons, I've been finding it difficult to start that one.

It is now exactly one week ago that I started work in earnest on the other monograph, devoted to the Edgar Allan Poe anthology film SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (HISTOIRES EXTRAORDINAIRES, 1968), with its stories directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini. Sometimes it's impossible to get the merry-go-round turning, and sometimes you have to grab on and hold firm, it starts spinning so fast. I had an astounding first week. I became so completely absorbed in my work that the rest of the world seemed to disappear - and considering the way the world is going, this is not such a bad thing anymore. But since last Sunday, I've compiled close to 42,000 words - and the length requirement advised by Electric Dreamhouse is only 30,000. No worries: my editor Neil Snowdon has advised me to follow my Muse and see where it takes me, which is what all writers yearn to hear, so I am sticking to it.

I am not spending too much time on making everything perfect; I'm producing a rough draft to see what information I have before organizing it all into a working system. I am approaching each of the three episodes as I do when writing audio commentaries, while also working in quotations and data from other sources. Right now, I have most of what I need for the first two stories, but I still need to synthesize my data and write a definitive critical assessment of each. I am just beginning my work on the Fellini segment, which - the more I contemplate it - is probably my single favorite piece of cinema. Every frame of that film is a staggering work of art, and that's how I intend to analyze it. It turned my head upside down when I first saw the movie at the age of 14 and I've never been the same since.

So, if you don't see any activity here on the blog, I apologize - but bear in mind that it's almost certainly because there is a great deal of activity being focused elsewhere that is bound to find its way to you, some happy day.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay well... and stay interested!

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Kino Lorber's Restored SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944)

Last night I decided to watch my advance copy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics' Blu-ray of David O. Selznick's SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead and Monty Woolley - not to mention Soda the Bulldog. I put it on without much familiarity; not only did I not realize that I was committing to a restored "roadshow" version nearly three hours in length, but I was also laboring under the confused impression that this was one of a couple of mainstream pictures from Kino Lorber for which my friend Kat Ellinger had recorded an audio commentary for it - which would have been a taxing job, given its 177-minute length, complete with Overture, Intermission, and Ent'racte!*

I watched the first 20 minutes or so, wondering what Kat would have to say about this and that... and then, slowly but surely, I found myself drawn into the wartime melodrama of its lonely yet optimistic Americana - hook, line and sinker. For a film so deeply rooted in dark fears, and guilty of the occasional racist wartime remark or caricature, it's as inviting and heartwarming as a Christmas movie. It also reminded me strongly of times in living memory when Uncle Sam was still a beloved relative, when America was far less psychotic and manipulated to madness by our politicians and media. It's manipulative in its own way, mind you, but I can think of few nicer ways to start leaning toward the holidays.

Superbly restored over its re-release length by an additional 45 minutes, it's also beautifully photographed in B&W, with lots of long shadows and inventive shadowplay. Additional kudos for its inventive use of future BATMAN Commissioner Gordon, Neil Hamilton.

It streets November 21. Put it on your shopping list. 

* I'm told that Kat and Samm Deighan actually share commentary duties on another David O. Selznick film, I'LL BE SEEING YOU, and LOVE WITH A PROPER STRANGER - both from KL Studio Classics. I am familiar with neither film but I will watch both if only to enjoy their commentary work, which is always top-notch.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.