« Coffee Break | Main | Masters of War »

September 16, 2008

Those that are Unseen

big fisherman.jpg

Today, Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule memed me regarding films that I want to see that have thus far eluded me. My list is of films that I have yet to see in any form. I am using the general guidelines of Joseph B. for my list. Some are available on DVD-R that I have avoided because of my own feelings about illegal discs and because the quality may be uncertain. Some are available on DVD but without English subtitles. Some others might be available on tape which is now the format of last resort.

1. It's Trad, Dad (Richard Lester - 1962) Back before I head of the auteur theory, Richard Lester was my first favorite film director. This is the only film of his that I've not been able to see. When it aired on TCM, I was in Thailand. If the film every played in NYC during the years I lived there, it eluded me. With a couple of other rock and roll performance films produced by Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg available on DVD, what's holding up Richard Lester's feature debut?

2. Japanese War Bride (King Vidor - 1952) There was a major retrospective of the films directed by King Vidor at the Museum of Modern Art. Donald Richie had the muscle to forbid the inclusion of this film about interracial marriage. That's reason enough for me to want to see this. It should be noted that with the exception of Korean-American Philip Ahn, the other Japanese and Japanese-American characters are portrayed by actors of Japanese descent.

3. Kagi (Kon Ichikawa - 1959) Considering the number of films he made, and that he was a contemporary and friend of Akira Kurosawa's, Kon Ichikawa is poorly represented on DVD in the US. An Actor's Revenge is finally getting a Region 1 release. This is one of several films by Ichikawa that I have only been able to read about, from the novel by Junichiro Tanizaki, with Michiko Kyo and Tetsuya Nakadai. Yes, I missed the Nakadai retrospective because I no longer live in NYC. By the way, am I the only one who wants to see Ichikawa's Topo Gigio movie?


4. Fear and Desire (Stanley Kubrick - 1953) There was a retrospective of Kubrick films at the Museum of Modern Art. Kubrick promised to include his debut feature, then changed his mind. This may not be as good as Killer's Kiss, but I would love to see it anyways. The screenplay is by Howard Sackler, fifteen years before making his mark with The Great White Hope.

5. La Voce della Luna (Federico Fellini - 1990) You would have thought that someone would have distributed Fellini's last film in the U.S. You would have thought that during Robert Begnigni's brief moment of popularity in the U.S., someone would have brought this film to the art houses of the U.S. This film couldn't possibly be that bad, or is it?

6. Shang Hai zhi yen (Tsui Hark - 1984) I read about Shanghai Blues in a monograph about Tsui's films. This is a musical comedy taking place in 1937 with the multi-talented Sylvia Chang and comic star Kenny Bee. I'm a big fan of Tsui, especially his earlier films before the special effects took over.

7. The Big Fisherman (Frank Borzage - 1959) This was Borzage's final film, and the only non-Disney film released by Walt Disney. Veterans Rowland V. Lee produced, while Lee Garmes got an Oscar nomination for his cinematography. if that's not enough, the cast includes Jonathan Harris before he was lost in space, future director Brian Hutton, as well as Martha Hyer and Susan Kohner.

8. Thieves after Dark (Samuel Fuller - 1984) After the one-two punch of The Big Red One and White Dog, Fuller went back to Europe where he was always more appreciated. The largely French cast includes Claude Chabrol, Stephane Audran and Micheline Presle. This is the only Fuller theatrical film that I have yet to see in any form.

9. La Signora senza Camelie (Michelangelo Antonioni - 1953) Antonioni's second dramatic feature, and second with luscious Lucia Bose. This is a Antonio's movie about movie making.

10. Les Amants de Montparnasse (Jacques Becker -1958) This was the film Max Ophuls started working on when he died. I also like what I've seem by Becker, plus the cast is enough to make me curious. And speaking of Gerard Philippe . . .

11. Devil in the Flesh. I've read the novel, the first time when I was about the same age as the main character, seen Marco Bellochio's update, but would like to see this first filmed version.

12. Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel - 1954) A great title, starring Ida Lupino and with one husband behind the camera, and the other as a co-star. Plus Steve Cochran and Dorothy Malone! And bit parts by Chester Conklin and Richard Deacon. A young guy named Sam Peckinpah was also part of the production crew.


Posted by Peter Nellhaus at September 16, 2008 12:59 AM


Leave it to you Peter to come up with twelve, not one of which I've seen. This is a great and varied list, I'd love to see them all.

By the way, I wonder whatever happened to that Peckinpah guy who worked on Private Hell 36.

Posted by: Jonathan Lapper at September 16, 2008 11:41 AM

I haven't seen any one of these films either but I'd really like to see La Signora senza Camelie, Kagi and It's Trad, Dad.

Attention DVD companies! Pay attention to this meme - PLEASE!!!

Posted by: Kimberly at September 17, 2008 07:37 PM

"La Voce della Luna" is not a bad film - I liked it quite a bit - but it is dark and depressing, which is probably why it never found an American distributor. Robert Benigni gives a restrained (yes, you heard me right, restrained!) performance as a schizophrenic wandering through our mad modern world. The image of a world gone to hell is crystalized in a sequence involving a frenzied crowd dancing to a Michael Jackson song. At this point in his artistic life, Fellini saw no way out, not the celebration of earthly pleasure (eroticism) as in earlier films, certainly not religion - this is the closest Fellini ever got to pure nihilism.

Posted by: c. jerry kutner at September 19, 2008 05:49 PM

I'm amazed, both at Donald Richie's reported attitude and at those responsible for the King Vidor tribute which were criterialess enough to take heed. "Japanese War Bride" seems to me not only one of the very best and most moving King Vidor films, but also a wholly unoffensive film to Japanese women, not only that, but a very complex and I would think real treatment of marriage between two persons of very different cultures.
Miguel Marķas

Posted by: Miguel Marķas at October 4, 2008 06:50 PM

From what c.jerry kutner wrote, LA VOCE DE LE LUNA seems very interesting. I love dark, depressing, nihilistic films.

Posted by: celinejulie at October 5, 2008 12:27 PM

Peter -
I still have "It's Trad, Dad" on my dvr from TCM's airing. If you're interested, send me your street address and I'll burn a dvd for you.


Posted by: john hanlon at October 13, 2008 11:45 AM