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I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

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ChiO
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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 17th, 2012, 1:48 am

I woke up dreaming in downtown San Francisco at noon (PST) today...a dreary, cold, fog-bound day...a picture perfect Noir day.

Lew Landers is one of the runners-up for The William Beaudine Memorial Award (aka "If you've got two days, I've got a motion picture."). From October 1945, out of PRC, comes his SHADOW OF TERROR, a loopy Espionage Movie Western Noir, even with an ersatz Gabby Hayes character (Emmett Lynn). Howard Norton (Richard Fraser - WHITE PONGO (1945), BEDLAM (1946)) is tossed from a train so that a valuable formula he's carrying can be stolen. He is found the next day unconscious in the desert by Joan (Grace Albertson) and Elmer (Lynn) and they nurse him back to health...but he doesn't know who he is or why he was in the desert! And, then, the guys who dumped him for the formula suddenly reappear...and reappear...and reappear. Why? Because the formula he had on him was missing a key component...and that key component is obviously locked in his amnesiac brain and they have to beat it out of him. Why is it so important? Because the formula is for solarite, the compound that can split the atom. Do you know how much money they could sell that for...to the government that would offer the highest price (Howard was just going to give it away to the U.S. -- clearly he is an anti-capitalist)? Luckily the bad guys are caught and then a series of mushroom clouds are shown with U.S. generals watching the tests (stock footage from the first A-Bomb test in July 1945, just three months before this movie was released), so we know how it ends.

The cinematographer was Jack Greenhalgh, who has among his 205 other credits such faves as WHITE PONGO (Sam Newfield 1945), MASK OF DIIJON (Lew Landers 1946), FBI GIRL (William Berke 1951) and ROBOT MONSTER (Phil Tucker 1953). This was the story writer's only film writing credit, a guy by the name of Sheldon Leonard. I guess he turned to other things.

Republic held over the core of THE LADY AND THE MONSTER (1944) for STORM OVER LISBON (1944). The same director, George Sherman, the same cinematographer, John Alton, one of the same writers, Dane Lussier, and three of the major actors, Vera Ralston, Erich von Stroheim, and Richard Arlen. The similarities of the movies end there. This is no Gothic Noir. This is CASABLANCA turned inside-out and seen through the looking-glass, with most of the melodrama and romance (but not all) tossed aside and replaced with honest-to-goodness intrigue, superior sets, and JOHN ALTON's (!) cinematography. The only downside -- not counting Vera Ralston's acting -- is that its surface similarities to CASABLANCA often became a distraction. Is von Stroheim Rick because he owns a night club with illegal gambling, or is he Strasser because he's a supporter of the other side? Is Arlen Rick or Laszlo? Is Ralston Ilsa or Rick?

Arlen has secret film to take to the U.S. and can get there only through Lisbon. Ralston, a dancer by trade, also wants to get to the U.S. through Lisbon. She is waylaid by von Stroheim who wants that film (for the other side), and his henchman Eduardo Cianelli, and uses Ralston to get to get to Arlen, with whom she's fallen in love -- maybe -- in Lisbon. And Otto Kruger, who told von Stroheim about the film, is just trying to save his neck. In the end, Arlen gets on the plane bound for the U.S. with the film and Ralston stays behind because, not only is she a dancer, she's a secret agent for the Allies and is more valuable in Lisbon than in the U.S.

The highlight is seeing hints of what Alton's photography will become in three years at Eagle-Lion when turned loose with Anthony Mann. We also see a young, beautiful, uncredited Ruth Roman as a checkroom girl. And a mini-quasi-Busby Berkeley dance number. CASABLANCA never had that!

A great kick-off to a week that is only going to get better.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby JackFavell » May 17th, 2012, 12:46 pm

Sounds great! Let me guess....Otto Kruger comes to a bad end?

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby CineMaven » May 17th, 2012, 3:05 pm

Wait Doesn't Otto usually get the girl? :shock:
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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby JackFavell » May 17th, 2012, 4:01 pm

:D

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 17th, 2012, 4:25 pm

Depends...do you consider taking about a six story nosedive into the rocks and ocean a "bad end"?

Kruger vs. von Stroheim -- The Thrilla in Lisboa.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby JackFavell » May 17th, 2012, 8:05 pm

Well, I wouldn't want to end up that way, so yeah, that's a baaad end.

I knew it. Heh heh heh.

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 18th, 2012, 3:28 am

It was a dark and foggy night last night, so only a few stars were out: a couple of Noir City pals and Johnny Legend. Dewey was MIA (some alibi about teaching a class that night…about Noir…Yeah, right). But tonight, there was one more star as the MIA Impresario Dewey became IA.

Oh, and while last night was Espionage Night, tonight was Castle (K)Night (no, not Vernon and Irene – but their wayward Noir children, Don and William).

First up was a favorite Cornell Woolrich adaptation, I WOULDN’T BE IN YOUR SHOES (William Nigh 1948). From a post after I first saw it four years ago:

The opening provides a clue that this is a film noir: Death Row prisoner #5 is five hours from execution. When the other Death Row inmates ask to hear his story, we get the story as an internal dialogue. Tom (prisoner #5) and Ann are a down-on-their-luck dance team (one wouldn't get that in a Hammett-Cain-Chandler story), with Ann now the breadwinner by dancing with the lonely at a dance academy. Throwing his shoes, with taps, at cats howling at night outside their apartment, an impression of his shoes in the mud becomes the circumstantial evidence for convicting him of a murder that occurred that night.

Most of the movie plays as a standard Poverty Row whodunit wrapped in a melodrama. Then Woolrich gives a clear film noir twist and one realizes that the movie is -- and has been -- about obsession (physical and emotional love, money, a better life) and corruption, both of official position and spirit, themes common to many of his stories that became movies. The always enjoyable Regis Toomey is the obsessed corrupt detective and one of my favor mugs and voices, John Doucette, is one of the Death Row prisoners.

To which one Impresario replied:
Part of what makes this film so fascinating to me is its utter abandonment of conventional logic. Case in point: in the opening scene, on death row, one of the inmates pulls out a phonograph record and slaps it onto a portable record player, providing a musical backdrop for the tale that is about to unfold. A guy languishing in a cell on death row has his own record player! Something as absurd as this could only exist in a dream, or in a film that only accidentally resembles a dream. The suffocating restrictions of poverty row provided just the right hint of somnambulistic doom so important to the ultimate aesthetic success of these films.

And there you have it. The movie really hasn’t changed much in the past four years, except that it looks fabulous on the big screen. P.S. Don Castle was the tapper who almost tapped out.

On January 25, 1945, some guy named Orson Welles wrote:

Plant things that grow above the ground today and call up the man who runs your neighborhood movie house. Ask him to show a B minus picture called When Strangers Marry. It’s a “plus” entertainment. But because it’s a quickie without any names in it, When Strangers Marry hasn’t had much of a play, even in the smaller theatres, so you’ve probably missed it. Making allowances for its bargain-price budget, I think you’ll agree with me that it’s one of the most gripping and effective pictures of the year. It isn’t as slick as Double Indemnity or as glossy as Laura, but it’s better acted and better directed than either.
Manny Farber also liked it a lot. So whom among us should say they were wrong?

Those “no-names” who were in it turned into Robert Mitchum, Kim Hunter and Dean Jagger. And Neil Hamilton (aka Commissioner Gordon), Rhonda Fleming and an uncredited Minerva Urecal (aka “Aren’t you Marjorie Main?").

A man flashing a ton of cash is murdered in his hotel room in Philadelphia. Hunter is on her way to meet her new husband, Jagger, who she’s only seen three times, in New York, fresh from his business trip in Philadelphia. At the hotel, she bumps into an old flame, Mitchum. Circumstantial evidence builds that Jagger committed the murder, and Mitchum is always there to comfort her and ask her whether she really knows anything about her husband. The guiltier Jagger looks, the guiltier he behaves. But things turn around when she discovers that Mitchum was also that the dead man’s hotel. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you know him, and just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean you don’t know him.

Written by the ubiquitous Philip Yordan (no time now to research whether he really wrote it) and directed by William Castle, who really was a great director before becoming the huckstering exploitation genius he’s thought of today. But the revelation on the big screen was the cinematography, courtesy of Ira Morgan. Gorgeous high contrast lighting and close-ups of Hunter that I’d swear Michael Powell used two years later in A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH. Other Morgan credits include THE GREAT GABBO (James Cruze 1929), ISLE OF FORGOTTEN SINS (Edgar G. Ulmer 1943), SENSATION HUNTERS (Christy Cabanne 1945) and THE CYCLOPS (Bert I. Gordon 1957).

And then there’s tomorrow night….
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby CineMaven » May 18th, 2012, 8:06 am

ChiO wrote:Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you know him, and just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean you don’t know him.

...And that makes all the sense in the world to me. Gosh, I love noir.

ChiO, how have the audiences been? Crowded, responsive?
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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby JackFavell » May 18th, 2012, 10:10 am

Your descriptions are positively drool inducing!

I hope your audiences are large and appreciative.

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 18th, 2012, 10:22 am

The crowd on Wednesday for the showings of SHADOW OF TERROR were a bit thinner than usual (hey, though, an unknown film on a Wednesday and the word was probably out that Dewey wouldn't be there), but picked up for STORM OVER LISBON.

Last night was the more typical near-capacity crowd.

And...what's the phrase?...unbridled enthusiasm abounds (much as with Billy Mumphrey). I've always found the Roxie crowd to be respectful, very appreciative and quite vocal in its likes (which are many). Can't wait to experience tonight's reaction to FEMALE JUNGLE when Jayne and Larry light up that screen.

Now...off to be tour guide for my younger daughter and a friend who arrived at midnight. Oh, are they going with you to the Roxie tonight? Why, no, they're not. They're going to the Giants-As game. Kids today...whatcha gonna do? (But they are showing up at the Roxie on Saturday -- my tour purposefully ends in the Mission District.)
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby RedRiver » May 18th, 2012, 1:20 pm

That Woolrich scares me. I wish I had been in YOUR shoes last night! Going to The Giants game! Well...it's not a film noir festival. But baseball is a beautiful thing. Of all the things kids could be doing...

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 19th, 2012, 2:24 am

Add three more stars to the vast array at the Roxie. The Mysterious Mook Ryan appeared. And the other two stars were the movies screened...a double-bill for the ages.

First up was FEMALE JUNGLE. From a post two years ago:

Acting is a child's game. I don't mean it's childish, I mean it's a child's game. We more or less perpetuate our youth through acting. We're always acting, we're playing parts; we don't want to face the reality of being ourselves. We're the happiest when we're acting. I think any actor would say that. -- Bruno VeSota

Bruno VeSota (1922-1976), a native of Chicago, started on the stage, then moved to radio. In 1945, he began his work on live TV programs in Chicago, directing over 2,000 programs and appearing in over 200. He moved to California in 1952 to break into the movies.

He first came to my attention when I watched THE CHOPPERS (Leigh Jason, 1961), the first film with the inimitable Arch Hall, Jr. But it was VeSota who mesmerized me, coming across as a Z-budget version of William Conrad. When I later saw DEMENTIA (John Parker, 1955), one of the finest melds of horror and film noir I have ever seen (and the only movie made by Parker), there was VeSota again. This time he was not only acting, but he was the Associate Producer as well. (Eds. Note: VeSota claimed that he directed most of it.)

Then came the revelation – FEMALE JUNGLE. Starring Lawrence Tierney and John Carradine, with a small role for Jayne Mansfield, FEMALE JUNGLE is one of the toughest, grimiest, sleaziest, grimmest and jolting – in other words, GREAT! – film noirs I’ve ever watched. Its opening gives that of THE NAKED KISS a run for its money and never lets up. Producer: Bruno VeSota. Co-Writer: Bruno VeSota. Cast: Bruno VeSota. Director: Bruno VeSota. Truly an achievement of Wellesian proportions.

He directed two other films: THE BRAIN EATERS (1958) and INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES (1962). He appeared, often uncredited, in many movies and TV episodes – from THE WILD ONE (Laslo Benedek, 1953) (think about it: he was in a cast with Lee Marvin, Alvy Moore, John Doucette, Jay C. Flippen, Richard Farnsworth, Robert Keith, Ray Teal, Jerry Paris, and TIMOTHY CAREY. Who’s that Marlon Brando guy?) to Bonanza (21 episodes, 1961-68), from THE WASP WOMAN (Roger Corman/Jack Hill, 1959) to McMillan & Wife (1 episode, 1971).

I see the possibility of an obsession starting.

There was a quick response:

Having only recently seen FEMALE JUNGLE for the first time, I can only concur that it's everything you say it is and more!! Startling, frank and undeniably sleazy it also reminds us that less is usually more in the noir universe and with the services of a brilliant cinematographer (in this case, Woody Bredell) miracles are never out of reach. Bredell shot PHANTOM LADY (1944) and, despite what some might say, it is Bredell who makes that film what it is, not the awkward and often clumsy direction of Robert Siodmak. He also shot Siodmak's THE KILLERS (1946) which, at least for the first ten or twelve minutes, contains some of the noir cycle's most iconic images. What he does for VeSota's threadbare and boldly independent FEMALE JUNGLE easily matches and sometimes exceeds the work he did a decade earlier for bigger and better known films.

Guess what...it has only improved with age and an appearance on the big screen. It occupies, surrounds and gobbles up that otherworldly Universe of Noir. From the opening murder, to Tierney's down-on-his-luck cop, to Carradine's suave-but-sinister bon vivant, to Burt Kaiser's obsessed defeated artist, there are no winners...every one of them could have done it, and the two that didn't probably would have if they'd had the chance and the gumption. This was Woody Bredell's last movie and easily ranks among his best.

But the highest praise came Mook who, immediately afterward, declared it as her new favorite movie.

What could follow that? KILLER'S KISS (1955), Stanley Kubrick's Art-Noir that is too often given short-shrift. Director, co-writer, co-producer, cinematographer and editor Kubrick created, in only his second movie, a work of near-perfect composition. In what amounts one long flashback, we witness love as salvation, love as a weapon of torture, a murder of the wrong man, and one of the most vicious and bizarre fight sequences in filmdom. All shot in a series of beautifully staged moving photographs. After DR. STRANGELOVE and THE KILLING, this is the Kubrick film for which I have the greatest affection.

Onward and downward, we continue our spiral.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 20th, 2012, 1:23 pm

Humphrey Bogart – the portrayer of Existential Man. Nicholas Ray – the director of Existential Man. Add a narrative and theme that is eerily close to CamusThe Stranger. Result – the Noir Classic IN A LONELY PLACE (1950). Suffice it to say, this is a movie that improves with each viewing (or, is it that this viewer finds more in it with each viewing?). And on the big screen, the cinematography of Burnett Guffey – the heir to John Alton – adds mightily to the horror of watching a man who refuses to accept that Life may have any meaning. Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.

Manny Farber wrote that THE SCARF (1951) is "a disjointed, monstrously affected psycho-mystery freak show." As if that is a bad thing. The first movie directed by E.A. Dupont after HELL’S KITCHEN (1939) – a Dead End Kids movie written by Crane Wilbur – it is an affectingly arty psycho-mystery freak show. How could it not be with the bug-eyed flop sweating, but oddly handsome, John Ireland, and, as Cash & Carry Connie (golly, one might she was of easy virtue), Mercedes McCambridge (where’s Broderick Crawford?).

Ireland has escaped from the hospital for the criminally insane and is saved from near-death in the desert by a grizzled ol’ loner (James Barton) and befriended, after a fashion, by McCambridge. And, shades of Wednesday night’s SHADOW OF TERROR, Ireland has amnesia. Why is he fixated on McCambridge’s scarf? Why does he see it tightening around her neck? Not to worry, Ireland’s private psychiatrist (he is from a very wealthy family, don’t you know) will reveal all in the last reel.

Stupendous cinematography from the great Franz Planer (99 RIVER STREET, 711 OCEAN DRIVE, CRISS CROSS). Small roles from wonderful character actors Lyle Talbot, O.Z. Whitehead and King Donovan (a smiling bar pianist for torch songstress Connie). And a note to Noir leads: If you find Emmett Lynn in the cast (a bartender here), be prepared for amnesia (see SHADOW OF TERROR). So watch out this afternoon, John Carradine – he’s in BLUEBEARD!
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby ChiO » May 21st, 2012, 10:18 am

the cinematography of Burnett Guffey – the heir to John Alton

Now that's one of the sillier sentence fragments I've ever typed. They were contemporaries working in similar, but generally distinguishable, styles. I engaged in clumsy shorthand intending to state that I came to appreciate Guffey after Alton and that he's No. 2, after Alton, on my long list of favorite photographers. But, speaking of Burnett Guffey....

In the mid-40s, he worked twice with the great Joseph H. Lewis, first on MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS (1945) -- the movie that kicked Lewis' career into the next gear -- and which Lewis followed immediately with yesterday's Roxie offering, the seldom seen SO DARK THE NIGHT (1946). A renown Parisian detective goes to the country for a needed vacation and falls in love with a local woman who is alternately enamored with his fame in the big city and with him as a man. Then a series of murders, of which she is the first victim, occur and the detective is absolutely baffled.

The movie evolves from a romantic melodrama to a murder mystery to a descent into madness, with obsession and the tight directing of Lewis holding it together...aided by some of the most stupendous photography I have ever seen, which certainly wasn't so evident on my TV screen. It opens with an overhead of the detectives meeting before the protagonist goes on vacation, with a turning overhead fan in the upper left foreground providing a prescient cutting off of the characters. Lewis' near fetish of shots through wheel spokes is replaced by dozens of shots through window panes. And the shot that nearly brought me to a standing ovation in the middle of the movie: action in the background, a water pump in the foreground...and the action is filmed through drops of water as they slowly drip from the pump. The (big) combo of Mann-Alton is nearly equaled by that of Lewis-Guffey.

Note to impresarios everywhere thinking of showing American Noir (and near-Noir), with top-notch cinematography, set in France: triple feature of SO DARK THE NIGHT, REIGN OF TERROR (Mann), and A SCANDAL IN PARIS (Sirk 1946). That's Guffey, Alton, and Guy Roe and Eugen Schufftan (but more on him later).

CHINATOWN AT MIDNIGHT (Seymour Friedman 1949) is a gritty programmer starring Hurd Hatfield as a psychotic thief (with malaria) and Tom Powers (the cop commander always on the job) as the cop commander on the job to track him down. Enough voice-over narration and stock footage for a lifetime of movies. Friedman directed a couple of early-'50s George Raft vehicles, LOAN SHARK and I'LL GET YOU, but he was more prodigious as a production manager for several TV shows, including Dennis the Menace, Hazel and The Donna Reed Show. Photography was courtesy of Henry Freulich, whose work includes TEEN-AGE CRIME WAVE (Fred Sears 1955) and BUNCO SQUAD (Herbert I. Leeds 1950). He guides us to that fun sector of the Noir Universe where lighting continuity is irrelevant...where it is bright daylight on the street, but pitch black on the roof tops...in Chinatown...at midnight.

John Carradine...Eugen Schufftan...Edgar G. Ulmer...BLUEBEARD (1944)! Ulmer is so well-known for DETOUR that it is tempting to think his movies all look alike -- no sets and no lights. And it is a cliche to say that nobody did more with less, but, you know, nobody did more so artfully with less. The shots in Carradine's garrett and the exteriors of Paris -- incredible backdrops designed by Ulmer and Schufftan -- are breathtaking. The print that Dewey showed (as with SO DARK THE NIGHT) is going to make it nearly impossible to watch my copies at home. And this may be Carradine's finest performance, a suave and tortured puppeteer and strangler of women (or, the strangler of women in order to strangle repeatedly the woman he loved).

Sure, MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG (1930) had Robert Siodmak, Curt Siodmak, Billy Wilder, and Fred Zinnemann, but I'll take Edgar G. Ulmer and Eugen Schufftan over them any day of the week.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Re: I WAKE UP DREAMING 2012 at the ROXIE IN SF • May 11 - 24

Postby JackFavell » May 21st, 2012, 12:34 pm

Finally! A movie I have already seen! I really love Bluebeard and the way it looks. I wish I could see the version you are showing. I've only ever seen disintegrating prints.


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