Monthly Archives: July 2011

..only because religion ceased to matter in any way except privately

Eventually, in the West, we emerged from the age in which people paid with their lives for a religious allegiance. We emerged into another age in which they were murdered by the million for other reasons, but not for that one. Though the religious might hate to hear it said, the West graduated from its nightmare only because religion ceased to matter in any way except privately. At the time of writing, we are in the uncomfortable position of hoping that the same thing can come true for Islam, and do so in a briefer time than the span of centuries it took to come true for us. While we are waiting, it might be of some help, although of little comfort, to realize that an Islamic fundamentalist doesn’t have to share the psychotic certitudes of Torquemada in order to be dangerous: it is enough for him to share the civilized attitudes of Queen Elizabeth I, who wanted every invading priest tortured as soon as caught, and gruesomely executed soon after that.

- Clive James, Cultural Amnesia (2007)

1950s movies marathon – part 48

Secret of the Incas (1954, USA)

You know who would make a great Indiana Jones?  Charlton Heston would!  Here he goes about tomb raiding Inca ruins in full Indy outfit, and he’s twice the rogue Ford was.  All that’s missing is the whip.  And the script.  Watched it all.  It’s trash, but it’s Indy, or at least the inspiration for two iconic Indyisms: His look, and that whole bogus puzzle tomb setup.

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954, Japan, Inagaki)

Japan didn’t need to send their armies to conquer Asia.  They could have had the entire world with second-rate samurai epics.  Watched: 25 minutes.  This one got an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, which I attribute to the voters never having seen a samurai film before, and being awestruck by what a fantastic concept this is.  What excuse more recent fans have I don’t know.

Kasserer Jensen (1954, Norway)

The timid accountant looks exactly like a famous criminal.  Watched: 6 minutes, then fast-forwarded to identify all the Oslo locations I was able to, and locate them in Google StreetView, which is really the main reason to watch old Norwegian movies.

Hell Below Zero (1954, USA)

Never mind the rest, but I love the scene where Alan Ladd gives a sleazy con-man a righteous punching.  That’s the spirit!  Watched: 22 minutes.