MT VOID 10/29/10 -- Vol. 29, No. 18, Whole Number 1621

MT VOID 10/29/10 -- Vol. 29, No. 18, Whole Number 1621

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
10/29/10 -- Vol. 29, No. 18, Whole Number 1621

Table of Contents

The Pale Future of American Cinema (comments by Mark R. Leeper) My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for November      (comments by Mark R. Leeper) Some Comments on Origami (letter of comment by Steve Milton) This Week's Reading (MR. POTTERMACK'S OVERSIGHT and      THE DOSSIER OF SOLAR PONS) (book comments      by Evelyn C. Leeper) Quote of the Week       C3PO: Mark Leeper, R2D2: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

The Pale Future of American Cinema (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Back when I was growing up the only way I could see vampire stories was to watch the old Universal horror films on Saturday night. These days the situation is very different. Vampire movies are today very big at the box office. The new generation of actors coming in get their start playing vampires in movies aimed at a teenage crowd. I think the result is that in ten years movies will look very strange, with every major actor in movies having the same blanched white face with red lips. [-mrl]

My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for November (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

We have another new month coming up on Turner Classic Movies. It is time for my monthly guide to the unusual and lesser-known films, particularly films of fantasy. I was expecting that after their Halloween bash, TCM would be cutting back on fantasy films. Not so. November 2010 is actually a very good month on TCM. The schedule of fantasy films is at:

Note: Access there is limited to members of the Yahoo group. But if you are unable to read it, you can just look at the complete November calendar:

METROPOLIS (1927, from the rediscovered negative)
This is a wower. You possibly know that the greatest science fiction film of the pre-sound era was METROPOLIS, directed by Fritz Lang. You probably have seen pictures with the robot Maria, whose look inspired C3PO in STAR WARS. The film has been shown for years in a multitude of versions. It has been edited. Scenes have been taken out; some scenes have been shortened, some lengthened. Over the years people have forgotten what the original film editing was like. Then in 2008 the negative of the original film as it premiered was found in Buenos Aires. The original film as first seen has been shown in some cities and a small number of people have been able to see this important piece of science fiction film history. I have been expecting it might show up on DVD for some onerous price. Nope. It will be available to the general public in all its 149-minute glory on TCM. Starting at 8PM on November 7 it is in a three-hour slot. It is immediately followed by a documentary entitled METROPOLIS REFOUND. (Sunday, November 7, 8 PM)

METROPOLIS REFOUND (Sunday, November 7, 11 PM)

This is a fantasy film that few fans have ever seen. The title is a little more fanciful than the film. Pandora is not the woman from Greek mythology who curiosity loosed evil on the world. It is Pandora Reynolds (played by Ava Gardner about as alluring as she has ever been on screen). She is an heiress living a life of dissipation in a fishing village in Spain. If I remember she is having a torrid affair with a bullfighter. Along comes the third leg of the triangle, a mysterious Dutch sailor from the sea. And unlike Pandora, he really is who the title suggests he is. For those who do not know, the Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship with a phantom Dutch captain. The Dutchman did something or other to offend God. And his punishment is to forever haunt the seas in a ghost ship. Richard Wagner wrote an opera, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, in which he is allowed periodic land liberties, maybe once a year. So is the Dutchman in our story (played by James Mason). Pandora must choose between the jealous toreador and a cursed ghost from the sea. I used to describe it as fantasy film about the kind of people that Hemingway wrote about. (Thursday, November 4, 10 PM)

M (1931)
Shortly before Fritz Lang, director of METROPOLIS, fled Germany he made one sound film, M. The film made a star of newcomer Peter Lorre and it is probably Lorre's best work. There is a child murderer in Berlin causing a reign of terror. Innocent bystanders who fall under suspicion are getting hurt by angry mobs. The police are unable to find the killer and can only crack down on organized crime. Mobsters who themselves hate a child-killer are finding the police are killing their livelihood. Both the crime mob and the police desperately want to find and eliminate the killer. The noose is tightening around the killer (Peter Lorre). The film is tense and Lang makes great use of jagged images to reflect the torment in the killer's mind. Fritz Lang made M when he was making a transition from silent to sound films, and it also makes use of long sequences with no sound or limited sound. (Tuesday, November 9, 2 AM)

SPIONE (1928)
Showing right after the METROPOLIS films and before M is this Fritz Lang spy thriller. (Monday-Tuesday, November 8, Midnight)

Australian Peter Weir's apocalyptic fantasy was his first international hit. Something funny is happening to the climate in Australia. Weather is behaving in ways it never did before. Hailstones fall out of season or maybe mud falls from the sky. Meanwhile a murder occurs in the city community of Aborigines in Sydney and some are arrested. A city lawyer (Richard Chamberlain) is chosen for the defense. But he is suffering from frightening visions. He finds he may be the fulfillment of an ancient Aborigine prophecy. Weir does a terrific job of creating a mood of dread. Images of water are the most disturbing of all. This is a very unusual horror film. (Friday, November 19, 8 PM)


Some Comments on Origami (letter of comment by Steve Milton):

In response to Mark's comments on origami in the 10/22/10 issue of the MT VOID, Steve Milton writes, "Origami robots could be quite practical if the things (boats, airplanes, etc.) they folded into were functional. The Mars rover mission required fancy folding of the solar arrays on each rover to get them to fit into the capsule." [-smm]

This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

MR. POTTERMACK'S OVERSIGHT by R. Austin Freeman (ISBN 978-1-596- 54693-6) is a detective story from the classic era, written by the author of the "Thinking Machine" stories. Unfortunately, this is one of those stories that turns on a fact that was probably obscure even when it was written, but now is completely unknown. I won't say exactly what it is, but a similar example from a different story had to do with picking the one name out of a list that could have been dialed as a phone number--except that at the time of the story, phone numbers were only four digits long. Still, there is a "Columbo" aspect of MR. POTTERMACK'S OVERSIGHT (you see the crime being committed--the question is how the detective will figure it out) which was unusual for when the novel was written.

THE DOSSIER OF SOLAR PONS by Basil Copper (ISBN 978-0-897-33252-1) is the eighth in the series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches featuring Solar Pons. (The first seven were written by August Derleth.) Of all the "copies" of Holmes, Solar Pons is the best, and also the one who appears primarily in short story form (as did Holmes). One of the things Derleth did when he started the series was to place it in the 1920s rather than the late 19th century. This lets Pons use somewhat more up-to-date methods, while still setting the story back in a more picturesque time. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it is 
          the only idea we have.
                                          -- Emile Chartier, 1908

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