Category Archives: Saturday Night

Saturday Night at the Movies: “A Streetcar Named Desire”


It’s Tennessee Williams‘s 100th birthday.

Here’s his best-known play, A Streetcar Named Desire — but not the 1951 film version everybody’s seen, with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. This is the 1995 television adaption of the very well-received 1992 Broadway revival, with Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lang.

A previous post with a citation by Frye of Williams here.

Continue reading

Saturday Night at the Movies: “Conspiracy”


Tomorrow is the anniversary of the liquidation of the Jewish Ghetto in Krakow, Poland, sending about 8,000 Jews to work to the Plaszow labor camp. Those deemed unfit for work were either killed or sent to die at Auschwitz.  Tonight’s movie is Conspiracy, the BBC Films recreation of the Wannsee Conference convened on January 20, 1942, which formally set in motion the Final Solution.  (The entire movie runs at the single link above.)

Saturday Night at the Movies: “Oliver Twist”

Charles Dickens’s birthday passed the other day, so here’s the classic 1948 film version of Oliver Twist, with Alec Guinness as Fagin.

From The Secular Scripture:

There are said to be customs and rituals in ancient Greece that explain the child-exposing convention; but they do not explain why Victorian writers, fifteen centuries later, should be as preoccupied with it as ever.  With the archetype, at least: the actual exposure and adoption procedure is found only in stories with a strong folk tale feeling about them, like Silas Marner.  Scott and Dickens would often be helpless for plot interest without the motif of mysterious birth: in Dickens a hero’s parents, like those of Oliver Twist, may be triumphantly produced at the end of the story even though they were mere names, playing no part in the story itself.  (CW 18, 67)

Continue reading

Saturday Night at the Movies: “Ulysses”

James Joyce’s birthday and the anniversary of the first publication of Ulysses just passed.  Here’s the 1967 film adaptation of the novel that was censored, reviled and made undistributable by an X rating; it was not even approved for general release in Ireland until 2000.  That lack of wide distribution means that this is an absolutely pristine print, the images as crisp as they were forty years ago — a reminder of how lost is the art of black and white film making.

Frye in “Quest and Cycle in Finnegans Wake”:

An association is implied between Stephen and Icarus, and in some respects Ulysses is a version of the fall of Icarus.  Stephen, an intellectual of the type usually described as in the clouds or up in the air, comes back to Dublin and in his contact with Bloom meets a new kind of father, neither his spiritual nor his physical father but Everyman, the man of earth and common humanity, who is yet isolated enough from his society to be an individual too, an Israel as well as an Adam.  Stephen approaches  this communion with a certain amount of shuddering and distaste, but the descent to the earth is clearly necessary for him.  Traditionally, however, the earth is Mother Earth, and what we are left with is a female monologue of a being at once maternal, marital, and meretricious, who enfolds a vast number of lovers, including Bloom and possibly Stephen, and yet is narcist too, in a state of self-absorption which absorbs the lover.  (CW 29, 110)

Continue reading

Saturday Night at the Movies: “Animal Farm”

The anniversary of George Orwell’s death passed this week, so posting the 1954 film adaptation of Animal Farm seems the appropriate thing to do.  Our earlier posting of 1984 is here.  (The video is not embedded, but clicking on the image and hitting the YouTube link will take you to the entire one hour and eleven minutes of the movie in a single continuous post.)

Frye in his unsigned 1950 Canadian Forum obituary of Orwell:

George Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, died recently of tuberculosis, while still in his forties.  His background was public-school upper-middle-class society — or, at any rate, a career in that class was certainly open to him.  He saw service with the Imperial army in Burma, and was not encouraged by what he saw of imperialism.  In politics he drifted far to the left of Communism, and took part in the Spanish war in an anarchist brigade.  He was thus an anti-Stalinist revolutionary, but there was never anything in him of the “god that failed” bluster of the Communist converts who despise those who have never been taken in by Communism almost as much as they do the Communists.  (CW 29, 86)

Saturday Night at the Movies: “Marat/Sade”

The anniversary of the death of the Marquis de Sade passed a few days ago, so tonight it’s Peter Brooks’s film adaptation of Marat/Sade.

Frye in “The Drunken Boat”:

We said earlier that a Romantic poet’s political views would depend partly on whether he saw his inner society as concealed by or as manifested by actual society.  A Romantic poet’s moral attitude depends on a similar ambivalence in the conception of nature.  Nature to Wordsworth is a mother-goddess who teaches the soul serenity and joy, and never betrays the heart that loves her; to the Marquis de Sade nature is the source of all perverse pleasures that an earlier age had classified as “unnatural.”  For Wordsworth the reality of Nature is manifested by the reflection of moral values; for de Sade the reality is concealed by that reflection.  (CW 17, 88)

Continue reading