Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Neglected British '60s movies

I saw this during its brief run in 1966 and then it was never seen again until I got a print (from Australian tv!) recently. Wonderful to see it again, its really a companion piece to 1964's THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES, also by Edna O'Brien, and another of those little black and white films of the early and mid 60s. This was made in Ireland in 1965 at locations I know (Lahinch and Liscannor in Co Clare) and is a nostalgic look back at London and Ireland back then. Sarah Miles is excellent here in this, her other Irish romance, a world away from the overblown RYAN'S DAUGHTER.

Her Cass is unhappily married in London and goes back to her Irish village, presided over by Cyril Cusack and Marie Kean) with her uncomprehending husband Julian Glover in pursuit. Cass meets up with her old boyfriend fisherman Sean Caffrey and imagines all can be as it used to be, but of course it cannot. Its very lyrical and nostalgic for anyone with an Irish background and I absolutely love it. It captures also the feeling of the newcomer being stranded in the big impersonal city. I like how her London room overlooks the GPO Tower - that new symbol of the swinging 60s (as also seen in SMASHING TIME). Sarah went on to do BLOW-UP next and famously didn't get on with Antonioni which left her dissatisfied with movies and then of course back to Ireland for that long shoot for David Lean's epic.

The '60s English classics (A TASTE OF HONEY, A KIND OF LOVING, BILLY LIAR, DARLING, THE SERVANT, ACCIDENT, THE KNACK etc) are always on view but where are other forgotten long-unseen early 60s titles like WEST 11 (life in Notting Hill, the W11 postcode, with Alfred Lynch, Diana Dors, Freda Jackson, Kathleen Harrison, Finlay Currie etc, by Michael Winner), TWO LEFT FEET (an early Michael Crawford), A PLACE TO GO, (Mike Sarne!) or THE WORLD TEN TIMES OVER (Sylvia Syms and June Ritchie as working girls in Soho)? Michael Winner did some interesting films back then like THE SYSTEM, I'LL NEVER FORGET WHATSISNAME, his THE GAMES would be interesting to see now, with 2012 on the way, featuring Michael Crawford, Ryan O'Neal and Charles Aznavour as athletes! and Stanley Baker as a sadistic coach; and then of course Clive Donner with NOTHING BUT THE BEST, HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH, ALFRED THE GREAT as well as the hit WHATS NEW PUSSYCAT; and Desmond Davis with not only the two Edna O'Briens mentioned above, but THE UNCLE and the slapstick SMASHING TIME which is still enormous fun with Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave perfect as Brenda and Yvonne down from the North to Swinging Camden. Groovy baby - especially Anna Quayle's 'Too Much' Boutique!

Alex Walker on L'Avventura

The late English film critic and writer Alexander Walker [whom I used to see around town regularly] was very perceptive in his movie reviews and his biographies on the likes of Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison, Garbo and the silent era. His Thursday reviews were essential reading.

Here are his comments from a recommendation on a screening of L'AVVENTURA:

Not all great movies, as Pauline Kael tartly observed, are received "in an atmosphere of incense burning". Michelangelo Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA was greeted at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival with a storm of cat-calling and booing. Yet within the year it had become the most fashionable film in European arthouses, and one that set the tone of other bleakly visionary film-makers. It begins with an almost glossy magazine depiction of the affluent Rome middle-class on a yachting holiday in the Lipari islands. Tensions are perceptible, but enigmatically conveyed. Then, as they prepare to leave an island, one woman (Lea Massari) is found to be missing. A search is mounted. With marvellous sleight-of-hand, Antonioni misdirects our attention: gradually we realise that instead of being looked for by her friends, she is being forgotten as two of them fall in love. The film changes key subtly, yet again to suggest how the emotions of a social class have become deadened and selfish. Monica Vitti made her name with this puzzle picture. The last sequence in a Taormina luxury hotel became notorious for her apparantly endless walk through the midnight corridors to discover her treacherous lover (Gabriele Ferzetti). It tried the patience of the black-tie crowd beyond endurance; yet The Walk soon became the trademark of other heroines, in other movies, who exemplified the sick soul of sixties Europe.

The oddest '60s movie of all ?

Michael Cacoyannis could write his own ticket after the international success of ZORBA THE GREEK in 1964 - and he chose this 1967 farrago: THE DAY THE FISH CAME OUT. There's some competition for the oddest movie of the 60s (THE TOUCHABLES, JOANNA, Don Levy's HEROSTRATUS, Boorman's LEO THE LAST with the odd couple of Mastroianni and Billie Whitelaw), but this could be the oddest:

Life on a remote Greek island is forever changed when two atomic bombs are accidentally dropped in the sea there when a NATO plane flies overhead. This so-called comedy chronicles these changes. When the pilots Tom Courtenay and Colin Blakely realise they have lost their cargo, they bail out and land on the island - dressed throughout in their underwear - and try to get help without being found. The government has beaten them to the punch and has already sent an agent disguised as a resort developer. All of them are busy looking for the missing weapons when the island is suddenly filled with hedonistic tourists, all looking very gay, who believe the developer is going to build the best resort in the area. The locals are also overjoyed, thinking their quiet little village is finally going to be a tourist resort. When the Agean fish being to mysteriously die (hence the title?) everyone realises that the jig is up and so they give into their wildest desires...
add in Candice Bergen and lots of pretty unisex people, including Ian Ogilvy, the pilots in their skimpy briefs and it all adds up to one pretty bizarre movie ! It didn't last long in 1967 as I recall, but fascianting to see again now.

'50s fan magazines

My first love: Picture Show, which I first got in 1959, and then religiously every week. - and of course those American magazines like Movieland & Tv Time, Screen Album etc., with their full page colour pictures of Troy and Sandra and Connie, Sophia, Audrey, Marilyn and then Liz and Eddie and Debbie ....

I loved these small monthly magazines [Fans Star Library, circa 1958, when I would have been 12] on a particular star each month, I had them all once, covering Grace Kelly, Doris, Debbie, Pat Boone, Kim Novak, Jeff Chandler, Rock Hudson, Perry Como, Ricky Nelson, Marilyn, James Dean, Elvis etc. Collectors' Items now ....

a few pages from Dirk Bogarde's Story In Pictures: what the fans devoured in the '50s: no wonder Bogarde loathed it all ! (click image to enlarge).

Some magazine covers ....

.... once a magazine junkie, always a magazine junkie!

Paris Match on Romy Schneider's death, '82 /
Monica Vitti in The Sunday Times Supplement, '77 /
Film Comment - an American title I liked /
Films Illustrated - a great British film magazine of the '70s and '80s (and not bloated with adverts like the later Empire!), '76 /
Sight & Sound - at its best in the '60s to '80s /
The Face - hip culture in the '80s /
After Dark - American glamour in the '70s /
Town - hip early 60s London magazine - these '62 issues with Monroe and Vitti seemed the height of chic when I was 16 in 1962 /
Attitude - British glamour now /
The Word - an intelligent music magazine !
Cahiers, '54: I liked their English editions in the '60s.

Films and Filming

What a great English film magazine it was from 1954 to the 80s .... I got my first copy in 1962 when 16 and it certainly got me into appreciating cinema in a whole different way. I acquired 2 of my best friends via their pen pal service when a teenager back in the early '60s, and I even worked there for a year in the mid '70s, and had a few pieces published, and of course all those back copies!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Who's Who in Hollywood 1966

Here is one movie magazine I am glad I kept - a 1966 directory from Dell featuring all the major stars, character players, newcomers, English, French, Italian, German stars and musical stars! Its priceless .... here they are all in their prime, at that turning point between the old and new hollywood. I can browse it for hours. Here are a few pages: (click image to enlarge...)

Monday, 25 January 2010

Movies on TV

It may be stating the bleedin' obvious but there really is no point now in seeing any large-scale movie being broadcast on television, at least not here in the UK. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO was on yesterday afternoon and its one I have never seen from start to finish (despite my decades long fascination with Julie Christie) so I tuned in and of course it was pan-and-scan. so I put on the dvd and saw it in the proper ratio, a better print and 35 minutes shorter than the tv screening with all those commercial breaks! Anyone watching for the first time seeing it cropped and broken up with advertisements just is not seeing what David Lean intended. Same the other week for QUENTIN DURWARD which also has marvellous widescreen vistas. I had not seen BARABBAS - an 'epic' from the early 60s I unaccountably missed - but liked the images and music from the panned and scanned tv version recently so I ordered the dvd so enjoyed it even more in the widescreen version.

TCM here in the UK though showed Anthony Mann's terrific widescreen western MAN OF THE WEST properly yesterday - so why can't they do it more often. Do they now think people won't watch widescreen movies on tv? TCM here also used to run the 1954 A STAR IS BORN in an unwatchable scanned form, and of course it is one of the great Cinemascope pictures...

At least TCM here have got a new raft of pictures to show endlessly over the coming months: looks like they got a batch of United Artists/Mirish titles, like a lot of Billy Wilders [hence THE APARTMENT and others] and Woody Allens, so I have recorded some choice ones I had not seen like SEPTEMBER, ALICE and ANOTHER WOMAN. They are now showing THE BIG COUNTRY quite regularly - just liked they used to do with BEN HUR, GONE WITH THE WIND, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, CASABLANCA, as here TCM mainly shows the MGM back catalogue with some main Warner titles - which gives a lopsided view of movie history. What we need is a channel showing Fox, Paramount, Columbia and British titles - but now in this age of reality tv, the main channels do not bother with old movies much any more .... TCM UK did though show a batch of unseen-for-decades Warner '50s programmers over the autumn here, like THE SILVER CHALICE, The STORY OF MANKIND, SERENADE, THE SINS OF RACHEL CADE, DRUM BEAT (a fond childhood memory of my father taking me to this, and not seen since) as well as AUNTIE MAME and GYPSY and that panned and scanned STAR IS BORN which they then of course proceeded to show and re-show endlessly!

One can only look at the schedule for TCM in the USA and feel envious of the great programming and titles they show. At least I got some choice items recorded from it by a friend in New York!

Great extras on the ZHIVAGO dvd by the way - including ten minutes of Julie Christie in close-up expertly handling press interviews in 1965 when she was (as she still is) mesmerisingly beautiful.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The 'Nine' ladies

Great Annie Leibovitz photo .... I like the Cruz-Loren double act, Penelope could be the daughter Sophia never had. Kidman and Hudson must think its all about them - or is it a composite ?

Jean Simmons

Jean (1929-2010) has always been one of my favourite actresses, and like Sophia Loren, Loretta Young, Linda Darnell and others she started out so young. She was only 16 in the mid-40s when she began in films like THE WAY TO THE STARS, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, BLACK NARCISSUS, HAMLET, YOUNG BESS, so really she was considered a star of the previous decade by the mid 60s, when still only in her 30s. She and Deborah Kerr were the two great British beauties of the 40s who went to Hollywood and were very big stars indeed in the 50s. Like Kerr, Simmons played with all the leading men of the day: Brando (twice!), Newman, Peck, Hudson etc. She and Gregory Peck are perfect together in THE BIG COUNTRY, and she plays nicely against type with then husband Stewart Granger in 1955's FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG. She is also fun in the all star THE GRASS IS GREENER (in Joan Greenwood's stage role). She is also brilliant in SPARTACUS, in that scene reunited with Olivier. Oddly though, she was not even nominated for her best role, also in 1960, ELMER GANTRY - w here so-stars Lancaster and Shirley Jones won their awards! She is also wonderful in the little seen Cukor film THE ACTRESS (1953), and ALL THE WAY HOME, HOME BEFORE DARK, THE HAPPY ENDING. One trusts her later years were happy, after the marriages to Granger and Richard Brooks, and Howard Hughes interest in her back in the early 50s. It was good seeing her as Desiree in the original London run of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC in '75.

Back to 1960 - that year again. It was the culmination of her and Kerr's great years, it would have been so ideal if they tied for the best actress: Jean for ELMER GANTRY and Deborah for THE SUNDOWNERS. But of course Elizabeth Taylor got ill ... and then recovered.

The best film of 1960 ?

I just never wanted to see THE APARTMENT, and avoided it for 50 years until yesterday when I gave in, and it has left me with mixed feelings. I love every second of Wilder's previous, SOME LIKE IT HOT, and also his next ONE TWO THREE, but the idea of THE APARTMENT left me cold and I felt it could only have won best picture and best director as Wilder lost out in 1959 for SOME LIKE IT HOT (the best comedy ever) as BEN HUR swept the board, in that very strong year with those great films by Preminger, Zinnemann, Kramer, Hitchcock, Hawks, Sirk, Mankiewicz and others. Also over the years I developed a strong antipathy to both Lemmon and McLaine. Lemmon was marvellous of course in DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES in 1962 but by 1964's GOOD NEIGHBOUR SAM those annoying mannerisms and that grating persona were settling in - SAM at over 2 hours seemed far too long with its obvious satire of advertising and suburbia and was only bearable for Romy Schneider in one of her American movies.

But back to THE APARTMENT - its wonderful and I like it a lot, though the premise that all these executives would not go to hotels or have an apartment of their own, but would be using schmuck C C Baxter's humble apartment, seems unreal. McLaine's Fran Kubelik is one of her most genuinely appealing roles and they are perfect together here, as is Fred McMurray and that tiny role by Edie Adams and that great party scene. Best Film of 1960? - not quite in the year of PSYCHO and L'AVVENTURA but certainly one of the best. Just don't expect me to watch IRMA LA DOUCE !

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

An ultimate '60s caper...

DUFFY -from 1968 is one of those lost caper movies of the late 60s - 1968 also had OTLEY, SEBASTIAN, as well as the very swinging 60s SMASHING TIME and HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH. DUFFY is more of the same, but fascianting to see at this remove, with James Coburn as the hip outsider, James Fox at his prettiest and James Mason as his father. Add in a very young John Alderton and Susannah York at her most ravishingly beautiful. Its about two half brothers who plot a heist to rob their overbearing father (Mason) and is full of twists and turns. Its the hip 60s beautiful people at play in Tangier and North Africa, cue a long groovy party scene where some of the cast appear rather high. There are also echoes of Losey's MODESTY BLAISE with that ship being robbed at sea. Duffy is one of Coburn's best roles (along with HARD CONTRACT), and Donald Cammell is co-scriptwriter, there are echoes of his next one, PERFORMANCE also with Fox, here with those rich hippies in North Africa. Its all put together by Robert Parrish, whose earlier IN THE FRENCH STYLE with Jean Seberg is an under-rated pleaser. He makes Susannah York look even more georgous here, and its certainly one caper to savour.

Weekend matinee choices

The perfect rainy Saturday afternoon movie

QUENTIN DURWARD, from 1955 - for me the high point of the MGM costume drama of the '50s, (as is Fritz Lang's MOONFLEET, also '55). I saw this as a child and loved it, it was perfect on the big screen - that climax on the bell ropes of the burning tower, the lady being stripped to her undergarments by the dastardly villains, all that derring-do among the chateaus of France, and that great supporting cast of Robert Morley as the devious Louis, George Cole, Wilfrid Hyde White etc. but the two stars are Robert Taylor, then perhaps in decline, and Kay Kendall, on the ascent after her English roles - she would go on to do 3 perfect comedy roles for Cukor, Minnelli and Donen in LES GIRLS, THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE and ONCE MORE WITH FEELING before her untimely death from leukemia in 1959. She is perfect here in the medieval setting clutching her jewel box and fending off the bandits, while Taylor has great dignity and plays his ageing knight ruefully aware of his own mortality. Its all just a sheer delight I never tire of, at least I have a Cinemascope print, its usually panned and scanned on television. Director: Richard Thorpe, produced by Pandro S Berman, who produced Kendall's other MGM films.

The perfect Sunday afternoon movie

THE WAY TO THE STARS, 1945. I love English movies of the '40s, and this is a prime example. Its up there with IN WHICH WE SERVE or THIS HAPPY BREED showing the fortitude of life in wartime with stiff upper lips covering depths of emotion. This one is by Terence Rattigan and directed by Asquith, and captures the war era perfectly, set as it is on an airfield and the adjoining hotel run by Toddy - Rosamund John as the quintessential English gentlewoman (rather like Celia Johnson). Toddy marries airman Michael Redgrave and they have a baby - but he is a casualty of war and Toddy bravely carries on, observed by friend John Mills - but he does not wish the same fate on Renee Asherson so their romance flounders until Toddy puts him right. Then there are the americans, including Bonar Colleano and Douglass Montgomery who becomes friendly with Toddy. This movie must surely have influenced Schlesinger's YANKS, whose Richard Gere even resembles Montgomery! Add in Joyce Carey as the snobbish hotel resident who gets her just comeuppence, and a young Jean Simmons (16) who sings that song "let him go let him tarry". It all adds up to stirring deeply emotional stuff, ending as Toddy closes the hotel for the night, looking up at those stars. THIS HAPPY BREED, 2000 WOMEN, THE GENTLE SEX, I LIVE IN GROSVENOR SQUARE and Lean's BRIEF ENCOUNTER and THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS are more of the same.... then there are those Michael Powells like I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING, BLACK NARCISSUS, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, Carol Reeds, David Leans and Basil Dearden's sumptuous SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS with that dream pair of Stewart Granger and Joan Greenwood and the malevolent performance of Flora Robson, of which more later.

People We Like: Linda Darnell

Having just watched the Biography feature on Linda Darnell [1923-1965] on the US edition of A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, Linda's story comes across as one of the saddest star stories. She began so young at 15 and was washed up in her 30s, then problems with alcohol and men - even Mankiewicz let her down. But like Gene Tierney she was one of the '40s most beautiful women and comes across as being really nice. Her dark lustrous looks are at their peak in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES and NO WAY OUT, both by Mankiewicz in '49 and '50. She and Paul Douglas are for me the stars of 3 WIVES, with their dark tortured romance as Linda's Lora Mae waits on new year's eve in the shack by the railway track for Douglas's Porter to give in and marry her. Its a perfect ending too, with her "you big gorilla!". That poor sap Porter doesn't stand a chance as she puts a ladder in her nylons to emphasise her legs, and as she retorts to the request that she put on her bead necklace before going out on a date, "what I got don't need beads".

Linda's best include several for Preminger and Mankiewicz, including: A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, NO WAY OUT, THE THIRTEENTH LETTER, Preston Sturges' UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, BLOOD AND SAND, THE MARK OF ZORRO, MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, the delirious 1954 melodrama THIS IS MY LOVE, ISLAND OF DESIRE (cast on a desert island with Tab Hunter) and a rather good western DAKOTA INCIDENT.

Linda actually tested for THE WAYWARD BUS, with her "gas station casanova" Rik Jason (from THIS IS MY LOVE) in 1957 - the scene is included in that documentary mentioned above - and she would have been ideal for the rather blowsy, older woman here, and how did Fox repay their '40s star? They cast their new acquisition, the young English Joan Collins as the diner owner! One more hard knock for Linda...

Friday, 15 January 2010

Ray Winstone's latest ....

We have been fretting over the snow, as a second lot fell earlier this week on top of the previous melted ice and slush, and some of the roads here have not been gritted, plus those freezing temperatures! But now the footage from Haiti has been so shocking one can hardly contemplate the enormity of it. Why is it always the poorest places? All one can do here in UK is donate to the charities like Red Cross. Hopefully all that aid and troops from USA will make a big difference today....

I did get out Monday night, between the snowfalls, to see preview of 44 INCH CHEST at our London BFI NFT, with stars Ray Winstone and John Hurt in attendance for a Q+A afterwards. Its another of those SEXY BEAST type dramas with hilariously bad langauge that becomes almost poetic. Imagine a Pinter script as directed by Guy Ritchie.... Winstone has a good role after those supporting turns for Spielberg, Scorsese, but Hurt (just after his ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK turn as Quentin) is amazing as the vile old gangster Old Man Peanut, while Ian McShane plays gay in a totally different way, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Dillane (who was a terrific Hamlet some years ago) are also terrific, and Melvil Poupaud (from Ozon's TIME TO LEAVE) is the French waiter they terrorise; in all the best English actor ensemble since LAST ORDERS from about 10 years ago (also with Winstone, plus Courtenay, Hemmings, Caine, Hoskins, Mirren). Ray has just played Jack Hawkins' old role of Quintus Arrius in a new tv version of BEN HUR - should be interesting whenever it surfaces...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

1930s discoveries

When I was younger the female '30s stars we were all into were the usual suspects: Garbo and Dietrich, West and Lombard, the young Davis and Hepburn, Stanwyck and Crawford, Jean Arthur.

Its really only now I have discovered how wonderful (and prolific - 9 films in 1933 alone) Loretta Young was, and also Irene Dunne, Margaret Sullavan and Constance Bennett.

Loretta's career was really over by the time I began cinema-going in the mid-50s and I never saw her tv shows so only knew her as her later roles in films like THE BISHOP'S WIFE. Back in the early 30s she was radiantly beautiful and attractive in films like William Wellman's snappy thriller MIDNIGHT MARY, risque for its Pre-Code era, and as the Depression waif of MAN'S CASTLE with Tracy for Frank Borzage (it was being on the rebound from an affair with Tracy which caused her romance with Clark Gable and the child that resulted, which she adopted). She is so modern and attractive in the 1936 three-girls-sharing-an-apartment movie LADIES IN LOVE (opposite young Tyrone Power, with whom she co-starred several more times) looking much more modern than co-stars Janet Gaynor or Constance Bennett. I also like her in ZOO IN BUDAPEST, De Mille's THE CRUSADERS and she plays Chinese (with Edward G Robinson, also Chinese!) in THE HATCHET MAN. I shall now be looking out for more of her '30s roles.

I only knew Margaret Sullavan from a tv screening of THE MORTAL STORM, one of those movies that one never forgets, so it was great catching up with her in other Borzage films like THREE COMRADES or Lubitch's THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. I also like her final film in 1950 NO SAD SONGS FOR ME, with young Natalie Wood at her daughter.

Irene Dunne is of course wonderful in THE AWFUL TRUTH which I unaccountably had not seen until recently, and MY FAVOURITE WIFE and I now like her in THEODORA DOES WILD from 1936, plus SHOWBOAT, ROBERTA and others, and I still have her last role in I REMEMBER MAMA to watch!

Constance Bennett is wonderful too in NO BED OF ROSES, a saucy Pre-Code, from 1933, with Joel McCrea, and she also shines in LADIES IN LOVE.

Next: my 1940s discovery: Linda Darnell.

Double bills for snowy afternoons: 2

2 Swinging London films from 1968:

SEBASTIAN, directed by David Greene and produced by Michael Powell - how did I miss this 1968 oddity? as I like all the main players: Dirk Bogarde, Susannah York, Lilli Palmer. Fascinating to see now its obsession with those new office blocks of the 60s and its world of codes and code-breaking with all those dolly birds as staff. Alcoholic fading star Janet Munro has a role as an alcoholic fading star, Susannah drives around in a jeep and there is a terrific score by Jerry Goldsmith. One wonders if Dirk and Lilli had interesting conversations about his late pal Kay Kendall who caused the breakup of Lilli and Rex Harrison's marriage and whom Rex married in 1957, before she died in 1959.

OTLEY - much more jolly, in the SMASHING TIME mould (another '68 treat from Swinging London) is this comedy thriller by hit comedy writers Ian le Frenais and Dick Clement (who also directed) it stars Tom Courtenay as the halpess drifter who of course gets mistaken for a spy and gets into lots of sticky situations, not least at Notting Hill Gate underground station late at night! Romy Schneider is wasted as the mystery lady who pops in and out but there is a good supporting cast, James Villiers does another sneering villain, and there is a nice Antonioni joke at an intellectual party. Good to see those locations I used to know back then: Portobello Market and Notting Hill Gate.
2 French films from 1959:
Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE (LES YEUX SANS VISAGE) a poetic horror film aeons removed from usual horror fare. Brilliantly cast with Pierre Brasseur as the mad surgeon trying to graft a new face onto his daughter whose face was injured in an accident, she is the wonderful Edith Scob and has to wear a mask for most of the film. Juliette Mayniel is one of the girls - one watches the operation with fingers over one's eyes - and Alida Valli is perfect as his assistant with a new face of her own, luring girls back to their mansion. Full of those eerie Franju poetic moments, like watching the aeroplane in the sky when they are in the cemetry disposing of a body, or the weird beauty of the dove alighting on the masked daughter and that stunning last shot of her at the end.... it certainly deserves its strong reputation, with brilliant photography of the great Eugene Shuftan.

LES DRAGUEURS (or The Young Have No Morals) by Jean-Pierre Mocky, is a crisp black and white 1959 (so rather new-wavey) drama set in Paris by night, as Jacques Charrier (that pre-Delon leading man) and Charles Aznavour drive around Paris trying to pick up girls. The interest here is the girls who include starlets of the era like Dany Robin, Anouk Aimee has one good scene, but the biggest female role is played by England's own siren, Belinda Lee, who looks terrific here. Shot about the same time as Truffaut's 400 BLOWS it is another interesting look at Paris by night 50 years ago.