Friday, 26 February 2010
Ian Cameron set up MOVIE magazine which was a brilliant new look at magazine layout and presentation [a more trendy SIGHT & SOUND?] and covered in depth the new interest in movies and the works of directors like Minnelli, Nick Ray, Preminger and others in the '60s. One could almost say it was an English Cahiers. There were issues devoted to Kazan, Von Sternberg, as well as serious features on Aldrich, Losey and of course Ford, Hawks, Hitchcock and Welles.
There were also those cinema paperbacks, a new concept in the late '60s, and essential for young movie buffs, such as I was, being affordable, well-designed arts paperbacks. Ian co-wrote the Antonioni one with Robin Wood; and he and his wife did that essential title on 'Broads' covering everyone from A - Lola Albright to W: Shelley Winters.
Click to enlarge back cover blurb above, showing the extent of the Cameron movie paperbacks - there was nothing like them back then.
4 Woodys, 2 Pedros, + Penelope
60s the international years
favourite sountrack albums
back to art-house: Bergman, Antonioni, Visconti, Demy, Varda
Showpeople at play
BLOW-UP and the London '60s
Antonioni's THE PASSENGER - my 1976 feature for "Films Illustrated"
BLACK NARCISSUS & Michael Powell
2 best comedies: SOME LIKE IT HOT + ONE TWO THREE
A Decade: 1954-1964
Doomed flights: those airline dramas
Anita Ekberg - THE '50s siren
Belinda Lee - England's other bombshell
British cinema: 40s to 70s
Dirk Bogarde & The Rank Organisation years
Those English girls: Julie, Susannah, Sarah + Rita and Jane too
Loretta Young & LADIES IN LOVE
Anouk Aimee trio
Lilli Palmer trio
Ingrid Thulin trio
Those Italians: Mangano, Lollobrigida, Loren, Cardinale, Valli, Vitti
10 French actresses: Aimee Audran Adjani Ardent Deneuve Dorleac Moreau Seyrig Signoret Darrieux (+ Laforet)
English actresses of the '50s
Jack Hawkins, Trevor Howard, Harry Andrews - the great dependables
Jeremy Spenser ?
Marilyn and the whole Monroe thing
Theatre-going since the 60s
Those versatile directors: Sturges, Mann, Daves, Hathaway, J Lee Thompson, Ronald Neame
An English quartet: Lester, Losey, Richardson, Schlesinger
Those recent directors: Ozon, Condon, Haynes, Roos + Ang Lee
A Huston quartet: MR ALLISON, THE UNFORGIVEN, THE MISFITS, NIGHT OF THE IGUANA
Those Howard Hawks women ...
People we like: Stewart Granger / David Hemmings / Claire Bloom / Glynis Johns / Flora Robson / James Mason / Nigel Patrick / Yvonne Mitchell / Joan Greenwood / Michael Craig / Peter Finch / Alan Bates / Stanley Baker / Stephen Boyd / Laurence Harvey / Janet Leigh / Jeffrey Hunter / George Sanders / Clifton Webb etc.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
INGLORIOUS BASTERDS - I can't recall two and a half hours flying by faster at the movies than here, with Quentin Tarantino's take on war movies. This is both a comic and a cartoon and as stylish as they come, with of course no relation to history, though may be a new DIRTY DOZEN. I love the little '40s Parisian cinema (quite palatial on the inside) and Melanie Laurent as Shosanna is surely a new French actress of note. Christoph Waltz is amazing as Landa and has to be best supporting actor - though the whole ensemble is perfect, with lots of Quentin's in-jokes. Pitt here seems a combination of James Coburn & Lee Marvin - I thought at first his character was named Aldo Ray! There are stunning set-pieces: the long first chapter introducing Landa and his methods at the French farmhouse, where one sense's Tarantino taking his time setting out his stall; the German war hero sniper's (Daniel Bruhl - wasn't he the boy in LADIES IN LAVENDER?) pursuit of the cinema owner Shosanna taking her to the centre of the German occupation and her re-union with Landa ...
The film is audacious and hilarious, with great dialogue sequences like the shoot-out in the cafe and the conflagration at the cinema with all the Nazi high command in attendance. Nice period feel too, as though getting the look of the 40s was important (something that's often ignored in war movies). I just loved it, Tarantino's best since PULP FICTION. Great music choices too as ever - particularly good to hear Bowie's "Putting Out Fire with Gasoline" [from CAT PEOPLE] again, its particularly apt here. I just downloaded it from iTunes!
THE HURT LOCKER - Kathryn Bigelow's latest and a nerve-shredding, white knuckle ride with that bomb disposal unit in Iraq. This is surely war as it is lived and torn from the news bulletins - even more so now with the Afghanistan war on our screens every night. Bigelow of course is one of the most exciting directors working today and has been since POINT BREAK back in the 90s. Filmed in Jordan it captures the everyday work of the soldiers and the (hostile?) Iraqis lurking in the background, and those ready to prime a bomb. Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce appear, the lead Jeremy Renner seems rather like a new Russell Crowe, but certainly delivers. His Sergeant James lives for the adrenalin rush of disposing bombs which he compounds by not wearing his protective gear and maybe getting his colleagues into danger. The final set-piece with the wired Iraqi is edge of seat stuff. But as the quote at the start tells us: "war is a drug", our hero feels out of place back home in the supermarket, so has only one option left. It tackles war in a totally different way from Tanantino, but both films are dynamite.
I now feel like more "theatre of war" movies like re-seeing Peckinpah's CROSS OF IRON, Spielberg's EMPIRE OF THE SUN and Polanski's THE PIANIST, and I recently watched some Jeffrey Hunter [always ideally cast as a marine] titles like SAILOR OF THE KING, NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, FROM HELL TO ETERNITY and that Fox ensemble IN LOVE AND WAR. Robert Aldrich also did some gritty war movies like Palance and Chandler in the '59 10 SECONDS TO HELL [another bomb disposal unit!, in Berlin after WWII) and Palance & Lee Marvin in ATTACK, and of course Warners' big one, Walsh's BATTLE CRY in 1954. A great kids' movie too was Universal's ensemble in AWAY ALL BOATS ['57] and all those British war movies ....
Saturday, 13 February 2010
What is it to be for Valentine Day viewing? A new romcom? or a classic? BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S now seems to be THE classic for Valentine's day, my local art-house is showing it with champagne and chocolates ! For pure schmalz you can hardly beat a Fox double bill of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER and LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDOURED THING. That would leave one limp and with not a dry eye in the house... ditto Sirk's ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS.
The latest romcom I like is THE PROPOSAL, which was actually the in-flight movie on a trip to Greece last summer, but I liked so much I got the dvd. Sandra Bullock is about the only romcom queen I like and she is perfect here, and the guy is cute and there is Mary Steenburgen whom I love, now in the Mom phase of her career. It's well put together and it works, what's not to like? I also have that recent Gerard Butler effort THE UGLY TRUTH to look at .... one I will be giving a big miss to is this excruciating sounding VALENTINE'S DAY with that current crop of the younger crowd, and even Shirley McLaine included - there is even a token gay relationship I understand. It seems to be trying to be a new LOVE ACTUALLY [though that snipped out the gay (lesbian) relationship, though it is included on the dvd - maybe the women (Anne Reid and Frances De La Tour) were too old and one of them dying? - though Emma Thompson refers to them later in the film], but LOVE ACTUALLY was bad enough, without a Gerry Marshall imitation.
The romantic classics I like for Valentine's Day are those Ophuls: LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, LA RONDE and MADAME DE. There is also a Roger Vadim 1964 LA RONDE with a young Jane Fonda and some interesting French players (Anna Karina, Jean Sorel, Maurice Ronet etc) but the one that works is Max Ophuls 1950 one which is perfection with that cast of Signoret, Walbrook, Darrieux, Gerard Philipe etc).
Then there is my new favourite, a discovery from last year: David Lean's 1949 romantic drama THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS, which should be as well known as BRIEF ENCOUNTER. This is a delirious romance, perfectly orchestrated by Lean, with the usually glacial Ann Todd re-discovering her lost love Trevor Howard on an alpine holiday, but she has married rich, possessive Claude Rains in the meantime. It's wonderfully worked out with great locations (you can sense Lean making the most of the Alpine shoot, as he did with Venice in SUMMERTIME) and there is that marvellous scene where jealous Rains cannot contain his anger any longer as he confronts the lovers with the theatre programme for the show they did not attend. The three players are at their best here and its a richly romantic treat with that perfect late '40s ambience.
Getting back to BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S that ending (the opposite of how Capote's novella ends) with Audrey and Peppard in the rain (did any couple ever look better wet?) as the heavenly chorus sings "Moon River" and cat is found .... they embrace with the damp cat squeezed between them .... movie perfection! Tears all round.... My theory about TIFFANY'S is that Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golightly in the style of the recently departed Kay Kendall who died in 1959. It's a perfect Kendall role and Audrey knew the Kendall sisters when they were all chorus girls in early '50s London. One can just imagine the Kay of LES GIRLS or THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE as a perfect Holly... TIFFANY'S though remains a great New York film and an early 60s classic.
Martin Ritt's THE BLACK ORCHID from 1958/59 is a perfect romantic treat too, as widow Sophia Loren is wooed by widower Anthony Quinn - quite lovable here. He has a disapproving daughter and Sophia (aged 24 with just a hint of grey in her hair) is the mother of teenage tearaway. Its all nicely resolved at the breakfast table and must surely have influenced Cher's MOONSTRUCK, a nice romcom pastiche.
A very nice '40s romance is the 1945 Alexander Korda VACATION FROM MARRIAGE [or PERFECT STRANGERS] where bored young newly weds Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr each get drafted into the wartime services and re-discover themselves and each other. Its utterly charming, with nice roles too for Glynis Johns and Ann Todd.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
THE CHAPMAN REPORT, Cukor's film of a sensational book (which I also read as a teenager) concerning a sex survey among a group of women. It has that perfect early 60s look and Cukor certainly makes it look good, with a separate 'look' for each of the women and their homes. Claire Bloom is outstanding as the self-loathing nymphomaniac - she is presented like a vampire lurking in the shadows watching the water delivery boy, Chad Everett in tight trousers; Glynis Johns is a lot of fun as the arty housewife who becomes distracted by beach boy Ty Hardin in those spray-on shorts; Shelley Winters is the hausfrau with a very dull husband and she is having an affair with heel Ray Danton, a theatre director - it ends in tears in the book, but no so in the movie. Jane Fonda impresses the least as the frigid young widow, but Jane had not yet found herself back then. Cukor regular Henry Daniell also pops up. Its all marvellously entertaining and not at all trashy like some others I could mention - and will in due course. It was great to finally see THE CHAPMAN REPORT recently, as it has not been available for decades, and there is still no proper dvd release!