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.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Thats a double bill!: Barbarella and American Gigolo

For those who saw them initially, or over the years, AMERICAN GIGOLO and BARBARELLA are the height of fashion and glamour and define the 1960s and the 1980s. So, as they were both on Sky Movies the same day (saves getting the dvds out...) let head off once again in Barbarella's space ship and enjoy the lush life as we cruise along with Richard as that Giorgio Moroder soundtrack sets the mood ...
The initial poster we liked
After experiencing Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER last week, scripted by Paul Schrader, now its back to his 1980 breakthrough movie AMERICAN GIGOLO which for me kickstarted the 1980s. I could rhapsodize about this for hours, and have, as per previous posts - see American Gigolo label.  Here though is David Thompson from his huge tome: "Have You Seen..."
"Paul Schrader directs from his own script and puts his every love and desire into the picture, so it thrills to the pulse of disco music, voyeuristic sex, Robert Bresson, the LA light, the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, driving on the freeway in a convertible, the “privacy” of Palm Springs, and the infinite blossom of corruption in Southern California. It is often like an advertisement (shot with exquisite taste by John Bailey), and it delights in streamlining moderne-ism and the sultry swish of the passing moment. The whole thing is poised on an edge where collapse or public mirth are equal possibilities, yet it survives and brings its fatuous Sirkian plot to a lovely finale. Within the delirium of cliches and pretension, something absolutely true strides forward, personified by Gere’s lounging walk and his shameless attitudinizing. This was a new kind of riveting trash. If you want to know about American in 1980, then go to American Gigolo and Raging Bull."

Looking at it this time, I was riveted by Lauren Hutton - Gere is so extraordinary here that one initially tends to overlook her, but she is the complex heart of the film and delivers exactly what is required. Whether its Gere's Julian in THAT apartment, or laying out his Armani clothes to that perfect Smokey Robinson track, or Moroder's soundtrack (I had it on vinyl and cd) pounding as he drives to Palm Springs, or "Love and Passion" by Cheryl Barnes as he enters the gay disco ---- Scharader's Calvinist upbringing makes this seem like a circle of hell - it is all a perfect re-working of Bresson's PICKPOCKET as Julian has to turn on himself and wreck his apartment to find those stolen jewels ... and then that moment of redemption. Schrader continued his obsessions with that remake of CAT PEOPLE in 1982 another glossy sexy exercise, as per my review, Schrader label. As much as I like Gere here, after Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN and Schlesigner's YANKS, I had no desire to see him in most of his following films. This is what I said a while back:  He is so central to the movie, like how Antonioni idealised David Hemmings in BLOW-UP.
I will have to upgrade mine to Blu-ray - as a great looking movie its up there with BARRY LYNDON, THE AGE OF INNOCENCETHE LEOPARD or THE GREAT BEAUTY
Here is some more on it:
BARBARELLA, 1968, by contrast is a dated, throwaway comic strip but not without its own amusements, a key 60s movie certainly, with some great sequences and imagery, not least David Hemmings as the revolutionary, John Philip Law as the blind, blond angel Pygar, Milo O'Shea as Duran Duran, those dolls with the teeth - and Anita Pallenberg's evil Queen with designs on our heroine and who is surely voiced by the unique Joan Greenwood, and of course Jane's wide-eyed innocent in and out of those amazing costumes. A lot of fun all-round then, almost as good as MODESTY BLAISE


  1. I watched BARBARELLA again not so long ago and was surprised how well it held up, much more so than MODESTY BLAISE in my opinion but then MODESTY was set in the 'real' world while this was entirely a fantasy. I also love AMERICAN GIGOLO, another one I saw within the past year and which holds up superbly.

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