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, 17 July 2015

Black narcissus

BLACK NARCISSUS was on once again and once again there I was watching it one more time, its a film that never palls and is so richly textured that one discovers new aspects to it. It is probably my Number One movie now among my best/favourite films ever ... as per my previous posts here, see label. Every element is perfect here, I would not want to change a moment of it.

It is on the one hand a very 1940s lurid melodrama set in that convent/harem high in the Himalayas, from the popular book by Rumer Godden. It is also maybe the best of the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger classics (I also love I KNOW WHERE I'M GOINGA MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATHTHE RED SHOES..) as key British films of the '40s. The look of this 1947 film is amazing, so many shots of the convent and the mountains and landscapes are beautiful as are those flashbacks to Ireland in that rich '40s Technicolor, as photographed by ace camerama Jack Cardiff (see also PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, and that desert adventure LEGEND OF THE LOST, plus THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL etc, as per Cardiff label).

This time around I liked that early introduction to the convent as we follow the old Ayah (May Hallatt) around the deserted halls while the mother superior registers her disapproval of young Sister Clodagh being put in charge of the mountain convent. The other nuns are nicely depicted too: Sister Honey, Sister Briony and Sister Phillipa who plants flowers instead of vegetables ... Deborah Kerr at 26 (a decade before her lovely Sister Angela in HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON) is ideal as Sr Clodagh and Kathleen Byron's Sister Ruth comes into her own in the closing scenes as she leaves the convent, puts on that red dress and lipstick and goes in search of Mr Dean, the land agent in the shorts, who has been having an unsettling feeling on both her and Sr Clodagh .... there is that scene in a red mist as Mr Dean rejects her .... the convent at sunset as the nuns search for her, and Sr Clodagh wearily goes to toll the bell .... this is delirious stuff that no matter how often one sees it keeps one enthralled. that stunning cut too and then the aftermath .... 
That ending is perfect too as the nuns leave as the clouds swallow up the convent, and there is that deeply emotional final meeting of Sr Clodagh and Mr Dean when their affection and love is apparant as they have to say goodbye, and she asks him to do one final thing for her ... I love too that shot of the rain starting to fall on those giant leaves as the caravan moves on.  Back around 1980 when I got miy first vhs video recorder BLACK NARCISSUS was one of the first films I taped on those clunky cassettes, so we used to see that scene over and over ... I have not even mentioned Jean Simmons as Kanchi and Sabu as the young general with that perfume "Black Narcissus" from the Army & Navy Stores in London ... and to think it was all created in the studios with some stunning matte shots.


Interesting to see HELLO DOLLY again .... back in 1969 when in my twenties this seemed an elephantine old-fashioned film in that era of trendy counterculture, but we went along to see it all the same, and even had the soundtrack album. We were still on a Streisand high and she certainly delivers here, though of course is far too young for the middle-aged Dolly  Levi, a role ideally suited to Shirley Booth in the film THE MATCHMAKER (Mary Martin, Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey had successes as Dolly too). But hey it was a hit show, and 20th Century Fox certainly made it high wide and handsome. Gene Kelly directs (but not so that you would notice), it does though have some nice moments.
I like the opening number "Just Leave Everything To Me" as Dolly sets off for Yonkers to see her latest client, that well-known unmarried half a millionaire Horace Vandergelder. Streisand is perfect here gowned and hatted by Irene Sharaff (who also did the costumes for that other Fox extravaganza CLEOPATRA). Walter Matthau is ideal as the grouch (of course he and Streisand did not get on at all, putting it mildly), and young Michael Crawford and Danny Lockin (later, murdered by a stalker pickup) are fun as the juveniles Cornelius and Barnaby, Tommy Tune scores too. Barbra is a lot of fun actually as she vamps an guys the material.

"Put On Your Sunday Clothes" is a delicious number too, nicely staged and danced (and with a nod to MEET ME IN ST LOUIS) - then there is the huge parade and that finale at the restaurant with the singing waiters and Louis himself to reprise the title number.   On the downside, it looks too brash, the period detail looks trowelled on, the costumes look too new, the two girls at the hat shop - Irene Malloy and her assistant Minnie Fay - are excruciatingly winsome. It is a fun scene though when Horace comes calling, with the boys in hiding and Dolly on hand to get them dancing ..... 
Not a GREAT musical then, but fun to see now and then.  

1949: The heiress

THE HEIRESS: William Wyler's 1949 classic is the very definition of the well-made picture, and is a perfect 1940s golden age movie. It still fascinates and enthralls now. Olivia de Havilland may well be too good-looking to play the rather plain Catherine Sloper of Henry James's novel "Washington Square", but she certainly conveys the character's gaucheness and reserve, while Ralph Richardson as her wealthy surgeon father delivers one of his best performances - one cannot take one's eyes off him. Then there is Montgomery Clift, in maybe his best role to date, as Morris Townsend, a poor young man with an eye for the finer things in life ...

A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

The Slopers (the house also incudes Sloper's widowed sister Lavinia) live in an opulent house at 16 Washington Square in 1860s New York. Catherine is a plain, simple, awkward and extremely shy woman, lacking in social graces, who spends all her free time doing embroidery. Catherine's lack of social charm and beauty - unlike her deceased mother - is very obvious to Dr. Sloper, forever comparing her to her late mother. The first man ever to show Catherine any attention is the handsome Morris Townsend, who she met at a family party .... Is Morris though a fortune-hunter? Maybe he would love Catherine (and her fortune)?  Dr Sloper is not convinced and Catherine comes to realise how he really feels about her and retaliates in kind.

Wyler directs it all perfectly, from the play adapted from the Henry James novel, and it has a perfect score by Aaron Copland. How the plot works out, with Morris leaving and then returning, Catherine waiting in vain to elope with him, and then grimly taking up her place back in her father's house, as her resentment boils over, Lavinia trying to get him back in her favour, her father's illness and death as Catherine suggests he change his will to disinherit her .... and then Morris's return and Catherine's final resolution, are all marvellous to watch.  Like those versions of THE ASPERN PAPERS or THE TURN OF THE SCREW (THE INNOCENTS) Henry James is very well served here 

Dr. Sloper may be right about Morris and only wants to protect his daughter, or maybe his actions are those of a vindictive man who blames her for the death of his beloved wife (in childbirth). Morris could be a fortune hunter, or he could be a man who does care for Catherine, in his own way, and would make her happy. 
It is a perfect Wyler picture with the three leads (and Miriam Hopkins as Lavinia) all at their peaks. There was a later remake, but I felt I did not really need to see it - despite having Albert Finney as Sloper and Maggie Smith as Lavinia in the cast. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

1950: In a lonely place

Nicholas Ray's IN A LONELY PLACE remains a brilliant noir from 1950 - it should be as well known as that year's other major movies like SUNSET BOULEVARD, ALL ABOUT EVE, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE or WINCHESTER '73.  

Screenwriter Dixon Steele, faced with the odious task of scripting a trashy bestseller, has hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson tell him the story in her own words. Later that night, Mildred is murdered and Steele is a prime suspect; his record of belligerence when angry and his macabre sense of humor tell against him. Fortunately, lovely neighbor Laurel Gray gives him an alibi. Laurel proves to be just what Steele needed, and their friendship ripens into love. Will suspicion, doubt, and Steele's inner demons come between them?
Poor Mildred - quickly murdered and forgotten about, so it seems. Even who did it is immaterial, as it is not about that at all, but the tortured relationship between Dixon and Laurel who provides his alilbi that night he quickly gets Mildred out of his apartment after she has told him the story of the novel he is supposed to read by morning. Laurel's apartment overlooks Dixon's and she sees Mildred leave alone .... 
They get to know each other at the police station, and things quickly develop between them. Laurel is initially attracted to him, but his violent temper, like when he beats up that car driver and almost kills him, soon causes her to have doubts .... By the time the police confirm it was not Dixon, it is too late for them ..... By turns charming, cold, romantic and remorseful, Dix Steele is as unpredictable a character as Bogie has ever played - an abusive man with a quick temper. It is a joyless view of love and fate.
Laurel is Gloria Graham, director Nick Ray's wife at the time, and it is one of her better roles. She remains one of the underrated great US actresses of the 50's (THE BIG HEAT, OKLAHOMA!), and has an electrifying chemistry with Bogie. Frank Lovejoy heads a fantastic supporting cast. The reasons for Mildred's murder are never satisfactorily made clear, but it doesn't matter. Laurel witnesses how Dixton treats his old friends and starts to worry for her own safety. The more she tries to escape from Dixon the more trapped she becomes and the more violent he gets ..... until that last telephone call. 
This is a noir that focuses on romance rather than crime and is a gut-wrenching love story,and should be so much better known, A perfect noir/twisted romance complete with those big cars driving by night, nightclub scenes and lots of shadows. One of Rays best too - up there with REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and JOHNNY GUITAR

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

1967: Vanessa in Vogue - by Bert

Sixties glamour with a vengance: A favourite book is Vogue in the Sixties, capturing the glamour of that decade with some stunning images. Here is Vanessa Redgrave in one of their January 1967 issues certainly ramping up the glamour stakes - thanks to Colin for finding it on Twitter. 
These were Vanessa's break-out years after the successes of MORGAN and BLOW-UP and she would go on to CAMELOT and ISADORA and so much more. Interestingly, the photographer here is the great Bert Stern, who did those final Monroe images in his "The Last Sitting". 
Also in 1967, here is Vanessa in another ritzy outfit at Cannes Film Festival with Monica Vitti and Antonioni. In her memoir Redgrave related how her first husband Tony Richardson wanted her to be like Monica Vitti .... Vanessa only went on to star for Antonioni and here they all are sur le plage!  Lots more on Vanessa at label. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

1970: Fire and rain

Many thanks to Colin for sending me this treat: the very readable FIRE AND RAIN, or to give it its full title: FIRE AND RAIN, THE BEATLES, SIMON & GARFUNKEL, JAMES TAYLOR, C S N Y AND THE LOST STORY OF 1970. Its a fascinating 2011 tome by David Browne chronicling that fascinating year in music (and movies and popular culture) 1970 as he focuses on the inter-twined fortunes of these musicians and their latest opuses. Other characters like Joni Mitchell flit in and out too ... 

These iconic acts of the '60s are at last wrapping up major new releases. The Beatles assemble one more time to put the final touches to LET IT BE. Crosy Stills Nash and Young finish their highly anticipated DEJA VU. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel finally complete their masterpiece BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER. (Paul referred to the title track as his "Yesterday"). Meanwhile on the sidelines, a shy upstart singer-songwriter named James Taylor is trying to write one more song to finalize an album called SWEET BABY JAMES. Over the course of the next twelve months, the lives of these remarkable musicians  - and the world around them - will change irrevocably. 
Acclaimed journalist David Browne sets the stories of those rock legends - and legends-to-be - against an increasingly chaotic backdrop of end-of-the-'60s events that sent the world spinning throughout that tumultuous year. The first book on the musical, political and cultural changes of 1970 FIRE AND RAIN tells the story of four landmark albums, the intertwining personal ties ties between the legendary artists who made them, and the ways in which their songs and journeys mirrored the end of one era and the start of another. Browne avoids sentimentality and nostalgia, aiming instead at a fresh look at the bands and their milieu. Some of the period details are almost astonishingly apt. says the blurb.  Below: Joni's album art for the CSNY album:

I was 24 then and in the thick of it all. 1970 was quite a year for me too - all that music, those movies still around like FELLINI SATYRICON and ZABRISKIE POINT. There were lots of Trash movies too, like Helmut's DORIAN GRAY. I was sharing a large flat with two friends in South London - here I am on the balcony leading down to the garden, plus some other shots from that year ..... My best friend Stan and I left the flat that summer to travel in Europe - my first trip to Paris, we walked all over the city and yes, slept under the bridges, then the train south and into Spain .... on return to London I rejoined my hippie friends (whom I saw The Doors & Jefferson Airplane with in 1968) in their rambling apartment until I left and found my own place for 1971. 
So it goes. 1970 was also the year I was at the British Film Institute cinema, the NFT, a lot, meeting and seeing and talking to Lee Remick and Dirk Bogarde among others, and standing next to Leonard Whiting in the gents urinal! plus seeing The Burtons and Joseph Losey on stage at the "Sunday Times" Cinema City Exhibition. I had also discovered Joni Mitchell by then, we liked her first two albums, and then saw her at her Royal Festival Hall concert later that year, from where I was sitting I could see the hippie princess waiting in the wings to go on - that was a fantastic evening too of course, little did I know I would be talking to her two years later when I met her purely by chance in the Kings Road (as per Joni label).
This book though captures it all - I loved the James Taylor album, and its follow-up MUD SLIDE SLIM, I was not really into CYNY but loved Young's voice and solo albums. We also had the Simon & Garfunkel and Beatles albums of course - this was the time When Albums Ruled The World! This of course was before the internet and social media, when the music spoke for itself. This is a fascinating rock book as Browne unearths a wealth of new material on performers one thought one knew more than enough about, for instance fascinating reading again on the mutual antagonism between Simon and Garfunkel. The Rolling Stones though do not get a look-in here. Left: Joni and James recording backup vocals on Carole King's TAPESTRY

Sunday, 12 July 2015

1954: Rock'n'Roll America = my childhood

Thanks to BBC4, that enterprising music channel, for the three-part series ROCK'N'ROLL AMERICA focusing on that period in the early and mid-'50s when that degenerate new music took hold of America's teenagers and quickly became upstoppable, to the consternation of the older generation. Focusing on the Deep South and Tennessee it showed how the fusion of blues, bluegress, and all that guitar music formed the new music for teenagers bored with their parents' heroes. This was still segregated America as the series shows, with seperate venues for Coloured folk, and the Ku Klux Klan were still operating, and everyone was afraid of flying saucers. The series focuses on the early black stars like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, and then it all came together in the shape of Elvis, out of Tupelo and working as a driver in Memphis. We don't need to re-hash all that, but the footage is fascinating. Sun Records were looking for a white boy who could sing black and did Elvis deliver. I love that 1956 footage of him ....

Then along came Jerry Lee Lewis, the film THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT capturing Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, as Jayne sashays to and from the powder room in that red dress; and there were the Everly Brothers fusing their Appalachian tunes and harmonies to the new sounds .... The music biz though needed another white boy to sanitize that rather sleazy R'n'B, so Pat Boone was invented - a clean living (married with 3 little girls) and clean looking white boy eager to bowlerise those lyrics and appeal to the television audience. It worked for Pat - though not many would want to see APRIL LOVE or BERNARDINE or MARDI GRAS now. Boone, famously Christian and right-wing, now 80, is here along with Fabian and lots of other talking heads. The big re-discovery for me is Buddy Holly, with some great footage here - how I love those timeless tracks like "That'll Be The Day", "Not Fade Away", "Peggy Sue Got Married" etc. What a shame he died so young ...

Elvis had his imitators too - pretty Rick Nelson (a major talent too) struck out with Hawks' RIO BRAVO, always on somewhere and frequenly on here; Fabian had a run at Fox - I still like HOUND DOG MAN and that entertaining comedy western NORTH TO ALASKA (Fabian label), he also appeared with James Stewart (twice) and Bing Crosby, and the fantasy FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON, he was the first victim in TEN LITTLE INDIANS (1965) as well as appearing in surfing and hot rod movies, he also tastefully posed for "Playgirl" and is still going. Then there were Tommy Sands, Bobby Rydell and those other Philadelphia boys like Frankie Avalon.

Across the Atlantic, on the West of Ireland I was following all this from that distance, being about 12 at the time, we may not have had AMERICAN BANDSTAND but were able to read about it in the fan magazines, and hear the records and the artists like Connie Francis and Brenda Lee, I remember loving all those circa 1959, when I was 'wild in the country' on holidays. Ireland was really colonised by America then - we did not have their TV, but had the movies and the music and all those magazines and comics, from "Dick Tracy" to National Geographic spreads on Idado and Colorado, as well as LIFE and "Movieland and TV Time" and Dell's "Screen Album". The first record I actually saw and held in my hand was a 78rpm of "Jailhouse Rock" belonging to an older cousin home from London. Soon we were loving Elvis on screen in LOVING YOU and JAILHOUSE ROCK. Then there were those early cheap rock'n'roll movies and Bill Haley ,,,

But by the late-'50s it was all changing ... Elvis was a G.I in Germany and his music was changing, Buddy Holly dead in '59, Jerry Lee was in disgrace after marrying his 13-year old cousin, and wild Little Richard has found God. The music was sanitised for the television audiences, and just around the corner was The Twist and those new dances, the California surfing sound of The Beach Boys, Motown taking off in Detroit, and the British Invasion spearheaded by The Beatles not too far off. 
So, fun to enjoy again that innocent era of the late'50s and all that rock'n'roll.

It pinpoints too what a pivotal year 1954 was - one of my favourite years, I was 8 and had just discovered cinema (as per label 1954-1 - I have written lots on it): Elvis was recording those early ground-breaking records, James Dean was filming EAST OF EDEN for Kazan for 1955 release, while over in Italy teenage Sophia Loren (20 that September) was filming non-stop, plus my favourite film magazine "Films and Filming" began that October .... It would take me a few more years to catch up with those. But I remember the fuss about James Dean and the special magazines that came out after his death, as we all began to go mad over Elvis .... 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

1958: Touch of Evil, again

The BFI have reissued that super 1958 thriller TOUCH OF EVIL, and with a new trailer:
Orson Welles' influential, magnificently sophisticated and funny take on crime and US/Mexican relations in a border town (maybe the best B-movie ever) provides a masterclass in how to create atmosphere. The camera (lensed by the great Russell Metty) swoops around like a bird of prey on acid. Henry Mancini's music sends us into a frenzy as idealistic Mexican cop Vargas (Heston) goes head to head with corrupt law enforcer Quinlan (a bloated, padded Welles) as he uncovers the seedy corruption around him as Quinlan has his own way of getting results. Cue Janet Leigh menaced in a motel again - by the craziest collection of hoods (including Mecedes McCambridge), and gangly motel guy Dennis Weaver. Orson regulars like Akim Tamiroff are also nicely sleazy here. 
Janet had her arm in a sling but you don't notice as she often has a coat over her arm. Then there's Marlene, with that great closing line .... This is a classic hepped-up '50s noir (along with KISS ME DEADLY and THE BIG COMBO) and has that great long opening sequence as we wait for the bomb in the car to go off. A perfect Abert Zugsmith production. 
Orson was initially hired to act, but who else could have directed it better? He also appeared in THE LONG HOT SUMMER and ROOTS OF HEAVEN and probably spent an hour narrating THE VIKINGS that year, 1958 was busy for them all: Chuck was also in THE BIG COUNTRY and THE BUCCANEER (before heading off for BEN-HUR), while Janet was kept busy with THE VIKINGS and that comedy I liked, THE PERFECT FURLOUGH (see Janet label). Heston & Janet teamed again for this nice shot in 1999 ....   

RIP, continued

Omar Sharif, (1932-2015), aged 83, a year or so after his great chum Peter O'Toole. Omar, last of the matinee idols?  was of course a leading Egyptian actor (GOHA) before David Lean cast him as Prince Ali in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA where he had that famous introduction to international audiences as he rode out of the desert. DR ZHIVAGO sealed the deal, and soon he was serenading Barbra Streisand in FUNNY GIRL (and he also pops up to less effect in FUNNY LADY). Other roles included THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE with Ingrid Bergman, MORE THAN A MIRACLE with Sophia Loren, Lumet's imitation-Antonioni misfire THE APPOINTMENT with Anouk Aimee in '69, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, GENGHIS KHAN (a favourite of mine) with Franoise Dorleac, MAYERLING with her sister Catherine Deneuve; THE LOST VALLEY, JUGGERNAUT. There were duds too of course: BLOODLINE, did anyone see CHE! at the time, 1969? - I didn't want to see it then and have never had the chance to since but I probably have not missed much - it might be a great lost Trash Classic. His later films were of variable quality, putting it kindly, and he did lots of television - but his celebrity endured. I particularly liked HAREM. Omar later became famous all over again for his romances, gambling and card playing. He passed me in the street once in Charing Cross Road. 

Patrick Macnee, (1922-2015), aged 93. Another great veteran (like his friend the recently departed Christopher Lee, also 93). A confession: I have never seen THE AVENGERS as I didn't begin watching television until the late Sixties, but Macnee was iconic as John Steed opposite all those ladies: Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, Tara King, Purdey ... He later moved to America and had a long career in television. One fascinating fact about his fascinating life is that he was reared by his lesbian mother and her female partner ...

Roger Rees, (1944-2015), aged 71. Welsh actor who was principally a man of the theatre, spending years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but later had a lot of television (THE WEST WING) and cinema credits. He made his name with the RSC's famous production of THE ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKELBY, a stage marathon that was a huge success in London and New York, earning him Olivier and Tony awards. 

Andy Griffith, (1926-2015), aged 86. We know Andy from his role as Lonesome Rhodes in Kazan's 1957 drama A FACE IN THE CROWD (which also introduced the young Lee Remick). Andy of course had a long career in television with his ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and so much more, which never aired here.

Laura Antonelli, (1941-2015), aged 73. Italian actress who had lots of successes in the 1970s. I know her mainly from Visconti's L'INNOCENTE in 1976 where she is ravishing in those period outfits and the perfect centre of Visconti's drama - see review of it at the "Popular Posts" sidebar, right.. She was also effective in Bolognini's grimy funny GRAN BOLLITO.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Weekend grooves

Grace! - like Blondie's Debbie Harry, Grace is too much and never gets old! I had not seen this video clip or heard this track of hers before .... love the Sly & Robbie bass groove, as on most of Grace's numbers. 
Also lets have some Talking Heads .. so much to choose from.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

1962: Boccaccio 70

Back to 1962 again for BOCCACCIO 70 that fascinating compendium, then of 3 episodes, marketed as Fellini directs Anita Ekberg, Visconti directs Romy Schneider and De Sica with Sophia Loren once again. There was though a fourth episode, by Monicelli, with no major names (Marisa Solinas and Germano Gilioli, above) which was cut from the release print, to the annoyance of critics at the time who boycotted a party held by producer Carlo Ponti. As I mentioned here before, the dvd now has the full four episodes and the Monicelli proves a perfect summertime treat, as we join our young couple looking for some time to themselves in a crowded city with crowded workplaces, family homes and very crowded swimming pools. Its a perfect early 1960s Italian delight ...
Of course Romy (with Tomas Milian), Anita as the giant billboard that comes to life, and Sophia as the fairground girl who is raffled off every week, also amuse .... 
If you do not know this one, it is worth seeking out. 
London's BFI is holding a Vittoria De Sica retrospective (or really Vittorio's Greatest Hits) in August - including his classics like BICYCLE THIEVES in an extended run, plus UMBERTO D, and early ones like SHOESHINE, GATE OF HEAVEN, MIRACLE IN MILAN, the oddball THE LAST JUDGEMENT as well as GOLD OF NAPLES and his Loren-Mastroianni hits, plus TWO WOMEN and ending with GARDEN OF THE FINZI CONTINIS - but not BOCCACCIO 70 or CONDEMNED OF ALTONA or his last two as director A BRIEF VACATION or THE VOYAGE. They also incude several of his acting roles: BREAD LOVE & DREAMS with Gina, but not SCANDAL IN SORRENTO where he is very amusing with Sophia - nor several of his others with Loren (TOO BAD SHE'S BAD, THE MILLIONAIRESS, IT STARTED IN NAPLES), or his MONTE CARLO STORY with Dietrich, NERO'S LOST WEEKEND with Gloria Swanson and the young B.B,, but they do include Ophuls' MADAME DE... , and  IL GENERALE DELLA ROVERE for Rossellini, in 1959.  plus his 1954 Selznick opus INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE and his acting role in A FAREWELL TO ARMS.  They could have included his final acting role in Warhol's BLOOD FOR DRACULA
Vittorio as I said before, was a larger than life character, like John Huston or Orson Welles, who not only made his own films but also acted in others', no doubt to finance his gambling and other family expenses .... Sophia features him a lot in her latest autobio.
Soon: more Italian glamour with those DOLLS and QUEENS !

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Hot town, summer in the city ...

Yes, its that time again - as London swelters. How do they play tennis or travel underground in this (to us) unnatural heat ? So, it is too darn hot, and hot and humid nights to be expected ! 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

1963: A castle in Sweden ...

Here's a rarity: CHATEAU EN SUEDE a French film by Roger Vadim from 1963 that never got aired here. I was in London from 1964 and it never showed up here at all, despite that cast ..... and its from a play by Francoise Sagan (BONJOUR TRISTESSE, GOODBYE AGAIN, A CERTAIN SMILE etc). I have now got an Italian only dvd, so while I miss on a lot of talkiness, its fun watching it from this remove.
We start with police cars arriving in modern Stockholm and then the cops visit the castle - English title is A CASTLE IN SWEDEN or, as IMDB call it: NUTTY, NAUGHTY CHATEAU - but it isn't that risque. 
Everyone seems to wear period clothes at the castle as the bored occupants toy with each other: the owner Curt Jurgens is married to husky Monica Vitti, whose incestuous dandy brother is also to hand- a typical role for Jean-Claude Brialy. Jean-Louis Trintignant is the student who visits and soon he and Monica are exchanging long lingering glances, to the chagrin of Brialy. There is also Suzanne Flon as Curt's sister, and Sylvie as the old grand-mother, and also - though I don't know what she is doing here - is French pop girl Francoise Hardy. 
Now,we like Francoise a lot (see label) but she is hardly acting here. Monica gets to do a bit of comedy after those Antonioni roles. It is set in winter so the castle is surrounded by snow, It is obviously a play though as people sit around and talk a lot. 
Its all rather fitfully amusing, and fills a blank in one's viewing, its at least fun seeing these 60s stars in their early prime here.