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, 26 August 2016

Summer re-views, briefly

WOMEN HE'S UNDRESSED. Gilliam Armstrong's 2014 documentary on Hollywood costume designer Orry-Kelly, which we have mentioned here a few times before (Costumes label). The documentary, based on Orry's lush memoir which I enjoyed a lot, has taken its time appearing here, in fact in has not yet, but I got the Australian (Region 4) dvd, which plays perfectly on multichannel players. 
Its a fanciful conceit, with an actor playing Orry, who seems to be rowing a boat a lot of the time, but then we get all the clips: Orry's costumes for CASABLANCA, GYPSY and his three Oscar-winners: AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, LES GIRLS (where Kay, Mitzi and Taina look divine in his creations), and of course Marilyn's still daring costumes for SOME LIKE IT HOT. Orry continued up to 1964, so we get Jane Fonda and Angela Lansbury talking about his costumes for their 1963 IN THE COOL OF THE DAY - one I have never seen and can't get now, so thanks for the clips. 
Bette Davis also reigns supreme here, with those costumes Orry did for JEZEBEL, MR SKEFFINGTON, NOW VOYAGER, THE LETTER etc. 
Other talking heads include the notorious Scotty Bowers, and it rehashes all the Cary Grant and Randy Scott gossip and pictures. In fact, Orry gets sidelined for a while while the documentary focuses on Cary, who "roomed" with Orry when they were both young and starting out. But then legendary tightwad Cary always needed someone to pay the rent, hence all those years sharing houses with Randolph .... between their many marriages.

JANE EYRE - the Franco Zeffirelli 1996 version. There have been a lot of Janes around, the 1944 one with Orson and Joan Fontaine is still the one to beat for me, with delicious roles for Agnes Moorehead and Henry Daniell - but this Zeffirelli one is a nicely paced (if rather hurried at the end) version, with Charlotte Gainsbourg a suitably very plain Jane indeed (unlike Janes Joan Fontaine or Susannah York)  but William Hurt (so ideal in films like BODY HEAT or KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN) all wrong here and hardly making any impression, 
It is all grimly Victorian and Franco as usual ramps up the supporting players: a very severe Geraldine Chaplin and Amanda Root (PERSUASION) at the Lowood Orphanage; Fiona Shaw as Aunt Reed, Billie Whitelaw as Grace Poole, Joan Plowright as Mrs Fairfax, Samuel West, and two sadder appearances: Richard Warwick (whom I knew slightly) silent here in his last role as the manservant, the year before he died (he also pops up in Zeffirelli's ROMEO AND JULIET and HAMLET); and poor Maria Schneider as the madwoman in the attic ..... a worthwhile but low-key JANE then.  

JOE MACBETH, 1955. This re-view goes way back to the Fifties, as I first saw this when I was a kid in Ireland, but it made a vivid impression - though I would not have the got Shakespeare part then. It is a modern gangster version of MACBETH, by Ken Hughes, almost impossible to see now, (so thanks Jerry.) Paul Douglas is impressive as usual, and one of our Projector favourites, Ruth Roman, is as ever terrific as Lady M. Its a British production, so supporting cast includes Bonar Colleano, Gregoire Aslan and Sid James. I was pleased to see it again, and to get it on a flash drive. Its more entertaining than that dreadful recent Michael Fassbender version which nearly drove me screaming from the practically empty multiplex ...

THE HONEYMOON KILLERS. For real horror you can hardly beat Leonard Kastle's 1969 chiller, which I first saw as a supporting feature back then. My pal Stan and I were both gobsmacked by it, I can't even remember what the main feature was. 
I had not seen it since then but it lingered in the memory. so its good to see it again now on dvd.  Seems this could have been Scorsese's first feature,but he was replaced. It is a bleak tale of a murderous rampage by two seedy killers: the obese nurse and her scuzzy boyfriend (Tony Lo Bianco) as they plot to fleece lonely widows whom he romances and lets them think he is going to marry them, while she, posing as his sister, tags along in the background. Once seen, it is not easily forgotten. The film is made by the marvellous Shirley Stoler (1929-1999) as the malevolent Martha - she also pops up in KLUTE and is terrifying again as that Nazi concentration camp commandant in SEVEN BEAUTIES in 1975 .... (whom prisoner Giancarlo Giannini has to romance in order to survive - we raved about it, at Italian label). Her 40+ credits also include THE DEER HUNTER.  
It is not violent by today's torture porn standards, but once seen it is not easily forgotten as we enter than downbeat world of cheap motels and diners. It is Kastle's only credit. 

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