Robert Enrico’s An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

Written by Joe D on February 15th, 2011

I saw this film as a kid on The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling really dug it so he made it into an episode of his show, the only time he ever did such a thing. It was made as part of an omnibus film, Chickamauga, a film comprised of three short films based on the writings of Ambrose Bierce. I’ve never seen the other two parts of this film but I will track them down one day. An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge should be studied by young filmmakers, it offers many insights into economy of style, simplicity, artistry. It’s beautifully made, a study in tension and fantasy. And thanks to the miracle of Youtube you can see it as it was presented on The Twilight Zone oh those many years ago.

The Night Stalker, Michel Hugo

Written by Joe D on December 2nd, 2010

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Here’s a TV movie from the 70’s that is a classic. The Night Stalker is about a vampire in 70’s Vegas, how cool is that? The score by Robert Cobert is super funky, wah wah guitars, jazzy drums, just great, one of my personal favorites. Check out the free form jazz when the cops are fighting the vampire by the swimming pool, it’s like Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew! The film has some real talent attached, Darren McGavin stars as Kolchak, The lovely Carol Lynley appears as well. Not to mention Simon Oakland, Claude Akins, and the perennial favorites Ralph Meeker and Charles McGraw! And by Golly Elisha Cook, Jr. is in there too!

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The script is by the genius Richard Matheson. And the DP is a man I once took a cinematography class from , one Michel Hugo. A very nice French exile living here shooting TV movies, I looked him up and was sorry to see that he recently passed away. He had been teaching cinematography at a college in Vegas, the site of his greatest artistic triumph.

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R.I.P. Michel Hugo

A Bucket Of Blood, Little Shop Of Horrors, Charles B. Griffith

Written by Joe D on November 16th, 2010

bucket_of_blood_affiche.jpgUnsung hero of Low Budget Cinema! Beatnik wordsmith riffing like Charlie Parker high on Dexedrine, O Charles B. Griffith we salute you.  Roger Corman always gets the credit for these way out films, he deserves some of it, he directed them but they originated in the feverish brain of mastermind C.B. Griffith. Chuck created the characters, Walter Paisley, Seymour Krelboin, Audrey Jr. He even voiced the flesh eating plant, his grandma appeared in both films and C.B. played a hapless burglar in LSOH. He should be lauded, he should be crowned with the laurel wreath and given the Keys to the Kingdom.

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Charles B. Griffith about to be eaten by the plant with his voice

  A Bucket Of Blood starts off in a coffee house, a poet reciting an Ode to Art, Creativity is King, All Else is nothing! “Where are Joe, Jim Jack, jerk, dead!” he intones as Paul Horn improvises along on his Alto Sax.

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Walter Paisley is a nebbish busboy working at the joint, desperately wanting to be an artist so he can be in with the other cooler cats and so he can get with the hot art babe he pines for. 

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So he tries creating some sculpture and in the process accidentally kills his landlady’s cat. He gets results, attention from the hipsters, all he has to do is keep creating but in order to do that he must commit murder.  The end justifies the means in Walter’s limited mind, at first he’s forced by circumstance to kill, he even mumbles Seymour Krelboin’s mantra “I didn’t mean it!” and here’s the point I’ve been wandering up to. These two films are almost exactly the same. They both take place in a ” store”, a commercial space where money is made from the public. Art vs. Commerce, the Eternal Conflict. The main characters are nebbishes desperate for attention, success, so they can “get married”. (The goal of almost every silent comedy).

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They achieve this through murder. They each have an avaricious boss who becomes aware of his hired hands nefarious antics but because business is good and the coffers are filling decides to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans. Gravis Mushnik meet Leonard DeSantis. Both films have a climactic chase through nighttime crummy L.A. neighborhoods and both end with suicide by becoming part of their Art , Walter hangs himself after turning into a sculpture/Seymour jumps into his plant creation Frankenstein ostensibly to kill it but ultimately becoming one of its blossoms. They both feature a score by the amazing Fred Katz, actually they both feature some of the exact same cues, re-cycled by Corman.

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Bucket didn’t perform very well at the box office and Corman had to be convinced to try another comedy but didn’t he know he was making the same film? Maybe the addition of a man-eating plant made the project appear more commercial. Dick Miller star of Bucket was offered the role of Seymour Krelboin in Little Shop but turned it down. I think the failure of BOB was such a disappointment to him, he couldn’t go through it again. Miller believed in Bucket Of Blood, he blamed it’s flopping on the cheap production value and when he heard Corman made a bet he could shoot Little Shop Of Horrors in two days he passed. He did appear in the film as flower eating Burson Fouch. A few other Charles Griffith notes, the wheat germ bagels and odd health food favored by the Beatniks and Seymour ‘s mother’s medicinal cuisine. Jack Nicholson skimming through PAIN magazine at the dentist office. Griffith had funny fake magazine in his opus Dr. Heckle and Mr. Hype. So here’s to Charles B. Griffith as Quentin Tarantino dubbed him, The Poet Laureate Of The Drive-In.

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Here is the great opening poem accompanied by Paul Horn blowing a cool Alto.

Godard’s Le Mepris, Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa, Moravia’s Il disprezzo

Written by Joe D on November 12th, 2010

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The Beautiful B.B. she looks a little like Ava Gardner

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Ava in Contessa

Jean Luc Godard is getting an honorary Academy Award! How great is that, of course he won’t show up for it. Maybe this was on my mind when I started watching Joseph Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa.

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Producer In Screening Room- Contessa

The films are similar, they both have Movie People as characters. There’s a director with integrity, Fritz Lang in Contempt and Humphrey Bogart in Contessa. A beautiful goddess, desired by all, Ava Gardner in Contessa, Bridgit Bardot in Contempt. They are both concerned with personal integrity in the face of a powerful prick,an American film producer that wants to control everyone, have everyone kiss his ass which they do for money.

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Producer wants Sex Goddess Wife

Michel Piccoli loses his wife to Jerry the producer when he accepts the job of re-writing the script for Jerry’s production of the Odessy, he says “I’ll be able to pay off our apartment!” This theme of estrangement between a husband and wife comes from Alberto Moravia’s novel, Il disprezzo. The book was published the same year that The Barefoot Contessa was released, maybe they somehow fused in Godard’s brain. The Rich American Movie Producer, The Super Sexy Star, The Director, The Writer, The Yes Man. These are the new Mythic characters for the 20th Century. Like the Greek Gods, they live on Olympus and they have petty squabbles that effect all life on Earth. They test your souls, tempting you, like the Devil on the mountain top offering Jesus all he can see.

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There’s even a big sceen in a screening room in both films, in Contempt Jack Palance (Jerry Prokosh) throws a film can at the screen like a Greek discus, expressing his displeasure at the footage screened. In Contessa Edmund O’Brien turns in a horrible over the top performance as Kirk Edwards ass licking yes man. Constantly mopping his face with a giant handkerchief, babbling like a baboon, chewing the scenery in an over the top style. Jerry Prokosh has a beautiful female assisstant that he constantly degrades, getting her to bend over so he can write a check on her back.

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Degradation Of Beauty By Producer In Screening Room- Contempt

In Contessa Bogart is the man in peril of losing his integrity, the director of the proposed film. In Contempt Michel Piccoli is the writer, the man in danger of losing all to the American producer, Fritz Lang is the director but he seems above it all, like a God Of Film already up in the Celestial Movie Studio, the eccentricities of the Earth bound barely affect him. Maybe someone should make a new film about the New Gods, The New inhabiters of our Cinematic Olympus, The American Producer! The Sex Symbol, The Director in trouble, like Odysseus trying to get back to Ithica.

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New Gods – New Myths replace the Old

SALTO

Written by Joe D on May 6th, 2010

A black leather jacketed, sunglass wearing amnesiac Beatnik Jesus shows up in a small town in post WWII Poland and turns on the townsfolk with miracles and music. Novelist/filmmaker Tadeusz Konwicki conjurs up Salto from his novel A Dreambook for our Time. It expresses the inexpressible remarkably. Once again the proto Beatnik figure is seen as a semi Messiah, as in Cocteau’s Orphee. This was the psychic build up to the creative explosion of the 60’s. But just watch this clip, I dare you not to be impressed.

Furio Scarpelli, Screenwriter of Leone’s Classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly dies at 90 in Rome

Written by Joe D on April 29th, 2010

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Furio at his Olivetti

Arch Stanton, Bill Carson, Tuco Ramirez, Angel Eyes, Blondie, these are the names that only a lover of Westerns and Classic American Cinema could come up with and bring to life in a magnificent screenplay. An epic sweeping tale of Greed in the American West,our Holy Three search for Treasure, Buried Gold, and nothing, not a Prisoner Of War camp, a raging battle for a meaningless bridge, the burning sands of an impassable desert, nothing can stop them in their quest. One of the writers of THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE! has passed on. The Titans of Cinema await you Furio Scarpelli. they will take you by the hand and lead you to Paradise! Requiescat In Pace!

The Blue Dahlia Redux

Written by Joe D on March 9th, 2010

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The idiotic “Shoot the match and prove you didn’t kill my wife” Scene, although it looks like a cigarette, which is what’s written in the script but was changed to a match during filming, probably re-infuriating Raymond Chandler!

I got the published screenplay to Raymond Chandler’s The Blue Dahlia. It has an introduction by the producer John Houseman. Houseman tells the story of Chandler needing to get drunk to finish the film after a secret meeting with the head of production who offered R.C. a $5000 bonus to get the script done. Houseman claims that Chandler was blocked, that George Marshall had shot almost all the pages written, 93 or so, and that the attempted bribe by the studio head had so insulted and enraged Chandler that he wanted to quit. But rather than let a fellow veteran of the English public school system down, Chandler heroically opted to sacrafice his health by consuming vast quantities of alcohol which he assured Houseman would enable him to finish. Now there are a few points worth mentioning, the script was almost complete, Chandler had begun work on The Blue Dahlia as a novel, and we know from his correspondence that he had an ending in mind all along, that Buzz (William Bendix) the steel plate in the head veteran was the killer. The Navy objected to this most strenuously and Paramount agreed to change the ending. Houseman does not mention this fact in his introduction. So this is what I think happened, Chandler finished the script as he planned, with Buzz as the killer, the Navy objected, Chandler was called in to a meeting with the studio head, Mr. Head told Raymond to change his ending and offered him $5000 to make it go down easier. Chandler flipped out, he hated the movie business and couldn’t stand anyone telling him what to write. Chandler went to Houseman and threatened to quit. Then R.C. went home and thought it over, “I’ll write their crap ending but on my terms. ” He made his list of demands, he got to work at home, drunk, with round-the clock secretaries he could chase around, and limos waiting at his beck and call and a doctor on call to take care of him. He had to anesthetize himself to write that idiotic scene where Buzz shoots a match in Johnny’s hand to show he wasn’t the killer and then the captain tricks Dad the house detective into giving himself away. Oh Brother! I think Chandler hated that character,( the house dick) he has all the abuse in the movie heaped on him. Houseman acts as if this was the great ending Chandler came up with at the last minute, that Chandler didn’t have an ending in mind at all which we now know is untrue. So that’s my take on why old R.C. needed to get loaded to finish the script. Another point was revealed in Houseman’s intro. During a fight scene a heavy oak table fell on Don Costello’s toe and broke it. Director George Marshall staged the rest of the scene so Costello didn’t have to walk around, he fights Alan Ladd but on the floor. It was brilliant! A great example of taking an accident that could have shut down production and making something better out of it. Marshall really rose to the challenge and elevated the scene creatively. Bravo! More Myth and Magic in the Land Of Make Believe!

The Blue Dahlia

Written by Joe D on February 22nd, 2010

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The story goes that Paramount desperately needed to make a film in a hurry, Alan Ladd their box office giant was due to report for military service and they wanted a film to exploit his fame before he went in.

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Ladd, a grip turned actor, for a non-actor he’s very good

So they asked Raymond Chandler to write a script in record breaking time. He asked for and got a bunch of special conditions that he insisted were absolutely necessary for him to finish on time. He wanted to work at home, he needed two cars and drivers at his disposal, round the clock stenographers and nurses and an unlimited supply of alcohol. Chandler felt the only way he could deliver was to be constantly inebriated, I guess this got his creative juices flowing. He delivered the script. Is it a film noir? Maybe but it does veer from the form in certain significant ways. The story starts with three returning WWII vets arriving in Hollywood, U.S.A., Alan Ladd, William Bendix and Beaver Cleaver’s future dad Hugh Beaumont. They stop in a bar for a celebratory drink and we learn that Bendix has a “plate in his head” from a war wound, also he is driven to near insanity every time he hears “monkey music” or big band swing/jazz. A soldier playing a tune on a juke box is the object of Bendix’s maniacal ire. This is an interesting twist, I always felt that WW II era big band music was almost a drug, that it relaxed soldiers far from home, reassuring them with it’s soporific harmonies that everything was going to work out, they’d return home to Mary Lou and grow old under the apple tree. Here Chandler takes the musical promise of normalcy and shines a bright light of reality in our faces by having it inspire madness and murder in the damaged mind of a returned veteran. The other false promise, the faithful wife awaiting her returning husband is likewise demolished when Ladd finds a wild party in full swing at his wife’s “bungalow apartment”, not only that but he sees his spouse smooching on nightclub owner-racketeer Howard DaSilva.

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Evil Sparkly Doris with corrupt nightclub owner/paramour DaSilva

She delivers the coup-d’etat by informing Ladd that their son Jimmy died after she drove drunk and crashed. Doris Dowling plays the evil wife and she is pure nasty badness. OK, usually the femme fatale dupes the man, lies to him, appears sweet or sexy somehow lures him to his doom, like Eve with her Apple, not Doris! She is so nasty and evil she’s lucky Alan Ladd doesn’t kill her himself. She winds up dead pretty quickly which is another curve thrown in the noir structure, the femme fatale is killed in Reel One! Then we get some great Chandler set pieces, Ladd meets Veronica Lake in the rain, (Chandler called her”Moronica” Lake), the house dick (Will Wright) starts blackmailing everyone in sight and is treated like dirt by everyone in the film! He is at the absolute bottom of humanity, I found myself laughing out loud as one character after another insulted, degraded, and humiliated him, maybe I should say tried to humiliate him because he didn’t care, he just wanted a few bucks, or a cigar or whatever he could cadge from anyone in his path.

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Ladd and Lake in fake Malibu. The poor, beautiful junkie paid dearly for fame.

There’s an incredible character- Leo(Don Costello), he’s DaSilva’s partner in the night club and he is great, a true Chandler character, a gangster that wears thick glasses, he looks more like an accountant than the cold blooded killer that he is. I think he’s a truer picture of what a lot of these racketeers were like, they considered themselves business men and killing was simply a part of their business. A sharp observer like Chandler surely based this guy on a real gangster in the papers at that time. Then there’s the obligatory kidnap the hero, take him out of town, tie him up, beat him into unconciousness scene. Just like in The Big Sleep where it happens to Bogie. A great bit of action occurs when Leo, who has injured his foot in a struggle with Ladd, is soaking his toe in a basin of hot water supplied by his kind henchman, Ladd awakens from being slugged and tips a table over that smashes down right on Leo’s injured toe! The reaction from Leo is classic! And I’ve never seen that particular move in a fight scene, another Chandler stroke of genius. There’s plenty of snappy patter such as “I’m not that kind of a rat” “Oh,what kind of a rat are you? or when Lake picks up Ladd in the rain ” I guess you could get wetter if you lay down in the gutter” etc. Chandler knew how to write that kind of stuff. Another anti-noir element is the lighting, there’s no use of shadows, venitian blinds, smoky silhouettes in this film. It actually looks like a Monogram el cheapo. The sets are crummy, under decorated, limned in just a few shades of gray, they actually remind me of the sets from the Abbot and Costello television show.

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Cheapness Personified!

The whole production looks grade Z, which is kind of surprising since Ladd and Lake were big box office at the time, having recently struck gold in This Gun For Hire. Another weird aspect is the almost total lack of background music. The only music in the film is the big band stuff that drives Buzz (Bendix) into homicidal amnesiac rages. Most films of this era had incidental music playing under dialog scenes. This has none. Was this a budgetary consideration? I don’t know, the flat lighting and skimpy set design speaks more of the rapidity with which they needed to make this film, they were under the gun with Ladd’s induction looming. But I feel that the cheapness of the sets, the flat lighting and the lack of music works for this film, it makes it more creepy, it’s harder to dismiss it as a piece of fluff, it gets under your skin like the home movies of a serial killer. It’s more real, lifelike in it’s mundaneness, not movielike.

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The one prop they seem to have spent any money on at all is the neon sign that bedecks the front of DaSilva’s nightclub, a large gaudy Blue Dahlia. That’s the name of the club. I think it represents a lot to Chandler and this story. Da Silva publicizes his club by handing out Dahlias dyed blue. Veronica Lake picks at one absent mindedly in DaSilva’s office triggering an outburst from Buzz “She was picking at a flower just like that when I killed her!” Buzz the disturbed veteran is the murderer! The Dahlia, an exotic hot house flower represented sex,debauchery, corruption to Chandler. Just like the opening scene in The Big Sleep that takes place in General Sternwood’s green house. Exotic flowers are perverse to Chandler, decadent. The fatal combination of Dahlia and “monkey music homicidally unhinges Buzz. I think it played out like this, Buzz met Johnny’s wife in a bar, not realizing who she was. They went to her bungalow to have sex, he couldn’t perform, she taunted him, tore up the flower( masturbated?) drove him to murder.

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Femme Fatale Doris about to get her comeuppance from Shell Shocked Steel Plated Buzz

The film ends with Will Wright being named as the killer but in Chandler’s original script it was Buzz, the Navy intervened and demanded the script be changed, they didn’t want a veteran to be portrayed as a murderer. Chandler strongly objected to this but he was overruled. The film was a big hit and several spin-offs or rip offs were made in it’s wake, notably The Blue Gardenia by Fritz Lang. Shortly after this film’s release a young woman was hanging out in a drugstore in Long Beach, she had wavy black hair and a soda jerk referred to her as The Black Dahlia in a joking reference to this film. Thus pinning a name on one of the most famous unsolved murder cases in the history of L.A. and further assuring a place in history to this strange bit of celluloid.

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Beth Short bedecked with flowers, the real Black Dahlia

The beautiful Veronica Lake was in reality a troubled young woman. Her husband and director Andre deToth revealed that she was a heroin addict and an alcoholic during her meteoric rise to fame. She was found near the end of her life working as a bar maid in NYC. She achieved the fame girls like Elisabeth Short ( Black Dahlia) came to Hollywood to find yet she wound up working in a bar, a fate Beth Short might have shared if she’d lived.

Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451

Written by Joe D on January 24th, 2010

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A film of overwhelming moods, everything in this film seems filtered through a veil of sadness. Visually stunning, the art direction and cinematography are wonderfully rich. The colors jump off the screen in beautiful compositions. Director of Photography Nic Roeg really outdoes himself here. And Bernard Hermann’s music sinks you deeper and deeper into a state of lugubrious drugged oblivion, like a person slipping deeper and deeper into a bottomless vat of viscous oil. The powerful rhythms and images of dream logic make this film even more effective. For example the woman who burns herself with her books and Montag’s nightmare.

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Also I love films made in the 60’s yet set in the future for their take on design, it’s the 60’s taken to a super cool extreme, like they had reached the apogee of design and then found a way to show that somehow in the future it would be improved upon in interesting ways.

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The firetruck, the monorail, the doors that slide open on their own. Big flat panel TV’s hanging on your living room wall.Truffaut didn’t like this film that much although Ray Bradbury did. I think Truffaut is not always a fair judge of his own films since he didn’t like The Bride Wore Black either and to me that’s one of his best films. A fascinating depressing work of Art, check it out on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The opening credits are spoken over images of TV antennas, no writing allowed in the future! Montag forces a group of his wives friends to listen as he reads from a book by Charles Dickens, an emotional passage about the death of the writer’s wife. One woman breaks down in tears, the rest say he’s disgusting, “people aren’t supposed to upset other people, that’s why they did away with books in the first place!” This sounds to me like our politically correct society of today where you can’t say anything slightly off center without being pilloried. Also everyone takes massive amounts of prescription drugs, the whole population is medicated! The mindless totalitarian society hypnotized by Television and since there is no writing allowed, there can be no scripts for the actors on TV, sounds to me a lot like Reality Shows. Now The that the Supreme Court has allowed Corporations to spend as much as they want on political campaigns Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t seem so far away. I just heard that it will be re-made with Tom Hanks as Montag, Ray Bradbury is in frail shape this could finish him off. So check it out and see what you think, it is a very unique, disturbing film.

Dan O’Bannon – Space Maven

Written by Joe D on December 18th, 2009

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Dan O’Bannon beamed up today, creative force behind Dark Star, Alien, and a prime mover in Sci-Fi, Fantasy genres. Here’s a great piece written about him on another film blog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2009/dec/18/dan-obannon-alien

Deadline U.S.A.

Written by Joe D on April 17th, 2009

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Last night I went to another screening, part of the 11th Film Noir Festival at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood USA. One of the films shown was Deadline U.S.A., the directorial debut of Richard Brooks, who shot to fame soon after with his mega hit Blackboard Jungle. Brooks had been a newspaperman and the veracity his experience brings into play is eye-opening. The scene at the paper are great, especially the scenes in the printing room, these were the days when the paper was printed on giant machines directly downstairs from the reporters desks. A lot of important action takes places right there in front of, over and in the enormous presses. It’s also a very timely piece as the subplot has to do with the selling and closing of a vital newspaper something we are being subjected to on a daily basis across our country, probably across the world. Eddie Mueller (programmer of the Noir Fest) spoke before the screening. He said his father was a newspaperman and this was his favorite film. Then he asked how many people in the audience were in the newspaper game, I would say about half of the crowd raised their hands, this film is beloved by journalists and I can see why. It’s really about the power of the press, about the principles of journalism that inspires a young person to pursue a career in that hallowed field. And never have I seen the ideals of reporting better illustrated, a sensational story of a nude blonde, wearing only a mink coat is fished out of a river, one paper plays it up in true tabloid style, Humphrey Bogart’s paper “The Day” reports it unsensationally.
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Bogart plays editor Ed Hutcheson, a tough, obsessed genius newspaperman, unafraid to take on the biggest gangster in town, uncompromising, a beautiful performance. The supporting cast is loaded with great character actors, Kim Hunter as Bogie’s ex-wife, Ed Begley, Jim Backus, Paul Stewart, you’ll see a gallery of faces that you recognize from many films. But the real stand out for me was the dialogue, some of the best, funniest, on the money verbiage I’ve heard in any film. Brooks really knew what he was talking about or should I say writing about.
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Brooks on the Right
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Michael Cimino was a friend of Richard Brooks and he told me a story about him once. It seems Brooks had just come to Hollywood and he got a gig writing something for Orson Welles. Welles was making Jane Eyre at the time over at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood ( across the street from the Formosa Bar) Brooks lived nearby and one night as he was typing feverishly in his apartment, he heard someone yelling his name. He looked out the window and there was Welles, in full Jane Eyre makeup, driving a horse and buggy from the film, out in the street in front of Brooks apartment. ” Brooks, where are my pages! I want my pages!” Welles shouted, urging the young writer to hurry up and finish his assignment. Welles had just taken off from the set still in character, driving a horse and buggy he drove in the film out the gate and down the streets of Hollywood to check up on his writer. Those were the days! But see Deadline U.S.A. if you can, it’s not out on DVD but somebody at Fox should take note and release this wonderful film for the world to enjoy and treasure.annex-fontaine-joan-jane-eyre_01.jpg

Welles in the Buggy with Joan Fontaine

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

Written by Joe D on November 17th, 2008

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TCM has done it again, screened a somewhat obscure film I’ve never seen. The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane is a stylish thriller (sort of), a psychological fairy tale chess game, the board pieces consisting of a precocious blonde angel, sexy, innocent brilliant, deadly, an evil Prince, sadistic, pederast, coward, bully, with pretensions of refined debauchery, a teen aged limping magician, complete with top hat and cape, accomplice, lover, confidant, defender of his lady’s virtue, a large village policeman, slow, good natured, (later to write Jacques Brel is alive and living in Paris) and a racist Queen of a landlady, driving in her Bentley like the wicked witch.
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Beautifully directed and photographed TLGWLDTL feels like a EuroHorror film, not quite a giallo ( no black gloved killers) but definitely closer to the Italian style of filmmaking than the American. Complete with a glimpse of a nude 13 year old Jodie Foster ( really her older sister Connie, body doubling her) that was cut out of the American release. Martin Sheen is excellent as the pervert neighbor who covets Jodie’s nubile body, but Jodie is amazing, a captivating, mesmerizing performance that dispels the incredulity this tale could easily raise. It’s worth watching sheerly for her genius. She has a magnetic, feral/angelic quality that makes it hard to take your eyes off her. The camera loves her would be one way to express it but it seems to me that some people can project their thoughts through the Cinema Eye (the camera lens) much more powerfully than others. Is that Acting? I think it’s more a psychic phenomena than a learned craft. The director,Nicolas Gessner, a Hungarian, does an excellent job. A true Euro director. He understands Film and manipulates it beautifully. One of the things I look for in a great filmmaker is a memorable image for the last shot of a film. True Cinema creators always have this, and this movie has a beaut.
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The score is interesting, Chopin concerto played as source from a record, and wah wah guitar funk, so 70’s, another aspect that draws comparison with the Italian thrillers of that era. This film also serves as an example of how to make an excellent film with basically one location and only a few actors, it’s a great lesson in restrained resource filmmaking. It was based on a novel and the author(Laird Koenig) wrote the screenplay, so there was a lot of thought put into the story before the cameras rolled, you can tell. It won a Sci Fi award but I think Jodie should have gotten an Oscar for her work.
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