Classic Film : What classics did you see last week? (10/6-10/12)

Banacek (1970s TV) and one film

I've been watching the 1970s TV series Banacek, which revolves around impossible crimes. So far, it's very good!

I also watched the 1963 romantic comedy Come Fly With Me (probably my 10th viewing or something). I love this film!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

💕 JimHutton (1934-79) and ElleryQueen 👍


The Passionate Friends (UK-1949) dir. David Lean
A woman (Ann Todd) who married for wealth with an older man (Claude Rains), has an affair with the love of her life (Trevor Howard), once in London and once again when they accidentally meet in Switzerland.
David Lean making a movie about an extra-marital affair starring Trevor Howard makes it sound like a Brief Encounter rehash, but while not in the same league as his earlier classic, the film is different enough to stand on its own.
While it is a romantic drama, The Passionate Friends is a film that makes you wish Lean had directed more thrillers: there are a lot of suspenseful set-pieces - particularly revolving around the husband and will he or won't he find out - that would have made Hitchcock proud.
The romance is well fleshed out with great performances all around, but the ending doesn't work. I don't know if it's the same ending of the HG Wells novel on which it was based (Wells did like his deus-ex-machina's), but this feels like a tacked on, safe, sanctity-of-marriage-confirming happy ending that only the British Board of Film Censors could like.

The Robe (US-1953) dir. Henry Koster
I like my Bible epics as much as the next guy, but between Richard Burton's laughably hammy performance, Henry Koster's stiff, theatrical direction and the overly pious screenplay, this feels like an elaborate and expensive Sunday school drama-production.

Passion (Germany/France-2012) dir. Brian De Palma
I can never decide whether Brian De Palma is the best of the worst directors or the worst of the best directors.
Passion is just another case in point. The screenplay, written by himself (a very reliable indicator of low quality) feels like a first draft: all the plotpoints are there, sort of, but there's no flow or life to it. Dialogue is stilted, characters are ill-defined, scenes fall flat.
But then, just as you're about to give up on the film, he sneaks in one or two scenes that are utterly brilliant.
He does that all the time, there's always some breathtaking, over-the-top, virtuoso sequence in even his worst films that almost - but not quite - makes it worth sitting through the rest of it.
In those instances you wonder what kind of a career he could have had, if only he knew how to tell a story.

The light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

Fred and Ginger

My one new addition this week:
The Gay Divorce, Mark Sandrich, 1934. Not the next legislative headache, actuually probably a past one (Ginger wants a divorce and has come to Brighton, of all places, to get it: I haven't actually researched this, but I assume the facility wasn't yet available in the US?); mostly a frothy story on which to hang sequences of Fred and Ginger dancing, a comic Italian, a perfect storm of double-entendres and ten minutes of 'The Continental'. Between Paris and London Ginger runs into Fred and, despite some sustained efforts to begin with, doesn't manage to run out on him again. The dialogue, especially when Ginger's aunt (Alice Brady) is involved, is so outrageous that eventually even perfectly innocent sentences seem to hide secrets of a sexual freemasonry; the action is ... thought out only up to a certain point, but so long as everyone dances, it doesn't matter. The centrepiece though is a rather separate matter. It's so lavish in any event that it separates itself from the rest of the film, even though it's stitched quite firmly into the plot. I can't fully explain my reaction to it, but something disturbs me about 'The Continental'. Possibly it's in the words, with its evocation of something sweeping across Europe (in 1933); maybe it's the shots of dancers trapped in revolving doors, posed like wax mannequins; none of this really explains why it seems like the voice of the jazz age turning sour, somewhere between Egon Schiele and the Axis, even as Fred and Ginger themselves whirl carelessly through a pleasure-filled ballroom. Unless you have this rather insane response, though, this film will not show teeth except in the sunniest of smiles. yes.

Everything else belongs to the REVISION SECTION

I. 5.jpg
Is S.O.B.. Trevor knew but preferred not to say, no one else tried.

II was National Lampoon's Vacation, recognised by zetes

III was Road House, recognised by Friend of Millhouse

IV. a3.jpg
A distinctly harder proposition, Claude Chabrol's Nada.

Revision I Conspiratorial I 4c.jpg
It's not Borsalino. Really, it's nothing like Borsalino
It's M. Klein, with Delon and Michael Lonsdale, and FriendofMillhouse has got there now.

Revision II Conspiratorial II 06d.jpg
It is a little guy called Roberto Benigni, not yet Johnny Stecchino, as yet non mi turba affatto....

Revision III Leaving the room I a399.jpg

Revision IV Leaving the room II 109.jpg
Death Wish, spotted by sol

Revision V c6.jpg
Friend of Millhouse strikes again: this is indeed The Matador

Revision VI 07b.jpg
No, he's not famous, and he's a pasky European who works in his own language. The FILM, on the other hand ...

And that's your lot.

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Re: Fred and Ginger

I had one of those 'oh crap!' moments this weekend when I remembered The Gay Divorcee was on one hour after it had started.
Anyway, rev. I is Borsalino and rev. II could be Roberto Benigni in Johnny Stecchino.

The light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

Re: Fred and Ginger

No rev. 1 isn't Borsalino, so there!

II is not Johnny Stecchino, though you're right about that young man. A young young man. Much much younger than Johnny.

You're in England? You get BBC2? Or The Gay Divorcee was sindacated across Europe?

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Re: Fred and Ginger

Well, if rev. I isn't Borsalino, it should be :).
Is II then Tu mi turbi?

We get BBC 1 and 2 here in Belgium, it's my primary source for uninterrupted-by-commercials films on tv.

The light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

Re: Fred and Ginger

well, really ... no, Borsalino wouldn't suit Revision I at all.

No, it's not Tu mi turbi. Looking down the filmography, are you? That will make your life difficult. He's so young here, he's not even disturbing.

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Last try for Rev. I

I had recognised the guy on the right, now I think I also recognise the guy on the left. Is it Mr. Klein?

The light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

Re: Last try for Rev. I

That's right. A very different atmosphere! I think Michel, or Michael or whatever, is pretty unmistakeable: he's more than usually pasty-faced here.

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Re: Last try for Rev. I

I think Michel, or Michael or whatever, is pretty unmistakeable: he's more than usually pasty-faced here.
... but without his characteristic beard (which might explain the pastiness).

The light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

Re: Last try for Rev. I

He wasn't regularly bearded in the 60s and 70s.

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Rev. V: Pierce Brosnan + ridiculous moustache =

The Matador

The light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

Re: Rev. V: Pierce Brosnan + ridiculous moustache =

Yup. Not just the 'tache that's ridiculous if you ask me!
And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Revision IV wouldn't happen to be…

The rape/murder scene from the massively under-rated Death Wish, would it?

I can't quite peg it, but the actor in Revision VI looks familiar, which probably means it is some Italian or French actor who I have never even heard of...

Most people think I'm mad. At least I know I'm mad.

Re: Revision IV wouldn't happen to be…

Yes, it would happen to be Death Wish.

As for VI ... Ha ha. Neither French nor Italian, but I rather doubt you've heard of that actor, who plays a fairly small, though significant, part in the action, in his own language. On the other hand I'm sure you've seen this film!

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Well, if he's European…

...I suppose Germanic would be the next most probable after Italian and French... so a World War II movie, maybe, and a fairly recent one at that based on the makeup/shot composition. Hart's War is the title that immediately comes to mind.

Then again, I guess he could be any one of the many nationalities of soldiers in No Man's Land, but I don't recall any shots as dark as that in the film.

Or it could be some random Portuguese guy from Mistérios de Lisboa, given the fact that you know that I've seen the film. I don't recall such a scene, but I was quite honestly zoning out throughout the entire motion.

Hey, how many guesses am I allowed to make here at once?

(thank goodness for the return of the emoticons, even if they look horrible at 125% zoom)

Most people think I'm mad. At least I know I'm mad.

Re: Well, if he's European…

You can make as many guesses as you like, when they're all wrong (and much more obscure than the right answer) I only need to make one reply.

You set off on the right track there, then got distracted.

And here we sit like birds in the wilderness

Re: WCDYSLW? (10/6-10/12) - Chikamatsu / USSR / Partridge

Chikamatsu monogatari (A Tale from Chikamatsu, or The Crucified Lovers) (1954) - Probably my favorite Mizoguchi film, but with so many great ones to choose from, who knows?

East Side Story (1997) - German documentary, narrated in English, about the efforts over the years by the Soviet Union and its satellites to produce entertaining movie musicals - efforts doomed to futility, with a few rare exceptions.

Alan Partridge (2013) - Steve Coogan as the Norfolk, England radio personality, in a suitably chaotic and hilarious misadventure.

Put it on a tripod!

'Rewizyta' and 'Wadjda'

'Rewizyta' (2009)
A very simple idea suffused with a real touch of mastery. That is the impression I took away from watching this quasi-documentary style near-masterpiece from Krzysztof Zanussi.

Shifting between past and present, Zanussi presents us with several protagonists and examines in a philosophical and highly involving fashion the course of their lives and how society around them influenced and shaped their existence. Some of Poland's greatest actors and long-time Zanussi collaborators enthrall with the sheer magnificence of their presence.

Zanussi constructs the narrative around clips from movies of his such as 'Zycie rodzinne' from past decades and intersperses these with present day thoughts from the actors who played the roles and now, decades later, take up the roles again for this new project. Following up on a movie character is an intriguing concept and in general the segments are seamlessly woven together.

Maja Komorowska is quickly developing into one of my favourite actresses and she exhibits her deft charm and sprightly, beguiling nature in some of the film's most offhand and sensitively captured scenes. This is one of the most original and intelligent movies I have seen in quite a while. 9/10

'Wadjda' (2012)
An important and sensitively observed film from Saudi Arabia. The first feature length movie made in the country, it examines the very gradual changes taking place in society as regards the place of women. Produced with western support and directed by a woman, Haifaa Al-Mansour, it successfully balances the teenage rebelliousness of its charming and joyful young protagonist with an involving and thought-provoking examination of the issues faced by women.

Waad Mohammed, in a marvellously touching, exuberant and idiosyncratic performance, portrays a young girl named Wadjda who refuses to have her spirit quashed by repression. She wears western style shoes and forms a friendship with a local boy, whom she vows to one day engage and beat in a bike race.

The delicacy and gentle subversion of long-time strictures makes 'Wadjda' an immensely heartwarming, uplifting and beautiful viewing experience. The interaction between mother (Reem Abdullah) and daughter contains so much human understanding, gentleness and compassion and the scenes between the two actresses have a special kind of magic to them. The soaring yet simple imagery of the concluding scenes that show the extent of love between mother and daughter is inspired and powerful yet full of a gentle, mellow appreciation of the tenderness and closeness of their bond and understanding. 'Wadjda' is a stirring and wonderfully acted tribute to the inherent beauty of humanity and the irrepressible nature of the human spirit. A gem. 9/10

That's all, folks!

Re: What classics did you see last week? (10/6-10/12)

'Pioneers Of Television : Robin Williams Remembered' (2014, Documentary, Steven J. Boettcher)

Marie Dubois, Pavel Landovsky & Elizabeth Pena R.I.P.

Dinesen, Mattsson, Benedek, Floyd, Hobert, Honda, Nakagawa, Fukuda,…

Hi zetes and Everyone,

Horror (and fantastique)- related viewings last week (in bold)

Nordic chills:

Dr. X (The Folly of Sin, 1915) - Robert Dinesen. 8/10
Vaxdockan (The Doll, 1962) - Arne Mattsson. 10/10
The Night Visitor (1971) - Laslo Benedek. 7/10
The Sleep of Death/Ondskans värdshus (1980) - Calvin Floyd. 8/10
Sommarens tolv månader (The Twelve Months of the Summer, 1988) - Richard Hobert. 9/10

Ghouls, Guns & Ghosts of Japan:

Bijo to ekitai ningen (The H-Man, 1958) - Ishirô Honda. 8/10
Onna kyûketsuki (The Lady Vampire, 1959) - Nobuo Nakagawa. 7/10
Denso Ningen (The Secret of the Telegian, 1960) - Jun Fukuda. 8/10
Kôya no Dacchi waifu (Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands, 1967) - Atsushi Yamatoya. 10/10
Botan-dôrô (The Bride from Hades, 1968) - Satsuo Yamamoto. 9/10
Kaidan hebi-onna (Snake Woman's Curse, 1968) - Nobuo Nakagawa. 8/10
Inugami no tatari (Curse of the Dog God, 1977) - Shunya Itô. 8/10

Spanish Gialli:

Un silencio de tumba (Silence of the Tomb, 1972) - Jesús Franco. 6/10
Alta tensión (High Voltage, 1972) - Julio Buchs. 8/10
Sexy Cat (1973) - Julio Pérez Tabernero. 5/10
Pena de muerte (Violent Blood Bath, 1973) - Jorge Grau. 8/10
Los crímenes de Petiot (The Crimes of Petiot, 1973) - José Luis Madrid. 6/10


Rituals (1977) - Peter Carter. 7/10
Happy Birthday to Me (1981) - J. Lee Thompson. 5/10
Visiting Hours (1982) - Jean-Claude Lord. 8/10
Father's Day (2011) - Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matthew Kennedy, Steven Kostanski and Conor Sweeney. 7/10
American Mary (2012) - Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska. 6/10

Lazy Notes:

5 favorites: The Doll; Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands; The Twelve Months of the Summer; The Bride from Hades; Curse of the Dog God;

5 performances (male): Per Oscarsson (The Doll); Michael Ironside (Visiting Hours); Fernando Rey (Violent Blood Bath); Hal Holbrook (Rituals); (tie) Yûichi Minato (Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands) & Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy & Conor Sweeney (Father's Day) & Shigeru Amachi (The Lady Vampire) & Patrick Magee & Niall Toibin (The Sleep of Death);

5 performances (female): Gio Petré (The Doll); Marisa Mell (High Tension & Violent Blood Bath); Miyoko Akaza & Michiko Otsuka (The Bride from Hades); Katharine Isabelle (American Mary); Lee Grant (Visiting Hours);

5 visuals: Åke Dahlqvist (The Doll); Chishi Makiura (The Bride from Hades); Tony Forsberg & George Tirl (The Sleep of Death); Hanjirô Nakazawa (Curse of the Dog God); Henning Kristiansen (The Night Visitor);

5 scores: Shunsuke Kikuchi (Curse of the Dog God & Snake Woman's Curse); Gianni Ferrio (High Tension); Sei Ikeno (The Bride from Hades & The Secret of the Telegian); Henry Mancini (The Night Visitor); (tie) Ángel Arteaga (The Crimes of Petiot) & Ulrik Neumann (The Doll) & Yosuke Yamashita (Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands) & Antonio Pérez Olea (Violent Blood Bath);

An excerpt from my favorite film for the Challenge (so far) - Per Oscarsson & Gio Petré in Arne Mattsson's 'The Doll':


Your 5s & 10s (and one 8)

Olá, 'jd'!

You're really cutting a swath through this Challenge and I see you're having a reel blast doin' it, too, with many more hits than misses this year. Barring any unforeseen disasters, I'll be breaking my record of 34 films seen for the Challenge (albeit not by much, alas).

Alta Tensión (High Voltage) was a nice find for me last Challenge and not only because of Marisa Mell. I don't normally see subtext lurking under every frame but, like A Serbian Film, the social commentary (aka "political statement") was well nigh impossible to miss. The Franco-era idle rich were barracuda bad here -talk about "idle hands is the devil's workshop"! Ms. Mell and her husband had nothing better to do with their time than try to kill each other ...along with the clumsy hitman they hired (and who wanted to be just like them). I gave it the same 8/10 you did -but only because of the rushed and only semi-satisfying denouement.
Here's my impression:

I felt the same as you did (5/10) about Jess Franco's Un Silencio De Tumba (Silence Of The Tomb) which I also saw last year:

A boatload of swinging film folk sail to the island retreat of movie star Annette Lamark for a weekend of r&r (after completing "Dracula vs. Sartana") but their fun turns frightful as a killer picks them off one by one...
Jess Franco's belabored take on And Then There Were None lacks the "sex & savagery" associated with classic Eurotrash and it's only partially redeemed by a cinema-centric setting that vaguely predicts The Last Of Sheila. Done better by Mario Bava in the previous year's Five Dolls For An August Moon. 5/10
Franco's extremely hit-and-miss with me; I just saw a film of his that nearly sent me sailing through the roof in ecstacy (review later tonight).

I liked Happy Birthday To Me a bit better than you did but I honestly can't say why -maybe because it's not every day you get to see Glenn Ford in something like that. I remember a big debate during one of 'prof grost's "Giallo Polls" on the horror board a few years ago where a case was made to include the film as an "American Giallo" with 'prof' deciding in its favor. The jury's still out with me.

I also rated Sexy Cat higher, giving it props for being ahead of its time when it came to comic book characters that come to life and kill. It's poorly executed, yes, but it's a priceless pop culture fossil from a time when "fumetti comix" like Valentina, Satanik, and Diabolik were all the rage in Europe, much like today's graphic novels. Plus, I liked the villainess.
Here was my take:

Those were your lows but when it comes to the highs, nothing sounds more enticing than Kôya No Dacchi Waifu (Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands, 1967)
Right now, tho, I'll have to make do with the second half of an Ava Gardner Horror double feature.
Ciao for now!

(I'm so glad these are back)

There's less to this than meets the eye bees in honey drown

Re: Your 5s & 10s (and one 8)

Hi, mel!

It has been a very good October indeed, and two weeks still to go (and I'm sure I'll have a few more recs, - direct and indirect -, from you coming up).

Perfect description ("barracuda bad" - love it!!) of 'Alta tensión', a most cynical and lethal entry in the "haunts of the very rich" cycle, and a fascinating bridge between 40s Noir (of the Cain variety) and late 60s "bloodless" Gialli. Yes, only the rushed, clumsily edited, ending disappoints - although it gives Marisa a chillingly perfect freeze frame.

In retrospect, I really didn't dislike that much 'Sexy Cat', fumetti and giallo are a colorful combination, the climax set in the car cemetery is good and stylishly handled, and, I also liked the villainess (plus it made me happy as a fairy, 'cause as soon as the culprit appeared for the first time on the screen I immediately knew it was him the murderer!), but, oh, so badly edited, a few attempts at wisecracks and comic asides that fall completely flat, and characters that are less comic strips and more boring non-entities.

If 'Un silencio de tumba' is half-hearted Franco, and only intermittently agreeable - lovely Bossa Nova score, a few chills here and there, a pleasing-looking island -, the one you and morrison saw, 'Al otro lado del espejo' is one of his very best (the Spanish version is the keeper, but the Italian one has its own pleasures, and is considerably different) - hypnotic and contemplative are certainly the words to describe it.

I hope to see more films as inventive, audacious, and subversive as, but in no way I'll see a film as extraordinarily titled as 'Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands'!!! (imagine 60s Noir deconstruction a la Suzuki, Ambrose Bierce's 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' as main source of narrative inspiration, a mysterious gang of kidnappers/rapists, a snuff film as a MacGuffin, and a scene to end all scenes - a man makes love to a woman, her skin suddenly transforms into white porcelain, and then starts to crack up as she climaxes,...)


Re: Dinesen, Mattsson, Benedek, Floyd, Hobert, Honda, Nakagawa, Fukuda,.

Vaxdockan is a proper amazing flick for sure, shipmate. I ain't seen it in yonks but it gave me the creeps.

Je suis Albert

Re: Dinesen, Mattsson, Benedek, Floyd, Hobert, Honda, Nakagawa, Fukuda,.

The glacial features got me into a proper bloomin' state. Messed wif me poor old 'ead for ages, they did. A weally unsettling flick. I must have a look for me pirated Betamax copy down in the basement one of these days.

Je suis Albert

Re: What classics did you see last week? (10/6-10/12)

Friendly bump, shipmates - lest we lose this fread to the dreaded plank.

Je suis Albert