Monday, August 18, 2008

Watch With Boyo III

We've been away for a few days, so without any further ado I return to the important business of listing films in no particular order.

Ninth Night: Quatermass and the Pit

I'd rather have the 1950s TV series, but that would be cheating. It was the best thing the BBC did before giving me a job.

The 1960s Hammer film doesn't have the relentless build-up of the original, but also skips its occasional preachiness.

The ending, with Quatermass and his female assistant unable to speak across the space between them in the ruins of London, is one of the most powerful in postwar British cinema, genre movie or no genre movie.

It's all up on YouTube, but here's the section that includes the cleansing of the Martian hives (at '1"30):

Key quotation: Minister: "Do you know what you're implying? That we owe our human condition to the intervention of insects!"

Tenth Night: Night of the Generals

This is a fine example of the early 70s international production, in which the actors of Europe united to ham it up in languages they didn't understand for some Italian director like Visconti.

These films were always epics of miscasting, and Night of the Generals doesn't disappoint with Omar Sharif as a German intelligence officer.

The film sustains remarkable dramatic tension throughout, even though it's clear who done it from the moment you set eyes on the bat-kicking insanity that is Peter O'Toole's General Tanz.

Indeed, it makes Visconti's The Damned look like a monkey waving a ribbon in the rain.

Here's Pete, mad as a badger:

Key quotation: Gen Tanz: "Are you wearing perfume?"
Major Grau: "'I occasionally wear a light after-shave, sir."

Eleventh Night: Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse

Luvvie alert: I first saw this film at Kinotsentr in Moscow while a student, in a presentation by the magnificent critic Naum Kleiman. It has stayed with me ever since.

It entered Lang's personal mythology in a story that Goebbels banned it on release in 1933, then invited Fritz to come and work for him at the Propaganda Ministry. Lang said he'd sleep on it, promptly packed his bags and fled with his family to Paris. Not true, but I'm happy to print the legend.

It's Fritz Lang's second talkie after M, and he uses sound to original effect. The visuals are still eerie, in particular the car chase with a spectral Mabuse as a literal backseat driver.

It wasn't Lang's conscious intention to comment on the Nazis, as far as I can tell, but Mabuse's control over the doctor serves as a prophetic warning against those who gamble on Fascism.

Key quotation: Dr Mabuse whispering stuff.

Twelfth Night: The Wicker Man

Let's start off as we begin to end, with altruistic criticism:

It's not as good as its fans claim. The Britt Ekland body double is the acme of embarrassment in a sex scene that features the first use of a wall as a contraceptive barrier. No version of the film is entirely adequate, although the 1980s BBC cut come closest in restoring cut scenes without the clumsy occassional voiceover and the pre-credits mainland passage.

Having said that, I love this film more than any pig. Every phrase uttered by Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle is a gem. The music is glorious, and there is something genuinely touching about the way the pagans are so comfortable in their skins.

It is the sort of movie that yields something new with each viewing. I'd seen it several time before I noticed the sly acknowledgement in the opening credits to Lord Summerisle for his cooperation in the making of the film.

Truly, the sacrifice had been reverenced.

Sioba Siencyn maintains that this song is based on the Welsh druidic classic "O Bren Braf". Judge for yourselves:

Key quotation: Lord Summerisle, as Christian copper fumes at the sight of bare-ass dancing ladies: "Good afternoon, Sergeant Howie. I trust the sight of the young people refreshes you."

I hope you enjoyed my selection. AS Ordovicius named four, so shall I name the same. Those chosen to come up with their own list of twelve cracking fillums are:

Gorilla Bananas
Gadjo Dilo
MC Ward
Gyppo Byard

They will receive the summons shortly.


Gorilla Bananas said...

Ah Boyo, you've chosen the very scene from The Wicker Man that stuck in my memory. It might have been a tame B-movie about village life in the Hebrides until those girls chanted "it's a phallic symbol" in unison. After that, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Did I miss anything kinky that happened before then?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Excellent stuff, Boyo; you're opening my eyes to a whole new genre here. I will look at your choices in more detail anon. And, thank you, I'd be toe-curlingly delighted to think about my own twelve cracking fillums - I can barely remember the last time anybody asked my opinion about anything!

M C Ward said...

Thanks for the slap round the face with a silken glove. I face utter humiliation, but I accept your challenge, Sah! It'll be the twelve films of which I can vaguely remember the plot, or arty sounding ones I've never seen but would like everybody to think I had. Give me a couple of months.

Anonymous said...

The Britt Ekland body double is the acme of embarrassment in sex scene that features the first use of a wall as a contraceptive barrier.

My favourite scene in the film, one I have watched many many times, often in slow motion. The wall method also happens to be the form of contraception I employ the most.

No Good Boyo said...

It's as kinked as a conch all the way through, GB. Do you accept my film challenge, by the way? Will Clint Eastwood feature in your list?

Gadjo, welcome to married life.

MC, there's no hurry. Watch some films first, then share your wisdom. Are the Brazilians big on lesbian vampires?

Ordo, thanks for spurring me to trawl through my vat of films. I too busied myself with the pause button during that scene - until I discovered French cinema.

Gyppo Byard said...

I accept your challenge, sah, and have already started own list, which veers wildly from the blatantly obvious to the wilfully obscure. I can honestly say though, hand on heart, that I have actually watched all the films on my list all the way through. You'll see why I need to stress this when you look at part two of the list...

Gorilla Bananas said...

Films are mentioned all over my archives so I'm not going to short-change readers by rehashing old stuff. Holy smoke and Secretary have posts devoted to them. As for Clint, both Dirty Harry and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly are mentioned. The Sound of Music is reviewed somehere, but not very favourably. I think I suggested an improved version of the story.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Firstly, mmmmm, a fine piece of Fritz Lang - I've sadly never seen Dr. Mabuse. And you've picked a more interesting scene from The Wicker Man - the clips of it I've seen have previously have suggested to me that it's iconic without actually being very good (though it's a sin to say that, I realise!) I’m not the best person to judge Quartermass, though the lady looks to be a fine performer. The Night of the Generals I’m afraid I don't understand at all - and those type of productions always seemed to use too much unnecessary music and Dirk Bogarde for my liking – but I’m sure can still be convinced!

I await the lists of MC, Bananas and Byard Bacsi with eager anticipation. Mine is taking shape, though may be informed as much by vagary as by memory. Cheers.

No Good Boyo said...

I understand, GB, you're a vetern web blogger who's scattered film reviews behind him like James Bond's lady friends. I must say I was expecting Any Which Way But Loose from the Clint canon. Sound of Music reminds me of a nice story I'll blog shortly.

Gyppo's selection is delirious. Dig it now.

Gadjo, you've got international coproductions like Night of the Generals down to a "t". They are my guilty pleasure.

Uncle Dirk (my real uncle Martin served with him during the War, doncher know) was a hardy perennial, but Helmut Berger is the one to watch. Especially in Visconti's 3-hour Ludwig (plot summary: "I'm young King Ludwig, I'm odd King Ludwig, I'm fat King Ludwig, I'm mad King Ludwig, I'm dead King Ludwig").

The Dr Mabuse I like is the sequel, "Testament". The original is overrated in my humble opinion.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I just realised that Every Which Way But Loose was why you mentioned Clint and returned to see your comment. I believe I referred to the movie without reviewing it in a post about baby-sitting for human children, circa Christmas 2005. Clyde did us apes proud, punching people's lights out without a hint of malice or gloating. That's something we all should aspire to.

No Good Boyo said...

Altruistic violence - the point of embarcation for every worthwhile endeavour.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Another interesting selection of films you can't watch without wondering if there's a trapdoor in the floor!

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