Friday, August 08, 2008
Watch With Boyo II
Continuing Ordovicius's challenge to programme twelve nights of cinematic salubrity:
Fifth Night: Seven Days in May
Shakespeare was a bald-headed Brummie, but if he had been alive and employed as John Frankenheimer's scriptwriter in the 1960s, he would have given us this film. A troubled king of a divided his realm, a military leader scheming in the wings, an officer torn by loyalties, a woman ill-used, a Southern Falstaff, and meaty speeches about stuff that matters - it's all here in the best political thriller ever.
Less pantomime that the Manchurian Candidate and years ahead of the paranoid wave of the early 70s, Seven Days in May gives us some of the hottest Burt-on-Kirk action ever filmed. Plus Ava Gardner. Not much of it on the Intern Net, but here's a slice:
Key quotation: Col Casey: "Yes, I know who Judas was. He was a man I worked for and admired until he disgraced the four stars on his uniform."
Sixth Night: The Innocents
The perfect adaptation of the perfect novella, Jack Clayton's version of "The Turn of the Screw" lines up Truman Capote on script and Freddie Francis on cameras in a masterpiece of creepy ambiguity. The corruption of children is handled with emotional economy, as are the shocks. Miss Jessel seems to seep into your vision when she appears to the governess across the lake. And Jason King is Peter Quint! Rather.
Key quotation: Flora: "Can tortoises swim?"
Governess: "No, they cannot."
Flora: (removing tortoise from lake) "I thought not."
Seventh Night: Withnail & I
The closest thing British men have to a religion, with its script a liturgy and its protagonists saints fit for emulation. It was almost worth having to put up with the Beatles just so George Harrison had enough money to produce this slice of modern Chaucer.
Is it about friendship, love, growing-up, drinking, farmers? The K Man knows Ralph Brown - he who played Danny the drug dealer - and says it's about acting. Enjoy it before students on the Oxford train quote it to death. My favourite scene is the night at the country pub, about 1'25" into this clip:
Key quotation: "We've gone on holiday by mistake!"
Eighth Night: Vampyr
Carl Dreyer is largely to blame for the French making films like Last Year in Marienbad, and this earliest bid in the lesbian-vampire stakes (it's meant to be based on Le Fanu's Carmilla) is where it all began. Sets bathed in light to disorient the viewer. Characters who enter frames out of the corner of your eye. Multiple points of view. Shadows have lives of their own.
There's little dialogue, no lesbian action and very little vampirism. Dreyer set out to create a sense of dread and decay, and he succeeded. Relish this exquisite corpse:
Key quotation: (indistinct)