Hello, Sailor

I’ve just written a piece on title sequences for The Believer magazine, so this kind of thing is on my mind:

Simply amazing title sequence for… well, it tells you what it’s for. I must get around to watching this movie, especially since I saw MADEMOISELLE, Tony Richardson’s other Jeanne Moreau flop (the two films, made back-to-back,¬†almost killed his career). Far from being the disaster of legend, MADEMOISELLE is fascinating and staggeringly beautiful.

I’ve had a slowly decaying VHS copy of this one for YEARS, and all I’ve looked at is the titles. Which are simply amazing.

Designed by Alan Aldridge, who also designed THIS –

Which was produced by my old friend Lawrie Knight, in Holland. He’d been working in commercials, and somehow got mixed up in this, despite not knowing who the Pink Floyd were. He noted with amusement that the management of the¬†very respectable Dutch hotel they stayed at were mortified when the band came down to breakfast in tattered T-shirts.

He also saw them getting paid: from a suitcase full of cash. Wads were distributed.

And he also listened to many many complaints from the animators, saying that Aldridge’s designs were exactly the kind of thing that is most labour-intensive and impractical to do in animation. (Nowadays, with CGI, the situation has reversed — lots of identical things and patterns moving in space = incredibly easy.) Lawrie, knowing nothing about animation, just told them to get on with it.

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20 Responses to “Hello, Sailor”

  1. Just watched the clips, thoroughly enjoyed both of them. As for the first, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it. As for the second, impressive for its time, pre-CGI, especially in that it manages to keep pace with the accompanying music (and I appreciate that there was no visual depiction of the line, “One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces”). Also liked the brief appearance of the two monkeys, although it’s hard to say just why. I’ve danced around my living room to this tune many times in just that fashion.

  2. One thing animation does very well is keep time, because the animators work to a plan of the soundtrack, so they can make things hit the beat exactly. I like the monkeys too!

  3. Not as taken with Mademoiselle as you are, but The Sailor From Gibraltar is teriffic. The BFI book on “The Cinema of Jean Genet: Un Chant d’Amour” charts the whole story in detail. Mademoiselle was originally written by Genet for Anouk Aimee and presented to her and Nico Papatakis as a wedding gift. Genet being Genet he went right on and sold it to several different parties to get money before Richardson finally made it.

    As I trust you recall Jeanne Moreau was named as “correspondent” in Vanessa Redgrave’s divorce from Richardson. These three incredibly sophisticatred people being who they were I tend to doubt that “adultery” was the actual reason for the divorce — but I may be wrong.

    Many years ago I interviewed Moreau when she came to town to publicize her first directorial effort. She was staying at Richardson’s house. Richardson was away, but his boyfriend was there, along with a great many parrots. Very Citizen Kane.

  4. Mademoiselle has its problems, one of which is its not quite as engaging a watch as it should be. But it’s all incredibly beautiful, and kicks in dramatically at a few key points.

    I’m going to make a new year’s resolution to get Sailor watched. Great Scot Ian Bannen is always worth seeing.

    This title sequence also reminds me of the peculiar montage representing Nicole Kidman’s holiday in Portrait of a Lady, the best bit of the film. There should be more things like that!

  5. By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO BOTH A’ YOU DAVIDS. It’s New Year where I am right now, in India.

  6. Right back atcha, Arthur. Here on the West Coast it’s late morning of the 31st — 11:07 AM.

  7. Here it’s about 8pm and I’m off to a party — a movie-watching party, of course. I’ll report back in 2009.

  8. We are going out on a high note, watching Make Way for Tomorrow (and just possibly The Wrestler, though my enduring dislike for Aronofsky’s films makes that a chancy proposition). Have a great 2009, Shadowplayers!

  9. ”Make Way For Tomorrow” is one of the best films ever made. Moving, funny and sad.

    To quote the last lines of the film, to fellow shadowplayers still stuck last year, “It’s been a great time.”

  10. Devastated after Make Way for Tomorrow, there was no option but to watch a Preston Sturges film. Miraculously, the one we chose (The Good Fairy, directed by William Wyler in a marvellously hectic style that Sturges probably picked up a lot from) begins with Beulah Bondi happily running an orphanarium in Budapest. If it hadn’t been for that I think we would have wept our way into the New Year….

  11. I’m very keen on The Good Fairy, especially the movie scene (“Go!”) and Frank Morgan (“Did you see his eyes? Like angry marbles!”) A perfect film to watch after something sad.

    Make Way For Tomorrow is lined up for 2009 viewing.

    We watched part of The Man Who Came to Dinner until the damn disc broke down, and all of The Happiest Days of Your Life, which was enjoyable. Some kind of posting on filmed plays may result at some point.

  12. IOW, Sacha Guitry and Alain Resnais.

  13. Haven’t been able to see ANY Guitry (getting ahold of some for The Forgotten would be a nice idea) and my piecemeal viewing of Resnais hasn’t yet introduced me to any of his stage adaptations (although it’s already clear from what I have seen that he’s likely to excel in this area), so that’ll have to be corrected this year.

  14. In recent years Resnais has been primarily theatre filme: Melo, Smoking/ No Smoking, Pas Sur la Bouche and Coeurs.

    If you’re getting into Guitry the place to start is Le roman d’un tricheur.

  15. I’m checking downloadability of the Guitry… not currently available, but I can request it.

    I have most of the recent Resnais, I should get up to date.

  16. For me, two of the most interesting and engaging Resnais films are Muriel and Coeurs.

  17. [...] projects coming to fruition is mouthwatering. Hope they both do. To finish, I asked about this Pink Floyd music video — my late friend Lawrie Knight, who was involved in its production, had told me that he [...]

  18. I’ve only seen Muriel so far, hopefully Coeurs soon. Muriel’s great. I’ve just been catching up with his early short documentaries, which are as fine as any of his later work, I think. I love his Marienbad style, and they’re full of that.

  19. Are you still out there? Would you repost or somehow make the SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR titles available? I’m searching, searching, searching (Like Anna…?) for this film. I want to teach in in my university course, and I just want to see it. I’d be thrilled to see the titles, at least. cdewey (at) csum (dot) edu

  20. I’ve repaired the video link, added another clip, and emailed you.

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