I sit and watch the children play

David McCallum, pre-Ilya Kuryakim and sub-Pinkie Brown, in VIOLENT PLAYGROUND, a preachy but punchy social realist thriller from Basil Dearden, now under the eye of The Forgotten, over at The Daily Notebook.

McCallum, in his late seventies but still looking great, and without any telltale taut shininess, must have a portrait in his attic. But before you rush to copy him, remember: it has a to be a portrait of you.

In other news: a DETOUR limerick. And if you look around over at Limerwrecks, you’ll find more. A LOT more.

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28 Responses to “I sit and watch the children play”

  1. judydean Says:

    In his otherwise caustic commentary to his 1988 BAFTA award ceremony, Dirk Bogarde at least had some kind words to say about Basil Dearden and described him as a sadly underrated director.

    If we were to decide on The Most Toe Curling Dance Performance in a Non Musical my vote would go to Peter O’Toole in WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?

  2. Well, at least (a) he was probably in step with the music before the editor got his hands on it (I’m being charitable) and (b) they found a dance partner who makes O’Toole look almost chunky. Those arms! Like drinking straws with joints.

  3. While I know little about Basil Dearden, I’ve loved a number of his films over the years…

    SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS (a wondrously overblown historical romance)

    THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU (a cod-Victorian camp extravaganza)

    VICTIM (perhaps the most historically important ‘gay’ movie ever)

    I do wonder if Dearden and his long-term producing partner Michael Relph had a ‘personal interest’ in that last one?

  4. Dearden’s stuff in Dead of Night (Room for One More Inside and the climax) is stylistically the wildest and most interesting in that film. Which is saying plenty. I regret he never worked in that mode again, though there are faint traces of it in The Halfway House and even The Man Who Haunted Himself.

    A modest part of Victim’s interest is that nobody involved in it was “out”, ever. Dirk Bogarde reported in his memoirs that the cast contained one homosexual, Dennis Price.

    I didn’t realize until RIGHT NOW that the screenwriters also wrote 7 Women!

  5. What about Hilton Edwards, the long-term partner of Michael MacLiammoir, who plays one of the elderly queens in VICTIM?

    Together, he and MacLiammoir ran the Gate Theatre in Dublin, which was affectionately nicknamed ‘Sodom and Begorrah’. One of their acolytes was a very young Orson Welles.

    When MacLiammoir died in the 60s, Edwards was actually granted an official ‘widow’s pension’ by the Irish state – never mind that homosexuality was technically illegal.

    You really can’t get much more ‘out’ than that!

  6. Apparently still not “out” enough for Bogarde to risk commenting!

    It’s a shame Dearden didn’t continue to feature gay or at least-gay coded characters in his work. It’s as if with Sapphire he’d “done” race and with Victim he’d “done” homosexuality.

    Still, he certainly did them courageously and with some sensitivity.

  7. Bogarde was so fucking WEIRD about his sexuality. First with Victim he makes the most forthright gay protest film since Different From the Others (1916 with Connie Veidt), then he goes on to do Modesty Blaise and Death in Venice .

    DOES IT GET ANY GAYER???!!!!

    The real feature of that What’s New Pussycat? clip is the adorable Paula Prientis. I see her around town frequently with ther husband of many, many years, Richard Benjamin

  8. What a lovely couple! (Did they meet on Catch 22 or had they already collaborated?)

    Russell Harty tried to get Bogarde to talk about his private life and got something like “I’m a tough nut and you haven’t cracked me yet, ducky!” The gayest non-admission of gayness ever. Perversely brilliant: “We both know it and I’ll make it obvious in terms any idiot can understand, but I won’t SAY it.”

  9. Other flamingly gay Bogarde roles…THE SPANISH GARDENER, THE SINGER NOT THE SONG, THE SERVANT.

    Plus a whole lot of films where Bogarde’s character is not officially gay – SONG WITHOUT END, DARLING, JUSTINE, THE DAMNED, THE NIGHT PORTER, DESPAIR – but the overall sensibility most definitely is!

    Under the circumstances, ‘coming out’ was more or less redundant.

  10. I just recalled — I think — that one member of Dearden’s The League of Gentlemen may be on the camp side, but I can’t remember which one. The movie does have a walk-on — or mince-on — from Oliver Reed as a ballet dancer (better at flouncing than one would expect), so Dearden didn’t wholly avoid the topic after Victim.

  11. There was a great British Channel 4 Documentary on Bogarde made several years back. it used to be on YouTube but I’m not sure if it’s still there. It was made out of the 16mm films that Bogarde wanted destroyed. Nothing in th least salacious or even naughty in them. They were made during the way. In the documentary Bogarde’s sister is interviewed and Topny Forward’s son — who was raise by Forward and Bogarde. Mom was Glynnis Johns. But she and Forward split (he for Drik, she for whatever) right after the kid’s birth — and she gave him custody. So Dirk was his Virtual Mother (!) Some letters Dirk wrote to his wartime boyfriends were also read in the do. Dirk wanted them destroyed too, of couse, but thankfully they weren’t.

    His last appearance, BTW, was in a made-for-TV adaptation of Graham Greene’s May We Borrow Your Husband? Yet ANOTHER gay movie , though Dirk played an “understanding” straight man in it — who is solicitous to a naive young bride abandoned by her husband on their honeymoon in favor of swank gay couple.

    Dick and Paula met a tad earlier than Catch-22 They did a very nice sitcom together called He and She. Breezy and sophisticated it didn’t last long, but is fondly recalled by many. Today they both look great and have close-cropped white hair. They’re practically twins! Their son is in show business — behind the scenes.

  12. Dirk’s last theatrical film was Bertrand Tavernier’s Daddy Nostalgie in which he plays Jane Birkins’ father. Iconographically this is PERFECT. Jane sings in this clip with the great Jimmy Rowles

  13. I saw Dirk Bogarde in DESPAIR last weekend, a very impressive film. Fassbinder was one of Bogarde’s favorite directors to work with. That said, while it works for the high kitsch Sirk-Sternberg aesthetic Fassbinder goes for, the English in DESPAIR is odd to the ears. One of the rare times I actually wished for subtitles for a film in English.

  14. Lili Marleeen and Querelle were also made in English.

  15. Bogarde felt that Fassbinder butchered Despair for some self-destructive reasons of his own.

    Fascinating how Bogarde concocted the story about being present at the liberation of Belsen. Perhaps the only thing asides from his profession he shared with Ronald Reagan. Not a very attractive quality, making up such a claim: exploiting the century’s greatest horrors in order to trump anyone else’s experience of tragedy. “I was there!”

    My friend, Lawrie, Dirk’s exact contemporary, said that Dirk, an inept driver, caused a car crash that killed several people, and he never drove again. I have never seen any reference to this elsewhere, though (but Lawrie’s stories have otherwise proved true where verifiable).

  16. Dicka and Paula were married in 1961. Far earlier than I thought.

  17. Dearly as I love Jane Birkin (and I’m a huge fan) her rendition of ‘These Foolish Things’ does make you realise how limited her singing voice actually is.

    Where she truly shines is in the songs that Gainsbourg wrote specially for her. Not only was Serge crazy about her (who can blame him?) but he understood her unique vocal qualities.

    As for the Bogarde documentary, he comes across as a conflicted and profoundly unhappy man. I’ve heard about the car accident… but I had no idea his Belsen story was not true.

    Why would anyone WANT to invent a story like that?! That in itself is truly tragic.

  18. Well, it would give you a trump card to play in many conversations…

  19. NEVER seen that before! 1000 thanks!

  20. For anyone who’s interested, John Coldstream’s excellent biography of Bogarde goes into the story of his witnessing the liberation of Belsen in some detail, and examines the roots of this demonstrably false claim.

  21. judydean Says:

    By the way, the Bogarde home moves and the Arena documentary can all be seen, along with loads of other great material, at http://www.dirkbogarde.co.uk

  22. One certainly gets the impression that Bogarde more or less believed his own story by the end. As any oft-repeated tale takes on the qualities of “truth”.

  23. You’re welcome. The fact that Jodie is bilingual has often been overlooked.

  24. Our PA in Paris on the Natan film, the cinematically-named Capucine, commented on Foster’s fluency.

  25. Sorry, but Gainsbourg and Bardot they ain’t!

  26. But Bardot couldn’t sing AT ALL, which gives Foster some kind of edge.

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