Archive for Arnold Schwartzenegger

By Crom

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2014 by dcairns

conan

Caught the end of John Milius’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN on TV last night, a movie I saw when it came out. If my arithmetic is correct, it was an AA certificate and I was slightly too young. Saw it with my dad. I’ve seen bits of this movie on TV over the years but not the ending, because I usually decided it wasn’t good enough to watch. I still think that’s true, probably. (I’ve seen practically nothing of CONAN THE DESTROYER but am actually interested because it’s Fleischer.)

It would be ludicrous to say Schwartzenegger ever became an actor, but seeing him in this and RED SONJA (Fleischer again, and a favourite line reading from Ahnuldt, the casual, friendly “Yer sister’s dying,”) it’s striking how he just couldn’t do it at all to begin with: couldn’t say a line, couldn’t react, couldn’t move, couldn’t stand still.

Even accepting that, the film has problems — Milius’s Nazi fetish is apparent in the Riefenstahl firelight parade at the end, on a Fritz Lang set. Oliver Stone’s script was rewritten to heck by Milius, which is perhaps why, having offended Cubans (SCARFACE), Chinese-Americans (THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON) and Turks (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS), Stone’s barbarian epic wasn’t picketed by Cimmerians. But Milius has a problem of his own, and once you recognize it, everything he’s trying to do collapses like a camel — Milius is corny.

Compare his APOCALYPSE NOW script with what was filmed — Brando’s windy improvs are vastly superior to what was scripted, long, hawkish monologues that have the feel of being typed with Milius’s free hand while his other was busy down below. Incredibly, Milius practically steals Coppola’s ending, which Coppola stole from Jack Hill (spoiler alert) — Conan kills the evil ruler, the followers bow down to him, and the temple is set ablaze (as in some versions of APOC).

There’s also THIS –

conanthebarbarian8

Still, Milius’s film has a distinct personality — fascistic, bellicose, thuggish in its humour and humourless in its heart — which can’t be said for most modern fantasy films. And the modern guys haven’t looked at Kurosawa enough. Milius certainly has, and in addition is nutty enough to think he can actually BE Kurosawa. And why muck about with THE HIDDEN FORTRESS when you can muck about with THE SEVEN SAMURAI?

What I wish I could talk about is the reason the Ritz in Madrid to this day won’t allow filmmakers to check in. It has to do with Milius, and it’s a good story, but it’s gossip and I can’t prove it and it might be actionable. I find it quite believable though. Anyone else heard this one? I can only imagine the reason it doesn’t appear in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is that Milius was Biskind’s top informant and got an easy ride…

Actor and Alien

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on May 14, 2013 by dcairns

Actor Grant Mitchell, a reliable if low-wattage character thesp in numerous Warner Brothers productions, particularly of the pre-code era, his grumpy paternalistic demeanour could be pointed at a wide variety of roles –

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PREDATOR, a 1987 action movie with a vagina dentata alien in it.

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The first distracting thing about Grant Mitchell is that he shares a name with a character in Eastenders. See also 1940s makeup artist Guy Pearce who always makes us think of the modern film star (and especially his lousy makeup in PROMETHEUS) and Universal music arranger Frank Skinner, who reminds Brits, rather against their will, of a comedian of the same name.

The second distracting thing about Grant Mitchell is that he looks a bit like a bulldog’s skull looking out of a potato.

The third distracting thing about Grant Mitchell is his resemblance to the Predator, although fortunately without the sexual overtones.

PREDATOR really is all about male sexual anxiety. It may be that the monster design was simply supposed to be upsetting, without any deeper psychological intent, deploying what Camille Paglia calls “displacement upwards” (she was talking about Bardot’s full sensual lips). Putting something in the wrong place can make it disturbing. But I think we’re entitled to read meaning into the decision to make the monster a castrating, fang-filled vulva. Especially with the largely male, largely musclebound cast, the sexist banter and the right-wing slant (we have to assume Arnie and his gang are Black Ops, working to overthrow a legally elected government, because that’s what secret American task forces have always done, and especially under Reagan). If it were a slightly better film, it would also be possible to appreciate the monster’s point of view more. It could play like FIRST BLOOD. As it is, I don’t sympathise with Arnie and company at all. The monster is outnumbered and on a foreign planet — sure, he chose to be there, but one has to respect his courage.

I guess if there were an early ’30s Warner version of PREDATOR, Grant Mitchell could play the monster (using a primitive version of motion capture, where the actors eyebrows are attached to a large puppet by lengths of dowling). Eugene Pallette as Arnie.

Film Directors with Their Shirts Off and Trousers Down

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2013 by dcairns

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“George Raft never took his clothes off.”

Mark Rydell (far right) strips in Robert Altman’s THE LONG GOODBYE, doing pre-emptive penance to Elliott Gould (second right) for directing him in HARRY AND WALTER GO TO NEW YORK.

It’s worth watching young Arnie Schwartzenegger (second left, with bum-fluff moustache) in this scene — while the other thugs register surprise and reluctance at being ordered to denude by their boss, Ahnoldt can’t wait — he’s eager to go, unbuttoning almost before the words are out of Rydell’s mouth — it’s what he took the job for in the first place. Be a gangster’s bodyguard and expose your pecs.

I’m just reading some early Raymond Chandler stories (and Fiona is reading Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest — it’s a hardboiled household). I really feel that Pearls are a Nuisance ought to be a Major Motion Picture, possibly by the Coen Brothers, possibly starring Armie Hammer. There’s some comic dialogue in there worthy of Sturges.

“Drunk, Walter?” he boomed. “Did I hear you say drunk? An Eichelberger drunk? Listen, son. We ain’t got a lot of time now. It would take maybe three months. Some day when you got three months and maybe five thousand gallons of whiskey and a funnel, I would be glad to take my own time and show you what an Eichelberger looks like when drunk. You wouldn’t believe it. Son, there wouldn’t be nothing of this town but a few sprung girders and a lot of busted bricks, in the middle of which–Geez, I’ll get talking English myself if I hang around you much longer–in the middle of which, peaceful, with no human life nearer than maybe fifty miles. Henry Eichelberger will be on his back smiling at the sun. Drunk, Walter. Not stinking drunk, not even country-club drunk. But you could use the word drunk and I wouldn’t take no offense.”

Georgie takes a bath (1)

Via La Faustin — an image which gives the lie to Gould’s too-hasty statement — George Raft with his clothes off. Source?

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