Archive for Henri-Georges Clouzot

Brigitte Bardot’s Twenty Six Bathrooms, part 2

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by dcairns

Part Two. Fourteen to Twenty-Six.

This fake 1920s movie-within-a-movie in BOULEVARD DU RHUM is extremely beautiful, but it’s not a bathroom. nobody goes to the bathroom at all in this movie. Lino Ventura wears a bathrobe at one point, and Bardot walks past a swimming pool and is elsewhere seen by the seaside, but she’s wearing a swimming costume therefore she’s not washing. I repeat, it’s as beautiful as a bathroom but it’s not a bathroom.

14) LUMIERE D’EN FACE is another film set in a nightmare alternate universe where bathrooms don’t exist. In desperation, Brigitte bathes in a stream. The stream is thus an honorary bathroom. If that doesn’t convince you, she washes her feet in the kitchen sink. Together, that definitely adds up to a bathroom. It does!

15) LA VERITE de Henry-Georges CLouzot. Probably BB’s best film and performance, though she had a somewhat sparky relationship with HG. “I need an actress, not an amateur,” he growled. “And I need a director, not a psychopath,” she replied, rather smartly.

Here, Dany Robin usurps Bardot’s rightful role by undressing. In a bathroom. While Bardot lies helpless in the foreground. But our girl conquers the next salle de bain she finds, and order is restored.

16) LES PETROLEUSES. Once again we see how all the outdoors is essentially one big bathroom. Frenchie King and her gals freshen up after riding the range. So it’s a bathroom! It bloody IS! But if that doesn’t satisfy you, here’s a room and bath, with Brigitte in it. Not her best angle, but that’s because this is Michael J Pollard’s POV as he dangles off a rooftop.

17) LA MARIEE EST TROP BELLE. Written by actress Odette Joyeux, this piece of fluff features a rare glimpse of Bardot in the shower — an old-fashioned girl at heart, she generally seems to prefer the tub. Here she’s wiping herself with a cloth, but she shower isn’t running, so it’s possible she’s just standing in the bath. Or else attempting to dry-clean herself.

By contrast with LA VERITE, Bardot mostly just bounces in this film.

18) MIO FIGLIO NERONE was recommended by GeraldF, since it’s ancient world setting practically dictates that BB, as Poppea, bathe in asses’ milk. She does! Too bad the makers of HELEN OF TROY didn’t have the wit to enhance their tedious spectacle with the more edifying one of an undressed Andraste.

19) VOULEZ-VOUS DANSER AVEC MOI? Bardot is seen changing in her bathroom early on, in front of her mastiff-headed husband. Later, she spies from a vent into the men’s showers — I include her POV just to show we’re not sexist, and because the men’s showers is a form of bathroom we haven’t seen yet.

20) LES NOVICES — Brigitte cleans a bathroom. There is no form of interaction with bathrooms Brigitte has not had on screen. Except taking a dump.

21) VIE PRIVEE — another variant: Brigitte uses the bathroom mirror to write her suicide note in lipstick. Class with a capital K! The sensitive pan-and-scanning on UK TCM’s (dubbed) print robs us of the opportunity of seeing what she’s written, and how she’s spelled it.

22) CETTE SACREE GAMINE already featured last time (BB in a red towel, matching her later turn in LE MEPRIS), but here’s BB in the ladies’ showers, which offers yet another variant.

23) AMOURS CELEBRES — it’s Agnes Bernauer’s bum. I had to look Agnes Bernauer up, despite the celebre of her amour, and a good thing too, or I would have believed she was burned at the stake, as in the film, as opposed to drowned in the Danube, as in life. One would have thought a watery death more appropriate for BB, but she’s also incinerated in IF DON JUAN WAS A WOMAN, so she seems to arouse elemental associations of all kinds.

At any rate, this is another al fresco bathing. It’s bathing, so it’s a bath, but is it a room, without walls? An ancient philosophical question receives a saucy update, courtesy of BeBe.

24) SHALAKO — and the question becomes truly pressing. I’m surprised Guy DeBord or someone clever like that hasn’t written an appreciation of the light Bardot has shone on this particular issue.

Note Bardot’s shocking modernity — caught bathing by Sean Connery, she actually smiles. Saucy trout!

25) The observant among you will have noticed that apart from bathing, the activity most associated with Bardot is sun-bathing. Now, what those two forms of relaxation have in common is not bathing, since a sun-bath in no way involves immersing oneself in the blazing hydrogen of our nearest star, but the exposure of skin. Why this activity should so fascinate Bardot is another question for the philosophers.

I couldn’t find a copy of L’OURS ET LA POUPEE, but a video on VousTube happens to contain la scene de bain
About one minute in. This is a different bathroom from that included in Part One.
26) LOVE ON A PILLOW — two minutes in –
And that’s it! C’est finee! Time for a cold shower.

At this late hour

Posted in FILM with tags , , on November 28, 2011 by dcairns

You might like a banner, if you’re considering joining us for The Late Show — The Late Films Blogathon, which starts Thursday (jeepers, I better watch some films and write some stuff, huh?).

The image is from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s last theatrical feature, the delirious LA PRISONNIERE, which I wrote about here.

Peck’s Bad Boy

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2011 by dcairns

I have to say that Fred Zinnemann’s BEHOLD A PALE HORSE deserves its comparatively low status among his work, but it’s still full of interest. Based on a novel by the director’s old Berlin coffee house buddy Emeric Pressburger, it’s set in more or less contemporary Spain and across the border in France, where a die-hard rebel (Gregory Peck) is carrying on the Civil War as a personal feud with Guardia Civil chief Anthony Quinn.

At two hours, the film feels sluggish, in part because J.P. Miller’s script features minor characters not essential to the action — either they were in the book, or have been added to give Quinn’s character more “depth”. The effect is to further diffuse a movie which seems uncertain who its main character is. We’re introduced to the story through the eyes of a young boy (Marietto, a typically excellent Zinnemann juvenile), pick up Peck, follow Quinn for a while, and then bond with Omar Sharif (!) as a priest who gets mixed up in the action due to the dying wish of Peck’s mother.

Another reason for the prevailing inertia (apart from maybe a certain lack of energy in Zinnemann’s handling at times) is the story structure, in which Peck conceives of a daring mission in Act 1 — his mother is dying, under armed guard, and he wants to circumvent the Spanish authorities, break into the hospital, and see her — which is then endlessly deferred by a series of almost Bunuelian plot digressions. Some of the intervening action is exciting or compelling in its own right, but at the back of our mind is the knowledge that a gripping adventure awaits that we’re just not getting to, and that has the effect of making what’s currently onscreen seem less exciting.

There’s also the problem of casting. The first section of story has Marietto visiting Peck, a friend of his late father’s, to ask him to avenge dad’s death by killing Quinn — in other words, it’s TRUE GRIT before the fact. And, as in TG, the kid is severely disappointed by what he finds, at first wondering if the old guy slumped in the dingy hovel is the father of the man he’s looking for. The problem, of course, and it’s a fatal one for a movie about a man approaching old age and opting for a dramatic death, is that Peck looks remarkably healthy for his age. A certain tightness of the shirt about the belly does not serve to evoke advancing decrepitude (and we also have our outside knowledge that G.P. would last almost another forty years).

And of course Peck is his usual staunch, stolid self, with nothing of the bandit and less of the Spaniard about him. Did any actor of reasonable ability ever evoke so many recasting fantasies? Imagine Robert Ryan as Ahab in MOBY DICK, James Stewart as Sam Bowden in CAPE FEAR (in which Peck is good). Even in ROMAN HOLIDAY, which seems to work like a dream, I could be persuaded that William Holden might have raised it to an even higher level (there’s never any doubt that Peck will behave nobly, whereas with Holden, doubt is in his DNA).

The Brêche de Roland, 8,000 feet up in the Pyrenees. Such is my naivety, I assumed this HAD to be a matte shot. It’s real!

Zinnemann’s hand is otherwise quite sure, with some striking sequences and performances. Quinn doesn’t overact, and while it’s hard to figure out how Sharif wound up in a French monastery, he’s very soulful and effective. The movie’s not too strong on explaining the political background — Zinnemann worried that he was glorifying a terrorist, but a sterner eye on the Franco regime’s abuses might have alleviated his concerns.

And Peck gets one terrific scene, a classic of poetic understatement, excerpted for your pleasure here. He’s finally off on his mission, one of certain death. He pauses, and there’s an erotic distraction. But it’s too late for that kind of thing.

The cameo role of the girl is performed by Elizabeth Wiener! — Clouzot’s LA PRISONNIERE, Rivette’s DUELLE. And I can forgive both Peck and Maurice Jarre their many sins, looking at something like this.

As in the delightful, allusive moment in THE SUNDOWNERS where Deborah Kerr stares wistfully at a glamorous woman on a train, contrasting with her own sun-bleached, wind-blown appearance, nothing is spoken but everything gets said.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 437 other followers