Archive for Shakespeare

Mr. Versatile

Posted in FILM with tags , on October 26, 2012 by dcairns

A modest selection from the film credits of Herman Bing. “And each man in his life plays many parts” ~ Shakespeare.

Night and Day (1946) (uncredited) …. Ladisaus Smedick

Rendezvous 24 (1946) …. Herr Schmidt, innkeeper

The Devil with Hitler (1942) …. Louis

Public Deb No. 1 (1940) (uncredited) …. Dutchman

Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) (uncredited) …. Silhouettist

Sweethearts (1938) …. Oscar Engel

Daffy Duck in Hollywood (1938) (voice) (uncredited) …. Von Hamburger

The Great Waltz (1938) …. Otto Dommayer

Vacation from Love (1938) …. Oscar Wittlesbach

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) …. Monsieur Pepinard

Every Day’s a Holiday (1937) …. Fritz Krausmeyer

Beg, Borrow or Steal (1937) …. Von Giersdorff, aka Count Herman

Maytime (1937) …. August Archipenko

Champagne Waltz (1937) …. Max Snellinek

That Girl from Paris (1936) …. ‘Hammy’ Hammacher

The Three Wise Guys (1936) …. Baumgarten

The King Steps Out (1936) …. Pretzelberger

Laughing Irish Eyes (1936) …. Weisbecher

Tango (1936) …. Mr. Kluckmeyer, Tango Hosiery

Fighting Youth (1935) …. Luigi

1,000 Dollars a Minute (1935) …. Vanderbrocken

Three Kids and a Queen (1935) …. Walter Merkin

His Family Tree (1935) …. Mr. ‘Stony’ Stonehill

Redheads on Parade (1935) …. Lionel Kunkel

Here Comes the Band (1935) (uncredited) …. Hans Bergenspitz

Don’t Bet on Blondes (1935) …. Prof. Friedrich Wilhelm Gruber

In Caliente (1935) …. Mexican Florist

The Misses Stooge (1935) …. Sazarac the Magician

The Night Is Young (1935) …. Nepomuk

Crimson Romance (1934) …. Himmelbaum

The Merry Widow (1934) …. Zizipoff

Mandalay (1934) …. Prof. Kleinschmidt

Trimmed in Furs (1934) …. Engles the Lodge Owner

Blood Money (1933) (uncredited) …. Butcher Weighing Sausages

College Coach (1933) …. Prof. Glantz

Fits in a Fiddle (1933) …. Heinrich Mickelmeier

The Great Jasper (1933) (uncredited) …. Herman Beaumgartner

A Farewell to Arms (1932) (uncredited) …. Swiss Postal Clerk

Three on a Match (1932) (uncredited) …. Prof. Irving Finklestein

The Crash (1932) (uncredited) …. E.F. McSorley, Diamond Broker

Blessed Event (1932) (uncredited) …. Emil, the Head Chef

Crooner (1932) (uncredited) …. Vaudevillian with Dachshunds

Week-End Marriage (1932) (uncredited) …. Mr. Mengel

Westward Passage (1932) …. Otto Hoopengarner, the Dutchman

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) (uncredited) …. Franz Odenheimer

Men of Chance (1931) (uncredited) …. Fritz Tannenbaum

Show Girl in Hollywood (1930) …. Bing

In Fair Verona

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by dcairns

So, as part of my research into William Cameron Menzies, we ran THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, early 30s version, which WCM co-designed, and very handsome it was too — typical Cameron monumentalism with strong, interesting shapes, given an Elizabethan decorative make-over.

Oddly, the film has a lousy reputation — looked at today, it seems an excellent example of very early talking cinema, triumphing over the stiffness and staginess that make so many early talkies an ordeal. So my attempt to rehabilitate the picture is over at The Daily Notebook, forming the substance of this week’s edition of The Forgotten.

Sound and Fury

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2008 by dcairns

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Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, filmed by Ken Hughes.

Yes! Ken Hughes films Philip Yordan’s Macbeth-as-an-Amurrican-gangster epic, in which lumpen Paul Douglas as the titular JOE MACBETH rises to the position of kingpin in a version of the New York mafia recreated on a small scale in England. The British version of America always seems like a cheap-ass solution, or at least it does when it’s obvious. Here we get reasonable but small sets, and a few obvious stock shots to broaden out the scope. What really gives it away is the cast.

Douglas and Ruth Roman (as Lily Macbeth) are the sort of affordable American stars who could be tempted over for a British film (Douglas had appeared in the minor classic THE MAGGIE a year earlier). The supporting cast is made up of a mixture of Americans abroad (Bonar Colleano, who’s very good here as a cheeky combo of Fleance and Macduff; beetle-browed Robert Arden of MR ARKADIN fame — both these guys appeared in A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH) and those Brits who could muster a convincing yank accent. I’m inclined to think the following scene will be amusing to British movie fans:

After watching THE ATOMIC MAN, in which Charles Hawtrey intrudes like a music hall apparition, I’m beginning to suspect that Ken Hughes liked having Carry On film stars pop up and wreck his ambiance just for the hell of it.

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Also prominent in this scene is Ruth Roman. She does make a terrific Lady Mac, I take back anything bad I may have said about her. I think this kind of role maybe suits her better than the more tame parts I’ve seen her in. Her biggest problem is creating any kind of heat with the doughy Douglas, who’s good at freaking out, sweating and shaking his jowls as if he’s trying to physically detach them from his face and make them fly off and stick to the walls, but his baggy, Lon Chaney Jnr. appearance is a little unhelpful in more tender moments.

R.R. plays it fierce in the early scenes, and the snappy, snippy relationship reminds me of Douglas’ marriage in LETTER TO THREE WIVES. This is an unusual version of the play in that the Macbeths actually grow closer together. As a femme fatale, seducing her husband into murder, Roman, “the nicotine-stained goddess of the denim pantsuit” (here clad in revealing gowns) is very effective — Mrs. Mac uses sex as a weapon.

As one reared on Jon Finch in the Polanski version, I had trouble imagining how Douglas and Roman could have reached the age they’re at without previously showing the ferocious ambition that overtakes them. A straight rendering of the play would offer us a supernatural catalyst, whereas here, Roman’s fortune-telling friend is an insufficient motivation. Stripping the play of the uncanny does do it quite a bit of damage. Without the prophecies about Birnam Wood and “no man of woman born”, the climax loses it’s plot twists, although Yordan arguably improves on Shakespeare by bringing Macbeth and wife to their doom together.

The femme fatale scenes make me think that a straight noir approach would work better than a gangster one. For one thing, the underworld vibe is utterly generic, with Hughes concentrating his attention on creating a viable N.Y.C. in Pinewood or wherever, so that he has no opportunity to create the specific details that make a film like SCARFACE or THE PUBLIC ENEMY so memorable. And killing a kingpin lacks the moral outrage of killing a king: murder is a commonplace in Joe Macbeth’s world, so there’s a loss of dramatic force there too.

The best bits:

1) A distant bell tolls each time a kingpin dies. When Douglas has offed his boss (Gregoire Aslan, a surprisingly gallic mafiosa), the bell is accompanied by shrieking birds, and the killer’s moral torment is reminiscent of Sydney Chaplin’s downfall in Hughes’ CONFESSION.

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2) A completely unShakespearean character, Big Dutch, an oyster-munching vulgarian played by Harry Green, who has no reason to be in the film really, but frees everyone from the need to do a paint-by-numbers Shakespeare-goes-gangster movie. His grotesque, slobbering scenes are weirdly pointless but hypnotically repellent, focusing on the act of EATING to the exclusion of all else. “What an attractive man,” remarked Fiona, dryly. Accompanied by his food taster and two weird-looking blond girlfriends, Green’s ebullient schtick is almost Lynchian in its unashamed status as gratuitous cameo grotesque. Slurp!

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3) Bonar Colleano’s reaction to the death of his family. This always seems a near-impossible scene to play. How do you act a thing like that? Hughes holds on the speaker’s face for ages, with Colleano’s suffering hidden except as mirrored in the guy’s reactions. Then he does cut to B.C. and holds on him for ages too. And Colleano pulls it off. This guy got plenty of work as a stock American in the U.K. but either got stuck with some Brit screenwriter’s idea of what a yank should be, or played nationality-neutral roles (as in the fine DANCE HALL) where his American accent raised unanswerable questions. A shame.

4) Angus (Walter Crisham). A problematic role in the play. If memory serves, Polanski and Tynan made him a traitor, just to give him something to do. Ken Campbell speculated that the seemingly pointless role was just an opportunity for Shakespeare to do a walk-on (“Cos he always liked to be in ‘is own stuff, like Hitchcock,”). Here he’s the butler at the mansion house which passes from one kingpin to another, and his willingness to serve whomever’s in charge, coupled with his revealing just how often the place changes hands, is a nice warning of how short Macbeth’s reign will be.

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Mac.

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