The Judex Files: The Twilight Bark

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on October 21, 2016 by dcairns


Judex, like Tarzan and Dr. Dolittle and other heroes, has a close rapport with the animal kingdom, so in episode 3 of Feuillade’s serial he responds to a distress signal carried by bird, but jumping into action with a kind of canine armada.

I was reminded of Buster Keaton’s rather disparate Huskies in THE FROZEN NORTH, as Judex apparently favours variety when selecting his dumb chums. The lead hound resembles a bear cub, possibly to strike terror into his enemies and cloud their minds. Criminals are a superstitious lot.


Print damage: mysterious French writing flashes up the screen sideways, looking like it’s been stenciled on the wall.

This section of the serial does get rather, well, episodic, as the banker’s innocent daughter is repeatedly kidnapped by Musidora and her jailbird accomplice. Just for variety, they decide to kill her next time, then fall back on abduction with no apparent explanation for this change of approach. Still, if an outlaw can’t be whimsical, what is the good of being an outlaw?


Louche-ness personified. All they need is an Aspidistra to chew and the effect would be complete. Musidora, we note, unlike Judex, is no friend to the animal kingdom.

In other news, the Liquorice Kid gets adopted into the foster home of the banker’s rather girlish grandson, so they can continue their childlike romance. It is really one of the more unusual relationships I can remember seeing, two little boys, one of them psychologically an adult, the other psychologically and physically a girl.

Also, Pierre Kerjean (Gaston Michel), the raddled old victim of the evil banker’s perfidy, who got fatally run over by a death-jalopy in the prologue, unexpectedly rises from his sickbed, not only not dead but positively alive. So that’s nice. I like looking at his elongated, broken face. According to the IMDb, Michel enjoyed similar recuperative powers in reality, expiring as he did in 1921 but making his last screen appearance in 1932.



Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , on October 20, 2016 by dcairns


In the UK, we say “burgled.” I imagine that sounds as comical in the US as “burglarized” does in the UK. We need a word we can take seriously for this nasty crime. Let’s switch to “housebreaking,” at least it isn’t tittersome.

THE BURGLAR is a nifty, punchy (see above) noir from director Paul Wendkos and author David Goodis, and as the Forgotten returns after a few weeks off, what could be more suitable than a nifty, punchy (see above) noir? Now read on.


Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , on October 19, 2016 by dcairns


I was lecturing today upon the art of visualisation — getting from words on a page to images on a screen. I wanted to show the first talking scene from THE GRADUATE but I also thought “What the hell?” and showed the whole title sequence.

It brought back to me my first impressions of seeing the film as a teenager: how the opening shot immediately made me feel that I was in… not safe hands, but purposeful hands. Here’s Dustin Hoffman as a kind of disembodied head. The filmmaker definitely has something on his mind. It turns out Mike Nichols signature image for the film was “He’s out of his depth.” Hence all those shots of Dustin Hoffman poolside, or filmed through glass, or otherwise framed in a way to suggest drowning. Here he is, shot as if bobbing in a sea of white upholstery.


Then we get the shot Tarantino stole for JACKIE BROWN’s title sequence. As blatant thefts go, it can be excused somewhat on the basis that it’s not just a nice shot repeated, but the shot is apt in both cases. Our main character is a passenger. Dustin Hoffman is literally a passenger, Pam Grier is a stewardess, but still, she does not control where the plane is going. By shooting both characters on a kind of conveyor belt, the directors suggest that these people are trapped in a rut, being led along by life, passive. But this is going to change.

Nichols goes one better and cuts to Hoffman’s suitcase, on its own conveyor. Dustin is like his suitcase, and inanimate object trundling along on a preordained path.

For the first time, I noticed the sign. I’m obsessed with writing onscreen but I had not become so when I first saw this movie. It’s a great line to put up front in what is, in effect, a romantic comedy in disguise ~


Just back from Ricky Callan’s funeral. When the music in the pub switched to Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, I figured that the day had come full circle and it was time to wander home. Cheers, Ricky.