Euphoria #13


Didn’t want to assign anybody else the unlucky number, so I have taken the curse on myself.

I shall bear its terrible BRUNT.

Major major spoiler alert on this one.

The beauteous end of HAROLD AND MAUDE. That Hal Ashby was one hell of an editor. Nobody comes close for balancing dramatic and musical values when cutting to pre-recorded music and telling a story. The SUPER-LONG sequence in BEING THERE where Peter Sellers first faces the outside world, edited to Deodato’s version of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra has so many precise points of connection between the music and action, with non-negotiable chunks of dialogue and action in between, it’s awe-inspiring to me.

Just watched this tonight and loved it as always — I’ll dedicate it to my producer and friend Nigel, who’s favourite film it is. The comedy, on the page, is arguably a little “twee” or obvious sometimes, but the framing and cutting in the movie treat it with such rigor it all works.

Apart from the cutting, and the utterly sublime and Profound faces of Bud Cort, there’s the stylish composition — my favourite shot being the one at the top here. I just love the way BC’s body fits into the space.

5 Responses to “Euphoria #13”

  1. Dare I bring up the most obscure of obscurities, Second-Hand Hearts (aka. The Hampster of Happiness )? Robert Blake and Barbara Harris star in this truly baroque road movie whose shooting was so troubled (Barbara would lock herself in the trailer and the company would have to call her friend Tony Holland every day to coax her out) that Ashby put it aside, shot and edited Being There from start to finish and THEN went back to edit Second-Hand Hearts.

    Needless to say, it’s a masterpiece.

  2. There are a few Ashbys I’ve never come across: that one and LOOKIN TO GET OUT are the ones I’d love to see. Have only seen a pan-and-scan of 8 MILL WAYS TO DIE — it didn’t look great but I shouldn’t judge on that evidence. I was lucky to be able to get my hands on THE LANDLORD, which is an amazing rarity and in many ways a dry run for Harold & Maude: the climax is very close to the above sequence, and our rich kid hero living in a mansion with his mom is very Harold Chasen.

  3. The Landlord is one of the very best films ever made about race relations in America. And contains a rare and precious performance by the very great Diana Sands. A climactic scene that brings Lee Grant and Pearl Bailey together for a heart-to-heart is a total hoot.

    Lookin’ to Gwt Out is rather fun. 8 Million Ways to Die less so. He was tossed off of that one. I forget who completed it uncredited.

  4. Yes, The Landlord actually has the nerve to suggest that US race relations have become COMPLICATED and may not be open to EASY SOLUTIONS. Which seems to be a pretty unpopular thing to suggest. It also does an amazing job of setting out to educate the audience without becoming didactic in a horrible way. I mean, it IS didactic, but it rehabilitates that word.
    That drunk scene is astonishing. I looked up the actresses afterwards and was amazed that I’d seen Lee Grant in half a dozen things and never recognised her each time. I mean, Detective Story? No way is that the same person!

  5. and a few years later Ashby directed Lee Grant in her Oscar-winning turn in Shampoo — the first panel of Warren Beatty’s political trilogy (the other two being Reds and Bulworth)

    Grant as you may know was blacklisted because her ex-husband was a communist.

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