Archive for February 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Politics with tags , , , , , , on February 19, 2008 by dcairns

Dr. Sidney Schaefer: You mean to say you can actually legally kill someone?

Don Masters, CEA Agent: Yeah, and it bothers me sometimes that I don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t you think that’s psychotic behavior?

Dr. Sidney Schaefer: No I don’t! It explains your utter lack of hostility. You can vent your aggressive feelings by actually killing people! It’s a sensational solution to the hostility problem.

Head shrinker

THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST, written and directed by Theodore J. Flicker. Yes, Flicker.

Supposedly, T.J.F. presaged the shoot by telling his crew, “I want to make the most realistic film ever.”

“Well, he failed,” observes Fiona.

“Or… succeeded,” I argue.

Spy Kids

Things that strike me as realistic in this film:

The various American secret services hate each other and are happy to see each other killed by foreign powers.

The American and Russian masterspies each have a cordial, indeed affectionate, relationship with their opposite numbers.

Rampant capitalism is a more enduring threat to freedom than communism.

The president is worried about Libya (in 1967, this idea was humorous — it has since COME TRUE).

A psychiatrist uses his techniques to turn a Russian agent.

Politics cause neuroses, which cause politics.

Flicker’s previous film was a zero-budget comedy co-written with Buck Henry, THE TROUBLEMAKER. Presumably Paramount and James Coburn thought he might have an angle on what the kids were after, so they handed him a big budget spy caper. T.J.F. brought with him some of the actors he’d used in his debut, like comedian/thesp Godfrey Cambridge, and Second City improv star Severn Darden.

Some GOOD GAGS in this film! I like the meaningless joke of all the F.B.R. agents being really short. There’s no obvious reason for it but it’s quietly, increasingly hilarious. And when they’re around, the cutting goes all Dragnet, with that back-and-forth q&a shot-countershot rhythm based entirely on the dialogue, with no reaction shots allowed.

“Oh, it’s the ‘Pudlians,” remarks a hippychick called Snow White with no real enthusuasm, and a rock band with bonnets and mockney accents appear, who turn out to be ruthless operatives from the Canadian secret service. Before we can really anticipate how much comic materiel can be mined from this idea, they’re dead, slain by F.B.R. short-arses.

And then there’s the inexplicably festive ending, in which Lalo Schiffrin trots out the best version of “Joy to the World” ever.


The Fifty Year Declin an Fa l o oll wo

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , on February 19, 2008 by dcairns



My copy of Ezra Goodman’s marvellous The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood, which I bought for about 25p on Amazon and which arrived smelling of cabbage, is disintegrating as I read it.

I feel like Rod Taylor! No, my voice has not assumed the guttural tones of the Antipodean, nor has my nose exploded into a bulging sculpture of gesticulating cartilage, like an arthritic shadow puppet cast in flesh.

I’m thinking of Rod’s struggle with the sum total of human knowledge in George Pal’s moving and intelligent THE TIME MACHINE, where Rod touches many a dusty volume of forgotten lore which hasn’t been read in a thousand years, only for them to flake and powder into vaporous nothingness under the pressure of his hulking Aussie digits.

So I may be the last human to read this particular copy of this particular book, which has a sad finality about it. But not as sad as it’ll be if the creeping decomposition outdistances my reading speed. Better CRACK ON.

The first KINDLE

(Shouldn’t be mean about Rod — he gives a beautifully sensitive performance in TIME MACHINE, not to mention the rest of his enviable career.)