It’s that light-bulb again.

(Warning — contains the human body.) 

Just wanted to share this opening sequence with you.

Jules Dassin and Marguerite Duras’ 10.30PM SUMMER is available to rent or buy in the U.S. It contains passages of incredible Pure Cinema and the whole thing is pitched at a level too shrill and hysterical even to be called Camp. It’s just Something Else.

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Apart from the heightened looniness of Melina Mercouri’s diva performance, there’s a sense that the film looks both back to the intensity of silent cinema melodrama and forward to the more delirious aspects of ’60s art-house. There’s a night drive through narrow streets, lit only by car headlights, that directly prefigures Terence Stamp’s Ferrari jaunt in Fellini’s episode of SPIRITS OF THE DEAD. Almost identical! And there’s the rather surprising nudity and sexual frankness. And this wild opening, which has Giallo tendencies, plus that mysterious symphony of sounds. Watch it, then watch it again with your eyes closed. I mean, LISTEN to it.

The editing is superb, even when it goes into paroxysms of anti-continuity to control the amount of Nudity Level. I love the three quick shots of thunderous sky which make the heavens alive and menacing.

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And Gabor Pogany’s lighting is something I can only describe using beatnik parlance (dons beret): he “blows my mind,” “flips my lid,” is “real gone,” etc.

6 Responses to “It’s that light-bulb again.”

  1. Cor, that looks good. It looks like a cross between Amarcord and Rashomon.

  2. That’s pretty bang-on! There’s a vague hint of Mario Bava and Borzage’s Moonrise and maybe the shade of Ken Russell to come.
    It all comes from a blacklisted US director with a background in classic noir pitching up in Europe and attempting to make art films with literary sources/collaborators and bringing a kind of American overstatement to bear on it all.
    Despite the wild and trippy sound design it also has something of silent cinema about it, and it’s v. operatic too. And bits of it even feel like Tony Scott, only not shit.

  3. Lovely wacko 60’s stuff but not at all like what Duras herself would get into later on.

  4. Yes, it’s a peculiar meeting of minds. I can imagine the script being entirely different if somebody else directed it. The film is mostly wordless and quite hyper-intense and ecstatic.

  5. Watched this quite by chance last night – it turned up on bizarre cable movie channel, MGM Movies, which surrounds its tentpole of recognisable attractions with a panoply of odd little films you’ll never see anywhere else. We managed to miss the first twenty or so minutes but were around for Melina’s balcony of shocking grief – a really stunning scene, where everything at Dassin’s disposal is thrown at us in a paroxysm of emotion. The blue/gold lighting scheme around this section is very Bava, which helped, and Duras’ sparse writing really works with what David describes as the silent cinema feel of the whole. The Antonioni ending seems perfect, too. I only hope they repeat it soon so that I can catch the beginning…

  6. Well worth seeing, the arrival in town is a good bit too. Maybe it’s one where I’m just responding to raw technique and the film as a whole is the hammy mish-mash everybody else seems to think it is — but I’m glad you dug what you saw. To me it feels like it’s in some kind of crazy balance. I like it so much I’ve been afraid to watch Phaedra and This Man Must Die now that I have copies of them.

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