Dead Means Very

The Skull 

It’s like being in a bloody war. No, wait, we ARE in a bloody war.

But I meant the way the prominent figures of British films have been keeling over this week. Paul Scofield is the latest one I’m aware of, and I feel like putting on LONDON or ROBINSON IN SPACE to hear his majestic voice again, and because those beautiful Patrick Keillor film-essays are the kind of thing I can drift through in a dreamy cloud of pleasure, bewildered when the film ends and I wake into sluggish reality.

R Hobart

Also today we heard of the decease of Brian Wilde, a fine character actor and comic turn, with a long long track record. Back in in 1957 he played Rand Hobart (no relation to Rose), the crazed devil-worshipping farmer in NIGHT OF THE DEMON for Jacques Tourneur, uttering the classic line “It’s in the trees — it’s coming!” before his memorable self-defenestration (the line is repeated in Kate Bush’s song The Hounds of Love, but revoiced by another actor).

The Window

Previous to that, Arthur C Clarke shuffled off, and my blog received about fifty hits from people typing in variations of the query “Arthur C Clarke pederast” due to a casual statement I made in an old Euphoria post. Oops.

The big shock was Anthony Minghella’s too-early death. He wasn’t a filmmaker whose work affected me particularly, but it was tragic to lose him so suddenly and so young. His latest film, THE NO 1. LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY, from a novel by Edinburgh writer Alexander McCall Smith, and photographed by Edinburgh-based ace cameraman Seamus McGarvey (the man with Nicole Kidman’s nose on his mantelpiece, grisly souvenir from THE HOURS) airs on the BBC very shortly.

These are the WRONG PEOPLE. I’m basically opposed to the whole idea of death, though I admit it has its uses: it’s important to know there’s something out there worse than THE COTTAGE, for instance. But if we have to have a bunch of film industry deaths, why can’t it be the people ahead of me in the queue for film funding? Not that I wish them any harm, but if SOMEBODY’S got to go…

The Fog

(Explanatory note on the title of this post: in Scots vernacular, for some reason, “dead” means the same as “very” — one might say, “That was dead good,” or “He’s dead nice-looking.” Or, presumably, “He’s dead dead.”)

6 Responses to “Dead Means Very”

  1. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is on BBC One Sunday night at 9p.m. GMT for those who can get it.
    I guess we have to watch it now. In a sad/comic display of efficiency, if you hit the i button on your Sky remote this morning, the BBC had already changed the blurb from a film by Anthony Minghella to a film by the late Anthony M.
    A Sky Movies channel was showing Ripley tonight, and they had remarkably done the same, as though it mattered.
    Still 54 years old. In the words of Eric Cartman: ‘Lame’.
    I’m stockpiling Woody Allen DVDs for the day I get the shitty news of his passing.

  2. Stockpile the GOOD ones! I’d like to remember him at his best. Allen will probably be appreciated more after he’s gone, and actually somebody might find more positive things to say about his recent work. But I’m a little reluctant to dive into it, myself.

    Just looked at his filmography again — for some reason I stopped going to his movies after Bullets Over Broadway, which is a GOOD one. I did see Deconstructing Harry and liked that up to a point. But Sweet and Lowdown didn’t tempt me, for some reason (Penn? the La Strada borrowings?) And I haven’t seen a whole one since, but the bits I saw of Celebrity, Small Time Crooks, Jade Scorpion, did not appeal… it doesn’t help that someone, somewhere, wil always call the newest one a “return to form”.

  3. Now there’s no form to return to. There’s nothing. Allen has turned mise en scene into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He makes films because he makes films. Not that he has anything at all to say (he doesn’t), it’s just an activty that gets him through the year. His only audience is casting agents who want a “Woody” on their client’s list.

  4. It does feel habitual rather than anything else. His European jaunts look to have been motivated by funding opportunities rather than anything else — he once swore never to film outside NYC.

  5. Poor old Brian Wilde…



  6. Yes, he was underrated, I feel. Still, a substantial run.

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