Archive for March 28, 2008

Quote of the Day: Raoul Walsh, storyteller

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , on March 28, 2008 by dcairns

Today’s story is a believe-it-if-you-like story, as Mr. Lindores, my old headmaster, used to say in morning assembly at Parsons Green Primary School.

Meeting Raoul

Raoul Walsh.

‘D.W. Griffith had a stock company — 4 or 5 of us, 3 or 4 girls — and one day he asked me if I would like to go to Mexico and film some battle scenes. I said I would, and he said, “Well, you’re going to go and meet a very notorious bandit. You’re going to meet Pancho Villa. And I may as well tell you this: we’ve had a very sad experience. We had Villa under contract through Mutual, and they signed Pancho Villa up for $500 a week. So I must tell you that Mutual sent a Mr. Doaks or somebody down to meet Pancho Villa with a check for $500 and we never heard anything more from him.”

‘So I said to Mr. Griffith, “What am I going there for — to find Mr. Doaks?” And he said, “No, no, no. You’re going to meet a Mr. So-and-so at the Del Norte Hotel in El Paso and they will have $500 in gold for you to give to this bandit…”


D.W. Griffith.

‘By the way, before I went down, Griffith told me, “You know, we have no story to do of Villa’s life, so while you are on the train you will probably think up some story. Either that or get shot.” So I kept thinking about stories on the way down. I had nothing else to do. I kept about 8 possible stories in mind until I could see this bum and see how he would react. They led me in to Villa, and he was sitting there with his goddamn bug hat on and he was loaded with bullets and guns and he had a big black moustache.

Viva Villa!

Pancho Villa.

‘The interpreter started palavering. “Why did you come?” he said. “With the $500,” I said, and I opened the bag and showed it to him. Ah, they were tickled to death. And they came over and looked down and saw the money. Ah yes, gold!

‘So then this fellow says, “What do you want to do with my general?” I said, “I want to make a story of the general’s life,” and he told that to the general and then he said, “The general is interested. Tell me the general’s life. He wants to hear it too.”

‘Well, a couple of guards are at the door and a guard is at the window, and I thought, “Hell, I’m never going to get out of here. Why did I come? So I told him the general’s life [. . .]

Then this handsome young boy, with this terrible calamity that hit him just in the prime of life — I said he stood there before his mother and vowed to kill Federal after Federal until the whole army was wiped out. And I said that from then on the general had hatred, just nothing but hatred, for the Federals. And he decided to collect an army, and he went from town to town to tell them what these Federals did to his family, what they did to the poor, what they did to this, what they did to that, and I said that finally he got a great following of people. And I said that they’re here in Juarez right now, and here is the general who accomplished all this. And he got up and shook hands with me.

‘We actually made the picture. It was called THE LIFE OF VILLA, and I played the young Villa myself.’

~ Raoul Walsh, talking to the Yale Alumni Magazine, June 72. Quoted in Film Makers Speak, edited by Jan Leyda.

A Lion is in the Streets


Is it just me…

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2008 by dcairns

Something Wicked This Way Comes... 

…or does Mike Leigh’s new film, HAPPY GO LUCKY, look incredibly awful and annoying? If you’ve seen the trailer you surely agree.

As usual, you can tell the lead actress is actually really good and charismatic, only she’s smothering her appeal in a patina of affected “theatrical” Mike-Leighism. Horrible horrible horrible.

In an attempt to be “cinematic” Leigh has decorated this one with brightly coloured turquoise and magenta bunting. It makes me want to inject codeine into my eyeballs.

And what rough beast it's hour come round at last shambles toward Bethelhem to be born?

People keep telling me I would really like TOPSY TURVY and maybe I would, and I haven’t purposely avoided seeing it, but I refuse to give any money to the man who made all those other appalling flicks, so I’m dependant on it turning up on TV. Suspiciously, none of the people who tell me I’d really like it actually own copies they can lend me.

I hate Mike Leigh’s stuff! Rather than giving him money to make films, the Film Council or Film4 or whoever should actually send him one of Timothy Spall’s fingers whenever he releases anything. He should be allowed to do theatre, where posh people can come and see Leigh’s quaint ideas of what working class people are like, for their amusement and edification. Or else he should just run a zoo, with Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn in the cages.

Do Not Feed The Spall.

How can these terrified vague fingers push the feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

I’m being mean. I don’t like to be mean. But nothing I say can harm Leigh. He will go on making films, and on, and on. Some of them will be quite successful. He will complain they don’t get good enough distribution, so people in housing estates can come and see his quaint portrayals of what life is like on a housing estate.

In case he runs out of titles, here are a few that he can apply randomly to his next projects: MUSTN’T GRUMBLE; STONE THE CROWS; DEAR ME; WHOOPS A DAISY; YOU’VE GOT TO LAUGH; A NICE CUP OF TEA.

Whew. Sorry. Just had to vent.

Like one who on a lonesome road doth walk in fear and dread

(Since I could not bring myself to use any images from his films, this post has been lavishly illustrated with images of actual cinema.)