The Chills #5: What time is love?

The Clock 

Jules Dassin definitely deserves a Shadowplay Chills moment of his own. NIGHT AND THE CITY arguably has several — it certainly has the sweatiest leading man performance, from the atomic-powered Richard Widmark. Somebody recently described his character as a manic-depressive, and I thought that was probably a good diagnosis but it somehow takes away from the film. If Harry Fabian has a medical condition, his mistakes are not really his own. The left-leaning film-makers’ noirs tend to be very consciously about WRONG VALUES, like Joseph Losey’s THE PROWLER. They can be taken as a guide to how not to live your life, what not to desire. Maybe the best thing is to simultaneously hold the idea of Fabian as a psychologically tormented victim, and also, contrarily, as a product of a society that values success at any price — and it must be EXTRAVAGANT success.

The Crowd

A society.

Be that as it may, the clip I’ve plumped for is from the amazing 10.30PM SUMMER. Not everyone will approve. David Thomson, in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, recommends Dassin’s European art-house efforts as a cure for depression — he finds them unintentionally hilarious. I think Dassin is courageous for being unconcerned whether people like Thomson snicker.

The Old Crowd

Everybody’s a critic.

He’s attempting to fuse the qualities of European art-house movies — Antonioni, the nouvelle vague, the shade of Fellini’s TOBY DAMMIT to come, with the overwrought, operatic effusion of silent melodrama. Catalogue this one next to NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and MOONRISE as a headlong plunge into cinema antiquity, coupled with a few paths not followed — it’s a vision of cinema from an alternate universe. OK, maybe it’s a universe where people think Melina Mercouri looks good as a blonde, but with a little imagination we can all go there.

10.30PM SUMMER is available on DVD in France and the USA.

5 Responses to “The Chills #5: What time is love?”

  1. You like it a lot. I recall it as interesting. Duras hated it — and decided to become a director of her own work because of it.

  2. dcairns Says:

    Yeah, it doesn’t really correspond to her own style AT ALL, from the little I’ve seen, or to that of Hiroshima Mon Amour. All that heavu breathing was perhaps alien to her.

    Joseph Losey was at one point lined up to do it, but made Accident instead. He was reportedly gratified when not only did Accident do well, but Dassin’s film flopped bigtime. “It is not enough that I should succeed…”

  3. Losey was also going to do a Duras script called The Chaise Lounge, until she decided to do it herself as Destroy She Said.

    Also noteworthy:Julie Dassin (Jules’ daughter) starred in Duras’ first film La Musica (co-directed with Paul Seban) with Delphine Seyrig and Robert Hossein.

  4. dcairns Says:

    V. interesting…

    I’ve never heard any of Dassin’s son’s music, but I have seen him in Topkapi.

  5. […] Awhile back I posted some vague thoughts about 10.30 PM SUMMER, a 1966 Jules Dassin film written by Marguerite Duras which I love, although […]

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