Archive for October 10, 2008

Pin-up of the Day: Britt Ekland

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by dcairns

From ENDLESS NIGHT.

Ah, Britt Ekland and a starburst filter. They go together like, like Michael Winterbottom movies and suddenly losing all will to carry on living.

As Jonathan Ross said to Britt, after referring to her famous dance in THE WICKER MAN, “thank you for helping me through those difficult teenage years.”

Caution: not “work safe” –

I first saw THE WICKER MAN late one Friday night on a b&w portable TV in my bedroom. Typically it was a Hammer horror or something similar. As a teenager I would watch the late (10.30pm) movie on STV, and if it wasn’t good I’d retune the set to Grampian, a channel that broadcasts to the Highlands, but which could just about be received, in crackly form, from my aerial. If the second movie wasn’t good I would just go back and forth between the two bad movies, hoping for “good bits”. These would either be the arresting images that can crop up even in the lamest horror film, or glimpses of nudity.

And then THE WICKER MAN shows up and completely blows my mind. This was no glimpse! “She’s totally naked  and this is going on for AGES!” I thought, in so far as I was capable of thought at the time. Only rarely would I discover scenes like this. It didn’t have to be nudity. I remember the kissing scene with Monroe and Curtis in SOME LIKE IT HOT impressed me as powerfully erotic, although the fact that it kept cutting to Jack Lemmon dancing with Joe E Brown was somewhat off-putting.

Interestingly, Britt appears in a second prolonged bit of ’70s erotica — in GET CARTER. Although that, too, is rudely interrupted: “What’s the matter with you, tummy trouble?”

Anyhow, here’s to Britt.

The horn.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by dcairns

Sexy musical instruments from Sidney Gilliat’s ENDLESS NIGHT, a weird Agatha Christie adaptation from the early ’70s. These shots function as cutaways during a passionate shagging scene, and each gets its own little nod (well, crashing paroxysm) from Bernard Herrman’s insanely overwrought score.

Of course there are a thousand reasons why this scene is vulgar and ludicrous, but several reasons why it makes sense and is appropriate, too. And those reasons win. In that way it’s a bit Ken Russell-like.

I would show you some of the hot action that appears between each of the instrument shots, but that would be an absolutely massive plot spoiler, and the film is well worth seeking out and enjoying. Gilliat, having co-authored THE LADY VANISHES for Hitchcock, had clearly been paying attention to Hitch’s oversees adventures, and this is one of the few films I can think of with VERTIGO’s vaulting ambition to break new ground in the realm of the romantic thriller. There are plenty of VERTIGO rip-offs out there, from Jonathan Demme’s partly-successful LAST EMBRACE, to Brian DePalma’s… well, there are too many DePalmas to mention, but let OBSESSION stand for the best of them. But the difference between borrowing from VERTIGO and emulating it is like the difference between calling yourself Christian and actually trying to be like Christ.

Anyhow, Gilliat’s film doesn’t really approach VERTIGO’s greatness at all, but it does set out to be as daring visually, and that’s a rare thing. Gilliat and his partner Faank Launder had these moments of wild ambition thorughout their lengthy careers, but only intermittently. I SEE A DARK STRANGER is the other strongest one.

They also had their smutty moments. From the somewhat-inappropriate teen rudery of the ST TRINIANS series (which tapered to a grotesque conclusion with the softcore misery of WILDCATS OF ST TRINIANS), to the desert island suggestiveness of THE BLUE LAGOON, they were, along with Val Guest and Terence Fisher, at the forefront of the battle to get sex onto British screens. More on these erotic pioneers later.

The Miracle of Birth

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by dcairns

My birthday today — I made out like a bandit!

Actually the 2001 and Lubitsch set were swaps I made with Comrade K, the Brooklyn Brahman, but they arrived just before the big day, so I’m including them. The Nick Ray films came from my folks, who are superb people. One doesn’t like to brag, but I think I exercised superb judgement in arranging to be born to such a couple.

The DVD of THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (LES AMANTS DE LA NUIT to the French, a pretty good alternative title, although reverting to the original THIEVES LIKE US might have been an idea too) comes complete with I’M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF, a terrific documentary on Ray as he shoots his final feature (discounting as one surely must Wim Wenders’s NICK’S MOVIE/LIGHTNING OVER WATER) WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN. And to add to the sense of a Nick Ray festival chez Shadowplay, I recently acquired a copy of WE CAN’T GO, as well as two edits of THE JANITOR, Ray’s late-period short made for the porno-art anthology film WET DREAMS. Which should make an interesting posting for the forthcoming Sexy Week here at Shadowplay.

As will those lubricious Lubitsch musicals…

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