A Frock and a Hard Place (with apologies to Twiggy)

I was forced to interrupt my viewing of my latest download, Robert Siodmak’s DEPORTED — a mob drama that forms part of See-Odd-Mack’s late-career movement out of studio-based noir stylisation and back to the location drama of his earliest work, notably PEOPLE ON SUNDAY — because Fiona wanted to watch the latest edition of Twiggy’s Frock Swap, or as I call it, That Stupid Woman Show.


But before I stopped, about halfway (not much was happening, I must admit) I was struck by the insane clashing patterns of this scene. Considering the film boasts Nathan Juran as art director and Orry-Kelly on gowns, it’s surprising something as visually jazzy and sore as this was allowed. I certainly don’t recall seeing anything as queasy in any other classic-era b&w Hollywood flick.

Adding to the slight sense of mal-de-mer, my download has the odd overdigitalised feel, where the figures sort of shimmer back and forth within their outlines, everything drifts imperceptibly as if you’ve been spinning around and have suddenly stopped, and the different parts of the images feel like cardboard cut-outs sliding past each other, the walls only a millimetre behind the flat, hinged actors…

Who needs drugs?

Who needs Twiggy?

16 Responses to “A Frock and a Hard Place (with apologies to Twiggy)”

  1. Here’s one that’s never been available in the States on VHS or DVD. Didn’t even know it existed until now. Saw The Rough and the Smooth a few years back, I can’t even tell you who was in it, what it was about, etc. Tried to trade it in to one of the local sellers of used CDs, DVDs and the like, he turned his nose up at it. I left both Twiggy and drugs behind me years ago, around the time of Bowie’s Pinups album. Just watched Thelma Jordon (that second “o” always throws people) recently, I recognize Rober at the bottom from that film. Stanwyck uses a car’s cigarette lighter to burn his face with, not as memorable as Lang’s coffee-in-the-face but still makes me wince.

  2. Yeah, the lighter in the eye is gross! Great ending: as Chris B said when he saw it, even a weak film noir tends to KICK IN at the end. I’m hoping Deported will do likewise when I finish it tonight.

    A Twiggy retrospective would throw up some interesting stuff: a thriller called W (M upside-down?) I believe, Freddie Francis’s The Doctor and the Devils, and of course The Buy Friend, Ken Russell’s response to his own The Devils.

  3. Ken said there was more backstage backbiting on The Boyfriend than any movie he’s ever made.
    W BTW (not to be confused with the current Oliver Stone megaflop) was Richard Quine’s swan song.

  4. Gents, consider my dilemma. This Friday here in Motown two silent films will be shown at two different venues. One is The Phantom of the Opera, at a Methodist church perhaps a mile away, with live organ accompaniment. The other is von Sternberg’s The Last Command, a brand new 35MM print with music by The Alloy Orchestra, at the Detroit Institute of Art. I had made plans on seeing The Phantom, until I discovered the showing of the other film. Also, von Sternberg’s Underworld plays Saturday night, same applies, minty 35MM, Alloy O. Seen it, but on TCM.

  5. Whew!

    Phantom is a barrel of laughs (saw it with live orchestral accompaniment under the baton of Carl Davis, a blast) but the Sternberg is the superior film, and much the rarer. Underworld never seems to turn up either — I have a super-fuzzy VHS and a sharper German off-air with krautish intertitles. Since image quality really MATTERS with Jo Von S, I treid running both at once, channel-hopping back and forth to catch the English intertitles, but one had been speed-corrected for 20fps and the other still moved like Keystone Kops, so that scheme collapsed like your proverbial banking system. Ended up watching in German, rewatching the English ending to figure out what happened.

    It has the best final intertitle dialogue EVER (courtesy of Ben Hecht).

    Twiggy’s difficulty with her VO in that frock show makes me wonder how she ever got hired for movies — but she is better face-to-face than reading stuff out.

  6. Re. Twiggy, is that her actual singing voice? Not bad, I must say, if it is.

  7. Don’t diss Twiggy! She was amazing in those Marks & Spencer ads!


    Though let’s all agree to ignore Club Paradise!

  8. I’d go with The Last Commnad.

    I saw Twiggy live on stage with Tommy Tune in My One and Only — Tommy’s rendition of Funny Face. That’s yes her voice. And singing and dancing with Tommy she was superb. So beautiful I was weeeping at the final curtain. (I do that when I’m happy.)

  9. I do intend to use Phantom of the Opera as an Intertitle of the Week soon, because there’s on in there that’s a favourite with Fiona and I. But Last Comm has the edge cinematically.

  10. I will be seeing The Last Command, all this recent talk of Jo von has me piqued. The friend who invited me to The Phantom understands perfectly, he’d go too were it not for the commitment he’s made to others. David E., do you remember a store in Manhattan called Cinemabilia? My friend once worked there, from the late Seventies to the late Eighties. He has an incredible library of books on film, fills an entire room’s walls from floor to ceiling, not to mention large original posters from Les Enfants du Paradis and Moontide (a six-sheet), The Lady Eve and others I’m sure. When I spoke of you in conversation he recalled your name, pulled out one of your books, don’t recall the title, but it was from 1998 I believe.

  11. I remember Cinemabilia very well indeed.

  12. I myself used to work in the Cinema Bookshop in Edinburgh’s Filmhouse. I wonder if any readers were ever my customers. I did serve Ken Campbell (film dictionary), comedian Rhona Cameron (Bride of Frankenstein poster — “my alter ego”) and Terence Stamp (postcards — swapped it for an autograph).

  13. My friend’s name is David Hill, he regales me with Cinemabilia stories all the time. He would hate it when some well-known face or name would come into the store and inquire after some unmarked item. Hate it because the owner would come up with some inflated figure thinking that because they were well-known and successful they’d be willing to pay that gouge price. David would sell things far more reasonably when he wasn’t there. The store went under after the City of New York decided to impose sales tax on innumerable back issues of magazines, magazines already sold. Broke the proverbial camel’s back.

  14. John Overall Says:

    Wow, thank you! I’ve wondered for years what happened to Cinemabilia, great name and really interesting store. It seems like such an absurdly sad way to go out of business, but I guess it happened to Al Capone and countless others. There are places with stills, and places with posters, but it was unique.

    What happened to all the “stuff”?

    Does anyone remember Twiggy’s Jukebox, a UK import along with Supersonic?

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