Archive for January 2, 2009

Vital titles

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by dcairns

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The ’30s was a GOLDEN AGE of titles, I tells ya! And that goes for logos too.

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Continental films is probably the most infamous of these, since they were a German company set up in Paris during the occupation. Filmmakers like Marcel L’Herbier and Maurice Tourneur made films there — while Tourneur’s son Jacques was making movies in Hollywood — but they were never political. Goebbels had said that French movies “should be light-hearted, frivolous and, if possible, stupid,” which suggests that he really missed his vocation as a Hollywood studio executive (a stressful job, but if it all goes wrong you can “return to your roots in community theater” rather than feeding cyanide to the wife and kids). All the filmmakers who worked at Continental were tainted by the connection to Germany, although they were no more guilty of collaboration than anyone whose work aided the economy — most of them felt they were struggling not only for their own survival, but to keep French film-making alive. See Bertrand Tavernier’s marvellous and funny LAISSER-PASSEZ for more details.

The biggest scandal was caused by Clouzot’s LE CORBEAU, of course. A tale of a poison-pen letter campaign in a small town, it was actually hated by the Germans, since it made anonymous denunciation look like a bad thing (although the S.S. were receiving so many anonymous tip-offs from the French citizenry, they couldn’t even investigate them all). London Radio pronounced a death sentence on Clouzot for this unpatriotic movie. After the war, as the denunciations continued, this time for collaboration (if you had annoying neighbours, the occupation and its aftermath was a golden opportunity to be rid of them) and LE CORBEAU was banned, with its director receiving a lifetime ban from film-making. This was later commuted to five years, and within three, Clouzot was back, with MANON — which is even more savage. “I directed it with my whole heart,” said Clouzot.

I Spy

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on January 2, 2009 by dcairns

Totally failed to notice that Moving Image Source’s Moments of 2008 has gone online, with me in it (as a contributor, not as a moment, alas). I now find myself in a piece along with Guy Maddin, Jonathan “J-Ro” Rosenbaum, Karina Longworth, regular Shadowplayer Christoph Huber, Mark Peranson, David Hudson and many other luminaries. As Shirley MacLaine says in SWEET CHARITY, “I’m the only one here I never heard of!”

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In keeping with the opening title theme, this is a shot from the start of Juraj Herz’s MORGIANA. Because Herz always gives good title.

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