Intertitle of the Week: L’Enfant Sausage

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From Cecil B. DeMille’s THE GODLESS GIRL, a rather smart piece of Christian propaganda. The title refers to a daring frankfurter-based prison break perpetrated by the protags.

Sorry, I forget who suggested this — was it Paul? Thanks anyway! Great intertitle. And I like the shaft of heavenly light behind the lettering.

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44 Responses to “Intertitle of the Week: L’Enfant Sausage”

  1. Arthur S. Says:

    Neat.

    Is the film any good?

  2. I think it’s one of DeMille’s smarter films. Mitchell Leisen designed it, in a low-key style as suits it. Very exciting inferno climax — DeMille can’t resist a bit of spectacle, but it’s all thematically unified and quite effective.

  3. ‘Twas me who suggested it. What a proud moment this is in my abject life. The film is a lot of melodramatic, have-your-cake-and-eat-the-file-baked-into-it fun. I love the inferno at the end, what with the electrified screw, and all. I hadn’t realised Leisen designed it. Did you watch the two-part de Mille documentary over Christmas, David? It was highly entertaining.

  4. Yes, good old Brownlow. Although, I saw it earlier, not over Christmas. Somebody should really give Kevin Brownlow a billion dollars to make the ultimate history of film or something. He’s a big part of the reason I got into cinema.

  5. I was lucky enough to be present at a screening of his restored Napoleon with full Carl Davis in support a few years back – if he’d only ever been responsible for that one act of cinematic beauty, it should be enough by itself to warrant his canonisation, but that plus It Happened Here, plus all the documentaries – it is an extraordinary body of work. Also, his series on silent cinema was constantly on Irish tv when I was a lad, and played a massive part in my love for film, particularly of the maudit variety. We all owe him a massive debt, don’t we?

  6. Absolutely. Somebody gave me his company phone number once, and I kept meaning to call him up and tell him that, and then I lost the number.

    Hollywood is the show that did it for me. An astonishing, epic show.

    The odd thing about Carl Davis is I’ve never really liked any of his scores for talkies. But I just saw Topsy Turvy and his work on that is good — it’s the only Mike Leigh film with a sense of how to use music.

  7. Hi David just saw CHE part I which I rather enjoyed – there is small revolutionary Frida cat a like in a night scene. Much ASTHMA though so I want your report on whether Soderberg and Del Toro get it right…

  8. Brownlow got you into cinema? I find that odd as he’s decidedly humorless, IMO.

  9. M — I’ll check Che for asthma-accuracy. I’m a connoisseur of movie wheezing.

    Brownlow doesn’t really have an active sense of humour in his work, but he introduced me to Keaton and Arbuckle (I’d already found Chaplin and Lloyd in the TV schedules). There are probably lots of areas where I’d disagree with him (he was a Riefenstahl supporter!) or find his take on things less than sympatico (he loves the late 20s above all else — I love them too, but the 30s and 60s and Britain in the mid-40s and the US in the 70s are also up there for me). But as a concentrated, erudite and passionate introduction to cinema, his Hollywood series can’t be beat — and some of his interviewees are VERY funny.

  10. Raymond Durgnat was what really got me into the cinema.

  11. Particularly for THIS piece.

  12. Arthur S. Says:

    I really got into cinema by way of Truffaut’s ”The Films in My Life”. He wrote as if cinema was the greatest thing ever invented and next to it, nothing mattered. And his reviews made a neat to-see list. ”Godard on Godard” was also important(especially that masterpiece of his review ”The Wrong Man”). Durgnat is also a terrific writer.

    I’m with David E. on Brownlow, very humourless writer. I tried to read his ”The Parade’s Gone By” and it put me to sleep. I much prefer ”Unknown Chaplin” a great work of criticism on film narrated by the great James Mason.

  13. Well, the thing with Brownlow was that his TV shows have the colossal advantage of being able to present lengthy extracts of what he’s interested in. As a teenager, probably no critical works would have had the impact that seeing scenes from The Wind and The Thief of Bagdad and The General had on me. Even the fact that they were extracts helped — at that age, I might not have voluntarily sat down to watch The Crowd all the way through. After seeing his edited highlights, I was longing to have the opportunity.

    Durgnat and Truffaut are certainly better critical writers, but Brownlow’s services in restoring and popularizing silent cinema are almost unmatched.

  14. Arthur S. Says:

    Don’t get me wrong I think Brownlow’s work in restoring silent cinema is supremely commendable and he deserves a knighthood or Oscar or any such thing for his work. Langlois got an Oscar for his work after all. I was merely talking about his work as a critical writer. I also think his film ”Winstanley” is very special and his first film ”It Happened Here” inspired Peter Watkins(who was an assistant on that film) to take to the fictional documentary approach.

    I was just talking about his work as a critical writer that’s all. That’s obviously not the only thing he’s done of which we are all grateful. Lot of people got into silent film through him I guess though I never needed any guide. I wanted to know what the big deal was with Charlie Chaplin, I had seen and liked ”Monsieur Verdoux”(one of cinema’s finest performances) and I wanted to see the silents. There was a showing of ”City Lights”, I also saw ”Sherlock, Jr.” the same day. Rest – History.

    The thing with Truffaut was that he was both a writer and a film-maker and you could read his pieces and see the films he made. It was fascinating to see the way an artist’s absorbed influences and the films he create which for all the requisite hommages and references are singular, individual efforts. In his piece about ”Monsieur Ripois” by Rene Clement(I haven’t seen it) he trashes the film but talks a lot about adapting literature and his piece on ”The Barefoot Contessa” trashes all those Gerard Philippe adaptations of Stendhal while noting the similarities with that film and ”Armance”. This led to the singular way he tackled literary adaptations in his films(everyone from Ray Bradbury to Henry James).

  15. I agree that Truffaut’s reviews have a lot of interest for what they tell us about the kind of filmmaker he wanted to be. Have seen one of those Stendhals — it’s by Christian-Jques, and it’s not bad. Glossy rather than great, but entertaining and stylish. I must write more about C-J.

    I like The Parade’s Gone By, but I don’t really see it as a work of criticism. I enjoy the interviews, it gives a great insight into filmmaking in that period. I see Brownlow more as the master of ceremonies than as the author.

  16. Arthur S. Says:

    Marie-Henri Beyle(like F. W. Plumpe 100 years later, he picked it up from a German town he liked) has never been served well on cinema. Bertolucci’s ”Before The Revolution” is a loose adaptation of ”La Chartreuse de Parme” and that’s great but that isn’t what I’m looking for. I’m a huge Stendhal fan.

  17. Stendahl, Murnau, and Eric Morecombe, excellent.

    Have you seen the Christian-Jaque? Gerard is always great, and it has Maria Casares…

  18. Arthur S. Says:

    Well as a super-production kitsch art film I suppose it’s well made and Philippe does have good presence. Casares isn’t bad. Once you forget that it’s an adaptation of one of the greatest novels ever written it has it’s moments.

    The thing about the book is the modernity of it. The opening war scenes are so frenzied and full of black humour(which is what I love about his books), it’s like a Sam Fuller film years in advance. And this adaptation regresses it to the tradition Stendhal was breaking away from. It inspired the war scenes in Tolstoy’s book about Peace.

  19. I’m so ill-read… sounds great though.

    I don’t think C-J would really be up to great literature, but he’s a lively filmmaker whose stuff always seems to be attractive. For visual values I probably prefer him to some of the nouvelle vague. But I need to try more of his films, starting with Un Revenant.

  20. Arthur S. Says:

    I’m not well read either, just select writers – Joyce, Kafka, Melville, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Stendhal and Nathanael West(but he wrote very little).

  21. Bertolucci’s ”Before The Revolution” is a favourite film of mine.
    I like Truffaut’s film criticism. I’m also very fond of Gilbert Adair’s writing on film.
    By the way, has anyone seen anything by Peter Nestler? The only one I have seen is Menschen in Sheffield.

  22. Apropos Stendhal, Rossellini’s “Vanina Vanini” is worth seeing. The film is based on a story by Stendhal. I am not a huge fan of Stendhal. I prefer Joyce, Proust and Flaubert.

  23. Haven’t seen any Nestler, but that title is funny!

    Sigh, I’m so ill-read… I just did my first Nat West though (Miss Lonelyhearts, naturally). Am currently on Kipling. Gotta score some of these French and Russian dudes, only one I’ve touched on is Bulgakov.

  24. The Nestler documentary is very good. It’s also called Ein Arbeiterclub in Sheffield. If I recall, a youngish Bernard Manning appears in it, doing a stage act.

  25. Arthur S. Says:

    Bulgakov’s ”The Master and the Margharita”, a retelling of Faust set in Godless USSR is terrific stuff. Marianne Faithfull handed a copy of the book to Mick Jagger…the result, everyone’s favourite Satanic ballad. Funny I have read a lot after all.

    West is one of my favourites because he was one of the first writers who made me aware that you could be an artist with prose in a way a painter or a musician can but your subject matter can be immediate, day-to-day and unglamarous. Very much like Joyce but without the epic scope. It’s very baroque, it feels like the words are sculpted somehow and it creates a unique feeling of humour and horror and a profoundly bleak tone. ”Miss Lonelyhearts” is his best but ”The Day of the Locust” and ”A Cool Million” are also great works. The latter book is very, very creepy. President Shagpoke is George II years before the fact.

    ”Vanina Vanini” should have been great but the film got really messed up in the editing. It was the first time Rossellini worked with Jean Gruault the great screenwriter and it paved the way for the masterpiece that is coming out on Criterion this month. So it did lead to some good.

  26. I love Master & Margarita. Have had a copy of the film for years but never felt like looking It can’t live up to the novel.

    I have A Cool Million in the same volume as Miss L, so I should try that. The movie of Day of the Locust is rather impressive — kind of misses the humour, but hits the horror dead-on.

    Rossellini is still on my to-do list.

  27. You know, about sausages… In Korda’s Thief of Bagdad, Sabu blows one of his three wishes on sausages, we’re shown him literally lifting them out of the sizzling skillet (how does that Genie do it?). Come forward a few years. In Black Narcissus, Ayah, the old woman, asks The Old General (Esmond Knight), “What do they eat? How do I know what nuns eat?” Her directs her to the window, where they look down below. “Do you see that crate? Sausages. They will eat sausages. Europeans eat sausages wherever they go”. Having been raised in the States I wouldn’t know. But am I wrong, or do I detect a link here?

  28. Arthur S. Says:

    Start with ”La Prise du Pouvoir par Louis XIV”. It’s one of the best historical films ever made and it’s a film that totally escapes the baggage of period films plunging you directly to the immediacy of the late 17th Century France where Louis is worried that he might lose his head like his Uncle Charlie in England and wonders how to suppress the Fronde. His answer – Fashion!!! It’s a really hilarious and witty film. And Tag Gallagher points out that since everyone acts out of fear, it’s really a horror film about politics. It’s coming on Criterion finally.

    Rossellini’s films are generally quite serious so they’d be a little out of place in the celebration of eccentricity that is the principle of this blog but ”Louis XIV” is right up the alley.

  29. Another very good and rousing Rossellini is Viva l’Italia. He also made a humorous and eccentric documentary about Sicily called “Idea di un’isola”, which I like as much as the more famous “India”.

  30. Well, Pressburger would have been surrounded by sausage-eating Europeans in his youth in Austro-Hungary. And the Brits do like a pork link or two. Maybe it was Powell’s favourite — his films are full of his tastes, his dogs, his personality.

    The Rossellini sounds great. The one I have closest to hand in a good format is St Francis. I don’t mind serious films — part of this blog’s remit is to contort itself to fit any kind of cinema that passes before my eyes, so I like the challenge of more solemn work.

  31. Arthur S. Says:

    Well ”The Flowers of St. Francis”(which Pasolini rightly called the most beautiful film ever made) is also very funny, especially the antics of San Ginepro. It looks at the Brothers of Friars Minor as if they were medieval hippies. Which they are somewhat.

    Rossellini himself was a prankster, immensely manipulative and a first-rate hustler not as solemn and serious as his films. Like for Fellini’s silent cameo in ”The Miracle”, his hair had to be bleached blonde, so Rossellini told the barber that Fellini was a pederast. Then he used to be very arrogant and haughty towards the work his colleagues did after him. For instance he expressed amazement that Fellini wanted his own career rather than making films for him, which were low-budget historical films for television. Even Gruault was cast out because he made films with “the decadent aesthete” Alain Resnais. And Rossellini praised ”La Terra Trema” by his rival Visconti because he liked the fact that Visconti learned from his films.

  32. One of the most moving scenes in The Flowers of St. Francis is when Francis encounters the leper:

  33. Arthur S. Says:

    Of course, goes without saying. Martin Scorsese says that it is the single most fearless depiction of compassion that he knows. And the bit with Francis crying on the meadow surrounded by those flowers is magnificently beautiful.

    But more moving to me is the one about Francis talking about perfect happiness. It has the simplicity and ambiguity of Jesus’ parables.

  34. I’ll have to watch it — on its own the scene doesn’t move me much — Francis seems to be bothering the poor leper, he doesn’t help the man, or even try to ask what might be helpful, he just forces the guy into a hug. From this scene, it looks like Francis is taking something FROM the leper, rather than offering anything. But I need to watch the film.

  35. I watched ”The Flowers of St. Francis” again recently. I suppose that one might argue that there is something slightly faux-naïf with Rossellini’s depiction.
    François Truffaut called it the most beautiful film in the world. I’m not sure I would agree. I can think of other beautiful films like Barnet’s By the Bluest of Seas, for example.

  36. The Barnet didn’t really do it for me. Great seascapes and editing to music, but as my companion said, with Stalin-era comedies there’s an atmosphere of terror lurking behind the performances… I want to see more Barnet though, because I’ve heard great things.

    The “most beautiful film” line was originally applied to The Outlaw and His Wife, which is indeed lovely. If we take the term to mean some combination of cinematic beauty and beauty of intention, of spirit, if you will, then I might lean towards something like Chimes at Midnight.

  37. Chimes at Midnight is a beautiful film. Another film I might nominate is Ophuls’ Le plaisir Or Godard’s Eloge de l’amour.

  38. Haven’t seen Eloge yet, but a big yes to the Ophuls. There are a few Ophuls that could qualify, but that one has the scene in the church…

  39. Yes indeed, that scene in the church is something special.

  40. Another film I am fond of for its interesting combination of violence and serenity is Don Siegel’s Charley Varrick.

  41. Was just discussing Two Mules For Sister Sarah with Fiona. “I love that film, for some reason,” she said. I know, anything with a nun — but I might try her with some other Siegels. Don’t think she’s seen Varrick. We both hugely admire Andy Robinson, who should’ve been given more breaks.

  42. Funny you should mention Two Mules For Sister Sarah, I was just thinking about Budd Boetticher and The Tall T, with that famous last line “Come on, now. It’s gonna be a nice day.” Boetticher was a writer on Two Mules. I like his films.

  43. I still have to have my Damiscene moment with Budd. His films turn up on Channel 5 all the time but I think I’ll try and download a good copy of a reputable one to start off on a high note.

  44. Along with Budd’s Randolph Scott western series, I like The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond.

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