Archive for January 12, 2009

Stock Company

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2009 by dcairns

After worrying about the vexatious question of KING KONG/SON OF KONG stock footage in CITIZEN KANE, it’s a pleasure to pin down another example of stock footage in an RKO movie.

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The ship in KING KONG, the Venture.

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The ship in Val Lewton and Mark Robson’s THE GHOST SHIP — the Erutnev.

Not really, of course. It’s the same ship, same footage, flipped into mirror-world by the optical printer in order to create a different shot for the Lewton movie. We’ve heard for ages that Lewton was ordered to make a shipboard movie in order to make use of an existing set — was the set the ship from KONG too? It seems unlikely that it would still be in place ten years after Cooper and Schoedsack’s ape movie was shot, although the Skull Island gate was apparently still there by the time they started shooting GONE WITH THE WIND in 1938-9, when they supposedly set fire to it as part of the burning of Atlanta (what colossal threat did the antebellum Atlantans fear so much that they constructed this giant barrier? Perhaps the thought of a 50ft high black guy carrying off white women was preying on their superstitious native minds.)

Unfortunately, all ships look alike to me, so I find it hard to tell if the deck of the Kong boat is the same as that in Lewton’s modest masterpiece — I will leave this to someone more nautically expert.

Walk into The Trap

Posted in Politics, Science, Television with tags , , on January 12, 2009 by dcairns

Three hours of terrifying pleasure for you — Adam Curtis’ rather brilliant TV documentary series THE TRAP. Trust me to require an American to alert me to the existence of a BBC production — Comrade K, the Brooklyn Guerrilla, notified me about this excellent and mind-popping series, and while we agree that Curtis’s musical choices are often a mite monotonous and hackneyed (filmmakers: NEVER use any piece of music you already associate with a film or TV show, unless you’re engaged in parody), his imagery is often striking, and above all else his ideas are sharp, unconventional, and crisply expressed.

By the end of part one, brains will be buzzing, nerves will be jangling, eyes will be darting this way and that, looking over shoulders at the approaching thought police.