Noblesse Oblige


“And now, those headlines again, in meat form.”

NO BLADE OF GRASS, is the latest film profiled by me over at BritMovie — head on over, but leave comments here if you have any. Was Cornel Wilde a great primitive, or just not very good?


15 Responses to “Noblesse Oblige”

  1. Something about this film calls to mind Soylent Green, another sci-fi film from around the same time period, maybe because the lead with the eyepatch reminds me of Heston. Another one that fell through the cracks, I wouldn’t even know it existed were it not for your bringing it to our attention. Curious as to why it was made in England, even though its director and his wife are American, budgetary reasons I suppose. Jean Wallace is an odd presence in films, would she have had a film career at all were it not for her husband? I’ve seen The Big Combo of course, but have you seen Storm Fear? Not bad, worth a look, I need to revisit it. And TCM did show Wilde’s The Naked Prey on at least one occasion these past couple years. After it received the Criterion Treatment I had to watch it to see why. I enjoyed it, it had handsome cinematography, and while I can’t recall much in the way of details, I recall a sleek storyline that moved along at a pretty brisk pace.

  2. I have been a fan of Wilde’s astonishingly weird war movie Beach Red for years, but having read your piece on No Blade of Grass I’m beginning to question whether the weirdness I enjoyed was entirely deliberate, the work as I thought of an unschooled Sam Fuller-style primitive, or just Wilde not really being entirely sure what he was up to. I’ll have to go back and have another look.

  3. I was assuming the book was British, but they seem to have changed it a fair bit, so why not relocate? Mystery.

    I like Jean Wallace a lot in The Big Combo, I don’t see why she shouldn’t have had a career independent of Wilde, but maybe he prevented that.

    Haven’t seen Storm Fear, but i love the title!

    Soylent Green is pretty good for late Fleischer (just acquired Mandingo and Che! so we’ll see what can be said there…) Great work from Eddie G Robinson, and Heston does pretty well. Authot Harry Harrison was disparaging — his point was that such a future was not inevitable if birth control were practiced sensibly, but the studio couldn’t bring themselves to allow any mention of THAT.

    The Naked Prey does have a very good rep, I’d be interested to see it sometime. This one doesn’t make me want to spend money on it, but I don’t know, there’s something there.

  4. Oh, I heard good stuff about Beach Red too. I guess there’s something interesting going on with Wilde. This one was unusual enough, in its cack-handed way, to make me think there was some kind of talent, or at least good intent, that had somehow gone awry.

  5. OMG, as the young people seem to say – Mandingo is absolutely top-to-bottom excellent, you have a treat in store (mind you it’s well over a decade since I saw it, but as I recall even just the James Mason scenes by themselves are worth the price of admission).

  6. I’ve seen it, but not under ideal conditions, and I feel I need to re-experience it with a mind unclouded by prejudice or strong liquor. Enough people have raved about it, God know.

  7. The one scene from Mandingo that’s stayed with me all these years (I saw it in the theater when it was first released) has to do with Mason sitting ill with fever on a porch with his feet resting on a young black boy lying below him. Shortly thereafter we see the boy running, then feigning illness as he rounds the corner of the outdoor porch, now within sight of Mason. The fever passed through Mason’s feet into the body of the boy. Medical science has come a long way since the days of the old plantations.

  8. I recall mason lying in bed with the boy draped across his feet. I thought that was just how he kept his feet warm, didn’t realise it was some kind of warped medical intervention.

    I thought, what’s wrong with socks? It’s not like they’re short of cotton.

  9. It’s as you remembered, Mason is in bed: “You gotta keep your feet pressed hard on his belly now so the rheumatiz drains right out’n the soles, alright?” Unfortunately, the clip doesn’t provide us with the end result:

  10. Let’s try this again:

  11. Good article, David. I love that phrase about Lynn Frederick’s “wet beau.” It gives me visions of mid-’30s Mae West singing “My Wet Beau, / He never did seem in-the-know …”

    I think it was that scene with the footage of actual African famine-sufferers that made me hate “No Blade of Grass” when I saw it in the theater in the ’70s. Ham-fisted. Ugly.

    Perhaps “No Blade of Grass” is best considered in context with the Ray Milland-directed “Panic in the Year Zero.” Both feature civilization falling apart, rape, chaos, and a patriarch trying to hold thing together.

    Now if only I could remember whether the bikers in that godawful movie version of “The Serial” — chief among its crimes: wasting Tuesday Weld — had horns on their helmets.

  12. How is it even POSSIBLE to waste Tuesday Weld? Is she wearing a burkha?

    I sympathise re the famine footage. That whole scene is clumsy and offensive.

    I don’t think I ever saw the Milland movie, how is it? I saw Zero Population Growth as a kid but don’t remember anything. I’m doing another apocalypse for the next Forgotten.

    “My wet beau / He was awful slow / No get-up-and-go / So I gave him the old heave-ho…”

  13. I watched this a couple of weeks ago, despite warnings not to, as I loved the book (by John Christopher, being republished as a Penguin Classic in a few months). Since I loved the book, I couldn’t bear the film, which gets everything wrong. Having said that, I love me some apocalypses (written or otherwise)..I also came to tell you I’ve Premier Dardos’d you, but somebody beat we to it. Ah, well: if you’re interested.

  14. David,
    You are indeed a man, aren’t you?

  15. I seem to possess the necessary requirements for that description, yes.

    I might try some John Christopher, he’s one of those scifi authors who had a strong rep and then faded from prominence. I’m sure he’s good.

    Look out for more apocalypse in the next edition of The Forgotten on Thursday.

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