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Cocktails for Six… the many heads of Carl Brisson. The Fritz Lang influence is much to the fore in early Hitch.

I only got twenty minutes into THE RING before fate intervened, and so I’m a bit behind viewing it — I’m just jotting some notes on the first twenty minutes so I can post something for Hitchcock Wednesday.

Lots of joy in this one already. Carl Brisson works well in a silent leading man role — it stops him singing, for one thing, and stops him talking like the Swedish Chef for another (see MURDER AT THE VANITIES for an unforgettable lesson in the camp value of a thick Danish accent). Plus he’s handsome, sensitive, and at the same time convincing as a boxer, no easy feat.

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And then there’s Gordon Harker (above), professional reanimated monkeycorpse and comic scene-stealer. Identical to his later INSPECTOR HORNLEIGH roles, except for the addition of a little hair on his head, he dominates the screen simply by walking like a constipated mantis, while his hands bobble up and down like toggles on the end of the loose strings of his arms. Apart from his physiognomic edge (lower lip seems to have been permanently distended by one of those plates affected by some African tribesmen), he snares our unwary eyes with nose-picking and other bits of business — nothing is too low for the man.

Generally rich and seedy fairground atmosphere, which Harker focusses like a magnifiying glass made of skin. Black extras used to literally “add colour”, but it doesn’t get offensively stereotyped*. It’s good to see them, actually: there are only a couple of significant black characters in later Hitch, and virtually all background artists are white.

*I’ve now watched the whole film. In one intertitle, a boxing promoter actually uses the “n” word. This struck me as startling, but defensible in the name of realism, and as part of the film’s slightly jaundiced view of the world of professional face-pummelling (the promoter’s not a very appealing character) in exactly the same way Joe Pesci’s racist language in RAGING BULL is part of the film’s milieu and his character. Brisson’s five boxing friends, an interchangeable array of plugs, include one black character — Hitch doesn’t caricature him any more than the others. I think we have to wait until LIFEBOAT for another black character in Hitchcock, and then until TOPAZ.

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4 Responses to “Placeholder”

  1. I know this clip is off topic (perhaps not entirely so). Anyway:

  2. And here’s where the picture track is stolen from.

  3. Perhaps Tarantino is to be applauded for sharing his enthusiasm for the work of other filmmakers.

    I love the full opening sequence in the Tarantino film for the depiction of time slipping away faster and faster, someone getting older, lost oppotunities and last chances. Poignant.

  4. Oh, I don’t use the word “stolen” in a pejorative sense, I use it as Hawks did. I find the borrowing a little too close in this case, but I like how QT’s sequence begins quite differently, with the long hold on the wall.

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