Equine Symmetry


From A BORING AFTERNOON, a short by Ivan Passer, made for the Czech new wave compendium film PEARLS FROM THE DEEP, but omitted from the final cut. Such a beautiful image I had to share it.

Passer has had a wobbly career since the ’60s and INTIMATE LIGHTING. His mate Milos Forman would get him meetings with studio honchos, and Passer would turn up drunk and insult them. Still, I’m thinking I should check out some of his later work and see what’s what.

12 Responses to “Equine Symmetry”

  1. Well, I do love “Cutter’s Way,” which stands up well as a latter-day neo-noir. I was struck by a passing television encounter with “Ace Up My Sleve”–a.k.a.–“Crime of Passsion,” though I have no idea whether that was a good mood of mine or genuine worth in the picture. (James Hadley Chase … he does seem to bring out the singularities in filmmakers!)

    People I esteem think highly of “Born To Win.” Alas, though, I’ve yet to find myself in the same room with it.

  2. Cutter’s Way certainly has an intriguing rep, and good names associated with it. I have a TV movie called Fourth Story or something, which gets very enthusiastic reviews on the IMDb. Love Intimate Lighting, so it’s nice to think there’s more of IP to enjoy.

  3. Brad Stevens Says:

    Passer is very underrated. Your description of him turning up drunk for meetings and insulting studio honchos makes me wonder if Alex Cutter in CUTTER’S WAY is something of a self-portrait. CUTTER’S WAY (based on Newton Thornburg’s extraordinary novel CUTTER AND BONE), BORN TO WIN and AN ACE UP MY SLEEVE are all remarkable, as is HAUNTED SUMMER, one of a series of bizarre auteur films produced by Cannon (few of which have made it to DVD). He’s also one of the most notable directors to have used the Alan Smithee pseudonym (on WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS, a TV film with some thematic echoes of CUTTER’S WAY).

  4. Born to Win and Cutter’s Way are brilliant. Both are skewed outsider takes on the American dream (a cliche I know but…) especially the whole success story (as exemplfied by the former’s title)
    Furthermore both JJ in BTW and Cutter are deeply flawed destructive characters (towards themselves and those around them) but both also have this unique witty outlook and an offbeat way of doing things, which Passer clearly admires.

    The same can be said of Peter O’Toole’s obssesive scientist in Passer’s 1985 film Creator, but it’s a lighter more forgiving take on the character. It’s a personal favourite but I do seem to be the only person who likes it. It’s a deeply flawed film no doubt, but it’s got such an enthusiastic tone, a lovely summery atmosphere and of course a great performance from O’Toole.
    It’s also a great expression of Passer’s Romantic (capital R) worldview, his attitude towards science. It’s unfortunate that same worldview gave us “Haunted Summer”-Gothic’s prettier cousin, which is harder to enjoy.
    His “Stalin” is also worth a look but it’s not as personal or as vibrant as the others

    In short there are days when I like Passer alot more than Forman. I can’t recommend his work enough
    Also his (apparently very good) film about Fauna Hodel “Pretty Hattie’s Baby” which remains unreleased after 20 years because of legal troubles

  5. Oh God, I’d forgotten he did Creator! But now that you praise it, I’m interested to see it again and try and find good in it. What a strange career he’s had.

  6. In Passer’s defence it did have about 30% cut out of it. There was a whole seperate plotline about O’Toole’s earlier years lost-you can even see the gaps.

  7. And I guess the majority of people are not exactly clamouring for a director’s cut. A pity.

    Forman writes warmly and amusingly of Passer in his autobio, Turnaround.

  8. There’s a good interview in with him in July 1981’s Film Comment and an audio one at
    Mostly about Haunted Summer but interesting stuff about how he got BTW made. Nice interviews with Landis,Burton and Julien Temple there too

  9. Ivan Passer was our hero..during the filming of Pretty Hattie’s Baby..even putting in his own money to help us when the trouble started..(George Hodel Espionage)….Ivan is kind…and..I have never seen him drunk..ever…..through the years as I kept working to “save” the film he would show up for every meeting..to do whatever he could to help us continue..most of all was his sensitivity to my story…even when we had to change the names to protect the guilty..he stood by me…Fauna Hodel

  10. Thanks so much for testfying! I’m pleased to hear Passer is such a champ.

    I just got Cutter’s Way so I hope to write something more substantial on him soon. And your movie sounds fascinating.

  11. :) I look forward to hearing more….years later…I am still working the dream…..I am working on a new book….DESTINED…To Make a Mo

  12. Good for you!

    I recently watched Born to Win and was very impressed by it. Have obtained a few more Passer films and will undoubtedly write about one of them soon…

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