Archive for May 16, 2009

Three Studies of Boy and House

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2009 by dcairns

The movie is the oddly-titled TALK ABOUT A STRANGER, directed by David Bradley. I don’t know how much credit to give Bradley, who also helmed the legendary snore THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN. The fact is, this movie was shot by John Alton, and his genius infuses every frame. With a pretty decent script at his disposal, Bradley couldn’t really go wrong, except with performances — and he scores here, with dedicated and restrained work all round.



Kid’s always wanted a dog. He gets one, an adorable scamp, but it dies, apparently poisoned. Kid blames his sinister new BURBS-style neighbour and starts a whispering campaign against him. The climax is thrilling, the ending humane and sentimental.

I enjoyed the film and made a mental note to capture these images. And when I fast-forwarded through the movie to get them, I found myself more moved than when I had been watching it. The relationship of the boy and his dog got to me. Maybe because, as the sideshow clairvoyant says in NIGHTMARE ALLEY, with weird, sinister emphasis: “Every boy has a dog…”

It’s a nice childhood noir to set alongside THE WINDOW.

A good look for him, actually

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2009 by dcairns


Fritz Kortner goes full mongol in CHU CHIN CHOW.

A lot of fascinating elements in this film, but not enough made of them, somehow. A musical Arabian Nights extravaganza, it gets by for a few minutes on sheer spectacle, and Walter Forde’s voluptuously gliding camera. But George Robey, music hall legend, seems at this historical distance like the least funny man who ever lived. I always associate him with an obscure line in the short film LE PETOMAINE, written by Galton & Simpson, where Queen Victoria is ruling that a Frenchman who farts on cue is an unsuitable entertainment to set before the  Great British Public: “Mr. George Robey is bad enough.” She’s right.

Fritz Kortner makes a rousing bandit baddie, burying men alive and perpetrating other acts of cruelty unsuitable for a musical comedy, and Anna May Wong is a seductive slave girl, but neither of them gets either a song or enough of a real stand-out moment. How many more rogue talents would have to be shoehorned into a stodgy play like this before it showed signs of animation? I think you’d need four or five, and you’d have to digitally paint Robey out of the picture too.