So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

Not from me, from John Hughes and Budd Schulberg.

Which is the better film about a fascist demagogue, A FACE IN THE CROWD or FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF? One thing I like about Ferris is I don’t have to like him to enjoy the movie — a certain amount of resistance to the character actually helps. Always, with the pleasure, a little malaise.


9 Responses to “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye”

  1. I like ’em both, actually.

  2. Hhh… Fascist demagogue? Really? Have a read of this if you’ve a moment, it’s lovely:
    (Sorry if this comment is a little grumpy but you did just encourage the watching of Foreign Correspondent so I feel a little narked. Heavens, the phrase “dream logic” cuts a lot of slack.)

  3. Actually, Foreign Correspondent isn’t particularly surreal compared to The 39 Steps!

    The Hughes thing is very sweet. Have you heard the Fight Club theory of Ferris Bueller, where FB is entirely in Cameron’s imagination? Compelling!

    I do think they way Ferris forces Cameron to come along is pretty sinister. Having a little resistance to his charm makes the movie play better, I find.

  4. No, apart from the Sanders appearances I basically found myself enjoying Foreign Correspondent in much the same way I enjoyed “I don’t want to be Born”… in fact now I think of it both ineptly attempt to create suspense by having someone shoved. It can’t be done, can it? (Rehtorical question mark.) Has that ever been done effectively on film? The slow approach by the shoving murderer, palms upraised? What a truly terrible hitman “Oh yes sir that was pushin’ you under that bus, “ere let’s go up that tower so I can throw meself out of the window.” 39 Steps may be surreal but the attraction between the leads was far more credible surely. And I never really worked out who was being chased, especially when they all end up on the same plane. I loved your review though.
    And yes, it’s Cameron’s film, isn’t it. But Ferris is more “Cat In The Hat” than Mussolini. Willy Wonka, however…

  5. Well that was a scrappy piece of writing. Apologies.

  6. I don’t find it sinister. Ferris is the fantasy of being The Coolest Kid in School. Eveybody likes him (except Mr. Feeney) and we never see him lording it over anyone. He’s the ultimate Hail Fellow Well Met. The plot proper is about playing hhokey. Cameraon has a cold. But beneatht that he’s depressed. So Ferris ccoks up this juant to get Cameron out of his depression. That’s about it. Everyhting else consists of a series of grace notes: Richard Edson drving the car through the air like a rocket, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen sparking in a police station, Edie McClurg declaring Ferris “a righteous dud,” and of course Mr. Feeney. He’s helpless before Ferris’ savoir faire and he can’t stand it.

  7. There are indeed a score of memorable and delightful moments in the film, and great supporting turns. The way Cameron is basically forced to come along still bothers me — it would never work in real life, and people who try to force you to have a good time are the enemy. But it all works out OK in the end, which is part of the essential movie-ness of the thing.

    I like the Cat in the Hat analogy. But I’m scared by the Cat too, so it doesn’t reassure me!

    Agree about the shoving assassin, Simon. There doesn’t seem any reason why that couldn’t make a good scene, but it’s very hammily played. Since the guy is an implausible-looking hitman, the way to build on that would be to make him scarily effective (like Buscemi’s unbeatable “Mr Sh” in Things to do in Dever when you’re Dead!) but Gwenn is basically a complete screw-up.

    Maybe shoving would work better as a shock moment rather than a suspense one. Have you seen the mini-series Brond? very good bit with Stratford Johns shoving a kiddie off a bridge. Startling and oddly hilarious.

  8. Ah, Mr Sh… I always felt that was Steve Buscemi’s audition for Rorschach, just as Dead Man’s Shoes was probably Paddy Considine’s. Shoving somebody to their death is definitely effective as a shock, yes, probably because it’s just so easy. So it can generate suspense only if the audience *suspects* a shove might be coming… oh I’m trying to think of an example, it’s on the tip of my brain… but not if the shover’s intention is made clear. The hamminess of the scene in Foreign Correspondent is manifest the moment the assassin spots Westminster Cathedral so I can’t really see how what follows would work as anything other than comedy.
    And I meant the Cat in The Hat analogy to be a bit sinister, though to be honest I can’t exactly remember how Ferris gets Cameron on board. His ridiculous popularity obviously works against him in terms of our sympathies but as you say that’s why the film works so well, because ultimately Ferris’ hedonism is uniquely selfless, it’s all for Cameron. Ferris is barely real, but his work here is done.

  9. The Foreign Correspondent scene requires us to be aware of Gwenn’s perfidy while McCrea is blissfully ignorant, so it tends to work against our sympathy for him. And at the end we don’t even find out if McCrea had figured out the scheme and lured Gwenn into a trap, or if he just got lucky. So it’s not quite satisfying.

    There’s a great shove in Jonathan Demme’s quite-good-but-not-quite-good-enough Hitchcockian thriller Last Embrace. Roy Scheider almost goes in front of a train, but afterwards we’re not quite sure if he was pushed or if he’s just clumsy and paranoid…

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