Wise Blood


Next month’s Film Club will take place on Saturday 31st October — Halloween! And the film will be Robert Wise’s version of THE HAUNTING. One month should give you time to obtain the film, watch it, and read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House too if you like.  Which I recommend!

UK buyers:

The Haunting [DVD] [1963]

US buyers:

The Haunting

30 Responses to “Wise Blood”

  1. Never seen this film. Can’t wait to.

    The early 60s seem to be a period of striking horror films in B+W. EYES WITHOUT A FACE, PSYCHO, BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, THE INNOCENTS.

  2. I love the look of b&w in widescreen too, and that only existed for a short time (barring a few oddities since then). Robert Wise is maybe a more conventional talent than Franju, Clayton, Preminger or Hitchcock, but he has an experimental streak and a brilliant editorial mind for visual tempo and sound design. I’m planning to watch The Set-Up soon to get into the right frame of mind.

  3. Still scary after all these years. What we almost hear is every bit as terrifying as what we almost see in this massive tribute to the art of Val Lewton.

    Bonus points: It’s one of the very favorite films of (wait for it )

    Roman Polanski.

  4. david wingrove Says:

    To think that poor Robert Wise went from THE HAUNTING to THE SOUND OF MUSIC in two years! Now that’s what I call versatility…

    Great film, and it has Claire Bloom as my all-time favourite high-style lesbian. If I were a woman (lesbian or not) I’d want to be her.

  5. And yes – absolutely read the Shirley Jackson source first. Her calm, matter-of-fact tone enhances the effect of the story, and a great deal of dialog was carried over to the script almost unchanged.

  6. In the U.S., The Haunting will be on TCM the night of tuesday 10/27 and again on Halloween morning.

    They play it every year, and I usually watch it – except for the year I rented the remake instead, ouch.

    Also next month on TCM: the usual bunch of Mark Robson, Jacques Tourneur, Tod Browning, FW Murnau and William Castle flicks, a whole day of Boris Karloff, some 50’s camp, Videodrome, Vampyr, and Fearless Vampire Killers.

    Oooh, and Ken Russell’s Valentino. Been wanting to see that.

  7. If you haven’t seen it yet I’d recommend checking out Wise’s BORN TO KILL. Lawrence Tierney has never been more frightening, and Esther Howard’s turn as a cockeyed beer lush is a hoot and a treat. Her encounter with Elisha Cook Jr. on the dunes at night in the middle of nowhere is unforgettable.

  8. Christopher Says:

    The House dosen’t want Miss MoneyPenny..Miss MoneyPenny could never satisfy it!….I’ve seen The Haunting quite frequently..and just about a month ago last…Still does it!…..Robert Wise mentions it a few times in The Body Snatcher commentary track,as his homage to Lewton…

  9. Hopefully there’s still somebody who hasn’t seen it, and will take a look! But I’m glad so many of you know it, we should be able to have a good chat. Hope to also find some more obscure Halloween treats for that week.

    I’ve seen Lady of Deceit but haven’t caught the other Wise-Tierney collaboration yet.

    Ken Russell claims he was tired when he made Valentino and did a poor job, but I think it’s pretty interesting. Nureyev is a bit too Russian to convince wholly, but his beauty and grace carry the day. Strange to see Russell working with Scorsese acolyte Mardik Martin.

  10. david wingrove Says:

    A poor job on VALENTINO?! I think it’s possibly Russell’s best film – along with the glorious folly that is THE MUSIC LOVERS.

  11. Always been a Devils man myself.

  12. david wingrove Says:

    Never really liked THE DEVILS…too graphic and violent for my taste! Perhaps I’d appreciate it more in its ‘reassembled’ version with the notorious ‘Rape of Christ’ scene intact.

    I know that sounds odd…but some types of excess only work if you’re prepared to go all the way. I suspect THE DEVILS may be one of them.

  13. I have a version of The Devils with the rape of Christ pasted back in. I don’t know if it makes a definitive difference to what is already an extreme and outrageous film, but you’re welcome to look and see. But what we need is an official restoration in the correct screen ratio.

    Ken, at the time: “I’m hanging onto the bit of film so it can be put back in when the film airs on kiddies’ TV.”

  14. I’ve seen Lady of Deceit but haven’t caught the other Wise-Tierney collaboration yet.

    I hadn’t heard of “Lady of Deceit.” According to the IMDB, “Lady of Deceit” and “Born to Kill” are the same film. I really wish there had been another Wise-Tierney collaboration. I encountered Laurence Tierney in the flesh at an L.A. screening of “Reservoir Dogs,” one of the scariest looking guys I ever saw. Then he got up on the stage and started telling jokes, and he turned out to be one of the funniest guys I ever saw.

  15. They had him in Seinfeld as Elaine’s dad, but he was “too psycho” so they didn’t use him again. There’s a very funny, sad memoir online somewhere by somebody who met him in his latter years and attended a screening with him during which he heckled Wise in the q&a…

    I knew Lady of Deceit had some other title but didn’t realise it was the same film! The other Tierney I was thinking of that I need to see is The Devil Thumbs a Ride. Also curious to see his Dillinger.

  16. Christopher Says:

    I remember that Seinfeld where Tiereny was Elaine’s dad..and Jerry and George get stuck with having to entertain him alone till Elaine arives..lol
    He is pretty intimidating ..funny to see the old timer surrounded by the knuckleheaded team in Reservoir dogs tho..

  17. One thing that’s nice about Tarantino is the way he brings back familiar faces who have fallen somewhat into obscurity. But I’m told that on the RDogs commentary track Tarantino and his producer talk about how they were warned not to let Tierney drink. So the first thing they did was order him a drink. Next thing they know he’s out in the street directing traffic with his pants down.

    Which sounds amusing, but encouraging recovering alcoholics to drink is really not cool.

  18. Christopher Says:

    ahhh..those hearty drinking men of yesteryear!…Don’t know what kind of condition his “condition” was in during production,but Ollie Reed turns in a magnificent performance in The Devils…I recently picked up that “white” copy from Amazon for a whopping $4.90..Its ok..not as dreadful a copy as some reviews make of it..and with some nice extras including the Doc seen above..

  19. Ollie always claimed he never drank on set, was never late etc, which was probably true. On the other hand, the director might have to get up in the middle of night to bail him out of jail, after one of his little drinking sessions. My favourite Ollie escapade: stripping and climbing into the fish tank in a Chinese restaurant. The waiters went in after him to get him out. An aqueous boxing match ensued.

  20. Christopher Says:

    .A Floor Show never equaled in any other Chinese Restaurant for sure ha ha ha…Well I can believe that about Reed not mixing business with pleasure..A body’s gotta pull themself together long enough once in awhile to do a little work..Hes the only one of the infamous Burton,Harris,O’toole bunch that dosen’t have that glassy stare on film..

  21. Yeah, he kind of had it under control, oddly enough. I think Hemmings did too. Reed’s career seems to have faded purely because he chose to stay in Britain. Also, I guess he got too beefy for leading man roles. And he turned himself into a joke by doing talk shows while pissed. He apparently had a good time, but it’s a shame so many years were wasted.

    His delivery of “Come and see the ballroom,” in Baron Munchausen is one of the funniest line readings ever.

  22. Oliver Reed will always be remembered by me as one of the disaffected youth in BEAT GIRL. The scene of him dancing in the coffee house to the music of John Barry’s combo never fails to bring a smile to my face, it’s obvious he can’t dance, and to see his eyes roll back in his head as he shimmies, this deadpan expression on his face, well, it’s just not to be missed.

    As for Tierney, to see the gruff old badass sitting with the two quivering ninnies in Seinfeld was, is priceless. Seems I read the cast and crew found him a bit unsettling off-camera too, which is why he never made a return visit to the show. Too bad.

  23. Any movie with Ollie dancing is an automatic immortal classic, even if it’s directed by Michael Winner — I think there’s some Reed fancy footwork in The System too.

    Fond Tierney memories: http://toddmecklem.com/tierney.html and especially: http://www.eddiemuller.com/tierney.html

  24. Christopher Says:

    those are some interesting Larry stories..I like those Venice beach stories..Larry coming thru the window….old actors now living amongst the civilians..

  25. He doesn’t sound like somebody I’d care to meet in his youth, but maybe I could just about handle the broken-down version. Fascinating how much warmth he inspires.

  26. My local video store has a dodgy-looking uncensored DVD of The Devils. It was one of my favorite rentals last year. That and ORDET (which would make a hell of a double feature).

    NotComing.com has started their annual “31 days of horror,” jumping the gun on discussion of The Haunting

  27. Oh boy, I’m not sure I should look. But I probably will.

    I like the way The Devils manages to be campy and insane, and also deeply serious at the same time. Contemporary critics only seemed to notice the craziness — although that doesn’t entirely explain to my why they didn’t like it.

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