Archive for December 15, 2010

Last Films Round-Up

Posted in FILM with tags on December 15, 2010 by dcairns

Late Siodmak…

This is just an anthology of old posts which happened to deal with last films, I’m afraid. Still, some of them may be worth revisiting, and maybe you missed some.

Hitchcock Year — was it really a year ago? — saw me reviewing all the Master’s work, climaxing with the charming FAMILY PLOT.

Roy Del Ruth went out with the hilarious (but intentionally so?) THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE.

Here’s a fleeting nod to Anatole Litvak’s twisty swan song, THE LADY IN THE CAR WITH GLASSES AND A GUN.

Over at The Daily Notebook, Preston Sturges’s last work was reappraised for The Forgotten. Berthold Viertel’s THE PASSING OF THE THIRD FLOOR BACK was his penultimate film, and a very beautiful and strange one it is too. STAIRCASE is late-ish Stanley Donen, and a good example of the horrors that can lurk in the tail-end of a career. Nick Ray’s WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN can’t really be seen in anything like its intended form at present, so my piece on it was necessarily inconclusive. The Scottish film-poet Bill Douglas ended his too-short career with the majestic COMRADES, while Kalatazov’s THE RED TENT isn’t up to the standards of his best work (eg I AM CUBA), but is still commendable and rather underrated.

Jack Clayton’s telefilm of Muriel Spark’s MEMENTO MORI must be one of the most apt final films ever, while Anthony Mann’s A DANDY IN ASPIC is part final film, part posthumous work, but nobody seems sure which part is which, and Edgar Ulmer’s THE CAVERN gains a particular poignancy from its status as a final work.

I always stick up for Clouzot’s pop-art s&m melodrama LA PRISONNIERE, where the sinister Frenchman got to execute some of the tricks he’d toyed with for the abortive L’ENFER, and Clarence Brown’s INTRUDER IN THE DUST is a real masterwork, one of the most shockingly underseen classics I’ve ever stumbled upon. LA MAIN DU DIABLE is late Maurice Tourneur, a stylish fantasy filmed under the Nazi occupation, while THE MASK gave Hollywood montage designer Slavko Vorkapich a last shot at creating hallucinogenic imagery — and in 3D! And poor William Dieterle struck out with ludicrous Wagner biopic MAGIC FIRE.

[LOL!]a Montes

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 15, 2010 by dcairns

The extensive making-of documentary included with the newly-restored LOLA MONTES is worth the purchase price in itself. Robert Fischer has cannibalised an existing doc from 20 years back, enabling him to include interviews with lots of lovely people now no longer with us. So we get Peter Ustinov telling us that although his ringmaster character is nameless, in private Ophuls wrote to him that the fellow should be called “Von Itsu” — which is Ustinov in reverse, giving him an “aristocratic and Romanian” air.

Too many good stories to reproduce here. The film’s art director is pictured at home, surrounded by bric-a-brac culled from the many films he worked on. Such an Ophulsian home is really too spectacular to be populated by a man in jeans and a V-neck, don’t you think? He should at least put on some epaulettes.

The DVD is available here (UK)

Lola Montes: The Restored Edition [1955] [DVD]

and here (US)

Lola Montes (The Criterion Collection)

Lola Montès (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]