Last Films Round-Up

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.

9 Responses to “Last Films Round-Up”

  1. My favourite last film is JOhn Huston’s The Dead, and I’ll be dusting it off shortly as it always a must-view for me at Christmas. I’ll be checking out your last films reviews, thanks.

  2. The Dead is a pretty grand final statement from Huston, who must have suspected it would be his last movie. Not all of his literary adaptations, worked, but that one is powerful, funny, moving, and has a superb cast. The Late Show banner above, of course, comes from the final sequence. “Snow is general over Ireland.”

  3. Oh now why didn’t I spot the banner! Prize for being unobservant goes to me … I always marvelled at Anjelica Huston’s Irish accent, and only recently realised that she spent a lot of her childhood in Ireland. It’s one of my favourite of her performances, and I don’t think she’s ever looked as beautiful.
    Must check out Jack Clayton’s Memento Mori. I remember seeing at the time it was broadcast, but not since. And I agree with you about Maggie Smith in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearn. So sad it’s not more widely known.

  4. Rosamond Tifft Says:

    I’m with you on all of this. THE DEAD is a masterpiece and I am touched and amazed by it every time I see it. Nothing like it.

    I saw MEMENTO MORI many years ago, I’d like to find it again. HUGE JACK CLAYTON FAN also goes without saying of HUSTON’S.

    Maggie Smith is brilliant in THE LONELY PASSION OF JUDITH HEARN.

    Huge fan of the hard to see INTRUDER IN THE DUST, one of a kind filmxxx

    Haven’t we known some not to be touched artists in our time.

    Thank you for this!!!!!

    I’m not especially good at these sorts of lists but welcome them for they jog the memory and move the heart to remember.

    Merriest of Holidays,

  5. You touch on it in your Forgotten on STAIRCASE, but I actually like SATURN 3 somewhat. And technically it is two different late films because it was John Barry’s last film work as well as one of Donen’s final films.

    I guess what I like most about SATURN 3 is the way the robot is characterized as the child of (redubbed) Harvey Keitel’s madness, but more than capable of outdoing his parent. That moment where we think Keitel has defeated the robot… one of the most sickening “we are totally effed” moments I’ve ever seen in film.

    So yeah, it’s a trashy, weird film redeemed mostly by production design and a really weirdly oedipal robot.

  6. Saturn 3 might also be Martin Amis’s last and only film as screenwriter. the experience seems to inform Money, where the egomaniacal movie star is surely Kirk Douglas.

    Roe, let me know if you need help locating Memento Mori.

  7. The Dead is the perfect Christmas movie.

    When I first saw it at a press preview I started crying during the credits.

  8. I too love The Dead and never tire of it. It’s one of those films that led me to believe it was about one thing, and then turned out to be about something else altogether. That final scene reduces me to tears every time. There’s a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter called “C’mon, c’mon”, if anybody knows it, which evokes a similar mood and has exactly the same effect.

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