Amok Time

Couldn’t resist posting another clip from Fedor Ozep’s AMOK. You can read the article and see the other clip here.

This one features the insane ethnic musical number — opening crane shot swooping from on high into a single, probably indirectly inspired by INTOLERANCE, which the Hollywood musical had not yet turned into a mannerism. It also features the bold intercutting of Inkijinsky the Amok’s death throes with the arrival of the second Inkijinoff, devoted manservant, with his mysterious veiled mistress. It’s like the death of Amok Inki somehow summons the second incarnation.

And throughout the film, whenever raddled hero Jean Yonnel looks at the second Inki, it’s like he’s thinking “Where have I seen you before?”

Of course, this is another great setpiece for Karol Rathaus’ world music score, too.

Actually, this scene partakes of the horror movie, jungle exoticism, and the musical, all at once, and you realize that exoticism is never far from horror and the musical anyways. But the only other sequence I can think of that mixes all three is Maria Montez’s sacrificial dance in COBRA WOMAN.

Admittedly, the effect is quite different in that one.

20 Responses to “Amok Time”

  1. Off-topic (though maria Montez-related) Flashback: With Andy at the Factory in 1965

    Dennis posted my audio again. As you can hear films are being made during the proceedings.

  2. David Boxwell Says:

    Delirious! Delicious!

  3. david wingrove Says:

    The 1944 Mexican remake of AMOK – starring the divine Maria Felix in two roles – can almost be seen as the ‘missing link’ between the French original and COBRA WOMAN.

  4. I hadn’t forgotten Felix’s multiple roles (I think she has a third, tiny one), but I somehow didn’t connect it to the two Inkijinoffs — clearly Antonio Momplet was familiar with the Ozep film.

    I think the Mexican version manages a better ending and has a stronger leading lady (and a cuter leading man), but the Ozep trumps it in terms in every other respect via sheer cinematic verve and invention.

  5. david wingrove Says:

    Maria Felix actually has four roles, if you look closely. Not only does she play the two female leads (blonde and brunette), but she also crops up as a nurse with her eyes peering over a surgical mask. Oh, and then the hero’s native mistress (Stella Inda) morphs into Maria for a split second.

    With her multiplicity of guises, Maria Felix in AMOK is up there with Susan Hampshire in MALPERTUIS and Dominique Sanda in THE CONFORMIST.

  6. Christopher Says:

    jungle psycho!…like the lady in the car at the end..if things weren’t weird

  7. It doesn’t exactly settle down after that point, either…

  8. judydean Says:

    What must I do to break free from this eternal cycle of repeated viewings of Maria Montez in COBRA WOMAN, and achieve cinematic nirvana?

  9. Cobra Woman IS cinematic nirvana!

  10. Christopher Says:

    makes me wish just once that Universal had done at least one of their routine horrors,say a Mummy film(Phantom dosen’t count with me),in color..and the dazzling early 40’s Universal opening logo.

  11. Maybe one of the reasons Phantom doesn’t count IS the colour.

    I know, the massive amount of romantic and musical relief is a bigger problem…

  12. With no Universal Mummy films in color, perhaps Paramount’s Dr. Cyclops will suffice.

  13. Lovely! Very nice colour too.

  14. Christopher Says:

    my introduction to Dr. Cyclops was an old super 8mm silent B&W digest reel I bought in the 60s..A couple of years later when it turned up on tv in eye popping technicolor ,I didn’t recognize what I was seeing till well into the picture ,completely whole ‘nother movie.

  15. For some reason this one never ever turned up on TV when I was a kid. I had to wait until I was all grown-up and had a VHS mailed to me by an accountant from Baltimore…

  16. jiminholland Says:

    Apparently a DVD release of this is imminent, complete with an extra feature by Tag Gallagher explaining why none of these images are racist, ethnocentric, etc.

    Ostep’s ‘Whispering City’ is available here:

    And here:

  17. Managed to see Whispering City — as I feared, his style had been watered down considerably. The script isn’t great either, but it’s a perfectly watchable B noir — Paul Lukas is always great value.

    Of course, Otsep’s images are a kind of colonial fantasy/nightmare, and the dialogue at times makes things worse. I would hope TG won’t be dismissing all that — there should be no problem acknowledging the dated attitudes while appreciating the filmmaking.

  18. jiminholland Says:

    I think maybe I need to be clear that my comment about the DVD release was a joke.

    It was the result of, in quick succession, reading your posts here and at The Forgotten on Ostep (who was previously unknown to me), discovering the online availability of Whispering City, and — wholly unrelatedly — reading a defense by TG of John Ford’s handling of racial issues which I found to be rather dubious.

    Although it might be fun one day to set the internets abuzz with an entirely bogus rumor, today is not that day.

  19. Thanks for the clarification! An Otsep box set… one day, one day.

    Seems I’ve seen his more obscure work before catching up with the readily available ones. Next up, the Soviet films, and I have a line on some more of the Canadian ones.

    I think because Ford is so admired (and, in many ways, admirable) it’s always going to be tempting to make excuses for him. Some of the worrying stuff is well-intentioned, just the sensibility of a bygone age which feels uncomfortable to us now, and some of it is really a bit crass.

    It does seem a little strange to me that more concern is shown about Steppin Fetchit than to all those faceless slaughtered Indians. I guess one HAS to shrug off the Indians with “It was the times” because otherwise the westerns would be unconsumable, whereas SF is a stray element of something else and he sticks out. It’s easier to wish he weren’t there than it is to wish Stagecoach had no Indians.

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