In Stores Now


News department: Cannes has announced its line-up, and to our disappointment, the film Paul Duane and I made, NATAN, is not featured. This despite our slipping the film to the top man with a recommendation from Costa-Gavras. Yes, Costa-frickin’-Gavras. Oh well.

We do have some thrilling news to impart about where the film is showing next, but we aren’t allowed to share it with you yet. It may seem at this point that things are moving slowly, but in fact leaps and bounds have been made…

Meanwhile ~

Every now and then, I like to give you a rundown of all the David Cairns products out there. So far, these consist of DVDs and Blu-rays to which I have contributed essays, but soon I hope to have my name on a line of fragrances, sailor suits, battleships and small boxes of earth from my native country. But until that day…

Available to buy now —

Black Sabbath [Blu-ray]

The Telephone is usually dismissed as the weakest of the three episodes, which is probably true, but it sets up a persistent motif of the other stories: offscreen sound as a source of fear. And aptly, for an Italian horror film, it’s practically a film about dubbing. The placement of one actor’s voice in another’s mouth foreshadows a theme developed through each panel of this cryptic triptych: the frightening mutability of identity, the fatal instability of reality.”

Incidentally, if you click through to Amazon using these links and buy a copy, I get a tiny percentage. And I like tiny percentages, almost as much as I like big percentages. They keep the wolf from the door, or the basilisk from the catflap as the case may be.

Other movies with essays by me —

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray] [1957] (This might be my favourite of my own liner notes)

The Lost Weekend [Masters of Cinema] (Ltd Edition Blu-ray Steelbook) [1945] or The Lost Weekend [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray) [1945] (same movie, same essay, but the Ltd Edition Steelbook is only a few pence more expensive, so what the hey?)

“In fact, what suits Milland to the role is his slightly dissolute air, embodied in those hamster cheeks, that double chin; and his officer-class Britishness, which seems to project a weary distaste for whatever he’s acting in (a quality which would serve him well come The Thing with Two Heads, 1972).”

Rififi [Dual Format Edition DVD + Blu-Ray] [1955]

And from America —

Stagecoach (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

“The shaggy-dog story that gave Alfred Hitchcock his pet name for “the thing the spies are after” but that is of no real importance to the audience may have been told to him by Angus MacPhail, an English screenwriter with a very Scottish name. If so, it’s all too apt, since The 39 Steps(1935), the first Hitchcock film to really crank up the MacGuffin as plot motor, is full of Englishmen who sound like Scots and Scots who sound like Englishmen. It also features two traveling salesmen in a train compartment who seem about to break into the MacGuffin sketch at any instant but never quite do . . .”

And the latest, and most massive bit of film writing I’ve ever attempted —


“Who is Pierre Étaix and where has he been all your life?

This is the story of a filmmaker who was vanished, banished, skipped over. It’s as if one of those invisible cubicles mimes are always getting themselves shut in dropped from a blue sky and ensnared him. Lips moved noiselessly behind the impermeable seal, passers-by passed by, until finally nobody could see him any more than they could hear him. A hole opened up in film history—a small hole, Étaix would argue, just large enough to fit him into, but a hole nonetheless, weakening the overall structure and preventing a proper vision of the comedy lineage that gave rise to the satirical visual comedy of filmmakers as diverse as Woody Allen and Terry Gilliam, and that influenced such established contemporaries as Jerry Lewis and Blake Edwards.”

Pierre Etaix (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Pierre Etaix (Criterion Collection) The ordinary DVD set IS a fair bit cheaper than the Blu, but on the other hand, these are handsome movies…

11 Responses to “In Stores Now”

  1. david wingrove Says:

    What it is to have friends in high places…and yes, not showing Natan at Cannes is a total cop-out!

  2. Well, in all fairness — the strand devoted to cinema documentaries also includes restorations, so it all depends how many restorations they get.

    Still, I think it’s regrettable: without making any bold claims for our film as a film, I think its story elicits a different understanding of French cinema history (and even French history) which would have been valuable at Cannes.

  3. A real shame about Cannes.

    In the U.S.version of I Tre Volti della Paura the lesbian relationship in “The Telephone” was completely eliminated through dubbing and cutting.

  4. david wingrove Says:

    David C, I think you’re far too kind! Every nation has difficulty in coming to terms with aspects of its past (and understandably so) but the French national amnesia about the Jews in World War II is especially revolting. A ghastly piece of sentimental claptrap like SARAH’S KEY gets praised to the skies (I call it ‘Holocaust porn’ and I don’t think that’s too strong a word) but a film that evokes some sort of reality will always be problematic!

  5. Can’t have lesbianism corrupting the teens who have come to gawp at severed heads.

    It’ll be very interesting to see if the French embrace NATAN once they get the chance. Of course we may have pissed off Pathe and La Femis with the film, which won’t help. I hope not, though — there’s nothing in the film against the current administrations of those bodies, and nothing to stop them doing more to popularize Natan’s name.

    Pathe are apparently at work on a restoration of La Petite Lise — unfortunately, this means they’ve imposed an embargo on screenings, preventing it showing at Edinburgh’s Gremillon retrospective. A pain!

  6. david wingrove Says:

    If that results in a better copy for posterity, I think I can live with that.

  7. It’s definitely good that they’re restoring it. But withdrawing it from reputable retrospectives seems counter-productive.

  8. It was over before it began
    No ovation, award or a pan
    The French weren’t hatin’
    The trenchant doc Natan
    They had only ignored it at Cannes.

  9. The French turned their backs in a snub
    Quite entrenched in their pack, gang or club
    We’re not going to get
    To walk on the Croisette
    So like mensches we’ll back off and blub.

  10. Alexander Says:

    David…. Edinburgh’s Gremillon retrospective. Is this just a joke or really happening? When?

  11. Alexander Says:

    Ah, EIFF, Fujiwara. Thanks for the tip, fantastic stuff.

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