Archive for December, 2014

Mind/Body Dualism

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 31, 2014 by dcairns

Rather brilliant trailer for movie serial THE MONSTER AND THE APE. There’s no monster, only a robot, remote-controlled and without a will of his own. Calling him a monster for that seems a bit harsh. Oh, there’s also George MacReady as a mad scientist, so it might be a reference to him. Hell, it might even be a reference to George’s unsightly mustache. It’s a work rich in ambiguity.

Everything the gorilla does in the trailer is hilarious, and this did seem to be true of the serial itself — I’ve watched three episodes. There’s a bit where the gorilla is taken along on a burglary by the criminal gang (it’s never explained how they came to have a pet gorilla — in the world of dumb-ass serials, that kind of thing is a given). After helpfully smashing in the front door, the gorilla is basically just a nuisance, yanking his chain and trying to wander off in the wrong direction, then gleefully bashing the object of their mission, a piece of delicate scientific apparatus, against a work surface in a bit of gratuitous simian joie de vivre.

Screenwriting manuals speak of “the obligatory scene”, in which, for instance, Sheriff Brody faces down the Great White Shark, or Rocky fights his opponent, or Shelley Winters perishes face-down in a large body of water. Obviously, to any child, the obligatory scene in THE MONSTER AND THE APE would be a spectacular square-off between the gorilla, who I’m going to call Alistair, because it’s a nice name, and the robot, who I think we should call Peter. The makers of this serial appear not to have realized this, so that the ape actually dies in a hail of bullets in the penultimate episode (shot by the Wizard of Oz’s brother!) whereas the robot spends most of his time in a crate being stolen.

My favourite thing, apart from the gorilla continually turning up in unlikely places, is the demonstration of the robot, in which to prove that it is a boon to mankind, the workman of the future, and unsuited for any purposes of dastardliness, they have it rip the door of a bank vault type structure. No possible evil applications there!

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Mug Shots

Posted in FILM, Painting with tags , , , , , on December 30, 2014 by dcairns

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Art by man-myth Tony Millionaire graces a new article at MUBI, co-authored by Daniel Riccuito (of The Chiseler) and I. Subject: the pre-code avatars of, respectively, slopeyness and pointyness, Allen Jenkins and Ned Sparks. Here.

Think!

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , on December 29, 2014 by dcairns

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THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY (1933) is a conventional Paramount pre-code whodunnit, mostly, save for a psychotherapy/hypnosis angle, a fairly busy cast of familiar character players (Jean Hersholt, David Landau, Torben Meyer) and THIS — a sudden burst of proto-William Castle ballyhoo and narrative experimentation just before the third act. We’ve met the suspects, been introduced to their various motives, means and opportunities, and been suitably befuddled by red herrings and legerdemain. Now we’re granted one minute to sort it all out and lay our bets.

A Minute’s Thought from David Cairns on Vimeo.

Well, have you figured it out?