A Book


I’m in a book!

Two entries in this whopping scholarly overview are written by me — one on Return to the Edge of the World, Michael Powell’s look back at the film which made his name, and one on  Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance, Chris Rodley and Kevin MacDonald’s scintillating documentary on that fascinating, Edinburgh-born rogue talent.

Huge thanks to Jonny Murray, film scholar and particular expert on the works of Bill Forsyth and Scottish cinema in general, who made the introductions necessary to get me the gig.

I wrote my entries AGES ago but various delays kept the thing from seeing the light until now. It takes a pleasingly broad view of what constitutes Scottish cinema — films made by Scottish directors abroad are not counted, but Hollywood movies set here, like BRIGADOON, do get a mention. There’s some special consideration of genre cinema (seven versions of the Burke and Hare story!) and detailed accounts of some relatively unreported movies, such as DONKEYS and GREGORY’S TWO GIRLS.

I’m just thrilled to be in a book!

Directory of World Cinema: Scotland (Ib – Directory of World Cinema)


11 Responses to “A Book”

  1. I’m in lots of books. It’s still quite thrilling. Congrats.

  2. Yes, physical objects are still cool, kids, despite your internets and your Kindles. I will go home and riffle the pages in a minute.

  3. henryholland666 Says:

    I still love “physical objects” books. After seeing the OK, extremely truncated 2008 movie version with Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw, I checked out from the local library a gorgeous version of “Brideshead Revisited” from the Everyman Library. A couple of nice essays, the paper is of excellent quality, the typeface very readable, it’s a very nice book. [shakes fist at Lady Marchmain]

    Being a big Van Johnson fan, I watched “Brigadoon” recently. I’d never seen it before as I’m not a big fan of musicals at all, but I liked it. Mr. Johnson was a good dancer, I liked his dance scene with Gene Kelly. The film is often dinged for being shot on a soundstage (they went to Scotland to check out sites and *gasp* it rained, a lot *gasp*) and for cutting a bunch of songs (some due to the censors), but it’s a nice bit of fluff and Van Johnson is quite good in it.

  4. Remade as 2,000 Maniacs, bad sadly that one isn’t set in Scotland.

  5. Elaine Stewart steals it.

    Van Johnson was “a bit of fluff” off screen and on.

  6. Welles has some interesting observations about him in Jaglom’s tattletale book, iirc.

  7. Here’s Van’s boyfriend

  8. An odd couple indeed!

  9. henryholland666 Says:

    After getting caught with his pants down once too often, Johnson was given an ultimatum by MGM: enter a sham marriage or you’ll never work in this town again. Unlike William Haines when faced with a similar choice, Johnson *did* enter the sham marriage, with Evie Wynn. It was The Marriage From Hell, ended in a very nasty divorce that dragged on for years, finally ending in 1968. Quote:

    “It was the ugliest divorce in Hollywood history. I make out checks every week to Dragon Lady and carry them through the snow at 4 a.m., if necessary, to get them in the mail on time”. Too bad for Van Johnson’s bank balance that no-fault divorce didn’t happen in California until 1970!

    Like so many before and after him, Van Johnson got typecast (the boy-next-door type) but he did some good dramatic work. “The Caine Mutiny”, of course, but also the film-noirish “Scene of the Crime”, “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and “The End of the Affair”. Plus, he was one of Batman’s best nemesis (The Minstrel) in the silly mid-60’s TV series.

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as the Minstrel — a new experience awaits!

  11. henryholland666 Says:

    He’s terrific as The Minstrel. He was a good musician and had a very pleasant singing voice, the songs he sings to lute accompaniment (which he played himself) to taunt Batman and The Boy Wonder are terrific. Of course, this being that “Batman”, the whole thing falls apart plot-wise in the last 2 minutes of the 2nd Minstrel-centric episode, but still.

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