Rivette the Rosier


First up — the Indiegogo campaign for THE NORTHLEACH HORROR is going great — but that doesn’t mean you are exempt! More contributions greatly appreciated.

Second up — more limericks at Limerwrecks, of a vampiric nature — NOSFERATU, THE VAMPIRE BAT (with Surly Hack) and also a solo one, and on bats in general, taking in BRIDES OF DRACULA and KISS OF THE VAMPIRE.

Third up — like a lot of people, I have been revisiting Rivette in the wake of his passing from this corporeal plane. I’d never watched LA BANDE DES QUATRE, so I did, and by coincidence it features a character who calls her parents in Limerick, so it all ties together, doesn’t it?


This is one of Rivette’s long film about life and theatre — the four leads are female drama students on an exclusive course run by Bulle Ogier. There’s a mysterious man hanging around them, whose stories don’t add up. And there’s an invisible dancing ghost in one room of the suburban house they share. Rivette on ghosts and magic is fascinating — it seems pretty clear he really believes in them, unlike nearly everyone else who makes films about those kinds of things. I mean, Del Toro I think has said he’s had supernatural experiences, but his films are so stylised there’s no question of him bringing his true-life encounters to bear on his cinema. Rivette’s languorous mise-en-scene makes the most sense when it’s dreamily, eerily but casually evoking the numinous and occult, and in a way the electrifying effect of these scenes (here, and in DUELLE, and in L’HISTOIRE DE MARIE ET JULIENNE) justifies the slow, relaxed approach elsewhere. Rivette films everything as if it was a supernatural encounter.




Here are some interstitial moments from LA BANDE DES QUATRE, what the ancients of cinema used to call PHANTOM RIDES, which contrive to make Paris look haunted, haunting, desolate, unreal and undead. A film made from a spirit’s-eye-view. Aren’t they all?


14 Responses to “Rivette the Rosier”

  1. The sprit in question is Marivaux. That’s whose work is being taught at Bulle Ogier’s School For Actresses (the film’s secret title,Ideally double-featured with Chereau’s production of La Fausse Suivante which starred Rivette regular Jane Birkin and (from his La Belle Noiseuse) Michel Piccoli.

  2. The other director who seemed to believe in the supernatural was Jacques Tourneur. It’s there in the horror films, but also STARS IN MY CROWN. Even when dealing with the real world, Tourneur’s films have a quietness, a subtle oddness to the framing and edits, a sensitivity that seems open to possibilities that more prosaic, literal-minded films do not.

  3. I recall seeing in an interview somewhere that Tourneur declared that he DID believe in the supernatural.

  4. Yes, Tourneur was a sincere believer, and hisdream project was about communication with the dead. Lewton encouraged this, I think, because Lewton was also spiritually inclined.

    And Rivette links up with Tourneur via Duelle, which is like a kind of dream of 70s Cat People and Out of the Past.

  5. Rivette screened “The Seventh Victim” to the entire cast before “Duelle” commence shotting.

  6. It has the same sense of occult doings under the surface of the quotidian world. But Tourneur seems a better match for Rivette than Mark Robson! That’s where Lewton comes in handy to blur the lines between them.

  7. Lewton is an auteur. So is Tourneur. But not Robson. He’s subsumed by Lewton. Nothing “Lewtonian” about “Valley of the Dolls.” But Wise’s “The Haunting” and Tourneur’s “Curse of the Demon” are Lewton brought back from the grave.

  8. Duelle and Noroit are both “Meta-Films.” They’re not merely “inspired by The Seventh Victim and Moonfleet (respectively) , Rivette requires we “see” The Seventh Victim and Moonfleet while watching them. IOW they’re for hardcore “cineastes.”

  9. Robson’s reputation would be a lot higher if he’d channeled the Lewton spirit just once after leaving RKO. As it is, I’m convinced that you’d asked him about most of his late-career work, eg Earthquake, “Is this interesting?” he would have had to answer “No it isn’t.”

  10. Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1969) found Robson working from a pretty creepy screenplay by Larry Cohen and Lorenzo Semple Jr. (coming off Scream, Baby, Scream and Pretty Poison, respectively). It’s not terrible but it’s not nearly as good as it ought to be. If you can discern the director of The Seventh Victim from anything in this trailer, I salute you. This was Robson’s follow-up to Valley of the Dolls, and THAT, you can kind of see. I don’t know that I would have any memory of this at all but for the fact that it played at my local drive-in and CAROL WHITE / PAUL BURKE (in) DADDY’S GONE A HUNTING had been changed to DADDY’S GONNA EAT ME by day two.

  11. Am I the only person who *really* likes Valley of the Dolls? (And certainly much more than the Meyer spin-off)

  12. I *think* I prefer the Meyer but it doesn’t have Bisset. Should I return to Peyton Place? I remember liking Von Ryan’s Express as a kid. I seemed to like anything where somebody has to do a long, painful run.

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