Archive for April, 2019

Nothing Is Beyond Our Ken

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , on April 30, 2019 by dcairns

Ken Russell, muffintop messiah.

Working on a big Ken Russell gallery for you all. But meanwhile, here’s a big Ken Russell article, for The Chiseler. Ken’s career arc, from home movies to TV to British movies Hollywood back to British movies back to TV back to home movies has such an elegant shape to it that it’s a wonder no major critical study exists, that I’m aware of, tackling the whole thing.

So here it is in miniature.

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Let Us Spray

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 29, 2019 by dcairns

Fiona and I gave an interview about LET US PREY to the excellent Annie O’Riordan for the excellent Horror Addicted Gals site — which promptly blew up. So now she’s published it at her own blog. Since, as she says, interviews are usually boring, we decided to be appallingly frank about the process of writing, re-writing, and being re-written on a low-budget horror movie. I love the smell of burning bridges!

LET US PREY stars Jadis; Davos Seaworth; Dolokhov; Petronella; Olaf – Christian viking; Bernard Natan.

Here is the interview.

The Sunday Intertitle: Personally Embroidered by Darryl F. Zanuck

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2019 by dcairns

The embroidered intertitle is a rare enough beast to be worth remarking on. This one features in John Ford’s DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK, and the fact that it’s 1939 (yet also, simultaneously, the American Revolution), makes the appearance of such hand-crafted text all the more remarkable.

The movie needs to fall back on silent narrational technique, (OK still very much a thing in the pre-code era) it turns out, because of its uncommonly loose, baggy structure, itself at least in part a consequence of the shapelessness of the historical events covered. I found that, while I could appreciate the reasons for the episodic approach, I prefer Ford when he has a tighter story to weave (or sew). I’m not a keen enough Fordian to indulge his more rambling yarns, though it was nice to see an Indian character (Chief John Big Tree) treated, despite the inevitable ethnic humour, with enough sympathy that he could be entrusted with the kind of jovial domestic violence joke usually reserved by Ford for the Irish.

“Sir!… Sir!… Here’s a good stick, to beat the lovely lady.”

Henry Fonda is well suited to the frontiersmanship etc, but Ford gets rather an overwrought turn from Claudette Colbert: she perhaps has her limitations, but I have never seen her be shrill and grating and hysterical as she is here. It might be understandable, given the situations, but it’s hardly appealing or fun to watch.

In common with BLOOD AND SAND, the movie delivers quite a lot of value for John Carradine fans, who did great work for Ford the same year in STAGECOACH.

The second-hand DVD I picked up turned out to be a fuzzy, out-of-sync Korean bootleg (“An enjoyable film that is still very good!” cries the blurb) but curious and dedicated Fordians are recommended to the Twilight Time Blu-ray, which purportedly does astonishing justice to the Technicolor work of Ray Rennehan & Bert Glennon.