It’s Cecil Parker’s Film Festival, We Just Live In It

A very young, very fat Cecil Parker was a highlight in BECKY SHARP, he injects life into UNDER CAPRICORN (which we missed) and accompanies Ingrid Bergman again in Stanley Donen’s INDISCREET, where he gets most of the laughs during the long first half of setting-up. Then there’s some business with a fellow named Cary Grant — and then David Kossoff, of all people, got a spontaneous round of applause from the Bologna audience — TWICE. For entering and exiting.

That was today, when I had a lie in. Yesterday I saw:

IN OLD CHICAGO (Henry King) and WAY OF A GAUCHO (Jacques Tourneur) in the morning, two films in which cows cause death. In the Tourneur, a startling matte effect enables a horse and rider to disappear under a stampeded of cattle. The King is like a bovine version of THE BIRDS, with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow incinerating the windy city single-hooved, and a herd busting out from the stockyards to trample a major character.

The Tourneur, which looks great but was not a major hit with the public here, did feature the festival’s most quoted line: “He’s a fool, but he’s very gaucho.”

My own favourite exchange was from MOULIN ROUGE. Zsa Zsa: “Others find love and happiness, I find only disenchantment.” “Jose: “But you find it so often.”

I walked out of THE SEA WOLF — not the Curtiz classic, but an earlier Fox version by the worthless Alfred Santell. I would have stuck it out but my foot needed ointment so I stuck that out instead. Then I interviewed a very special person — haven’t been able to check the audio yet so we’ll have to see about that…

Fiona stayed in the Cinema Jolly, whose air-con has shown the most distinguished service this fest, until today when it let us all down rather badly during THE BRAVADOS, and she saw Felix E. Feist’s TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY. I’m going to have to catch up with the Feists I missed after the fest. He seems feisty.

The Piazetta Pier Paolo Pasolini is where showings are held with the carbon arc projector in the open air, so at 10.15 pm we ingested an Aperol Spritz (me) and a peach juice (Fiona) and washed them down with a one-reel fragment of Rupert Julian’s CREAKING STAIRS — the stairs weren’t all that creaked — a tinted Fleischer OUT OF THE INKWELL cartoon, a couple of travelogue-type things, and best of all, three episodes of ZIGOMAR PEAU D’ANGUILLE, a proto-FANTOMAS serial with a chunky master-criminal, a slinky female sidekick in a catsuit, and various capers including a robbery using an elephant accomplice (“La Rosaria” whispering detail directions into the pachyderm’s massive ear — intertitle ZIGOMAR AND LA ROSARIA WAIT IN THE GUTTER FOR THE ELEPHANT) and dive-bombing on Lake Como.

I’d been wanting to properly see some ZIGOMAR since I saw my first clip of the hooded desperado, possibly in the BBC series The Last Machine. He did not disappoint me, though most of his heists seemed to leave him out of pocket.

9 Responses to “It’s Cecil Parker’s Film Festival, We Just Live In It”

  1. revelator60 Says:

    Sorry to hear about the air-con failure, but I hope you enjoyed The Bravados! One of King’s best films from the ’50s, I think.

  2. Says:

    David, Do you know whether they plan to release the 1930 THE SEA WOLF? I’ve heard rumors about this film being in the hands of a private collector who would only allow occasional showings. Apart from Santell, this was the first and only sound film Milton Sills did since he died of a heart attack soon afterwards. This affected the film’s box-office reception.

  3. The Bravados is really interesting — deserves a bigger post later.

    I haven’t heard anything about a release for The Sea Wolf — a lot of films I’ve seen in the Fox retrospectives these past years have only been screened in New York and Bologna sop far as I know.

    Sills is an imposing physical presence, and the programme notes suggest he was every bit as educated as the character he plays — “probably the only Wolf Larsen to have actually read Nietzsche.” But the script isn’t very good and I didn’t like his little hand gestures. Plus, surely Death Larsen is better as an offscreen character?

  4. chris schneider Says:

    At first I thought that title read “ZIGOMAR AND LA ROSARIA WAIT IN THE GLITTER” – a spectacle I’d like to see.

    For some reason, despite my love for Donen and Grant and many of the people involved, I never warmed up to INDISCREET. The set-up of it all seemed too laborious. Good Cahn & Van Heusen Song connected to it, in any case. And you’ve heard about the notoriously unsuccessful stage show on which it was based? KIND SIR, written by Norman Krasna and directed by Joshua Logan during — one hears — on of his unstable periods. The stars were Mary Martin and Charles Boyer.

  5. Ah no, I haven’t heard about the play. “Laborious” is certainly the word for the set-up, with the attempts to make it cinematic just adding length. But it does brighten up later.

  6. ehrenstein47 Says:

  7. So? Are the carbon-arc fetishists right? You didn’t describe the visual impact, if any. Friends used to call me “Nitrate” because I spent five years hunting down a screening of that precious mineral essence. It was worth the wait. Of course, this snotty cinephile had to go and put another bee in my bonnet: “Yeah, but you haven’t seen nitrate projected by CARBON-ARC!” The fucker.

  8. The carbon arc projections are very atmospheric but the visual difference is subtle as hell. The darks have a pleasing velvety quality, but much of the time you wouldn’t see any difference.

  9. Thanks. The two-day archivists festival Andy Lampert was kind enough to sneak me into proved similarly subtle. We were both frustrated. THEN! Some nothing musical act, an UR music video… I GOT LOST IN THE HOLOGRAPHIC SHIMMERINGS FORMED BY JACKETS! And… THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN… THE CONFETTI SCENES!!! Magic happens thanks to a varirty of factors, or it doesn’t. happen at all. Also, I finished a Wellman essay THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR WORLD!

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