Archive for November, 2019

The Hideous —

Posted in FILM with tags , on November 18, 2019 by dcairns

The Sunday Intertitle: Moriarty-craftsy

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2019 by dcairns

I watched the John Barrymore SHERLOCK HOLMES because I’m going to be doing something about Buster Keaton’s SHERLOCK, JR and I wanted to see if this film, released just a couple of years previously, had influenced it. Nothing very very specific, but a general sense that Keaton’s conception of his role and the world of Holmes had more to do with Albert Parker’s film than a close reading of Conan Doyle.

The film is pretty nice! I gave up on it one time before, mainly because it presents Holmes as a moony romantic lazing about country lanes, and knowing Watson when at uni. But it otherwise manages to fold Moriarty into Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia and has a very nice cast.

Roland Young in a silent film, hmm — apart from some good slouching, he kind of disappears when he can’t use his voice. But the film gives a lot of the sidekicking to a very young William Powell anyway. Fascinating to see both men with their own hair. (I’m obsessed with hair at the moment because my own hair is retreating like the Maginot Line.)

DW Griffith sweetie Carole Dempster is leading lady, and we get appearances by the likes of Louis Wollheim, instantly recognizable from the way his nose has been compressed into his head until it is visible as a small bump on the back of his neck, and David Torrence, whose brother Ernest would work with Keaton as Steamboat Bill, Sr, and play a memorable Moriarty in the enjoyable 1932 William K. Howard farrago.

Best of all is the Moriarty here, the magnificent, and magnificently named Gustav(e) Von Seyffertitz, the Greater Profile, whose drooping scarf and expressionistic gestures reminded me forcibly of Alec Guinness’s Professor M (for Marcus) in THE LADYKILLERS. Now, it’s known that Guinness modelled his teeth and cigarette-smoking on critic Kenneth Tynan (an actor’s revenge!) but I wouldn’t be surprised if he, or director Sandy Mackendrick, or the costume designer Anthony Mendleson, was influenced by Gustav(e)’s great look.

There’s a fairly purple intertitle gushing about the coldness of Moriarty’s blood —

It got me wondering if the scarf, and the claw-like, expressionistic hand gestures (another Guinness connection) were because Moriarty is literally cold all the time — he’s characterised as a kind of spider, and spiders always start turning up dead at this time of year. I like the idea of a villain whose cold-bloodedness causes him seasonal discomfort.

The Situ

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2019 by dcairns

In bed to save on heating because it’s COLD. Momo will probably snuggle up later when he’s finished shouting. Fiona’s going out to meet a friend.

I’m going to listen to the rest of the Jovanovich testimony which is HOT STUFF. If you’re not following this, you should be — exciting viewing. It occurs to me that the Republican pols, those not entirely dead to all moral feeling, are in HELL and have been all through this presidency, having to make excuses for this guy who represents the opposite of the “values” they claim to espouse. Good. Their troubles may be about to end, just not in the way they would choose. But I make no predictions. I live by the tenet, “Things can always get worse.”

Still, life in the Shadowplayhouse is fairly pleasant, we went to see the film billed as THE IRISHMAN which, when you get in to see it, turns out to be called I HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES. First switcheroo of that sort I’ve seen since Polanski’s THE GHOST (according to UK posters) had a fancy end creds sequence in which it announced its title as THE GHOST WRITER.

And I picked up this month’s Sight & Sound, which asides from boasting articles from pals Hannah McGill and Pamela Hutchinson, features two favourable mentions of yours truly on the same page: my video essay for THE BELLS OF ST MARY’S is, apparently, “highly engaging” and part of a “divine set of extras” while the one I did with Anne Billson for THE FATE OF LEE KHAN is “effervescently enthusiastic”. Stephen C. Horne edited both pieces.

I’ll say some nice things about the Scorsese next week. It is not to be missed.