Archive for July, 2020

Twelve Mangly Men

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2020 by dcairns

Neither of us had watched THE DIRTY DOZEN before. So we did.

The distance between the nominally anti-war ATTACK! and this is not as great as first appears: the trouble with the “bad officer” school of war movie is that the assumption must be that, with a better officer, more of the right sort of people could be killed. TDD is correct in showing that war is a dirty business, but it can’t help but be an enjoyable guys-on-a-mission romp. The Boys Own adventure was traditionally clean-cut, but you can have dirty versions and much remains unaltered.

“There’s all kinds of weird male energy going on here!” remarked Fiona. Most of it comes from Lee Marvin, who puts on a mock-camp act to tease the men, but is also genuinely seductive when recruiting them. This is a man, we can assume, who is confident in his masculinity. Aldrich shoots hell out of everything with bullets but also angles: his coverage is extensive but interesting. Plenty of floor-level shots. And Donald Sutherland makes a good thing to cut to when in doubt.

If the idea is that these guys are effective in war because they’re much worse than ordinary soldiers (I’m told that the Germans really did have a squad recruited from prisons and asylums, but their missions were all the same: commit atrocities against civilians — the SS thought they went too far) then it’s odd that the grisly idea of burning the enemy alive in their bomb shelter is suggested by the officer, a non-dirty participant. But there are many things that don’t add up here. The title sequence is very nearly great except the titles chap, in a hurry to get the thing over in a decent amount of time, scrolls credits past each of the dozen, resulting in amusing name-face mismatches. THE DIRTY DOZEN stars Liberty Valance; Ragnar; Harmonica; Slaughter; Johnny Stacatto; Sheriff Kip McKinney; Herman Scobie; Mike Hammer; Smith Ohlrig; Pontius Pilate; Giacomo Casanova; Nick Nitro; Juror 12; Alraune; Ming’s Brute; Capungo; and Walter Paisley.

Or both?

Posted in FILM with tags on July 27, 2020 by dcairns

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The Sunday Intertitle: Charlie’s flower

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2020 by dcairns

This, with thanks to — who was it? I’ve lost the message — seems to be the origin of the faux-Scott Fitzgerald character’s Chaplin ruminations in Budd Schulberg’s THE DISENCHANTED, mentioned here. Neil suggests that Schulberg took his inspiration from James Agee’s essay on silent comedy, and indeed the incident — Charlie, drunk, being dragged along, snatching up a flower and momentarily being distracted/transformed by it — is closer to Schulberg’s description in the Agee version than it is in the film itself.

The actual flower business is only a few frames, so Agee earns props for even noticing it. Schulberg elaborates it into a full bit, Charlie turning into a romantic poet for a moment under the influence. In fact, he plucks the thing, smells it and discards it with no real transformation from the truculent inebriation which is this film’s stock-in-trade. But it’s certainly correct to say that transformation is a Chaplin trait — he transforms himself, but also has the power to transform objects: note the alarm clock routine in THE PAWN SHOP.