Archive for January 17, 2023

The Death of the Arthur: Me and my Galahad

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , , on January 17, 2023 by dcairns

“See what happens in PASSAGE OF PERIL, Chapter Six of ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD…” And it’s true enough, you will see what happens. What happens may not be very exciting or intelligent, but you do see it. Unlike Sir Bors, here:

Not much funny stuff, the early episodes were deceptive. True, there’s an appearance by Ray “Crash” Corrigan, unrecognisable without his ape suit. There’s a hovel with a PORCH, a bit of anachronism that somehow isn’t absurd enough to be worthwhile. There’s a dungeon, slightly more convincing than the one in that Three Stooges medieval mess, but the script requires this dungeon to have separate cells, so it ends up looking like a couple of stone cottages transported to the inside of a cavern. It’s a medieval dungeon in spirit, sort of, but in layout it’s still a western jailhouse.

Sir Bartog the bad joins a group of outlaws, which entails dressing up as Robin Hood, sort of. He hasn’t really got the figure for it.

The existence of cheap magic is the main quality separating this from a western serial (which I would never watch — the repetitive action would be just the same as this, but the comedy relief would be louder and more grizzled, wouldn’t it?), but there’s no funny business from either Merlin, Morgane le Fay, or the Lady in the Lake between episode two and episode nine, so my craving for fantasy was experiencing a drought. There are altogether more tavern/barroom brawls than fancy spells cast.

Escapes, captures, escapes, captures.

Finally, some magic — the cheapest kind, invisibility! As I said in my Bill Rebane feature, having people vanish is actually cheaper than NOT having them vanish: just stop paying the actors and they’ll disappear of their own accord. Here, Morgane Le Fay has an enchanted ring borrowed from The Hobbit. The jump-dissolve in which she faces from view is marred by mistiming — you can actually see her shoulder slipping away on the right of frame: so they filmed her speaking, then had her step out of shot to produce an empty frame, but when they mixed the two together you get a marginal overlap where you see one-and-a-bit Morganes at the same time.

Bottom right corner of first pic.

You might wonder how such a screw-up can happen, and also how the clapper boy makes a similar spectral appearance in Kubrick’s LOLITA. It’s because when a dissolve or fade is being indicated by the editor, he makes a cut and draws a couple lines on the work print to indicate the duration of the transition. There’s no way to actually check what the effect will look like until the lab has done its work, but the editor is supposed to check the material before the incoming shot, and after the outgoing one, to see there’s enough good footage to make the mix work. Sometimes, they forget. Easy to see how that would happen in a cheap serial, harder to figure when the Great Stanley K. is at the helm.

When Morgane reappears, the effect is better managed, but her dress is swaying even though she’s supposed to have been standing still. It’s like the wobbly top had in Mrs. Kane’s lodging house in CITIZEN KANE — a winking spyhole into the creative mysteries.