Archive for the literature Category

The Roderick Watson Memorial Library

Posted in FILM, literature on June 9, 2016 by dcairns

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We were staying at Roddy’s flat in Dundee to be near him as he was recuperating, or, as it turned out, dying. We got an emergency phone call to come in and see him at once. That afternoon he had been chatting away. But when we got to the hospital, he was no longer in his bed. He had been replaced by a detailed waxwork, remarkably faithful to the original save for its yellowish-grey skin tone, the work evidently of a skilled but heartless artisan.

The mannequin was so convincing one expected to it to make eye contact and say “Here he is,” or “Hello David and Fiona,” or “Talk of the devil.” But on the other hand, it was so evidently an inert and lifeless thing that one did not expect anything from it at all. The features hinted at the outsized personality that had once animated Roddy, but they in no way added up to him.

We spent today getting the death certificate and registering the death and then came home to Edinburgh. Some daft compulsion made me take away all the horror movie books we’d bought for Roddy’s birthdays and Christmases over the years, even though it just about broke our backs. There had been a lot more, but who knows what he did with them.

“Don’t tell him, Pike!”

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2016 by dcairns

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36 HOURS (1964) has a really neat thriller premise, derived from Roald Dahl: James Garner has the details of the D-Day landings in his head, and German psychologist Rod Taylor wants to make him spill. He kidnaps Garner and tries to convince him that traumatic amnesia has caused him to lose all recall of the last six years — it’s really 1950 and the war is over, and to help him recover his memory, he ought to tell the good doctor everything he can remember…

Since Garner’s character is called Jefferson Pike, this whole film is basically “Don’t tell him, Pike!”

The Dad’s Army similarity is reinforced by a bit of ill-advised comedy relief at the end involving the German Home Guard and featuring, among others, an aged, aged Sig Rumann.

The other televisual connection is with The Prisoner. Here’s Jim Garner waking up in a  new environment ~

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And here’s Patrick McGoohan doing the same. ~

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To clinch the resemblance, recall that McGoohan was put through a similar scheme, being tricked into thinking he’d escaped from The Village, in the episode entitled The Chimes of Big Ben.

36 HOURS would be pretty good too, a Phildickian conspiracy thriller, except it turns into a run-of-the-mill escape drama at the end — too bad, they got ninety minutes out of their Unique Selling Point High-Concept, then abandoned it. Garner and Taylor make great sparring partners, and the movie even manages to make its villain sympathetic by giving him a nasty, stupid S.S. officer opponent. Werner Peters plays this part nicely, his purring delivery at times recalling the considerably suaver Anton Walbrook. And he has a cute way of ending a conversation with a mumbled, “H’l’ittler.”

Eva Marie Saint, obviously, is good too, though it seems sadly typical of MGM to cast, as a concentration camp survivor, the least Jewish actor they could find.

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I liked the detail of this newspaper — the Germans have to invent an alternate future, based on the information available in 1944, to convince Garner that it’s 1950. Roosevelt’s vice-president, Henry Wallace, was generally expected to succeed him, and Harry Truman was a nonentity in 1944. Werner Peter’s sickly reactions to Taylor’s recounting of the war’s end is wickedly funny.

I wonder how the original story ends? Dahl was rather good at endings.

One thing about George Seaton’s script and direction — he makes a lot of play of windows, and this pays off nicely at the end, when of course romance must blossom…

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Here Hare Here

Posted in Interactive, literature, Mythology, Painting with tags , , on May 24, 2016 by dcairns

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The Chiseler has been dormant for some time due to, it seems, cyber-terrorism! But it’s back now, and I have a short piece about Kit Williams’ puzzle-book, Masquerade.

A friend mentioned this book to me and it sounded intriguing and sort of familiar — maybe I was aware of it in my childhood, but forgot all about it. Eventually, curious, I bought a copy second-hand. It all seemed terribly familiar — but I had no specific memory of ever having read it or seen it. My first ever case of literary deja vu.

There’s a very nice BBC documentary about Williams ~

And another, from nearer the time of the book ~

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