Archive for A Bout de Souffle

Quote of the Day: The Girl With the Black Tongue

Posted in FILM with tags , , on June 6, 2008 by dcairns

More from Paul Donnelley’s compellingly horrible Fade to Black, I’m afraid. The entry on Jean Seberg is MASSIVE, since her eventual suicide took at least ten years to actually come to its ghastly and tragic fruition. Skip this entry if you’re feeling a bit fragile. Go watch some Preston Sturges instead.

Ah, Jean!

“She was paid $100,000 to appear as Confederate colonel’s widow Alexandra Mountford in MACHO CALLAHAN (1970). On set she contracted a disease that caused her tongue to turn jet black. She would wander the location jokingly asking if ‘anybody want[ed] to kiss the lady with the black tongue.’.”


“The following month on a flight to America, Jean drank heavily, disappeared to the toilet and came out completely naked and screaming that hijackers were attempting to take over the plane. Her bodyguard managed to make her return to her seat where she gobbled tranquillisers. By the time the flight landed in Chicago, Jean was out of it, barely able to stand. Her bodyguard put her into a luggage trolley and began wheeling her through the airport. Then she spotted a black policeman and began screaming at him that he was a traitor to his race, making a grab for his gun.”

And: “On September 8, 1979, her decaying body was discovered by police. Jean’s car had been parked around the corner from her home for ten days. One of the first journalists to arrive at the scene noted: ‘It wasn’t a pretty sight. The car doors were the sort that close hermetically, so the body had literally baked in the sun for ten days. The odour was unimaginably foul. It just seemed to hang in the warm summer air for hours.'”

It isn’t always possible to help people who are dedicated to self-destruction. Seberg was obviously surrounded by people who wanted to use her (by definition, anybody making a film with her is in this category, however nice they might be), but also with quite a few people who loved her or wanted to help her. It’s the kind of story that’s heartbreaking, magnetically lurid, and ultimately depressing.

I hope no one films it.


Pardon the Intrusion

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2008 by dcairns

WORLD EXCLUSIVE from Shadowplay. This is INTRUSION, the first film by ’60s UK horror-film enfant terrible Michael Reeves.

Unfortunately, in the years since its production, the soundtrack has gone astray. Also unfortunately, since Reeves made the mistake of making his film exactly 34 seconds too long for YouTube, I’ve had to omit the opening title that reads, “This film is dedicated to Jean-Luc Godard.” It’s a dedication that makes me smile. Godard dedicated A BOUT DE SOUFFLE to Monogram Films, makers of low-grade quickies. Reeves dedicates his low grade quickie to Godard, without a trace of detectable irony.

dedicated to the one I love

The film isn’t exactly good or anything, but it’s historically very important and it’s been unavailable for years because the people who have their hands on the only print charge a fortune for video copies. Even Reeves’ biographer, Benjamin Halligan, got stung.

So now here it is for free, so you can all enjoy the first film performance of future Reeves star Ian Ogilvy as the Obsequious Butler (?) the fact that the bad guy wears Jean-Luc Godard shades, the novelty of a would-be hard-edged thriller being performed by public schoolboys in the leafy English countryside, and the complete lack of irony or plot twists.

Neon Ogilvy

It’s an early work, owing more to Reeves’ hero and mentor Don Siegel than to Godard, and probably of interest only to Reeves completists. We get the sex (sort of) and violence (sort of) and the rural and distinctly English setting, which connects it to other Reeves movies, even if it is basically a home movie by precocious teenagers. We’re certainly not talking TWO MEN AND A WARDROBE here. The rest of you should check out psychedelic psycho-thriller THE SORCERERS and vicious allegory WITCHFINDER GENERAL to see Reeves at his height, and mourn the loss to British cinema — Reeves died of an accidental overdose at age 25.

(I love the fact that for some reason INTRUSION is “A Leith Production,” since that’s where I live in Edinburgh. The name has fulfilled itself.)