Archive for Ali Mitchell

Euphoria #30: I trust the sight of the young people refreshes you

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Mythology with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2008 by dcairns

ringstone round 

On Saturday night Fiona and I went to see SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET with our friends Ali and David, and naturally I pumped them for suggestions for the blog here. This is Ali’s excellent proposal for a moment of cinema that warms the cockles and releases endorphins (which are stored in your cockles and released by heat).

THE WICKER MAN is still one of the few Scottish films that Scottish people like. Because it’s actually unusual, intelligent and entertaining, I suppose (there’s no accounting for taste). Those in charge of promoting Scottish cinema have, in their wisdom, chosen to concentrate on making dull, depressing and anti-cinematic films, so it’s no wonder that Robin Hardy, director of this little classic, has struggled to find funding for a WICKER MAN follow-up.

Of course, THE WICKER MAN is an English production set and filmed here, rather than an indigenous film. As such, it’s part of a small group of foreign portrayals of Scotland that Scots actually like. WHISKY GALORE and LOCAL HERO have Scottish or part-Scottish directors. The success of BRAVEHEART here testifies to our healthy population of patriotic idiots.

A lot of people have been inspired by this film over the years. Jonathan Ross credits Britt Ekland’s performance for “helping me through those difficult teenage years.” Ewen McGregor can be seen watching it in SHALLOW GRAVE, and chortling, the way all Scots instinctively do when a policeman is immolated. For those of us in the film industry, it’s a monument to the principle that the words Scottish and Cinema CAN go together.

Ali is a brilliant costume designer:

send in the clowns

She’s dressed WICKER MAN star Christopher Lee in GREYFRIAR’S BOBBY, and was recently chatting to Robin Hardy about COWBOYS FOR CHRIST, his follow-up to TWM. She found him fun and extremely energetic — which he’ll need to be.

But her reason for picking this moment is the perfect encapsulation of the Cinema Euphoria Credo — it makes her happy.

Euphoria #19

Posted in FILM, literature, Television with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2008 by dcairns

Regular Shadowplayer and acclaimed Mick Travis impersonator Alex Livingston suggests the scene of Spike Milligan’s arrest from Richard Lester’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973).

“before i think about it too much and sink into a tarpit of indecision, i am going to nominate a scene from richard lester’s the three musketeers. christopher lee and his guards drag raquel welch from her bedroom whilst spike milligan fumbles to reload his flintlock pistol, utterly blind to the possibility that he may not have the upper hand. i think it is basically the muttering that does it for me here”

I’ve thrown in the following sequence because I like the sedan chair gag, and an appearance from Frank “Captain Peacock” of Are You Being Served? is always a bonus.

Raquel Welch phoned Richard Lester up in the middle of the night to complain about the boob jokes in the film.

“This bit where a hand reaches from a heap of melons and grabs my wrist — I don’t think it’s funny.”

“Well I do.”

At which point she called the producers and threatened to quit. Colossal panic — the funding was contingent on her involvement. They sweet-talked her back on-board, but she still pulled stunts like wearing costumes modelled on Lana Turner’s in the ‘forties version, rather than on historical fact like everybody else.

Christopher Lee bored everyone rigid with his endless anecdotage, except producer Pierre Spengler, who found him fascinating. Lee can pick up an anecdote, if interrupted, and continue it MONTHS LATER, if required. But my costume designer friend Ali, who worked with him on GREYFRIAR’S BOBBY, got on very well with the Great Man. As Sidney Greenstreet says, “I’ll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.”

Spike Milligan stared at the historical recreations in complete awe: “People really lived like this,” he would say, with tears in his eyes. 

we must bustle

The movie has one of the most disparate casts ever assembled. Charlton Heston shares a scene with Milligan, finding him “very funny but not over-the-top”. OF COURSE he’s over-the-top! He’s in a completely different comedy register from everybody else in the film! But Lester excels at uniting different styles of acting / muttering.

Alex adds:

“out of maybe five films that i considered taking my euphoric moment from, three featured faye dunaway. isn’t that funny?”

Not funny, Alex, JUST SENSIBLE.

the revenge of milady

Footnote: any Americans unfamiliar with Milligan’s brand of surreal TV can educate themselves using the University of Youtube. Maybe start HERE.