Archive for Barbra Streisand

Pg. 17, #8

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2020 by dcairns

It was hard to look at Estelle, for she was in front of a window, and the window was filled with windy sun, which hurt Sylvia’s eyes, and the glass rattled, which hurt her head. Also, Estelle was lecturing. Her nasal voice sounded as though her throat were a depository of rusty razor blades. ‘I wish you could see yourself,’ she was saying, Or was that something she had said a long while back? Never mind. ‘I don’t know what’s happened to you: I’ll bet you don’t way a hundred pounds, I can see every bone and vein, and your hair! You look like a poodle.’


“It is very true that I have a headache always on call, or on tap if you like and have only to move my head so — ah, devil take it!”


Guy removed his mask and let it hang, in correct form, across his chest to dry.


‘I’d like to be beautiful but sometimes I think I am strangely put together… They always write about me as the girl with the Fu Manchu finger nails and the nose as long as an anteater’s.’


His silence filled the shabby room. He took off his scarf and dropped it on the chair behind him. Sadie sat rocking very gently, making a cradle of her worry. He looked across at her. She looked so gormless that a suspicion formed in him slowly.


He looked across the distance at Mrs. Slape in maroon and Gallelty murmuring in emotion. Gallelty’s ferret face was all aquiver; he could see the twitch in her eye and her lips rising and falling.


The sensation of coping with real objects in the present tense was out of all proportion to its cause; film was still a record, even though it moved, But it was a kind of record no one had ever seen before, and its impact, even when the report was of something ordinary and familiar, was overwhelming. Had no one seen a kiss before? Not in this way. One of the relatively few surviving films that almost everyone has come across in museum showings or in commercial compilations is the still-celebrated May Irwin-John Rice The Kiss. The film runs less than a minute. Though both Miss Irwin and Mr. Rice were professional actors, we do not look at them as actors here. We simply see a rather large, coarsely grained, agreeably puckish woman heartily embrace and kiss a sportive gentleman with a formidable beard. But, for the first time, we see it monumentally close up, we see it all from beginning to end, and we see it with none of life’s discreet need to turn away. We are permitted to be fully present.


Seven passages from seven page seventeens from seven books from one shelf. It appears to be chance that three of the authors are called William, as is all the talk of masks and scarves and headaches, though I’ve been dealing with those things a lot lately.

First and Last, by Truman Capote (the extract is from the short story Master Misery); Close Quarters, by William Golding; A to Z of Hollywood Style, by Sinty Stemp (the speaker is Barbra Streisand); Officers and Gentlemen, by Evelyn Waugh; Laidlaw, by William McIlvanney; The Boarding House, by William Trevor; The Silent Clowns, by Walter Kerr.

Past Life Digression

Posted in Fashion, FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2018 by dcairns

The Late Show: light reprise.

Holy cats, ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER is quite a thing, isn’t it?

Nutty as it is (blame/credit Alan Lerner), I’d argue that, commercial failure notwithstanding, we could see this as a triumphant conclusion to Vincente Minnelli’s career, were it not for the fact that he made one more movie, A MATTER OF TIME, which was a disaster (recut and partially reshot by AIP, who apparently didn’t notice it was a period movie and spliced in lots of docu-style shots of seventies Rome).

There’s this ordinary girl, see, (only she’s played by Barbra Streisand, so not that ordinary) and she turns out to be really hypnotizable, and shrink Yves Montand discovers he can regress her to a past life and he falls in love with her past life, who was far from ordinary, and meanwhile her present life is romantically complicated by her unsuitable schnook boyfriend and her ex-stepbrother (Jack Nicholson!) and what is Yves Montand to do since he’s in love with a dead girl who he can only contact through her mundane contemporary incarnation who bores him rigid?

Welcome to VERTIGO, the musical. Only it’s barely a musical, since the songs are relatively scarce and usually get played as internal monologue or positioned as fantasies — a translucent apparition of Babs sings to the more solid version of herself, and of course they have great chemistry together). But even if it’s oddly fainthearted as operetta-film, and only a couple of the songs (notable the title number) are memorable, there’s A LOT to enjoy.

Cecil Beaton did the costumes for the period storyline, which feels way underdeveloped in narrative terms but looks astounding. Some friend of Streisand did her modern clothes which are mainly horrid but maybe they’re meant to be? John DeCuir did the production design — check out HIS amazing list of credits. Of course, he had a help from Brighton Pavilion, an amazing location. But he makes the modern-day New York sequences exotic and wild and cinematic too — Minnelli is a director who feeds off his production design (and feeds into it, of course).

The flashbacks are crowded with terrific Brit players — John Le Mesurier turns up just to drop a monocle — Irene Handl and Roy Kinnear and Pamela Brown. And, remarkably, Babs does a spot-on posh English accent and then shares a scene in cockney with her old mum, Handl, where her vocal work is… not embarrassing. No Dick Van Dyke, she. Well, she hasn’t got the legs for it. But you know what I mean.

What she can’t really do — and in fairness nobody seems to be trying to help her — is suggest ordinariness, or suggest why Montand thinks she’s boring and stupid. She plays it full-on kook, which she can certainly do, but she seems more appealing, as a personality, than her previous earthly form. But still, the film, which doesn’t have much of a narrative engine, is able to continually refresh itself by plunging in and out of the past, using a variety of trippy visual devices including stroboscopic flash-cutting, proving that Minnelli had at least noticed what was going on in the visual culture around him.

It’s on Netflix, by the way.

Starring Fanny Brice, Cesar ‘le Papet’ Soubeyran, Maj. Major Major, Schrank, Jake Gittes, Tumak, Queen Eleanor [of Aquitaine], Mrs. Gimble, Private Clapper, Sgt. Wilson, Mr. Alonzo Smith and Eegah.

The Sunday Intertitle: So long, salon

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on November 9, 2014 by dcairns



Athalia Roubinowitch, sculptress (played by Suzy Pierson, actress), who, in keeping with her louche 20s lifestyle, has a small dog, a pet monkey AND a parrot (the three animals Fiona craves, although she wouldn’t actually keep a monkey as a pet as that would be wrong).

THE MIRROR HAS THREE FACES is not a threequel to Barbra Streisand’s 1996 madman business, and nor was that in itself a sequel to something called THE MIRROR HAS ONE FACE. No, indeed. Instead, LA GLACE A TROIS FACES is a 1927 Jean Epstein drama, full of melting lap dissolves, sparkling finery, closeups of facial features and impressionistic glamour. The idea is an interesting one — three women are in love with the same man, but each perceives his character quite differently. A brief sketch at 40 minutes, it could have been expanded with more story to put the various facets of his supposed character into action — without exploring his behaviour via dramatic situations, the concept seems more trite than it really is. But wallowing in 1920s exoticism is always fun…

The IMDb has no date of death for Suzy Epstein, born 1907. It seems a bit optimistic to hope she’s still out there, but if not, how can the star of so many movies drop out of history like that?

If you haven’t blown all your resources on Jacques Tati, you can buy the Epstein box set here: Coffret Jean Epstein – DVD