Archive for Brian Aherne

Going Underground

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on March 20, 2021 by dcairns

Can any filmmaker have run out of spoons so early and so catastrophically as Anthony Asquith? His silent films are great, even when they have one foot in sound (A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR). I’ve been unable to see THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS, and have heard great things about his 1931 war movie, THE BATTLE OF GALLIPOLI. THE LUCKY NUMBER has definite moments. But sometime after that, his whole approach seems to change, and the expressionist shadowplay is replaced by photographs of actors talking, talking, talking. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is certainly well cast, but I glanced at it recently and was pretty put off by the flat and unimaginative filming. There was Miles Malleson, talking about a book, which he had in front of him, but which was completely framed out. Asquith, I felt, was not only not thinking in pictures, delivering mere literal coverage, he wasn’t even paying attention to the WORDS.

But look!

UNDERGROUND, screened at Hippfest with Neil Brand’s exuberant and eloquent score, is entirely something else. It makes an epic (melo)drama out of pieces of everyday life — admittedly ending in a spectacular running battle between hero Brian Aherne (very appealing) and the brute, Cyril McLaglen. The days when a brute might be played by someone named Cyril. And when the Underground and Battersea Power Station could form dynamic, menacing and even glamorous settings for movie action.

The kind of thing Britain is now absolutely unable to do, it seems — though maybe Edgar Wright’s return to London will provide some visual energy.

More here.

Pg. 17 #11

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2020 by dcairns

For several months past I have been planning my spare time upon a set regimen. I allow myself one hour a day for concentrated meditation. One of my favourite reveries is the idea of founding an institution from which you send out bills to people all over the world, and then sue them when they don’t pay. You get a commission from the lawyers your unfortunate victims employ to defend themselves.

*

‘Listen, Ragle,’ Black said. ‘You’re really making a mint out of this ‘green man’ contest, aren’t you?’ Envy was rampant on his face. ‘Couple of hours at it, and you’ve got a week’s pay right there.’

*

A few minutes later they were in the main business district of Greeneville. The driver swung in to the curb and stopped. He said, ‘This is about the middle of town, mister. Guess you can look up your party in the phone book and you’ll be all right. And there’s a taxi stand right across the street to get you wherever you’re going. Charge you a hell of a price, but they’ll get you there.’

*

And zombielike, halfway through the dinner, I lost the del Luca prize check for $25,000. Having tucked the check into the inside breast pocket of my jacket, I let my hand stray idly to that place and realized that it was gone. Did I “intend” to lose the money? Recently I had been deeply bothered that I was not deserving of the prize. I believe in the reality of the accidents we subconsciously perpetrate on ourselves, and so how easy it was for this loss to be not loss but a form of repudiation offshoot of that self-loathing (depression’s premier badge) by which I was persuaded that I could not be worthy of the prize, that I was in fact not worthy of any of the recognition that had come my way in the past few years.

*

In the evening we reached Santa Maria de Nieva as the last light was fading. On the way the boat ran aground and the propeller broke. While we were tied up on the bank replacing it, Indians watched us through the branches from their nearby hut, remaining silent and motionless, and they remained motionless as we set out again, going upstream. In Nieva, Jaime de Aguilar showed us gold dust, which he had folded neatly into a piece of stationery. The comandante in Pinglo makes hundreds of his Indian recruits pan for gold in the Rio Santiago, and he already owns sixty-five beer bottles filled with gold dust. I saw youthful soldiers working on a sand bank.

*

All over the nation girls started to earn their own money. Gold diggers whose lives had been the most tedious, readily took to exciting jobs as mannequins, models, and cover girls. Those with sufficient talent went on the stage. Nontalented beauties got jobs in Hollywood and the nonbeauties went into offices.

*

He is in Colour the most beautiful of his Race, in Symmetry the most Perfect, in Temper the most Docile, his Nature is so far from being offensive, that he is pleasing to all who honor him with their presence.

*

This week’s selection of passages from seven page seventeens from seven books on my living room shelving seems to focus on money, but also colour. It all started with the short section of the first Philip K. Dick novel I ever read, where Dick seems to be riffing, consciously or not, on manifestations of the colour green — from mint, to the little green man, to folding green to the green of envy. And from there on, everywhere I looked there seem to be green and gold or at least referencing colour, and the colour of money in particular.

A Dreadful Man, by Brian Aherne, extract from a letter from George Sanders; Time Out of Joint, by Philip K. Dick; What Mad Universe, by Fredric Brown; Darkness Visible, by William Styron; Conquest of the Useless, Reflections from the Making of Fitcarraldo, by Werner Herzog; Kiss Hollywood Goodbye, by Anita Loos; Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, by Ricky Jay, from an advertisement for Toby the sapient pig;

Swapping Deckchairs

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2020 by dcairns

Nice of Brian Aherne, in the Jean Negulesco TITANIC, to proudly display the name of his favourite Bob Fosse film.

Though I would have put him down as more of a LENNY man.

Working on a new Shadowcast, or at least talking about doing so… I realise if we’re going to make this podcast thing a success we’ll have to make some actual podcasts… thinking of theming it around movies about the Titanic. There are quite a few. We’ll just talk about the ones we’re interested in. Probably these:

ATLANTIC. EA Dupont, Britain, 1929. Stars Thomas Cromwell; Princess Flavia; Sir Henry Baskerville; Harry Blump, the Window Washer; Needle Nugent; Detective Frank Webber; Gen. Mercier; Emily Hill; Duke of Orleans; and One-Round

The Nazi TITANIC. Gervert Selpin, Germany, 1943. Stars Léone; Chef von Scotland Yard; Elephant Keeper Kellerman; Inspector Groeber; and Inspector Karl Lohmann.

TITANIC. Jean Negulesco, USA, 1953 which stars Waldo Lydecker; Martha Ivers; Jonathan Hart; Louise Kendall; Moe Williams; Maximilian I of Mexico; Ishmael; Cousin Albert Van Cleve; Lord Alfred Douglas; the Dear One; Herod the Great; and the voice of Klaatu.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER. Roy Ward Baker, Britain, 1958, Which stars Douglas Bader; Cmdr. Fortune; John Quincy Adams; Pussy Galore; Hylas the Glaswegian argonaut; Don Jarvis; Ieuan Jenkins; David Copperfield; Illya Kuryakin; Chief Inspector Tim Oxford: Argos the Surrey Argonaut; Peter Coffin; Dickie Winslow; Catweazle; Lenin; Prof. Bernard Quatermass; Takyan; Det. Chief Supt. Charles Barlow; Q; Prince Otto; Sandy Youth; Norm; Tumak; Vivian Darkbloom; the Duke of Wuertemberg; Captain Winston Havelock; and Boba Fett.

And I guess we won’t be able to entirely avoid James Cameron’s TITANIC (USA, 1998) which stars Rick Dalton; Young Iris Murdoch; The Phantom; Annie Wilkes; Strawberry Alice; Margaret Waverton; Private Hudson; King Theoden; Henry Niles; Herbert Arthur Runcible Cadbury; Reed Richards; Jeremy Secker; Pontius Pilate; and Captain Winston Havelock again.

Why, it’s Captain Smith! The real one, seemingly. The little white blotch to the right of his head seems to be where somebody’s scratched out the name of another ship, for what reason I’m uncertain. All through this documentary short, frequently mislabeled as SAVED FROM THE TITANIC, the names of ships are erased.

The real SAVED FROM THE TITANIC is, I believe, lost. It was the first Titanic drama, released in 1912 to cash in quick, and it starred a real survivor of the disaster, Dorothy Gibson.

Well, you can’t really blame her for trying to salvage something from the experience.