Archive for Brian Pettifer


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2015 by dcairns


I had the pleasure of writing liner notes for Masters of Cinema’s Blu-ray release of Lindsay Anderson and David Sherwin’s IF…. (available below — support Shadowplay by treating yourself to a copy) in which I speculated about the enduring mystery of our time — the fact that UK prime minister David Cameron has cited the movie as his favourite of all time. Anderson’s scabrous satire of British public school life seemed an unlikely choice for a senior product of the conservative establishment to cherish. In my essay, I speculated wildly on what might have led Dave to this choice, but all my suggestions were censored by Paramount, the movie’s rights holder.

But I have now been forced to reconsider my theories, owing to recent revelations (if you are uncertain which revelations I am referring to, Google the words “David Cameron fucked a dead pig’s severed head in the mouth” and all will become clear). I now think that Cameron was confused when choosing his fave pic, and was thinking of the sequel to IF…., 1973’s picaresque fable O LUCKY MAN!

In this film, there is a scene which has haunted nearly everyone I know. I’ve met several people who tuned into the 178 minute epic part-way through, got to THE SCENE, and turned off in terror, and never quite knew what film they had been watching or even if it was real. (I’ve also met people who accidentally tuned in to ERASERHEAD while high. They didn’t look quite as shaken when recalling the experience.) For the IF…. extras I also interviewed actor Brian Pettifer, who nearly starred in this scene, only the special costume they’d made didn’t fit him. The most memorable role in the film ended up going to the actor with the right neck size. Jeremy Bulloch, also known as Boba Fett, or sometimes Boba Bulloch.


The character is a human head transplanted on to a pig’s body by rogue Scottish scientist Graham Crowden. What I’ve now realized is that, obviously, Mr Cameron, seeing this scene, cannot help but realize that somewhere that pig’s head must still be around, and he casts his mind back to happy days of higher education, and feels vestigial stirrings in his private chippolata, as he remembers when he was able to practice upon the lifeless lips of a deceased farm animal those skills he has since used upon the nation as a whole.

If…. (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] [1968]
O Lucky Man! DVD Region 2 Malcom McDowell (Import)

Shave and a Haircut

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2015 by dcairns

15.06.14. LM Barney Thomson Ltd. The Legend of Barney Thomson, 43 INT BARROWLANDS BINGO Barney spots Charlie at the bingo * Cast approved flagged in Green only Production Office Suite 1:09, Red Tree Business Park, 33 Dalmarnock Rd, Bridgeton, Glasgow Graeme Hunter Pictures, " Sunnybank Cottages " 117 Waterside Rd, Carmunnock, Glasgow. U.K.  G76 9DU.   Tel.00447811946280

I can’t really review THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON because I’m very good mates with the screenwriter, Colin McLaren. One drunken evening in 2001 we watched five Scottish state-funded short films back to back, got a bit cross about them, and wrote CRY FOR BOBO as the farthest possible opposite we could conceive of to Scottish miserablism.

And, frustratingly, I can’t give you any gossip either, because I don’t know very much and I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone. I mean, I know who modeled for the prosthetic severed penis, but I just can’t tell you. (His name does not appear in this post. But there’s a clue for you — it’s a man.) And I know whose mum Thomson’s performance is partially inspired by, but I don’t think I should go into that either.

Robert Carlyle, making his feature debut, directs and also stars as the titular Barney, a put-upon barber in Glasgow. And the city has never looked better — Glasgow has its own mythic sense of itself, and the film taps into that with expressive, red-soaked visuals. Carlyle seems like a real director, not just for the strong performances he elicits, but for his visual sense and narrative control.

Barney Thomson 6

Chief among these is Emma Thompson, barely recognizable in startlingly convincing old-age makeup and a gravelly Glaswegian accent, swearing her head off as Barney’s appalling mum. When Barney accidentally kills a fellow barber, it’s to mum he turns, at which point the plot’s grisly black comedy really starts to ramp up, with rival detectives Ray Winstone and Ashley Jensen closing in on the nervous hairdresser and mum being perhaps more a hindrance than a help.

Oh, there’s also Stephen McCole (the bully from RUSHMORE), and a trio from Colin’s previous feature, Martin Compston, James Cosmo and Brian Pettifer (having a very good year, what with his turn in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell). And Tom Courtenay, who’s HILARIOUS. His timing

But you can’t really trust me on any of this, since Colin’s a mate. So probably you should just see the film for yourself, right?


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on July 12, 2014 by dcairns


New from Masters of Cinema.

TOO LATE BLUES, the second film of John Cassavetes, has a video intro by me.

IF…. has a text essay in the booklet as well as an interview with Brian Pettifer, one of the film’s dazzling discoveries, conducted by me.

HAROLD AND MAUDE has another video intro.

Strange seeing myself on video on a commercially available DVD. Even stranger seeing my name as an item on the menu. DAVID CAIRNS — that’s all it says. Click here for some David Cairns.

Thanks to Brian, to Colin McLaren for the use of the flat and the excellent spaghetti and to Alberto and Lukasz and Anna and Mario for recording my blatherings. Thanks to MoC for the gigs in the first place.

Now you should buy at least one of them!

If…. (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] [1968]

Harold And Maude (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray) [1971]

Too Late Blues (Masters of Cinema) (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD] [1961]


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