Archive for Charley Bowers

Scotch Reels

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by dcairns

My second trip to Bo’ness for this year’s Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema allowed me to spend the whole day there, seeing shows from 10.30am until 7.30 pm — Keaton, Bowers, Chase, Von Bolvary, Murnau, Ozu. In the company of delightful people such as Pamela Hutchinson of Silent London, ace accompanist Neil Brand, writer and Edinburgh Film Fest director Chris Fujiwara. With a weird tartan theme going on.

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I’m no expert on tartan. I think my own family pattern is the Clan MacCavebear. What was peculiar was that from the Charley Bowers film on, every movie had a strong tartan presence. THERE IT IS (1928) features cinema surrealist Bowers as Charley MacNeesha of Scotland Yard (visualised as a pen full of kilted men, milling about aimlessly), who investigates crimes too baffling and stupid for the ordinary police, assisted by his kilted flee, MacGregor. Pamela pointed out that Bowers kilt, an obscenely short plaid pelmet, grows mysteriously longer in the final scene where he’s wed Keaton co-star Kathryn McGuire. What is the hidden significance of this?

In LIMOUSINE LOVE (1928), Charley Chase, on his way to his wedding, gets saddled with a naked lady (quite a good role for Viola Richard, since she has to be filmed in close-up throughout). The tartan this time is worn by Josephine the monkey (who also co-starred with Harold Lloyd in THE KID BROTHER and Buster Keaton in THE CAMERAMAN). She crops up quite gratuitously here, wearing an adorable little monkey kilt. Inexplicable.

German cabaret star Ilse Bois in DER GEISTERZUG/THE GHOST TRAIN/LE TRAIN FANTOME (1927, an Anglo-German co-production screened via a French print) plays a temperance campaigner all in plaid, which is stretching a point but her name is Miss Bourne — and in the Hungarian version of 1933 it’s “Miss Burns,” which does sound Scottish. Given her surliness, I suspect she’s meant to have Celtic qualities.

When I spotted two tartan blankets draped over extras in THE LAST LAUGH, I felt confident in predicting that Ozu’s DRAGNET GIRL (1933) would feature some example of the Scottish national pattern. I knew that tartans are not unknown in the east due to Tatsuya Nakadai’s tartan muffler in YOJIMBO. Thanks to an interview he gave to Alex Cox, I even know the Japanese for “tartan muffler,” which I believe is “tarutana muffura.”

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Handsome Joji Oka’s is a particularly fine example.

When I got home, I had to re-check Buster Keaton’s THE BLACKSMITH, as I hadn’t been watching out for tartans in that one. There’s a fair bit of plaid on display. And also an acrobatic lady who MAY be a young Charlotte Greenwood. I’m no forensic identification expert, but how many comediennes could do the splits back then? Perhaps somebody else with a DVD and a keen eye could look into this for me?

The Daily Notebook and the Annual Film Festival

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2013 by dcairns

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Edinburgh International Film Festival has commenced!

But first, The Forgotten, and a silent clown / special effects genius awaits your discovery (with video) over at The Daily Notebook.

Screening today in Edinburgh, I AM BREATHING, the emotionally devastating — but ultimately life-affirming and often funny — documentary by my friends Morag McKinnon and Emma Davie (6pm, Filmhouse 1). It deals with the slow death of an exact contemporary of mine from Edinburgh College of Art, Neil Platt, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. He wrote an amazing blog about his approach to the end, and left this filmic record of his existence partly as a way for his infant son to eventually know him.

Also showing (8.55, Cineworld) another friend’s film, DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse, which I haven’t yet seen but I’m sure going to. I trust the sensibility. Hope to see some of you there!

What else? Oh yes — limericks of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, here and (co-authored) here. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the site!

The Late Show Round-Up

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by dcairns

THE LATE SHOW: THE LATE FILMS BLOGATHON is here. I’ll keep this post at the top of the page, presenting all the participants’ work, while my own entries will appear immediately below it.

Links!

Arthur S., over at This Pig’s Alley, files a confidential report on Eric Rohmer’s TRIPLE AGENT.

The latest Shadowplay post, on Cukor’s RICH AND FAMOUS, is right below this one.

Brandon keeps it coming with an illuminating scan through Orson Welles’ ONE-MAN BAND.

Eric at Sporadic Scintillation plays THE MUSIC, curtain call of the great Yasuzo Masumura.

WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE, the last film from Shohei Immamura, which provoked mainly perplexity upon release, is sympathetically showcased at Serene Velocity.

Flickhead makes a very welcome contribution, bringing a documentary flavour to the proceedings with a look at Varick Frissell’s THE VIKING.

More from Andreas at Pussy Goes Grrr, exploring the tragedy and hope of Mizoguchi’s final opus, STREET OF SHAME.

Gareth’s Movie Diary rides with THE COMANCHEROS, the last movie from golden age giant Michael Curtiz. And a handsome piece it looks, too!

55 DAYS AT PEKING, arguably the final completed feature from (in part) Nicholas Ray, is under the microscope at Mr. K’s Geel Cornucopia. And it takes us into quite a lovely place!

My own new entry is right below this one. NOT an appreciation of LOLA MONTES, merely a sidelong observation or two.

Arch-Shadowplayer David Ehrenstein, over at the Fablog, presents Pasolini’s 1966 anthology piece CHE COSA SONA LE NUVOLE?, in which giant puppets enact Othello… in a Late Show first, you can not only read about the film over at his place, but watch it too.

Brandon again (don’t stop, Brandon!) at Brandon’s Movie Memory explores Jimmy Stewart’s last theatrical feature, an odder-than-odd Japanese nature film shot in Africa.

Ed Howard at Only the Cinema takes on RIO LOBO, a sad note for Howard Hawks to end on, but certainly a recognizable variation on his usual themes and characters. Beautiful screen-shots, making me regret seeing it on an old VHS. A revisit might be in order: I remember enjoying Sherry Lansing’s unlikely turn as a vengeful Mexican.

C. Jerry Kutner writes for Bright Lights Film about James Whale’s difficult-to-see final project, HELLO OUT THERE. Anybody got a copy of that movie?

There’s a new post by yours truly, right below this one.

John McElwee’s Greenbriar Picture Shows examines THE LEFT HAND OF GOD, a late Bogart movie directed by Edward Dmytryk.

Pierre Fournier at Frankensteinia revisits FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, the last film from Terence Fisher, the last Hammer Frankenstein, the last Peter Cushing appearance as the Baron, and one of the last Hammer releases altogether.

Brandon’s Movie Memory absorbs late works by Lindsay Anderson, Charlie Bowers, Buster Keaton, Osamu Tezuka (yay!), Norman McLaren and Joseph Barbera. Wouldn’t they make a houseful?

At Pussy Goes Grrr, an excellent analysis and appreciation of Eric Rohmer’s THE ROMANCE OF ASTREA AND CELADON can be found. A new discovery for me, this blog promises riches!

Jaime Grijalba looks at the last films of Bunuel and Ozu in a Spanish-language entry at Exodus 8:2. Thrilled to have something non-English-language here, even if I can’t read it myself!

At Deeper Into Movies, Brandon’s Movie Memory connects with COLD LAZARUS, the last teleplay of Dennis Potter, starring the frozen, severed head of Albert Finney, and executed “under the strictest writing deadline: to finish the story before his imminent death.” A terrific piece which exemplifies the virtues of this fun, intelligent blog — a sympathetic account which acknowledges the flaws in a film even while seeing beyond them to possibly hidden virtues.

At Boiling Sand, Doug Bonner delves into Herbert Wilcox’s THE LADY IS A SQUARE, exploring how a somewhat stilted film can nevertheless serve as a touching farewell to a star and director. A really beautiful piece.

Another Shadowplay entry by guest blogger and regular Shadowplayer Judy Dean can be found below ~

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