Archive for David Cairns


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2021 by dcairns

Our copies of TALES FROM THE URBAN JUNGLE, Arrow new Jules Dassin box set, just arrived.

It contains both BRUTE FORCE and THE NAKED CITY, plus a booklet with

Fiona and I contributed a video essay, edited by the estimable Stephen C. Horne, and I made my first audio commentary, assisted by brilliant actors Steven McNicoll and Francesca Dymond, who enact unused script extracts by Malvin Wald & Albert Maltz — also in the mix are movie trailers, documentary extracts, old-time radio, TV… a melange of audio to create a sense of the media world from which TNC emerged, and to mirror the film’s extraordinary soundtrack of narration and semi-diegetic vox populi… It was kind of a ridiculously complicated way to make a commentary track, and a ton of work, but I hope somebody enjoys it.

The set also includes a booklet with terrific new writing but also Richard Brooks’ simply WONDERFUL elegy for producer Mark Hellinger (this is really a shared Dassin-Hellinger set). Worth the price of admission alone.

Mission Creep

Posted in FILM with tags on January 19, 2021 by dcairns

Having transformed the audio commentary from a thing where you maybe prepare notes or perhaps a full script, or just get together with a pal and improvise entertaining chinwaggery, into something where I wrote a script, edited audio and rewrote, and created an alternative soundtrack around it with actors and archive sounds and moved the film’s original audio around to create flashbacks and callbacks, basically spending more time on it than the film’s original dubbing mixers would have or could have…

…I’ve now taken a commission to do a long video essay and turned it into a full documentary with interviews, including celebrity guest appearances, archive film, never-before-seen outtakes and auditions (maybe), spectacular scenic interpolations, animation (maybe) and various other bells and whistles…

Now it’s become a compulsion and I’m starting to think we should have an original score


Posted in literature with tags , , , on January 9, 2021 by dcairns

It took Amazon quite a while to sort me out with physical copies of my book, but now I can appreciate its girth and heft from the comfort of my own home. I can even view it upside down, which I couldn’t easily do on my phone.

Here is a raspberry-hued extract:

“This was the late Dr. Gagnon’s study,” I said, nodding to the electric fan which now stood idle and unplugged. “He was scattered all about. It took Muckle hours to gather the remains by brush and shovel, and I fear he is even now resting in pieces intermingled with ordinary house dust and insect casings.”

“I don’t see how you could identify the body with certainty under such circumstances,” said Scotland Yard, baffled.

(I supply his side of the conversation with some dubiety, since nothing he says seems to stay in the mind for more than an instant after utterance. But I can mostly recall what I said, so with a bit of deduction his contributions to the symposium can be loosely reconstructed.)

“Well, we used a couple of methods. Firstly, Dr. Gagnon had been subsisting for some weeks on a diet of turnip. Pierre moistened a finger, sampled the dusty remnants, and confirmed that they retained a marked flavour of that particular root vegetable.”

“But for heaven’s sake, man, leaving aside the possible charge of cannibalism, someone could simply have cremated a cartload of produce.”

“They could,” I agreed, “But ‘neeps,’ as the locals call them, do not traditionally wear dentures. But we did not settle so easily on a fixed conclusion. Dr. Stagmantle sifted through the powdery material, subjecting it to various tests, and detected a high level of Gamma Radiation. The late Dr. Gagnon had spent several years studying such rays at the Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Institute in Basel. So we are confident that poor Gwynplaine no longer inhabits Urchless, save in granular form.”

And here are a couple of cerulean links:

Link to Amazon UK.

Link to Amazon US.