Archive for Dudley Moore

Tontine Spirit

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2021 by dcairns

Bryan Forbes’ THE WRONG BOX, scripted by Larry Gelbart & Burt Shevelove from (very, very loosely) Robert Louis Stevenson & Lloyd Osborne’s comic novel, comes close to being really good. Peter Cook & Dudley Moore are terrific. Ralph Richardson’s delivery and John Mills’ slapstick are excellent. The strange pairing of Michael Caine and Nanette Newman (Mrs. Forbes, de rigeur in his movies) kind of works. And the thronging cast also includes startling work from Wilfred Lawson — looking like a vulture’s foot, clenched into a long, knotty fist — Peter Sellers — pure Goon Show lunacy — and a late appearance by Tony Hancock, who’s barely holding himself together, alas.

I can’t quite work out why it doesn’t exactly hang together. Forbes doesn’t have nearly enough money for what he’s trying to do — so the skits at the start showing the untimely demises of a bunch of actor friends (Leonard Rossiter should learn not to take part in duels) are mostly performed against tiny, unconvincing sets (and the gags are weak as well as grisly). We see TV aerials on Victorian rooftops. Forbes’ ludic mode isn’t as natural to him as Richard Lester’s but the art nouveau titles are nice. Some of the editing has just the right rhythm, some is jagged or random. Either Forbes hasn’t thought out his scene transitions or he’s been forced to rethink them because something didn’t work, necessitating a reordering.

Then the final chase gets terrifically poor — money trouble, I think. John Barry has contributed a lovely music-box theme but doesn’t want to get out and push with the action sequence. Maybe the Bonds had him tired out. Then there’s a kerfuffle in a cemetery with some good dialogue again and then —

VERY abruptly we’re pulling out in a helicopter shot that’s blowing everything all over the place, and without much of anything being settled, it devolves into chaos. I know it was the sixties, so maybe Forbes felt nobody wanted to see order restored… it feels like Gelbart & Shevelove wrote him a resolution but he copped out of using it. Farces depend on neatness, it’s the basis of their form. You can write countercultural farce — Orton was the master of it — but you can’t write sloppy farce. It’s the same as bad farce.

But still, Peter Cook gets to say “You realise you made me drop my grebe.”

The Sunday “That’s not an intertitle.”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2019 by dcairns

We watched BEDAZZLED again last night because our dinner guest, Marvelous Mary, had never seen it. Filling in gaps in our friends’ cinematic experience is all part of the service.

Anyhow, the leaping nuns (you probably have to see it yourself) are sworn to a vow of silence which is a hurdle for screenwriter Peter Cook, who is all about the words. He solves this with tape recorded messages, internal monologues/telepathy (internal dialogue?) and signposts, a bit like those produced as required from behind the backs of Looney Tunes characters.

BEDAZZLED was the late Stanley Donen’s favourite directing experience. He doesn’t get in the way of the comedy, he just records it in a succession of gorgeous shots. His experience with dance may be of help here.

It strikes me that Cook’s only weakness as scenarist, apart from his verbal emphasis, which is more of an inclination than a true weakness, is that he tries too hard to pack everything with wit, jokes, epigrams and paradoxes. Whereas film comedy maybe works better if you just play a funny situation, investing in its warped reality. But actually, he does this for long stretches with Dud’s scenes. It’s only with his own stuff as Arthur Spigott, the devil incarnate, that he has to make himself a fount of bon mots. And do a funny voice. And look impossibly cool.

Behind Cook’s obvious genius and all-too-obvious, supreme self-confidence, as Barry Humphries analyses in a compelling DVD extra, is a strange LACK of self-confidence.

Make a Faustian pact Wimpy Bar double feature of this with Michael Reeves THE SORCERERS for Halloween?

Positively the same plastic tomato.

Awful Paradise

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on January 25, 2018 by dcairns

        

TRAPPED IN A PARADISE OF EVIL AND DEATH? Say, what kind of paradise is this, anyway? A paradise of evil and death? That sounds like an AWFUL paradise!

Lines from DEREK AND CLIVE GET THE HORN ~

Dudley Moore: When we go to heaven, they’re going to play this film to us, on a loop. As we burn.

Peter Cook: You don’t burn in heaven.

Dudley Moore: We will.