Archive for Eight and a Half

That’s Gratitude for You

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on November 13, 2013 by dcairns


A late report from Pordenone Festival of Silent Film (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto) ~

The comic Polidor is most likely to be familiar from his late roles for Fellini (a clown in EIGHT AND A HALF, an elderly actor in TOBY DAMMIT) but he was a successful comedy star in his own right in the 1910s. Tontolini and Polidor were his screen names in most territories, but in the Dutch print of EXCESSIVE GRATITUDE screened at Pordenone he has been re-re-christened Flippie.

Flippie is suicidal because he has no money and it’s always raining (making this a perfect match for SYND in which Lars Hanson has the same problem). But when a good Samaritan gives him his wallet and umbrella, the clown’s exaggerated despair becomes equally disproportionate gratitude. The Roberto Benigni schtick soon drives his benefactor to thoughts of homicide. Failing at outright murder, he eventually shoves Flippie into the path of a slow-moving hand-cart, which graphically slices off both his legs at the knee, in an impressive Meliesian jump-cut trick effect. The Samaritan turned mutilator repairs to a roadside café triumphantly brandishing the amputated limbs, their trouser legs still miraculously attached, but is appalled by Flippie’s reappearance, perambulating around on his stumps like Lon Chaney in THE PENALTY, as infuriatingly upbeat and appreciative as ever.

Despite how it sounds (early Daffy Duck meets early Peter Jackson?) this was actually pretty funny — the product of an age when black comedy did not exist as a concept, it’s simply the product of filmmakers trying whatever struck them as funny or surprising. Nevertheless, if I’d seen this as the sensitive kid I used to be, the limb-lopping gag would have left me traumatized for DAYS.


Polidor expresses his excessive gratitude in TOBY DAMMIT, Fellini’s episode of SPIRITS OF THE DEAD.

Spirits Of The Dead [Blu-ray] [1968]


Talk Big

Posted in FILM with tags , , on June 1, 2011 by dcairns

…and then I saw LA MATERNELLE, in which the subtitles were so huge they sometimes threatened to explode from the screen and crush the cat. And the subtitlers were forced to pile the lettering up in odd formations in order to fit it into the compositions without obscuring them completely.

More on this fine film later.

Clearly absurd.

This is going TOO far.

Happy 100th

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

By some strange socio-linguistic quirk, it is not ever acceptable to refer to a woman as old if you know her name (although an unidentified person in the street might be thought of as an “old woman”) so one can only observe that the mighty Luise Rainer is today 100 years young. That must be really young.

While it’s tempting to attribute her longevity to getting out of the picture business while the getting was good, genes as strong as those cheekbones must also be involved, and a certain determination too. An attempted comeback in LA DOLCE VITA was thwarted when Fellini cut her scenes, and then he had the nerve to base the rather irritating movie star in EIGHT AND A HALF on Rainer, but even this can be spun into positivity: Rainer remained an inspirational figure even when not onscreen.

Hooray for her!