Archive for Ernst Lubitsch

The Shining Around the Corner

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 12, 2017 by dcairns

Box 237, as it appears in Lubitsch’s THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER.

Kubrick liked boxes, as we know. And here’s his Room 237.

Amusingly, the Lubitsch, with its moody b&w, disconcerting camera angle, and sexy strangler glove, looks more like a horror movie than Kubrick’s brightly lit, well-appointed interior.

In the documentary, ROOM 237, one point which is distinctly mysterious — even if you dismiss all the moon landing and Indian genocide theories — is that the story Kubrick told Michel Ciment, about changing the room number from 217 in Stephen King’s book, because the real Oregon hotel used as an exterior had a Room 217 and they didn’t want guests being afraid to sleep there, and they didn’t have a Room 237… that story simply isn’t true. The Timberline Lodge has a 217 AND a 237, so why did Kubrick change the number, and why did he lie about it?

Maybe there’s a theory we can spin about this being a Lubitsch homage? Which he was ashamed to admit to?

I know, sounds pretty weak.

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Brown trousers time

Posted in FILM with tags , , on January 6, 2016 by dcairns

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The night before Billy Wilder began shooting THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR, he called his mentor, Ernst Lubitsch (pictured).

“Tomorrow I start directing my first film, and I will shit my pants.”

The Great Man replied, “I have directed sixty films and I still shit my pants.”

Not to put myself on a level with either of those geniuses, except perhaps in the pants-shitting department, where I fancy I can hold my own with anybody.

THE NORTHLEACH HORROR, my new short film, starts filming today.

 

The Dia de los Muertos Intertitle

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by dcairns

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EYES OF THE MUMMY (1922) is a film in many ways a disappointment — we have Lubitsch, we have Emil Jannings, and we have Pola Negri, but we don’t have a great film. In his Lubitsch biography, Laughter in Paradise, Scott Eyman focuses harshly on a single moment when Jannings has considerable difficulties with his horse, wondering why on earth the shot wasn’t retaken or just excised. The conclusion is that Lubitsch didn’t care, that he lost heart at some point during this film.

The prospect of a Lubitsch horror movie is enticing, but this isn’t really it — the one uncanny image, the titular mummy eyes, is quickly revealed as a Scooby Doo plot to hoodwink gullible tourists. From then on, Jannings’ menacing blackface Arab is the only dramatic threat, and he’s of a wholly corporeal nature.

I did get a brief frisson when I first watched this, when the image below appeared ~

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Whoops, now it’s the image above. The pic appears in Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies, and I realized I’d just inadvertently checked off a movie from my quest to see every film depicted therein, a quest I have called See Reptilicus and Die (a quest that has been more or less moribund lately as the few films left available to me are so very, very unappealing).

As lacklustre as the film is, it doesn’t deserve Alpha Video’s shoddy rendition, which replaces the German intertitles with cheesily-designed and semi-literate English ones. As the film goes on, these become fewer, as if the Alpha Video titling department (I’m picturing an intern with photoshop) had lost its enthusiasm even more markedly than Herr Lubitsch. By the end, you pretty much have to guess what’s going on, which does add a bit of entertainment value.

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Hey, Alpha Video, what the heck is a sejour?

Aaaand… the whole thing’s on YouTube.