Archive for F Gwynplaine MacIntyre

Just a gorilla who can’t say no

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2014 by dcairns

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Look, I made it a gif! It depicts Kay Kyser being violated by a stuffed gorilla. Yes, I *am* proud of myself. Why do you ask?

YOU’LL FIND OUT (1940) is worth resenting slightly because it unites Karloff, Lugosi and Lorre but is nothing but a silly comedy with not very good comedians. Kyser tries way too hard and isn’t funny. Sidekick Ish Kabibble tries less and is almost funny. On the other hand, Kyser also stars in John Barrymore’s last film, PLAYMATES, so we should be lenient on this one. And none of the ghouls is embarrassing, in fact all get to do their accustomed stuff and do it well. They are the reason to watch.

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There’s also some fun stuff with electronic voice effects, Sparky’s Magic Piano style, which play a big role in the plot. I want to use this feature to decode the film’s writing credits. Director David Butler and James Kern are credited with the story, which is nothing much — an old dark country house spookshow with Scooby Doo explanation. Kyser and his band are playing a gig at this joint, so it’s like THE GANG’S ALL HERE with ectoplasm. Butler directed a lot of “zany” films which aren’t good like HELLZAPOPPIN. He worked with Kyser and with El Brendel and Eddie Cantor and did ROAD TO MOROCCO. Jerome Kern, a former attorney and singer wrote the script itself — I guess they needed someone with an education.

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But three more schmoes are credited with “special material.” Monte Brice seems like a real Pat Hobby character, a silent era hanger-on with lots of vague credits for “story construction” or “special material,” mainly in comedy. One title intrigues: the lost WC Fields version of TILLIE’S PUNCTURED ROMANCE. We can assume it’s lost because it has an IMDb review by our old friend F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre. I suspect Brice may be responsible for the more visual-comedy material, such as the ape assailant above, and maybe the film’s one real inspired gag, the dog playing fetch with a stick of dynamite. Comedy with real terror, as whenever the petrified comics hurl the high explosive away from themselves, the playful pooch brings it back.

Andrew Bennison is also credited, and also has silent movies on his CV, but mainly as a titles writer, so I expect he was writing cheesy quips for Kay and Ish.

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And then there’s the mysterious R.T.M. Scott, who has no other screen credits at all. But I think I now who he is. Musician Raymond Scott worked with early electronic music. He also contributed tracks to David Butler’s earlier ALI BABA GOES TO TOWN. So I suspect he came up with the electronic vokes. I have no idea what the TM stands for though. Scott’s real name was Harry Warnow.

The guy credited for providing the film’s “Sonovox” equipment, however, is someone called Gilbert Wright, so that confuses things. But my theory is that Scott knew of the Sonovox and suggested it to Butler as a plot device. This is of no importance whatsoever. Thank you for your time.

 

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The Monday Intertitle: Mountain Man

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by dcairns

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Bolstering my negative capability, already given a workout by the intricacies of the Allen-Farrow case, I perused Paul Wegener’s 1916 RUBEZAHLS HOCHZEIT, which had German intertitles, untranslated, and with the added advantage of being completely illegible due to the poor picture quality of my DVD. I decided to see what kind of plot-line I could discern, or concoct, from the proceedings.

The film is Wegener’s third, following the crucially important STUDENT OF PRAGUE and THE GOLEM (now mostly lost), and it’s co-directed with Rochus Gliese. It’s another supernatural/mythic kind of story, I think.

I like Rochus Gliese because his name is Rochus Gliese. But not as much as I like Lupu Pick.

Well, there’s this giant — he looms over a mountaintop, some tree branches in the foreground to completely convince me he’s the size of Godzilla. I believe it. He also has a walking stick made from a tree. His beard is impressive — immensely long, rigid and shaggy, as if he had Sean Connery’s arm growing from his chin. But then he goes for a walk and starts interacting with a normal landscape and it seems he’s a regulation-sized bloke who merely dresses like a giant, or a caveman or something. There are some sylphs wafting about in diaphanous robes, paddling in brooks and bothering a deer. He chases them, as you do.

Wegener has lost me already!

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Don’t know what it says.

Ahah! The late F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, who was no stranger to confusion himself, provides an illuminating account of the character’s mythic origins. Since “Froggy” specialised in reviewing lost films as if he had seen them, it’s cheering to discover that this one at least still exists, even if my copy is pretty murky. His summary of the film at least confirms that the hirsute hill-walker is tall Paul himself. I should have recognized those cheekbones, each one like an elephant’s cranium. And it seems that the giant is only metaphotically mountainous — he is OF THE MOUNTAIN, or something.

Despite the German enthusiasm for Alps, RUBEZAHL seems to be the one fantasy film NOT remade either in the twenties, or with sound, or under Hitler, or after the war. Poor Rube.

In the Naughty Naked Nude

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

The opening of ELYSIA, VALLEY OF THE NUDE. Geographically, right next to VALLEY OF GWANGI, I should imagine.

This is a nudist film from 1934. It’s surprisingly competent as a piece of film-making — this becomes less surprising when we realize it’s directed by Bryan Foy, vaudevillian with a huge CV of films produced and directed (including legendary lost item THE GORILLA, 1930, reviewed by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre on the IMDb under the title Harry Gribbon ties a ribbon on a greasy grimy gibbon). How this risqué, pseudo-educational piece came to be handled by such a respected figure, I don’t know. It’s pre-code alright, but even in those wayward days I find it hard to imagine a nudist film playing outside of carnivals and flea-pits, distributed on the four-walling model.

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Caption competition.

Foy’s folly introduces us to all the tropes later exploited by Derek Ford and his grimy brethren in the UK — earnest guff is spoken about the health-giving properties of exposing the epidermis (the pseudo-science and pseudo-history are particularly goofy here) and then we get longshots of naked crowds posed amid trained furniture and foliage to cover their more obscene region (because nudity may be healthy but the sight of a cock will rot your soul in a heartbeat) and medium shots of the prettiest girls smiling with their bosoms out. Said girls looking suspiciously like models.

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But what I want to talk about is the guy in the clip. I’m always fascinated by those bold performers who, like Stanislavski, come up with a new way of doing things. This guy’s technique may well have involved getting squiffy before going on. His delivery has a mystical lilt to it, and his facial muscles sometimes take off on flights of their own, freely expressing something that apparently wasn’t in the actor’s mind at all, but merely something the corner of his mouth or an eyebrow wanted to get off its mind. Perhaps this clean, outdoor living imparts an exuberance to the facial features, liberating them from the oppressive demands of reflecting the wearer’s mental state. No wonder he holds his audience spellbound.