Archive for Fay Compton

Moor and Better

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , on October 18, 2017 by dcairns

Just enjoyed — immensely — Criterion’s Blu-ray of Orson Welles’ OTHELLO* — I opted for the 1952 cut, which I believe to be superior. For one thing, we get Welles narrating the titles, which is always a treat. More spoken titles, please!

“That was a film mainly about the locations,” assessed Fiona. “And what he can do with them,” I added.

As successive restorations have improved the visuals (I first saw the film in a fuzzy 16mm projection with inaudible sound), Welles’ achievement becomes clearer. I still regret Welles’ over-optimism about what he can get away with in terms of lip-sync, or its absence, and his reliance on dirt-speckled freeze-frames for a couple of shots at the climax. But the film, in all its glorious audio-visual incoherence, succeeds as fever-dream, a shimmering flick-book of staggering architectural contortions.

And sometimes it succeeds as Shakespearian drama too — particularly in Welles’ quiet moments, and in everything Fay Compton does as Emilia (the most perceptive character in the play).

I’m doing a Welles thing at the moment. I’ll tell you later.

*My frame-grabs are, perforce, from the old DVD.

Advertisements

From the Lighthouse

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on April 8, 2016 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2016-04-06-23h13m53s111

I love lighthouse movies in principle — it always feels like they’re going to be excellent, all fog and dark and isolation and tension. And then, if you’re lucky, you get THE PHANTOM LIGHT, or TOWER OF EVIL if you’re slightly less lucky.

But CAPE FORLORN, by E.A. Dupont, (previewed here two days ago) manages to combine the required suspense and close-quarters conflict with a real cinematic vision, inflected through the somewhat clunky technology of 1931 British filmmaking (Dupont managed a simultaneous French version, with Harry Baur, and a German, now lost, with Fritz Kortner and Conrad Veidt, apparently lost). The impressive opening long take is doubtless identical in all three cuts, since it doesn’t feature the main cast nor any dialogue.

Fay Compton exits the mildly sleazy night club environment of the opening, where she may be some kind of bar girl, to marry a lighthouse keeper in New Zealand. Bored to tears on the wretched rock, she tarts herself up nice for hubby Frank Harvey (who wouldn’t have had a chance with her if he hadn’t already written the movie). Fiona was excited by the 30s makeup presented in loving product-shot close-up ~

vlcsnap-2016-04-08-10h22m25s85

vlcsnap-2016-04-08-10h22m36s191

vlcsnap-2016-04-08-10h22m41s239

A bit of research gave her the history of Mouson’s Lilac Cream and even found the ad which Fay is trying to look like.

german-fashions-magazine-tips

vlcsnap-2016-04-08-10h20m05s185

“You looked better before, love,” was Fiona’s disappointed verdict on the made-over Compton. But when Harvey wipes the muck off her face and throws the kit out the window, Fiona was properly outraged. You can’t do that to a woman’s products! With Fiona cheering her one, Fay runs into the corky arms of Karloffian bit of rough Edmund Willard, but soon throws him over for a sexy stowaway. Well, Ian Hunter was always a bit fleshy for a sexpot, but he’s the best-looking thing with a Y chromosome on this ragged outpost, and a girl has to live. Maybe this film could play on a loop with Borzage’s STRANGE CARGO so that Hunter could get washed away and then washed up, repeatedly.

vlcsnap-2016-04-06-23h14m50s177

Soon there’s a highly uncomfortable love quadrangle, with Fay as the centre of attention, and Hunter’s dark past clouding over the already-bleak horizon. Dupont directs the hell out of all this, his camera floating up and down the winding stairs, observing from a lofty, anxious height, while the soundtrack offers a constant throb of surf, or wind, or shrieking gulls. In the year or so since ATLANTIC, the sound crew have learned how to mix, so that now every scene is oppressively loaded with atmos, an approach which would be abandoned as soon as it was begun. So CAPE FORLORN is a mutant of the earl sound cinema, an experiment that “didn’t work” but which, seen with modern eyes, works beautifully, if strangely.

As the movie’s sex fulcrum, Fay Compton is an odd bit of casting, with her soulful yet ovine features, but she was always a sympathetic, sincere performer, and it’s a pleasure to see her in this early role.

vlcsnap-2016-04-06-23h15m23s251

vlcsnap-2016-04-06-23h15m27s29

E.A. Dupont throws focus like a boss!

Network have released this offbeat masterpiece of DVD, and you should buy it if you like sexual tension and lighthouses and cinema.

Long, isn’t it?

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

 

The long-take opening shot from E.A. Dupont’s fascinating CAPE FORLORN, about which more imminently.

It’s a remarkable feat — and, given the primitive sound technology of the time, a pretty good job of developing atmosphere.

Alfred Junge did the production design — love the cardboard fern at the start — not sure which of the three cinematographers is responsible, but Jack Cox had worked with Hitchcock.

I’ve thrown in a bit of the following shot too, for context, and because I’m fascinated by the first actress who speaks. Does anyone know who she is? IMDb and the film’s own credits are silent on this matter. The actress on the right is Fay Compton, owner of the house in THE HAUNTING and Emilia in Welles’ OTHELLO, an actress I always enjoy.

Full write-up shortly.