Archive for Faye Dunaway

The Easter Monday Intertitle: A Semple Plan

Posted in FILM, Mythology, Radio, Television with tags , , , on April 21, 2014 by dcairns


Intertitle from ’70s teleplay The Disappearance of Aimee. I was excited to learn of the existence of a show where Faye Dunaway plays evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, Bette Davis plays her old mum, and James Woods and Severn Darden fill out the cast. And that Anthony Harvey, implacable devotee of aging Hollywood divas, directed. And that it dealt with ASM’s mysterious 1926 disappearance.

Sadly, the piece is a stodgy courtroom drama, probably the dullest (but cheapest) approach to this story, and the mouthwatering cast spend all their time testifying in either a legal or religious sense. One is starved of scenes where actors actually converse, one to the other.

I was looking at the film as part of my latest SCHEME — a week dedicated to period movies from the 1970s New Hollywood. I’ve already had plenty of suggestions via Facebook, but I will readily accept MORE — I am probably excluding westerns, which are their own thing, and am more interested in stuff by the young directors of the period but would consider the likes of Elia Kazan’s THE LAST TYCOON as a possibility. Obviously I have a tendency to swing towards obscurities rather than celebrated jobs like CHINATOWN, but I make no rules up front…

Faye Doubt

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by dcairns

PUZZLE OF A DOWNFALL CHILD — with its purposely enigmatic, arch title standing as a slight warning to all those about to enter — is a brilliantly edited, handsomely shot and designed film with an entrancing central performance and strong support (including the wonderful Viveca Lindfors and a pre-leathery Roy Scheider). I don’t know that I’d call it a masterpiece or a major work, but I might. It’s going to take a little more digesting, a couple more viewings.

Faye Dunaway is one of the few stars who could convincingly play a fashion model, since she has not only the beauty and thinness and height but the right KIND of beauty. Hollywood movies tended to cast preposterously unsuitable types as models, so you’d get the likes of Susan Hayward on the runway. Almost uniquely, this movie has convincing models and convincing and attractive clothes for them to wear.

Dunaway’s gift for neurosis is what makes her doubly suitable for her role, as the character falls apart in a blur of self-obsession, lies, loneliness and (totally offscreen) drug abuse. The film is typically vague about the medical specifics of her mental breakdown (see also PLAY IT AS IT LAYS) — is she depressed, anxious, schizophrenic? The latter seems hinted at, with paranoid delusions creeping in. Then we see her condemned to the high fashion wing of a stark-white limbo asylum and it’s all maybe a little too chic (but visually stunning, and they’re consciously pushing it into fantasy).

But the colour-supplement grain of Adam Holender and Michael Small’s score exemplify the film’s virtues — they are highly aesthetic, and very much of their time, but applied intelligently so they’re not merely fashionable. The same goes for all of Jerry Schatzberg’s directorial choices, which exploit the broad stylistic and technical palette of 70s American film without ever treading outside the bounds of visual good taste — no wanking the zoom bar, no excessive filters, “psychedelic” camera flare, no freeze-frames or split-screens (all of which can be justifiable, but which tend to be more abused than used). It’s a beautiful object, animated by Dunaway’s exposed nerve of a performance.

“He always wanted a pool.”

Posted in FILM with tags , on November 2, 2011 by dcairns

Photo by Randall William Cook, with apologies to Terry O’Neill.

So, in Robert Mitchum’s words, I went to Hollywood to become a glamorous movie actress. While my adventures there consisted mainly of sitting in a room writing, which was what I was there for, I do have a few snapshots and stories to present here, which should start filtering out this week. I also took a ridiculous amount of time out from the job I’d come to do to pose for the above picture, mainly at Fiona’s insistence. Once I’d mentioned the idea I wasn’t allowed to back down.


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