Archive for George S Kaufman

Holliday Affair

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2016 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2016-05-02-08h28m06s10

Well here’s a charming thing — THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC comes from a George S. Kaufman & Howard Teichmann play, stars Judy Holliday and Paul Douglas, and is directed by Richard Quine. A charming thing, maybe even a little classic.

Judy plays a pesky small shareholder of a huge company, Douglas plays the honest man who built the company, and there’s a delightful quartet of crooks who take over the business and hire Judy in order to stop her making a nuisance of herself at shareholders’ meetings. The crooks are, reading from left to right (1) blustering Fred Clark — a creep (2) dumpy Ralph Dumke — a dumkopf (3) oily Ray Collins — a louse, and (4) suave John Williams — a rotter. These guys are all tremendously good value, and though Judy has enough star power to keep the whole engine running beautifully by herself, it’s in the boardroom scenes with the wolves that Quine has fun with blocking, sliding his camera and his sleazeballs about in a graceful dance of deviousness.

vlcsnap-2016-05-02-08h30m09s209

(1)                (2)               (3)               (4)

Quine’s formal prowess is also showcased in an ending which playfully blossoms into Technicolor™, some early freeze-frames on the rogues’ gallery, and a playful VO from George Burns. Elsewhere, office windows regrettably open onto grainy photographs of Manhattan, a cheapness which seems to have only materialised in the fifties (surely audiences have a right to expect sprawling miniature cityscapes with clouds moving on wires?).

The story is Capracorn with the corn seemingly reduced to homeopathic levels so that in fact the movie can pose as cynical and sophisticated, but thanks to Holliday and Douglas, who makes a genuinely affecting foil, it has a heart of pure mush. We found it delightful.

Advertisements

Those Daring Young Loms on the Flying Trapeze

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2015 by dcairns

dualalibi

I started watching the above British thriller, in which Herbert Lom plays identical twin circus acrobats, and then The Chiseler came banging at my door demanding articles, so I wrote something about the first five minutes of it. Here.

Then I turned to THE DARK TOWER, an earlier Lom vehicle, also set in the world of the circus, with Herbert playing a hypnotist — only one of him this time — prefiguring his famous turn as a hypno-shrink in THE SEVENTH VEIL. Both these earlier vehicles are, to a large extent, cheap rubbish, padded out with circus acts and inexpensive bit players. THE DARK TOWER has a young David Farrar, and a thoroughly unlikable shit he plays, too. The interesting thing about this one — where Lom turns up as a tramp, just as he does at the start of DUAL ALIBI — is that nobody’s very appealing. Lom, the hated outsider, is actually more sympathetic than his resentful fellow circus artistes, even when he decides to use his powers of mesmerism to try to kill Farrar. Do it!

After a play by George S. Kaufman & Alexander Woolcott — long, long after, I suspect. Though I would like to be able to credit them with naming a minor character “Dora Shogun.”

The Sunday Intertitle: La La Land

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2013 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2013-08-24-00h51m50s218

Title from THE EXTRA GIRL, a Mack Sennett production starring Mabel Normand and directed by F. Richard Jones, in that order.

Title is followed in the movie by a scene of indescribable chaos, as jalopies run riot in the streets and buildings and sidewalks explode with firecrackers…

Plot is a basic MERTON OF THE MOVIES swipe though the story is credited to Sennett, and he got it into cinemas a year ahead of the first official adaptation of Marc Connelly and George S. Kaufman’s play. The Gloria Swanson vehicle STAGE STRUCK tread similar water another year later. Basically, the humour derives from a real star playing a no-talent small-town dreamer who WANTS to be a star.

The starting point may be derivative, and the ending is a cheesy “woman, know your place” homily with Normand finding happiness in motherhood rather than a career, but there’s a pretty impressive climax with a lion running wild in the movie studio offices, while Mabel tries to thwack it away with a feather duster. You don’t see that every day.

vlcsnap-2013-08-24-01h09m59s49

Actually, it’s not even the climax — the film unwisely tries to top it. Sennett never did have much structural sense, even in shorts. But not only does the lion sequence impress with its physical reality (no tricks), and serve up some delicious comedy of terror in the best Harold Lloyd manner, but nearly every image in it has a beauty-and-oddity shock effect, as seen above.

Anyway, I’m off to L.A. at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning. on secret business. I’ll try to keep you posted on what goes on there. Hopefully they’ll have the lion problem well in hand by now.

Another version of MERTON.

Buy this: