Archive for Honeymoon

A Love Bewitched

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 29, 2010 by dcairns

I’m glad this is up on YouTube, and in such pristine form. Hope whoever posted it is the rights holder, I stuck a bit on YouTube and got my account closed for my troubles.

And when are we going to get to see this (deeply flawed, intermittently brilliant) Powell movie? The film that really killed Powell’s career (you don’t wind up making a slasher movie for Anglo-Amalgamated if your career hasn’t been killed)…

I recently saw THE QUEEN’S GUARDS, Powell’s follow-up to PEEPING TOM — he had Hollywood studio backing for it, as the damage of PEEPING TOM hadn’t happened yet. But THE QUEEN’S GUARDS, as Powell ruefully admits in his autobio, is a bad film. As such, it may have done more to hurt him than PT’s critical reception — at least many of the reviewers admitted TOM was made with Powell’s usual skill (this seemed to make things worse). That can’t be said for GUARDS.

At any rate, the idea that PEEPING TOM was the sole cause of Powell’s fall should be laid to rest.

HONEYMOON is startling because the bad bits are so bad and the good bits — see above — so good. It certainly gives the impression that Powell without Pressburger needed a strong collaborator (like Leo Marks) to shape his ideas. The story meanders, never acquires depth, and ultimately fails to resolve itself at all. Even some of the dance sequences are bad: Powell film’s Antonio’s first impromptu dance in medium shot, cutting off his feet, a shocking thing to do in any dance, but especially a Spanish one. Some of the problems no doubt stemmed from a last-minute alteration: Powell felt he hadn’t got enough of Spain into the movie, so he made a quick whistle-stop tour of the locations in his car, filming out of the window. This footage was more or less dumped into the movie, with a treacly song by Wally Stott (musical arranger for The Goon Show, later transexual) laid over it — the result is that the film seems like it’s never going to get started, and when it eventually does, it’s regularly interrupted by tedious travelogue. If Powell had lived with the edit for just a few more days, I have no doubt he’d have hacked some of this filler out.

Still, as you can see from the amazing action above, while it’s not quite THE RED SHOES ballet, the El Amor Bruja number is stunning, and makes the idea of a restoration exciting indeed.

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Pin-Up of the Day: Pamela Green

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on October 17, 2008 by dcairns

Thanks to David Ehrenstein for this rare image. Pamela Green reports that she did indeed appear topless in PEEPING TOM, and that the scene was still in the film at the premiere, where the marquee billed her as a new star of the British cinema. Sadly, as is well documented, PEEPING TOM was regarded as a disgrace by the British press and Green returned to soft-porn nudie films. And the topless shot vanished, presumably into the hands of the thieving Nazi who’s got Arletty’s vanished shower scene from LE JOUR SE LEVE. I hope he goes blind.

It’s perhaps worth protesting that Powell’s British career was ALREADY in a mess before this failure — HONEYMOON, a fascinating but genuinely messed-up movie had disappointed those who had been interested in what Powell would do without Pressburger. Since the later P&P films had, in many cases not done so well, the failure of this films was of huge significance. And Anglo-Amalgamated, the studio produced PEEPING TOM, was a low-rent bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation outfit: Powell’s agreeing to work there sent a message to the industry that he was washed up.

Over at Pamela Green’s charming website, you can read the true story of Powell’s attempt to blind her, and admire some more “views” in this style:

You won’t be doing the crossword tonight!

Pam could not only show skin, she could show it in a variety of shades! Possibly a still from NAKED AND BLACKED-UP AS NATURE INTENDED.

Three Disappointments and a Whoopee

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2008 by dcairns

Disappointment 1: the lack of a really great critical study of Powell & Pressburger. Ian Christie’s Arrows of Desire was a fine starting point, and the coffee-table quality of the book, with glossy and lurid colour stills, makes it a nice visual companion to the Archers’ films. But Andrew Moor’s Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces just seemed too DRY to evoke these lush romances, and Scott Salwolke’s The Films of Michael Powell and the Archers is hampered by the fact that he hasn’t seen all the films. Several times in the book we get the phrase “is hard to see nowadays”, which I might believe if I didn’t have copies of them on my shelves. I guess I’d admit they’re hard to see, but not IMPOSSIBLE. The author doesn’t admit to not having seen HONEYMOON, but since all he does is reproduce some contemporary reviews of it, it’s pretty clear he never managed to track it down. I guess since the book is ten years old, things were tougher then, but I can’t believe THE BOY WHO TURNED YELLOW would be completely inaccessible: Raymond Durgnat sold me a copy for a fiver.

Disappointment 2: What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting by Marc Norman. Norman wrote the script for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, which was then revised by Tom Stoppard (Norman professed himself delighted to have had Stoppard’s assistance), and this is his first non-fiction work. I was hoping to find some kind of thesis lurking in it, but it reads like a stack of anecdotes so far. It reads like *I* wrote it!

The early chapters on silent cinema fall for the old one about Mack Sennett not using written scripts (the half-page or page-long outlines have in fact been found — Frank Capra’s autobiography is not the most reliable source for ANYTHING) and he talks about BIRTH OF A NATION having a scene breakdown prepared from the book, but which was never seen on the set, but he misses my favourite Griffith script story: Griffith’s first short, THE ADVENTURE OF DOLLIE, had its scenario jotted down by Griffith and cameraman Billy Bitzer the night before shooting, on a piece of cardboard that came from the laundry with Griffith’s shirt wrapped round it.

Norman also refers to Chaplin’s first director as Henry Pathé Lehrman, missing the all-important inverted commas around “Pathé” (Lehrman got a job with Mack Sennett with a tall tale about having worked for Pathé: when the ruse was discovered, the name stuck) and says that Herman Mankiewicz worked on “some trifle” called CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY. It may sound like a trifle, and the casting of Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly might have lead contemporary audiences to expect one, but CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY is a very dark film noir romance, and authors should resist making such statements about films they haven’t seen.

I’d still like this book to turn into an impassioned and informed account of the screenwriter’s role, so I’m going to persevere a little further — this isn’t a proper book review since I haven’t finished the thing. I will report back if I end up more impressed by it.

Disappointment 3: Hanno’s Doll by Evelyn Piper. I picked this up after belatedly realising that both THE NANNY and BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, films I like a lot, came from Piper novels. I wanted to read something else by her. Although it does have a nice, twisty plot, the book took me ages to finish, being written in an irksome baby-talk that’s supposed to simulate the thought processes of the protagonist, a fat German actor (Piper must have had an eye of Curt Jurgens for a possible movie adaptation, or Gert Fröbe).

Whoopee 1: Maja Borg, a recent graduate of the Edinburgh College of Art film course where I teach, has a show on next week, Thursday 21st August, 8.30 pm on More4 in their First Cut series. Happy Birthday, You’re Dead takes its inspiration from the fact that a fortune teller once told Maya that she’d die in a car crash before her 25th birthday. The documentary charts the “last” weeks of Maja’s life leading up to her 25th.

I’m rooting for her to survive.