Archive for I Want to Live!

Time Gentlemen Please

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2018 by dcairns

On my last day in London I went to see The Clock at the Tate Modern — Christian Marclay has created a 24hr film that’s a LOT more interesting than 24hr Psycho. It’s essentially a day-long scratch video  composed of snippets from movies of the last 120 years or so, all on the theme of time, most featuring clocks — clocks arranged in the edit so that if you enter the screening room at 11.20, as I did, you will see Susan Hayward facing execution at 11.20 in I WANT TO LIVE! (“Why is she – ?” began a small child before being hushed.)

Three minutes later I was startled to see an actor I had the pleasure of working with, Graham Crowden, speaking the time aloud in BRITANNIA HOSPITAL. He was the only I actor I’ve known personally to turn up while I was watching.

We also got PETULIA. And REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (above), which was startling as I’d just been interviewing a crew member from that one the day before. Of course HIGH NOON turned up at the appropriate time, intercut with Waring Hudsucker making a flying exit from Hudsucker Industries and various heist films. Lots of heist films all through, as people like THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN naturally need to synchronize their watches. Lots of people hurrying to catch trains, too — fitting, as I had a train to catch at 3. This is a movie you can watch without any fear of losing track of the time, which is the exact effect most other films are supposed to produce. It was quite a strange sensation: as a whole bunch of films illustrate the passage from 12:05 to 12:10, time is drawn out and it takes a while to get there, but at the same time the film is extremely diverting — What’s that one? I know that one! — and so the time seems to pass very quickly when you look back at how long you’ve been sat there. Time is simultaneously being stretched, squashed, and kept absolutely in place.

I stayed for the duration of a regular feature film, but would really like to see the whole thing so I could declare “This is where I came in!” Is that a thing? Does anybody take a seat at 9am and stay there until 9am the following morning, when the same clip starts showing? Toilet breaks would be permissible, and you could probably smuggle some modest snacks in… it would take care of my London accommodation, saving me the need to sleep on an inflatable bed that slowly thins out and lowers me to the floor by morning…

Something to do with Death

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by dcairns

Heard something rather remarkable today from Rod Stoneman, formerly of Channel 4 and the Irish Film Board. He heard it from documentarist Murray Grigor and, independently, from Sir Christopher Professor Frayling, biographer of Sergio Leone. The event concerned is covered in Frayling’s excellent Leone bio, Sergio Leone: Something to do with Death, but oddly this detail is kind of buried in the text, almost as if Frayling didn’t see the cosmic irony of it.

As Frayling describes it, maestro Leone died in bed watching TV with his wife. His heart just stopped beating. He put his head on her shoulder and said “I’m sorry, I don’t feel well.” Then he died. His last words have the poignant simplicity of the kid’s line in ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA ~ “I slipped.”

What Frayling inexplicably undersells is the name of the film the Leones were watching.

Robert Wise’s I WANT TO LIVE!

This is a pretty striking trick for fate to pull. I’m reminded that when James Whale committed suicide by drowning in his own pool, the book he left out was ~

But in that case, the sardonic sense of humour, if that’s what it was, belonged to Whale, who was noted for his macabre puckishness. In the case of Leone, the mocking laughter is not of human origin.