Archive for IAL Diamond

The Apartments

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2019 by dcairns

My card, sir.

LOVE NEST caught my eye because (a) it’s early I.A.L. Diamond (b) it’s late Frank Fay (c) it’s directed by Joseph M. Newman of THIS ISLAND EARTH and (d) it’s early Marilyn Monroe. The latter is the only reason it’s available on DVD, an attempt to wring $ from die-hard fans who’ll watch her in anything.

It’s… OK. Interesting to see Fay, still at it. He gets the only laughs — he plays an aging conman who seduces and robs wealthy widows. He happens to move into the brownstone acquired by bland leads William Lundigan and June Haver (too cutesy, both of them).

Since the general terrain is similar to that of THE APARTMENT, it’s interesting to see how uninteresting Diamond’s writing is — mechanically skilled but without sparkle (I’ve yet to see anything of his I liked apart from his Billy Wilders — which I adore, or most of them). It definitely hasn’t occurred to anyone to make the main characters in any way interesting, as if surrounding them with eccentrics would defray the need for any characterisation as far as they were concerned.

Monroe, of course, gives her usual performance, an excess of lust seething through her carefully arranged smiles, giving the impression she’s ready to rip the pants off any of her co-stars or else leap past the camera and ravish a random crewmember. No shortage of enthusiasm.

Amusing, of course, to hear Lundigan say that if Frank Fay were a little younger he wouldn’t trust him alone with his wife. I’m always sad that there aren’t more FF films, since he’s so skilled and weird, but not as much as I am amazed that there any at all, since he’s so swishy and kind of creepy and doesn’t really have the kind of face photography was meant for. It’s a face that looks as though it’s been dropped on the floor a few times. But issuing from it is that peculiar timbre and that immaculate, unexpected comic timing:

“Would you like a facial massage?”

“Well, it won’t do any good, but it may give me confidence DO IT!”

Words with a “K” are funny

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2012 by dcairns

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The advice of a character in Neil Simon’s THE SUNSHINE BOYS may be genuine showbiz lore — it certainly seems to have informed Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s script for THE APARTMENT, which I showed to some of my students as a Christmas treat.

Jack Lemmon is C.C. “Buddy” Baxter, the “x” forming our first K sound. He works for Consolidated Insurance and his boss is Mr Sheldrake (Wilder’s lucky name, dropped into several scripts). In their first conversation, Sheldrake mentions both the Kentucky Derby (another Wilder favourite*) Where it tips over into the blatant is with Shirley MacLaine’s character, Fran Kubelik. Two Ks is definitely humorous.

One of Lemmon’s oppressors is Mr Kirkeby, which looks sensible written down but sounds kind or funny spoken aloud. Another is Eichelberger, which is comical either way. Kubelik’s brother-in-law is Carl Matuschka, and Hope Holiday is Margie MacDougall, wife of the unseen jockey Mickey MacDougall.

The film uses other kinds of alliteration, rhymes, assonance and echolalia. Objects travel through the film, changing their purpose and meaning with each appearance, taking their cue from the apartment door key which circulates from doormat to in tray, sometimes switching places with the key to the Executive Washroom (a place of hallowed splendour, as we know from WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER?) — a champagne bottle, a hand mirror, a gramophone record.

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In one scene, Lemmon twirls a piece of spaghetti (which should really be dry and rigid after a week stuck to his tennis racket) and Wilder dissolves to a New Year party where Shirley is toying with a string of pearls as streamers whorl downwards — a double echo. And a meme of drunkenly inaccurate raised fingers (“Three,” says MacLaine, holding up four fingers) is transmitted from scene to scene and person to person like the “Type O” blood in SOME LIKE IT HOT. Wilder probably never achieved a script as tightly constructed as this before or since — he’s using a kind of farce structure to tell a story that’s mainly serious, and a bitter and cynical attitude to disguise a story that’s ultimately sweet at the centre.

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*In one anecdote, Wilder pitches a life of Nijinsky to the bosses at Paramount. “What kind of story is this? A ballet dancer who goes crazy and thinks he’s a racehorse?” “Yeah, but in my version there’s a happy ending — he wins the Kentucky Derby.”)

PS — a Christmas limerick!