Archive for Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Natan News

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2013 by dcairns


Time I collected all our NATAN news together — or all the news that’s ready to print.

The movie just played two dates at the Cambridge Film Festival. Here’s a Podcast interview with me.  And last weekend it was on in Penicuik town hall. This Sunday it screens there again, part of the Penicuik Festival of Scottish Films (it’s an Irish production, but I’m Scottish and we shot our studio scenes in Edinburgh).

On October 10th (my birthday!), the film screens at Dallas Video Fest at the famous Alamo Drafthouse — I hope to do a Q&A via Skype.

The French premier is on October 17th at the Lumiere Festival in Lyon. This is VERY exciting. Lyon has an amazing line-up and it’s astonishing to be in such company. And we can’t wait to see the French reaction to a couple of Celts blundering in and rewriting their film history.

Before that, however, Pordenone Festival of Silent Film are stretching a point and showing our talking documentary on the 12th. David Robinson, Chaplin biographer and former director if Edinburgh International Film festival, programs this one and it seems like another amazing cinephile treat.

Since Telluride, much has happened or is happening that we can’t go public with yet. But —

I’ve written liner notes for a forthcoming Arrow Blu-ray of Philip Kaufman’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. I was excited to realize that Tom Luddy, director of Telluride is IN the film, playing a pod person, so I thought I’d find him at the Fest and ask him about that. I located him at the amazing mountain brunch, and he immediately said “Oh, Phil’s here somewhere.” so I got to drink bloody marys (with freshly-grated horse radish) with Philip Kaufman and ask him about his movie.


Phil K and I. Altitude sickness can be fun!

Later, I slipped him a DVD of NATAN and he was kind enough to say he liked it. We asked if we could quote him and he sent us this astonishing testimonial —

“David Cairns and Paul Duane have brilliantly explored the archives and shadows and have unearthed a man, airbrushed out of History, virtually unknown to the present, who was one of the most important figures in the history of French cinema. Natan was a nonpareil entertainer responsible in great part for the survival of modern French cinema; yet he was vilified, hounded, and brutally destroyed. In resurrecting him, they have also unearthed the most startling show-biz story ever told: a tale of ambition, fun and shady business that turns into a remarkable horror story: a morality tale without morality. Natan is an extraordinary film!”

My eyeballs popped out ping-pong-fashion when I read that, I can tell you. I’m also very fond of this piece from Boulder Jewish News, which ties the film to the recent debate re Ben Urwand’s book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler. Pointing to Natan’s downfall, Stan Kreis suggests that Hollywood execs must have felt that their own wealth and power was imperfectly secure, accounting for their general reluctance to make themselves heard on political issues and particularly on Nazism before the war (and they largely avoided using the J Word even during the war). Kreis is right to assume Natan’s story was known — it received a little coverage in the American trade press, but owing to Natan’s business dealings in America (he distributed Disney’s cartoons in France, for instance), Hollywood bosses would have known a good deal more than was publicized in The Film Daily. The fact that French papers covered Natan’s trial with headlines about “the Jew Tannenzaft, known as Natan,” for instance…

One more great response to the film: at Edinburgh, Ehsan Khoshbakt filmed an interview with me, and it’s now edited and up at Fandor along with his smart and flattering critical observations.


I love to see their little faces light up…

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , on January 2, 2012 by dcairns

Burning, severed gremlin head in the original GREMLINS.

It’s one of those movies we catch a minute of on TV and we end up watching the whole thing. There are a number of movies like that, and Joe Dante is responsible for a disproportionate number: GREMLINS II, INNERSPACE… if MATINEE, THE ‘BURBS and SMALL SOLDIERS turned up more regularly, they’d probably have a similar effect.

And each viewing turns up more details, like the wonderful puppetry of Gizmo falling asleep to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS on late-nite TV: fear, sleepy fear, sleep… And a trip to the IMDb turns up more in-joke casting that eluded me, like the fact that the town minister is the guy from The Trouble with Tribbles. Demented gag where he casually encourages one of his parishioners to insert a hand into a mailbox he knows is gremlin-infested, just so he cans see what happens…

At any rate, I’ve contributed a short appreciation of Dante to La Furia Umana, the excellent bi-lingual online movie magazine, and you can read it here.

“You’re next!”

Posted in FILM with tags , , on September 13, 2010 by dcairns

Despite possessing a morbid streak as wide as William Conrad, I don’t usually do obituaries here. Perhaps because I try to ration myself to one blog post a day (and I sometimes fail), and so any unexpected news items like the recent passing of the great Claude Chabrol kind of put me off my stride if I attempt to memorialize them. Perhaps because, if you mention one noted departure, you have to mention them all, and I hate the way the Oscars have that role-call of the dead that always manages to slight some unforgettable talent.

But, morbid as I am, I couldn’t very well miss the chance to head an obituary with the words “You’re next!” And Kevin McCarthy, who has passed away at aged 96, was a superb talent and an always-welcome presence on our screens. I last saw him in 2007’s TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD, happily playing off his association with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, his first real classic movie role. Despite having this gigantically iconic performance in his resumé, and despite referencing it a few times, notably by appearing in Philip Kaufman’s excellent remake, he was much more than that single, beautifully modulated perf: his long association with Joe Dante (INNERSPACE is probably my favourite example from that collaboration) showed him to have a real gift for comedy. In this age of mass-produced pod people entertainers, he was an original.