Archive for Jean Gremillon

Lets Get Small

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2013 by dcairns


Joining us in Edinburgh today are my co-director Paul Duane and Bernard Natan’s grand-daughter, the wonderful Lenick Philippot. Craig McCall, our executive producer and the maker of the wonderful Jack Cardiff profile CAMERAMAN, got in on Friday. All set for our first public screening on UK soil tomorrow. Screening today — the first in the Richard Fleischer retrospective, FANTASTIC VOYAGE and THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING. The third in the Gremillon season, the silent LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS, with live accompaniment. Mark Cousins’ follow-up to THE STORY OF FILM, entitled A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM — his best documentary about cinema yet. And COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING, the first foreign fiction movie shot inside North Korea. My former student Vicky Mohieddeen worked on this one!

But also — FRANCES HA; HARRY DEAN STANTON, PARTLY FICTION; UPSTREAM COLOUR; WHEN NIGHT FALLS; THE BLING RING; WHITE EPILEPSY… Chris Fujiwara continues to do a great job, including his chairing the Jean Gremillon symposium yesterday. We wondered going in if such an event would have made more sense at the end of the retrospective, to sum up, but no — it gave us all food for thought and things to watch out for in the upcoming movies.


Great Party

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by dcairns

It really is like Happy Hour at the Overlook Hotel, especially the way Gremillon keeps cutting to yet another party with the same limited repertoire of thirties popular songs playing (Happy Feet!) as if time was on a loop.

The film is DAINAH LA METISSE and by stretching a point to translucency I feature it in this week’s Forgotten as a sort of kind of part of Supernatural Blaxploitation Week.

Paris in the Spring

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by dcairns

So, early April saw me back in Paris, on top-secret Shadowplay business… except I’m about to reveal what that business is…

Regular Shadowplayer Paul Duane proposed to me the idea of a documentary about that shadowy and exotic figure of film history, Bernard Natan — producer in France in the late twenties and early thirties, head of Pathe, and eventually convicted of fraud, slandered as a pornographer, sentenced to jail and finally handed over to the Nazis.

I thought this was a swell idea, but wondered who would back such a film — then Paul found a fund specializing in films that couldn’t get funded any other way. We pitched the project, and they agreed it met that criterion. So now we’re making a documentary feature about a Romanian-French film producer, despite neither of us being Romanian or French or even speaking either language adequately. You can’t blame our contacts in France for looking puzzled.

The reason I’m telling you this is — well, I have to tell you sooner or later. And there’s no reason to remain secretive, I don’t think. And I’m curious if anybody out there has any expert knowledge on the period and personalities we’re dealing with. Apart from Natan himself there are his regular directors, who include Raymond Bernard, Maurice Tourneur, Henri Diamant-Berger, Leonce Perret, Fedor Ozep, Anatole Litvak and Michel Colombier. Then there are the people Natan gave a start to: Jean Gabin, Jacques Tourneur…

Research is already proceeding apace, but I’m very interested in suggestions…

I’m also interested in getting good copies of the Pathe-Natan films. Ultimately, Pathe themselves will supply their finest archive material, but for viewing and consideration, good copy DVDs, especially with subtitles, would be most welcome. Of particular interest: Ozep’s MIRAGES DE PARIS, Pierre Colombier’s CES MAITRES DE LA SANT, Litvak’s L’EQUIPAGE, Tourneur Snr’s DANS LA NOM DE LA LOI, Gremillon’s LA PETITE LISE, and pretty much any others.