Archive for Jean-Paul Belmondo

Sea Shells

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on August 3, 2017 by dcairns

WEEKEND AT DUNKIRK — at The Notebook. Thanks to William Bostock for suggesting it.


Light My Fire

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2013 by dcairns


Watched IS PARIS BURNING? because I’d been meaning to and it was one of the film’s on Spike Lee’s recent, very good, list of films every film-maker should see. (Full list here.) Also recommending it was the fact that René Clement is aces, and the cast is beyond sumptuous (although some of the big names are only in it for a cough and a spit) and the screenplay is adapted by Francis Ford Coppola and Gore Vidal (were those two actually in a room together?).

The best aspect of the movie, about the liberation of Paris and the Nazi scheme to blow the city to schmidtereens, is the accumulation of little anecdotes, vignettes with the bizarreness which marks them as true. Belmondo conquers a palace just by showing up with his wife and demanding the French police hand it over to him. Jean-Pierre Cassel conducts a machine-gun assault from an old lady’s apartment as she watches, enchanted, sipping tea, then orders his men to clear up the spent bullet casings from the floor as they leave. Anthony Perkins treats his invasion as a sight-seeing tour.

It’s an oddly upbeat war movie, but not in the offensively jingoistic John Wayne manner — it’s really a celebration of Paris, which blossoms into colour as the end credits roll. Stylistically, there are some awkward moments, and the marriage of stock footage and not-quite-verité action is sometimes a trifle jarring.


There’s an early moment which is a very striking example of muddled filmmaking. Two resistance members (Delon & Caron) meet in a cinema where a newsreel is screening. For some incomprehensible reason, the cinema screen is in a 14:9 aspect ratio which did not exist in the 1940s (IPB? is itself widescreen), with the footage anamorphically stretched to fit, resulting in stretch tanks and tubby Wehrmacht. I can only assume somebody in the production felt a 4:3 screen would look old hat, and that no audience could possibly care about such a detail. Strange when so much work has gone into every other detail.

The cinema seems very bright — and this is factually correct, for when the Actualité Mondiale newsreels (co-produced by Pathé and Gaumont and serving up Pétainiste propaganda: several are quoted in our film NATAN) were screened, audience members heckled. To prevent this, the lights were kept on. Somebody knew this, and thought it worth including in the film, even though there was no opportunity to explain it to audience members who might not know — and yet they compromised on the aspect ratio to make it look more modern.

There must be a lesson in this, and the one I choose to take is: far better to simply be honest.


Dyan Cannon’s Shagging Palace

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2012 by dcairns

Dyan Cannon’s Shagging Palace from David Cairns on Vimeo.

You need to see this. The film is Henri Verneuil’s LE CASSE, starring Belmondo, Sharif and Cannon (Dyan, not Tommy) — and cutie Nicole Calfan, Faye Dunaway’s maid in THE FOUR MUSKETEERS. It’s a very stupid but very exuberant sort-of heist movie. Belmondo and his gang (including Robert Hossein, still playing his dour, charmless stooge role from RIFIFI) steal a million in emeralds but their ride out of town doesn’t materialize, so they’re stuck in Athens with the loot and nasty copper Omar Sharif on their asses.

Belmondo takes up with Dyan to pass the time — the first thing in the clip is Dyan Cannon’s Sexy Sex Club, which is a truly happening joint, with a rotating stage that alternates red-hot lesbionic action with listless tap dance, according to whether the authorities are checking. Then you get to see the amazing split level pad (the upper level is little more than a perspex closet, but THAT TOTALLY COUNTS) with shag carpet growing out of every surface. Sinking into her Leisure Depression, with the flip of a switch, Dyan causes a purple-fuzzed drinks cabinet to RISE FROM THE FLOOR, wobbling pathetically, presumably forced upwards by a sweating prop man balancing it on his bald head. She sticks some Morricone lounge sleaze on the hi-fi, then oops, she drops her the lid of her ice bucket (but we don’t do re-takes for that kind of thing) and then Belmondo turns up and things get Adult.

Hey, Dyan can turn the lights on and off just by clapping! If Belmondo spanks her he could get temporal lobe epilepsy.

And the filmmakers have thought of that gag too.

Photocube! Erotic flip-book! Ms Cannon’s entire environment consists of stuff that would vanish within a decade (I seem to recall the same was true in SHAMUS). I picture her now revolving helplessly in a white void, the world around her gone the way of the trimphone.

How stupid is this film? In the opening heist, Belmondo produces a spectacular piece of kit — a sort of computer thing in a briefcase. One attachment resembles a hand drill, but is actually a powerful miniature X-ray video camera of the kind that doesn’t exist. JPB uses this to x-ray the safe and obtain the registration number from the inside of the door. I don’t think this would work, at all, but at any rate any normal man would be horribly irradiated by doing this for a living. But not Belmondo, who has balls like cantaloupes and sperm like tadpoles. Radiation just makes them more powerful.

Having gotten a mirror-image of the registration number on his vidscreen (because he’s filming it from the wrong side of the safe door) and lacking elementary screen-grab technology, Belmondo places a small perspex square on the screen and traces the numbers. Reversing it, he can make sense of the confusing digits and looks them up in his guide to safe registration numbers and the kind of keys that fit them. Then it transpires that his little computer-x-ray-camera-briefcase is also a key-cutting machine, and it manufactures a key for him right there.

Of course I was hooked — if the movie was willing to start off in this ridiculous fashion, where would it go next? You can insult your audience’s intelligence only so far before you find yourself making JAWS: THE REVENGE. Or you look in the mirror and see Michael Bay looking back at you with cold, dead, empty eyes.

In fact, what we get next is some shoddy plot construction, a suspense sequence in which naughty Omar practices just missing his prisoners with a pistol while drinking a series of whisky shots to make things more interesting, and some truly impressive action sequences, in which Belmondo’s willingness to risk life, limb, torso and head are exploited to spectacular effect ~

And then there’s the shagging palace.