Archive for Kiss Me Deadly

The Sunday Intertitle: Shiver ‘n’ Shake

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on February 10, 2019 by dcairns

THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927) has many novelty intertitles. The Kino DVD has a great score by Neil Brand. And the film screens at this year’s Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo’ness. (Line-up here.) I’m writing program notes for it so I don’t want to say too much here yet. But I’ll reproduce my notes on Shadowplay after the event.

You never saw one like THIS, did you?

SUNRISE’s famous melting murder-proposal “Couldn’t she get drowned?” comes close, I guess, but this one has the added value of dropping into frame word by word. It puts me in mind of the end credits of KISS ME DEADLY.

Now I better go write those notes.

Advertisements

Stab Me, Sugar

Posted in Dance, FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h25m59s107

Vincente Minnelli’s THE BAND WAGON, which Fiona had never seen, was a big hit with us — viewed with friends Nicola & Donald. It has just enough story — it doesn’t plummet into an endless ballet like AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Too much narrative might be a problem — musicals seem to exist in an unusual relationship to plot, with progress essentially halting for each number, which freezes a moment of happiness or sadness and extends it and wallows in it. This being a putting-on-a-show story, it has license to depart even further from the spine — especially since, as in most movies where a show of some kind features, the play being staged, inexplicably called The Band Wagon, seems to be a mishmash of disconnected songs, a revue of sorts, even though we’re TOLD it has a story, which is even summarised for us at the start. When you try to make the songs fit the outline, however, you find that they don’t, except the big one ~

The Girl Hunt, choreographed by Michael Kidd, spoofs Mickey Spillane, and allows screenwriters Comden & Green to extend their satiric twinkliness into a song-and-dance for once. We were particularly impressed by the various book titles displayed at the start, (KILL ME CUTIE, STAB ME SUGAR, THE BODY WITHOUT A HEAD) and by the surrealism of it all — it pinpoints the hysterical sense of nightmare that permeates noir, and which usurps any sense of reality in Aldrich’s Spillane adaptation, KISS ME DEADLY, and boils to the surface in the work of David Lynch.

In fact, if The Girl Hunt ballet were somehow to be a new production, everyone would be talking about how it plunders Lynch’s movies for imagery.

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h14m36s192

Syd Charisse plays dual roles, like Patricia Arquette in LOST HIGHWAY. “She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway.”

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h16m58s73

Giant fireball like in WILD AT HEART — also LOST HIGHWAY, and others. Lynch, on how he got the idea for the exploding shack in LOST HIGHWAY, which seems like a clear echo or the blazing beach house in KISS ME DEADLY: “We had finished at this location, and then I suddenly got this image in my mind, and I called the effects guy over and asked him what kind of really powerful explosives he had. And he said that he had A LOT, but that he could GET MORE.”

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h19m15s171

The clue of the shiny rag — obviously a reference to Dennis Hopper’s titular sex-swatch in BLUE VELVET.

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h20m42s242

Nothing in this sequence specifically relates to the red room in Twin Peaks… but the general effect evokes it in every way.

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h22m58s83

The fight amid the mannequins — now it’s Kubrick and KILLER’S KISS that seems to be the target. The pre-perfectionist Kubrick rather screws that scene up with some egregious eyeline-crossing, causing each piece of store dummy to change direction as it’s hurled. Minnelli and Kidd and Astaire have no such trouble.

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h26m48s84

Back to Lynch, with the Greek sculpture and b&w floor irresistibly evoking Twin Peaks again. The palette is different, but you wouldn’t want red curtains in a bathroom — not restful.

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h26m26s119

Lynch’s sets don’t usually have this level of stylisation, but in THE GRANDMOTHER he painted all the rooms black and then chalked in the edges in white for an abstract, graphic effect (painting his cast’s skin chalk-white too). Here, the highlight is the minimally-rendered skyscraper, it’s lower storeys obscured by other buildings that aren’t rendered at all.

vlcsnap-2014-10-26-21h21m03s218It’s the cursed ring from FIRE WALK WITH ME!

I guess what this sequence has in common with Lynch and particularly the world of Twin Peaks (returning to out screens next year), apart from some imagery, is that both exaggerate the incomprehensible plotting of the pulp mystery into abstraction — these mysteries can never be solved because their terms aren’t clearly defined. Suspects, clues, leads and corpses multiply absurdly, and Comden & Green mock these conventions by amping them up while Lynch pushes them further in order to enjoy the mysterious as an end in itself.

As I tell my students, never solve an intriguing mystery with a boring explanation.

 

Percy’s Progress

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 13, 2014 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2014-09-12-16h12m37s55

As promised, some more on character player/atrocity Percy Helton, at The Chiseler.

Contrary to appearances, I do like Percy H. I always perk up when his shiny bulb hoves into view.

Remember, there’s Pert Kelton and Percy Helton and never the twain shall meet.