Archive for Marco Ferreri

War & Piece

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2020 by dcairns

Not my appalling title, Mel Brooks’, seen on a movie poster in THE PRODUCERS.

I’m reading Inside Mr. Enderby by Anthony Burgess, in which the hapless and flatulent poet of the title finds his latest epic work plagiarized for an Italian horror film — an unlikely occurrence, one might think, but very, very loosely paralleled in my latest Bologna viewing, DONNE E SOLDATI, which employed the poet and film critic Attilio Bertolucci (father of Bernardo), as an ill-defined “artistic advisor.”

Exactly what role AB played is hard to say, but the film, the only one deirected by the team of Antonio Marchi and Luigi Malerba, is fascinating and borderline delightful. Let me enumerate the reasons ~

  1. An interesting story of medieval times, portraying the seasons-long seige of a citadel, during which the fraternization between the beseiged women and the beseiging men reaches such a passionate height that the conflict is eventually resolved.
  2. A distinctive way of telling the story: two voice-overs, one from each side, neither particularly identified with a character onscreen, both talking retrospectively as if from years later.
  3. Fantastic period detail, so convincing that when I saw the injured leader of the invaders (instantly dehorsed in his first battle, elaborate batwinged armour and all) with a leg in traction, I immediately accepted that the filmmakers had done their research and such bonesetting techniques were extant at the time.
  4. Convincing conflict: sharp editing makes the dummies dropped from battlements seem unusually convincing, even if we still know they’re dummies. And when the knights and peasants in the fort charge their enemies, we get a prefiguration of Welles’ great Battle of Shrewsbury in CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT — handheld lurch and undercranking and all. It’s a tenth as long and not a hundredth as good but it’s pretty impressive all the same, and one wonders if Welles might have seen it. Still, the shakicam approach to middle-ages warfare goes all the way back to LA VIE DE JEANNE D’ARC in 1929.

We also get a fat man in armour, looking like a tank with legs, peeking fearfully round corners, which is very Falstaffian…

Asides from Bertolucci Sr.’s contribution, the movie was co-written by Marco Ferreri, who also appears (but I didn’t spot him) — some of his cynical wit is transmitted to us, though the movie is also tender and chivalric towards the women — the bitter realities of war are kept somewhat at bay.

This excellent film has seemingly fallen out of the history books altogether — of the extensive cast, the IMDb can only name six, with character names for just half of them. Il Cinema Ritrovato deserves a roast suckling pig as reward for rediscovering it.

Going to the Movies

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2018 by dcairns

Tim Concannon on the late acting roles of Peter Cook provides us with a piece that’s erudite, wide-ranging, funny and melancholic — all the qualities we cherish. Here. This is a really wonderful illustration of what blogging can do — because you’d NEVER get a thing like this published anywhere else. Fantastic.

Fiona was surprised, in Pete Walker’s FRIGHTMARE. to see Graham The Psychiatrist take his date to see BLOW OUT. Not catching the name above the title, she wondered how the lovely couple could be enjoying a Brian De Palma movie that hadn’t been made yet in 1974.

Realizing that this was Marco Ferreri’s LA GRANDE BOUFFE, she marvelled at Graham The Psychiatrist’s taste. She would have been impressed by a date choosing such a movie, though in 1974 she would have been a bit young to see it, or indeed to go on a date.

I marvelled at Pete Walker’s sense of humour.

This is by way of being a gallery to accompany our latest podcast, which you should really download.

We speak approvingly of this transition in TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, a slow dissolve from Christopher Lee’s beneficent visage to a landscape view, causing his eyes to bore out of the evening sky like dark moons.

This is an example of the crazy film stock cinematographer David Watkin deployed for the climax of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER. I’m wondering if he might have used a bit of it in THE BED SITTING ROOM, which has some wild colour experiments, but most of them SEEM to have been achieved with filters and/or big plates of coloured glass (i.e. GIANT filters).

 

And we’re very enthusiastic about this gradual zoom-out in THE MONSTER CLUB, incorporating stylish reflections, Simon Ward’s cheekbones, and a theatrical lighting change. Suggestion for a scholarly dissertation: The Influence of Death of a Salesman on Amicus Films.

And we talk about (and quote) the sequence composed entirely of elaborate and spooky illustrations, apparently by acclaimed cartoonist John Bolton. Only right to provide a visual sample. Via Twitter, another fine cartoonist, regular Shadowplayer Douglas Noble informs me that Bolton had been doing promotional comic strips for Amicus and this led to him being hired to create the visuals for this sequence. Bolton’s work is so fine that the montage in no sense feels like a cheap solution to production limitations: it actually RAISES the production values of the film.

FRIGHTMARE stars Miss Brabazon, Chief Inspector Maigret, Manoel and Starbuck.

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER stars Tommy Udo, the Duc De Richelieu, Tess Durbeyfield, Pussy Galore, Toby Meres, Marcus Brody, Don Jarvis, Rand Hobart, Wackford Squeers, Madame Nadedja von Meck, Professor Pomona Sprout and Madame Olympe Maxime.

THE MONSTER CLUB stars Matthew Hopkins, Major Cassius Starbuckle, Kit Kelly, Mr. Grout, the White Witch, the Duke of Buckingham, Catweazel, Detective-Inspector Boney, Dr. Crippen, Dr. John Markway, Mary Goodnight, Toby Meres again, Paul Regret, Nurse Nora and the Marquis de Sade.

Once again, you can grab The Shadowcast #3: The Fall of the House of Horror here.