Archive for Maria Montez

Amok Time

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

Couldn’t resist posting another clip from Fedor Ozep’s AMOK. You can read the article and see the other clip here.

This one features the insane ethnic musical number — opening crane shot swooping from on high into a single, probably indirectly inspired by INTOLERANCE, which the Hollywood musical had not yet turned into a mannerism. It also features the bold intercutting of Inkijinsky the Amok’s death throes with the arrival of the second Inkijinoff, devoted manservant, with his mysterious veiled mistress. It’s like the death of Amok Inki somehow summons the second incarnation.

And throughout the film, whenever raddled hero Jean Yonnel looks at the second Inki, it’s like he’s thinking “Where have I seen you before?”

Of course, this is another great setpiece for Karol Rathaus’ world music score, too.

Actually, this scene partakes of the horror movie, jungle exoticism, and the musical, all at once, and you realize that exoticism is never far from horror and the musical anyways. But the only other sequence I can think of that mixes all three is Maria Montez’s sacrificial dance in COBRA WOMAN.

Admittedly, the effect is quite different in that one.

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I’m Looking Through You

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by dcairns

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (1940), was a lot more fun than we were expecting! Fiona was particularly taken with the film’s female empowerment stance, which has zesty Goldwyn Girl Virginia Bruce avenging herself on a nasty boss (above) and defeating a whole mob of gangsters single-handed before the hero even arrives on the scene. The gang includes Shemp Howard and is led by Oscar Homolka, a mob boss afflicted with crying jags sixty years before Tony Soprano…

“That’s a lot of money for a dame without a head.”

The fact that VB achieves all this empowerment by taking her clothes off gives the whole rigmarole a modern, post-feminist (ie, mixed up and self-contradictory) feeling, as well as a sexy one. Chris Schneider informs me that an invisible shower scene was considered too racy at the time (Ginnie’s outline picked out by the water spray, presumably) but the film still ends with the hero embracing a naked lady, using the art of mime. (Actually it finally ends in epilogue form with the couple’s adorable baby vanishing while the mad prof declares, “Hereditary!”) The have-your-empowerment-and-eat-it message is so contemporary that a modern remake actually seems like a passable idea.

The mad prof is John Barrymore, whom one should feel sorry for, except he seems to be having the time of his life: he’s over the top even by the standards of the hokum surrounding him.

WAY down the cast list is a speechless Maria Montez, the inaudible in pursuit of the invisible, and the guy being kicked up the arse is Charles Lane. Regular Shadowplayer Chris Schneider suggests I turn to David Ehrenstein for elucidation on the subject of that esteemed performer…

Kampf Klassic

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2009 by dcairns

KAMPF UM ROM is a rather sad spectacle in some ways, being the penultimate completed film(s) — it’s a two-parter like DIE NIBELUNGEN — of Robert Siodmak. It’s produced by Artur Brauner, who had invited Fritz Lang back to Germany to remake THE INDIAN TOMB and resurrect the shade of Mabuse in THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR MABUSE, before embarking on a series of enjoyably cheesy Mabuse remakes and sequels without Lang, and making a lurid remake of DIE NIBELUNGEN with director Harald Reinl. Semi-retired and in uncertain health, the great Siodmak was somehow induced to lend his name and talents to a giant Euro-pudding epic about the fall of Rome, filled to bursting with difficult multinational stars: Orson Welles, Laurence Harvey, uh, Michael Dunn…

And Honor Blackman. I take some indecent glee in being the first human to post nude photographs of Pussy Galore on the internet. But I hasten to add that from all I know of HB, she’s not going to be ashamed — she’s going to think, “Damn, I look pretty good!” Some actor friends of mine have worked with Miss Blackman fairly recently, and reported that she’s still got it (and that’s IT, in the Clara Bow sense).

What this movie really needs is Maria Montez, but Honor does the honours as best she can. I can’t judge the film too clearly on the basis of a pan-and-scan copy in German without subtitles (and yet the trailer is in widescreen — damn you, UFA Home Video!) but it’s fun to see how Welles’s “ironic pauses” still work when dubbed into another tongue by another actor, and the sets and costume design are fabulously absurd. I might try and write an overview of the different crowns Welles wore in his career as a “king player” — the thorny square he dons in MACBETH is a ludicrous high-point, but the giant’s arm-band squeezed around his skull in our topmost image is also to be cherished.

Shooting appears to have been a painful slog for the ailing director, and when an interviewer visiting the set asked him that standard journalistic question, “What made you accept this project?” the Great Man replied, “That’s a question I ask myself every morning.”