Archive for Maria Schell

Bridgework

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on February 19, 2020 by dcairns

I was confusing the little I knew about Helmut Kautner’s THE LAST BRIDGE with the little I knew about Bernhard Wicki’s THE BRIDGE, so Fiona got initially annoyed that this WASN’T a film about Nazi boy soldiers, but instead about a German nurse torn between her national and personal loyalties and the alliance she makes with Yugoslav partisans. But, after a restorative cup of coffee, she got well into it.

Maria Schell is bloody good in this. Her face displays exactly the sickened terror I would be experiencing if I were in a combat situation.

Perhaps surprisingly, Kautner, who started making films in Germany during wartime but was never popular with the regime, doesn’t seek to emphasise Nazi perfidy. What evidence we get of it is curiously indirect. The heroine’s lover announces he’s off on a “punishment mission.” When the partisans arrive at a town that’s always welcomed them, they find it destroyed and only a tiny child alive. But the audience is left to work out the possible connection and consider what this implies about the handsome leading man’s character.Bernhard WickiBernard

Fiona was most impressed by a brief flashback “narrated” by a deaf-mute partisan, the main opportunity Kautner has to engage his ludic, experimental side. First he pans to the wall of the cave where the tale is being told, where we can see the shadow of the silent narrator’s hands as he gesticulates, the lap dissolves through to the flashback, keeping both images onscreen. I really like HK’s eccentric side.

Gold Fever

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2019 by dcairns

THE HANGING TREE is a fairly late Gary Cooper movie with “the Montana mule” atypically cast as a doctor treating a gold rush community (a ghost-town-in-waiting) and haunted by a dark secret. His past may not be as shady as in the startling MAN OF THE WEST, but it’s a more convincing fit for the man we see before us — the movie keeps it deniably ambiguous, but it’s pretty clear the Doc murdered his cheating wife and her lover before moving out to the badlands to gamble by night and heal the sick by day.

Since Gary is by now a touch long in the tooth (he’d just had a facelift but still looks rumpled), there’s a young sidekick in toe, a failed thief Coop saves from justice and blackmails into being his indentured servant. Ben Piazza (?) is excellent in this role, and I don’t know why he didn’t get bigger follow-up roles. Maybe because, when Hollywood paired its aging stars with young up-and-comers, the young u.a.c.’s always had to play callow, dopey characters, which isn’t good star-building experience. (The line “It’s nice to meet a SMART kid,” in RIO BRAVO seems to me to be a comment on this tendency.)

Anyhow, Maria Schell, Karl Malden and a debuting George C. Scott are also on hand, playing what you might expect, and Daves shoots the hell out of the thing. I first noticed his almost excessive zeal for getting the most cinematic value out of every scene in 3.10 TO YUMA. I use “cinematic” in its dumbest sense, I suppose: landscape spectacle, crane and tracking shots, looming close-ups, lots of coverage (but smart, impactful coverage, nothing wasteful or sloppy). So the movie is a feast for the eyes: Ted D. McCord shot it, and the compositions are frequently stunning. So although the plot development is mainly predictable, the few genre variations (by way of original author Dorothy M. Johnson, also the source of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE) and the visual splendour kept me riveted, even though one would think some of the cast would be able to predict oncoming plot developments, what with Max Steiner signalling furiously to them with his baton.

 

TERRIBLE song at the start and finish does quite a bit of damage to an intriguing outcome.

Featuring Beau Geste; Helena Friese-Greene; Sheriff Dad Longworth; General Jack D. Ripper; Drunken doomsayer in diner; Morgan Ryker; Jack Belicec; and Darryl F. Zanuck.

Girlfight

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2015 by dcairns

While waiting for today’s edition of The Forgotten, here’s a clip you can enjoy, if that’s the word, from René Clément’s award-winning GERVAISE (a956). A lavish and rambunctious Zola adaptation, it sets out its stall early with this savage, raucous and not-even-safe-for-work fight scene in which lead Maria Schell demonstrates her fighting spirit, which will carry her through the story and everything Zola, assisted by scenarists Aurenche and Bost, can throw at her.

The film also features Jany Holt, heroine of the resistance, and also, as Schell’s opponent here, Suzy Delair, who we cannot, sadly, credit as a heroine of the resistance. That goodwill trip to the Fatherland stills sits uncomfortably in her CV (but hey! Film is a collaborative medium!)

This scene reminded me strongly of the nasty girlfight in Paul Verhoeven’s A GIRL CALLED KATY TIPPEL, to the extent that I’m trying to recall if the films have anything else in common. Can anyone help?

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SOCIAL OPPRESSION with a Regency stripe — our director is never shy about letting the production design tell the story. I hate this kind of narrative — the catalogue of woes, strung together in loose novelistic fashion. It’s only slightly more bearable in a period movie than in  Ken Loach modern job. But the filmmaker’s skill here, and the colossal production values slathered over everything, do make it quite watchable. And the explicitness — a vomit-spattered drunk, the Delair posterior exposed above — must have been pretty shocking at the time. And that urge to shove unpleasantness in the audience’s face was bound to appeal to the young Verhoeven if he was out there.

While you’re reeling from the sight of Suzy Delair’s arse (or her stand-in’s), I’ll just hit you with a couple of links to older pieces about Clément films ~

…AND HOPE TO DIE

THE DEADLY TRAP

THE BABYSITTER

I’d forgotten that I’d written so many Forgottens on Clement.

There’s also this recent piece on LES MAUDITS and this one on THE DAY AND THE HOUR.