Archive for Masters of Cinema

Side by Side

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on November 13, 2015 by dcairns


Some people have died, and even though I don’t do obituaries here, really, I should mark their passing. Jean Darling, star of OUR GANG comedies, whom I sat next to at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, in a seat I sort of scammed my way into through a kind of willful obtusity, passed away in September, aged ninety-three.

“Comedy is tragedy.”

And now Mike Sutton has died, much too young. I got to know Mike properly when he contacted me on Facebook, worried that we had both been commissioned to write essays for Masters of Cinema’s Blu-ray of John Frankenheimer’s SECONDS, and hadn’t known about each other so hadn’t conferred. I told him my piece was mainly about Frankenheimer and he was relieved because his piece was mainly about the book-to-film adaptation.


Now I hold the disc, and booklet, in my hands, and though there are a couple of overlaps — neither one of us could resist talking about how apposite Rock Hudson is in the role of a reinvented man, a human facade — I feel the essays compliment each other well. I’m pretty pleased with how mine came out. Mike’s is brilliant and heartbreaking. I’d known from his Facebook posts that he was battling oesophageal cancer, but didn’t realize the fight was this close to over. Knowing that, while you read his piece, which is full of sorrow and anger, like the film, like life, makes it all the more powerful.

“Seconds. Second lives, second chances, seconds ticking away in our hopelessly fragile, trivial little lives.”


That’s the first line. The last, describing Hudson staring out the window of an airliner, is ~

“Even before his new life collapses in on itself, one feels that he is already dying, looking at an empty sky, in the words of Philip Larkin, he is staring into “the deep blue air which shows nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.”

The Mercenary

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on November 6, 2015 by dcairns


Since there’s a new edition of John Frankenheimer’s SECONDS hitting stores in the UK, to which I have contributed a text piece, I thought I’d see if I could list the DVDs and Blu-rays available in the UK to which I have contributed. The idea being that you can click through to the links on Amazon, the evil tax-avoiding conglomerate, buy a few, and I will get a tiny percentage of the sale. But only if you use these links.

From Arrow Video, I have contributed text pieces to —

Rififi [Blu-ray]
Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray]

And video essays to these —

The Comedy of Terrors [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD]
Fall of the House of Usher [Blu-ray]

For Eureka! Masters of Cinema, I’ve written pieces on these —
Seconds (1966) [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)
MADAME DUBARRY [Masters of Cinema] (1919) [Blu-ray]
The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set [DVD] [1922]
LUBITSCH IN BERLIN Six films by Ernst Lubitsch, 1918-1921 [Masters Of Cinema] (DVD)
The Lost Weekend [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray) [1945]
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray] [1957]
The Gang’s All Here (1943) [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray]
A Letter to Three Wives (1949) [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (DVD & Blu-ray)
If…. (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] [1968]

The last-named also features my interview with living legend Brian Pettifer. The best of these, for me, are ROCK HUNTER and GANG’S — if anything I ever wrote was worth the purchase price, it would be these.

I did video introductions to these —

Harold And Maude (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray) [1971]
Too Late Blues (Masters of Cinema) (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD] [1961]

Lately I’ve been doing video essays —

Diary of a Lost Girl [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)
Dragon Inn (1967) [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)
Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari (Masters of Cinema) (DUAL FORMAT Edition) [Blu-ray]

The video essay I did for Criterion’s A HARD DAY’S NIGHT was ported over for the UK release ~

A Hard Day’s Night: 50th Anniversary Restoration [Blu-ray]

I have two more in the works! Watch this space.

Meanwhile, over at Limerwrecks, I contribute a rhyme on Rondo Hatton, and one on cheapskate JUNGLE WOMAN, a movie that successfully erases the distinction between sequel and action replay.

Inn Sight

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on October 20, 2015 by dcairns


I have contributed a video essay to the Eureka! Masters of Cinema dual-format Blu-ray/DVD of King Hu’s DRAGON INN. Working with editor Stephen Horne we hacked this thing together in record time to fill a gap left by another contributor who had to drop out. This leaves me looking a bit opportunistic since I wrote about seeing this film for the first time at Bologna last year, and I was a complete newbie to wuxia at the time, by my own admission, so when did I find time to become an expert?

Well, I didn’t, but you can learn the basic info quickly enough, and then I relied on what I could say with confidence simply from looking at the film itself, close analysis, stylistic observation, funny comments. Hopefully it works, and I know it’s very snappily cut together by Mr. Horne. And MoC were pleased enough to give me the job of doing another piece for A TOUCH OF ZEN, coming soon.

I have another commission from them also but I won’t tell you about that yet…

You can buy the discs from the evil organisation below and thereby help support Shadowplay — and also get yourself some marvelous swordfighting high-leaping entertainment.

Dragon Inn (1967) [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)


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