Archive for Masters of Cinema

This also was a Train of Death

Posted in FILM with tags , , on March 5, 2019 by dcairns

Masters of Cinema very kindly sent me a care package of Blu-Rays, including Fritz Lang’s HUMAN DESIRE. Lang films always come in pairs. This one could be doubled with SCARLET STREET because they’re both Renoir remakes, but in fact that one has to be paired with THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (which I’m currently working on an extra for) because of it has the same three leads. HUMAN DESIRE rightly should go with either THE BIG HEAT (it has Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame too) or with the similarly documentary-looking CLASH BY NIGHT.

Hmm, maybe I should do the pointless exercise: pairing all of Lang’s films?


THE TESTAMENT OF DR MABUSE can be paired with THE THOUSAND EYES OF, bracketing Lang’s whole American phase.

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT feels of a piece with WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and both star Dana Andrews and they were made back-to-back, which is more typical of Lang’s double features.

Everything from ’50 to ’55 is just crazy. MOONFLEET and the vastly inferior AN AMERICAN GUERILLA IN THE PHILIPPINES (that title!) are in colour but so is RANCHO NOTORIOUS… maybe throw out AAGITP as a bad job and just pair the two colour period films. If we put HUMAN DESIRE with THE BIG HEAT then CLASH BY NIGHT couples up with THE BLUE GARDENIA, which I’m not sure about. But I guess each is what Michael Douglas would call a “sexy-type film.”

SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR and THE HOUSE BY THE RIVER exemplify Lang’s architectural concerns and they are both NUTS.


Wartime: MAN HUNT and MINISTRY OF FEAR and HANGMEN ALSO DIE and the later CLOAK AND DAGGER are all ace espionage pics. The first two have hunted heroes so I’d pair them like that.

The first two westerns, THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES and WESTERN UNION could make a double feature, but one could instead pair TROFJ with the other Hank Fonda starrer, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. That might mess up my scheme.

FURY and YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE have a lot in common though.

LILIOM might be the best match for YOU AND ME because neither is otherwise a match with anything.

METROPOLIS belongs, probably, with the other sci-fi epic, WOMAN IN THE MOON.

Several of the very early ones I haven’t seen yet: but I made a video essay for DER MUDE TOD and I suspect DAS WANDERNDE BILD would be a good fit.

Listicles are silly things. But maybe there’s something here, something about Lang’s working practices, each film serving as a kind of commentary on or rebuttal of its partner. Anyway, you get a sense of how I like to waste my time (and yours).


Femms Fatale

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 15, 2018 by dcairns

Got my Blu-Ray of THE OLD DARK HOUSE from Masters of Cinema!

Stephen Horne and I made a great big video essay for this one — 38 mins! I just couldn’t help myself. Adding to my musings are quotes from various interested parties and the J.B. Priestley source novel, Benighted, performed by ace actors Angela Hardie and Steven McNicoll. I think this is a particularly fun one — DVDBeaver and CineOutsider have been kind enough to call it “wonderful” and “enthralling” — and of course the film is a stone-cold masterpiece.

The Old Dark House [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)

The Parcel

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2018 by dcairns

A box arrived. I was excited. Masters of Cinema had been trying for some weeks to send me copies of the latest Blu-Rays to which I had contributed video essays. They kept going astray. The box that eventually arrived had been violently smashed in, but it contained copies of Dreyer’s MICHAEL, Obayashi’s HOUSE and King Hu’s LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN, mercifully undamaged. My theory is that a disgruntled postal worker ripped the package open, discovered it contained arthouse movies he’d already stolen for his vast collection, and so grudgingly allowed the delivery to continue.

I did my first ever animated main title for HOUSE (not counting the astounding cartooning Danny Carr did for my SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS piece) — I felt the movie deserved something funky, so I traced the title of my piece a bunch of times, then customized them with coloured dots and dashes, then scanned the results. Editor Stephen Horne flipped the scans into negative and did various colouring tricks to create an even wider variety of looks, and the results play out stroboscopically at the start of my piece, to an accompaniment of girlish screams and the music of Godiego.

All three pieces have had some nice reviews online — nobody else has the trouble I do with postal delivery, it seems — though one critic points out that I can’t pronounce wuxia correctly. Of course, I was using the SCOTTISH pronunciation.

LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)

House (HAUSU) [Masters of Cinema] Blu-ray

Michael [Masters of Cinema] Blu-ray