Archive for Michael J Pollard

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold — Cream

Posted in Fashion, FILM, MUSIC, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2021 by dcairns

Here’s Shadowplayer Chris Schneider on a late, and underappreciated Frank Tashlin/Doris Day picture…

” … I forgot to mention the sexuality, the anarchy — and the fashion.”~ FB friend Larry Frascella talking of CAPRICE

When I think of CAPRICE, a Frank Tashlin comedy-thriller from the late Sixties, it usually involves one of three things. One: Doris Day in an out-of-control helicopter whose pilot has just been shot, the thought of which terrifies this fear-of-heights sufferer.Two: the unsettling sight of Michael J. Pollard, soon to appear in BONNIE AND CLYDE, with his hand venturing up Doris Day’s leg. Three: Ray Walston in drag. 

“Cary Grant or Rock Hudson maybe,” I say to myself, “but Michael J. Pollard?”

(An Aside: You’ll find so-called “spoilers” in this piece. My reasoning is that, some fifty years after its premiere, anyone interested in CAPRICE is unlikely to be concerned with plot.)

You could say that CAPRICE has an autumnal feel, in that it’s the next-to-last film to be shot in Cinemascope and the third-from-last theatrical film to feature Doris Day. Soon, for Day, it would be strictly television. But that doesn’t fit, ’cause the palette on display in CAPRICE is determinedly bright. Day’s Ray Aghayan wardrobe pretty much never varies from white or red or buttercup yellow, and to go with that there’s music by Robert Aldrich’s pet composer De Vol. (“Smile when you say that name, stranger.”

Yet this is, nevertheless, a spy story, and therein lies the balance. Day plays an industrial spy for one, if not two, rival cosmetics firms.  “The spy who came in from the cold — cream,” she calls herself at one point. The story’s shifting alliances fit in with a mid-’60s John Le Carre world-view, for all the emphasis on comedy and the fact that a man is asked to remove his trousers within the film’s first six minutes. Does Day work for Edward Mulhare, an industrial toff with his own private jet, or rival honcho Jack Kruschen? Answer: What time is it? There’s a Wham! Slam! Ka-Boom! triple-cross in the final reel. There’s also, lest we forget, Ray Walston in washerwoman drag looking mean as he holds a gun.

Nor should we forget that the romantic interest, Richard Harris as an industrial spy and/or Interpol agent who also does Olivier and Richard Burton imitations, jabs Day early on with a non-consensual hypo full of Sodium Pentothal. A tad “rapey,” you say? Perhaps the vigilant will be glad to learn that the last reel’s “romantic” fade-out has Day giving Harris his own non-consensual Sodium Pentothal jab, intoning to him about “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

Much of CAPRICE is “funny odd” rather than “funny ha-ha.” It’s also highly self-conscious, Ouroboros-like in willingness to comment upon itself like a snake devouring its own tail. Not a surprise, in that other Tashlin-directed films include a poodle named Shamroy (after CAPRICE cinematographer Leon Shamroy) and name-checking of star Jayne Mansfield’s non-Tashlin films. But this one has a BATMAN-like chase running past a television that’s playing BATMAN, Day tailing Irene Tsu (who plays Walston’s secretary) to a theater where the fare is CAPRICE with Doris Day and Richard Harris — that’s where the Pollard scene happens — and the revelation that a supposedly inaccessible parlay is being filmed when we see the film’s image running out. Is it unexpected, given the presence of Shanghai-born Tsu, that the movie encounter happens in the Cathay theater? Or that half of a nearby couple attempting a li’l movie-house grope is Barbara Feldon of the spy comedy series GET SMART? 

CAPRICE was not popular.  The NY Times’ Bosley Crowther dismissed it, saying that “nutty clothes and acrobatics cannot conceal the fact that [Day] is no longer a boy.” As if anyone ever mistook Day for a boy! Or went to Day when looking for one!

I think the problem, rather, is that CAPRICE — like its central performer — is all too strenuously perky. Sorta like the protagonist of that John Cheever story, the one who insists on lining up chairs at parties and jumping over them like hurdles … long after his athletic prowess is a thing of the past.  See television adaptations involving Gary Merrill and, later, Michael Murphy. 

Like that out-of-control helicopter, CAPRICE has the capacity to be scary.  Then, too, like what happens to the helicopter, CAPRICE settles for cute and “endearing” plot solutions. Alas.

Brigitte Bardot’s Twenty Six Bathrooms, part 2

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by dcairns

Part Two. Fourteen to Twenty-Six.

This fake 1920s movie-within-a-movie in BOULEVARD DU RHUM is extremely beautiful, but it’s not a bathroom. nobody goes to the bathroom at all in this movie. Lino Ventura wears a bathrobe at one point, and Bardot walks past a swimming pool and is elsewhere seen by the seaside, but she’s wearing a swimming costume therefore she’s not washing. I repeat, it’s as beautiful as a bathroom but it’s not a bathroom.

14) LUMIERE D’EN FACE is another film set in a nightmare alternate universe where bathrooms don’t exist. In desperation, Brigitte bathes in a stream. The stream is thus an honorary bathroom. If that doesn’t convince you, she washes her feet in the kitchen sink. Together, that definitely adds up to a bathroom. It does!

15) LA VERITE de Henry-Georges CLouzot. Probably BB’s best film and performance, though she had a somewhat sparky relationship with HG. “I need an actress, not an amateur,” he growled. “And I need a director, not a psychopath,” she replied, rather smartly.

Here, Dany Robin usurps Bardot’s rightful role by undressing. In a bathroom. While Bardot lies helpless in the foreground. But our girl conquers the next salle de bain she finds, and order is restored.

16) LES PETROLEUSES. Once again we see how all the outdoors is essentially one big bathroom. Frenchie King and her gals freshen up after riding the range. So it’s a bathroom! It bloody IS! But if that doesn’t satisfy you, here’s a room and bath, with Brigitte in it. Not her best angle, but that’s because this is Michael J Pollard’s POV as he dangles off a rooftop.

17) LA MARIEE EST TROP BELLE. Written by actress Odette Joyeux, this piece of fluff features a rare glimpse of Bardot in the shower — an old-fashioned girl at heart, she generally seems to prefer the tub. Here she’s wiping herself with a cloth, but she shower isn’t running, so it’s possible she’s just standing in the bath. Or else attempting to dry-clean herself.

By contrast with LA VERITE, Bardot mostly just bounces in this film.

18) MIO FIGLIO NERONE was recommended by GeraldF, since it’s ancient world setting practically dictates that BB, as Poppea, bathe in asses’ milk. She does! Too bad the makers of HELEN OF TROY didn’t have the wit to enhance their tedious spectacle with the more edifying one of an undressed Andraste.

19) VOULEZ-VOUS DANSER AVEC MOI? Bardot is seen changing in her bathroom early on, in front of her mastiff-headed husband. Later, she spies from a vent into the men’s showers — I include her POV just to show we’re not sexist, and because the men’s showers is a form of bathroom we haven’t seen yet.

20) LES NOVICES — Brigitte cleans a bathroom. There is no form of interaction with bathrooms Brigitte has not had on screen. Except taking a dump.

21) VIE PRIVEE — another variant: Brigitte uses the bathroom mirror to write her suicide note in lipstick. Class with a capital K! The sensitive pan-and-scanning on UK TCM’s (dubbed) print robs us of the opportunity of seeing what she’s written, and how she’s spelled it.

22) CETTE SACREE GAMINE already featured last time (BB in a red towel, matching her later turn in LE MEPRIS), but here’s BB in the ladies’ showers, which offers yet another variant.

23) AMOURS CELEBRES — it’s Agnes Bernauer’s bum. I had to look Agnes Bernauer up, despite the celebre of her amour, and a good thing too, or I would have believed she was burned at the stake, as in the film, as opposed to drowned in the Danube, as in life. One would have thought a watery death more appropriate for BB, but she’s also incinerated in IF DON JUAN WAS A WOMAN, so she seems to arouse elemental associations of all kinds.

At any rate, this is another al fresco bathing. It’s bathing, so it’s a bath, but is it a room, without walls? An ancient philosophical question receives a saucy update, courtesy of BeBe.

24) SHALAKO — and the question becomes truly pressing. I’m surprised Guy DeBord or someone clever like that hasn’t written an appreciation of the light Bardot has shone on this particular issue.

Note Bardot’s shocking modernity — caught bathing by Sean Connery, she actually smiles. Saucy trout!

25) The observant among you will have noticed that apart from bathing, the activity most associated with Bardot is sun-bathing. Now, what those two forms of relaxation have in common is not bathing, since a sun-bath in no way involves immersing oneself in the blazing hydrogen of our nearest star, but the exposure of skin. Why this activity should so fascinate Bardot is another question for the philosophers.

I couldn’t find a copy of L’OURS ET LA POUPEE, but a video on VousTube happens to contain la scene de bain
About one minute in. This is a different bathroom from that included in Part One.
26) LOVE ON A PILLOW — two minutes in —
And that’s it! C’est finee! Time for a cold shower.

“Smell like Streep… for cheap!”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2009 by dcairns

samouraiformen

Oh my sweet lord. Alain Delon brings you SAMOURAI, his own personal fragrance. Now you too can smell like schizophrenic hitman Steve Jeff Costello. Get your Delon smell on! One whiff and an exponential zoon will propel you out of the background and into a widescreen colour-coordinated world of masculine scent. Okay, so it’s not MANDOM, but then nothing is.

Nothing is MANDOM.

What further olfactory treats can we expect from the attractively rumpled superstar? I guess a perfume in honour of M. KLEIN is out of the question, since Calvin would probably object. A scent called PLEIN SOLEIL, or PURPLE NOON could be a winner though. LE TULIPE NOIR, DIABOLIQUEMENT VOTRE and L’ECLISSE all sound quite fragrant. But IS PARIS BURNING? is probably one to avoid — if people say that while inhaling next to you, it’s not a good sign.

So, who else should do a male scent? I think Ed Asner would be good. Ed Asner’s VAPOR would fly off the shelves. And I’d like the chance to smell like Michael J Pollard, even if just for a day. He could call it LITTLE FAUSS — for a man or a woman. Victor Argo’s surname already sounds like a damn fine manly pong, and I feel extra-sure that any odour endorsed by Joe Don Baker would conquer every other smell in the room — if he wears it, you just know it’s STRONG STUFF. And the words WALKING TALL written in elegant script on the side of a fancy bottle — who could walk away from such a temptation. Or he could just go all the way and call it BUFORD PUSSER, and watch the $$$ flood in. “The scent with the kick of a big wooden stick.”

Big thanks to Guy Budziak for the Delon smell tip-off. More perfumery suggestions welcome.