Archive for Orson Welles

After the Fox

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2019 by dcairns

Yes indeed, there’s some interesting stuff in Henry King’s swashbuckler, even if the drama itself isn’t always that engaging. Tyrone Power does his usual bad-boy-turns-good thing. Orson has a spectacular first scene, with some extraordinary expressions playing across his massive mug, then normalizes a bit into just a good Welles villain role. Rewriting the script on location he bolstered Everett Sloane’s role…

…with this feather.

The whole film looks beautiful, thanks to stunning Italian locations and Leon Shamroy’s cinematography, which raises my estimation of him even higher. (In THE BRAVADOS he showcases his usual Deluxe Color palette, with orange light and blue shadows, sometimes ignoring logic and light sources altogether, just routinely doing what he does, so that the imagery so stunning in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN came to seem slightly tired.)

Was Orson whispering suggestions to King? He had dominated the experienced Robert Stevens on JANE AYRE, and he still had the vestiges of Hollywood stardom to give him clout. I commend to you, at the very least, the film’s second scene (commencing 2.47).

There are low angles: when Welles mounts the podium, we view him from below, like a member of his entourage, but the reactions shots of them are taken EVEN LOWER. There’s a tracking shot running counter to the movement of Welles as he sweeps in. Those shots of the reacting listeners, at around 4.55, with the camera sweeping from one face to another in fast pans and pushy track-ins, are really extraordinary. It feels like Welles exerts more influence here than anywhere else, but it’s perhaps not PURE Welles.

The restlessness of the camera, not quite in sync with story values, driven purely by its own enthusiasm, has an early thirties vibe to me. And King hasn’t indulged in this kind of brio SINCE the early thirties. He’s back at the Fox Film Corporation, channeling the house style with youthful enthusiasm, prodded along impatiently by his Cesare Borgia…

PRINCE OF FOXES features Leonard Vole; Hank Quinlan; Pila; Pilar; Polonius: Flavia; Mr. Bernstein; and Dr. Satan.

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Othello Meets Black Emanuelle

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on May 24, 2019 by dcairns

I wanted to like VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED because it’s a fascinating story and an incredible cast, and I try to like Stuart Rosenberg films because COOL HAND LUKE and THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN are ace. But it does become kind of a snooze.

However, the cast is extraordinary, and leads to strange moments, such as Victor Spinetti, Orson Welles and Laura Gemser (BLACK EMANUELLE) sharing a couple of scenes. Spinetti is great in one of his rare straight roles, Gemser is decoartive, as intended, and Welles… well, he vacillates a little between phoning it in and having some fun with it.

There’s a great moment where he’s in a car with Gemser and Spinetti is leaning in anxiously from outside (he does a lot of that). A business card is handed over, and Gemser is squinting at it, holding it at arm’s length, and Welles is Delivering Dialogue, and out of the blue he interrupts himself and says to Gemser, “Why don’t you put your glasses on?”

The self-interruption is so unexpected and the delivery so suddenly naturalistic it’s like he’s breaking character. In fact, I suppose, we’re being offered a glimpse of the character’s private self, how he talks when he’s alone with his lady friend. “That is brilliant,” said Fiona. “He’s turned her into a human being. And himself!”

We both assumed it to be a Wellesian addition, put together with Gemser’s cooperation. If it was somebody else’s idea, he couldn’t have done it so well.

VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED stars Bonnie Parker; Guy Montag; Miriam Polar; Tatiana Romanoff; Major Barbara Undershaft; Eleanor Lance; Little Napoleon; Helena Friese-Greene; Alma Mahler; Emperor Ming; Harry Flashman; Professor Rathe; General Taggi; Colonel Haki; Doctor Watson; Norman Maine; Elaine Robinson; Foot; Gus Portokalos; Cyrano de Bergerac; Jackie Treehorn; Alain Charnier; Toby Esterhase; Alexandra Romanoff; Marcus Brody; Reginald Perrin; Delbert Grady; Mr. Slugworth; Black Emanuelle; and introducing Sam Lowry.

Yes, Paris is Burning

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on April 16, 2019 by dcairns

I said we should watch IS PARIS BURNING? because it would make us feel better. The conflagration at Notre Dame was unexpectedly upsetting.

My thinking was it would do us good to appreciate that all of Paris might easily have been destroyed seventy-five years ago. Plus this film is an oddly upbeat war movie, alternating spectacle with tragedy with a love letter to the City of Light. I first wrote about it here, during Rene Clement Week.

I’d still like a version where the French actors speak French, and in their own voices. I guess we’d still be stuck with Germans speaking English. Or maybe not. And what would you do, even if you found Gert Frobe’s German language track (career-best perf!), with his scenes with Orson Welles, who plays a Swede but speaks English, to French and Germans? I think really what I’d like is multiple language options on the DVD (it has everything BUT French) so I could swap about on my own recognizance, in total defiance of cinematic purity.

Well, the movie is full of views of the Cathedral, which just made us sad. But by the time it was over (it’s a roadshow picture) so was the blaze, and the damage was assessed as not being as bad as it could have been. So the movie performed a useful task it was never designed for.

Um, well this is kind of an unfortunate publicity image. But only now — it was OK for fifty-three years.

IS PARIS BURNING? stars Serge Alexandre Stavisky; Adam Belinsky; Gigi; Louis XIII; the President of Earth; Jef Costello; Spartacus; Cagliostro; Pa Kent; Auric Goldfinger; Napoléon Bonaparte – jeune; Von Luger ‘The Kommandant; Cesar Soubeyran dit ‘Le Papet’; Joseph K.; Inspector Ginko; Dr. Mabuse; Claude Ridder; Thérèse Raquin; Eliot Ness; Marcello Clerici; Nscho-tschi; Hank Prosner; Hank Quinlan; Mr. Slugworth; Kazanian; Julien Doinel; Mila Malou; Hugo Drax; Upson Pratt; and Charles de Gaulle as himself.