Archive for Patton

Walking on the Frame

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2020 by dcairns

(It’s crazy how rough my old DVDs of IVAN look compared to the Blu-Rays, images of which I’ve seen but which I do not currently own…)

Eisenstein makes a big thing out of having a character actually walk forward and stand on the bottom edge of the frame in IVAN THE TERRIBLE (among countless other bold compositional devices).

Since so much of, for instance, MACBETH is clearly under the influence of Eisenstein, I’m assuming that Welles’ occasional moments of framewalking are also inspired by this.

(VLC Media Player has decided to screw up the aspect ratio. Still, Welles has achieved the effect of a mass of characters at different distances from the camera all standing on the frame edge by positioning them on different raised platforms. Otherwise, some of them would be cut off at the knees, some at the waist, as they got further away.)

In PATTON, Franklin Schaffner poses George C. Scott on the lower edge, but the effect is somewhat different since the entire screen is transformed into Old Glory, with just the tiny figure at bottom, a graphic effect that’s quite different from Eisenstein and Welles’ pop-up charcoal cartoons.

Of course Welles and even Schaffner score over Eisenstein in my book, despite his visual richness, because they show recognizable human beings while S.E. is totally in the moving-icon business. It’s a personal prejudice of my own — the hinged cardboard of the characters in IVAN is off-putting to me, though I can dig something like COLOUR OF POMEGRANITES which more or less excludes human behaviour altogether.

Been watching too many turkeys, so I wanted to look at an Acknowledged Classic. I recall Paul Verhoeven telling Alex Cox that he rewatched IVAN annually along with THE SEVEN SAMURAI and VERTIGO, “to remind myself that, yes, film CAN be art, because I have almost forgotten this, not only because of what everyone else is doing but because of my OWN work…” I tried ROME, OPEN CITY but my DVD of that has likewise been thoroughly superseded, and a good thing too — it’s taken from an old US print with the original subtitles, which choose not to translate half the dialogue…

Master of Disguise

Posted in Comics, FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by dcairns

I didn’t know this until a friend pointed it out — John Chambers, Oscar-winning makeup artist on PLANET OF THE APES (Arthur C Clarke theorized that the reason 2001 didn’t win is the Academy didn’t realize Kubrick hadn’t cast real apes) worked for the CIA, and designed makeup kits to allow American prisoners to escape the Iranian hostage crisis in disguise.

The image comes to mind of a troupe of nervous Dr Zaiuses sauntering awkwardly past the guards.

The kit.

Chambers is played by John Goodman in the forthcoming movie ARGO, which details this story.

The illustrations here come from an auction site which recently sold a bunch of Chambers’ effects, including the escape kit above. Also for sale: George C Scott’s nose from PATTON ~

I used to work in a memorabilia shop when I was 19, and I went through a period of craving all this stuff — we sold posters mainly. Some of them were real beauties. But being surrounded by the stuff all that time had a weird effect — I came to see it as ultimately irrelevant to the movies. I decided to concentrate on the films themselves rather than on ephemera. Having no money helped make that decision easy.

Still, I’m as big a sucker as anyone for the totemic power of a movie-related object…

The Chambers yarn is now a movie from Ben Affleck. “Based on a declassified true story…” And apparently King of Comics Jack Kirby was also involved…