Archive for Polanski

Polanski’s Crocodile

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 26, 2018 by dcairns

 

KNIFE IN THE WATER

 

THE TENANT

I am patiently waiting for Polanski to complete his crocodile trilogy.

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Cut the Cheese: or, Dino’s Mighty Wind

Posted in FILM, weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2017 by dcairns

A week of posts inspired by my recent reading. Here’s an excellent book by Sam & Bobbie O’Steen — Cut to the Chase: Forty-Five Years of Editing America’s Favorite Movies.

Sam O’Steen cut THE GRADUATE and ROSEMARY’S BABY and became Mike Nichols and Roman Polanski’s go-to editor. His book, “as told to” his wife and edit-room assistant, is full of good creative advice, often encapsulated in handy mottos — “Movie first, scene second, moment third,” — and also full of terrific gossip and anecdotes, as O’Steen was frequently on-set and witnessed the activities of a lot of very strange, talented, obnoxious people…

Some of the best stories arise from one of the worst films O’Steen was involved with, HURRICANE — Dino De Laurentiis’ epic turkey remake of John Ford’s group jeopardy potboiler, which was already not very good, despite sharing a lot of credits with Ford’s next film, STAGECOACH. The rehash was planned by Polanski but dropped due to his legal difficulties — it’s tempting to say that Polanski dodged a bullet, but you can’t really say such things, can you?

Jan Troell landed in the hot seat, with Lorenzo Semple on script, Sven Nykvist shooting, Danilo Donati designing, and stars Mia Farrow, Timothy Bottoms, James Keach, Jason Robards, Trevor Howard, Max Von Sydow and non-star Dayton Ka’Ne. And with all that talent, it’s deadly dull to watch. David Wingrove disagrees with me, and suggested that the film was a promising one that had been butchered in the edit, as evidenced by awkward jumps in the story and huge sets that are barely used. But O’Steen’s account makes it clear that many scenes were never actually filmed, and the imposing but underused sets are a regular result of Donati’s work — the crew on FLASH GORDON also complained that Donati never read the script, just a breakdown of scenes, so he would spend his budget freely on whatever interested him, building vast interiors for scenes that might only play for moments in the film, and skimping on others so you might find yourself shooting twenty minutes of action in a broom closet.

Many of the problems O’Steen was vexed by didn’t strike me as terribly serious — Mia’s hair and makeup may not be flattering, but I’ve seen worse. O’Steen had to create passion between the leads where none existed — Farrow eschewed any on-set romance with her unknown co-star, instead bedding Troell, then Nykvist, then (it’s heavily implied) Bottoms, leaving a trail of broken hearts in her wake. And they were all stuck in Bora Bora for six months while this was going on. There’s a big swimming scene which isn’t sexy or romantic (because it’s not there in the script or performances) but sure looks nice. It’s bloody looong, though. I guess O’Steen had to lay it on thick to compensate for the chemical inertia.

The crew arrived at a specially built hotel… that was still being built.

Franco Rossi was leading a second unit shooting waves, but they all got drunk and left their film cans to get flooded on the rocks.

Mia was seen at dinner with her beautiful son Fletcher on her lap… and all her adopted kids sitting on the floor, ignored.

Jan Troell’s love for Mia resulted in him ignoring the scenery and the story and shooting endless close-ups of his adored star. In the final film, O’Steen must have used every camera move he could find, because he complains Troell wasn’t shooting any.

Bottoms urinated on De Laurentiis’ shoes in a fit of pique, then hastily wrote an apology, in fear for his life.

Troell was promised final cut… then paid off with $25,000 to stay out of the edit room.

When Mia was feeding poor Dayton lines for his close-ups, she wouldn’t bother looking at him. She could read lines and do crosswords at the same time. Well, he’s no Jon Hall.

“Four down, nine letters, a mighty wind.”

She was also reportedly heard to refer to him as “the animal.”

Dino: “All directors are stupid. Anybody who gets up so early every day to say ‘Good morning’ to all those sons-of-bitches has to be stupid.”

Symbolism! God caber-tosses a crucifix at Trevor Howard!

With all this, and the drink and drug consumption, the VD outbreak (“You’d be surprised who has it,” said the unit nurse) and the malfunctioning toilets, plus all the grade-A talent, it’s amazing how dull the film is. The actual hurricane is good, especially as it wipes out a lot of the characters who have been boring us for two hours, but the natives are used as colourful cannon fodder, as usual, so it’s also kind of offensive. When our young lovers are left alone on a lifeless, flattened atoll at the end, it’s questionable whether we’re meant to expect them to survive or not, though we don’t actually care one way or the other.

Worse than KING KONG. But the behind-the-scenes action might make a good movie.

The Schlong Goodbye

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , , , , on December 4, 2010 by dcairns

Extract from an unwritten novel ~

“Say, what is this Golden Lingam anyway?” asked Sam Spayed.

“It’s an artifact of supreme occult power. Both the Temple of Satan Arisen and the Order of Lucifer want it for their rites,” said Gluttman.

“What is it with LA and these crazy sects? I thought this was about Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan? The guy’s a devil worshipper, AND movie crazy. Played his Satanic Highness in that Polanski flick, didn’t he?”

“These parties aren’t official Church of Satan. Too crazy for that. Splinter groups, and they’re both gunning for the Linga. If you’ve got your hands on it, you can name your own price.”

“How would I know it if I saw it?”

The fat man rolled his cigar and began to expand — on his subject, that is. “The Golden Lingam started as a golden statuette cast from the erect penis of Rudolph Valentino. The actor’s early death and the resultant mass hysteria charged the item with power.”

“You don’t say.”

“But I do say!” Gluttman puffed a blue plume of smoke across the room. “Purchased by another Latin lover, Ramon Novarro, the item acquired further energy when Novarro was murdered by rough trade, who either bludgeoned him with its onyx base, or choked him to death with the shaft — accounts vary. Sex and death and public adulation make for powerful voodoo, Mr. Spayed. The year was 1968. Polanski was making Rosemary’s Baby, and LaVey told him about the Lingam. The director purchased the item, intending it to go towards LaVey’s fee, but the men quarreled and LaVey is rumoured to have cursed the filmmaker — a serious matter, since an earlier curse had resulted in the death of Jayne Mansfield. Within a year, Polanski wife and several friends were dead, slain by a gang that included one former disciple of LaVey’s church, and one star of magician Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising, Bobby Beausoleil. It was sheer chance that Polanski had delayed his return from Europe and wasn’t at home, but still official accounts discount the significance of satanism and cinema (though the Manson family lived in a ranch formerly used as a movie studio) and claim that Polanski was not an intended target.”

“Holy smokes,” remarked Spayed.

“Very UNholy smokes, dear boy. The original five-foot Pole must have figured something out, because he offloaded the Lingam on a business partner, Victor Lownes, smuggling it through customs in his pants. But Lownes got wise to the very unheimlich aura around the thing, and mailed it back, writing, ‘I am returning this life-sized statue of yourself. No doubt you can find some other “friend” to shove it up.’ When Polanski returned to LA to shoot Chinatown, he offloaded the cock on Donald Cammell, a Kenneth Anger crony, just to spite LaVey. Cammell tried to tame the dark forces around the penis, and he was the right guy to do it: sex and magic and cinema combined. Born under a camera obscura. But he wound up blowing his brains out, reenacting a scene from his own movie, PERFORMANCE.

“The gold prick dropped from view. Some say LaVey had it, some say Forrest J Ackermann. Either way, both are dead now and the Lingam is back in circulation. Sometime in the last few years it acquired a coating of black lacquer, and was being passed off as a likeness of an erect Jimi Hendrix.”

“And this is the reason three people are dead? The movie exec, the Hollywood madam and the body double?”

“Why certainly! Power like this accrues in very few objects. Valentino’s manhood was worshipped by millions, and the statuette is a real totem of that. Then blood was spilled, legends gathered — all anyone wants in this town is power, fame, the love of beautiful men and women. The Lingam promises all that. Sex magic is the ladder to the top. The stuff wet dreams are made of.”

To read more of Camera Obscena, simply pass into the next parallel universe and order a copy from Amazon.