Archive for Raoul Walsh

Pg. 17, #3

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2020 by dcairns

Mackendrick accompanied Relph to Prague to scout locations. As always, his enthusiasm was tireless: Relph describes him “rushing up every steeple in Prague when you could see perfectly well from the ground that it wasn’t any good. But he would never take anybody else’s word.” Mackendrick, for his part, retorts that “Michael is covering up for the fact that he doesn’t like heights. One of the spires was very tall, with a tiny balcony and this terrific bird’s eye view of Prague. I managed to get Michael up the stairs, but when he got outside he turned his face to the wall and wouldn’t turn around. So he never saw the view.”

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Checkmate. When you were interviewed by Bianco e Nero in 1958 you said that modern directors had eliminated the “problem of the bicycle.”

*

…Morning sunlight at the Onwentsia Club, where Father has just given me a beautiful pony of my own, a retired polo pony. I go riding with a groom from the club’s stables. My retired polo pony is, of course, neck-broken, he works with one hand, but I don’t know this and I must do something with the reins, because abruptly the pony has started back where we came from and I am swinging in the air on the other end of the reins doing the big loop.

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It was altogether different in those days, because we had no dialogue or anything. I learned a great deal about pantomime from him, people telling the story just by their looks, their eyes and their hands. I learned about movement from him, of course, because most of his pictures were what we always called a “run-to-the-rescue.” That means that the girl is on the railroad tracks, the train is coming, her lover is coming on the horse and he gets her off just as the train goes by. All the pictures in the early days had that.

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Most of the writers who have contributed to this dictionary belong either to the generation for whom Citizen Kane was the first great revelation of the cinema or to the generation for whom Godard’s A Bout de Souffle performed the same function. But they are alike in one very important respect: neither generation was brought up on silent film. Almost all the writers in the Dictionary discovered silent film after their experience of sound film. This is important, because they are therefore almost obliged to have a different view of montage.

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The weird part of it is that it never occurred to anyone, including Clark and me, that all this might have had a bad effect on the mood, or on our ability to play a love scene convincingly. But that’s the way it was. The way it always is. The way it is today, on any movie set…

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Of course, there was the zoo, with caged lions — that was before those ridiculous concrete rocks were built for them — and they made me cry. The seals, on the other hand, seemed to me to be happy; at least they had their water, and kilos of fish thrown to them by a keeper who addressed them only in German.

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This week I excerpted only film books. It makes it harder to create a crazy mixed-up storyline or conversation, but what surprised me is that the coincidental connections created have little to do with film and more to do with transport.

They are: Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick, by Philip Kemp; Encountering Directors, by Charles Thomas Samuels (being flummoxed by Antonioni); Preston Sturges on Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges; Film Crazy: Interviews with Hollywood Legends, by Patrick McGilligan, interviewing Raoul Walsh (pictured) with Debra Weiner about D.W. Griffith; Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, edited by Richard Roud, from his introduction; Film Makers Speak, edited by Jan Leyda (the speaker is Mary Astor, referencing Clark Gable); Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used To Be, by Simone Signoret.

The Sunday Intertitle(s): Dates and Places

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , on February 9, 2020 by dcairns

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Finding intertitles in early thirties talkies is always a pleasure.

Raoul Walsh’s THE MAN WHO CAME BACK, which I wrote about for Forgotten by Fox on Thursday, is such a goddamn stage play, the intertitles are really just the equivalent of act descriptions in a program. But they’re weirdly confusing.

I assumed the next shot following this one was going to be set on a train, and the oddly windowless party scene appeared to bear me out. There was even a kind of steward figure. But the train was just mean to suggest that the lead character was going to San Francisco and we’re now joining him there three months later. We’re in a building. A stationary building.

The next act is introduced thus ~

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“Did it really take four months to sail to Shanghai in those days?” we all wondered. (This was at one of Marvelous Mary’s steak-pie-and-movie parties. A fine tradition you should take up at once, with dietary adjustments according to taste and lifestyle.)

Were we all just drunk? Or is this 1931 movie committing confusing violations of spacetime by showing us a journey while telling us about a destination and a later time? I can’t think of another movie that attempts to clarify its story points in such a confusing way.

Walsh Out

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on February 6, 2020 by dcairns

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The latest edition of Forgotten By Fox is now published by MUBI, here. Let Raoul Walsh drag YOU kicking and screaming into the talking era, why don’t you?

Bonus items of audible interest: frying bacon, Warner Baxter’s Mexican accent, Charles Farrell attacks the bead curtains.