Archive for Rene Clement

The Sunday Intertitle: Iris in, Iris Out

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2023 by dcairns

Somebody on YouTube called KLANGkrieg has cobbled together the two endings of Buster Keaton’s MY WIFE’S RELATIONS to create one super-ending. Unfortunately they haven’t attached it to the body of the film so we still can’t have the total experience of all the footage in its correct context.

I might have to do that.

Backstory: for years, the film existed with the ending scene on this old copy:

Buster, as you can see at 23:40, defeats his in-laws by tugging a rug from under them, and then catches the train for Reno.

This is an unsatisfactory ending since the “defeat” is hardly conclusive, and we don’t see Buster’s escape from the house. It’s grammatically unconvincing, too, cutting to black in a way nobody was doing in the twenties.

Then Lobster, gloriously, found a new ending: Buster continues escaping, but there are complications involving a cop (set up earlier, now, at last, paid off) and some more stunts, and a final, spectacular escape.

Iris in on Buster fleeing the scene.

Lobster, for reasons they no doubt know, left it at that. We now have a climax but no coda: Buster is still married to the woman he doesn’t want to be married to, still has the in-laws he doesn’t want (as in life).

When we see KLANGkrieg’s mash-up with climax AND coda, the iris in on Buster fleeing seems to match perfectly to the iris out on him boarding the Reno Express. The film seems, finally, complete (except we need the rest of the film stitched on in front).

Now, it’s risky to say “This is obviously the way the film was meant to be, because it’s better this way.” I think Clement’s FORBIDDEN GAMES is obviously better with the intro and outro he shot, but he himself cut them so we have to accept that the director’s preferred version ends abruptly and without the extremely powerful emotion of the version that won a prize at Venice.

But to me the superiority of the combined cut is so manifest that I simply can’t believe Buster signed off on anything else. I presume, though, Lobster had their reasons — if a print exists with only the coda, and another with only the climax, then we have no evidence that they ever co-existed — only an instinctive sense that they belong together.

It strikes me as just possible that Lobster missed the cultural significance of Reno as a destination — I only know from my own consumption of classic Hollywood movies that Nevada is where you went for a quickie divorce. But not getting the joke isn’t a good reason for omitting the sequence — they MUST have found an ending with the climax and without the coda.

It also strikes me as possible that zealous censors may have removed the coda from one or more existing prints — after the Production Code came in, making jokes about divorce and allowing a divorce to result in a happy ending became verboten. So that could account for a number of prints existing without the coda… The only explanation I can see for the lost climax would be print damage, of the same sort that whisked the ending of HARD LUCK away into oblivion for so many years — reel ends seem to be particularly vulnerable, although reel middles can get all glued together…

I would like HARD INFORMATION, but I’m slightly discouraged from bothering Serge Bromberg as his last reply wasn’t informative, and he’s going through a lot at the moment. Does anybody know anything?

Kidnapping, murder and plagiarism

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2020 by dcairns


I plonked the top image on Twitter because I thought it was a striking line, and Fredrik Gustaffson immediately spotted where it was stolen from and posted the original.

FOLLI A TUER and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. They don’t really have anything to do with one another so I’d call it a swipe rather than a hommage. But swipes are, in a way, more admirable: the filmmaker is simply trying to make his film better than he’d be able to do using his own imagination alone. Hommages are a bit masturbatory.

So, follow Fredrik, you are unlikely to regret it.

Yves Boisset, the swiper in question (unless he got the line from his source novel, Jean-Patrick Manchette’s O Dingos…O Chateaux), seems unable to frame an attractive shot, and crams his compositions with ugly sets, costumes and a few ugly people, but this is in fact a very good thriller with a little extra philosophy/character.


Marlene Jobert, last seen (by me) in René Clement’s RIDER ON THE RAIN, always seems to be having rather a hard time of it. She’s released from a psychiatric hospital some years after killing a man in (as yet) unexplained circs, goes to work for millionaire Michael Lonsdale (seems nice enough, what could go wrong?) as nanny to his disturbed charge, Thomas Waintrop. A terrific little actor but a bit of a handful. Plus, all of Lonsdale’s domestic staff seem to have been recruited from the asylum or the penitentiary: his elevator boy was a cat killer, and his chauffeur a serial rapist. What’s going on here?

Then Jobert and Waintrop are kidnapped by Tomas Milian and things get really bad. I can’t offhand recall a child or child actor being put through so much slapping and threatening in a film. The movie seems misanthropic (and opens with a quote from WC Fields) but has a lot of heart, too. Diseased heart, possibly.


Worth a peek.

FOLIE A TUER stars Mélancolie Mau; Tepepa; Hugo Drax; Gustave Dominici; Warok; and Col. Günther Reza.

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.