Archive for Robert Aldrich

Aldrich or Die Tryin’

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on December 10, 2020 by dcairns

EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE isn’t sufficiently late Aldrich to normally warrant inclusion in The Late Show — the big guy had a good few raucous hours in him yet — but it’s the penultimate edition of Forgotten By Fox, and so it’s allowable, I think.


Twelve Mangly Men

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2020 by dcairns

Neither of us had watched THE DIRTY DOZEN before. So we did.

The distance between the nominally anti-war ATTACK! and this is not as great as first appears: the trouble with the “bad officer” school of war movie is that the assumption must be that, with a better officer, more of the right sort of people could be killed. TDD is correct in showing that war is a dirty business, but it can’t help but be an enjoyable guys-on-a-mission romp. The Boys Own adventure was traditionally clean-cut, but you can have dirty versions and much remains unaltered.

“There’s all kinds of weird male energy going on here!” remarked Fiona. Most of it comes from Lee Marvin, who puts on a mock-camp act to tease the men, but is also genuinely seductive when recruiting them. This is a man, we can assume, who is confident in his masculinity. Aldrich shoots hell out of everything with bullets but also angles: his coverage is extensive but interesting. Plenty of floor-level shots. And Donald Sutherland makes a good thing to cut to when in doubt.

If the idea is that these guys are effective in war because they’re much worse than ordinary soldiers (I’m told that the Germans really did have a squad recruited from prisons and asylums, but their missions were all the same: commit atrocities against civilians — the SS thought they went too far) then it’s odd that the grisly idea of burning the enemy alive in their bomb shelter is suggested by the officer, a non-dirty participant. But there are many things that don’t add up here. The title sequence is very nearly great except the titles chap, in a hurry to get the thing over in a decent amount of time, scrolls credits past each of the dozen, resulting in amusing name-face mismatches. THE DIRTY DOZEN stars Liberty Valance; Ragnar; Harmonica; Slaughter; Johnny Stacatto; Sheriff Kip McKinney; Herman Scobie; Mike Hammer; Smith Ohlrig; Pontius Pilate; Giacomo Casanova; Nick Nitro; Juror 12; Alraune; Ming’s Brute; Capungo; and Walter Paisley.

Red Frag

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2020 by dcairns

ATTACK, or, according to the title sequence on my DVD, “ATTACK”, but also known in some territories at some times under the infinitely preferable ATTACK!, is a Robert Aldrich WWII pic which gets namechecked in the Bordwell-Thompson Film History: An Introduction which I just picked up for a song now that a few of Edinburgh’s charity shops have reopened, right next to KISS ME DEADLY (which, according to its own title sequence may actually be called DEADLY KISS ME). If that isn’t a recommendation, I figured, what is?

And indeed, some of the same pulpy energy is present, plus a Fullerseque sensorial assault, tabloid gonzo raving and sweaty manliness… the titles start as a slain grunt’s helmet bounces down a hill, coming to rest by a pretty flower. “You see the symbolism of it?”

The story plays out a lot like CROSS OF IRON, with Eddie Albert as coward/incompetent/psycho and Jack Palance as his opponent on the same side. While the Peckinpah is bold in telling the story from the German side, it’s MUCH braver to have an American officer as coward/idiot/maniac who needs to be snuffed for the sake of the war effort.

A typically, um, muscular perf from JP: at one point, having been shot in the leg and parked on by a tank, he slumps against a wall and raises himself up it, inch by inch, using only his head and neck. Meryl Streep can’t do that.

Greasy streak on wall from previous takes.

There’s also some backstage politics with Lee Marvin’s colonel protecting Albert’s captain due to personal connections back home in the South. It’s quite a good film to watch right now, since the southerners are the baddies. Feels timely.

Any consideration of Aldrich as a major figure, I find, has to reckon with the animated blood splash in THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE, a bit of cinematic “technique” that might otherwise mark him out as an utter clown. I feel like I need solid proof that wasn’t his idea. But this grimy potboiler does indeed have much of the same pulp frenzy as his Spillane adaptation. “Overwrought” doesn’t begin to cover it, but even with bum notes like Frank De Vol’s score playing Deutschland Uber Alles when the Germans appear, and an off-key London Bridge is Falling Down when Albert loses all the marbles, it’s quite bold politically and punchy as hell.

ATTACK! features Jesus Raza; Warden Barrot; Irving Radovich; Liberty Valance; Sgt. Stanislaus ‘Animal’ Kuzawa; Sheriff Kip McKinney; Jed Clampett; Hans-Dieter Mundt; Dr. Rudolph Frankenstein; Goff; & Coffer.