Archive for Robert Siodmak

The Greengrocer’s Apostrophe

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by dcairns

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From Robert Siodmak’s CRISS CROSS. “Employee’s only.” No wonder their armoured car gets robbed, they can’t even use basic English grammar.

Bunch of idiot’s.

Showed this one to students and was struck by how it really wants to be a portrait of a terrible love affair (trust is gone) and has to force itself to be a crime movie. Fortunately, the crime movie it’s forcing itself to be is a damned good one, even if the crime masterminded by dopey hero Burt Lancaster is a magnificently dumb piece of self-destruct planning. I mean, it doesn’t so much carry the seeds of its own destruction as the whole damn tree. Which is itself in bud.

The sub-sub-genre of armoured car robbery movies deserves a pamphlet of its own, from the shambolic overthinking of Lancaster’s scheme and its Soderbergh remake, THE UNDERNEATH, to the factual comedy of THE BRINK’S JOB (note the correct apostrophe) to Richard Fleischer’s self-explanatory ARMORED CAR ROBBERY and climaxing with the Mackendrick-Rose-Ealing-Guinness THE LADYKILLERS.

Philip Kemp’s Mackendrick bio, Lethal Innocence, has a good story about that heist. Mackendrick had a tendency to go all-out for authenticity in small matters, which he later identified as a diversionary measure to take his mind off the more intractable problems of the narrative at hand. Anyhow, in quest of realism he consulted the Metropolitan Police, appraising them of his fictional caper and asking if such a scheme could possibly work.

The detective took a long breath. “I’m very glad you decided to become a filmmaker, Mr Mackendrick. It would work only too well.”

The Best Of Ealing Collection [DVD]
Criss Cross (1949) Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Compatible DVD. Starring Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo

Le Clair-Obscur

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2013 by dcairns

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On the subject of put-downs, Ambrose Bierce observed that “for every man, there is something in the vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it.”

Over at the first fortnightly edition of The Forgotten, we encounter a filmmaker who was memorably re-christened by an opponent in just that fashion. So successfully was he insulted that I encountered the insult long before I saw a single frame he shot.

Thanks to Lenny Borger for telling me about the insult.

Eye Piece

Posted in FILM with tags , , on June 11, 2011 by dcairns

You can tell I’m on break from the Art College by the way I forget what day it is, starting today by posting the Sunday Intertitle, then hastily taking it down after seeing the morning paper. Instead, and hopefully just as good, I have a new piece up at The Chiseler, tracing the origins of Robert Siodmak’s involvement in the crime genre.

Click!

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