Archive for Roger Vadim

Chamber of Dreams

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2016 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2016-06-19-21h55m02s020

One after another, the films in out POW!!! retrospective turn out to be far better when seen on the big screen than one would expect — DANGER: DIABOLIK’s somewhat episodic plot seems to flow more smoothly, MODESTY BLAISE’s jarring tonal shifts seem more thought-through, and BARBARELLA —

vlcsnap-2016-06-19-21h49m46s891

I used to assume that of the army of writers on this film (including Hammer scribe Tudor Gates, also credited on DIABOLIK), Terry Southern was probably responsible for the funniest lines, but when I got ahold of the Grove Press (!) edition of Jean-Claude Forest’s comic strip, I found they’d been lifted straight from its speech balloons. (“A great many dramatic situations begin with screaming!”) All of them are enhanced, however, by Jane Fonda’s witty and inventive line readings. How many ways of doing wide-eyed innocence ARE there? An infinite number, apparently. Fonda not only makes the film funnier, she defuses offense in the more exploitative scenes, reassuring us that good taste, and the heroine, will not be violated altogether.

vlcsnap-2016-06-19-21h48m12s804

Embodying a very up-to-the-minute view of the future, 1968-style (the swishy shipboard computer seems like a riposte to 2001, but surely can’t be), the film is also, by movie standards, comparatively generous towards its source, crediting Forest once for co-co-co-co-co-co-writing, and once for design. Combining his art with the craft of production designer Mario Garbuglia (THE LEOPARD) results in wonderfully Felliniesque settings.

In my intro I said that Roger Vadim’s direction was the weakest link, but after watching the film with an audience I would have to retract that halfway — true, Vadim’s marshalling of his resources into camera coverage sometimes seems a bit random, so that you frown at shapeless footage of clearly magnificent environments and crowds — not as bad as CALIGULA, say, but a milder version of that effect — “I know we’re in an amazing set, but we just can’t see it!” As if, having covered his wife/star, Vadim had no clear plan for how to present anything else, and just let the cameramen roam about as if in a behind-the-scenes documentary. But the pacing of the film is really good. Despite their charms, DIABOLIK and MODESTY BLAISE are both peppered with dead spots in their talking scenes, partly a result of rather thin sound design, partly a result of directors who are either not so comfortable with actors (Bava, I’m afraid) or with comedy timing (Losey, unquestionably). BARBARELLA, in front of an audience, really PLAYS.

vlcsnap-2016-06-19-21h47m38s719

Advertisements

Grotto Fabulous

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on June 12, 2014 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2014-06-11-16h36m18s253

There are simply too many gorgeous images in Roger Vadim’s imperfect but certainly lavish BLOOD AND ROSES — they can’t all be fitted into one piece. So here’s some extra ones. The Han Solo carbon freezing tomb —

vlcsnap-2014-06-11-16h43m45s124

And the b&w/colour dream sequence —

vlcsnap-2014-06-11-16h33m05s118

The piece itself is this fortnight’s edition of The Forgotten. Here.

 

The Dramatic Angle #1

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2010 by dcairns

Telly Savalas opens a door.

This lovely image is from the decidedly unlovely PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW, a retina-searingly tasteless serial killer campus sex comedy directed by Roger Vadim, written by Star Trek supremo Gene Roddenberry. Hollywood cinema in its post-code priapic male menopause mode. The Gene-Roddenberry-in-disguise character is a college guidance counsellor who’s slipping the salami to all the cheerleaders. He’s played by Rock Hudson, without apparent irony. Meanwhile, somebody (else?) is killing said cheerleaders, and pinning sarcastic notes to their corpse-panties. What all this says about Roddenberry, a notorious babe-hound, is hard to fathom, but I don’t find it encouraging.

Campuses, in the modern age, tend to be rather ugly structures, and this whole film is startlingly devoid of attractive locales, which is unusual for Vadim. At least there’s a panoply of female pulchritude (including Angie Dickinson and the celebrated Joy Bang), plus poor old Roddy McDowell (who seems to crop up in every misbegotten 70s atrocity I peruse). And Telly, who’s still in pre-lollipop mode. He smokes strangely, as if the cigarette were a lipstick. Later, following Mario Bava’s advice, he would successfully quit the coffin nails by finding something else to do with his hands, and hence the Kojak lollipop was acquired.

It’s not easy to account for the Savalas appeal, but it’s a very real thing. I always buck up when I see his name in the credits. When I see him in HORROR EXPRESS, playing a cossack, I dance a jig.

I seem to recall actor Dudley Sutton (Duke of Wuertemberg in Fellini’s CASANOVA, Tinker in Lovejoy) talking about meeting some nice woman who’d met Telly on holiday. He’d been charmed by her little daughter and kept talking about wanting to take the child home with him. The woman seemed delighted by this patter, whereas Dudley “– found this terrifying, because when I worked with him*, he was out of his mind on LSD the whole time.”**

*On A TOWN CALLED BASTARD, which Dud called “the crookedest film I was ever in.”

**More Dudley wisdom: “Now, the best films to be in for drugs were the Disney films…”