Archive for The Believer

The Un-Thin Man

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on March 18, 2011 by dcairns

One from the vaults — my profile of esteemed character fatty Eugene Pallette, culled from an old issue of The Believer (Yeggs, Grifters and Patsies, co-authored with B. Kite), is now up at The Chiseler — where dead movies go to be reborn. Thanks to Ed at The Believer for giving us the go-ahead to re-run this piece.

And don’t forget to buy the new Believer for my big-ass William Cameron Menzies article (and much more good stuff besides!)

The Sunday Intertitle: Mad March Flair

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on March 13, 2011 by dcairns

My copy of The Believer, featuring my article on William Cameron Menzies, arrived in the post today. I photographed it by torchlight and it came out looking funny. Probably due to ghosts.

Of course, this calls for a Menzies-related intertitle, so here’s one from THE LOVE OF ZERO, an expressionist short directed by Robert Florey (a director seemingly fated to work in low-budget B-pictures, and then TV, for life, despite his obvious imagination).

I’m not sure how Menzies, a highly-paid studio employee, came to be working on this  avant-garde adventure in style, made for $200: presumably he was just tempted by the possibility of breaking rules and indulging himself. He did later go on to produce musical shorts in the early ’30s so he obviously had no prejudice against the short form. But most Hollywood employees have a prejudice against not getting paid, so it’s somewhat remarkable that he branched out so far.

The film also features text on screen that’s actually a prop positioned in frame with the actors — walk-in intertitles, or outertitles, or something. A unique case?

The plot sure ain’t much, but it’s a visual feast, showing the clear influence of CALIGARI on Menzies’ distinctive style.

Ah, here it is on YouTube ~

The Production Designer

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by dcairns

Look out! The result of a long-term plan bears fruit, as the latest issue of The Believer hits stateside newsstands. Cradled within its crackling leaves, a new piece by me, detailing the work of William Cameron Menzies.

You can buy it via Amazon here ~

The Believer, Issue 79: March/April 2011 Film Issue

Thanks to David Bordwell and Glenn Erickson for their trailblazing work here and here and here and here.