Archive for The Chiseler

Raymond Blur

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on September 29, 2018 by dcairns

Daddy’s out of focus! Daddy’s out of focus!

New at The Chiseler — I dig into CRIME OF PASSION, a late noir, late Stanwyck with an “all-women-are-bad/mad” vibe partially redeemed/complicated by scripted ambiguities and Stanwyck’s typically powerful work.

Gerd SCREAMING MIMI Oswald directs at a suitable pitch of hysteria.


Starring Phyllis Dietrichson, General Jack D. Ripper, Lars Thorwald, Ann Darrow, Orvil Newton, Tom Fury and Count Yorga.


She’s Up!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on May 4, 2018 by dcairns

My SCARLET EMPRESS piece is live at The Chiseler. Great response to this one on Twitter — thanks to @CriterionDaily for publicising it.

So, we’re more than halfway through the Sternberg-Dietrich canon (out of sequence), with THE BLUE ANGEL, SHANGHAI EXPRESS and THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN still to come. Hell will have no surprises!

Cinephiles everywhere should be ordering Criterion’s forthcoming box set of all six Paramount films (and they should already own THE BLUE ANGEL in some format or other).

The Sunday Intertitle: A Silent with Sound

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , on April 29, 2018 by dcairns

A royal birth!

In THE SCARLET EMPRESS, Von Sternberg brings back various aspects of silent cinema — long, wordless passages, scenes played on detail shots — and intertitles! Often these start as white-on-black text and then a background shot fades up behind so that the text becomes a superimposition. An advance on the old titles, which were more interruptive.

Sternberg, however, hated the live accompaniment provided for silents, because he had no control over it. So here he can finally play long visual scenes with synchronized score, and he got so into this that he elbowed the conductor aside and took up the baton himself, despite having no training. Chaplin could do it, so could he!

Continuing my jaunt through the Sternberg-Dietrich collabs for The Chiseler, a project with new currency thanks to the forthcoming Criterion box set. The previous installments are here, here and here. Hopefully we’ll have another tomorrow.