Archive for The Gang’s All Here

Lipstick on Your Horton

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2019 by dcairns

Edward Everett Horton in THE GANG’S ALL HERE, Diane Ladd in WILD AT HEART.

Maybe the crossover of imagery has something to do with both men being masters of provoking conflicted response. The charming or funny stuff in Berkeley is always, at base, a bit disturbing, while Lynch specialises in pushing things into places where we don’t know how to react.

That Man ‘Ees Crazee

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2014 by dcairns

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Such is the title of my essay in the booklet enclosed with each copy of Masters of Cinema’s Blu-ray of THE GANG’S ALL HERE, available NOW. Also featuring a piece by Karina Longworth and a commentary track by Farran Smith Nehme (the Self-Styled Siren) Glenn Kenny (Some Came Running) and Ed Hulse.

I’m trying to achieve excellence in titling, but remain hit-0r-miss. Fiona pronounced Picturewise, the title of my Richard Lester video essay, “terrible,” although it is a word used by Victor Spinetti in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. On the other hand, my video essay on DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, available to pre-order below, is called Naked On My Goat, and I don’t think the paying public deserves any better than that, even if anything better was conceivable by the human mind. I think You Must Become Caligari is quite a strong title, and my essay for WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? was called I Must I Must Increase My Bust, which makes me smile anyway.

For Lubitsch’s MADAME DUBARRY I contributed a piece called Who Wants to be a Milliner?, a terrible pun of which I am inordinately proud.

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The Return of Etaix, for the Pierre Etaix box set is not as strong a title as the piece itself, and certainly nowhere near as strong as the set. The Complete Jacques Tati has a piece called Things Fall Together which is a kind of sequel to an earlier piece called Things Fall Apart, Beautifully, on the Criterion website. 39 Steps to Happiness is self-explanatory, just about.

Mick Travis and the Chamber of Secrets, for IF…. is maybe a little desperate, but I was trying at least. The accompanying interview with supporting performer Brian Pettifer is triumphantly called Small Parts Inspection. My piece on THE LOST WEEKEND is called The Lost Weekend, which shows, frankly, a lack of inspiration which I fear shows in the piece. RIFIFI got one called I’m a Crook at Heart, for which credit goes to director Jules Dassin because he said it. Also for Arrow, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (Philip Kaufman version) got a piece called We Came from Outer Space, which is interesting at least, and my video essays for that company are Through the Pale Door (THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, title take from a line in the story) and… but maybe I can’t announce this one yet.

My best DVD essay title may be my first, for STAGECOACH. Taking the Stage is a pretty simple name, but it works on two levels and isn’t too cute. Ford might have allowed it.

I am about to start a new piece for Criterion but if I told you what the essay was called, some of you would guess the film and it ain’t announced yet.

Pre-order:

Diary of a Lost Girl [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD)

Out Now:
The Gang’s All Here (1943) [Masters of Cinema] [Blu-ray]
If…. (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] [1968]
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray] [1957]
The Lost Weekend [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray) [1945]
MADAME DUBARRY [Masters of Cinema] (1919) [Blu-ray]

The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Stagecoach (The Criterion Collection)
A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
Pierre Etaix (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
The Complete Jacques Tati [Blu-ray]

Rififi [Dual Format Edition DVD + Blu-Ray] [1955]
Fall of the House of Usher [Blu-ray]
Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray]

There are also two video intros for Masters of Cinema but they don’t have titles, so it just says David Cairns on the DVD menu, which is quite startling if your name is David Cairns or you know somebody called David Cairns.

Harold And Maude (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray) [1971]
Too Late Blues (Masters of Cinema) (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD] [1961]

Gamine Streets

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2014 by dcairns

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Picked up DADDY LONG LEGS for a pound in a charity shop — didn’t expect too much from it, for whatever reason — but it’s lovely. Of the later Fred Astaire things I’ve seen, it struck me as better than SILK STOCKINGS, for instance — that one is haunted by the spectre of the superior NINOTCHKA. I prefer it to FUNNY FACE too, though that one arguably has better songs (but DLL has a nice bunch by Johnny Mercer).

Whereas this one should be troubled by the icky plotline — gajillionaire Fred Astaire sees Leslie Caron in an orphanage, likes what he sees, and decides to adopt her. Well, not quite: he pays for her American college education anonymously. But then she falls in love with the idea of her unseen guardian, and then he meets her, not revealing the connection, and falls in love with her.

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(The CALIGARI tradition of painted sets and painted shadows lived on, not in horror movies but in musicals. Work that one out, Kracauer!)

The clever part is that the screenplay by Phoebe and Henry Ephron has gruff, irascible supporting characters state all the objections to this May-December romance up front, voicing the audience’s own concerns in a killjoy way, forcing us to side with Fred. It helps that Caron is so irresistible.

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Director — Jean Negulesco, so we get swellegant widescreen composition

Cinematographer — Leon Shamroy, the King of Deluxe Color, so we get beautiful complimentary tinted tones. Shamroy had a slight tendency to overuse his honey and blue lighting (the orange and teal of his day) but he comes up with some lovely variations here in the night scenes.

Production designers — Lyle R. Wheeler, “the Dean of Art Directors,” and especially John DeCuir so we get stylised sets with a bold palette which never get garish in an MGM/Goldwyn manner. While THE RED SHOES was clearly an influence on the fantasy sequences, they’re full of fresh visual ideas, stuff you haven’t seen before.

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The movie is two hours long but doesn’t feel over-padded, much. And in one fantasy, Fred plays an imaginary Texas squillionaire and is VERY funny — fatuous smile, hundred-gallon hat, slow, comical movements. Of course, however ridiculous he makes himself, he’s graceful too.

Hmm, do I like any other Fox musicals? There’s THE GANG’S ALL HERE. I’ve written something about that one, too, but you won’t get to see it for a while…