Archive for The Lady from Shanghai

The Mysterious Mr If — Part the Sixteenth

Posted in FILM with tags , on September 12, 2011 by dcairns

Where am I going with this? asked one concerned reader. Well, there was a plan of sorts — THE MYSTERIOUS MR IF was written in a few short sessions as a ten-page treatment, which had most of the main plot points. The bit we’re emerging from now was augmented when the first draft seemed… thin. I suspect maybe some of it is just padding, though. Now we move into the more apocalyptic, possibly unpleasant stuff… and soon, what I believe some of our racier filmmakers term, “the climax”!

Down below, you’ll see the gloomy deco of the old Scottish Office building, which I always wanted to use in a movie — here, the image stands for what the script calls “the Public Information Bureau,” a non-existent organisation. Probably the Scottish Records Office would fit the role more neatly, but it’s a friendlier, less BRAZIL-like building.

Last we saw, Sheena McQueen was attempting to break free from Mr If’s demented funhouse, while Howie, the human exhibit from Edinburgh Zoo, and Detective Inspector Turner of the Lothian & Borders Police attempted to rescue her by following If’s puzzling clues. This leads Howie to uncover a message inscribed on the leg of a choking mountaineer, while Turner learns of Mr If’s hatred of facts and records.  

Now read on…

INT. ZOO – DAY

Foyle is carted off on a stretcher.

Howie trails behind, chatting to the Zookeeper.

HOWIE

“Hawk guru to fig your ate…”

ZOOKEEPER

Hawk? You might try Professor Wazzoo, he’s our resident ornithologist. Leading man in the field. He practically invented the tawny owl.

They approach the Bird House.

INT. SECRET PASSAGEWAY/CHUTE, WAREHOUSE – DAY

A PARROT SQUAWK!

Sheena tumbles headlong down a steep chute. SIGNS roll past, with fun-house lettering:

STAND UP OR GIVE UP

ARESNAKES NECESSARY?

THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER

The ticking CLOCK pounds on.

Sheena’s fall accelerates.

Barrel organ MUSIC swirls and warps.

The chute curves sickeningly in all directions.

MECHANICAL LAUGHTER.

WHERE’S MY FILE?

SHEENA

I don’t know! It fell down the back of the couch!

Bells and klaxons freak out in triumph.

Ahead – a cinema screen blocks the chute. It shows a black and white film of a couch – completely unlike Sheena’s.

Sheena tumbles towards the screen.

A file falls from the on-screen couch and slips through an implausibly large gap in the floorboards.

Silent movie intertitle: AH-HAH!

Sheena hits the screen and bursts through it into – ?

EXT. PROF. WAZZOO’S OFFICE, ZOO – DAY

PROFESSOR WAZZOO bursts from his office, a funny little man in a colourful bow-tie. Howie runs to meet him.

HOWIE

Ah-hah! Professor Wazzoo! I need your help on a hawk-related matter!

The esteemed ornithologist produces a yellow envelope.

WAZZOO

Ah. This is for you.

Howie is puzzled.

WAZZOO

I was told to give this to the man who approached me with those words.

The envelope is addressed “Human.”

EXT. PUBLIC INFORMATION BUREAU – DAY

Turner pulls up at the Public Information Bureau. He bounds from his car, passing a sobbing Bureaucrat.

BUREAUCRAT

History is dead.

Turner brushes past and into the revolving glass doors.

INT. LOBBY, PUBLIC INFORMATION BUREAU – DAY

Turner pauses at the elevators.

A SIGN reads ORDER OUT OF. Arrows point to the correct position of the words.

Turner makes for the stairs.

Ping. The elevator opens. It contains a child’s space hopper.

INT. WAREHOUSE – DAY

Bursting into the hall of records, Turner finds only the empty warehouse with the maze painted on the floor.

And in the centre of the room, If’s grandfather clock wearing its F-cup bra padded out with stuffed owls.

Turner walks towards it. The hands read 5.55…

Mr. If steps up behind him and WHACKS him on the noggin with a ball peen hammer.

MR. IF

Bang!

Turner staggers, dazed.

MR. IF

Ball peen. We know a song about that, don’t we?

He hits Turner again.

MR. IF

Ball peen, ball peen, hard and sore,

Crashing down on crashing bore,

Hammer like a man insane,

Raining blows like brain pain rain.

He smashes Turner’s head again and it all goes

BLACK

MR. IF (O.S.)

Bang!

EXT. PUBLIC INFORMATION BUREAU – DAY

Sheena bursts through a papered-over window and lands, all Starsky-and-Hutch, on Turner’s already battered car.

She shakes off the seaweed and goggles in dismay.

Three Iffies – disciples of a new If-Cult – are kneeling before a large wooden crucifix, burning files. The Iffies consist of an OLD DUFFER, a HIPPY CHICK, and a Rotund Dutchman.

Nailed to the cross is the Bureaucrat, dressed as a banana. Above his head a sign reads CRUC IF IX.

SHEENA

Jesus fucking Christ.

HIPPY CHICK

History is dead. Unreason is arisen!

ROTUND DUTCHMAN

Down vith the vorld! Free love!

BUREAUCRAT

Father forgive them for they Scooby Dooby Doo!

To Be Continued…

The Look of… what?

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

Or how a certain dead-eyed shark gaze was handed down through film history from the forties, to the fifties, to the nineties — I haven’t found the sixties, seventies and noughties versions yet.

“One who follows his nature keeps his original nature in the end.” Rita Hayworth’s psycho stare here is clearly an echo of Glenn Anders’ loony gaze earlier when he proposes his crazy murder scheme to Orson on the clifftop. Does the film propose Rita as the source of this madness, transmitted to those in her circle? A gaze-borne mental malady?

Bardot, in one of the few roles that deployed any of her many qualities other than a certain physical pertness — LA FEMME ET LE PANTIN. Here, she actually manages to drop a hint of PITY in with the psychopathic chill. It’s not a warm pity, though, it’s much more a look that says, “It’s such a shame I’m going to do this to you, but because you are who you are, I totally am.”

“Gone, gone, like a turkey in the corn.”

The greatly underrated Sheryl Lee in TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. I still remember the reviews carping that she wasn’t up to playing a leading role, which was grossly unfair as she is ASTONISHING in this film. Again, like Bardot she was discovered and cast for her cuteness, to play a good-looking corpse, and turned out to have so much more going for her. See also: MOTHER NIGHT, WINTER’S BONE… hmmm, those two sound like parts of a series. What would the third film be called?

Anyway, the above movies are only touched upon in this week’s edition of The Forgotten, which is about something else. Find out what by going here.

Here’s the Bardot scene, which is fairly understandable, and fairly interesting, even if you don’t speak French of have the invaluable Mr Wingrove to hand to translate for you…

Silly, isn’t it?

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on February 19, 2011 by dcairns

The sailor receives a proposal

To arrange for a human disposal

But the fellow who picked him

Is also the victim

A role that would seem self-opposal.

Another LADY FROM SHANGHAI limerick is now available over at Limerwrecks, home of the film noir limerick, and another participating outlet in the Self-Styled Siren, Ferdy on Film and the Film Noir Foundation’s For the Love of Film (Noir) Film Preservation Blogathon.

So, when I said that my previous post was the penultimate in my blogathon entries, that wasn’t accurate. THIS is my penultimate post.

Donate some money, and when you see THE SOUND OF FURY you will know that a few of its scintillating seconds owe their glistening, pristine existence to you!

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