Archive for Titanic

Ruhr Wars

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2020 by dcairns

I hadn’t watched DAMBUSTERS all the way through for decades, and so I remembered precisely enjoying the exciting action climax and the quaint-but-cool VFX, sure, remembered that… Remembered really enjoying Michael Redgrave but nothing specific.

Well, Redgrave is worth digging into. “They’ve aged him up,” declared Fiona. True. And Redgrave has made some slight modifications to his delivery and movement to suit an older character, but it’s so subtle it just melts into him and you forget there’s any acting going on. Something like DEAD OF NIGHT — extreme nervousness — allows MR to get showy, but this kind of invisible acting is something he’s also really good at.

Best Redgravian choice is when his moment of triumph comes — a dam is bust — and he doesn’t know how to do a fist-pump (had they been invented?) or he’s too repressed, so he pumps both fists DOWNWARDS as if he’s trying to detach his sleeves. Close to his sides, very repressed jubilation. Marvelous.

It wasn’t until I saw him outside a big shed with a couple cans of film under his arm that I realised this whole thing works as a metaphor for the film biz. Someone has an idea. They work up a proposal and shoot some tests, but they have to get it approved by a damn committee. Through personal connections they manage to catch the ear of a big shot with an office, and then they’re into pre-production. A crew must be selected, or as they call it here, “a crew.” After months of inertia, they suddenly have to get the whole thing together to meet a narrow window of opportunity. Then, having set it in motion, the minds behind it just have to sit back and see how it’s received by its audience (the Germans).

I truly believe the reason Peter Jackson hasn’t done his threatened remake yet is that he can’t decide what to call the dog. And the only reason he wants to make it is to have more realistic splashing. (Just like Cameron clearly wanted to re-re-re-remake the TITANIC story so as to include the detail of the ship snapping in two.)

Fiona, a stranger to the film, was astonished at the abstract effect of the bomb-splashes. An animated outline with shots of the sea inside it. It’s really kind of delightful. I think maybe it’d have been 5% more convincing if the sea was out of focus, and it should have been white water rapids all going UPSCREEN. But it’s adorable.

I pondered whether, by delving more deeply into the less appealing qualities of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, Jackson might be able to get away with giving him a racist dog. Probably not. It’s going to be a distraction whatever you try, and simply renaming the pooch Digger or Tigger or Trigger or Barkie is the least distracting option. People will get over it. And is your three-hour movie going to be accurate in every other respect?

A racist dog.

DAMBUSTERS, as directed by Michael LOGAN’S RUN Anderson is very watchable. The making-a-movie structure is really sound: Barnes Wallace battling committees is surprisingly exciting (following a character who’s right about something and faces opposition, hmm, there might be something in that) and then of course it leads into the operation itself, which is helluva exciting. The only possible hiccup is that you have to hand over from one lead character to another, which is often tricky in films. Redgrave is so much more interesting than Richard Todd that if it weren’t for the ramping-up of jeopardy, and the convenient baton-passing scene, it might not come off.

“The unfortunately-named Burpy,” said Fiona.

“I think it’s ‘Berkeley,'” I told her.

“I’ve been hearing ‘Burpy’ all through this film.”

“Well, he wouldn’t be the only one with an unfortunate name.”

It also struck me that, since Gilbert Taylor shot the effects work, that might be why Kubrick got him to shoot DR. STRANGELOVE — but the best stuff in this is done with real Lancaster bombers — and even Kubrick couldn’t supply real B52s — and with a vast miniature landscape — which wouldn’t have helped Kubrick much — but I would love to stride across it like a bespectacled Gojira — those plane shots in DR. S. always seem slightly disappointing, especially given what would be achieved in SK’s very next film. Oh, and George Lucas must surely have grabbed Taylor as his STAR WARS D.O.P. because of how the Death Star assault is so massively influenced by this.

As director, Michael Anderson’s best thing — apart from close-up of dog-scratches on door, a real hearthrob but probably in the script — is the sudden shock cuts from noise of battle to dead silence in the operations room, and the beautifully composed, near-abstract images there:

THE DAM BUSTERS — which everyone seems to call DAMBUSTERS — stars Dunois, Bastard of Orleans; Col. Eisenstein; Frau von Kalteneck; Claudius – The King; Nathaniel Beenstock; Capt. Edward John Smith; Cavendish ‘The Surveyor’; Quint; Captain Alec Rattray; Lord Alfred Douglas; Tiberius; Tang How – Tong Leader’s Aide; Six-Eyes Wiener; Klove; and Number Six.

Maiden Voyage

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2020 by dcairns

Vol. II of The Shadowcast begins with a voyage on the unsinkable Titanic. There will be shuffleboard, and dancing in steerage.

Dress warm.

Here.

 

Swapping Deckchairs

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2020 by dcairns

Nice of Brian Aherne, in the Jean Negulesco TITANIC, to proudly display the name of his favourite Bob Fosse film.

Though I would have put him down as more of a LENNY man.

Working on a new Shadowcast, or at least talking about doing so… I realise if we’re going to make this podcast thing a success we’ll have to make some actual podcasts… thinking of theming it around movies about the Titanic. There are quite a few. We’ll just talk about the ones we’re interested in. Probably these:

ATLANTIC. EA Dupont, Britain, 1929. Stars Thomas Cromwell; Princess Flavia; Sir Henry Baskerville; Harry Blump, the Window Washer; Needle Nugent; Detective Frank Webber; Gen. Mercier; Emily Hill; Duke of Orleans; and One-Round

The Nazi TITANIC. Gervert Selpin, Germany, 1943. Stars Léone; Chef von Scotland Yard; Elephant Keeper Kellerman; Inspector Groeber; and Inspector Karl Lohmann.

TITANIC. Jean Negulesco, USA, 1953 which stars Waldo Lydecker; Martha Ivers; Jonathan Hart; Louise Kendall; Moe Williams; Maximilian I of Mexico; Ishmael; Cousin Albert Van Cleve; Lord Alfred Douglas; the Dear One; Herod the Great; and the voice of Klaatu.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER. Roy Ward Baker, Britain, 1958, Which stars Douglas Bader; Cmdr. Fortune; John Quincy Adams; Pussy Galore; Hylas the Glaswegian argonaut; Don Jarvis; Ieuan Jenkins; David Copperfield; Illya Kuryakin; Chief Inspector Tim Oxford: Argos the Surrey Argonaut; Peter Coffin; Dickie Winslow; Catweazle; Lenin; Prof. Bernard Quatermass; Takyan; Det. Chief Supt. Charles Barlow; Q; Prince Otto; Sandy Youth; Norm; Tumak; Vivian Darkbloom; the Duke of Wuertemberg; Captain Winston Havelock; and Boba Fett.

And I guess we won’t be able to entirely avoid James Cameron’s TITANIC (USA, 1998) which stars Rick Dalton; Young Iris Murdoch; The Phantom; Annie Wilkes; Strawberry Alice; Margaret Waverton; Private Hudson; King Theoden; Henry Niles; Herbert Arthur Runcible Cadbury; Reed Richards; Jeremy Secker; Pontius Pilate; and Captain Winston Havelock again.

Why, it’s Captain Smith! The real one, seemingly. The little white blotch to the right of his head seems to be where somebody’s scratched out the name of another ship, for what reason I’m uncertain. All through this documentary short, frequently mislabeled as SAVED FROM THE TITANIC, the names of ships are erased.

The real SAVED FROM THE TITANIC is, I believe, lost. It was the first Titanic drama, released in 1912 to cash in quick, and it starred a real survivor of the disaster, Dorothy Gibson.

Well, you can’t really blame her for trying to salvage something from the experience.