Archive for Toto

Arrows of Desire

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2015 by dcairns


Finally got copies of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER and THE COMEDY OF TERRORS, from Arrow Video. Both feature video essays written by me and edited by Timo Langer and are available from all good UK outlets, plus Amazon.

Fall of the House of Usher [Blu-ray]

The Comedy of Terrors [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD]

COMEDY OF TERRORS is dual-format. To spare you the usual sight of our chipped floorboards, I performed a Cocteauesque trick and taped the movies to the living room wall for the above photo. So now you can enjoy our filthy, greasy wall.

USHER was an interesting one — my first video essay, Through the Pale Door. Since so much of the film is prowling around empty corridors, we created a totally uninhabited version of the movie, and also joined together all the matte paintings to tell the story in exteriors alone. And also cut together all the shots of paintings of Usher’s depraved ancestors. I like these little experiments and hope to do more like that when I can find a suitable project.

COMEDY OF TERRORS has more faces and talk, so for Whispering in Distant Chambers we did a lot of cutting in lines of dialogue to point up or undercut what the voice-over is saying. And I got Fiona to narrate this one as she has a better voice. It’s also a whistle-stop tour of Jacques Tourneur’s entire life and career, in parallel with his dad’s. Sadly, my plan to rope in Tourneur experts Chris Fujiwara, Christine Leteux and Geoffrey O’Brien came to naught, due to time constraints, but the film yielded some surprisingly cool stuff, despite its well-documented weaknesses, and Tourneur is always great to explore. Arrow allowed me to include clips from his earlier work via “fair use” so buyers can catch a glimpse of his first, super-rare movie, TOTO (from Pathe-Natan) and follow his style from CAT PEOPLE to WARLORDS OF THE DEEP.


Dog People

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2012 by dcairns

This is the opening of TOTO, a very early Jacques Tourneur made at Pathé-Natan. It’s rather fun, and shows the emphasis on visual storytelling that seems to have been the studio’s house style, whether the movie was farce or tragedy.

As far as I’ve gleaned, Maurice Tourneur was the top director at Pathé-Natan and he pestered Natan to give his son a directing gig (thanks to Chris Fujiwara for this). Jacques had done a lot of editing and assisting for his père. Junior got to direct a few of films, and in between he went back to editing for his dad, which fits in well with what I understand to be his quiet, modest nature. When he went to America he had to start all over again in the shorts department. It’s a strange historical irony that Jacques was directing at RKO during WWII, including the propaganda film about our friends the Soviets, while Maurice was stuck in occupied France directing entertainments for Continental, a German company.

Anyhow, as you can see, the film isn’t tonally what we associate with JT, but it has definite pleasures, including also this impressive crane shot, swooping down into  a close-shot on Albert Prejean ~

In other news — as the Vincentennial sinks slowly in the west, I contribute my last Vincent Price related bit of doggerel (I promose!) over at Limerwrecks, tackling the beloved Price swan-song that is EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. And also, an obituary limerick (an obiterick?) for the great Jean Giraud, AKA Moebius. Oh, I know he was more of a cartoonist than a filmmaker, but he collaborated with cineastes Dan O’Bannon and Alejandro Jodorowsky, and without those spacesuits he designed, the crew in ALIEN would have been walking around that planet NUDE. They would have perished like miserable swine.

Don’t forget to check out the numerous other lims on site — it’s a trove of some kind!