Archive for Wayne Fitzgerald

The Lone Gunman

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2012 by dcairns

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Been meaning to look at Stanley Kramer’s THE DOMINO PRINCIPLE for at least a year — I had only seen the credit sequence, as a kid, on the little b&w portable TV in my bedroom. I probably retuned to THE VAMPIRE LOVERS or something rather than watch the rest, but the opening stuck with me.

That’s some sequence! The great Wayne Fitzgerald did the credits themselves, and possibly the photomontage pre-creds too. I like the super-serious VO (Why is he English?) and the fact that his paranoid rant is sometimes a bit nonsensical or awkward.

Domino from David Cairns on Vimeo.

The movie is rather fine — it just missed being included in the Late Movies Blogathon but it’s actually an exemplary case study in late career blossoming. Rather than being time-warped (which is a quality I sometimes enjoy in older filmmakers’ work) it’s very of its moment, featuring a post-JFK shadowy conspiracy that attains almost supernatural levels of omnipotence. “Let me put it this way: if THEY decided to kill both of us, right here on this bus in front of everybody, it wouldn’t be on the news tonight.”

The film moves gracefully, taking full use of 70s cinema’s expressive range, but never straining for trendiness. Kramer simply seems to have effortlessly moved with the times. His helicopter shots and zooms are fresh and inventive rather than evincing the desperation or the default-mode filmmaking one often finds in 70s genre stuff.

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Gene Hackman anchors it with his big potato face, and there’s a nice grotty support from Mickey Rooney (why does Hackman tolerate the guy’s presence?), and some vintage sneering from Richard Widmark. And there’s Eli Wallach and young Edward Albert as co-conspirators. Candice Bergen has a rather nothing role: one keeps waiting for her character to become more active: she doesn’t, and the love story doesn’t carry the wait it ought to. My favourite stuff was the crisp unfolding of the prison sequences at the start, where the plot is at its most mysterious and the characters at their least sympathetic.

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Dead Leaves

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by dcairns

Fiona and I love this time of year. Here’s one of the most autumnal things I know, Wayne Fitzgerald’s credits for Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE with haunting music by the late Michael Kamen.

Lovely stuff. The film itself is perhaps a little overstuffed, with guest stars in every role, and it has a dash of soap opera to it, but it’s the first film Cronenberg made after VIDEODROME…

VIDEODROME, unlike its predecessors, had a really strong leading man, and marked the first time Cronenberg’s horror shifted from the biological to the psychic/psychological (SCANNERS is on the cusp, but lacks a strong lead), and the first time subjective experience became central to his storytelling. As he explains it, VIDEODROME departs from consensus reality part-way through, as James Woods gets infected by the pornographic video signal.

THE DEAD ZONE doesn’t play unreliable narrator games, but it takes us along out of normal society along with its protagonist (early Cronenbergs followed a redundant genre stereotype by positioning some useless embodiment of normality in the centre, though they were ALWAYS shoved out of the spotlight by the person with the penile armpit growth or the external womb). A very particular kind of Cronenberg lead is established with Christopher Walken — actors who play villains in other films often play heroes for this director. Walken is pretty weird and uncomfortable as Johnny Smith in the opening scenes, but fortunately he soon sinks into a coma and comes out of it five years later as the Walken we know and love.

If you’re watching it for Halloween, which I recommend, check out Walken’s reaction to the news that his psychic powers are going to kill him. He GRINS.

Walken evinces a similar unexpected response in A VIEW TO A KILL just as he realizes he’s about to fall from a helicopter to his doom. In both cases, it’s like he’s spotted the Grim Reaper looking at him and can’t help mirroring its smile.

The Dead Zone (Special Collector’s Edition)