13 September 2005

Dream double bill # 1 – ‘Salesman’ and ‘Paper Moon’

Actually got the inspiration for this series, in part from Tom Sutpen who has been excellent at maintaining a blog which contains many great series and a forum called Movie Justice in which I saw synopsis for both ‘Salesman’ and ‘Paper Moon’ as well as other films based around sales and selling.

Anyway it occurred to me that the film programmers do an okay job but most of the time they are reasonably uninspired choices, a cursory glance at this week’s Time Out shows that Riverside Studios have ‘The House of Flying Daggers’ and ‘Kung Fu Hustle’, sometimes really obvious double bills work, Riverside Studios also have also shown ‘The Lavender Hill mob’ and ‘The man in the white suit’ as well as ‘The Postman always rings twice’ (1946) and ‘Mildred Pierce’.
So really this is my idea of what would make an interesting double bill to get people to see more varied films.
This one is called ‘Everything but the Chinese fence’ after the line in ‘Salesman’.

Let me know what you think.

12 September 2005

'Salesman' directed by David and Albert Maysles (1968).

'Paper Moon' directed by Peter Bogdanovich (1973).

The Academy Cinema, Oxford Street, London

I've been looking through old film magazines recently, particularly Sight and Sound published by The British Film Institute. On the back of almost every issue I have from the 1960's there is an advertisement for a film, sometimes two at The Academy Cinema, Oxford Street.

I've been intruged simply because I know the West End relatively well and I haven't ever, in my time in London seen a cinema on Oxford Street.

It turns out that The Academy was a very important cinema in it's day, probably the most important in London outside of The National Film Theatre. As this webpage shows The Academy was '...the first and most prestigious British art house cinema.' I'd been looking on the web for a couple a couple of weeks, trying to see what happened to this place which must have been glorious and to see specifically where it stood. Sadly, it was demolished, this article explains in more detail as well as some comments from those who actually visited it along with a great photo of the inside.

The Cinema Treasures website is well worth a browse, currently it has 441 listed for UK as well as amazingly cinemas from around the world.

11 September 2005

Advertisement for 'Alphaville' by Jean Luc Godard at The Academy Cinema One, Oxford Street, London. From rear of old copy of Sight and Sound magazine.

10 September 2005

Richard Burton and Claire Bloom in Tony Richardson's film of John Osbourne's play 'Look Back in Anger'. Cover of Sight & Sound Winter 1958-59.

09 September 2005

Jean Luc Godard still from 'Sight and Sound' Winter 1966/67 p2.

07 September 2005

Two great faces of Italian cinema: Anna Magnani and Giulietta Masina. Nella citta l'inferno (1959).


I just saw this film for the first time this weekend. Sadly, like many European classics it doesn’t seem to be readily available on DVD in UK or USA which is a real shame.

Stromboli is the first film Ingrid Bergman made with Roberto Rossellini. Many of you will know that Ingrid Bergman was moved by ‘Roma, citta aperta’ (Rome Open City) that she wrote to him from Hollywood offering to act in one of his films. Rossellini had not heard of Ingrid Bergman at all.

I was looking for things to say for this site about this film but the letter from Rossellini to Bergman in ‘Ingrid Bergman, My Story’ says so much. I found a good review the house where Rossellini and Bergman stayed whilst making the film together. The rest, as they say is history.

I hope you like the series of stills below as much as I do and if you haven't seen the film you will seek it out.

Roberto Rossellini writes to Ingrid Bergman

Dear Mrs Bergman,

I send you as promised a short synopsis of my story: I can’t call it a real full length story, because it is not a story. I am used to following a few basic ideas and building them up little by little during the process of the work as the scenes very often spring out of direct inspiration from reality. I don’t know whether my words will have the same power of the images: anyhow, I assure you that, during this work of mine, my own emotions have been strong and intense as never before. I wish I could speak to you about Her and He, the Island, the men and women of the Island, the humility so primitive though so antique, made wise by experience of centuries. One could think that they live so simply and poorly just because of that knowledge of the vanity of everything we consider civilized and necessary.

I am sure that you will find many parts of the story quite rugged, and that your personality will be hurt and offended by some reactions of the personage. You mustn’t think that I approve of the behaviour of Him. I deplore the wild and brutal jealousy of the Islander, I consider it a remainder of an elementary and old fashioned mentality. I describe it because it is part of the ambience, like the prickly pears, the pines and the goats. But I can’t deny in the deepness of my soul there us a secret envy for those that can love so passionately, so wildly, as to forget any tenderness, any pity for their beloved ones. They are guided only by a deep desire of possession of the body and sold of the woman they love. Civilization has smoothed the strength of feelings; undoubtedly it’s more comfortable to reach the top of a mountain by funicular, but perhaps the joy was greater when men climbed dangerously to the top.

I beg your pardon for the many diversions, I am filled with so many thoughts and I fear that you cannot understand me completely only by a letter. I am anxious to know your impression after you have read this story. I beg you to consider that the translation was made in a great hurry by people who have not the complete mastery of the language.

I want you to know how deeply I wish to translate those ideas into images, just to quiet down the turmoil of my brain.

Waiting to know your judgement, I am,
Yours very truly and devoted

R. Rossellini.

Taken from Ingrid Bergman, My Story by Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess p208.

03 September 2005

Stromboli (1949 or 1950). Directed by Roberto Rossellini.

The first time we see Karin (Ingrid Bergman) at the displaced persons camp.

Not modest enough, disliked by the locals.

With the children and the lighthouse keeper.

Karin in church with her husband.

Alain Delon in Jean Pierre Melville's 'Le Samourai'.