29 June 2006

Dream double bill # 15 Imitation of Life and The Merchant of Four Seasons

At first glance these films don’t share that much in common, however if you dig a little deeper there are some areas of similarity, enough to make this a dream double bill and my contribution to the Lana Turner blog a thon.

For me the main area of similarity is of family, mothers, aspirations for children and the sadness in the child and the mother, I’m thinking specifically here of Sarah Jane and Annie Johnson in ‘Imitation of Life’ and Hans and his mother in ‘The Merchant of Four Seasons’. In both films Sarah Jane and Hans have absent fathers, fathers we never see on screen and both parents have aspirations for their child; Sarah Jane’s’ mother does not want her to be a singer/dancer in a burlesque club and Hans’ mother did not want him to join the foreign legion nor we sense is she happy that he is a fruit seller. Both children, perhaps chose these routes as escape and both children are unhappy and of course both films end in tragedy. It is the endings of these films that set them apart and for me make them and ideally paring.

In addition the influence of Sirk on Fassbinder has been well documented. Here Douglas Sirk recalls his meeting with Fassbinder:

Lugano, usually flooded with sunshine, was covered with snow when a group of young Germans, bundled up in overcoats and fighting an icy wind, trudged up the difficult road to my front door. “It’s us,” he said “Rainer Werner Fassbinder and a couple of my friends.” My wife and I have unforgettable memories of the hours that lay ahead.
We discussed art and literature, theatre and cinema, until the wee hours of the morning. For some reason I no longer recall, I began to speak of classical Spanish theater, mentioning the extraordinary productivity of Calderon and of Lope de Vega, to whom his contemporaries attributed a thousand plays; Calderon, had I think, gotten to about half that number. And of all this work, I told my guests, had been created with the strictest adherence to formal language and style. To make a long story short, Rainer who had listened to me attentively, suddenly said, “I would like to be as prolific as they were.” As we know now, those words were not merely the expression of desire.

What I didn't know was that 'The Merchant of Four Seasons' was the first film Fassbinder made after discovering Sirk. "My encounter with Sirk," he [Fassbinder] would say later, "removed the fear I had of 'selling out.'...Sirk gave me the courage to make films for the public. Before that I believed that serious work meant shunning the Hollywood model.

Quotes from 'Love is Colder Than Death' by Robert Katz and Peter Berling, Paladin, 1989.
IMDB entry for Imitation of Life, link.
IMDB entry for The Merchant of Four Seassons, link.
Imitations of Lifelessness, article from Bright Lights Film Journal by Stephen Handzo, link.
Today is the anniversary of Lana Turner's death. IMDB entry for Lana Turner, link.

Self styled siren's post on Lana Turner, link.
Peter Nellhaus on 'The Sea Chase', link.
Flickhead's Memo on Turner, link.
Micheal Guillen's The Evening Class post on Lana Turner, link.
That Little Round Headed Boy on 'Somewhere I'll Find You', link.
Greenbriar Picture Shows tribute to Lana Turner, link.
Agence Eureka's images of Lana Turner, link.
Self styled siren's post on Sandra Dee, costar with Lana Turner in 'Peyton Place' and 'Imitation of Life', link.

The lush opening title sequence from 'Imitation of Life'.

Susan Kohner as Sarah Jane and Lana Turner as Lora Meredith.

Gusti Kreissl as Mother, in the opening pre-title scene.

Hans Hirschmuller as Hans in Handler Der Vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons).

28 June 2006

Film and stage beauties # 6: Diana Gibson`

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 15. Diana Gibson.

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes.Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

Seems like Diana was for the most part uncredited according to IMDB, link.

26 June 2006

DVD review: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

‘Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’, was for me one of those films that was always on TV whilst I was growing up, perhaps because it was such a huge hit the BBC seemed to play it on heavy rotation. It seemed to always be on. Later, as I watched more and more films I never really felt the urge to go back to ‘Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’ and I don’t really know why, other than perhaps I felt a little over exposed to it.

I’ve just seen ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – The Ultimate Collectors Edition’, which is one of those rare occasions when a studio in this case 20th Century Fox puts out something that feels this definitive and is worthy of taking another look.

The extras include a nice documentary which is entirely on-set footage of the film making process ‘The Making of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’ and narrated by George Roy-Hill that he donated to Yale University (he was in the class of 1943). He discusses lenses used, shooting locations, stunts and almost all aspects of his process in a very straightforward style.

There is also a scene that was cut where Butch, Sundance and Etta whilst in Bolivia visit a cinema and see a short film essentially about themselves called ‘The Hole in the Wall Gang’ Butch and Sundance are unhappy to see their portrayal and angry when the film depicts events as they did not happen. What I also liked as an extra were the interviews with historians who compared the film with what they know about the real Butch, Sundance and Etta.

There are several interviews with William Goldman, he has several comments that interested me and helped me to see the film in a new light.
One such comment he makes is to tell us that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, were in the late 1950’s largely unknown and the element that interested him the most was that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ran away and became legends for a second time. To those who haven’t seen this film in a while, this DVD really provides enough reasons in terms of content to give the film another look, if you were like me and hadn’t seen it in a while you can add an extra depth of appreciation through these great extras.

‘Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’ IMDB entry, link.
More information on the 20th Century Fox site, link.

Coming attraction: Volver

According to this programme 'Volver' has been described as 'Mildred Pierce' meets 'Arsenic and Old Lace'. UK release is sadly not until 25th August.

IMDB entry for 'Volver', link.


25 June 2006

Truth and fiction: Sergeant York

My friend Colin was always telling me how much he enjoyed 'Sergeant York' to this day and despite being on heavy rotation on TCM here in the UK I've still never seen it.
The article below about Sergeant York caught my eye whilst I was away.

Article: 'Revisiting the legend of an American War Hero' by Craig S. Smith, link.

Anna Magnani

A still from 'The Golden Coach' from an old NFT film programme (Renoir season).

For more Magnani check out Movie Masterworks post on 'Mamma Roma', link.

DVD review: Free Cinema

Stroll on over to Flickhead where there is a review of 'Free Cinema' a new British Film Institute DVD, I haven't seen the DVD yet but would like to after reading this piece, link.

Film and stage beauties # 5: Laurie Lane

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 14. Laurie Lane.

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes.Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

Seems like Laurie was mostly an extra according to IMDB, link.

Coming attraction: A Prairie Home Companion

I'm not sure of the UK release of this yet but saw a sneak preview on Talking Movies (BBC). I think I recall that because of Altman's age they had to have Paul Thomas Anderson as the stand by Director.
IMDB entry for 'A Prairie Home Companion', link.

17 June 2006

The curtain comes down...

But only for a short while, back soon.

Some people say bowling alleys got big lanes...

Coming attraction: The Wind That Shakes The Barley

According to yesterday's Daily Telegraph when this film opens in Britain next Friday it will open on 40 screens, in France it will open on 300 screens.

'Useable Past' article from today's Guardian, link. According to this The Times labelled Loach worse than Leni Riefenstahl, it seems the British press have given Loach a bit of a bashing over the subject matter of his latest film. Interview with Ken Loach in yesterday's Guardian, with overview of the quotes used in newspapers such as The Sun and The Daily Mail, link. According to The Daily Telegraph yesterday when he was interviewed in Cannes he said "I don't think there's going to be any controversy over this film", link.
Loach always takles subjects that frankly our other film makers won't go near, this is why for those that enjoy his work think that he is a vibrant and interesting film maker, regardless of his political views and amongst the best of those film makers still working here.

Finally, coming attraction: The Passenger arrives

NFT, link. Note the link on the advertisement doesn't work.

14 June 2006

Coming attraction: Princess Raccoon, Seijun Suzuki comes to London

Very exciting news, later this month Seijun Suzuki will come to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) and attend a screening of his new film.

A season of films will follow in July and the new issue of Sight and Sound magazine includes an article on Suzuki.

Princess Raccoon and Seijun Suzuki in Conversation, link.

13 June 2006

Film and stage beauties # 4: Dorothy Frances

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 10. Dorothy Frances (Howard's Hollywood Hotel).

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes.
Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

Coming attraction: Straightheads

Dan Reed, director of new British film 'Straightheads' has been blogging about the film making process. You can check it out yourself, I'm not sure when the release date is or what the film is about exactly.

Straightheads Blog, link.

11 June 2006

Romy Schneider

Camera studies # 11: Helena Taylor

Reverse reads: Helena Taylor one of Mr. C. B. Cochran's Young Ladies.
Issued by the manufacturers of Ardath Cigarettes.

Zabriskie Point

Stars of stage and screen - the index (1 to 22)

In a way I am quite glad to be able to complete, rather finish posting this series. Sadly I only had 22 of the 28 cards that were issued nonetheless it was an interesting exercise for me to discover some stars from the 1930's, approximately half of which I wasn't familiar with. Here is the complete list:

1 Mary Ellis
2 Ina Claire
3 Wheeler and Woolsey
4 Fay Compton
5 Nancy Carroll
6 Laurel and Hardy
7 Edna Best
8 Owen Nares
9 Enid Stamp-Taylor
10 Jeanne Stuart
11 Benita Hume
12 George Robey
13 Kay Hammond
14 Ronald Colman
15 Ann Harding
16 Jane Baxter
17 Margaret Bannerman
18 Sydney Howard
19 Greta Nissen
20 Sir Cedric Hardwicke
21 Jack Hulbert
22 Bebe Daniels

Stars of stage and screen cigarette cards were issued in mid 1930's (my estimate) by Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd. Virgina House, London and Belfast.

Bebe Daniels

Stars of stage and screen # 22: Bebe Daniels

Reverse reads:

A series of 48, no 46.

Bebe Daniels was born in Dallas, Texas in 1901, and acted on the stage and films when she was a child. She continued with her career and her first talkie appearance was in "Rio Rita," followed by "The Silver Dollar" and "42nd Street." During 1933 she came to England and appeared in the films "The Song You Gave Me" and "A Southern Maid" for B.I.P. On her return to America she starred with John Barrymore in "Counsellor-at-Law".
Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd. Virgina House, London and Belfast.

IMDB entry for Bebe Daniels, link.

A Festival of Adoor Gopalakrishnan's films

West London venue Watermans in Brentford, right next to the river is running an Asian Arts season May-August. One of the highlights seems to be next weekend when Adoor Gopalakrishnan will be present after the screening of nine of his films for Q&A sessions.

The four films listed in the programme are; Elippathayam (The Rat Trap) - Friday 16th June at 20.15, Videheyan (The Serville) - Saturday 17th June at 20.30, Kathapurushan (Man of the Story) - at 18.00 and Nizhalkkuthu (Shadow Kill) at 20.00 on Sunday 18th June.

Watermans, Brentford, link.
IMDB entry for Adoor Gopalarkrishnan, link.
Wikipedia entry, link.

06 June 2006

Gene Tierney

Have a look at John McElwee's post's on Greenbriar Picture Show for more Gene Tierney, thanks for Flickhead for pointing this out.
Gene Tierney part 1, link.
Gene Tierney part 2, link.

Film and stage beauties # 3: Connie Constant

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 9
A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes.
Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

IBDB entry for Connie Constant, link.
Sadly that is about the only link I can find on Connie.

Jack Hulbert

Stars of stage and screen # 21: Jack Hulbert

Reverse reads:

A series of 48, no 45.

Jack Hulbert was born in Ely in 1892, and began his stage career at Cambridge, where he graduated. He is one of the screens most popular dancers and comedians, and with his...
...."Jack Ahoy."
Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd. Virgina House, London and Belfast.

Sadly there is a tear and the majority of Jack's bio is not readable.
IMDB entry for Jack Hulbert, link.
Wikipedia entry, link.

04 June 2006

Ken Loach

The latest from Ken Loach as reported in today's Scotsman. It seems he is returning to the themes of 'Cathy Come Home' for his next film and that it will have a simultaneous theatrical release as TV broadcast, link.

Gene Tierney

Stars of stage and screen # 20: Sir Cedric Hardwicke

Reverse reads:

A series of 48, no 42.

The newest theatrical knight, Sir Cedric Hardwicke first appeared in London in 1912, afterwards joining the Benson Company. After war service he was for some time with the Birmingham Repertory Company. He created the parts of Dick Varnell in "Yellow Sands" and Churdles Ash in "The Farmer's Wife," Eden Phillpotts' famous comedies. Other triumphs include "The Apple Cart," "The Barretts of Wimpole Street," and an exceptionally long run in "The Late Christopher Bean."
Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd. Virgina House, London and Belfast.

IMDB entry for Cedric Hardwicke, link.
Wikipedia entry, link.

03 June 2006

From the archive

Sadly this one is not in my collection but I wish it was. I'm reminded of those great scenes in 'My Best Fiend' where Kinski is giving monologues to seemingly quite large crowds of people.

Greta Nissen

Stars of stage and screen # 19: Greta Nissen

Reverse reads:

A series of 48, no 40.

Well-known on the American stage and screen, Greta Nissen has recently appeared in London in the succesful revue, "Why No To-Night," in which her talented dancing is one of the main features. She was born in Norway and appeared at the age of 15 in a ballet as a protegee of Queen Maud. She is also a singer and an accomplished actress, and recently filmed for B.I.P. in their production of "Red Wagon." Another star of "Why Not To-Night" is Gina Malo, No. 29 in this series.
Park Drive Cigarettes, Gallaher Ltd. Virgina House, London and Belfast.

IMDB entry for Greta Nissen, link.

Romy Schneider

Romy Schneider and Woody Allen. Photograph by Larry Shaw.