Wednesday 26 February 2020


The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914 - b/w) - Extraordinary strange Melies-esque production by L Frank Baum himself.  Harold Lloyd pops up in blackface. Hal Roach is a (not-cowardly) lion.

Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp (1917)  - Tinted panto from Fox, enacted by a cast of mainly children with moustaches.

From Morn to Midnight (1920 - b/w) - The Third Man's Ernst Deutsch stars in this woodcut-like expressionism.

Poil de Carotte (1925 - b/w) - Nicely photographed silent comic poignancy about a red-haired kid.

Hindle Wakes (1927 - b/w) - Ambitious, atmospheric silent Northern Grimness, by Maurice Elvey.

MALDONE (1928 - B/w)/Gardens de Phare (1929 - b/w)/La Petite Lise (1930 - b/w) - French silents/early sound work by Jean Gremillon. Something about early French cinema distracts me. It's slightly melodramatic yet languid.
Dainah la Metisse (1932 - b/w) is a striking enough jaunt along a cruise.

Le Capitane Fracasse (1929 - b/w) - Cavalcanti does a typical silent swashbuckler.

The Shakedown (1929 - b/w) - William Wyler boxing comedy. Very late 20s. The silent version exists, the sound version made simultaneously is lost.

Seven Footprints to Satan (1929 - b/w) - Astonishingly shot Benjamin Christiansen Hollywood Satanism.

The Informer (1929 - b/w) - Semi-silent adaptation. The posh accents work better than the Oirish brogues of Ford. Because it is more common for Irish people to sound posh like that, see Shane Ross.

Atlantic (1929 - b/w) - Slow German Titanic.

Her Man (1930 - b/w) - Undernourished comedy with Helen Twelvetrees.

Bad Girl (1931 - b/w) - 30s Fox romcom by Borzage.

The Yellow Ticket (1931 - b/w) - Shonky Russian drama with Lionel Barrymore and young Olivier.

Tiger Shark (1932 - b/w) - Edward G. Robinson goes fishing.

Captain Applejack (1932 - b/w) - Precode Warner sexy pirate-dreamers-in-England comedy.

Night at the Crossroads (1932 - b/w) - Jean Renoir directs his brother Pierre as a blandly unmemorable Maigret. Though that may be the point.

Children of Montmarte (1933 - b/w) - French drama about orphans, with Madeleine Renaud who'd sort of reprise this matronly role as a nun in The Longest Day

The Ghost Camera (1933) - Strange, indecipherable filler with Ida Lupino and John Mills.

Ace of Aces (1933 - b/w) -Rote aviation with Richard Dix.

Pleasure Cruise (1933 - b/w) - Another forgettable cruise-comedy, with Roland Young.

Little Friend (1934 - b/w) - Vehicle for Nova Pilbeam, typical 30s child-stardom.

L'Atlante (1934 - b/w) - Jean Vigo-directed thing about some people on a ship. Responsible for the New Wave.  Slightly too gentle. It also probably invented slow cinema.

Of Human Bondage (1936 - b/w) - Unusually threadbare Bette Davis-Leslie Howard romance, the highlight of which is a Hollywood recreation of a WH Smith.

The Road Back (1937 - b/w) - James Whale's semi-sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. Ropey Americanised German-set antics on the backlot.

On The Night of the Fire (1939 - b/w) - Allegedly proto-noirish British crime quickie with Sir Ralph.

The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942 - b/w) - Baffling Clouzot comedy.

On Approval (1944 - b/w) - Light comedy with Clive Brook and Googie Withers. Typical posh comedy of manners that plays well in regional theatres, but I don't get.

Hungry Hill (1947 - b/w) - Oirish tat with Margaret Lockwood and Dennis Price, who also starred in the colour Gainsborough melo Jassy (1947) - the same year.

Escape (1948 - b/w) - Did I see this British thriller before with Rex Harrison, Peggy Cummins and William Hartnell (In a dual role - under the pseudonym Patrick Troughton, he plays a shepherd)...

Daybreak (1948 - b/w) - Basic Brit noir with Joan Collins' husband Maxwell Reed an unlikeable not-quite-presence, Eric Portman, Ann Todd and Bill Owen.

Impasse des Deux Anges (1948 - b/w) - Allegedly a comedy about angels, but I found it a dark, sinister film with Signoret and Meurisse pre-Diaboliques, from Maurice Tourneur, who has the style of his son Jacques.

Louisiana Story (1948 - b/w) - Pleasant CFF-ish Lopert-distributed Cajun docudrama.

Lust For Gold (1949 - b/w) - A Glenn Ford western, with Ida Lupino, which reveals that it is actually a noir. There's even a modern framing device.

The Red Pony (1949) - A children's western, lifted with some weird animation touches. Republic aiming for the A-list.

Prince of Foxes (1949 - b/w) - Generic Tyrone Power swashbuckler, with Orson Welles at the point he began to swell.

Bride of Vengeance (1949 - b/w) - Shonky Borgiasploiter with Paulette Goddard swashbuckling.

Gone to Earth (1950) - Stylish but overwrought melodrama from Powell and Pressburger, with Jennifer Jones nursing a fox and Cyril Cusack tackling his inner John Mills, and George Cole.

Stromboli (1950 - b/w) - Rossellini directs Ingrid Bergman. Everything looks nice. The ending is spectacular. It feels like a different kind of Italian film at the end.

You Never Can Tell (1951 - b/w) - Baffling, not funny but strange dog-reincarnated-as-Dick Powell comedy.

The Red Inn (1951 - b/w)- Baffling Fernandel comedy, though nicely shot.

The White Sheik (1952 - b/w) - Silly Alberto Sordi comedy, directed by Fellini.

Carosello Neopolitano (1954) - Beautiful, colourful Italian musical, like Powell and Pressburger's Italian imitation. With Sophia Loren.

Monsieur Ripois (1954  -b/w) - Oswald Morris' sped-up photography makes one remember this French drama set in London. Product placement for Canada Dry.

Marguerite de la nuit (1955) - Yves Montand and Michele Morgan in a story about a deal with Satan. Passed me by, but the ending with a cardboard train in a station with a photographic blown-up rural backdrop like in a Two Ronnies sketch was oddly memorable. Otherwise sentimental.

Les carnets du Major Thompson (1955) - Jack Buchanan in a French comedy partly set in Ireland, by Preston Sturges.Sub-Ealing.

Magic Fire (1956) - Sloggy Trucolor Republic biopic of Wagner. Republic try to make Alan Badel a star.

Demoniac (1957) - Bland French thriller with Jeanne Moreau. Generic French rural crime, from the men behind Diabolique.

The Burglar (1957 - b/w) - An atmospheric seaside climax in this B-noir from Paul Wendkos, with Dan Duryea and Jayne Mansfield. `

Baby Face Nelson (1957) - Generic gangster stuff with Mickey Rooney.

That Woman Opposite (1957 - b/w) - Unmemorable French-set Brit quickie suspenser with Phyllis Kirk, Dan O'herlihy and Petula Clark.

China Doll (1958 - b/w) - Tired Frank Borzage wartime romance between Victor Mature and Shaw Brothers starlet LiLiHua. Funny that Ward Bond plays a priest who helps the Chinese, as Bond was such a fascist that apparently Frank Sinatra literally pissed on his grave.

Tamango (1958) - Europudding proto-Mandingo. At least, Dorothy Dandridge is lovely.

The Restless Years (1958 - b/w) - Over-melodramatic teen saga with Sandra Dee and John Saxon.

Macario (1960 - b/w) - Surrealist Oscar-nominated Mexican study of the Day of the Dead.

Austerlitz (1960) - Gance's epic, with a theme that DID NOT inspire Telstar, despite the similarities, though it might have inspired the theme to the High Chaparral.  It is a slog, in a cast that includes Jean Marais, Rossano Brazzi, Martine Carol, Jack Palance, Claudia Cardinale, Vittorio de Sica, Orson Welles, Leslie Caron and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Napoleon is the moon-faced gurner Pierre Mondy, a man better suited to his career voicing Asterix cartoons.

Le Trou (1960 - b/w) - Depressing prison drama from Jacques Becker.

Suspect (1960) - Pandemic drama with Peter Cushing in Quatermass mode, Tony Britton, Virginia Maskell, Ian Bannen and a serious Spike Milligan. Surprisingly forgettable.

l'Assassino (1961) - Italian political dryness with Mastroianni.

Viva L'Italia (1961) - Tired, unengrossing biopic of Garibaldi by Rossellini. With Tina Louise, of all people.

La Notte (1961) - Tiresome Antonioni.
See also L'Avventura (1960 - b/w) and l'Eclisse (1962 - b/w).

Judgement at Nuremberg (1961 - b/w) - It's like the depressing version of Witness for the Prosecution.

Station Six-Sahara (1962 - b/w) - A kind of low-rent exploitation Ice Cold in Alex.

Il Demonio (1963  - b/w) - Skeevy, arty horror with Daliah Lavi.

Le Mepris (1963) - F*ck off, Godard.

This Sporting Life (1963) - At least, Richard Harris attempts an accent, slightly less tortured than his other attempt at Northern in Highpoint, but as with Colin Blakely, there's bits where they slip back into Irish. By the end, he's given up. Even though he otherwise convinces as the rugby ace. Seeing William Hartnell lust over him - well, well..  We see a copy of Jack and Jill comic in Harris' character's daughter's hands, predating other IPC comics' appearances in The Wild Geese and Juggernaut. Future Lindsay Anderson cohorts Leonard Rossiter and Arthur Lowe pop up in tiny roles. 

French Dressing (1964) - Bits of Ken Russell's style crop up in this early film by the classical music enthusiast about a British Cannes, featuring James Booth, Roy Kinnear, Marisa Mell and Robert Robinson as himself.

Black Orpheus (1958) - Visually pleasing, but it's arts programming.
Not to be confused with the languid, up-its-arse Lumumba biopic Black Jesus (1968) starring Woody Strode.

The Sleeping Car Murders (1965 - b/w) - Montand, Signoret, Piccoli and Trintignant in a Costa-Gavras political giallo.

Marie Chantal contre Dr. Kha (1965) - Idiotic, talky French Modesty Blaise from Claude Chabrol, with Akim Tamiroff a striking villain, but in a remote holiday home villa as his base.
La file aux yeux d'or (1961) - Also with Marie Laforet, a pervy, NASTY psychodrama. 

Hawks and Sparrows (1966 - b/w) - Toto comedy but directed by Pasolini. Might be Pasolini's nicest film. Feels almost like  a parody of Italian art cinema.

Pretty Poison (1968) - TV movie-esque, though Tuesday Weld sticks in the memory.

La Piscine (1969) - Alain Delon-Birkin erotica.

The Horrible Sexy Vampire (1970) - Rote Euro horror.

Bloomfield (1970) - Sub-Champ story of an ageing Israeli football player (Richard Harris, who directed this, hence the unlikely casting) and his little Cockney fanboy (Kim Burfield). Brian Moore plays himself. The only film to have its world premiere in Limerick.

Raphaël ou le débauché (1971) - French period drama with Maurice Ronet. Not my kind of thing. Well-made, arty tragedy.

Call of the Wild (1972) - That new one may have Harrison Ford pushing eighty with a cartoon dog, but this has Charlton Heston pushing fifty with a real dog, It's very skeevy, being a Towers picture.

Tout Va Bien (1972) - Godard does something about Yves Montand and Jane Fonda at the American Broadcasting "System", but it's a load of fourth wall-breaking fucking-mouthing.

Un Amleto di meno (1973) - Cannes-entered Italian Ken Russell-ish Hamlet.

Ganja and Hess (1973) - Ambitious but not sure if it is art or genre.

Three Tough Guys (1973) - Now, this is an oddity. Neither blaxploitation or Eurocrime, but somewhere between the two. Despite the title and poster, Fred Williamson is the baddie, and Isaac Hayes and Lino Ventura are the heroes. Made by Duccio Tessari for DeLaurentiis in Chicago, it's a peculiar blend of Europe and America. It's the mean streets of Chicago, but Jacques Herlin wanders about, like a Gallic Jackie Wright from the Benny Hill show, in a headscarf.

A Sense of Freedom (1979) - STV-made crime biopic with David Hayman.

fais gaffe à la gaffe! (1981) - Terrible French comedy with a young Lorraine Bracco, then a Radio Luxembourg DJ (meaning she shsres the honour with the dubious likes of Lord Haw Haw and Sir Jim'll Savile)

Acqua e Sapone (1983) - Nothingy may-december barely legal Italian nonsense with Carlo Vedone, Natasha "Demons" Howey and Florinda Bolkan.

Dreamchild (1985) - Had long wanted to see this. But it's typical, almost psycho-sexual Dennis Potter fetishisation of the 30s and Lewis Carroll mixed in with some lovely Henson stuff that belongs elsewhere.

The Night Overtakes Me (1986) - Beautiful but tough Czechoslovakian concentration camp magic realism by Juraj Herz.

Die Katze (1988) - Gotz George stars in a TV-ish German cop drama. Quite taut.

Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988) - Rutger Hauer talks American, moans to Anthony Quayle and drinks.

Cutting Class (1988) - Is it supposed to be a slasher parody?

The Rainbow Thief (1990) - Just seen this in the IFI, and wow. Maybe because I find Alexandro Jodorowsky a bit of a creep, I think this may be his best film. Shot in Poland, with interiors in Shepperton, but set in a vague, Mittel European-looking possibly-Britain (red-top newspapers with titles like the Echo display headline about "The Tories", the cast have British accents but German names and a currency called credines) which, in its Nowhereland feel has a Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory vibe, though the dubbing of various small parts makes it feel like one of those German children's serials imported by the BBC.  The cast is insane - Peter O'Toole is hammy and Jodorowsky didn't get along, as an aristocrat who lives in a sewer chamber, with a Spit the Dog-type dog-skin puppet called Cronos, that he thinks is his long-lost dog, but Omar Sharif as the titular thief is a joy. Watching it, I couldn't help thinking that he would have been a brilliant Doctor Who (in the film that was constantly being announced in the late 80s/early 90s). Christopher Lee is enjoying himself as the rodeo-wheelchair-riding uncle of O'Toole, who spends most of his time in bed singing to a bunch of prostitutes headed by Linzi Drew. Sheila Keith adds some weight, but only appears at the beginning. Britain's then-tallest man, Chris Greener (who I mainly remember from Mrs. Merton being on the show alongside Debbie McGee and Kriss Akabusi) is an imposing foil. Ian Dury is the spivvy barman, and Brian Hibbard of the Flying Pickets is a transvestite fortune teller/belly dancer. It is odd. It feels like a kids' film, but there's nothing really that makes it so.

Being Human (1994) - Robin Williams mopes through time and space, and there is no point. By Bill Forsyth.

Grace of My Heart (1996) - Illeana Douglas is heartbreaking, but the music has that Idolmaker problem of sounding not quite right (though not quite as incongruous as the Idolmaker).

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