This time last year I was whiling away the hours on an island tropical paradise off the coast of Thailand. This year I am lurching around a flat in South Croydon. It’s probably best not to dwell on the cruel vagaries of fate so here are some fucking movies I’ve been watching whilst the painfully slow healing process continues;
Major Dundee – Butchered Peckinpah, this 1965 effort was notoriously recut by the studio and I’m fairly sure it was the abridged version that I saw this week, not to mention its somewhat irritating, restrictive pan & scan transmission. But whilst there is little evidence of Sam’s trademark panoramic editing rhythms it does have his saintly whores and gruff males locked in masculine bondage, of a grimy sense of frontier honor in lawless lands, and an all time great Western cast with Chuck Heston, Richard Harris, Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, Ward Bond and Jimmy Coburn, one imagines the evening drinking sessions would have been legendary.
Ill Met By Moonlight – With laudable timing this 1957 Powell & Pressburger picture cropped up as I was in the midst of reading Powell’s formidable 700 page autobiography, it’s an effective piece of post war thrills – the plot concerns Dirk Bogarde British officers mission to kidnap a German general in occupied Crete with the aid of the local resistance – and it has some terrific travelogue photography of the glorious Cretan mountains and a slightly clipped, stiff upper lipped vision of derring do. Criminally there isn’t a single fragment of footage of the film or any interviews with Powell that I can find on YouTube, apart from the trailer which is locked out from posting, so I’ll have to go with some behind the scenes footage on the shoot of the earlier movie Gone To Earth. I missed the almost mystical, vivid use of colour of the Archers 1940’s work but you can’t have everything.
High Plains Drifter – The Angel of Vengeance riding into town makes for a great opening scene, especially when the almost artificial town so obviously tips the film into metaphor mode, this sequence skillfully establishes all the dramatis persona and the location of the drama, it reminds me of a grisly old EC comic chiller. You’ve gotta love those post spaghetti westerns of Clint’s, along with Pale Rider and The Outlaw Josey Wales these movies while beloved are rarely mentioned in the same breath as the other successes of that and following decades, it took until Unforgiven for ole stony face to get the serious recognition he deserved.
Dracula, Prince Of Darkness – Finally, some horror. The second of the Hammer cycle with the erstwhile Transylvanian claret junkie, this has been given a lovely new Blu-Ray polish which looks terrific, although the film itself is a little dull. The Count slowly started to become a bit of a joke in these films, despatched quite easily by bumbling British lunkheads and their foreign assistants, although Prince Of Darkness did have for its period the horrific resurrection scene above, played out in an amusing almost surgical precision, which caused the predictable outrage in the Middle England tabloids and a chorus of ‘ban this filth’. The more things change…..
Bringing Up Baby – If you still operate under the ridiculous proposition that ‘old’ movies are boring, that the dialogue and comedy have dated beyond contemporary standards and as such these artifacts are little more than museum curios rather than genuinely hilarious, machine-gun rhythm hilarity torpedos then I strongly urge you to watch one of the original and best screwball comedies, and if you still hold that opinion then you shall be dead to me, as Fredo was to Michael in Godfather II. What’s that? No, I’m not getting out much these days….why do you ask?
The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad – Vintage Harryhausen which needs no explanation or justification, best watched with a flagon of hot British tea and a diet destroying retinue of bourbon biscuits, there are many great sequences in this movie but the Kali battle is one of my favourites.
So, in other news after four long years I’ve started to revisit a long gestating promise, I didn’t realise exactly how much material I’d already compiled and whilst it needs a full overhaul I’ve finally seized upon that preciously elusive inspiration in what will inevitably be the most nerdy, fan-boytastic piece ever to infiltrate this blog. What the fuck else am I gonna do, go run a marathon? Indulge in a spot of mountaineering? Neither are particularly on the cards this Easter so an intellectual prowl of the mean streets of Gotham City might just keep me (in)sane….here’s a furtive clue;