||Obligatory weather remark; offhand comment that seems to say more than it really does, but is just a clever way of making an obvious parallel between seasonal patterns and the nature of life. Pathetic reference to the amount of work that must be done today, boo-fargin-hoo; studious avoidance of bad international news of any sort, oblique reference to something mildly controversial said yesterday with an apology to people who long ago stopped reading, followed by an assertion that the brevity of todays entry is, alas, unavoidable.
Followed by a fey 900 word digression on the word alas, concluding with a ink to Star Trek music clip whose wry, gently mocking flavor makes you think of Dr. McCoy arching an eyebrow at the end of the show, right before the Enterprise flies off into the producers credits
Man, these Bleats just write themselves!
Im still on the Noir Home Film Festival. Overall impression I get is how grungy and hard America seems in these films. To which a serious student of film or history might well say no duh. It is, after all, noir, and hence is disinclined to show us the sunny side of the street. But as Ive noted before, movies shot in the 40s use the urban environment of the teens and 20s. The interior shots are different the nightclubs are modern, the gangster-molls flats are swank. But down the stairs and out the door you find an exhausted and careworn place. Its as if theyd dropped a neutron bomb in 1923, and filled it two decades later with tired, desperate men whod either survived the war and come back lean and angry, or men who avoided the war and were consumed with self-doubt and self-loathing. But again, were talking noir, not musicals or Andy Hardy pep-fests.
Watched Gun Crazy, one of those small knock-offs done on the cheap that somehow adds up to a remarkable little movie. I saw it many years ago on late-night TV, and was knocked out by the bank-robbery sequence; after a few minutes, you realize that this is elapsing in real time, with no edits. And it keeps going. And going. They didnt have to do that, but they did, and thats the sort of directorial curiousity and inventiveness that lifts the movie up into top-ten lists. Story: from childhood a kid is obsessed with guns. Not because they give him the power of life and
death he shot a bird once, and was filled with terrible remorse. No, hes just good at shooting, and he likes being good at something. So he steals one. Hes caught. Off to juvie. Then the army. He comes home to Cashville (perhaps this small town in Virginia? Its close to Troublesome Creek, which would fit nicely), meets a bad girl when the fair comes to town, and its proto Bonnie-and-Clyde from there.
John Dall gives a great performance as Jimmy Stewarts dumber brother, and he makes the movie. You could have plugged any number of interchangeable hard-faced snarling doxies into the female role. You dont root for her; you root for him, until the film makes you as disappointed with him as he is with himself. A few screen shots.
Our hero as a young boy. Recognize him?
This is a great shot. Trust me. The couple has just lost their bankroll in Vegas; theyre spending their last few dimes on burgers in a greasy diner. The point-of-view is the grill man; the shot starts with his hands working a spatula. The camera tilts up to show us the proto-Buscemi counterman, who gives us a look of disgust that throws a cement block through the fourth wall.
Im a sucker for small-town commercial districts; this one has plenty of scenes. Got a time machine? I'd pay a hundred bucks to walk around that street, look in the windows, read the papers, smoke a Lucky.
The final shoot-out takes place in a foggy swamp . . . at the top of a mountain. Dont ask. The world has dissolves around our hero. He started here:
He ends here.
And, in case theres any doubt:
Would it be too much to ask for movies to put THE END on screen at, you know, the end? Now movies just peter out cast, technical crew, catering, bond completion, animal wrangler, soundtrack available from Sony Columbia, any similarity living or dead, no animals harmed, lens by Panaflex, production company logo, c. MMIV, all scrolling up into the inky void.
Id sit through all of that in exchange for a good THE END.
Also watched Pickup on South Street, a 1953 Sam Fuller movie given the full Criterion Collection treatment, and for good reason. Its just terrific. I mention it only because the DVD has trailers for Fullers other movies, including the trashy stuff he did in the 60s. Theyre depressing. Ive read reviews of these movies, and devotees of this sort of stuff praise his gritty freewheeling style, etc., but these essays always strikes me as the sort of giddy onanistic nonsense you get from Tarantino wannabees. They look like newsreels from a culture in steep decline, and you can just imagine the theaters where they played: old tired movie houses stripped of their ornamentation, curtains reeking of smoke and mildew, sticky floors, blank-faced loners sitting in a seat of empty frayed seats waiting for a boob shot. Two still from the trailers. From Shock Corridor, a movie about a mental institution:
Nine out of ten psychiatrists say: uh huh. Right. From The Naked Kiss
Shes punching out the camera here. The camera is you. Its the font that depresses me. Its not just a bad face, its a typical one for its time, which tells you something about graphic arts in the 60s. And it reminds me of the Lets Make a Deal font as well. Less said the better.
EMOTIONAL VIOLENCE! Oh, goody.
Still dont recognize the kid?
How about this?
Still dont recognize the kid?
I thought so. Ladies and Gentlemen, Russ Tamblyn, Jet.
Im done gotta work. Today is a dreaded two-column day, but at least its made easier by the cooler weather. No desire to sit outside in the twilight now; October pushes us indoors, and its just as well. There are things to do. But still, summers gone; winter growls beyond.