Either the pre-credits scene was filmed by the Manos second unit or this is gonna be a baaaad movie. Chris has been hit in the face by a molten meteorite and isn’t feeling too well… meanwhile, Dr. Q is mad that the money men won’t fund his moon base, so he goes driving and just finds a moon base out in the desert (this influenced everything from Contact to Moonbase 8). After watching this guy grouse through the first Quatermass movie, I’m perversely following his adventures in order to get to the higher-rated third one. Val Guest, who is still not Val Lewton, somehow made four other films in the under-two years between Quatermasses, including They Can’t Hang Me (which is not The Man They Could Not Hang).
Sub-assistant Marsh (Stepford Wives director Bryan Forbes) gets face-impregnated by a meteor-egg, and everyone scoops up the deadly meteorites with their bare hands to investigate. Inspector John Longden (an early Hitchcock regular) pawns them off on a senator, then they bounce to a reporter (Sid James of The Lavender Hill Mob) – most of the movie is watching an impassioned person trying to convince a skeptical Brit about a crazy alien conspiracy. Finally they start blowing up domes and a giant blobby beast (it means to win Wimbledon) lumbers after them, until they blow it up, too.
Brigitte Bardot has absurdly great hair in this movie, and likes to sunbathe nude in the garden, so all the boys are after her, to the disapproval of her foster parents. Land baron Curd Jurgens (Richard Burton’s rival in Bitter Victory) is feuding with holdout landowner Christian Marquand (Flight of the Phoenix), and both think they’ve got a chance with Brigitte, but when she’s threatened with losing her home, wallflower J-L Trintignant steps up and marries her. Marriage isn’t much of an impediment to the other two guys, and J-L (beaten up by the local ruffian minutes after his wedding) isn’t strong enough to hold onto her, so people get shot and boats get burned up. Good-looking at least, from Clouzot’s usual guy. Not exactly a vital cinema classic, but in the early days of Criterion DVDs, we took whatever we could get.
The silliest Hitchcock movie. The trouble is that Harry’s dead and everyone in town believes they’re responsible. First there’s old hunter Captain Edmund Gwenn (Santa in Miracle on 34th Street). He and Miss Gravely (Mildred Natwick of some major John Ford movies) have just the friendliest chat over the dead body, signaling that this is not going to be a suspense film. The Beaver gets involved, and his mom Shirley MacLaine is glad Harry’s dead, then admits to having killed him. Local artist John Forsythe is hopelessly poor then suddenly rich, and meanwhile takes an interest in marrying newly widowed Shirley – and Harry is buried then exhumed over and over while this all gets sorted out. Some sound recording issues, but incredible color. The NY Times raved: “it does possess mild and mellow merriment all the way.”
This was also an influence on Blow-Up:
Overenthusiastic girl imposes herself on a shabby traveling variety show – this is Lily: Carla Del Poggio, who worked with every 1940’s Italian director I’ve heard of, plus G.W. Pabst, who apparently enjoyed a late Italian phase. She gets hired against the wishes of star Giulietta Masina, and hijacks the show, enjoying her new popularity but getting too big for her britches almost immediately.
We end up following the little-mustached company leader Checco: Peppino De Filippo would pair up with comic star Toto for a series of comedies (including a Fellini parody) and also appear in the cool-sounding Atrocious Tales of Love and Death with Mastroianni and Piccoli. On the street after the company’s destruction, Checco meets a sharpshooter, an American trumpeter and a Brazilian singer, and recruits them to start a new show. But Masina has her own solo gig, and Lily is too ambitious, joins another company behind his back.
Codirector Lattuada made forty-some movies including the Criterion-coronated Mafioso. It’s not clear whether this Fellini debut is the half in 8Â½ since he co-directed, or if the half was a short film, and I’m not looking it up since I’m not a numerically-oriented film viewer. Very good visual drama, too bad the sound was synched by fifth graders.
BuÃ±uel’s least-well dubbed movie, filmed in Mexico and spoken in French. Diamond miners and soldiers are having a showdown when a mysterious stranger wanders into town, but instead of impressing everyone with his skills a la Yojimbo he’s an asshole to everyone – this is Shark (That is the Dawn‘s doctor Georges Marchal), who needs a place to stay so he shacks up with prostitute Simone Signoret, who is beloved of miner Castin (Clouzot regular Charles Vanel).
The miners-vs-soldiers war reaches a climax in a midnight firing squad which leads to a riot. Our heroes escape (with fake priest Michel Piccoli and a mute girl: MichÃ¨le Girardon of the earliest Rohmers), getting very lost in the jungle, walking in circles. They reach the promised land, finding a crashed plane full of food and jewels along the way, rescued and rich, but Castin goes mad, throwing his diamonds in the lake and murdering everyone.
Politically the movie may side with the miners, but once this crew forms and heads into the jungle, BuÃ±uel is more interested in exploring the hypocrisies that exist in every human heart. And so the priest is a fraud, the prostitute is an opportunist, and the miner loses his mind … Death in the Garden concludes with a more subversive poetic image: two figures blithely paddling across a South American lake as if they were in a Venetian gondola, when in fact a literal and spiritual wilderness surrounds them.
Getting back into BuÃ±uel after recently rewatching Nazarin.
Kids interrupt their game of savagely throwing rocks at each other to help a collapsed woman – this is Angela, wife of slick-haired doctor Valerio. She’s desperately bored with this town, but he won’t leave his post, so sends her off alone. His buddy Sandro also has an ailing wife Magda. But while the doctor takes up with a hot new visitor named Bernadine, Sandro stands by his wife to the detriment of his work, and gets fired by shitty capitalist Gorzon, who he later murders, justifiably. The doctor, always helping people, tries to hide the killer as his wife returns home with her meddling dad, who sniffs out Sandro.
Things people are calling this film: sincere (agree), revolutionary (ehh), a study in morality (sure), anti-capitalist (yeah). IMDB Trivia points out subtle insults against other artists hidden in the visuals. Bunuel’s first French movie since L’age d’or. The Doctor had smaller parts in some major Bunuel movies, Clara starred in a couple of Antonionis I haven’t seen, the capitalist in The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse.
About time I rewatched this. Francisco Rabal is our priest (also a monk in The Nun), and the prostitute who ruins him when he takes her in after a bloody fight is Rita Macedo of Archibaldo de la Cruz. He and Beatriz (Marga LÃ³pez, star of a couple Taboada movies) take a pilgrimage (aka get the hell out of town before the law catches them) and keep running into the same old people from town. Beatriz’s sinister man Pinto finds her, dwarf Ujo (Simon of the Desert‘s JesÃºs FernÃ¡ndez in his first Bunuel film) follows Andara around. I’m sure there are Bunuelian themes of repetition without escape, and of the truly religious vs. common churchgoers (and the absurdity of both).
Been many years since I watched this. Opens with self-narrated character sketch, then goes into a long dream sequence. Professor Victor SjÃ¶strÃ¶m torments the housekeeper, is taking the car to receive an honorary degree this evening. He walks into scenes from his past, remembers events he never witnessed, picks up a girl named Sara who looks a lot like the Sara he loved who married his brother.
As Dave Kehr puts it: “An aging professor making a long journey by car takes the opportunity to rummage through his past, wondering for the first time what kind of man he was.” The prof’s unfeeling son is of course Gunnar “Winter Light” BjÃ¶rnstrand, the son’s wife Ingrid Thulin, and all Saras are Bibi Andersson.
Ingrid is cheating with Kurt Kreuger (The Dark Corner, Unfaithfully Yours) then returning to her ideal life doing science with her husband Mathias Wieman (Leni Riefenstahl’s Blue Light co-star) and living in their big country house with two kids and two disgruntled servants. Then Kurt’s jealous ex Renate Mannhardt (Peter Lorre’s The Lost One) arrives and blackmails Ingrid in exchange for her silence about the affair. Turns out the husband is behind the blackmail, telling the girl how much to demand each time, and after Ingrid finds out, the movie slows down and focuses hard on her reaction. She wanders into the lab and plays around with the poison until hubby intervenes.
Based on a Stefan Zweig book, and filmed at least a couple times before and after this (no relation to Kargl’s Angst). Just two movies after Rossellini had learned through test screenings that Americans respond badly to indifferently dubbed films, the men especially still feel off-kilter, but mostly the sound mixing is weird. Whole movie is clunksville, feels awkward and contrived at every step, though Ingrid’s big psychological crisis at the end is well played.
Per the Tag Gallagher book this was a busy time for Rossellini – Voyage in Italy was getting released to awful reviews, RR and Bergman were touring a play (and completing a film version) of Joan of Arc, and he was palling around with Truffaut and his boys. Just a few days after I was unimpressed by this, Pedro Costa named it one of his favorite movies.