Getting back into Buñuel 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 López, 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 Jesús Fernández 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 Sjöström 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” Björnstrand, 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.

Blackmailer:

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.

Happy family?

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.

Uh oh, opens with fun goofy comedy music. This is fast-paced for Ozu – it looks like Tati and there’s a lot of cartoon farting (proud of myself for making that connection, David Cairns mentions Tati in the first minute of his extra feature).

The neighborhood adults exchange petty gossip – one mom is falsely accused of embezzling from her woman’s association to buy a washing machine, one couple is correctly accused of walking around in their nightclothes all day. Meanwhile the kids are obsessed with farting (one kid keeps doing it wrong and running home for a change of pants) until they find a new past-time: staying mute and hungry until dad agrees to buy a television. Movie’s about modernization, aging, retirement, usefulness, the point of small talk – typical Ozu topics in a fart-comedy disguise.

Collection of useful subtitles for film-twitter meme-reactions:

After watching the Bresson with no context, I read the Dostoevsky story it adapted, then sought out more films of the same story. Marcello is introduced socializing in this one – that doesn’t seem right. Of course, being Marcello, he can’t help but be more suave than the repressed protagonist of the story, but he’s been thoroughly movie-starred here, dancing and fighting. At least the sudden mood swings from laughter to tears are accurate to the novel. It’d make an interesting screenwriting workshop – sometimes it uses the same language as the novel to describe the same events and sometimes it does the opposite.

Great atmosphere, unbelievable set of a wintry outdoor canal city. The central bridge is only 15′ long, far from the Pont-Neuf, but the Criterion essay points out how it functions symbolically. I understand lighting is important, but shouldn’t the Italians have invented location shooting instead of making hugely complex soundstage sets if they weren’t even gonna record sound? The city of Venice didn’t hold it against him – the movie won a silver lion, second place to Aparajito (no love for Throne of Blood). Marcello is second billed, the year before Big Deal on Madonna Street, to Maria Schell, who’d just won best actress at Venice for a René Clément picture. Judging from Senso and The Leopard, I prefer modern Visconti over his period pieces.

Flashback of Schell with lodger/lover Jean Marais:

Handsomely depressing youth movie, 100 straight minutes of dudes talking shit with big camera moves. Paul is New Wave regular Brialy with a dumb stache, lives in the city, and his cousin Charles (Gérard Blain, pinch-faced title star of Le Beau Serge) stays at his place while in university. They throw parties: an older weirdo named Clovis likes to drink and scam people, Paul puts on Mozart and does a dramatic monologue in German, an opera-singing strongman is invited. Charles fears that he’s a boring provincial mama’s boy, then bores us talking about his provincial mama.

The contested Florence is Juliette Mayniel, first victim in Eyes Without a Face:

It would seem an innocent movie of youth in the city, but there’s the Chabrol name and all the ornamental guns around (“good thing we have no bullets”). Then Paul steals Charles’s girl, and we’ve got a meek guy living with the girl he wants and the cousin who stole her in a house full of guns, uh oh. Charles absolutely loses himself in studying, while Paul stays out getting drunk, but Paul passes his exams and Charles does not – then Charles locates the bullets.

I imagined a widescreen stop-motion puppet Midsummer from the creator of The Hand would be magical. It turns out if you remove all the language from a Shakespeare play, reducing it to plot action with explanatory voiceover, you don’t even reach feature length without some padding in the form of dance scenes and overlong rehearsals of the play-within-the-play. Sticking it out, there is some beautiful puppetry and effects, particularly whenever Puck casts a transformation spell.

After The Story of Three Loves, the second movie I watched for a Rosenbaum lecture. So soon (for me and for him) after Run For Cover I’m feeling shaky about Ray, but at least he made the great Bigger Than Life in between. Turned out pretty well for a big-ego war adventure story.

Looks more like a Bob Hope movie at this point:

Major Curd Jürgens (he played the Emil Jannings role in the Blue Angel remake) is supposed to lead a desert rescue operation, then Captain Richard Burton is put in charge instead. Rivalry ensues – Curd chokes when he’s supposed to knife a guard, and his wife used to date Burton, so they try to get each other killed until Burton finally dies in a sandstorm.

“Wilkies, wonderwall” – whoa, this was a real term… is it a britishization of the German wunderbar? I’m not gonna research this. It’s also the most times I’ve heard the name Benghazi in a movie. Sgt. Christopher Lee doesn’t make a strong impression – this was the same year he played Frankenstein’s monster, the year before his Dracula. Safecracker Wilkins is Nigel Green of Masque of the Red Death, sort of a low-rent Timothy Carey.

JR: “They’re both assholes… they become prisoners of their own macho self-images,” JR pulling no punches. “I see it as an attack on macho.” “The desire to have war sometimes exceeds any justification.” This was Ray’s attempt to go indie and break from Hollywood, though he didn’t have much control – the novelist retained script approval, the producers controlled casting.