Archive for July 15th, 2009


by Allan Fish

(US/Italy 1979 156m) DVD1/2

Aka. Caligola; Gore Vidal’s Caligula

I have existed from the morning of the world

p  Bob Guccione, Franco Rossellini  d  Tinto Brass, Giancarlo Lui  w  Bob Guccione, Gore Vidal  ph  Silvano Ippoliti, Tinto Brass  ed  Nino Baragli  md  Paul Clemente  m  Aram Khachaturian, Sergei Prokofiev  art  Danilo Donati  cos  Danilo Donati, Gregorio Simili

Malcolm McDowell (Caligula), Peter O’Toole (Tiberius), Helen Mirren (Cæsonia), John Gielgud (Nerva), Teresa Ann Savoy (Drusilla), John Steiner (Longinus), Adriana Asti (Ennia), Lori Wagner (Agrippina), Anneka di Lorenzo (Messalina), Mirella d’Angelo (Livia), Donato Placido (Proculus), Guido Mannari (Macro), Giancarlo Badessi (Claudius), Paolo Bonacelli (Cassius Chaerea), Leopoldo Trieste (Charicles), Bruno Brive (Gemellus),

As my countdown is slowly coming to an end I thought it was about time I redressed the balance.  All this eulogising about the masterpieces of each given decade, yet not a word about the trash, the absolute nadir of the decade.  And as we’re moving into the 1980s in a matter of weeks, it seems only fair to concentrate on the most notorious film of the 1970s, whose saga lasted several years before its first sighting in 1979, and whose controversy lasted into the early eighties; so much so that we now forget that there was a time when it was taken quite seriously in certain quarters (at least at the announcement stage).  Gore Vidal had apparently gone back to the sources, to Lucretius and Tacitus, and the backing of Bob Guccione was seen as necessary funding.  Perhaps they were recalling Hugh Hefner’s Playboy financed Macbeth with Roman Polanski.  There was one major difference; Hefner, in addition to peddling flesh, was a film buff.  Guccione was a pornographer with as much interest in the real Roman Empire as the writers of Up Pompeii.  It went into production in 1977, and there were those who thought that it would cash in on the literacy of the BBC’s I, Claudius a year earlier.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

china 1

by Allan Fish

(USA 1974 131m) DVD1/2


p  Robert Evans  d  Roman Polanski  w  Robert Towne  ph  John A.Alonzo  ed  Sam O’Steen  m  Jerry Goldsmith  art  Richard Sylbert  cos  Anthea Sylbert

Jack Nicholson (J.J.Gittes), Faye Dunaway (Evelyn Mulwray), John Huston (Noah Cross), Perry Lopez (Escobar), John Hillerman (Yelburton), Roman Polanski (Knife man), Darryl Zwerling (Hollis Mulwray), Diane Ladd (Ida Sessions), Burt Young (Curly),

Chinatown is a film to make film buffs salivate, a wonderfully cynical, labyrinthine descent into corruption and murder in a burgeoning city.  The Los Angeles of Chinatown is the Los Angeles of legend, before the war made all Americans conscious of the darkness lurking below the surface.  This is a film set in the era before film noir came to Hollywood, a 1937 as immediately recognisable to both those who lived through it and to those who wished they had.  Here was the last great homage to old fashioned noir cinema made, like so many of the great noirs, by a director who wasn’t even American (think Billy Wilder, Jacques Tourneur), let alone from the City of Angels. 

            In the late thirties Jake Gittes, a P.I. and former D.A.’s assistant, is hired by a woman looking to find out the truth about her husband, who she believes is having an affair.  It turns out that not only is he not having an affair, but the woman is an impostor and the real wife threatens legal action over his investigations.  However, when her husband is murdered, Gittes comes to realise that there are very shady motives behind the killing and everything is not what it seems.  (more…)

Read Full Post »