Archive for August 31st, 2011

by Allan Fish

(UK 2006 232m) DVD1/2

Viewer, I married him…

p  Diederick Santer  d  Susanna White  w  Sandy Welch  novel  Charlotte Brontë  ph  Mike Eley  ed  Jason Krasucki  m  Robert Lane  art  Grenville Horner  cos  John Bright, Andrea Galer

Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre), Toby Stephens (Edward Rochester), Lorraine Ashbourne (Mrs Fairfax), Pam Ferris (Grace Poole), Tara Fitzgerald (Mrs Reed), Francesca Annis (Lady Ingram), Christina Cole (Blanche Ingram), Andrew Buchan (St John Rivers), Richard McCabe (Mr Brocklehurst), Georgie Henley (young Jane Eyre), Ned Irish (George), Cosima Littlewood (Adele), Elsa Mollien (Sophie), Rebekah Staton (Bessie), Daniel Pirrie (Richard Mason), Charlotte West-Oram (Mrs Dent), Hester Odgers (Helen Burns), Georgia King (Rosamund Oliver), Anne Reid (gypsy woman),

At the time of first viewing this small screen adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s romance, it was my sixth Jane Eyre.  There were disposable ones, for film in 1996 (with Charlotte Gainsbourg if anything too pallid), for TV the same year (so mediocre even Sam Morton couldn’t do anything with it), and way back in 1934, with hardly any budget, a poor Jane from Virginia Bruce and a bored Rochester from Colin Clive.  Then there had been the George C.Scott version in 1970, in which his Rochester dominated all (Susannah York was Jane, in case you forgot) and another TV take in 1983, with future Bond Timothy Dalton as Rochester.  Essentially, screen history would not be one jot the poorer without the lot of them.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1932 80m) DVD1/2 (France only)

Oh, that Mitzi!

p  Ernst Lubitsch  d  Ernst Lubitsch, George Cukor  w  Samson Raphaelson  play  “Only a Dream” by Lothar Schmidt  ph  Victor Milner  ed  William Shea  m/ly  Oscar Straus, Richard Whiting, Leo Robin  art  Hans Dreier  cos  Travis Banton

Maurice Chevalier (Dr André Bertier), Jeanette MacDonald (Colette Bertier), Genevieve Tobin (Mitzi Olivier), Charles Ruggles (Adolph), Roland Young (Professor Olivier), George Barbier (Police commissioner), Josephine Dunn, Richard Carle,

Whenever I think of this trademark Lubitsch soufflé, I recall a tale told by Leslie Halliwell when, the morning after its debut showing on British television in 1983, he discussed the film with a neighbour, who said they turned it off as they didn’t like Jeanette MacDonald’s acting.  He observed, in recollection, how can one explain sunlight to a blind man? 

            What’s ironic is that the film hasn’t been seen on British TV in any form in two decades and until recently seeing it – as with his other pre-code masterpieces, The Smiling Lieutenant and Trouble in Paradise – was virtually impossible unless you either spotted a copy on ebay or emigrated to the US.  It’s a story that Lubitsch knew well, for it was a reworking of his 1924 silent The Marriage Circle, and it concerns the romantic complications of Parisian doctor André Bertier.  He’s married to Colette, he loves Colette, he’s crazy about Colette, but things start to take a turn for the worse when his wife informs him that her best school friend, Mitzi, is on the way to visit.  (Suffice it to say that not since Amelia Sedley and Becky Sharp has there been a more treacherous ‘best friend’.)  Mitzi immediately sets her sights on André, not realising her professor husband is onto her unfaithfulness and has employed a private detective to spy on her.  (more…)

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Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

Both Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless and Billy Wilder’s Apartment were produced in 1959 and released in 1960. The former is widely regarded as a decisive change in the history of film; the latter is seen as an above-average comedy. The dialogue and physical incident of each boil over to the point of a close continuum of cinematic disturbance. Godard, in a Cahiers du Cinema piece, attempts to shake loose from that implication. But it’s not so easy to be done with the shared arteries of this transportation process; and its obtaining, far from a drag, may be seen to comprise a means to illuminating the powers of both efforts. Godard’s protagonist, “Michel,” in addition to being a flip murderer and thief, reveals himself to be a hit-and-run critic, himself being among the many targets he sprays. His first move is to tell us, “After all, I’m an asshole.” When speaking for himself (and his clique of brethren, modestly designated, “the New Wave”), Godard adopts Michel’s free-floating resentment toward the planetary cast of characters. Hence:

“After seven of itching, he [Wilder] decided to no longer bring tragedy to the joke, but on the

contrary to bring the comic to the serious. He took out an insurance policy on cinematographic

survival, and success invited itself in.” (more…)

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