Archive for November 20th, 2012

by Samuel Wilson

Buster Keaton grew up on trains. Travelling from town to town with his vaudevillian parents as The Three Keatons, Buster might have been expected to take trains for granted, but his movies demonstrate a continuing sense of wonder about them. While his ultimate train movie, The General, is a fantasy of power and destruction, in his earlier Our Hospitality a train figures in the young hero’s rite of passage. The film, co-directed by Keaton with John G. Blystone, is a mock epic that slowly and slyly reveals its parodic character, opening with a deadly earnest prologue explaining the feud of the Canfields and the McCays. The little tale of mutual murder in a rainstorm, the darkness illuminated by lightning and gunshots, with a third man’s good intentions curdling into vendetta and a new widow recoiling in sheer terror from a new corpse, is genuinely horrific. The intertitle narrative retains the prologue’s portentous tone even as Keaton’s imagery undermines it. His resort to a footnote claiming that a forthcoming vision of 42nd Street and Broadway circa 1830 as a barren hinterland derives from “an old print” is a jab at D. W. Griffith and others who asserted authenticity in that pedantic fashion. Throughout the funniest section of the picture, Keaton exaggerates the primitive state of the country and its youthful feebleness that makes 1830 America an analogue for his character, a McKay scion raised in safety far from the feud yet returning to the kill zone to claim an inheritance – and vice versa. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1984 750m) DVD1/2

It’s Kumar, not Kumar

p  Christopher Morahan  d  Christopher Morahan, Jim O’Brien  w  Ken Taylor  novels  “The Raj Quartet” by Paul Scott  ph  Jon Woods, Ray Goode  ed  Edward Mansell  m  George Fenton  art  Nick King, Vic Symonds, Alan Pickford  cos  Diane Holmes, Esther Dean

Tim Pigott-Smith (Ronald Merrick), Art Malik (Hari Kumar), Susan Wooldridge (Daphne Manners), Geraldine James (Sarah Layton), Charles Dance (Guy Perron), Peggy Ashcroft (Barbie Batchelor), Eric Porter (Count Dimitri Bronowsky), Saeed Jaffrey (Nawab), Rachel Kempson (Lady Manners), Rosemary Leach (Aunt Fenny), Nicholas Farrell (Teddy Bingham), Zia Mohyeddin (Mohammed Ali Kasim), Fabia Drake (Mabel Layton), Wendy Morgan (Susan Layton), Judy Parfitt (Mildred Layton), Om Puri (Mr De Souza), Anna Cropper (Nicky Paynton), Matyelok Gibbs (Sister Ludmila), Zohra Segal (Lili Chatterjee), Nicholas le Provost (Nigel Rowan), Stuart Wilson (Jimmy Clarke), Peter Jeffrey (Mr Peabody), Hilary Mason (Mrs Roper), Marne Maitland (Pandit Baba), Warren Clarke (“Sophie” Dixon), Janet Henfrey (Edwina Crane), Frederick Treves (Col.Layton),

The idea of filming Paul Scott’s series of novels set in imperial India was probably first formulated when Scott’s semi-sequel, Staying On, was filmed in 1980 with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.  The critical rapture surrounding Granada’s Brideshead Revisited was still raging when they announced this even more ambitious project.  Just as Jane Austen would have here day in the nineties, the early eighties were definitely preoccupied with India, coming as it did in between Gandhi, A Passage to India and The Far Pavilions, with cast members often working on more than one of the quartet.  Two years in the making, it was a gargantuan task to even capture the spirit of the chronologically tangled web of plots weaved by Scott, let alone to cut it down to 12½ hours of drama from what, if told with the same intricacy as Brideshead, would have been three times that.  (more…)

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