The Green Man
An incredibly brilliant comedy, called “irreverent” by Britmovie and “very silly” by the British Film Institute, in which a hired assassin of “self-important” politicos is undone at the seaside inn of the title by a vacuum-cleaner salesman named William Blake.
On the same day he slighted Samuel Fuller’s China Gate, Bosley Crowther of the New York Times gleefully accepted this as unserious “fun”, and at that rate you have him.
He does mention the BBC man, the “local constable”, and the “all-female string ensemble”, among other things.
Corridors of Blood
John Gilling’s The Flesh and the Fiends was made a little later and shows its influence, so Robert Wise’s The Body Snatcher is indicated, as well of course as Preston Sturges’ The Great Moment and David Lean’s Oliver Twist. That is something of a pedigree.
Here is the idea of a sympathetic surgeon in 1840 who ministers to the poor of Seven Dials gratis one day a week, and experiments on himself with nitrous oxide and tincture of opium to find painless surgery. The resurrectionists catch him up in his naïveté and his addiction.
A smashing, complex film absurdly censored in America for “gory details” and censured by Time Out Film Guide as a pretext for them.
Two Way Stretch
Prison life under the Army or the Church is out of its proper sphere, which is the domain of law enforcement, that is to say, the police.
Sorting the worlds out, under and whichaway, is a highly-complicated juggling act so mightily well done that American critics especially (Variety and the New York Times) were convinced there wasn’t much to it at all.
Mankiewicz has a memory of it in There was a crooked man...
Tarzan the Magnificent
A small town in Africa, bank robbers with Sten guns.
Tarzan catches one, the rest pursue. And that is the essence of the film, “made in Africa”.
Variety disapproved of Day’s “modern specifications”, Eugene Archer of the New York Times took a laughable view, “filmed with juvenile zest” (in the same review dismissing Jerry Lewis’ The Bellboy).
The artist who really does get his inspiration from the landlady at the end of every month.
Bosley Crowther had the unmitigated cheek to call this “presumptuous”.
It’s slightly more or less than half a century ahead of its time. The Infantile school of painting, also known as Shapism (every shape a color), takes London by storm, in the right hands. The amateur frenzy, the artistic punchups, poets, patrons, coffee bars, models, gallery directors, George Sanders as the critic, glossy magazines, “miskellaneous rubbish”, life at the office, the Riviera, what could the critics say? Nothing, that’s what, bloody nothing.
“The last spasm of action painting in the Western world,” also.
Tarzan’s Three Challenges
An inestimably great film, jealously regarded by Variety as a usurpation of the great tradition. A Buddhist monk flies a kite, a small plane appears, then a parachutist.
Expert in every way, heroic to the last degree. The splendor of its locations is very accurate and fitted to the drama of an Oriental ruler dying, a Chosen One accompanied to the throne by Tarzan, and the dead king’s brother opposing every step.
The intensity of Day’s visual imagination is what forms the openwork net upon which Tarzan and his rival spar over caldrons of hot oil for the fate of the kingdom.
Three soldiers demobbed in the fleshpots of Palestine after the Great War. And so begins a beautiful masterpiece the key to which is DeMille’s later version of The Ten Commandments.
The anagrammatic value of the construction is all, and the visual splendor, and the fantastic variety of the images just ahead of Ken Russell. Even considering the very worst reviews ever brought forth like mice on mountaintops, it gave rise to a very poor showing by critics, indeed.
The full magnitude of Pichel & Holden’s She is paid homage in the entrance to Kuma. The city is classical and ancient, hewn among the rocks. Jerusalem, the Desert of Lost Souls, the Mountains of the Moon, Kuma.
C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle, says Robbe-Grillet, paying a compliment.
Tarzan and the Valley of Gold
Tarzan arrives in the Plaza de Toros at Mexico City by helicopter and jet and Cadillac convertible, with suit and briefcase, a sniper awaits him, he quells the villain with a giant Coca-Cola bottle. The criminal attack is a direct echo of Aldrich’s Vera Cruz.
A deadly international criminal is the quarry, he’s after the gold of the lost city. Here, brought to a higher pitch yet, is the cinematic mind of Day reveling in the concrete stimulation of Mexico, from the bullring to the pyramids.
The death of Vinero is from Dreyer’s Vampyr, suitable for the occasion.
Tarzan and the Great River
A great film by a great director, which even if nobody noticed is based on Huston’s The African Queen as well as Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai. It’s an indeterminate place like the Amazon with tribesmen beset by a jaguar cult enslaving them for diamonds.
Tarzan, who famously has been to New York, flies in on a passenger jet and wears a suit to hear the tale, then sets out with Cheta and Baron the African lion through the jungle and on the river.
Variety saw nothing in it.
house on greenapple road
A vain, bored, aging, silly housewife sleeps her way to the top man and, getting nowhere, splits him open all over her suburban kitchen.
The technically perfect rendering of a police call and investigation is interrupted for the audience as flashbacks along the way, each stage and step remembers his involvement.
It’s the wife who’s thought to have been murdered. The husband, an advertising salesman, understands her completely and is prepared to wait, so says the police detective.
Ritual of Evil
A variant of She, set in the present on the coast of Southern California.
The virtue of the analysis is to arrive by occult manifestations and various critiques (some remnants of culture and counterculture) at The Big Sleep (dir. Howard Hawks or Michael Winner), in a sort of way.
Affection, Jack the Ripper
The Sixth Sense
This brilliant composition takes place in two temporal dimensions. A colleague of Dr. Rhodes’ finds a willing subject in a man who loves her, for her sake he submits to her experiments. She places him amid the trappings of late nineteenth-century London, hypnotizes him with a metronome and he plays harpsichord music by an English composer he’s never heard of, though he has never played an instrument before (and this without the slightest romantic encouragement from the experimenter). The result proves the strength of “psychic energy” over time, the subject also receives impressions from Jack the Ripper, kills one woman and nearly another (he sees himself in the garb of the period on a London street with a medical bag, actually he’s in the park with a briefcase).
A prostitute in red, another in green, then the experimenter herself in black, enter his vision.
Eyes That Wouldn’t Die
The Sixth Sense
Cornea transplants restore the sight of a girl ten years blind, she sees the donor drowned in a bathtub, the murderer goes after her as well. The structure is mirrored by Dr. Rhodes struggling to make himself understood, the surgeon with a psychological explanation for these “visions”, and the police lieutenant who simply says, “I’m a cop, I take all the help I can get.” A nurse is killed in a hospital elevator, then another drowning is foreseen by Dr. Rhodes, who rushes to the scene before a therapeutic bath does in the patient.
Colorado Cattle Caper
Everything in “The Colorado Cattle Caper” depends on a misunderstanding. McCloud goes to Colorado to extradite a murder suspect who is needed there to ferret out a ring of cattle rustlers whose modus operandi is of substantial interest (using a helicopter and motorcycles they herd stray cattle by the dozen into a semi-trailer and process them in thirty minutes for uninspected shipment across the country). The sheriff is running for re-election amid rising discontent over his handling of the investigation. McCloud fails to assess the situation and himself lands in jail when the prisoner is freed by the gang. Chief Clifford sends in Sgt. Broadhurst, who while undercover also lands in jail, and then the Chief flies to Colorado to sort the mess out personally, as far as possible.
McCloud’s bravura leads him to stage a fake hanging on the spot so as to impress a taciturn rustler. Sgt. Broadhurst is stooping dejectedly after his release. Day cuts to Chief Clifford upbraiding him for falling under the influence of McCloud, then cuts back to Broadhurst, instantly recovered. In The Corral Café, Chief Clifford sees McCloud and is knocked out by him because the Marshal is undercover and the Chief doesn’t know it. A general brawl ensues, McCloud and his cohorts make off. The police arrive and ask, “who started this?” Day takes a handheld camera in to the perpetrator. “Him,” says the bartender, pointing down at supine, unconscious Chief Clifford.
Frank DeVol introduces a little phrase from The Rite of Spring. Out where the road ends, McCloud and his colleagues take to horses for pursuit, exactly as in Tales of the Texas Rangers.
The Initiation of Sarah
When all is said and done, a smashingly funny film about snobby sorority sisters, practically The Sylvia Plath Story. The somewhat complicated structure differs from De Palma’s masterpiece Carrie, though the form is essentially similar, an analysis necessitated by the earlier film’s critical reception, mixed at best.
And the obscure model is She.
The Man with Bogart’s Face
He has a little office on Larchmont at Beverly, a second-floor walkup. He wants to be a private eye of yore, puts his name up on the door and in walks Michelle Phillips, the Forties dame par excellence.
Peter and Paul
“Upon this rock I will build my church.” So it happens, the fisherman is amazed to see from Jerusalem the church arise where Saul of Tarsus goes, disciple of Gamaliel, citizen of Rome. The great rift occurs on the matter of Gentiles, no yoke upon them but Jesus Christ. The supernatural outlook of Jews is remarked by Herod Agrippa and remarkable throughout, Festus hears them cry out against Paul’s blasphemy on the instant, in his very court. There is famine in Jerusalem, fat and azure-gowned Herod is alarmed at the people, yet he is an aliquot of the prophetic faith.
This is one of two very brief and decisive performances, Raymond Burr as Herod Agrippa and Jose Ferrer as Gamaliel after the stoning of Stephen. Saul is told by his teacher not to expect too much from his acquisition of learning, God’s will decides the matter. Day eschews every pictorial opportunity and most images, his locations are backgrounds, taken for granted as it were, so that Peter enters Rome when it was young, a fresh fountain in a city square. Greece is gone by, a marketplace in a clearance sale.
Yet Rome is not so young as to lack Nero, the epistle with its denunciations is read to him at court to prove his point (another finely-constructed performance, by Julian Fellowes). The rare image is a figure in black on the rooftops in the sight of Saul when Stephen is put to death, a shepherd boy and his flock observing Peter’s inverse crucifixion.
Persecution is the special study of the film, the countertheme to Paul’s enlightenment, the Law is fulfilled in Christ and everywhere comes down upon his servant, a seller of talking statues has Paul arrested for exposing his trick.
Paul overcomes the lawyers of Jerusalem, his great aim is Rome. The epistle precedes him, he enters the city manacled and on foot in crowds like Jesus on his ass. The extirpations sweep up Peter at a sermon to the flock outside the city, he tells what he knows and defers to the Master in his death. An Emmy award for his makeup in age acknowledges a perfect achievement completed by Foxworth, emulating George C. Scott as Abraham. A nomination for costume design tips the hat to Herbert Lom’s Barnabas, who wears his garb as naturally as could be wished. An intelligent coup of casting gets the Roman portrait of Festus in the ultra-canniness of Eddie Albert’s face. Jon Finch also takes his Grecian garb in stride.
All of these actors could be interchangeable in these roles, they’ve played them all. Day has them where he wants them and focuses his attention there. The acting carries every scene in rapid editing without comment or perspective, a church not made of hands. The forceful technique of Anthony Hopkins is brought to bear on Paul in the world, a brilliant speaker, Jesus risen from the dead is the sticking point with his hearers. Robert Foxworth has the character of Peter deduced visibly from certain paintings, brilliance is abstracted from the eyes progressively, eking out the makeup, while the saint’s chances narrow with his memories until he sets out in Paul’s footsteps to lay the bedrock of the church.
of a Perfect Murder
Dean Hargrove’s pilot is a Mickey Spillane masterpiece of nuance and evocation in two parts, detailing a New York investigative reporter’s descent into the Atlanta underworld in the first, and transcending this in the second by uncovering the character of his ex-wife, the murder victim and also a reporter, leading to the promised exposure of “mob influence at the highest levels of State government.” The item in the title belongs to her, is purloined by her murderer, and paraded under the noses of suspects in the form of a reasonable facsimile by Charlene, who eerily elicits tales of cruel ambition and plenty of motive until there is no doubt.
The Quick and The Dead
The making of Westerners out of a Gettysburg soldier and his Pennsylvanian wife and son, who’ve split off from the wagon train because of a cholera outbreak to continue on toward Big Horn and a cabin built for them by the wife’s brother, serving in the 7th Cavalry with General Custer.
Bender’s dead, “a one-legged drunk” who founded Bender’s Flats, miserable shacks in the Wyoming Territory, worse for his leaving. Doc Shabitt and his boys are holed up in the saloon when the pilgrims and their four-mule wagon full of family heirlooms drive in. A half-breed Blackfoot of thereabouts takes a fancy to the wife and saves their bacon, the paths have crossed because he’s trailing a half-breed Ute who killed his mother in a raiding party on her village, this fellow has just joined up with Doc Shabitt.
Two fine Eastern horses tied to the back of the wagon are the first prey. The beautiful widescreen cinematography uses a crane very effectively to characterize distance and terrain on location.
The teleplay by James Lee Barrett from Louis L’Amour deals out the parts in weakness rather than strength, and arrives at its conclusion with something of a surprise to all concerned. The influence of Eastwood’s Pale Rider is felt, the score is by the composer of Honkytonk Man and Pink Cadillac.