of the Knife
A nine-year-old boy, his successive selves.
A UCLA doctoral candidate on “The Relevance of Noumena to Perception”.
A “nine-year-old harpsichordist”, a girl.
“The regional juice man for the syndicate in the West.”
Browning’s “Apparent Failure” is the basis of the surrealism.
The episode title is unrevealed to the audience, and signifies a prisoner under torture who is attached to a bomb against any attempt to free him. He knows the identity of an American agent highly placed in an enemy security apparatus, who is suspected by a rival.
The deft recovery method requires a demonstration of the split-screen process in operation. Barney does this to portray the rival as the double agent and turn his spying lackey against him. The bomb is simply neutralized with liquid nitrogen around its detonator.
The starting point and keynote of the direction is the montage of rapid cuts preceding each episode, which is sustained throughout by camerawork as well as editing. As a result, perhaps, the acting is of great interest, having been considered as a rhythmic element of the composition.
A list of Allied agents who have been turned by the adverse party is kept in the vault of a foreign intelligence chief, played by Logan Ramsey in a neck brace à la Stroheim, with a strangely womanish military aide. Rollin rifles the vault, setting off an alarm, but makes off with the list.
This is the essence of the script, but the title character figures on the list, and nurses wounded Jim to the border with a tale of the list’s falsity, only to be so moved by his condition as to confess the truth. She is killed by the intelligence chief, who had planned to kill her in any event for blackmailing him. Rollin kills him in turn, and a grim-faced Jim is transported across the border.
Hagmann’s two main sequences are first a lengthy and mobile long-lens close-up champ contre champ of Jim and Nicole as their eyes meet at the formal cocktail party thrown by the intelligence chief, with Joan Collins dazzlingly arrayed, and second a vigorous montage of their flight together through the forest at night.
A matron at the party complains of witty Rollin’s rallying of two women, whom the aged general he is portraying regales with tales of breastworks and volleys. Again, tapping Jim with her lorgnette (he is in uniform as the general’s aide), she deplores an exhibition of paintings she has just seen, by “a beast of a man who calls it abstract art”.
The invasion of San Cristobal by Nueva Tierra, told to Phelps at a merry-go-round that’s closed.
Nueva Tierra has the backing of the United People’s Republic, a coded message sent by courier has the invasion plans.
Paris is El Lider, a revolutionary actually under lock and key. El Lider and El Presidente and Janos of the UPR thrash out the future of San Cristobal while the IMF seize the code and foil the invasion, leaving Nueva Tierra and the UPR at odds, fatally.
The Strawberry Statement
Hagmann’s pure masterpiece on the movement in its college protest instar, a vague shadow of the Thirties (cf. Loach’s Land and Freedom), opposing an objective correlative of matriculation from playground to army to Water & Power, finally treated with tear gas and batons.
Music plays on, pop songs expressing the time, kids and their affections, the great belief mainly feminine, a really accurate understanding of the whole megillah with a perfectly objective view, not enough satirical or complaisant to measure on any meter, just the thing taking its course with a lot of good humor, naturally, and some youthful bluster.
At Cannes all this was correctly discerned and the Jury Prize awarded (Altman’s MASH won the Palme d’or).
The Deadly Cargo
A kind of tax on Ecuadorian coffee imported to the drought-ridden orange-growing small town of Finleyville.
The toll is indeed heavy, a sort of Boston Tea Party is briefly envisaged, even arson for insurance, a safe means of dealing with the critters is found in an entomological tome (cf. Irwin Allen’s Swarm).
Hitchcock’s The Birds is briefly adduced in an accidental fire, the Eden motif is worked, at last the crop is sent off for marmalade.
Morrison’s cinematography is of the very best, a constant high-point of the art. The script by Groves & Trueblood leaves no stone unturned. Hagmann’s direction is quiet and unflappable.