On the Edge

It’s a volcanic landscape in black and white. Is it Beckettian? No, this man is a comfortable bourgeois in suit, tie, overcoat and gloves. The edge is the seashore, amid myriad pilings in geometric forms.

A woman is knitting in a rocking chair, drawing on a ball of yarn within a glass jar. The man takes the yarn and runs with it, a long pale string of yarn into the distance, where he is lost in bubbling mud (Rauschenberg later recalled this, perhaps, in a construction for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The woman calmly winds the skein back up, The End.

The music is evidently by Charles Ives (bells and strings).


Night Tide

Tourneur’s Cat People is the avowed model. Harrington may have acted on the sea of inspiration in Eliot’s Four Quartets thunderstruck by Poe’s “Annabel Lee”, which is cited. The “high-born kinsman” there leads to the arch-duke in “The Waste Land”, and so on to the Thames-daughters and the storm, with a tarot reading along the way. Ultimately, Night Tide encompasses such works as “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “Sweeney Among the Nightingales”, “Sweeney Agonistes” and “Marina”, as well as a surreal portrait of Eliot in London.

The scholar-gipsy Drake (Dennis Hopper) is a sailor on liberty, he meets a mermaid (Linda Lawson) in a sideshow on the pier, two lovers have died at her hands, some say. Her guardian is an English captain (Gavin Muir) who found the orphan on a Greek isle.

The specific extension of the theme puts the captain in possession of a thief’s hand in a jar, a gift from a thoughtful sultan.



The kind of life you only find in the New York magazines. Did you read so-and-so’s book? “He actually was in a flying saucer.” A chic, strained vision.

Roy Lichtenstein and George Segal are not admired by everybody. George Furth as the Pinball Wizard well before Ken Russell’s Tommy.

“Valentino isn’t visiting you, is he?”

“No, I haven’t seen him.”

A foreign guest, “I’m afraid I’m used to infinitely more exciting and dangerous games,” the Avon lady.

Harrington has a way of eliciting an apartment off Central Park, as Kubrick has with Greenwich Village in Eyes Wide Shut.

“Get the Grocery Boy” does him in (as his body ascends in the gated lift, the score echoes Herrmann’s trombones in Welles’ Citizen Kane).

Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, a great and irresistible study (a tinge of Hitchcock’s Psycho as well).

Les Diaboliques (dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot), with Simone Signoret. Nice young couple, she has money, he has taste.

Grauman’s Lady in a Cage, with James Caan, just suggested.

The one-eyed victim.

Vincent Canby of the New York Times found the particular genius of this most elusive, “a most diverting pastime.”

Variety, “more appeal to the intellect than to the emotions.”

Ebert of the Sun-Times saw right through it, “turned out exactly the way I guessed it would.”

The Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “mediocre”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “tedious”.


How Awful About Allan

Debussy says, “you have to know when to spit in the censers.”

A film the root of which can be traced to Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein (she hisses at her bridegroom and turns to her maker), a film of incalculable genius.


Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?

We know because of Cocteau’s Les Parents terribles that the witch destroyed by Hansel and Gretel is a sad figure, but the word used here by Inspector Willoughby is “tragic”.

Her daughter died from a fall in 1914 because it’s the Great War between parents and children, “where ignorant armies clash by night” since neither can help themselves.

None of it was a clue to Roger Greenspun of the New York Times, who sat on his tuffet and puffed at it.


What’s the Matter with Helen?

The great satire on the little woman back home, lost in Hollywood because little kids and midgets act her part there.

She’s a flop in the sticks, her sons have gone to jail for killing a girl.

Adelle moves her dancing school out West to feed the business, Helen is her partner and accompanist.

Extremely beautiful performances by Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters. Micheal Mac Liammóir hires on as an elocution teacher, Timothy Carey is a bum, Dennis Weaver a Texas millionaire, with Agnes Moorehead as Helen’s religious comfort, Sister Alma.

The screenplay, as noted in oblivious notices, is by Henry Farrell.


The Killing Kind

Here is the opposite of Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?, the witch eats Hansel and by extension Gretel.

At least four films are cited as points of reference, Hitchcock’s Suspicion and Psycho, Nichols’ The Graduate, and Buñuel’s Los Olvidados.

Harrington’s psychological studies are the most accurate and telling of any in the cinema.