I walk alone
How the Four Kings became the Regent Club, a snazzy nightspot with an uptown clientele and a corporate structure that breaks the mental back of a former partner fresh out of stir, the books are phony, though.
From Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties to Boorman’s Point Blank in no time flat, by way of Lang’s You and Me and Polonsky’s Force of Evil and on to Siegel’s Charley Varrick.
Too Late for Tears
A woman who falls for a pile of money.
The luxuriant opening is set up as patter before the trick is announced, then Huggins & Haskin show you nothing up their sleeves and immediately begin a stunning display of razzmatazz and foolery galore. Huggins holds out his gibus and plucks from it Félix Fénélon or Léon Bloy, while Haskin leads the musical ensemble in Orlando di Lasso or Josquin Desprez, in a manner of speaking.
It has been remarked that Haskin’s location shots are unusually impressive, all the more so as they are very brief. All the tricks and sleights deserve considerable anxiety about a correct analysis, and so does the relation to Lang, for instance.
Which is to say the screenplay is dazzling, the direction extremely assured, and the score by Dale Butts particularly fine and inspired.
An impeccably-produced film, one of the rarest of the breed, that will bear comparison with Lang’s Moonfleet, for example, and probably influenced Kubrick decisively in this regard, Barry Lyndon is a particular reflection.
Stevenson on Dickens is a very formidable analysis.
A British film, cinematography by F.A. Young and so forth, that buries John Laurie as Blind Pew and John Gregson as Redruth, amongst the cast.
The War of the Worlds
A small wildfire in California, introduced as World War III, a meteor “big as a house, and practically red-hot,” a tourist attraction.
The first words proposed to the Martians are “welcome to California.” In the event, the response is calcination and blackout. The fire blazes up.
The military is sent for. Landings are reported around the world.
The nightmarish slowness of the Martian craft is replaced by nightmarish quickness in Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
The Martian war machines destroy everything with their heat rays.
The Pacific Institute of Science and Technology is Paramount.
The Air Force “flying wing” with its A-bomb on the Puente Hills figures as the vehicle to Mars in Conquest of Space (Paul Frees does the on-the-spot commentary in this scene, an echo of Welles, “for future history”).
Nothing avails, the Martians die when Sylvia rests her head on Dr. Forrester’s breast in a downtown church, the war machine outside sinks and crashes, all over the world it is the same.
DeMille’s Samson and Delilah is playing at a local theater to begin with. Quatermass and the Pit is a prime analysis.
Haskin conducts his own in Conquest of Space.
His Majesty O’Keefe
The islanders of Yap won’t pick the coconuts for a copra-trader’s fortune, he gives a chief a cuckoo clock, another a music box, nothing doing.
With a Hong Kong partner he defies the slave-traders and the Germans and hits upon a plan to help the islanders mine their sacred stones on Palau another way, with gunpowder and sledgehammers. One chief resists.
He defends the island against slavers and is made king, the resisting chief and his men are banished.
The Germans make a play for the island, a house divided, the king’s Palauan wife is weary of his fortune-hunting and also feels the old ways are best. He relents, the islanders are united against the adversaries, who propose to return one day.
Haskin’s masterpiece on “a bumptious American abroad” (Bosley Crowther, New York Times).
“Thin adventure romance” (Halliwell’s Film Guide) “with too little for its star to do.”
The Naked Jungle
The Dalian screenplay with its burning boats that give no quarter and its swarm of ants that devour the jungle is signed by Philip Yordan and Ranald MacDougall.
As such, even as filmed by Haskin with such a cast, it escaped recognition by critics. Beneath this surface is a precursor of Hitchcock’s The Birds, on a complex psychological construction. Beyond that is a superbly ironic tale of a grand exploit in the jungle undone by forces unknown to the participants.
No conclusions are drawn, except perhaps that it is better to marry than to burn.
Long John Silver
The Honourable Long John Silver, after service to the Crown against Mendoza, “El Toro”, mainly in his own interest to the tune of Captain Flint’s remnant, a tremendous fortune.
But not married to Purity Pinker.
The brilliance and beauty of the Treasure Island sequence are the hallmark of Byron Haskin’s Australian exploration. Martin Rackin’s slightly bowdlerized script (“whale’s bile, that’s what you be”) is eked out by Robert Newton’s exemplary performance, Falstaff with Pistol.
Conquest of Space
The primary source of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and partly derived from Pichel’s Destination Moon.
“The Biblical limitations of man’s wanderings are set down as being the four corners of the Earth, not Mars or Jupiter or infinity,” says mad General Merritt.
Critical apperception has been slow. “Nothing more than broad, undemanding entertainment,” said the New York Times reviewer, who nevertheless objected to the Japanese theme (a typical Haskin subtlety).
“Talky script” (Variety). “Totally bizarre... fascinating relic” (Time Out Film Guide). “As dull” (Halliwell’s Film Guide) “as it is bright and shiny.”
From the Earth to the Moon
After the war, and with the discovery of Power X, the International Armaments Club recoups with a long-range weapon for all buyers, its discoverer plans to test it on the moon, President Grant intervenes, a voyage takes place.
“Pretty much of a dud,” said Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, who would have liked more tongue in cheek.
Halliwell’s Film Guide is more resolved, “unspeakable... unseaworthy”.
Kubrick reproduces the effect of the Columbiad’s tiring-room with its three spacesuits, yellow, silver, red, in 2001: A Space Odyssey (and the central argument as well).
Particularly beautiful (as also in Nabokov’s “Lance”) is the notion of such an ascent into the heavens as a kind of death, the theme is resolved as the two enemies met on the surface of the Moon and the two young people returning to Earth (cp. Conquest of Space).
Seventh Army, Vosges Mountains, “North Wind”, a very pretty position at the freezing point and near exhaustion, effectively symbolized by a very pretty spy who takes a long shot from behind and falls into the Americans’ laps, so to speak.
A colonel in command strives with might and main to ward off the diversionary sucker punch.
Closely related on both counts to Annakin’s Battle of the Bulge and Guillermin’s The Bridge at Remagen.
Eugene Archer of the New York Times, “improbable little melodrama.” TV Guide, “pretty good action with competent performances by all the principals, though the pace does get slowed a bit by the melodrama.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “incredible Mata Hari melodrama.” Andrew Sarris in The American Cinema finds “unexpected deposits of feeling and comedy.”
Haskin paints a picture of the German counteroffensive in every particular corresponding to The War of the Worlds, even the high whine of the mechanized heard throughout.
Hundred Days of the Dragon
The Outer Limits
The head of state (Sidney Blackmer) is a Chinese double, leaders of industry and broadcasting are to follow.
Casino Royale with Jimmy Bond round the corner.
Architects of Fear
The Outer Limits
Scientists turn a man (Robert Culp) into a scarecrow from another planet to find peaceful coexistence among the nations, he dies shot in the woods by hunters.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
A grand summation of all themes (His Majesty O’Keefe, Conquest of Space, The War of the Worlds, etc.).
An incalculably great film on the Defoe theme, transposed into the solar system for the original effect.
Buñuel is the starting point, Kubrick notices much, Roddenberry’s Star Trek takes the point home.
The structure is a comprehensive analysis of Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train, Spellbound, etc.), the psychic element then reappears at the end of Family Plot, Hitchcock always repays.
“In final wrapup the spectator is left wondering what it’s all about,” thus Variety. The Catholic News Service Media Review Office speaks of “credibility gaps”. Time Out reports “an underrated sci-fi thriller,” Halliwell’s Film Guide “unexciting”.
The source of the nightmare is unquestionably the war, the failing of the people is not to know their strength, afterward it must be applied sagely.
De Palma’s The Fury, Russell’s Altered States and Ruben’s Dreamscape share aspects of the material.
“Human endurance” is the Faulknerian theme.