South Pacific

An ultimate and seemingly remote source of McHale’s Navy, that great view of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific (and the Mediterranean).

Halliwell’s Film Guide deprecates “a regrettable tendency to use alarming colour filters for dramatic emphasis”.

So, from Seven Against the Sea (dir. Bernard Girard) to the series one has a full and complete analysis.

“But let’s not be too analytic,” said Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, carping. “Boffo,” said Variety. Time Out Film Guide echoes Halliwell.


Ensign Pulver

Logan’s film goes beyond Mister Roberts to an analysis and cure of Captain Morton. It could have done this in a fraction of the time (he hates the ship as much as anyone else) but for the development of the concluding image, the marbles Ens. Pulver has placed in his peritoneum.

The action takes place weeks after the earlier film, no effort has been spared to establish the situation. The crew are vegetables, the ship is infested with rot, it’s the Black Plague of cowardice. The crew sing a song about this, and are punished.

Pulver slingshots the captain’s “bew-tocks” during the enforced B-movie they’ve seen eight times, general quarters is sounded, more punishment is handed out. And so on, until the captain and Pulver are shipwrecked on an island, the ensign must operate for appendicitis.

Logan achieves a brutal effect by way of a précis at the outset, Seaman Bruno’s infant daughter has died, he gets a telegram. This is to resume the atmosphere of the first film, and is quite daring.

Scotty the nurse is a breath of fresh air, the wind stirs her hair, “there’s a front coming in”. A close-up of Millie Perkins is dazzling.

“The Great Ass-assin” operates by radio, instructed by Doc, who diagnoses the ship’s condition.

The captain is a foolish officer. “I’ll take off my bars and fight any man on this ship.” Ens. Pulver is practically illiterate, and receives the legacy of Mr. Roberts’ medical books because he likes “dirty pictures”. He has the dynamism for the job, Doc observes.

There are so many jokes, Scotty’s “turn your liabilities into assets” among them, also the precision technique of Robert Walker, Jr. focusing on Jack Lemmon, with Burl Ives and Walter Matthau following suit, and Tommy Sands quite proficient as Bruno.



The king who pulled it out and made Guinny whinny.

She wants storming. The queer with the spear, miraculous Sir Lancelot, joins the Round Table (it’s the king’s invention, borrowed from his father-in-law).

King Artie establishes justice in the realm on spec, why not?

Transmogrified from Moss Hart’s staging to Logan’s wide screen.

Morty, a day job if ever there was one, knights it.

Loewe right royally descends upon several trouvailles throughout, like Sir Lancelot in the Garden of Eden.

Self-interest must be sacrificed to institute the law, but it is the king’s wish.

This famous and overwhelming film was synthesized into the Kung Fu television series (Artie and Merloo).

There’s a lovely story Borges tells of being cajoled into attending a Stravinsky concert, and afterwards “laughing and slapping one’s companions on the back for no reason, and that was Stravinsky.”

Now, the punchline was written by Borges in quite another context. “Pater in 1877 had affirmed that all arts aspire to the state of music, which is pure form. Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon” (cf. Stravinsky, Le Rossignol).


Paint Your Wagon

There’s a fine view had by many a critic of this film as it soars away and out of sight. “Schmucke dich,” says Bach, “O liebe Seele”, translating the title (Schoenberg takes him at his word, Frost translates back as “get some color and music out of life”).

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance ponders the problem, and here is Lee Marvin to prove it in a comic role accomplishing the transition of Cat Ballou. It’s not so much Falstaff as Huck Finn, to Clint Eastwood as the arch-romantic Tom Sawyer.

Altman and Huston gathered up the feathers of this fabulous bird to make McCabe and Mrs. Miller and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (No Name City has a curious anticipation of Wise Blood’s “Church of Jesus Christ without Christ”).

The frontier is the theme. It was the ladies of New York who took the jackass rabbit and “sivilized” him into just plain jack.

When the gold mine runs out, the tunnels are extended under the town to catch its siftings of dust, the final heap of all is a bull-and-bear match in a rodeo arena. It’s a derivative mode of employment, to be sure, and on a Sunday gives Cendrars by way of Dos Passos, “I don’t pay much attention to the financial journals / In spite of the fact that the stock reports are our daily prayer.”

Down the whole thing comes smash, Huck is off to stay a hundred miles ahead of the game, leaving Tom down on the deep-tilled farm.