rachel, rachel

Two of the greatest legends of Hollywood, the one about a director of genius from his very first picture, the other about no-one noticing.

The two main figures are Blue Roses and Giulietta degli spiriti. Why that makes a peculiar symphony out of American landscapes as simple as waves breaking is a good tale.

The essential structure is Dante’s hell, purgatory and paradise.


Sometimes a great notion

This is, precisely understood, a remake of Hud for the purpose of analysis, there having been some controversy about Ritt’s film in the general mind, supposedly.

Newman’s virtues as a director have been lauded in this sufficiently, there remains only to point out a significant subtheme from rachel, rachel and let it go at that.


The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

A director so cruel he makes Godard’s Wyler seem almost pusillanimous.

Beatrice and Blue Roses, specialty of the house.

Singularly inspired score by Maurice Jarre.


The Shadow Box

The joke of the teleplay is long-sustained to the very end, and rests on a formal resemblance to The Best Years of Our Lives.

An end, an accommodation, a certain hope (James Broderick, Christopher Plummer, Melinda Dillon). A dry wit in the director, with some smooth Altman touches, and the cast rounded out by Valerie Harper, Joanne Woodward, and Sylvia Sidney singing “Roll Me Over in the Clover”.







Harry and Son

The script plainly offers a sublime joke, the blind demolition man with an artist son. The joke is multiplied. Joanne Woodward runs a pet shop, her avocation is teaching parrots to sing Puccini.

This is filmed with a really unembellished realism, nowhere do you find a film that looks the way things look really, the way this one does. The son and his pregnant mistress are on a bus bench, behind them the steel-stucco-and-aluminum sidewalk covering exhibits a long warp.

Before his literary success the father-to-be is sternly advised to get a real job. This scene with a machine that assembles cardboard boxes is modeled on the roadmending scene in Cool Hand Luke.

There is a little joke toward the end thrown in from Beckett, “his little bump of amativeness.” The style throughout is usefully flexible and ranges from the comic to the harsh instantaneously. Newman is at the service of the satire, Harry weeps at his son’s success, looks at him fondly for the first time over the café table.

Criticism seems not to have risen above Halliwell’s observation that he didn’t know why Newman had made the film in the first place.


The Glass Menagerie

It was Matisse under the Occupation who went to the movies every night.

The supreme poetry of the play has it all in Newman’s direction.