The Comedy Man

The essential artistic position, from Rostand as will be shown, is brilliantly expounded in the opening scene, from there the life is all downhill.

This is an unequivocal utterance, the unknown god at Athens.

Variety, “hardly scratches new ground.”

It will bear easy comparison to Kershner’s A Fine Madness.

The refusal of Cyrano in a player’s chops is heartfelt phrase, it’s a nose he must wear, that’s all.

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “comedy emphasis would have better suited the talents.”

It was Eliot who said the game wasn’t worth the candle, in the end.


Call Me Daddy

A classic problem, one loves the girl, her fiancÚ is a crook, one exercises the droit du seigneur to arrive at a position whereby she may exercise her art to catch a man and one may hold one’s spear for her to leap upon freely.

Such is the bare gist, at an intermediate stage Rakoff swings the camera around the foot of the bed in a perfectly detailed set to show her lying half-off, head fallen back, exactly as in Fuseli’s The Nightmare.

The original of Hoffman, Donald Pleasence, Judy Cornwell, for the BBC.


Romeo and Juliet

Rakoff’s success with this is a springboard departure from Zeffirelli on a singular concept, the identification of the lovers with Dante and Beatrice, and thus you have the civil strife, the banishment and the poem.

The initial production of Cedric Messina’s The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare for the BBC.


City on Fire

The exquisite construction is matched by the terrible destruction in what is almost certainly the greatest of all “disaster movies”.

A certain lady, graduate of Sycamore High, has married a governor and a publisher and is now Brockhurst-Lautrec, mistress of the mayor.

A fellow student has watched her career in disdain.

There is a Dr. Whitman in the picture.

No critic could follow this for his life, it would seem. Vincent Canby of the New York Times dismissed it out of hand, “the Japanese do this sort of disaster movie much, much better,” perhaps recalling Dmytryk’s Behind the Rising Sun. “Thoroughly routine disaster movie”, says Geoff Andrew in Time Out Film Guide. Halliwell’s Film Guide has so much to say, “shoddy”.


Death Ship

Nazi Germany from Weimar to V-E Day.

This was, and who can be surprised, quite misunderstood by critics, although to be quite fair the marketing approach was almost bound to mislead their intellects.

A recurring phenomenon, says Rakoff, all one can do is jump ship.

Time Out Film Guide mentions Psycho for the shower that runs with blood, overlooking Broken Blossoms. Dreyer and Welles are brought into play for the ending. Halliwell’s Film Guide famously has no clue.


A Voyage Round My Father

A paradisal being, islanded by his gardens, blind, a small house in the country, a defender of “whoever came to him first” in an action at law, divorce cases are his specialty (with Olivier, the main case heard here is a spectacular remembrance of Whelan’s The Divorce of Lady X).

His son’s schooling, early literary career (two frotteuses at the village bookshop become two A.T.S. girls on the pier for the “propaganda film” of which he’s assistant director, his future wife is the writer, there is a curious reflection of that divorce case) and law career (he wins a case for the husband, his wife disapproves, also of his play, which “doesn’t say anything serious”). Thus the double structure (with Bates, the faintest echo of Richardson’s The Entertainer).

Elizabeth Sellars, Jane Asher, Michael Aldridge and Norman Bird at school, Esmond Knight and Raymond Huntley as judges, Patrick Barr and so forth, filmed on location.