The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear


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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seem

  1. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires)
  2. Julie (Andrew L. Stone)
  3. A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson)
  4. Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson)
  5. Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau)
  6. Eyes Without A Face (Georges Franju)
  7. Chance At Heaven (William A. Seiter)
  8. Les Enfants Terribles (Jean-Pierre Melville)
  9. The Most Dangerous Game (Schoedsack/Pichel)
  10. Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Dušan Makavejev)

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1 Some of that Eastern European New Wave stuff really drives me nuts.  I recently watched Daisies which I found insufferable, even though it presages my beloved Celine And Julie Go Boating. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders was in the same vein, but seemed to be playing with psychosexual stuff and who cares.

2 Ever want to see Doris Day, as a stewardess emergency-landing a plane after the pilot has been shot? Then Julie is the film for you. Some fun nuttiness from the 60s.

3- Cat People might be the most famous film of the Val Lewton oeuvre, but Isle Of The Dead really gives it a run for its money.  A eerie film with no trace of the supernatural. It is shot through with superstition and paranoia and is drenched in the legendary Lewton atmosphere.

4- I had the privilege of sitting in on Michael Glover Smith’s film history class at Harold Washington College.  He is a teacher that teaches up to the material and not down to the students.  This is particularly amazing when you consider that the class I attended contained a lecture and viewing of Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped.  Bresson is one of the most, if not the most, rigorous filmmaker, and these kids ate it up. Good going, MGS.

5- I want to love Vampyr by Dreyer as much as I love Nosferatu by Murnau, but that is never going to happen. The first (illegal) adaptation of Dracula, Nosferatu is iconic – with an over-the-top performance by the rat-like Max Schreck – yes folks, apparently that was his real name!

6- It was fun to watch Eyes Without A Face after my recent love-fest with Holy Motors.  Eyes Without A Face is icky in the same way as its contemporaries Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. Eyes Without A Face is way more fun and much more stylish. Brava, Edith Schob

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

    1. Torture Garden (Freddie Francis)
    2. H. M. Pulham, Esq. (King Vidor)
    3. Repulsion (Roman Polanski)
    4. Sing and Like It (William A. Seiter)
    5. Wild Boys Of The Road (William Wellman)
    6. The Wildcat (Ernst Lubitsch)
    7. The Whistler (William Castle)
    8. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
    9. La Silence de la Mer (Jean-Pierre Melville)
    10. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)

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1- It was good finally to see Repulsion after only knowing it from a comic reference in Absolutely Fabulous over 20 years ago.  What a powerful and, yes, repulsive film it is. I think it would make an excellent double bill with Psycho since they both are about very attractive and sympathetic young people who are capable of awful things.  An interesting comparison between the two is that Hitchcock has Simon Oakland in the finale, giving a very pat explanation of what made Norman Bates do what he did – an explanation that I always assumed Hitchcock meant ironically.  In Repulsion, the attempts at explanation are oblique. What is important is the claustrophobic atmosphere created and the complicity we feel with the Deneuve character.   This film and two later Polanski films, Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant, make a loosely connected ‘trilogy of paranoia’.

2- The piece I wrote a little while ago about Heroes For Sale could just as easily have been written about Wild Boys of The Road. Both were directed by William Wellman in 1933 and have a ripped-from-today’s-headline feel about them.  There is more of a feel-good end in Wild Boys Of The Road, without which the filn would have been unbearably hopeless.  A fascinating film.

3- TCM recently showed a few installations of a series of films from the 1940s based on The Whistler, a popular radio mystery show of the time. These are tight little programmers of little more than an hour in length, with tight little plots, often starring Richard Dix, of Ghost Ship in different roles in each episode.  Beside the entertainment value of these little gems, I enjoyed seeing how popular cultural phenomena was capitalized back then by Hollywood much in the way that it does today with TV spin-offs and super-hero epics.  Several of the installments were directed by William Castle in his pre-Schlockmeister days, which only adds to the fun

4- At about 70 minutes in length, Sing and Like It  has more laugh-out-loud lines than just about any film I can think of.  And what a treat to see Pert Kelton, Marian the Librarian’s Irish mother, as a pre-code saucy dame.  Priceless

5- I would like to write something cogent about Birdman, but I fear that will have to wait for subsequent viewings.  I will say that it amazed me.  It really seems to point to something new.  I just can’t put my finger on what yet.

6- La Silence de la Mer is a film of magnificent restraint and power from Jean-Pierre Melville. I need to see more of his stuff. This, and Les Enfants Terribles blew me away.

7- Ah, The Godfather.  All I will say is that it is even better than you remember it.  Sitting down and actually watching it instead of seeing clips makes you realize what a highly polished work of art it is.  At once Shakespearean and pulpy, there is nothing like it. And don’t say that there is anything like it……because it insults my intelligence.