23 Terrific Movie Studio Bumpers [The best part: the stilted, intermittent beeps are Morse code for “Attention, attention: an RKO Radio Picture.”]
For Daney, postwar cinema, which is to say modern cinema, would thus be inexorably linked to childhood—both his own and, more generally, to the childhood experience—which is why he would return time and again to two very different kinds of “kids’ movies”—Fritz Lang’s Moonfleet and Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter—as examples of how films, like fathers, can guide us into the world:
I know of few expressions more beautiful than Jean-Louis Schefer’s in L'homme ordinaire du cinéma when he speaks of “the films that have watched our childhood.” It’s one thing to learn to watch movies “professionally”—only to verify that movies watch us less and less—but it is another to live with those movies that watched us grow up and saw us—prematurely hostage to our coming biographies—already entangled in the snare of our history.
The word “smuggle” is a vital one, as Daney often referred to himself as a passeur19 in his final years:
A passeur is perhaps someone who remembers true communication, the kind that left a mark on their lives, not the kind imposed upon them (by school, catechism, advertising—all that which is “enriching”) but the kind carried out almost furtively, transversally and anonymously. The more one gets to know their public, the more they become of service to them. And then one no longer “passes” anything—one becomes a sifter, which is another job (which, incidentally, “pays” much better).
We've spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
At first, she was like his protégé. He coached her on acting and hooked her up with his agent, who got her a very lucrative contract at Paramount. They spent their evenings at home now, having dinner with each other or with friends, like actor Richard Bathelmess and his wife. But they were also like ships sailing in opposite directions. He was coasting on his great success, while she was working like mad, making picture after picture.
While some of the dialogue might, in real life, be reversed—she being the protégé—it echoes their own relationship, their marriage, and their continued friendship. And even later, when Irene tells Godfrey, “You love me and you know it. There’s no sense in struggling against a thing when it’s got you. That’s all there is to it,” I get the sense Powell and Lombard knew it too.
I cain't. I just cain't. [via]
This trick also appears in my favorite number in the film, and one of the two original songs (along with “Make ‘Em Laugh”, “Moses Supposes”.The pleasure of the sequence comes out of the seeming sponteneity of their actions, from twirling a tie to using curtains as veils. But of course this sequence was meticulously planned out. It’s hard to make something look this easy. Violently anarchic, this elocution lesson ends up, as in the “Alter Ego” number, with up-ended trash cans and a feeling of ecstatic release. This is pitched in a comic rather than dramatic mode, with Kelly and Donald O’Connor parodying the nasal stuffiness of the teacher by inventing a nonsense rhyme and tap-dancing the room into submission.This introduces another favored Hollywood trope, that of upsetting the apple cart of “high art” with the more spontaneous, communal pleasures of the low arts; in Singin’ in the Rain, it’s vaudeville. This theme is brought to its apex in Vincente Minnelli’s The Band Wagon, but it’s present here too, most famously in the opening montage, in which Kelly’s gaseous voice-over about “Dignity, always dignity”, is replaced with the reality of his hoofing it as a vaudevillian and stunt man.
Any plans for a Fishing sequel?
Yes, I hope to do a thirteen-episode version with Tad Friend and David Remnick of the New Yorker magazine as guests. I think the three of us alone in a boat somewhere will be scintillating. I have a lot of questions I would like to ask them, and apparently they must be cornered in order to answer.
Have you visited Sean Burns' blog SPLICED PERSONALITY, yet?
The first stop finds Anders with an old party buddy (Hans Olav Brenner) who has uncomfortably drifted into suburban fatherhood. The way this guy guzzles beer at lunchtime suggests he’s not quite as settled down as he’d like to pretend, and askance glares from the missus drag down the cordial conversation, linking the exchange to a past we’re left only to imagine.
That’s the trouble with Anders. Everybody gave up on him years ago, assuming he’d turn up dead sooner or later. His parents have to sell the family house to cover his frightening debts, and his own sister can’t even bear to have a meal with him. She instead fakes some work nonsense and sends her brusque girlfriend to make excuses. Anders has been counted out for so long that his sudden reappearance becomes more of an inconvenience than a welcome reunion. Nobody wants to make much of an effort because he’s probably just going to let them all down again.
So why even bother? That’s the awful, existential question posed by Oslo, August 31st. Anders moves through the picture like a ghost, and Danielsen Lie’s performance grows increasingly closed off and enigmatic. As a smart guy from a good family who just can’t help destroying himself, Anders deliberately tanks the job interview and starts putting himself into dangerous situations, perhaps more out of habit than anything else. Trier keeps the camera in front of Anders with a tight telephoto lens, allowing him to drift in and out of focus.
In The Transparent City (2008) Wolf had taken telephotod images of high-rise buildings in Chicago, a project that was itself an extrapolation from his earlier survey of the architecture of density that had fascinated him in Hong Kong. The results were flattened patterns of light and line with occasional Hopperesque views of humans stranded in the immensity of urban geometry. Imagine Wolf’s delight when he saw that in one of these apartments a large TV was actually showing Rear Window! Yes, there was James Stewart staring into someone else’s apartment with his telephoto lens, photographed by Wolf with his. (Was this just old-fashioned photographer’s luck? Did the occupant of the apartment have this on permanent freeze-frame as a generous gift and ironic reprimand to anyone who happened to be spying? Or was there an element of Doisneau-esque contrivance involved?) Later, as Wolf was looking at some of the other images through a magnifier, he saw something that had escaped him when making the picture: a resident in one of the windows of one of the apartments in a distant building had spotted what he was up to—and was giving him the finger.
Peary does concede, however, that “on the other hand, Allen’s film may also be a tribute to the cinema for having the power to help one escape” — and this is certainly the overriding feeling one leaves with by the (admittedly depressing) ending.... Allen goes even further than Keaton in his envisioning of how such a fantastical scenario might play out, with the remaining characters on-screen — decidedly put-out by having their familiar narrative interrupted (by a “minor character”, no less) — ultimately simply sitting around impatiently waiting for “Baxter” to return. Meanwhile, the actor playing Baxter (Daniels) worries simply about how “Baxter”‘s actions might affect his nascent career, and studio heads fear legal recriminations.