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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Vale Mag Bodard - a remarkable film producer

Mag Bodard and Jacques Demy
Thanks to Peter Hourigan for drawing attention to the death a day or two ago of Mag Bodard one of the most remarkable film producers of the 20thcentury.

IMDb has her down as producer of 46 titles including, later in life, much television work. Among them are many landmark works of the cinema. She produced films by Jacques Demy, Agnes Varda, Robert Bresson, Alain Resnais, Andre Delvaux, Maurice Pialat, Claude Miller and many more. Her last credits were for a TV movie in 2006, when she was 91 years old. She died at the age of 103.

This below is just a partial listing of the films she produced in that extraordinary burst of French film-making in the sixties. 

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Le Bonheur
Donkey Skin
Au Hasard, Balthazar
Un Femme Douce
Rendez-vous at Bray
One Night a Train
Je t’aime, je t’aime
Young Girls of Rochefort
L'enfance nue

CINEMA REBORN - Announcement regarding the 2019 season

This announcement was posted on the Cinema Reborn Facebook page on 1 March 2019.

It is with considerable regret that Cinema Reborn’s Organising Committee announces that it will not be able to present the second edition of the festival, currently announced for 2-6 May 2019. For the Organising Committee the decision to not proceed in 2019 has been a very difficult one. 

However, the choice to postpone for this year will allow us time to plan and restock our resources, and in 2020 once again present a uniquely Australian celebration of the great history of the Cinema.

For 2019 we had intended to present an exciting programme of 22 sessions of newly restored classics, archival rarities and informed accompanying discussions. Much of our 2019 program was already in place, and some of our interstate partnerships will still go ahead. This ensures that, in the meantime, a little of the spirit of Cinema Reborn 2019 will still be with us, at least outside Sydney. 

Adelaide audiences will be able to enjoy seven films selected for 2019 at the Media Resource Centres Mercury Cinema from 24 April to 29 May, presented as part of the MRC’s  Cinematheque program. Canberra audiences can also enjoy two of our 2019 selection at the NFSA’s Arc Cinema. We shall keep our supporters informed about these programs. Click on the links for details.

We thank you for your understanding. 

The Organising Committee, Cinema Reborn.

On Ivan Mozjoukine - Barrie Pattison remembers the great Russian actor and more

Editor's Note: This memoir by Sydney's supercinephile Barrie Pattison follows on from an earlier post I wrote about my late in life discovery of the great actor Ivan Mozjoukine. You can find the earlier piece if you click here


I remember David Meeker from the days when we both tormented John Gillett with comparisons between the London National Film Theater and the Paris Cinémathèque which managed to get through more than twice as much programming without uniformed usherettes and elaborate booklets printed in advance.

Ivan Mosjoukine came into my life earlier than that though, when one of those French Cutural initiatives had Langlois' Cinémathèque ship a couple of boxes of 16mm. prints to Australia without bothering with labeling the reels. Memorable in all that confusion was the 1926 Marcel L'Herbier Feu Mathias Pascal with my first striking glimpse of Ivan Mosjoukine/Mozjoukine/Mozzhukhin whose work continued to cross my path from irregular souces - 9.5 cut downs and isolated screenings like Le Brasier ardent jammed into an avant-garde season. Then there was Jean Epstein's less than sensational 1927 Lion of the MongolsGeheimnisse des Orients recently coming down the Culture spillway for the MFF. 

In Europe I began to notice that, despite the inaccessibility of his films, Mozjoukine's work was discussed by the generation of film freaks ahead of mine. Of course the hold-out was Langlois, like many of his contemporaries, mesmerized by Mozjoukine and putting the last surviving prints at risk running through his projectors for the few takers who were bored with Battleship Potemkin and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (or Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman). Even Langlois couldn't get his reverential hands on the Tsarist era Mozjoukine films though.

That dam didn't immediately break but cracks appeared. After Glasnost the Russian archives worked up the courage to admit that they still had Protazanov's 1916 Pikovaya dama /Queen of Spades probably the most notable pre-revolutionary Russian film with one of the most extraordinary moments in silent film - most striking of the clashes of the parallel worlds that you find in those works. The academics inexplicably were more interested in Yvgenyi Bauer who directed some of the early Mozjoukines.

About then I made it to Pordenone for the first time and one of the hits of a hit loaded schedule was the Alexander Volkov/Mozjoukine 1930 Der Weisse Teufel/The White Devil a German French co-production with the cast mouthing their lines in Russian, the star's last real success and his final silent movie (captions and a synchronous score). The attendees were muttering "Who is that guy?"

The organisers pointed out that though his output and possibly his reputation once put him in a bracket with Rudolph Valentino or Emil Jannings, there had never been a retrospective of Mozjoukine's work, so next year...

On my own thin dime or not I had to be there and it was one of the great  movie experiences of my life no mistake. More than twenty films from early two reelers through the major features, this still wasn't complete and not all the films were great (Kean is a long three hours) but the hits kept coming and in big screen and (then) 35mm. copies. Volkov'sCasanova, which I used to think was plodding, registered in all it's swashbuckling, hand tinted glory. A collection of the believed lost Russian films aired.

Since then Pordenone managed to dig up prints of the splendid Mozjoukine feature length Maison de la Mystere which actually plays better that the complete serialthe 1928 Le Rouge et le noir/ Der geheimer Kurier and Vlad Strizhevsky's 1929 The Tsar's Adjutant /Der Adjudant des zaren both highlights of their events and it's become a tradition to run at least one Mozjoukine each year. 

Impossible to ram all the extraordinary Mozjoukine stories in here - his playing a hairy devil or in drag, nearly being shot by the Bolsheviks, fleeing the country, appearing with Brigitte Helm and Lil Dagover (twice), Kiki de Montmartre, the Hollywood nose, the Romain Gary connection, the actor's ridiculous death.

I did a short season (leaflet above) on Mozjoukine at the Chauvel ("Hunger, Love & Lust" - Kuleshov effect - get it?) and at the Tap Gallery with my translation of the inter-titles. I had Adrian Clement play live, with the Canberra 16mm. rolling through my Siemens at the right speed with added tinting. I proposed taking it on the road with the film societies but not surprisingly nothing came of that.


So when I had to find an email address in a hurry and all the first choices were taken (I didn't fancy being helzapopin 27) what more suitable? I get the impressing that the world divides into the people who say "Ah!" and the people who say "Who."

Vale Ross Lowell - Rod Bishop notes the passing of the Inventor of Gaffer Tape

Ross Lowell
Cinematographer Ross Lowell, inventor of gaffer tape has died in New York at the age of 92. Taken from the name ‘gaffer’ for lighting technicians on film and television sets, this extraordinary tape is also widely used by theatre stage hands, live bands, skateboarders, photographers and anyone wanting to hold anything together from shoes to car mufflers. One of it’s great attributes is being temporary and it comes off without leaving a mark.
Gaffer tape is like The Force. It has a light side, a dark side and binds the Universe together.”(unknown lighting designer).
If you can’t fix something with gaffer tape, you haven’t used enough gaffer tape.” (unknown gaffer)
Also, the inventor of other equipment for lighting crews, Ross Lowell was awarded a Technical Achievement Oscar in 1979 for “the development of compact lighting equipment for motion picture technology.”

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Discovering Ivan Mozjoukine - a tale of too many movies and not enough time

Let me confess.

For a long time Sydney’s supercinephile Barrie Pattison has sent me emails from the address mozjoukine@something or other.com.au (Address disguised to protect the innocent).

Ivan Mozjoukine
Mozjoukine. My curiosity was regrettably not piqued. Then I met David Meeker in Bologna, an old BFI hand with an elephantine memory and a certain sense of nostalgia. “Is Barrie Pattison still alive?” Meeker enquired. “I remember him”. 

“Indeed” I said. He sends me material that I publish on my Film Alert 101 blog. “Would you like to contact him?”

“No, just curious” said Meeker who then thought it was very amusing that Barrie had an email address “Mozjoukine”.

“Who is Mozjoukine?” I said, thus displaying a degree of ignorance that inevitably caused silent eye-rolling from the pom I was having a coffee with. “Look him up”.

So I did.

Ivan Mozjoukine was a Russian who made films in pre-revolutionary Russia. Wikipedia tells us he launched his screen career with the 1911 adaptation of Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata. He also starred in A House in Kolomna (1913), thedrama Do You Remember? opposite the popular Russian ballerina Vera Karalli (1914), Nikolay Stavrogin (1915), The Queen of Spades(1916, after Pushkin) and other adaptations of Russian classics.

Cinephiles and even scholars may not have seen these films but many will have seen Mozjoukine in one of the more famous moments of film theory. 

On his blog Observations of Film Art David Bordwell describes it thus“Kuleshov’s most famous experiment, the one he identified with the “Kuleshov effect” proper, involves a stock shot of the actor Ivan Mosjoukin, taken from an existing film. In his writing he’s rather vague and laconic about the results.
I alternated the same shot of Mosjoukin with various other shots (a plate of soup, a girl, a child’s coffin), and these shots acquired a different meaning. The discovery stunned me—so convinced was I of the enormous power of montage. (1)
Kuleshov’s pupil the great director V. I. Pudovkin offers a different description of the shots: a plate of soup, a dead woman in a coffin, a little girl playing with a teddy bear. He also goes farther in reporting how the audience responded. People read emotions into the neutral expression on Mosjoukin’s face.
The audience raved about the actor’s refined acting. They pointed out his weighted pensiveness over the forgotten soup. They were touched by the profound sorrow in his eyes as he looked upon the dead woman, and admired the light, happy smile with which he feasted his eyes upon the girl at play. But we knew that in all three cases the face was exactly the same.
Now you know.
Mozjoukine was one of those who fled from Russi after the revolution in 1917. One of that number producer Alexandre Kamenka set up  the Société des Films Albatros Paris in 1922. 
Among the group of Russian artists who stayed to work with Albatros were the directors Victor Tourjansky and Alexandre Volkoff as well as Mozjoukine and Mozjoukine’s wife Nathalie Lissenko. 
Wikipedia informs us, and I must confess I am a little skeptical about some of this, Kamenka's production policy combined prestige projects with openly commercial films, and his consistent record made him the most successful French producer during the 1920s, according to Charles Spaak. … The arrival of sound pictures posed a serious difficulty for Albatros which had hitherto relied considerably upon Russian actors, especially Mozjoukine whose accent precluded a successful transition into the talking era.
The company's output diminished in the 1930s, but it achieved one further artistic success of note when Jean Renoir  joined them for his 1936 adaptation of Gorky's Les Bas-fonds  By this time, Albatros was the longest surviving film company operating in France (surely not given Gaumont's existence! Ed) but with the outbreak of World War II, Kamenka wound up the company which had remained particularly associated with silent cinema.
But back to Mozjoukine..
House of Mystery
It wasn’t until I read Kristin Thompson’s review of Flicker Alley’s splendid DVD of Alexandre Volkoff’s House of Mystery  that my Mozjoukine interest got a kick startFor the whole quite lengthy review you can click here
House of Mystery
These introductory paras set the scene: “Nearly two years ago, when Flicker Alley released its wonderful collection of French films made by the Russian-emigré production company Albatros in the 1920s, I wrote, “Now, if Flicker Alley will manage to release its long-rumored project, Albatros’s 1923 serial, La Maison du mystère, starring Mosjoukine, we will all be doubly grateful.” That release arrived yesterday.
"For decades, La Maison du mystère remained one of the fabled lost films of the silent era. It was an enormous popular success upon its release in 1923, and critics praised it as well. Even Louis Delluc, who high-mindedly promoted cinema as a realistic, restrained art, grudgingly said of it, “La Maison du mystère is a serial. They are a necessity. So be it. This one is intelligent, sober, frank, genuinely human.”

And yes, Kristin is her usual acute self in praising this remarkable DVD, and its restoration. The first sighting of Mozjoukine, at least knowing he was Mozjoukine, was electric. The story, a six part serial rolled along with some quite extraordinary visual fireworks, none more so than the wedding scene shot entirely in silhouette.

Onwards…

Kean
Since then Bologna has screened Mozjoukine’s Kean  which the actor plays the famous Shakespearean and which I wrote about here  and The Loves of Casanova,  again directed by Volkoff. Beautiful 35mm copies supplied by the Cinematheque francaise

Now, a new addition to the long trackdown that is still years from completion. A DVD of Le Brasier Ardent  directed by Mozjoukine himself in a splendid copy of a restoration. Mozjoukine never directed again after this one though his acting career went on for another dozen years. 
This is quite something. Clearly influenced by all manner of artistic movements that swirled through the first quarter of the 20thcentury it opens with a long dream sequence of a woman tormented by fire, veers off into a visit to a bizarre private detective agency before finally settling into a will she (leave her husband) or wont she. She’s leaving the husband for the man of her dream who has also played the detective Zed. Mozjoukine plays much for laughs and his large doe eyes and round nose make him a genuine romantic object. 


The copy I watched obviously came from some backchannel source. The soundtrack was synthetic, a cobble together selection of music, the occasional inappropriate song and even the zither theme from The Third Man.

Onto Bologna. Maybe there will be more. And onto to the Flicker Alley collection of Albatros classics referred to by Kristin above. I don’t know what kept me back….

….and pardon the various spellings of the name. Russian doesn’t seem to transliterate universally.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

On Blu-ray - David Hare is, er, disappointed with the new Criterion edition of DEATH IN VENICE (Luchino Visconti) but enthusiastic for HUMAN DESIRE (Fritz Lang)


Random screens (three above, and more below) from the hideous new 4K "restoration" of Death in Venice (1971) from Cineteca Bologna in its patented Piss-soaked LookUpTable Color grading system. 
I have never cared at all for the movie but I do remember the opening day screenings at Sydney's Lido (at which James Sabine was also present) well enough. Among other things I stayed for a second viewing and at one point was so frustrated with the softness and fuzziness of the image I went up to the projection booth, banged on the door and asked the poor guy if he could fix it. He couldn't and neither could I which shows you what a roll of the dice getting good quality Eastmancolor prints to Oz could be in those days.
Despite the poor sharpness and weak detail then, I remember it well enough to know it looked nothing like this current piece of shit that Criterion has the gall to charge money for. It's as though the restorers working at Bologna simply ignored or just felt complete disdain for any concept of using a reference 35mm first gen, or even a reissue 35mm. I gather there's still a 1080p streaming video of this from Warner's own vault available Stateside only through Amazon Prime. 
According to Jim Steffen this has much closer resemblance to the original 35mm Eastman prints as the older DVD in fact, with no hideous yellow bias and crushing of detail in pushed blacks. This new 4K encode must be one of the ugliest looking botch jobs I have seen in a lifetime of watching movies. 
Oh, did I mention I don't even like the film? Tepid, sentimental marshmallow from Visconti's "Tragic Queen" period post-1968, along with The Damned, which itself has enough fun moments to keep spirits up, like The Night of the Long Knives staged as an underwear party/gay orgy with the old guard of Brown Shirts geting fucked by the younger Guard of dial-a-hustler buffed young muscled pretty boy SS before they are all gunned down by the new guard in a ruthless history. 
As is now reasonably well known Visconti basically changed the business on The Damned to reduce Bogarde's part, so that he could amplify new BF Helmut Berger's part into a leading role (Thus Death in Venice became the director's consolation prize for Dirk two years later.) The Damned is indeed the movie in which, after shooting up some drug or other with a splendid antique steel syringe, Helmut rapes/fucks maman, Ingrid Thulin, driving her to lunacy (no surprise there) after he had uttered, whilst still nude to the camera, (displaying an arfully lit and sculpted arse), "I vill destroy you, Mudda." It was clear then, and still is now Visconti's great period of filmmaking had come to an end. 
The screen above is from Masters of Cinema' new Blu-ray of Lang's Human Desire. I recommend the disc without hesitation. This is the first time in my recollection the movie has been matted to a widescreen 1.85 format. This is how Sony formatted the picture for MoC's new encode and it looks a doozy. Only sampling so far but it shows superb grain and stability and I am tempted to think the movie may be much more faithful, even with a shot by shot breakdown, to the great Renoir original, La Bete Humaine from 1938.


Editor's Note: For an animated discussion of David’s views go to his Facebook page and scroll down till you reach the text above


Monday, 18 February 2019

Digitisations, Restorations and Revivals (40) William Fox at MoMA, WAR AND PEACE, Exploitation movies and MAMBA

Associate Editor (Restorations and Revivals) and member of the CINEMA REBORN Organising Committee, Simon Taaffe has come across the following films being screened at institutions around the world. 

Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Street Angel
MoMA in New York has followed last summer’s three-week program of rarely seen Fox films, with another selection of Fox gems from the MoMA vault, including new digital restorations of several important titles, including Frank Borzage’s 1928 masterpiece Street Angel, as well as archival prints not publicly screened in decades. 




Program includes
Zoo in Budapest(Rowland V Lee, 1933)
Three Bad Men (John Ford, 1936)
Quick Millions (Rowland Brown, 1931)
Scotland Yard (William K Howard, 1930)

Mamba
Among a season at the National Gallery in Washington DC titled Hollywood's Poverty Row Preserved by UCLA,  the program for which is here you will find a remarkable contribution from Australia. The film is titled Mamba(Albert S Rogell, 1930, Tiffany Studios). Its back in circulation because the sole surviving print was located a couple of years ago by inveterate enthusiast, total cinephile and all-round man of cinema Paul Brennan who tracked it down in Adelaide. How do I know this? Because Paul told me the story when I ran into him on a bus heading for Bondi Junction a week or two ago. Paul’s main concern was to find someone here to put it on. No luck so far.

The Film Society of New York’s Lincoln Centre is currently presenting a new digital restoration of Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic War and Peace

Cinema Slide for Sex Madness
With titles like Test Tube Babies, She Shoulda Said No and Sex Madness, it’s hard not to like a season of restorations at New York’s Film Forum. The season is titled FORBIDDEN FRUIT: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture 

Streaming on SBS - THE BUREAU (Eric Rochant) - Series Four

The Bureau, US DVD cover for series 1 & 2
The Bureau, a series created by Eric Rochant, knows how to do cliffhanger endings. Its conclusion to series four, currently streaming on SBS, may or may not be another. No need for details and thus spoiler alerts.

What the series has also done over forty sinuous episodes is give a picture of the life of modern day spying that is as graphic and, according to my spies (ho ho) as authentic as just about anything in the field whether literary or cinematic. 

Mark Pierce has already made some comments on the first three series which you can find if you click here. I wont go round those points again except to endorse Mark’s view about all three of the series he was writing about: “Frailty, there as everywhere, is the key to making the characters human. They are not meant to be good. Their methods are ambiguous, edgy, dodgy, as are their objectives. That is the basis of their charm. Their intention with the viewer is empathy rather than sympathy.”

Series four makes a determined effort to bring things right up to the moment. As usual, it does a forensic job on two fronts, two parallel stories. First there is Russian intelligence. Malotru/Debailly/Lefebvre (Mathieu Kassovitz) has washed up in Russia, home of Edward Snowden, and is eking out a living cooking in a food wagon. But both Russian and French intelligence won’t let go and we start a tale of cat and mouse, constantly uncertain as to where his loyalties will lie and whom he will eventually betray. Parallel to this is a the story of the nervous Syrian expert, the overweight, owl-like Jonas (played by an actor credited only as Artus, there’s a French tradition in itself). Jonas is trying to track down Frenchmen who have gone off to join ISIS and is forced to head for Syria where he regularly comes close to crapping himself as he is forced into battle conditions in order to track down his suspects. 

The scene where Jonas finally confronts his ISIS nemesis is worth the price of SBS on demand, a mini-cliffhanger of enormous imagination, brilliantly set up.

Meanwhile back in Russia, the French have planted Marina Loiseau (Sara Giraudeau) in a Russian institute devoted to hacking the world’s computers and developing ever more useful means of Artificial Intelligence. She is backed up by two whizkids back in Paris whose ability to hack and crack knows no bounds. Through them we get elaborate explanations of just what it is possible to do with computers, codes, the internet and all the dark arts associated with it. So cavalier has this become both in private and government circles that one of the protagonists goes off to a hackers’ conference in The Ukraine, a conference taking place in a giant convention centre.

Notwithstanding all this, the one other picture that emerges is the very same human frailty and the capacity of all intelligence services to exploit it.

Anne Azoulay
Henri Duflot (Jean-Pierre Darrousin), the affable chief of the service was killed off at the end of series three. He is replaced by JJA (Matthieu Amalric) as a spy who questions loyalty far more brutally than any other and who is prepared to sacrifice his agents for a greater cause. I suspect JJA will eventually meet a nasty fate. A further addition is Anne Azoulay as Liz Bernstein, an object of desire for the office males who, by series end, has already seduced aging roue/spy Raymond Sisteron (Jonathan Zaccaï).

My gosh its good…and impossible to stop watching.

More please….

Sunday, 17 February 2019

On DVD - Rod Bishop praises TOMAHAWK (George Sherman, USA, 1951)

Opening scene:
A vast plain in Wyoming. The “Laramie” conference has begun. It’s 1866 and a line of US Army officers on horseback faces a line of Sioux braves on horseback. Their leaders are conferring. The Sioux’s “sacred hunting grounds [are] silent and empty of buffalo, elk and beaver…food, clothing and shelter vanished forever…starvation and sickness where once there was plenty.”
Jim Bridgers (Van Heflin), the most renowned pioneer, trapper and scout of the times, is pleading the Sioux case. This is the fourth treaty, he says, but all have failed and the Sioux have been driven off their sacred lands. And now, says Bridgers, The Bozeman Trail has been built for prospectors and settlers to access the new gold fields in Montana. It runs through the middle of the Sioux’s last hunting grounds and if the wagons and troops are allowed up the Trail, it’s the end of the buffalo in Wyoming. “The buffalo means everything to these people. It’s their food, their clothing, skin for tipis, bones for weapons.”
When Bridgers is told The Bozeman Trail is the only feasible route, he reminds the gathering that he and John Bozeman have raced wagons - Bozeman over his Bozeman Trail and Bridgers over his Bridgers Trail “west of the Big Horns, outside of Sioux Territory. It took me 34 days to get to Virginia City, just two days longer than Bozeman. If we want peace with these Indians, it’ll cost us something. The Sioux has already paid plenty. Two days extra travel isn’t too much for us to pay.”
Bridgers is then accused of sympathizing with the Indians, as one of his travelling companions is Indian (although, as Bridgers points out, she is Cheyenne, not Sioux and has no interest in the Sioux’s hunting grounds). His other companion, a white trapper, is accused of having “lived among the Indians”.
Chief Two Bears asks: “If no-one will listen to Jim Bridgers, will they listen to anyone else?” Good faith and an agreement over a treaty is requested, but Bridgers suddenly reveals the Army has already built a fort on The Bozeman Trail. Chief Red Cloud (John War Eagle) stands, and speaking in English, accuses the white men: “We would have learned about [the fort] after we signed the treaty…You pretend to parley with us for a road through our lands, but soldiers have been sent to steal a road before we say yes or no.”
Van Heflin, Susan Cabot, Tomahawk
He speaks to the other Chiefs in Siouan and they ride away from the conference, leaving the treaty unsigned. Bridgers translates: “He says white man’s promises are written in water. In other words, gentlemen, he said you are a pack of liars and this peace conference is a fake.”
All this unfolds in the first six minutes. It’s an exceptional and highly polished set-up for the 75 mins to follow as the underrated and neglected Tomahawkexplores the plight of the Sioux. 
Buffalo hunting grounds are central to the Sioux’s existence and if you don’t want forensic detail on how important buffalo and bison were to Native Americans, look away now, or skip the next paragraph. It comes from Glenn Frankel’s laudable The Searchers The Making of an American Legend (Bloomsbury, 2013).
The dead bison provided food, hardware, clothing and shelter. Each corpse belonged to the man who had killed it. One of the women in his household would make a quick slit under the belly to allow the steaming insides to cool and to minimize bloating, then pull out the stomach and intestines, which would be cleaned, stuffed with meat, and roasted. The hot, still-quivering raw liver was usually shared among wives and children, who wolfed it down immediately. The tongue was another delicacy; it would be boiled and saved for later. The front shoulders were removed at the joint, cut into thin slices, and spread along the grass or hung on poles to dry into jerky. The stomach lining was washed and used to carry water or as a cooking container. The bladder was inflated like a balloon and dried for use as a water canteen or to store food. The footbone was separated from the foreleg and the metacarpal was used as a sharp fleshing tool. The sinew was stretched for skin, thread, and straps. The hide was staked out, dried, and tanned for use as a teepee cover, clothing, robes and blankets. The horn sheaths from the dried skull became drinking cups. The mashed brains were stirred into a paste to soften and waterproof the buffalo skin.”
Universal purchased the rights to Daniel Jarrett’s story Tomahawk in 1947 and it seems highly likely the success of Delmar Daves’ Broken Arrow in 1950 led to the film being greenlighted. Scriptwriter Silvia Richards (Secret Beyond the Door and the original story for Rancho Notorious), along with seasoned co-writer Maurice Geraghty extract material from three well-known Sioux-US Army conflicts known as The Sand Creek Massacre, The Fetterman Massacre and the Wagon Box Fight. Apart from Heflin and the Chiefs, the cast includes Yvonne de Carlo, Alex Nicol, Susan Cabot and in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Rock Hudson.
In his 41-year career George Sherman directed more than 100 films and nearly 40 television episodes (including RawhideNaked CityDaniel Boone and Route 66). Known as a B-feature director, Tomahawk was his 76thfilm and in one 5-year stretch, he directed 45 Westerns, all around 60-minutes in length. He totaled well over 70 Westerns and in 1955 made a feature entirely from the Native American point-of-view, Chief Crazy Horse, unfortunately casting Victor Mature in the main role.
The digitally mastered DVD from the Universal Vault Series is as good as it gets and handsomely renders Charles P. Boyles’ Technicolor cinematography. 
Tomahawk, DVD cover

Adam Bowen's Talkie Talk # 47 implies you'll mostly get more pleasure staying in than going out to the new movies

NEW IN CINEMAS THIS WEEK

Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley (2018) – Aussie doco about the development of the Kimberley region and its remote Indigenous communities.


Stan & Ollie– Laurel & Hardy (John C. Reilly & Steve Coogan), on their uppers, tour the halls in post-war Britain.


Dragged Across Concrete(2018) – Alas not about the fate of Australian bank executives, but Mel Gibson, cast against type, playing an overzealous cop.

Vox Lux (2018) – Natalie Portman stars in biopic of diva, Celeste. 

Rhythm Section – Blake Lively takes revenge on the perpetrators of a plane crash that killed her family.

The New Mutants – A Marvel Comics analogy of the government in Canberra: several venomous reptiles, trapped in a special facility, fight to escape their self-inflicted circumstances.

Lords of Chaos– Drama-doco set in the early 1990s. A Norwegian teenager attempts to launch Black Metal; tragedy ensues.

John McEnroe- In the Realm of Perfection– doco about the mild-mannered tennis star. 


ON THE TELLY

Monday Noon, 9Gem: The Elephant Man (1980) David Lynch’s gothic biopic of the deformed Victorian, John Merrick (John Hurt).

Monday 2.10pm, Fox ClassicsThe African Queen (1951) During WW1, a prim missionary Katharine Hepburn, persuades drunken river trader Humphrey Bogart to attack a German gunboat. Excellent characters on a grand, old-fashioned adventure.

Tuesday Noon, 9GemCarlton-Browne of the F.O.(1959) – British comedy, starring Terry-Thomas as the top-class clot despatched to recover Her Majesty’s interests in a forgotten colonial outpost. Amphibulos, its wily Prime Minister (Peter Sellers) is just one of the excellent comic characters.  The first half is a gem of silliness, the second tails off a bit.


Wednesday 10.30pm & Thursday 1.45pm, Fox ClassicsThe Last Picture Show (1971) – detailed portrait of life in a small Texas town, at the time of the Korean war. Peter Bogdanovich’s direction and Robert Surtees b/w photography lift the drama (and the nostalgia) several notches. Cloris Leachman is the standout in an excellent cast.

Saturday 11am, 9GemThe Fallen Idol (1948) – Director Carol Reed’s collaboration with (scriptwriter) Graham Greene about a lonely ambassador’s son (Bobby Henrey), whose father-figure, the embassy butler (Ralph Richardson), is suspected of murder. Photographed by Georges Périnal. Highly recommended.



Sunday 9am 9Gem: Mine Own Executioner (1947) Psychiatrist Burgess Meredith tries to help a mentally unbalanced WW2 veteran (Kieron Moore). Excellent script (by Nigel Balchin), direction (by Anthony Kimmins) and photography (by Wilkie Cooper).


Sunday 1.30am, Fox Classics: Gilda (1946) She’s Rita Hayworth (never better), a chanteuse who marries a covert Nazi (George Macready), and carries on a love-hate relationship with his assistant/her old flame (Glenn Ford). Crackling dialogue by Marion Parsonnet and Ben Hecht and excellent Hollywood-style handiwork by director, Charles Vidor and cameraman, Rudolph Maté. Set in Buenos Aires.