Sunday 2 July 2017

A Bologna Diary (9) - William K Howard, Edmund Lowe, more Robert Mitchum

William K Howard
Il Cinema Ritrovato has always fashioned its programme around key early elements of Hollywood Cinema. Attending over 6 years now. It has informed us both on directors and, over the last couple of years the work of Carl Laemmle Jr at the studio owned and run by his father, Universal. Junior was made Head of Production at the studio at the ripe young age of 21. This year the key director was the almost forgotten William K Howard. The Howard selection comprised  Don’t Bet on Women (1931), Transatlantic (1931), The Trial of Vivienne Ware (1932), Sherlock Holmes (1932), and The Power and the Glory (1933). It was a selection to show off someone who knew how to direct and seemed to have sailed effortlessly into the early sound era. Transatlantic featured a broad cast and quite intricately linked plot strands. As well, it featured some of the most gorgeous art deco sets you are ever likely to see, an era preserved for eternity.

Edmund Lowe
In Transatlantic the debonair Edmund Lowe plays a crook, a committer of some indeterminate crime who gets on board the giant liner and is assailed by women and by some fellow members of the criminal class. Unusually Lowe doesn’t end involved with any of the women on board. Lowe also features in the Noel Coward-ish Don’t Bet on Women, a film distinguished, especially for its time I would have thought for the breakneck and frequently risqué dialogue delivered by handsome people elegantly dressed. Regrettably I’m in need of another viewing on DVD just to jot down the best of the bon mots….

….Robert Mitchum again reminded us of his late career greatness in what seemed like a near to new 35mm print of The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, USA, 1973). Yates and scenarist/producer Paul Monash get to the essence of the great first novel by George V Higgins, a book which began the author’s Balzacian chronicling of all sides of Boston society, most of which involved men with guns. Mitchum as a hangdog petty crim working for poverty level wages by supplying guns for heists is quite something. It’s a character he can inhabit. As well he and the rest of the cast deliver Higgins trademark criminal argot with what seems to me absolute authenticity. Richard Jordan as the slimy Treasury cop adds to the realism created.…    
Robert Mitchum, The Friends of Eddie Coyle

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