Wednesday 5 December 2018

Defending Cinephilia 2018 (3) - Adam Bowen recalls the start of a lifetime at the movies

Australian Daybill, The Tommy Steele Story
I was a helpless victim, your Honour; I grew up in London, in a household without television, but with seven cinemas within walking distance: Forum, Paris Pullman, Gaumont, Essoldo, Classic, Regal and another Gaumont, (in Walham Green). I received a quarterly payment of thirty shillings for singing in the Brompton Oratory choir. Most cinema prices, if you were under 12, were ninepence (nine cents), for a double bill, so I stuffed myself with movies whenever possible. On my ninth birthday I saw The Tommy Steele Story plus The Last of theBadmen (in colour and Cinemascope!). Neither film resonates much, except for Tommy’s optimism, and a scene in which he uses saucepans as percussion in the galley of a ship (he was a merchant seaman).

However, your Honour, the many, many other hours I spent in darkened cinemas in the 1950s, yielded riches: a murky, ruined, post-war Vienna populated by Graham Greene’s ambiguous, tainted characters, in The Third Man (1949); Boccherini underscoring Mrs Lopsided (Katie Johnson) as she confounds the blunderingLadykillers(1955); the brutality and beauty of The Vikings (1958); brilliant character actors relishing the management-worker chicanery of I’m Alright Jack (1959). 

By the 1960s I was hooked. And then came the French and Italian New Waves. I had a slender grasp of their sub-texts, but I gawped at the sensuous monochrome camerawork of Raoul Coutard; the charm of Truffaut; the cruelties of Fellini; Giuseppe Rotunno’s ravishing colour photography, and Claudia Cardinale.

In the 1970s came The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) and Raise Ravens (1975)… I could continue, but, in my thirties, your Honour, I made a late discovery of Satyajit Ray and his Apu Triology. I rest my case.

Claudia Cardinale, The Leopard, (DOP Giuseppe Rotunno)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.