Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Beggars belief!

You can't readily buy Beggars of Life but it is available for download from the - reputable! - Internet Archive. This reflects the fact that the film is seemingly out of copyright.

Anyway, see for yourself. Not the best quality but...enough to see how good Wellman and, especially, Louise Brooks, were!

This by no means replaces the need for a proper re-release on DVD!

Don Levy Hero! Herostratus (1967)

Don Levy spent 6-7 years on the production of Herostratus and it must rank as one of the true, and most challenging, classics of 1960's British film. The film uses an unconventional narrative structure, mixed with beautifully judged sound and cinematography, to create an assault on our senses and our complacency: as a society and as individual viewers. The film's main actors Michael Gothard and Gabriella Licudi, gave their all and it shows in the unflinching honesty of the film.

"You can get out!" shouts Levy to Licudi towards the end of the film...she is too distraught to respond...reflecting her own state of mind by that point.

There are many layers of meaning and a series of almost physical shocks... Levy doesn't hold back from using any image that underlines his central message. That's a large part of the reason that Herostratus doesn't fade away and is a film that continues to live in the memory.

One of the most influential films of its time this is so far the best of the BFI "Flipside" series. I urge you to give it a try but don't expect to be given an easy ride!

Buy it now!

More about Don Levy here.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Glory be! L'Herbier's L'Argent

Mary Glory was one of the stars of L'Argent, a French silent film directed in 1928 by Marcel L'Herbier.

The film is a wonder, notable for the use of ground-breaking camera mobility, "poetic montage" and with a great cast including Pierre Alcover as the banker Saccard, Alfred Abel as his calculating rival and Brigitte Helm, in no way typecast, as the scheming baroness Sandorf. Henry Victor plays as the idealistic aviator Jacques Hamelin and Ms Glory his equally hopeful wife, Line, who has to endure no end of heartache as her brave husband risks life, limb and liquidity.

Based on the novel by Zola, the financial turbulence of the Third Republic found new relevance in the 20's and is no less pertinent today. "I want to put an end to the dangerous speculation..." says Gunderman. So say we all.

Mary Glory passed away in early 2009, 103 years old and one of the last silent actresses. She is excellent in L'Argent and one of the highlights of this remarkable film.

The Eureka DVD features a stunning "making of" feature entitled Autour de L'Argent made at the time by L'Herbier with Jean Dreville, then a 22-year old journalist and amateur photographer. This was itself an exercise in montage, capturing the atmosphere and providing a rare glimpse behind the silent scenes...if ever the past came rushing into the present...

Well worth votre l'argent! Buy it from Amazon, you won't regret it!

Safety First - Lloyd's Laughs Last Longest!

I showed this film to five 21st century children...they all laughed and quite a lot! This is proof absolute that Harold still has it nearly 90 years on.

Go here for a good piece on the film at "100 Years of Movies" excellent site!