Tuesday, August 29, 2006

René Clair and the Marx Brothers

from René Clair's "Cinema yesterday and today. Translated by Stanley Appelbaum. Edited, and with an introd. and annotations, by R. C. Dale." ( page 216)

"When I saw the Marx brothers first films, I dreamed of working with these funny characters. But how could I let them know I wanted to? I was in Paris, and they were in Hollywood, where they were bound by impressive contracts. Furthermore, it was not very likely they had the slightest need of my services or even knew my name. I soon filed away that dream among the dead letters.
"Some ten years later, in Hollywood, I became friendly with Groucho and Harpo. One day, while we were talking about Paris, one of them said to me: "We looked for you in Paris; we wanted to see you. But it was summertime and you weren't there." What did they want of me? "To ask you to work with us." And when? Exactly at the time I dreamt of working with them."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cahiers vs Positif 1956

I was just searching through some material and I ran into this interesting nugget of information, from article “Books in French on Cinema” (page 110) in Yale French Studies, No. 17, Art of the Cinema, 1956

Cahiers du Cinéma (monthly, founded in 1951, deals with film as an art form; frequently lively and controversial; scenarios, general news)

Positif (a younger rival; contributors sometimes dogmatic, and violent in tone)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

René Clément watches Paris burn

Watching the two interview clips featuring director René Clément which are on the "Forbidden Games" dvd, I could not help but to be struck by how much he looked to age in the four years between the first one (Oct 1963) and the second (Dec 1967). That is probably what directing "Is Paris Burning?" did to him.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Roger Deakins on B&W vs color.

The issue "B&W vs color" is often debated on Internet forums. The cinematographer Roger Deakins,


who shot the film "The Man Who Wasn't There" to be shown in black and white is asked in an interview on the DVD for that film to comment on that issue. Here is part of what he says -- it happens about 22 minutes into that interview.

“I think I see things more in black and white. That’s not really right the right way of putting it. I see things more as composition and the way light falls on things rather than seeing it as a series of pieces of color. That the pieces of color don’t give me --- they don’t define what I’m looking at. That’s what I was saying before. They’re almost a distraction."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Francis Ford Coppola on "Patton"

Francis Ford Coppola on the DVD commentary for "Patton" for which he had written the first screenplay.

() () ()
Discussing his opening sequence which was not liked but was used in the final script.

"Now, all you young people, bear note that the things that you are fired for are often the things that later in life you are celebrated for."

He also tells of how in 1969, he bought a German Steinbeck film editing machine which he rented to Twientieth Century-Fox. One day, he got a call from Fox telling him that the machine was not working and asking if he could send a repairman over. He had no repairman, so he took his tools and went himself. While fixing the Steinbeck, he noticed that the film he had been given to test with was a war film. So, he asked the editor as he was leaving, "What film was that?" When the editor answered "Patton", Coppola told the editor, "You know I wrote that film."

Jean-Luc Godard on "Quai des Brumes" 1964

An interesting quote from Jean-Luc Godard on the TV-series "Cinéastes de Notre Temps" episode "La nouvelle vague par elle-même" first shown in the mid 1960s:

"Carné's Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows) was a great film as it was of its time. Carné was 29 years old. It was a great film. But his "Les Tricheurs" was bad as he copied things. It lacks that earlier inventiveness."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Interesting sighting of Julien Duvivier -- Cannes 1959

The Criterion dvd for “The Four Hundred Blows” includes a vintage short entitled “Reflets de Cannes”, the bulk of this short consists of François Chalais interviewing Jean-Pierre Leaud, but the last 45 seconds or so include some newsreel shots of that films showing at the festival that year. What I noticed that was interesting there was this. There is first a clip from behind of Leaud and Jean Cocteau sitting in the front row, then one of Albert Remy also from behind. Then there is this very interesting clip. Then newsreel narrator says, “Even the eyes of the jury lit up” and there is an over-lit shot of a prosperous looking middle-aged man. That unidentified man is the director Julien Duvivier who sat on the jury at Cannes in 1959.

A tale of Le Roi de Coeur

In his commentary track for “The Four Blows” on the Criterion dvd, Brian Stonehill reveals that he is an American in a rather surprising way. In the carnival ride sequence, he points out Philippe de Broca’s cameo and identifies him as “the director of ’The King of Hearts’”. Now, that film which is a cult classic in America is not so well In Europe and rarely seen there.

Recently, I made a quick study of de Broca’s film “King of Hearts” on the IMDb site. 1202 users had weighed in with an opinion on the film on that site’s “User Ratings” category. to put that into perspective, only 2 Chabrol films have a higher total of users, both of recent vintage “La Cermonie” and “Merci pour la Chocolate”. Only 2 Louis Malle French language films have more user in that category, “Au Revoir, Les Enfants” and “Ascenseur pour la l‘Echafoud“. No film by either Jacques Rivette or Eric Rohmer has gotten that many votes in the user ratings category.
Comparing de Broca’s film to Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman”, two films that were released within a year of each other. These two films are rather close in number of users offering ratings, “The King of Hearts” (1202 users) and “A Man and a Woman” (1358 users) but consider this almost half of the users for de Broca’s film (572) identify themselves as USA to 176 for non-USA, while with the Lelouch film almost half are non-USA (646) to 309 for USA users.

The reason is that “King of Hearts” which was a mega-bomb in France when it opened in 1967 - reportedly, some Paris exhibitors opened the doors to try to paper the house and hope that word of mouth might rescue the film, an effort which failed, became in the USA a long running hit and a cult classic. For instance, it opened a run at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge Ma on February 10, 1971 and it did not close until April 13, 1976.

Johnny, we hardly... oh you know what.

On the “making-of” documentary, on the “Dirty Dozen” dvd, Trini Lopez speaks of an incident during filming. He told John Cassavetes one day that he, in looking at the dailies, thought the Cassavetes’ performance was a certainty for an Oscar nomination. Cassavetes looked at him and told him that he did not think so.
You one thing I would have to say about Cassavetes’ performance in that film. For most other actors, that was the performance of a lifetime, but for John, that role was a piece of cake.