I’m going with “Sing Mew to Sleep.”
I’m going with “Sing Mew to Sleep.”
In perhaps one of the most unexpectedly homoerotic behind-the-scene candids that I’ve ever seen, James Dean and Rock Hudson rehearse a fight scene on the set of the 1956 film, Giant.
Hudson looks nonplussed, unless this is just the “before” shot.
Contrary to rampant rumors, co-star Elizabeth Taylor insisted that the closeted Hudson and somewhat-open-secret bisexual (?) Dean did not get along, saying, “Jimmy was thoroughly ‘Method.’ Rock was riddled with an inferiority complex.”
In Puzzle of a Downfall Child, Faye Dunaway plays a neurotic, spaced-out, emotionally unstable model by the name of Lou Andreas Sand living in a remote beach house, trying to recover from a nervous breakdown that saw her institutionalized.
The script for the film was inspired by the life of iconic 1950s fashion model Anne Saint Marie. Director Jerry Schatzberg (Panic in Needle Park) taped hours worth of interviews with Saint Marie—who suffered a nervous breakdown at the height of her career—and these sessions became the basis of the film. Actor Barry Primus plays a photographer who is interviewing Dunaway’s character. The conceit of the interview gives the almost cinéma vérité-ish film a non-narrative structure that allows for an effective use of the jarring flashback and flash-forward editing style popular at the time, and contributes viscerally to explaining how truly disconnected from reality Lou has become.
The film provides quite a good showcase for Dunaway as an actress, it’s raw at times. She’s stunning in it, too. What a great beauty she was then. Puzzle of a Downfall Child is also beautifully shot. First-time director Schatzberg was a noted photographer—he snapped Dylan for the Blonde on Blonde album cover and the Rolling Stones in drag—who worked for Vogue and other major magazines. It was when he shot Dunaway for Esquire that he pitched her the idea. The two became lovers and Schatzberg’s wife of 18 years divorced him, although Dunaway would leave him in 1969 for Marcello Mastroianni.
Sadly Puzzle of a Downfall Child has never come out on home video and so is not widely known. It was restored by Universal in 2011 and shown at the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival with Faye Dunaway and Jerry Schatzberg in attendance, but it’s still unavailable (except in France)
Lucky for you, if you’ve read this far, some kind soul has posted Puzzle of a Downfall Child, in its entirety and in great quality, on YouTube:
I noticed this delightfully-insane Pakistani movie poster supposedly for Brian De Palma’s Carrie at Hot Spot .
“A Bizappe Tale of Mystery, Romance and Murder!”
French experimental film maker Philippe Garrel’s 1972 allegorical mindfuck La cicatrice intérieure (The Inner Scar) lays on the symbolism with a trowel as it winds its way through the deserts of our mind (or somebody’s) in pursuit of Garrel’s lover Nico, actor Pierre Clementi and some elusive deeper meaning. It’s a gorgeous looking folly that, despite its abundant tracking shots, is so inert it makes L’Avventura look like The Fast And The Furious.
Filmed in North Africa, Iceland, and Death Valley, La cicatrice intérieure has its moments of haunting beauty that suggest a better movie, or at least a more emotionally engaging one. The soundtrack features five songs by Nico and they contribute to the film’s other-worldly weirdness and existential despair.
Garell seems to want to echo the feel of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mystical western El Topo. Unfortunately, Garrel doesn’t have Jodorowsky’s nerve or wisdom.
An all too brief extract from Sean Connery’s Edinburgh, a promotional documentary for the ancient Scottish capital, directed by Murray Grigor and starring the city’s most famous milkman.
This wasn’t Connery’s first documentary, back in 1967 he presented, produced and directed a brilliant (and rarely seen) documentary called The Bowler and The Bunnet, which examined the political tensions between the workforce (“bunnets”) and the employers (“Bowler hats”) at Fairfield’s shipyard on Glasgow’s River Clyde. Scripted by Cliff Hanley, the film revealed Connery’s natural mastery of documentary film-making, and it is only a pity that he didn’t continue to make similar films on other social and political issues.
Perhaps, with the imminent referendum on Scottish independence, Connery may yet return to make a documentary on the future of Scotland?
Lot 1011: “A Marilyn Monroe signed ‘United States of America Department of Defense’ identification card, 1954.” Sold by Bonhams for $57,000 (incl. premium), at an “Entertainment Memorabilia” auction, December 21st, 2008.
A Marilyn Monroe signed ‘United States of America Department of Defense’ identification card, 1954
Laminated with a black and white photograph of the star in the upper left-side corner, a date of “8 Feb. 1954,” and a typed name of “DiMaggio, Norma Jeane;” Monroe’s signature using this name is penned in blue fountain pen ink on the lower right-side corner; back of card shows her two finger prints as well as her personal statistics: “Height [5’5 1/2”], Weight , Color of Hair [Blonde], Color of Eyes [Blue], Religion [None], Blood Type [Unk], Date of Birth [1 June 26].” Though this ID card has been reproduced as a souvenir item and sold in stores and has also been seen in many books, this piece appears to be the actual one that Monroe used when she performed for the troops in Korea while she and Joe DiMaggio were on their honeymoon.
Amongst the other notable items on sale that day were a letter written by Marilyn to Joe DiMaggio (circa 1962), a Charles Shulz “peanuts” daily cartoon strip and a prop of the Mayor’s hearse from A Nightmare Before Christmas. More details here.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Nothing is more fascinating, frightening and at times, awe inspiring, than human nature. That moment when our nature becomes predatory is a theme examined in countless true crime TV specials, slasher films and pulp novels. But when you approach the pathology, impulse and modus operandi of a killer with a stark, borderline surrealistic touch, you end up with a film like 1998’s Pig.
A collaboration between Dutch filmmaker and Cult Epics founder Nico B. (Bettie Page: Dark Angel) and musical innovator, the late Rozz Williams (Christian Death, Premature Ejaculation, Daucus Karota, Shadow Project), Pig is an incredible work. Being available only on a long out-of-print VHS and DVD, Cult Epics is re-releasing this along with the long-awaited follow up, 1334 on Blu Ray. While it’s too early for me to comment on 1334, I can say that Pig is one of the most tonally dark and melancholy films that yet possess a strange beauty. While some will be instantly turned off by the subject matter and at times, extreme imagery, Pig is a film that has more in common with surrealism than it does with, say, Hostel. If anything, it lies more in the ether between Un Chien Andalou and Helter Skelter.
Pig opens up with a black suitcase, as a pair of male hands start to methodically pack it. A deck of cards here, a copy of Lillian Hoban’s children’s book, Mr. Pig & Sonny Too there. We see images inter cut, including a shot of a bare man’s torso, featuring the title carved into his chest and a rotten window decorated with photos and dice. The man with the suitcase (Rozz Williams), dressed in a suit and his long hair pulled back, closes the door and descends to his car. He ends up in the middle of the desert, with only little desolate signs of life, including graffiti’d rocks with words like “Ellie” and “Dead Man’s Point” painted on them. The latter phrase in particular is incredibly hard to read without the aid of freeze frame, making it almost a nice and morbid subconscious film blip.
A solitary figure (James Hollan) wanders around the landscape, lanky and clad in black except for the white bandages wrapped around his head. The two paths interconnect, with the man in bandages getting in the man’s car. Through a reflection of the rear-view mirror, we see that the driver is wearing a pig mask. They pull up to an abandoned house in one particularly desolate stretch of nowhere. The bandaged man is put through a series of physical tortures, including blood play, piercing and cutting. Curiously, he seems extremely passive, not unlike a patient studiously enduring an assortment of painful medical procedures. There’s less of a feeling of creepy killer tactics and more of human interaction put through a mutilated filter. The man’s passive behavior, despite looking to be a good foot taller than his captor, only adds to this. His body language is more of an animal calmly awaiting its fate, than anything else.
The boundaries become even more blurred, with one particularly striking scene directly referencing Rene Magritte’s famous painting, “The Lovers.” As both men have their heads bandaged, they start to communicate via hand signals. Even more startling, is one shot of one of the men (judging by physical size and briefcase placement, more than likely Rozz), sitting alone in an empty stove, looking like a sad child. It’s this blurring of the lines of black/white/good/bad that make this film so compelling. It’s too easy to get babied by the old school way of villain/hero, which is one of the reasons why Pig is a fascinating work.
Without giving too much away, Pig ends on an dreamy yet somber note, giving you no firm answers, only the memory of violence and sadness.
When films are prefaced with such carny-tastic warnings like “for strong stomachs only” or “sensitive viewers beware,” it usually means that either you’re about to sit through a fantastic camp fest of grue or some torturous bit of film extremism Ala the Guinea PigPig is a strong work and sure, if you’re sensitive to violence, you will definitely be put in an very emotionally uncomfortable place, but it’s not excessive just to be excessive. It doesn’t necessarily revel in its stronger images, though it does not shrink from them either. The violence here seems to serve two purposes. One is literal, since our main character is a predator by nature, but the second is more tenuous, with the violent images often bordering on the surreal, making them blend in with the rest of the film’s dreamlike imagery. Strong imagery is certainly nothing new for anyone influenced by the surrealists, whether you’re talking Bosch, Duchamp or Jodorowsky. For people that have an auto-bias against anything branded “horror,” a work like Pig shows that there are many shapes to a deceptively simple genre.
Being the debut film work for both director Nico B. and star/writer Rozz Williams, this is such a strong start. Nico would go on to create the amazing film company Cult Epics, which has been responsible for spreading the word and preserving the work of such cinematic luminaries as Radley Metzger, Walerian Borowczyk, Rene Daalder and Fernando Arrabal. He also directed the well made Bettie Page bio-picture, Bettie Page: Dark Angel. Rozz Williams, whom despite leaving this plane of existence at only age 34, already had a considerable musical legacy behind him, especially with his pioneering work in bands like Christian Death, Shadow Project and Premature Ejaculation. With this musical history, it’s fitting that Williams’ stellar work, along with some editing help by Premature Ejaculation alumni Chuck Collision, on Pig’s soundtrack, is eerie and standout. An artist like Williams, if nurtured more and if he had stuck around, would have and should have been a new generation’s Bowie.
The collaboration of these two artists is fascinating and makes one wish that more could have come from this tree. But at the end of the day, there is always Pig. Disturbing, thoughtful and highly creative, this short is finally back in print and available on both Blu Ray and DVD via Cult Epics. It is a must for anyone who loves experimental film, dark subject matters, as well as fans of both Rozz Williams and Nico B.