Yearly Archives: 1975

GHOST STORY (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, July 1975 (vol. 42, no. 498). –- J.R.

ghoststory3

Ghost Story

Great Britain, 1974

Director: Stephen Weeks

ghoststory2

England; 1930. Talbot and Duller, former schoolmates of

McFayden, are summoned by the latter to a country house

supposedly belonging to a friend of his father for a weekend

of grouse hunting. Ragged and isolated by the other two for

his callow enthusiasm, Talbot is puzzled to find a warm

teacup and an odd-looking doll in his bedroom. In the

morning, he witnesses a scene in the parlor enacted by

people living forty years ago: Robert Quickworth signing

his sister Sophy over to Dr. Borden’s insane asylum, despite

the protests of her maid. At first Talbot assumes this to be

an elaborate practical joke, but after seeing people who

resemble these characters in the village pub and

dreaming or half-dreaming further episodes — in which

the doll leads him to Borden’s asylum -– he becomes

increasingly obsessed with the intrigue. Meanwhile

Duller, who has come to the house to seek ghosts with

‘scientific’ equipment, is disgruntled when all his

experiments fail and he insists on leaving. McFayden

confesses to Talbot that he has recently inherited the

house and invited him and Duller there to ‘test’ it

for ghosts, mentioning a cousin of his father’s who

went mad there.… Read more »

Three More Hack Reviews of Hack Movies (from 1975)

All three of the following short reviews appeared in the June 1975 issue of Monthly Film Bulletin (vol. 42, no. 497). The reason why I had to cover so many films of this kind for the magazine was that I was the assistant editor, and it was very hard to convince most of our freelance reviewers (apart from Tom Milne) to take them on. -– J.R.

I_corpiCorpi Presentano Tracce di Violenza Carnale. I (Torso)

Italy, 1973

Director: Sergio Martino

 Torso

After two college girls, Florence and Carol, are savagely murdered and butchered by a masked assailant, one of their classmates, Daniela, recalls having recently seen the scarf left behind by the murderer but can’t remember who was wearing it. Before long, she receives an anonymous threatening phone call, and her uncle Nino requests that she so for a rest to his country villa with her school friends Ursula, Katia and Jane. Jane stays behind briefly to look up Stefano — a student whom she suspects is the killer, but who proves not to be at home — and passes up an invitation to attend a concert with her art professor Franz. A scarf-dealer who meanwhile tries to blackmail the killer by phone manages to collect 3 million lire, but is then run down by a car; that evening, after a local shoe-peddler spies Ursula seducing Katia in the country house, he is pursued, killed and thrown into a well by the masked assailant.… Read more »

Tommy

From Monthly Film Bulletin, April 1975 (Vol. 42, No. 495). — J.R.

Tommy

Great Britain, 1975                                        Director: Ken Russell

Cert-AA. dist-Hemdale. p.c—The Robert Stigwood Organisation.

exec. p-Beryl Vertue, Christopher Stamp. /;Robert Stigwood, Ken

Russefl. assoc. p-Harcy Benn. p. manager-John Comfort. asst. d-

Jonathan Benson. sc-Ken Russell. Based on the rock opera by Pete

Townshend and the Who. addit. Material–John Entwistle, Keith Moon.

ph–Dick Bush, Ronnie Taylor. In colour. sp. ph. effects–Robin Lehman.

ed—Stuart Baird. a.d–John Clark. set dec–Paul Dufficey, Ian Whittaker.

sp. Effects–Effects Associates, Nobby Clarke,_Carygra Effects. m/songs–

“Captain Walker Didn’t Come Home”. “It’s a Bov !” “’51 is Going to be a

a Good Year”, “What About the Boy ?”, “See Me, Feel Me”, “The

Amazing Journey”, “Christmas”, “The Acid Queen”, “Do You Think

It’s All Right?”, “Cousin Kevin”, “Fiddle About”, “Sparks”, “Pinball

Wizard”, ‘Today It Rained Champagne” ,”‘There’s a_Doctor” , “Go to the

Mirror”, “Tommy Can You Hear Me !’” “Smash the Mirror”, “I’m Free”,

“Miracle Cure”, “Sensation”, “Sally Simpson”, “Welcome”, “Deceived”,

“Tommy’s Holiday Camp”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Listening to

You” by Pete Townshend and The Who [Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle,

Keith Moon, “Eyesight to the Blind” by Sonny Boy Williamson. m.d–

Pete Townshend. musicians-Elton John, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon,

John Entwistle, Ronnie Wood, Kenny Jones, Nicky Hopkins, Chris

Stainton , Fuzzy Samuels, Caleb Quayle, Mick Ralphs, GRaham Deakin,

Phil Chen, Alan Ross, Richard Bailey, Dave Clinton, Tony_Newman,

Mike Kelly, Dee Murray, Nigel Ollson, Ray Cooper, Davey_Johnstone,

Geoff Daley, Bob Efford, Ronnie Ross, Howie Casey.… Read more »

DISTANT THUNDER (1976 review)

From Sight and Sound, Spring 1975.  This is probably the most embarrassing review I’ve ever published (in addition to being one of the very worst) — particularly for reasons given in a quite reasonable letter published in the next (Spring 1975) issue, which I’ve reproduced below, along with my reply. But it’s an instructive sort of embarrassment, which is my main reason for reproducing it now, after some initial reluctance. -– J.R.

Distant Thunder

 

‘Over five million people in Bengal starved or died in epidemics because of the man-made famine in 1943.’ The title appears over the final shot of Satyajit Ray’s film –- a quasi-expressionistic, rather Bergmanesque vision of silhouetted figures standing on the edge of a precipice, composing a line of seemingly endless breadth behind the camera’s fateful retreat – and is clearly the crucial piece of information around which the preceding 100 minutes have been constructed. Yet the sheer immensity and horror of this unambiguous fact, essentially as unfilmable as it is unimaginable beyond the abstraction of statistics and other metaphors, can operate structurally only as a coda and ‘footnote’ to the rest of the discourse, even if it paradoxically comprises this discourse’s raison d’être. … Read more »

A Slightly Pregnant Man

From Oui (April 1975). –- J.R.

The Slightly Pregnant Man is the English title of Jacques Demy’s latest film, although a literal translation of the French would be more appropriate – The Most Important Event Since Man Walked on the Moon. The event is pregnancy, and what makes it so important is that its baby’s carrier is not Catherine Deneuve, who plays the mother, but Marcello Mastroianni, who plays Poppa.

The first question you or I might ask is how Mastroianni manages to get pregnant in the first place, which is something Demy declines to answer. Instead, he tries to coast along on a jaunty score by Michel Legrand (who composed the music for Demy’s Umbrellas of Cherbourg). Without the basic question answered, The Slightly Pregnant Man doesn’t really work, but it is a weird kind of fun. We get to watch Mastroianni get sick in a movie theater, rush to the doctor and receive the wonderful-terrible news. He gets exhibited to a medical convention, marries Deneuve (in order to save the child embarrassment) and –as you can see — begins to model male pregnancy clothes for a maternity firm. The clothing manufacturers are overjoyed — they’ve just discovered a great new market for their products.… Read more »

MY PLEASURE IS MY BUSINESS (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, April 1975 (Vol. 42, No. 495). — J.R.

My Pleasure Is My Business

Canada, 1974                                       Director: Albert S. Waxman

Deported from America by a U.S. senator who wants to keep her

away from his son-in-law, Gabrielle, a promiscuous movie star and

sexual liberationist, is flown to the country of Gestalt. After

confering with his aides, the corrupt Prime Minister decides to admit her

into the country, thereby hoping to deflect some of the charges of

immorality laid against the government. Gabrielle is accorded a

luxurious suite by a North African hotel manager in exchange for

the promise of sexual favors, and applies for a job as sexual

therapist with pudgy psychiatrist Freda Schloss, who turns out to

want the therapy herself. While the Prime Minister and his

henchmen plot ways-of arresting her for prostitution,

Gabrielle picks up an artist in a cafe and makes love with

him in his flat, looks up an old French girlfriend who acts

in porn films (along with the local police chief), and attends

a wild costume party given by another old friend. Cornered

by the police when she returns to her hotel, Gabrielle

persuades them to drop the charges by reminding the

police chief of his skin-flick activity.… Read more »

Conversation with Paul Morrissey (Part I)

From Oui (March 1975). I no longer recall whether or not the editors changed the wording of some of my questions; I suspect that in many cases they did. Because of the length of this interview, I’m posting it in two parts. -– J.R.

Excerpted from the Introduction [obviously not by me]:

“Jonathan Rosenbaum interviewed Morrissey in Paris, shortly after the director had completed his latest films [Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula aka Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula (sic, sic), only the second of which I’ve ever seen, then or since. -– J.R.] He described being greeted at the door by Nico, of the original and most durable Factory regulars:

“Nico entertained me with comparisons of Paris and Los Angeles, while Morrissey served me orange soda from his refrigerator,” he said. “Morrissey enjoys talking –- the interview was nearly a monologue –- and he speaks in a slightly nasal tone, a cross between Brando and the Bronx.”

OUI: There’s a noticeable difference between your early movies, such as Trash, and your latest ones, Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Andy Warhol’s Dracula. Is it true, as some critics contend, that you’ve gone from the underground to the surface?… Read more »

Conversation with Paul Morrissey (Part II)

From Oui (March 1975). I no longer recall whether or not the editors changed the wording of some of my questions; I suspect that in many cases they did. Because of the length of this interview, I’m posting it in two parts. -– J.R.

Excerpted from the Introduction [obviously not by me]:

“Jonathan Rosenbaum interviewed Morrissey in Paris, shortly after the director had completed his latest films [Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula aka Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula (sic, sic), only the second of which I’ve ever seen, then or since. -– J.R.] He described being greeted at the door by Nico, of the original and most durable Factory regulars:

“Nico entertained me with comparisons of Paris and Los Angeles, while Morrissey served me orange soda from his refrigerator,” he said. “Morrissey enjoys talking -– the interview was nearly a monologue –- and he speaks in a slightly nasal tone, a cross between Brando and the Bronx.”

OUI: Let’s talk about political content. Your films are usually much more poignant and compassionate than you yourself are reputed to be. In some quarters of the film world, you have a political reputation that might be compared to Ronald Reagan’s.… Read more »

Life Size (1975 review)

From Oui, March 1975. –- J.R.

 

Life Size. A wealthy dentist (Michel Piccoli) buys a shapely, life-size female doll and immediately falls hopelessly in love with it. He dances with it, gently places it in a dentist’s chair to go over its bridgework, takes showers with it, talks to it and masturbates into its working orifices. When his indulgent mother (Valentine Tessier) finds him curled up in bed with it, she chuckles, dresses it up in old-fashioned clothes and briefly adopts it as a knitting companion. When lsabelle (Rada Rassimov), his wife, starts imitating the doll out of desperation, he dumps her into a closet and moves into a new flat with his synthetic bride. He even video-tapes their mock wedding for his amusement. But when his video-tape machine reveals that a Spanish repairman has been using his beloved for more immediate and less romantic purposes, he starts to “punish” his doll. The trouble with Luis Berlanga’s exhaustive movie is that what he has to say could probably be squeezed into about ten minutes without much sweat. -– JONATHAN ROSENBAUM

Read more »

THE GAMBLER (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, March 1975 (Vol. 42, No. 494). — J.R.

Gambler, The
U.S.A., 1974

Director: Karel Reisz

The limitations and pretensions of James Toback’s script for The Gambler are so formidable that it is difficult to conceive of any director redeeming or transcending them. A Q.E.D. (indeed, virtually ABC) demonstration of a masochist’s steady progress to self-obliteration, peppered with ‘significant’ flashbacks and literary quotes, it involves gambling no more and no less than The Conversation involves tape recording — which is to say, incidentally rather than substantively. By the end of the first reel or so, it is already painfully clear that Axel Freed (James Caan) is more interested. in losing than winning, and from that point onward narrative interest is increasingly diffused by a clinical spelling out of his condition which has all the earmarks of a stacked deck. The problem is not so much a surfeit of psychological analysis — the script offers hints, not explicit causes explaining Axel’s condition — as too little to account for his behavior naturalistically, and too much to permit any sustained acceptance of the character on an allegorical or mythical level. Unlike the abnormal, high-strung and death-defying auto racer played by James Caan in Hawks’ Red Line 7000, there is nothing in Axel that suggests hidden depths; indeed, despite Caan’s consistent professionalism, the actor appears to be as uninterested in his character as Axel seems to be in himself.… Read more »

The Arabian Nights

From Oui (February 1975). The word “coyness” was misprinted as “boyness,” and I wondered at the time if this might have been an editor’s Freudian slip. –- J.R.


The Arabian Nights. In his treatment of The Arabian Nights, Pier Paolo Pasolini

has created what might be considered his first pagan film — a work in which

Western coyness and guilt about sex (and most of the other varieties of 20th

Century angst) seem to have mysteriously vanished. Shooting an odd batch

of tales within tales in gorgeous sections of Yemen, Ethiopia, Iran and Nepal,

Pasolini delves into a sort of fairy-tale anthropology that is often most luminous

when it’s least comprehensible. The storytelling is ponderous, but the moods

are spellbinding. The magic that we usually associate with these tales is kept

in the wings until the later sequences and is awkwardly handled when it appears.

It’s the magic of the people and the places that holds Pasolini’s interest,

and the quality that most sustains this genuinely other-worldly film is its almost

primeval strangeness.

–JONATHAN ROSENBAUM

Read more »

SWEDISH WILDCATS (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, February 1975 (vol. 42, no. 493). -– J.R.

SwedishWiuldcats-title

 

Swedish Wildcats

U.S.A./Sweden, 1974

Director: Joseph W. Sarno

SwedishWildcats-DVD

Copenhagen. Margareta, a brothel madam who displays her prostitutes in elaborate cabaret revues at private parties, summons her two orphan nieces Susanna and Karen — both part of her entourage — to participate in a ‘slave auction’ staged for some local clients. Gerhard Jensen, chief of a ground crew handling air cargo, bids for Karen and then offers to pay extra to share a room with Susanna and his friend; Margareta agrees and watches the results through a two-way mirror: Gerhard complains to Karen, “I could get more excitement from a piece of raw liver”, and tries to make love to Susanna, then beats her when she refuses to kiss him on the mouth. In a park, Susanna meets Peter Borg, another member of Gerhard’s crew; it is love at first sight, and she presents herself as Natasha, a ballet dancer, while he claims to be a test pilot working on a secret project. Meanwhile, her sister Karen has also fallen in love with someone who doesn’t know her profession — Gabriel, an architect from a very respectable family.… Read more »

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, February 1975 (Vol. 42, No. 493). — J.R.

Land that Time Forgot, The

Great Britain, 1974
Director: Kevin Connor

A canister is tossed into the sea and discovered on the coast of Land’s End, containing a manuscript by the American Bowen Tyler which relates the following story: 1916. A British supply ship is sunk by a German submarine; the survivors include Bowen, biologist Lisa Clayton and a few members of the crew. Together they take over the submarine from Captain von Schoenvorts and Dietz and head for the U.S., but lose their way after their radio is destroyed in an attack by a British warship and their compass rigged by von Schoenvorts; Bowen orders the sinking of a German supply ship, only to discover that their last source of rations is destroyed in the process. Finally coming upon an island with an inhospitable coastline surrounded by icebergs — identified by von Schoenvorts as the legendary Caprona — they find an underground river and Bowen charts their path to dry land.

There they discover a prehistoric world occupied by dangerous beasts, early evolutionary forms of man, and a variety of curious life-forms in the river. They capture a primitive man who calls himself Ahm, conveys to them in signs that Caprona has large deposits of oil — needed for the submarine in order to leave the island — and reluctantly takes them north to the spot; on the way, after they are attacked by the Sto-Lu and encounter other, progressively more ‘developed’ tribes of ape-men, Ahm is killed and carried off by a pterodactyl.… Read more »

I WAS BORN, BUT… (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, February 1975 (Vol. 42, No. 493). — J.R.

Umarete wa Mita Keredo (l Was Born, But . . .)

Japan, 1932 Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Yoshi moves with his wife and two sons, Ryoichi and Keiji, from

Azabu to a Tokyo suburb, close to the home of the director of the

company where he works. His sons are ostracized and persecuted

by the other boys in the neighborhood; arriving late for school

after Yoshi urges them to get high marks, they decide to play

hooky and do their lessons in a nearby field, forging high marks on

their papers which they bring home to show their father. But Yoshi

is informed by Ryoichi’s teacher that they were absent from school,

and makes sure that they attend the following day. After a delivery

boy whom they befriend overpowers a bully who previously

defeated Keiji, the boys are accepted as leaders by their local

schoolmates. Yoshi’s boss screens home movies for his family

and friends, including his son Taro, Yoshi, Ryoichi and Keiji;

the latter two are horrified when they see Yoshi making faces and

otherwise demeaning himself in the films to please his boss, and a

family fight ensues after they and their father return home.… Read more »

Richie’s Ozu: Our Prehistoric Present (Part 3)

good-morning-1959-003-laundry-hanging

For the first part of this article, go here. For the second part, go here.

 

Unfortunately, Richie’s division of Ozu into successive stages of ‘creation’ inevitably leads to the erection of a Platonic ideal, an all-purpose model of ‘the’ Ozu film — an unrigorous model indeed when what one concretely has to contend with are films, each with its own peculiar set of conditions and stresses. Since Richie has more production details about the later films, these tend to dictate most of the dimensions of the model, and the lost films implicitly become subsumed in the same homogenising process whenever Richie speaks about the entire body of the work. The usual approach is to lump together examples of certain aspects or procedures, leading to the formulation of such generalities as ‘the Ozu family’. This results in a profusion of catalogues, some quite nonsensical in presumed meanings and applications: ‘Another pastime to which the Ozu family is addicted is toenail cutting, an activity which seems worth mentioning because it occurs possibly more often in Ozu’s pictures (Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Autumn) than in Japanese life.’ In the long run, individual works are made to seem important or unimportant insofar as they help or fail to exemplify the hypothetical model.… Read more »