This appeared in the July 1976 issue of Monthly Film Bulletin (vol. 43, no. 510). 8/25 correction/ postscript: Ehsan Khoshbakht, who provided me with some more illustrations, informs me that (a) Sedric is playing tenor sax, not alto, (b) that a fourth Waller soundie that wasn’t included in the compilation I reviewed, “Your Feet’s Too Big ,” was actually the first one, and that (c) the photo at the bottom of this post, which I included just because I like it, actually comes from Stormy Weather. —J.R.
Director: Warren Murray
Dist—TCB. p.c—Official Films. m/songs–“Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Honeysuckle Rose”, “The Joint is Jumpin’” by Thomas “Fats” Waller. performed by–Fats Waller (piano, vocals), John Hamilton (trumpet), Gene Sedric (alto sax), Al Casey (guitar), Cedric Wallace (bass), Wilmore “Slick” Jones (drums), Myra Johnson (vocals). No further credits available. 314 ft. 9 min. (16 mm.).
A collection of three “soundies” made in the early Forties — mini-films designed to be shown on tiny screens inside jukeboxes — this entertaining short displays Waller’s showmanship at its flashiest.… Read more »
The following was written for the Monthly Film Bulletin — a publication of the British Film Institute, where I was serving at the time as assistant editor — and it follows most of the format of that magazine by following credits (abbreviated here) with first a one-paragraph synopsis and then a one-paragraph review. (For his resourceful photo research, thanks once again to Ehsan Khoshbakht.)–J.R.
Black and Tan
Director: Dudley Murphy
Dist—TCB. p.c—RKO. p. sup—Dick Currier. sc—Dudley Murphy. ph—Dal Clawson. ed—Russell G. Shields. a.d—Ernest Feglé. m/songs—“Black and Tan Fantasy” by James “Bubber” Miley, Duke Ellington, “The Duke Steps Out”, “Black Beauty”, “Cotton Club Stomp”, “Hot Feet”, “Same Train” by Duke Ellington, performed by—Duke Ellington and His Cotton Club Orchestra: Arthur Whetsol, Freddy Jenkins, Cootie Williams (trumpets), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Joe Nanton (trombone), Fred Guy (banjo), Wellman Braud (bass), Sonny Greer (drums), Duke Ellington (piano), (on “Same Train”, “Black and Tan Fantasy”) The Hall Johnson Choir. sd. rec—Carl Dreher. with—Duke Ellington and His Cotton Club Orchestra, Fredi Washington, The Hall Johnson Choir. 683 ft. 19 min. (19 mm).
Duke Ellington rehearses his “Black and Tan Fantasy” for a club date in his flat with trumpet Arthur Whetsol until interrupted by two men from the piano company, sent to remove the instrument because he has fallen behind in the payments.… Read more »
This was originally published in the July 1976 issue of the Monthly Film Bulletin (vol. 43, no. 510), to coincide with the release of Hitchcock’s Family Plot (illustrated on the cover, and reviewed in that issue by the editor, Richard Combs). — J.R.
Great Britain, 1927
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Dist—BFI. p.c–British International Pictures. p–John Maxwell. asst. d—Frank Mills. story/sc—Alfred Hitchcock. continuity—Alma Reville. ph—John J. Cox. a.d—Wilfred Arnold. l.p—Carl Brisson (“One Round” Jack Sander), Lillian Hall-Davies (Nelly), Ian Hunter (Bob Corby), Forrester Harvey (Harry), Harry Terry (Barker), Gordon Harker (Trainer), Billy Wells (Boxer). 3,179 ft. (at 16 f.p.s.) 132 min. (16mm). Original 35 mm footage—8,400 ft.
At a traveling circus, prizefighter “One Round” Jack Sander is knocked out and defeated for the first time in his show by Bob Corby, an Australian heavyweight, and a mutual attraction develops between the latter and Nelly, Jack’s ticket-seller fiancée. With his prize money, Bob buys Nelly an arm bracelet which she hides from Jack, and Bob’s manager offers Jack the chance of a job as the champion’s sparring partner if he wins a trial match, which he grudgingly accepts.… Read more »
From Film Comment (July-August 1976). In some respects, I think this may be the best of all my many Journals for Film Comment, but for my readers who feel that my work is sometimes (or often) marred or even ruined by my strident tone, it may also be legitimately regarded as my worst. Among other negative consequences, Truffaut read my comments about THE STORY OF ADELE H. and wrote me an angry letter about them (which can be accessed, along with my response to it, on this site), I suspect (without actually knowing) that my passing comment about Pauline Kael may have sabotaged any hopes I’d had about ever becoming friends with her, and my friend (at the time) Gilbert Adair, cited just before the end of this piece, was furious about the over-the-top way I expressed my displeasure with Charles Barr in Movie. For better and for worse, I think this shows my writing at its most intense. -– J.R.
March 25 (London): A KING IN NEW YORK. Even on a Steenbeck, Chaplin’s penultimate feature and last extended performance has such a naked power of embarrassment and assault that one can see right away why so many have recoiled from it.… Read more »
I still seem to be in a minority in preferring Family Plot to Alfred Hitchcock’s other late films, but after reseeing the film countless times, I’m not about to revise my opinion. It would appear that some of Hitchcock’s biggest champions, such as Robin Wood, have tended to dismiss the film because it isn’t sicker. I tried to respond to their criticism at least provisionally in the opening of this review, written for the summer 1976 Sight and Sound, which they ran as their cover story for that issue and which I’ve now revised, but only minimally. — J.R.
“Everything’s perverted in a different way,” Hitchcock has noted; and perhaps no other filmmaker has illustrated this postulate better, by starting from precisely the opposite premise. Without a well-established sense of the normal, the abnormal doesn’t even stand a chance of being recognized, and the director has always made it his business to offer all the right signposts and comforts to guarantee complacency before proceeding to unhinge it. Yet one of the rules of the game is deception, and if the Master’s artistry has been identified more with rude shocks than with the subtler conditioning which makes them possible, one can be certain that this too plays a role in his overall strategies.… Read more »
From Time Out (London), June 4-10, 1976. I’ve always had very mixed feelings about this commissioned cover-story piece, especially about its stupid and offensive title (not mine) as well as what I now regard as a certain conformist pandering to what I regarded as mainstream taste. As I recall, the whole piece was written very quickly, following the capricious whim of the magazine’s editor. I especially regret the way I fell into some of the mindless consensus of condemning The Day the Clown Cried without having seen any part of it, which by now has become a standard reflex in Anglo-American Lewis-bashing. I’ve corrected a couple of factual errors. -– J.R.
Who is Jerry Lewis?
A comedian who has acted in over three dozen films, eight of which he’s directed, himself.I became a fan back in 1949, when he first appeared as secondary comic relief in ‘My Friend Irma’, and followed him religiously through his countless vehicles with Dean Martin in the 50s. As I grew older, critics began to warn me that he was childish and self-indulgent, friends groaned whenever his name cropped up, and I discovered that he usually came across as a sanctimonious prig whenever he made personal appearances on TV.… Read more »
From The Financial Times (Friday, July 2, 1976). This was the second and last time that I took over Nigel Andrews’ weekly film column while he away. — J.R.
Odeon, St. Martin’s Lane
When the Leaves Fall
National Film Theatre
Thirty-four years have passed since Walt Disney’s Bambi first hit the screen. Yet barring only its quaintly dated musical score – six unremarkable tunes by Frank Churchill and Edward Plumb that are well below the usual Disney standard – an unsuspecting child who can’t read Roman numerals might assume that it was made yesterday. It is no small irony that a movie only slightly more than half as old, Silk Stockings (1957), gets treated like a museum piece worthy of nostalgia in the recent That’s Entertainment Part II, while this animated feature gets born afresh for each new generation – not so much like a phoenix rising out of its ashes as like a display of calendar art circulated periodically, with only the dates changing.… Read more »