Daily Archives: March 3, 1995

TV or Not TV

This appeared in the March 3, 1995 issue of the Chicago Reader, under a slightly different title (“TV and Not TV”). — J.R.



Rating **** Masterpiece

Directed and written by Marcel


With Orane Demazis, Fernandel,

Henri Poupon, Jean Servais,

Toinon, Delmont, and Andrex.

The Brady Bunch Movie

Rating * Has redeeming facet

Directed by Betty Thomas

Written by Laurice Elehwany, Rick

Copp, Bonnie Turner, and Terry


With Shelley Long, Gary Cole,

Michael McKean, Christine Taylor,

Jennifer Elise Cox, and Henriette


When it comes to Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) and The Brady Bunch (1969-1974), I’m strictly a novice. The Brady Bunch ran on prime time on ABC when I was living in Paris, but even if I’d been in the United States I would have found other things to do with my Friday nights; the show obviously made its deepest imprint on the preteens who had to stay home. I never saw any Pagnol movies during that period either: my French wasn’t fluent enough for me to follow the Provençal patois of the dialogue without subtitles, and anyway, the standard line on Pagnol’s movies back then was that they were “canned theater.” (Pagnol himself was the main culprit in fostering this impression: “Film is the art of imprinting, fixing, and diffusing theater,” he wrote in 1933.)

After I returned to the States I made a stab at catching up with Pagnol via two or three scratchy 16- millimeter prints – César and The Baker’s Wife are the only two I can recall — which left little impression.… Read more »


Appropriately and suggestively, the title of Francoise Romand’s first feature (1994), based on Frederic Dard’s thriller The Executioner Weeps, translates as “Past Imperfect.” Like her inventive documentaries Mix-Up and Call Me Madame, it deals with the construction of personal identity. On the Mediterranean coast of Tunisia a gloomy Jewish war photographer fleeing his past saves the life of a mysterious woman suffering from amnesia and carrying $300,000 (Helas pour moi’s heroine, Laurence Masliah). In helping her discover who she is and how she came by the money, he enters a metaphysical labyrinth that produces more questions than answers. This movie doesn’t offer many of the satisfactions of a conventional thriller, and the action flags a bit toward the end, but it’s a provocative, troubling, and haunting spellbinder just the same, beautifully shot and originally conceived. The sound track is especially striking. Romand will be present to discuss the film at all three screenings. A U.S. premiere. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, 8:00, and Sunday, March 5, 6:00, 443-3737. … Read more »

John Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisitions

The world premiere of an engrossing two-hour video documentary portrait by Chicago filmmaker Denis Mueller, who will be present at the screening. A hatchet job, though a convincing one, this compilation of intelligent talking heads and fascinating archival footage documents Hoover’s behind-the-scenes involvement in major historical events and wisely eschews such personal matters as his closet homosexuality to concentrate on the illegality of many of his investigative methods and procedures–a litany of abuses ranging from blackmail to embezzlement and beyond. Little of the indictment is new, but as a lucid survey and historical refresher course this is essential viewing. Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Divison, Friday, March 3, 7:30, 384-5533. … Read more »