In briskness of pace, excitement, humour, and even cheesiness it reminded me a lot of the wonderful Franju 'Judex/Nuits Rouges set.
This is dead-on. I'm slightly obsessed with this strain of cinema -- represented, at its best, by Feuillade, Lang, Franju, Welles, and perhaps a few others. I've thought of writing about them, but my reaction is so instinctive and emotional that I've had difficulty formulating an articulate approach to the subject. I mean, my love for them is by no means imaginary, nor is it a guilty pleasure -- these films are rich, and their merits are very real. But they inhabit such strange and irrational places, and I think some people have difficulty coming to terms with that. The Greenspun quote on the 1,000 Eyes page of MoC's site gets at the matter, that these films require "both greater innocence and infinitely greater sophistication than most of us bring to the movies nowadays". People dismiss them because of their implausible, labyrinthine plots, but that's precisely why they're so great. These (thrillingly absurd) plots allow us to experience moods, sights, and moments which couldn't exist in any other context. And the filmmakers synthesize these elements into a startling whole: the pulpy, surreal poetry of Franju, the satirical fever dream of Mr. Arkadin, Lang's rendering of fear and mystery into pure cinematic form.
Maybe more on this later. And, on a rather tangential note, anyone who loves these sorts of movies as much as me should check out Edward Gorey's silent screenplay, The Black Doll
. Of course Gorey's work in general is influenced by these films, and silent film in general, but this screenplay is a particularly intense distillation of those influences and his most frank homage. It's an absolute delight -- hilarious and confounding and beautiful -- and the book also has a lengthy interview with Gorey, primarily about his cinephilia. I always tend to think of Gorey when discussing these films, so I thought I'd mention it.
I liked the silent Mabuse the most, but the others hardly stood a chance: how do you best a film like that? Still, the other two try their damnedest and come remarkably close. I really enjoyed 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
, probably more than Testament
, and I don't quite understand why it's been damned by faint praise. Then again, I'm the guy who thinks Ministry of Fear
is top-tier Lang, so maybe I'm just crazy.
All hail Masters of Cinema! Seriously, you guys are a godsend.
agreed about your general comments and about Mr Arkadin, which has long been a favourite Welles of mine; I was delighted to be able to acquire a paperback of the novel, about 30 years ago, - though it remains unread!
I'm intrigued by this screenplay book you've mentioned; I don't think I've ever read any because, although I bought the screenplay paperback of Ford's 'Wagonmaster', I've tended to be put off by those abbreviated 'stage directions'.
I might make an exception in this case, given our mutual interests, but it would need to drop in price.
btw, since making my previous post I've since acquired the box-set of the first series of 'Danger Man': this first series consisted of 25 minute episodes; from Series Two, onwards, it was expanded to 50 minutes.
Although the 25 minute episodes perhaps rely a tad too much on exposition, the abbreviated time allowed does make for snappier, more enjoyable storylines, overall.
I will admit to being concerned with McGoohan's prudishness, however: he explicitly insisted that guns not be used and 'no fooling around with women'!! (although forearmed with this knowledge it could make it interesting to see how the writers, and his character, got around this 'handicap'!)