February 25, 2006

"One is starved for Technicolor up there"(*)

I'm sure you enjoy watching classic films as much as I do: all that directorial craft, thespian talent, literary screenplays, dazzling technicolor and not a CGI in sight. But that's usually the good, remaining and oft repeated stuff on classic film channels.
This week we treated ourselves to two gems:
The Day of the Jackal (Fred Zinneman, 1973): A suave, urbane, ruthless and completely amoral Edward Fox taking the lead in this really superb political thriller as a sort of inverse Roger "The Saint" Moore character. It really gets very nasty as he kills off anyone who is in his way or even on his side but threatening to blow his cover en route to assassination of President De Gaulle.
The film's pace is relentless and not a frame of it is boring. I simply loved the Technicolor look of 1970s Paris and I was surprised at how it actually still looks largely like that today. Inserting film action flawlessly into a real "Liberation Day" parade without the help of any computer graphics was European film making at a high point.
Favourite bit of dialogue:
The Jackal: Half a million. In cash. Half in advance, and half on completion.
Montclair: Half a million francs?
The Jackal: Dollars.
Montclair: Are you mad?
The Jackal: Considering you expect to get France in return, I'd have thought it a reasonable price.

Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964): Speaking of amorality, how is this one for utterly shameless male predator behaviour? Sean Connery (great body, nasty face and American-leavened Scottish accent) blackmailing a mentally ill criminal Tippi Hedren into marrying him, heaven only knows what for. A great advert for heterosexual marriage (not!) as from the outside all looks hunky-dory. Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage had nothing on Hitchcock!
I can remember watching this film when I was very young - maybe 12 or so - and could only remember the sailor's tight whites he struggled out of to avail himself of the services Marnie's mother offered, and his black-haired arms. Amazing the things that impress you at a young age!
Favourite bit of dialogue:
MARNIE: You Freud, me Jane
Totty award: Bruce Dern as the sailor, of course.

(*) Quote from A Matter of Life and Death

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