Sunday, May 01, 1983

MAY 1983, WEST BERLIN

Kaidan / Kwaidan. JP 1965. D: Masaki Kobayashi. Fantastival. A 16mm print dubbed in English. A short version with three episodes only. 1: Black Hair: returning home, the samurai meets his wife as a ghost. 2: Snow Woman: under the eyes watching from the sky the woodcutter falls in love with the woman who is death. 3: The Blind Biwa Player, the story of Miminashi Hoichi, who becomes the court musician of the Heike Clan, long extinct. Because he is blind he is not aware that his listeners are ghosts of the dead. For protection, his whole skin is painted with holy sutras, but something is neglected, and Hoichi returns home earless. - Missing: 4: Chawan no saka / Kuvajainen / A Cup of Tea / [Reflection].
I Was a Teenage Werewolf. US 1957. D: Gene Fowler, Jr. Fantastival. DF. The notorious film proved to be a rather good thriller. Of the werewolf movies I rate this higher than Stuart Walker's and John Landis' variations. There is true sadness in Michael Landon's performance.
Son of Frankenstein. US 1939. D: Rowland V. Lee. Fantastival. Universal's third Frankenstein movie, boasting a great cast: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lionel Atwill. Missing is the gravity of the direction, cinematography and art direction of the predecessors.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. GB 1969. D: Terence Fisher. Fantastival. DF. Peter Cushing's determined performance. Nothing can contain Frankenstein's scientific passion. There is always a cellar for a laboratory, medical instruments to be stolen, corpses to be opened, and brains to be inserted into new bodies. There is a Gothic force in the laboratory scenes with their illuminated glass tanks with their bizarre human experiments.
It Came From Beneath the Sea. US 1955. D: Robert Gordon. Fantastival. "Sie sind gekommen, um Dich zu holen!". In the muddy bottom of the Pacific ocean a monster mutant, a giant octopus has been born as a result of nuclear testing. Broken vessels and plundered fish-catches give us the reason to suspect the worst. Finally the scoundrel appears in Frisco Bay, proceeding to destroy the Golden Gate bridge. Ray Harryhausen's animation is the only reason to watch this.
Metshte navstretshu / Begegnung im All / Encounter in Space / A Dream Come True. SU 1963. D: Mihail Krjukov & Otar Koberidze. Fantastival. DF. The dream of a young man and woman of a space adventure. A sacrifice to rescue a creature from a foreign planet. Childish, without intensity.
7.5.1983 TV Hitparade. Golden Earring: Twilight Zone. Culture Club: Church Of The Poison Mind. Duran Duran: There's Something I Should Know. Rocker's Revenge: The Harder They Come. Spandau Ballet: True. etc.
The Plague of the Zombies. GB 1966. D: John Gilling. Continuation-Fantastival. DF. The squire who has returned from Haiti starts to apply voodoo to manage his mansion in Cornwall. One villager after another turns into a zombie, and are found toiling in the mines of the squire as his free workforce. An old doctor finds the voodoo dolls, and in the ensuing fight they catch fire. Simultaneously also the zombies flare up in flames, and in the final battle they destroy both the mine and their slave-driver.
Nana / Nana. FR 1926. D: Jean Renoir. Arsenal. A 135 min presentation of a brilliant print from the DDR archive. Lush, vital, brimming with jokes, finally tragic. Lighter than the works of Stroheim. Foolish Wives is the obvious model. A Stroheimian sense of a Weltanschauung is missing.
The Train / Juna. US/FR/IT 1964. D: John Frankenheimer. TV, DDR, DF. OK thriller.
Le Fantôme de la liberté. TV, DF, [3]. Feels more diluted each time. My favourite sequence: the one where the naked woman plays the piano and the necrophiliac police commissioner gets a telephone call from beyond the grave. - I keep thinking and the screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière and the producer Serge Silberman urged B. to continue when he had nothing more to say.
Secret Beyond the Door... TV, DF, [2]. Brilliant as a visual-musical composition. As a drama it remains hanging in mid-air: it is either too pared down or not enough.
The Big Store. VHS [x] +
Duck Soup. VHS [x]. The Marx Bros. require a cinema screen and a good audience. And the right mood. Now these were missing.
12.5.1983 Helmut Arlt: Tex Avery cartoons, Italian peplum trailers. Begone Dull Care. CA 1949. D: Norman McLaren & Evelyn Lambart. Oscar Peterson trio.
Die Nibelungen 1: Siegfried / Nibelungen 1: Siegfriedin kuolema. DE 1924. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. The duration of the presentation was 160 min. A majestic pulse; rich and fascinating; the enchantment of the legend. A firm monumental touch with room for the striking detail.
Die Nibelungen 2: Kriemhilds Rache / Nibelungen 2: Kriemhildin kosto. DE 1924. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. The duration of the presentation was 180 min. More gloomy, static and frantic than the first part. The story of an obsession.
La petite marchande d'allumettes. FR 1928. D: Jean Renoir. A print with English intertitles and a fine Romantic music track. A touching adaptation of Andersen's fairy-tale, and not at all one of R's least works.
14.5.1983 TV Hitparade. Mike Batt: Love Makes You Crazy. Wall of Voodoo: Mexican Radio. Toto: I Won't Hold You Back. Joe Jackson: Steppin' Out. Divine: Shake It Up. etc.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. TV. [4]. ZDF reconstruction, probably the best available version. Oddly, this film, already archaic when it was made, keeps growing each time. The only annoying element was the boring whining music, which I quickly turned off.
15.5.1983 Helmut Arlt. Clips from: Der Raub der Mona Lisa (DE 1931, D: Géza von Bolváry), Zu neuen Ufern (Vieraille rannoille, DE 1937, D: Detlef Sierck. Zarah Leander), Ben-Hur (Ben-Hur, US 1926, D: Fred Niblo), Premiere (Ensi-ilta, DE 1937, D: Géza von Bolváry. Zarah Leander), Die Frau, nach der man sich sehnt (Arvoituksellinen nainen, DE 1929, D: Curtis Bernhardt. Marlene Dietrich). Plus complete:
- Dinner for One / Der 90. Geburtstag oder Dinner for One (TVM, DE 1963, D: Heinz Dunkhase). The perfect butler provides the perfect service, although all the four guests invited are already dead. "The same procedure as every year".
- Berlin: die Symphonie der Grossstadt. [2]
Frau im Mond 1-2 / Matka Kuuhun. DE 1929. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. The duration of the presentation was 200 min, certainly much too slow. L. clearly at his weakest.
M. [2] - Revisited after 14 years. - Seeing this the second time was totally different. A nimble, incisive, stimulating "living X-ray" of the big city shaken up by the little mad pedophile-murderer. The structuring of experience. The idea of montage. - It was illuminating to see this in a cinema in Berlin. The delighted audience laughed knowingly at authentic expressions of Berlin slang. I realized that this dark film is also Lang's most humoristic.
You and Me / Ehdonalaisesti vapauteen. US 1939. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. A failed attempt at a synthesis of the musical and the Lehrstück. One of L's weakest efforts.
Liliom. FR 1934. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. A surprisingly successful attempt at French flavour, but no masterpiece.
Hangmen Also Die! Arsenal. [2]
An American Guerrilla in the Philippines / Viidakon sissit. US 1950. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. Tyrone Power and Tom Ewell as guerrilla in the Philippines. L. at his most impersonal but not at his worst.
21.5.1983 TV Hitparade. Peter Tosh: Johnny B. Goode. George Clinton: Atomic Dog. Thompson Twins: We Are Detective. New Order: Blue Monday. etc.
22.5.1983 TV: Luis Buñuel - mon dernier soupir. The ingenious hidalgo in good spirits in his last interview.
24.6.1983 TV Bananas. Anne Bertucci: Number One Contender. The Cocoanuts: Did You Have To Love Me The Way You Did. etc.
25.5.1983 Arsenal 20 Years Jubilee (the first screening reconstructed):
Das Wachsfigurenkabinett. DE 1924. D: Paul Leni. Arsenal 20 Years Jubilee. Duration 75 min, a bad Czech print. A charming fantasy of a poet, for whom the characters of the waxworks become alive. +
Lehrer im Wandel. DE 1963. D: Alexander Kluge. Arsenal 20 Years Jubilee. +
Notizen aus dem Altmühltal. DE 1962. D: Hans Rolf Strobel, Heinrich Tichawsky. Arsenal 20 Years Jubilee
26.5.1983 Helmut Arlt. Clips from: Der Kaiser von Kalifornien (DE 1936, D: Luis Trenker), A Connecticut Yankee (Jenkki kuningas Arthurin hovissa, US 1931, D: David Butler. Will Rogers). A Damsel in Distress [x].
28.5.1983 TV Hitparade. Tracey Ullmann: Can't Break Away. Man Parrich: Hip Hop Be Bop. Grandmaster Flash: The Message. etc.
La Vie est à nous. FR 1936. D: Jean Renoir. Arsenal. A weak print. Politically a film of its time, but the sincerity is still affecting.
29.5.1983 Helmut Arlt:
- The March of Time: Hollywood und der Krieg (1943)
- Päivä Karl Marxin haudalla / A Day at the Grave of Karl Marx. FI 1983. D: Peter von Bagh. VHS
- Das blaue Licht. DE 1932. D: Leni Riefenstahl
- Tiefland / Alamaa. DE 1940-1952. D: Leni Riefenstahl
- I Could Go On Singing. the second reel
Cloak and Dagger / Viitta ja tikari. US 1946. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. Gary Cooper fights Nazis in Switzerland and Italy and falls in love with Lilli Palmer.
Man Hunt / Ihmismetsästys. US 1941. D: Fritz Lang. Arsenal. A wonderful discovery, one of L's best, a much finer Resistance thriller than Cloak and Dagger. L. at the height of his visual intensity. Walter Pidgeon is L's most sympathetic hero.