Friday, September 29, 2006

Weegee >>> Strangelove

From "Stanley Kubrick : a life in pictures" / photographs selected and with a commentary by Christiane Kubrick ; foreword by Stephen Spielberg.

"Weegee (otherwise Arthur Fellig) was a photographer Stanley always admired and he invited him over to England to work as the stills photographer on the film [Dr. Strangelove].
Peter Sellers was much taken with Weegee's accent -- a high-pitched yet muffled amalgam of Newyorkerese and German -- and this was the inspiration for the voice Peter created for Dr. Strangelove."


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Godard quote

Il y a une grand combat entre les yeux et la langue.

Jean-Luc Godard in an interview with Serge Daney -- Libération Dec 26, 1988


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Paul Newman was no hunk

In the original Broadway production of William Inge's play "Picnic", Paul Newman made his Broadway debut as the lackluster best friend Alan (played by Cliff Robertson in the film version), to leading man Ralph Meeker's Hal Carter (Hal was the role William Holden played in the film version. Not surprisingly, Newman coveted the role of Hal either in a touring company or as Meeker's replacement.
Elena Oumano tells this story in her biography of Paul Newman entitled "Newman". (page 43)

He did get to play Hal for two weeks when Meeker was indisposed, but when Newman asked director [Joshua] Logan if, on the strength of his performance, he could take over Meeker’s role in the road company, Logan again failed to discern leading-man material in the slight blue-eyed young man. “I don’t think so,” he told a disappointed Newman, “because you don’t carry any sexual threat.”

Internet Broadway Database page for 1953 production of "Picnic"


Friday, September 22, 2006

Bill Krohn ("Hitchcock at Work") on Hitchcock

From the "making-of" documentary on the "I Confess" dvd,
Bill Krohn, author of "Hitchcock at Work" speaking
at about 8:20 into the film.

"He [Hitchcock] said that bad movies are photographs of people talking. A Hitchcock movie is a photograph of people thinking. "


Jean Renoir's last letter

This is the last letter that Jean Renoir wrote six months and one day before his death addressed to François Truffaut.
It is from "Jean Renoir : letters / edited by David Thompson and Lorraine LoBianco ; translations by Craig Carlson, Natasha Arnoldi, Michael Wells ; translations of the letters of François Truffaut by Anneliese Varaldiev"

To François Truffaut
11 August 1978

Dear François.
I am sending this note for no practical purpose. You know how fond I am of you, and I know how fond you are of me. I am repeating aloud because I enjoy it. It is like a brief farewell on a station platform. All that is missing is the sweet smell of the soot from Victoria Station.
You don’t need anybody to help you transport your friends into a world whose citizens are all genuine knights. The New Wave gathers together its barons at a round table.
Dido and I send our love.
Jean Renoir

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paul Schrader on writing "Raging Bull" and film biography

Paul Schrader on the commentary track of "Raging Bull"

"I'm not a big fan of the form of biography because people's lives don't tend to have a sort of dramatic arc. and then what you have to do is manipulate the facts which is -- always makes you feel a little queasy when you create composite characters and you have people meet who never met in real life. But if you're going to do a biography, it's always best to do one about someone who's relatively unknown. Then you can really get into the truth of their psyche without being so worried about the audience knowing that you've taken liberties. and so LaMotta was good because people didn't know that much about him."


Jacques Rivette - Cahiers du Cinema - May 1957

from the roundtable "Six Characters in Search of an Auteur" published in the May 1957 special issue of Cahiers du Cinema "Situation of French Cinema"

"The ideal for French cinema would be that, on one hand, you have the super-productions made by directors like Delannoy or Le Chanois (people who are qualified to do that and do it well such that a film costing 500 million francs brings back 800 million francs or even more, which is what, after all, everyone wants) and, on the other, directors, of talent who refuse to be involved in these combinations, who possess the kind of moral integrity to and who are contented with films (let’s put it at 100 million francs) that have no need of foreign markets to amortize themselves and where they can make true works of auteurs. It is necessary that these two domains co-exist and that they be clearly distinct from each other. This is the exact case of Italian cinema, which has its crises as well, but which remains in the best of health inasmuch as it never confuses “Ulysses”, or any other super-production, and the school Rossellini, Zavattini, de Sica, Antonioni who, while they disagree on a number of points, have themselves never been compromised."

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Samson Raphaelson on himself vis-a-vis Tennessee Williams

Samson Raphaelson : I am a better craftsman than Eugene O’Neill - no comparison - than Tennessee Williams - no comparison. But they’re much better playwrights than I am.

Bill Moyers : Why?

Samson Raphaelson : Because their life, in both cases, feed, marvelously, into their plays. Their tragedies are part of the tragedies that they write. And -- Tennessee Williams writes one marvelous and bad play after another which if he sat down with me for two hours I could do miracles on. But I’d never be as good as the guy who wrote.

From "A Portrait of Samson Raphaelson" an episode in the "Creativity with Bill Moyers" series broadcast by PBS in the mid 1980s.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Emma Wilson on the Robert Bresson film "Diary of a Country Priest"

Although it is a literary adaptation (of Georges Bernanos’s novel), Journal could not be further from the "Tradition of quality"". Bresson develops a highly individual style, typified by stark images, silences and absences, ideally suited to the recurrent concern with spirituality in his cinema from the 1940s on. In Journal, Bresson also explores the possibility of a diary form in cinema, changing both the form and content of French film.
Emma Wilson "French Cinema since 1950 Personal Histories" (1999)

Marcel Pagnol by Jean Renoir

Pagnol believes in nothing but dialogue, and in his case he is right.
My Life and My Films Jean Renoir page 122.

Francois Truffaut according to Ward Just

They did not understand that Truffaut's great task in The Four Hundred Blows was not to make the boy into himself but to make himself into the boy, not autobiography but anti-autobiography.
Ward Just The Weather in Berlin (p 70)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A writing lesson from Winston Churchill

This story is quoted from the English novelist Geoffrey Bocca’s “Best seller : a nostalgic celebration of the less-than-great books you have always been afraid to admit you loved “ (pages 16-19)

"All at once I found myself with a chance not to be missed, and moreover with the courage to ask the question. I spoke up. 'Sir Winston, I am a writer, and I want to be a better writer. I know how much you were influenced by Gibbon and The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I have read this too, with great profit. Have you another writer you especially recommend?'
"He said on word to me....The word he said was, 'Kinglake'.
"I had to wait until I returned to London to look up Kinglake. This is what one of the encyclopedias says.
While a student in 1835 he travelled Throughout the East, and the impression made on him was so powerful that he was seized with a desire to record it. "Eothen", a sensitive and witty record of impressions keenly felt and remembered was published in 1844 and enjoyed considerable reputation. In 1854, he went to Crimea and was present as a spectator at the Battle of Alma. He made the acquaintance of Lord Raglan, the British commander, whose widow subsequently placed all of the commander’s papers at the writer’s disposal. For the rest of his life Kinglake was engaged in the task of completing this monumental and largely ignored history. Thirty-two years elapsed between its commencement and publication of the last volume and nine volumes appeared in all.
"Churchill’s guideline to me was clear. forget the lifework, read ‘Eothen’, a title already familiar to me.
"I read Eothen with joy and with love possessed, and put it down saying, 'Thanks, Winnie.' I knew one of Winston Churchill’s unpublished secrets.
"A couple of years later I found myself alone with Churchill after dinner at La Capponchina. I reminded him of our earlier conversation, told him how much I felt enriched by Eothen, and asked him to recommend other reading. Churchill’s first leson had been concluded in a single word. This time he was twice as expansive. What he said was, ‘More Kinglake‘.
I said, ‘B-but, sir Winston, the only other thing Kinglake ever wrote was his nine-volume history of the invasion of the Crimea. It is completely unread.’
"Churchill’s eyes twinkled the way they so often did in wartime propaganda photographs. He pushed a thumb into my dress shirt. ‘Read it, my boy.’ he said. ‘as you say, nobody reads it. so no one can accuse you of plagiarism, can they?’ "

This story continues on;

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Nicole Kidman on Stanley Kubrick

from the interview on the "Eyes Wide Shut" dvd recorded on July 12, 1999

"Stanley always was waiting for something to happen and he wasn't as interested in naturalistic acting as he was in something that - for whatever reason - surprised him or piqued his interest. that when he would go "Ahhh...OK, now we're on to something" and he was always interested in exploring things. That there was no right and wrong in relation to making a film, a performance. It wasn't about this is the right way to do it and this is the wrong way to do it. It was about all the facets of doing, so that he could go inot the editng room and edit it."