Fresh on our Shelves (fresh, like spring rain… pfff):

So it’s spring – that time of year known for its hail storms; when the sky parts and the clouds vomit a years worth of icy grit; London is awash with the traditional monsoons – one raindrop away from washing down the Thames and landing us all in Calais or back on the beaches of Dunkirk; and where everyone shivers at home, trying to warm themselves by a roaring candle. Ah, May! Some say summer’s coming. But what’s that?

Once we’re done jumping in the puddles and gloating that we probably need never wash our cars again, let us huddle around the glow of our TVs, for whilst the wind has been battering our coiffeurs, spring has sprung to our shelves (yes, they have been dusted recently) and brought us a fresh brood:

MPW-29785BIGGER THAN LIFE (1956)

Nicholas Ray takes on attitudes towards mental illness and addiction and brings out a powerhouse performance from lead actor, James Mason.  A seriously ill man (Mason) is persuaded by doctors to take a new miracle pill which he soon finds, not only eliviates the symptoms of his illness, but leaves him feeling really remarkably well indeed. So well, in fact, that he inevitably begins to abuse this wonder drug by significantly upping his dosage, causing wild side effects and a psychotic break that threatens the welfare of himself and his family. Co-starring Barbara Rush as the suffering wife. Watch out for the son with his mini-James Dean red windbreaker,  à la Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause:

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Rebel-Without-a-Cause_James-Dean-jeans-cake.bmpI wonder what the cake signifies… Definitely daddy issues – possibly of the oedipal variety. Oh, for a peak into the mind of Nicholas Ray. Actually, if that sounds appetising – check out Lightening Over Water (1980), the bizarre, spellbinding, and deeply affecting experimental docu-film Wim Wenders made on his friend whilst Ray, who was dying of cancer, was attempting to complete his final film.

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lindsay-i-know-who-killed-me-25147503-800-600I Know Who Killed Me (2007)

Is it amazing? Is it atrocious? Most people (including the good folk at IMDb) believe the latter. Well. If you’ve watched a lot of cult/B-movies you might well see the genius in it. If you haven’t, then its atrocious. And, yes, it does have Lindsay Lohan girating on a pole, which was probably info enough to send most critics into the cinema with bazookas. Just watch it as though it were a cult classic (which it should be, if it hasn’t reached that status yet). Squint and imagine it was made in 1971. Basically, don’t throw rotten eggs til you’ve seen it. Then, knock yourselves out.

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escape_from_alcatrazESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979) – dir. Don Siegel

Based on a true story. Self-explanatory.

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MPW-33975WHO’S THAT GIRL (1987) – dir. James Foley, who also directed At Close Range (1986) (starring Madonna’s then-husband, Sean Penn) and the infinitely superior, Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). I have nothing to say about this. And I actually quite like Madonna.

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masked_and_anonymousMASKED AND ANONYMOUS (2003) – dir. Larry Charles (who also direct Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno AND The Dictator). Starring every famous person who has ever lived (which immediately makes me suspicious) – including Bob Dylan.

posted by Dixie Turner

Film of the Day: Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) P.S. Happy Birthday, James Mason

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**THE MEASURE OF LOVE IS WHAT ONE IS WILLING TO GIVE UP FOR IT**

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman – directed by Albert Lewin, shot by Jack Cardiff and starring birthday boy, James Mason and an unforgettable Ava Gardner – tells the story of a powerful attraction between two seeming strangers which turns out to be a love that has pulled them together from across centuries. The Flying Dutchmen has been condemned to eternal life lest one who loves him is willing to die to release him… can love break the spell?

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PANDORA: A WOMAN THAT MEN DIE FOR

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HENDRIK AKA THE FLYING DUTCHMAN: NEEDS A WOMAN TO DIE FOR HIM

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“I know now that they were in love. But I have a feeling they never spoke of it.”

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Geoffrey Fielding: “To understand one human soul is like trying to empty the sea with a cup.”

by Dixie Turner

The Birthday Bell

For whom it tolls:

James Mason (1909-1984)

He of the distinctive voice (see Eddie Izzard’s impersonation of God, or, just see James Mason) and eyebrows, Yorkshireman, James Mason – born today. If you watch only one of his films (shame on you), here are two suggestions, just to be difficult:

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)

Tragic love story of an ill-fated couple who are bound to each other through the ages. A stranger and his yacht enter the port of Esperanza and the beautiful Pandora, whom is loved by all but loves none, finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. Centuries before, having killed the woman he loves, the Dutchman is sentenced to eternally wander the seas until a woman is ready to die for him… Watch out for Man Ray’s influence in the film – he painted the picture of Pandora and designed some of the set. The film is also notable for the legendary Jack Cardiff’s excellent cinematography. Oh, and of course, Ava Gardner, often described as the most beautiful woman in the world…

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HMCBGgweqI

Lolita (1962)

How did they ever make a film of Lolita? So the poster reads. Mason plays Humbert Humbert in Nabokov’s delicious tale of ‘wrong’ love between the teenage nymph, played by ’60s it girl Sue Lyon, and the middle-aged Professor Humbert. Iconic film with an exceptional cast – Shelley Winters, as Lolita’s jilted mother, gives one of the finest performances of her career.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRVqgvW8100

Joseph Cotton (1905-1994)

Despite being in some of the greatest films of his day, Joseph Cotton isn’t as well-known as he should be. Perhaps he came across as too soft or gentle, too much of a ‘good guy’ for the studio execs, but he often played a supporting role: the friend; the good fellow who’s noticed something fishy going on; the jilted husband etc. But check these out:

Niagara (1952)

Brilliant thriller with seemingly innocent Marilyn Monroe as the deceiving wife. Certainly one of her finest roles. Watch out for the scene where she sings ‘Kiss’.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xvv1lQ65Nw

The Third Man (1949)

The ultimate film noir and one of the best films ever made. Ever. You haven’t seen a film until you’ve seen this one. That’s all I have to say about that. And it’s directed by Carol Reed and co-stars Orson Welles. That’s it. Based on the book by Graham Greene. Enough.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7d9VpSdGhA