Skip to main content
The largest online newspaper archive
A Publisher Extra® Newspaper

The Guardian from London, Greater London, England • 13

The Guardiani
London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

MOVIE GUARDIAN Thursday July 30 1981 Above, Miss Piggy behind bars in The Great Muppet Caver right, Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in Raiders Of The Lost Ark Tim Pulleine reviews Spielberg's new Silm and the other releases ftBn 1 STEVEN Spielberg's status as a Hollywood wunderkind took a fair old pasting from the commercial fiasco of his 1941, so it is not altogether surprising that his new feature should have something of a run-for-cover air. And since the producer of Raiders Of The Lost Ark (Empire, A) is none but that other "movie brat" whizzkid George (Star Wars)' Lucas, it comes as no surprise at all that the film should draw on material of an unabashedly juvenile, Saturday matinee sort. The locations of Raiders may lurch expensively from Peru to Tunisia, but spiritually the film' remains anchored firmly in the graveyard of bygone celluloid programme-fillers a fact amusingly, if perhaps unwittingly, attested by the way in which the craggy peak of the Paramount logo melts imperceptibly into the mountainous terrain of the. opening sequence. The Lost Ark of the title is nothing less than the biblical Ark of the Covenant a radar speaking to God, someone quaintly calls it first unearthed in the South American jungle and much lusted after (this is the late 1930s) by Hitler himself.

American intelligence agents iare perturbed about the implications, and soon enough a two fisted professor of archaeology, Indiana Jones (embodied in the blank-visaged person of Harrison Ford), is dispatched on a mission to intercept the priceless artefact, which when finally prised open, predictably proves to contain some prettv unpleasant surprises for the assorted Nazi stooges drafted in to provide the all-purpose, instant villainy. Jones's Stroerman-style transformation from unlikely academic to invincible man of action emblematically wrought by his assumption of not cape and mask but merely a permanent five o'clock shadow and a battered trilby, Nick Gifford's camera, and-r, barring a brief sequence porting to be taking place in. wartime France the period background is sketched in. Yet, despite these, virtues, the dramatisation remains awkward in construe-'; tion and eventually ennervating in effect. The class antagonisms fail trr combine with the elements of, amour fou, and the strong undertones of masochism finally seems to be turned; against the audience.

Vagaries of distribution have denied British filmgoers family iarity with the work of the-Japanese director Shohei Ima-mura, but the National Filrr Theatre is making amends with, a 12-film season during Ausn'st. If The Pornographcr August and 31.) is anything to. go by, this will be a welcome, event. Made in 1966, and often-appealinglv humorous, this is an everyday story of the ups and downs of porn-peddling folk (no double entendre inten- ded the film is resolutely-unpmrient). It is possible thfci it acquires for a spec tator a gratuitous aspect 'of the" bizarre.

But standards there is no gainsaying the dis-' tinctiveness of the black-and-" white scope composition (like-' several Japanese movie-makers, Imamuva seems to have natural affinity for the wide-. screen format), nnr the engagement with the outlandish" suhipct-matter. Also running at the NFT-throughout Aueust is a retrn-; snective devoted to John unsung American career sfrnfrhed from the; silent era to 1950. but who is most eelphrfrtpd tnr a series-of what in the Thirties unblnshingly labelled women's, pictures. Three were remade some twaj decades later bv Douglas who has recently had a surfeit of rarefied critical pntioru! If nothing else, the NFT seasorf.

shr'ild be a useful corrective and offer substantial pleasures; (ICA Cinema, AA), and even further than the title might suggest, since the mouse which figured in the Dylan Thomas short story from which Karl Francis's brave independent venture derives has disappeared from, the expanded screen version. Filmed entirely in Wales and set during the first world war and shortly afterwards, this is something of a Celtic Lady Chatterley's Lover an overtone heightened by the way in which the lady of the manor, whose spouse is symbolically confined in a wheelchair, characterises her proletarian inamorato as a puritan at heart. The Valley locations are atmospherically evoked by conniving fashion models and stolen jewels in ye olde London Town. The discrepancy in size between the Muppets and such co-starring human foils as Diana Rigg becomes a bit disconcerting in the dialogue scenes, and the running joke in which we are constantly reminded that it's all only a movie gets rather trodden into the ground. But the musical numbers are catchy, and there is a choice moment when Miss Piggy rejects debonair crook Charles Grodin, who has previously been serenading her, with the caustic put -down: "You can't even sing your voice was dubbed." It is a far crv from this to The Mouse And The Woman, that we are in the presence of a more than facile craftsman.

It may well be that Raiders, with its marked absence of sex and equally marked presence of gloating physical injury, is what nowadays passes for family entertainment, even if a couple of scenes might be thought liable to scare sensitive children half out of their wits. More traditional family fare is served up. by The Great Muppet Caper (Classic Central Cross and elsewhere U), which though it is somewhat thinly spread oyer 96 minutes contrives, to tolerably engaging effect, to involve the garishly cuddle-some creatures in a farcical live-action anecdote about ning battle through" the streets of Cairo that attracts the attention of not a single policeman one becomes increasingly aware of the absence of any real narrative propulsion or even clarity. Never mind the plausibility, the film-makers seem to be saying, just feel the bumps. But the casual plotting that might have passed muster in the ramshackle context of an old Republic serial just won't support a two-hour super-production, and the disproportion between means and ends becomes increasingly tiresome and ultimately exasperating.

Only in one passage, really, does the film transcend its inherent limitations, that of the wild desert drive in which which last remains implanted on his head in defiance of all the laws of gravity points clearly enough to the movies debt to the serials of yore. Sometimes, indeed, as when the hero and heroine (Karen Allen, given next to nothing to do) are incarcerated by the sneering heavies in a snake-infested subterranean vault, one is positively surprised not to be confronted by a rubric adjuring the audience not to miss next week's thrilling instalment. The trouble is that as one set-piece succeeds another, and coincidence is piled on improbability with the Nazis persistently failing to take advantage of sundry opportunities to put paid to Jones, and a run The Robe (ATV, Sunday, 2 30 pm). Biblical spectacular which carved a niche in movie history it was the first film in CinemaScope. Conventional religioso stuff, maybe, but it should stir a few nostalgic memories.

The World of Suzie Wong (Anglia, Monday 2 pm). Fairly predictable East-meets-West tearjerker, 1960 vintage, with William Holden as one of those unlikely painters so often to be found in the cinema. Directed with glossy skill, though, by the talented Richard Quine. Special interest Two welcome seasons get under way at the National Film Theatre next week, devoted to the Japanese director, Shohei Imamura (see above), and the Hollywood master of melodrama, John Stahl; Cinema City in Norwich will also be mounting a Stahl season during August. For a week, from Sunday, Losey's Don Giovanni can be caught at the Hampstead Everyman, and Tarkovsky's Stalker at the Brixton Ritzy.

Those in search of something less esoteric (but even longer) can, until Saturday, catch up with a revival at the Phoenix, East Fdnchley, of the daddy of them all, Gone With The Wind. The Electric continues its tribute the one and only Buster Keaton. Programmes at the Scala, King's Cross, encompass Pasolini's daunting Salo (Monday) and shockers of a different sort in Jack Arnold's Creature From The Black Lagoon (in 3-D) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (Wednesday). And on Saturday the Scala mounts a special all-day Mar Scene from Gregory's Girl poised or Taormina prize The Taormina Film Festival has scored a European first with an all-woman jury. Derek Malcolm reports Jones commandeers a German truck and deploys it to wreck an entire convoy of adversaries.

Of course it is a parody of the stagecoach pursuit in a western, but this sequence is constructed by Spielberg and his cutter, Michael Kahn, with all the f.fops so palpably out that it makes the absurdity of the action delightfully apparent by converting it into a kind of live-action cartoon. In this Spielberg again displays the influence of animation techniques not only on 1941 but on The Sugarland Express and even Close Encounters as well. By contrast with the faceless efficiency surrounding it, this sequence fleetingly reminds us BRIEFING Don't miss The Last Metro (Curzon)'. Francois Truffaut's idiosyncratic anecdote set in occupied Paris, involving characteristic crossovers between life and art. Highly personal, finely crafted, a little soft-centred.

With Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu. Kagemusha (Gate Mayfair). Akira Kurosawa back on home ground with a magisterial fresco of sixteenth century Japan, as striking for its interiors as for its battle-pieces. But be advised that it runs for some three hours. Chariots of Fire (Odeon Hay-market, Classic Chelsea).

British in the fullest sense, Hugh Hudson's two-edged view of 1920s Olympic athletes is assembled with a winning degree of enthusiasm and sheer technical address. Altered States (ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, Warner West End). Ken Russell's latterday riff on Jekyll and Hyde will knock your eye out with its visual effects, though elsewhere you may occasionally wonder if it's the brain behind the film that has been knocked a bit loose. Quartet (Gate, Screen on the Hill). Elegant design and polished playing compensate for underlying structural weakness in James Ivory's Julie Andrews briefly topless in S.O.B..

adaptation of Jean Rhys's memoir of Paris in the literary Twenties. With Alan Bates, Maggie Smith and Isa-belle Adjani. SOB (Classic Central Cross, Leicester Square Theatre). Blake Edwards's arsenic-centred valentine to the new Hollywood comes across with a lot of zing, even if it does hedge a good few bets along the way. With William Holden and a (briefly) topless Julie Andrews.

Airplane (Classic Oxford Street). The best comedy for ages, still happily going strong, a slam-bang parody of disaster movies and also (which is less remarked) an accom- JfPf CIMJMA BRIX 737-2121 BRIXTON THE UNCUT VERSION Last 3 re men have plished display of filmcraft in its own right. The Postman Always Rings Twice (Classic Chelsea). Bob Rafelson's frequently stunning new version of the hard-boiled James Cain melodrama creates a perfervid sense of the Depression background and of the erotic encounters between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. The Aviator's Wife (Academy One).

Eric Rohmer's deceptively simple, wholly affecting disquisition on the lives and loves of some ordinary Parisians makes an altogether extraordinary piece of undemonstrative cinema. In the same programme, Norman McLaren's delightful short, Pas de Deux. Films on TV The Big Sleep (tonight, BBC-2, 8 15 pm Howard Hawks season carries on its splendid way with Humphrey Bogart filling the trench-coat of Raymond Chandler's shamus Philip Marlowe to perfection in what might well be considered the private-eye thriller to beat them all. Darkness and pain brilliantly juggled in suspension with insolent, throwaway wit. The Lost World (Saturday, BBC-1, 6' 45 pm).

Enjoyably silly, because straight-faced, 1960 update of Conan Doyle, with Jill St John besporting herself in a natty range of casuals to scream at an assortment of (quite well animated) prehistoric monsters while Michael Rennie and Claude Rains rhubarb solemnly on the sidelines. Bedlam and Bug (Saturday, BBC-2, 10 22 pm). This weekend's horror double-bill kicks off with Val Lewton's well-mounted but rather stultified 1946 foray into Hogarth country, while Bug, one of the last productions of a more recent sultan of shudders, William Castle, is a routine but quite energetic slice of horror-comic hokum. Young Billy Young (BBC-1. Monday, 9 25 pm).

Robert Mitchum as veteran lawman reluctantly taking tenderfoot Robert Walker in NATIONAL. FILM THEATRE South Bank London SE1 Box Office 01-928 32323 August programmes JOHN M. STAHL: The Romantic Imago SHOHEI IMAMURA Voyeur and Analyst DAVID PUTTNAM Producer INGMAR BERGMAN Parti Tickets 1.40 fr El JO Membership from 50p NOW tow is nonchalantly in command of this lively, inventive 1969 western, directed by the sometimes (but not here) erratic Burt Kennedy. Angie Dickinson is a welcome presence in the wings. Broken Arrow (HTV, Saturday, 10 50 am).

A Saturday morning tonic for Harlech viewers Delmer Humphrey Bogart: The Big Sleep (BBC-1, tonight) Daves's beautiful, elegiac tale progenitor of a Fifties' cycle of liberal westerns about the ill-fated love affair of frontiersman James Stewart and Indian maiden Debra Paget. Seven Thunders (LWT. Sunday, 2 45 pm). Something of a rarity: a moody wartime thriller, made in Britain in 1957, by Argentinian-born Hugo Fregonese, one of the few Hollywood genre directors of the Fifties never to have been critically "discovered" but, on the basis of several of his movies, well worth being. I i Sur2ncJ aug oneweek Donald Sutherland Mary Tyler Moore I Directed by ACADEMYAWARD WINNER The planet where nightmares come true TARKOVSKYS SOLARIS Subtitles A "Mindstorming" EXPRESS "Definitely to be seen" STANDARD NOW PLAYING SHOWING ilyn Monroe programme, fea- turing five films, clips, and surprises." Alan Resnais's Providence; begins a revival run at lha Knightsbridge Minema Carne's Drole de Drame continues at Academy 3.

At the ICA Cinematheque, a Video Rock series will be screened on Tuesdays in August, and next Wednesday the Dutch film, In For Treatment, begins a 10-day run. Late nights Paul Shrader's Blue Collar is teamed with Jeremy Kagan's ingenious and little seen The Big Fix at the Electric (Saturday) which also screens two vintage Thirties' Hitchcocks, The Lady Vanishes and Sabotage (Monday). There's a Werner Her-zog double at the Phoenix; Nosferatu and A i Wrath of God (Friday). Less demanding fare at the same cinema on Saturday: a double-bill of the inimitable Barry MacKenzie. Horror devotees are catered for at the Paris Pullman on Saturday, with Communion and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, while on Sunday Sebastiane plays with Anger's Scorpio Rising.

Scorsese's Taxi Driver is teamed with John Byrum's Heartbeat at the Screen on the Green (Saturday) Elsewhere Family fare seems" mainly to be the order of the day among the general releases, what with The Great Muppet Caper, Herbie Goes Bananas, and The Cannonball Run among others, and for Python-minded children of all ages The Time Bandits. Tim Pulleine -FINANCIAL TIMES 8S. 1 ERIC ROHMER'S new film THE CRITICS ARE UNANIMOUS "Entrancing, -suidat times "A delicate comedy Gallic W1NHIHQ" SUHDAX TELEGRAPH "As beguiling a picture as we're likely to see tills no vote on the programme simply for, the sake of it. The attractive Icelandic film, The Land And Its Sons is about a young man who, like so many others, leaves his farming and hunting community for the town in the mistaken belief that his life will somehow be better. It looks like arriving on British television soon but what English audiences will think of it is problematical since he not only shoots his beautiful white pony but also leaves his equally attractive dog behind.

Seldom have I seen a film which so thoroughly courts disaster, with an English audience. The Egyptian film, Medhat El Sibay's The Case Is Closed, is a comedy about a peasant who joins the police to earn a living but fails so completely to stop burglars and car thieves that' his superiors put him in charge of guarding the pyramids. Even then disaster strikes since one of them is stolen when he is not looking; and the scene where he has to explain the theft to the bureaucratic careerist who is his boss reminds one quite forcibly of Stan Laurel cheerfully explaining the inexplicable to Oliver Hardy. Rafigh Pooya's In Defence Of The People, was dismissed in some quarters as a piece of propaganda for the Ayatol-lah but is in fact far from that. It centres on the show trials under the Shah of a poet and a film-maker who were allowed by the courts, in a gesture towards democracy, to explain their positions in front of television.

Both were hanged as Marxist agitators and the film-maker, who now lives in America but who collected his material in Iran, uses their long statements to explain the Iranian revolution and the events of the post-war years which made it inevitable. The film, which stops after the capture of the American hostages and the abortive rescue mission, merely states that it was Shah who made the Ayatollah possible. Its Marxist tone would scarcely find much favour with either gentleman. The problem for the director now is whether he will be allowed to show it in Iran. rudely disturbed by the wife's cancer prognosis.

The husband sells his home and takes her on a last tour of their relatives before the illness claims her life. The film's sentimentality is heightened by Kedrova's theatrical performance but Lee Grant's direction is alert enough to prevent too many lapses into the kind of inspirational tear-jerking that weakened Love Story, and it does manage to seem both refreshingly different from and better than such previous examples of popular weepies. This is not surprising since Tilly Olsen, the feminist writer, originated the story and Melvyn Douglas's per formance is superb, reminding one of the neglected but memorable I Never Sang For, My Father. The other American film also caused a stir, largely because of the presence in Taormina of its leading lady, the Australian actress, Linda Kerridge, who looks so much like Marilyn Monroe that she finds it impossible to make a career in films without having to impersonate her both and off the set. Fortunately Vernon Zimmerman's Fade To Black requires her to do so legitimately, being a comic fantasy about a young film buff who so resents the world's jeers that he resolves to murder those who mock' him in ways he remembers from old movies.

Kerridge is his girlfriend largely because she looks so like the Monroe poster above his bed but even she cannot prevent his spectacular suicide in the manner of James Cagney in White Heat, shouting "Top of the world, Ma," from the roof of the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. The film is grossly uneven but very lively. One of the principal purposes of the smaller festivals like Taormina is to promote films from unlikely countries the Pakistani film, Blood Of Hussain, won here last year and was eventually shown in England largely because of its prize. This year we have seen films from Iceland, Morocco, Egypt, and Iran which were clearly not IT MIGHT have been easy enough to guess that one day a European film festival would equip itself with an all-woman jury. But no one would have supposed that Taormina in Sicily would be the pioneer.

Sicilians, however, have not yet changed their spots entirely. "And what do you most lack on the jury this year said the presenter of the festival's television spectacular knowingly to the Italian jurist. "Why," she said, smiling a winsome smile and waving her arms at the 30,000 crowd in the open air theatre, "the other half of the human race of course men." So much for feminism in these parts. The Aims this unusual jury, led by Marguerite Duras, have' been looking at in competition are now exclusively first and second features, and about as much to do with the high-powered and commercially potent cinema represented by Raiders Of The Lost Ark as Spielberg has with. Bresson.

But the two different worlds of cinema do occasionally interact. Taomina was after all the first European festival that recognised the new Aus-. tralian cinema and incidentally gave Spielberg his first international prize. Britain is represented this year by Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl, which festival organisers throughout the world seem keen to show. Already the Scottish film has been sold to Scandinavia and there are strong hopes that more territories will follow.

Last year, Chris Petit collected a prize for Radio On. There could well be another; success for Britain tonight. There is, however, some stronger competition than last year among the West German first feature much praised at Cannes. It would be a surprise if Tell Me A Riddle, Lee Grant's first film as director was left out of the prize list if only because of the fine performances of Melvyn Douglas and the Russian-born actress, Lila Kedrova. They play an elderly couple of Russian Jewish origin whose now peaceful life in America is "Enormous "I can't imagine a fresher summer-weight film" -NEW STANDARD As wholly satisfying an entertainment as any to he found in -the times English subtitles An Artificial Er 1M a ACADEMY CINEMA ONE Oxford Street-London WI-4372981 MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI'S S()c ebcriimlb Wiicvi) from EAN COCTEAU'S play "The Eagle hasTwo Heads" starring MONICA VITTI "A well wrought melodrama infused with Cocteau's individual stvle of romantic -the times THE MALL SW1 930 3647 -THE STORY OF A WOMAN, A POET AND A WAR "Antonioni's visual elaboration of the play opens up and awakens every dormant poetic frisson and resonance An Artificial Eye Release v7ftTM nd i mkimammmm mum.

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 300+ newspapers from the 1700's - 2000's
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Guardian
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

About The Guardian Archive

Pages Available:
Years Available: