The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on July 16, 1971 · 57
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 57

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Los Angeles, California
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Friday, July 16, 1971
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57
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IEW " PART IV FRIDAY, JULY U, 1971 CRITIC AT LARGE The Games Devils' Plays BY CHARLES CHAMPLIN : Tlmts EatMlilnmwt Editor ' , Ken Russell is one of the most forceful image-makers now working in motion pictures. Every frame of his is vividly contrived to shock and assault you with its startling beauty or, more often, the outrageousness of its action. When Russell is working with a fatuous script, as he was in "Billion Dollar Brain" a few years ago, the results are grotesque, thunderously bad Operetta. When he is working with a fine script and with a strong producer who has his own' vision of the project, the results are stunning in both their strength and their (relative) restraint. It is more evident now than ever how much the success of "Women in Love" depended on Larry Kramer, who conceived the project, fought for it, scripted it and shepherded it (and Russell) to completion. "The Music Lovers," Russell's next work, revealed both the seemingly limitless power of his image-making and the ominous dangers of his total lack of ordinary sensibility and restraint, his readiness to sacrifice everything in the cause of astonishing tableaus. Despite some sensational stretches of photography and editing and a cruelly self-lacerating performance by Glenda Jackson, "The Music Lovers" was finally far less a revelation of Tchaikovsky than of Russell himself, a tour de weakness, so to speak. All of this is prelude (the merest prelude) to Russell's "The Devils," which opens today at the Beverly Hills Music Hall and which is a truly degenerate and despicable piece of art. John Whiting's play, based on Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun," was in its day controversial and made a controversial opening attraction for the Mark Taper Forum. The lechering priest who was its central figure, the corrupt cardinal and the nuns whose sexual frenzies found expression only as religious fervor were strong stuff. Yet the play was a play of ideas and its Father Gran-dier a curiously relevant figure reluctant to accept a joyless, punishing God and instead discovering God in beauty, love, help and compassion. But Whiting's play, rescripted by Russell, has , become only a rickety stage for Russell's fancies, vaudeville turns and nightmare visions, his dance of decadence. One of the film's first images is of maggot3 swarming in the eyesocket of a human skull. Just a warm up, it is. We look in on a court masque, and King Louis, heavily rouged and wearing a gold jockstrap, rises from a shell like Venus and dances divinely for his mincing courtiers and Richelieu watches like a spider. Warner Bros., whose early ads for "The Devils" have been calculated to keep the unwary away, is said to have trimmed away several minutes of excesses. The mind does not so much boggle as curdle at guessing what these might have been. Vanessa Redgrave, hunchbacked, head canted hideously sideways, hands gouged bloody by her crucifix during her sexual fantasies, is a creature of pity in every sense. Oliver Reed is a 6ullen and charmless Grandier and is denied most of the eloquence Whiting gave him, although there are one or two fleeting moments in which he is allowed to speak his anguish, and hint at his glimpse of what his life might have been. But it is drowned by Russell's orgy of effeets, the caterwauling soundtrack, the writhings and the tortures. It is all too strident to be a camp, although the ting is allowed to say, "Bye bye, blackbird," which fives the game away. The same dissociation from original meaning and the same fluttering mockery of ordinary values which help define camp also, in some insane and lurid magnification, characterize "The Devils." It is not anti-clerical there's hardly, enough clericalism left to be anti any more it is anti-humanity. A rage against cruelty has become a celebration of it. And in the end, when Russell's cameras have watched Grandier burn at the stake, and have watched and watched and watched, you weep not for the evils and the ignorance of the past, but for the cleverness and the sickness of the day. THE VIEWS INSIDE BOOKSt Richard Armour's '"Writing Light Verse and Prose Humor" by Robert Kirch en Pag 5. MOVIESi "Pale Flower" by Kevin Thomai en Page 14. MUStCi Claremont Music Festival by Robert Riley en Page 19. NIGHTCLUBS Janit Ian by Richard Cremelin on Page 12. Flash Cadillac by Michael Ross en Page 13. TElEVISIONi Newcomer by Margaret Harford en Page 22. AND OTHER FEATURES DearAbby Page 7 Bridge ....Page 4 Astrology Page t Comici ......... Pag 21 Boullquet .Page 7 Christy Fox ....Page 2 ,1 ' r ; t : . :' "i I ..:WL'i.':v.:i-;ivx-xMt ALICE IN WONDERLAND Alice Cooper and the boys in the band perform at his coming-out party held, believe it or not, In the Venetian Room of the Ambassador. . - ' . Times photo by Lou Mack A Bizarre Party for Alice Cooper BY GREGG KILDAT ' , Tlmu Stifl Wrltw Alice Cooper had his coming out party Wednesday night in the mirror-paneled Venetian Room of the Ambassador heaven only knows what he came out of or where he's headed to. Lest the pronoun's gender throws you it really shouldn't though, you know, since, as Alice is the first, to point out, we men are made of an equal number of male and female genes let me quickly make it clear that Alice is a guy, the lead singer of a . . . well .... your mother might call It bizarre ,. . ..rock group that 6ashayed through Los Angeles while the grunion ran this week. (And believe me, baby, this is definitely one case where your mother should know.) ', : Anyway Alice records for Warner Bros, and Warners ("The old Warner Bros, was never like this,9 a PR lady delightedly assured me) decided how ' else to celebrate Bastille Day, Health Through Happiness and the anniversary, of Warren Harding's first visit to Kansas City as a boy of 12 than to stage this thoroughly decadent event that the length and breadth of Hollywood Blvd. would be talking about for months to come. ' .; (Lost yet? Fine.). - ; ; , ' So they brought together some of the underground establishment's most outrageous indiscretions. But first let's explore that word decadent. There are all kinds of decadence, right? There's Fellini-swan-song-of-the-pagan-world decadence, and there's Fitzgerald-whatever-became-of-the-Ameri-can-dream decadence, and there's Bertolucci-ush-. Please Turn to Page 9, Col. 1 w j fe a '-.,-.-.si-. SALUTI French Consul Gen. Didier Raguenet welcomes Mrs. Harry W. Robinson to Bastille Day party In his home. Mrs. Robinson was among hundreds of guests whose arrivals caused a minor traffic jam. Times photo by Mary Frampton Bastille Day, 1789, Wasn't like This BY SHARON FAI KOCH Tlmw U Wrlltr ' The crowd at the home and gardens of French Consul Gen. and Mrs. Didier Raguenet on Bastille Day caused a minor traffic jam on Outpost Drive. ; But unlike the angry mob which stormed the Bastille during the French Revolution on July 14, 1783, Wednesday evening's crowd was. friendly and more in the mood for cocktails than complaints. ' ' "Two guests always show up for every one invited;" shrugged the debonair consul general. "But I'm glad. It means all thesa people have some feeling for an event that took place almost 200 years ago." The guests looked for everyone who has ever admired the perceptive brush of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec like one of his crowd scenes come alive. There was actress Florence Marly in white pantsuifand cloche highlighting her alabaster skin, talking to Alain de la Cotardicre. Around her "neck she wore heavy silver chains with a bell, a fish and a small scabbard from which protruded sprigs of juniper. There was Miss May Mann in long white bell epoch gown, a red, white and blue rosette in her rieese Turn te T$g 6, Col. 1 MUSIC REVIEW Bach Marathon at the Bowl BY MARTIN BERNHED1ER . TlmM Muiic trifle What do you say about an all-Bach concert that lasts more than five hours, costs only a dollar and attracts" more than 8,000 people? , " What do you say about a 21-part musical orgy that enlists the services of four Moog synthesizers, a guitarist, a chorus, five violinists, a harpsichordist, a cellist, two flutists, two pianists, a conductor, a symphony orchestra in at least six different configurations and no vocal soloists? WTbat do you say about a concert at which Sol Babitz of the Early Music Laboratory hands out serious leaflets protesting "Sewing-Machine Bach" while a uniformed gentleman with plastic-model artillery on his cap a gentleman who identifies himself as Gen. Hershey Bar passes out whimsical leaflets protesting the war? Symphony of Soap Bubbles What do you say about a concert in which Bach accompanies pretty Fourth of July sparklers in the audience; in which a symphony of soap bubbles peacefully decorates the air; in which a nomadic audience does a great deal of wandering; in which a shooting star provides an astral exclamation point during the 5th "Brandenburg" Concerto? You say it was quite an unusual evening at Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night. You say the Bach "Mini-Marathon" was a wonderful idea, that thousands of people .who don't normally attend concerts seemed to love it, that the public relations people at the Philharmonic are really using their heads. You also have to admit, I suppose, that the event vouchsafed lots of good vibes and wince lots of bad performances. Luckily it wa3 not one of those nights when critical judgments are of paramount importance. And, faulty, misguided music-making aside,- thee still was much to be thankful for. . Showcase for Solo Exercises ' There was Stuart Fox, perched in front of a mike on a stool on top of the pool cover, playing a neat guitar transcription of the Prelude and Fugue in D. There were Endre Balogh (violin) and Nathaniel Rosen (cello) trying valiantly, often poignantly, to make the Bowl a suitably intimate showcase for solo exercises. There was a big "name" pianist, Stephen Bishop accepting a modest token payment like everyone else erasing unfortunate memories of his debut the night before, with an extrordinarlly poised and fluent account of the Fourth Partita from the "Clavicruebung" (Vol. I). The guiding force behind all this, and every-thing else, was the ubiquitous Lukas Foss. He is a musician of extraodrinary flexibility, and versatil-ity, a powerful champion of the baroque and the avant-garde, a composer, conductor and pianist of almost equal distinction. " I admire him extravagantly. And another wince I detest what he (Toes to . Bach. , , , He approaches Bach as if the 18th-century giant were a modern objectivist with his roots somehow buried in Romanticism. Foss likes to make fast Bach sound mechanical and slow Bach mushy. riease Turn to rage tX, C4 1

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