Dwight MacDonald on film; The Film since 1950: The underground
Also I thought that there was some little spirit of fun in it that somehow you got this rather bleak very feeling out of the film it should have been what it should have been like let's say Strangelove 9/11 or even when our bill thing really I got Strangelove is some form of this great spirit of pli and burlesque and high spirits whereas here I felt that then kind of the typical was that of a mother who is looked like somebody out of a fictional You know but I mean this is not funny I mean this is a right that people laugh at They're used to laugh at the Mad Men and The hunchbacks you know I mean there's nothing funny about that kind of not only fatness but that kind of heart of Hoddle five she had and then when she grows as a staff in the icebox and boom and I have a well I'm only as good as the actor could go that far. What.
You are listening to Dwight McDonald on film during the past decade Mr. McDonald has been perhaps the senior critic among American film critics during this past year he was distinguished visiting professor of film history and criticism at the University of Texas. These programs were drawn from that lecture series. The topic for this program is the film since 1958 part three a miscellany. The program begins with a discussion of Ingmar Bergman's The Naked Knight followed by comments on more recent film history and concludes with some of Mr MacDonald's observations on the Throne of Blood. Crowe saw was classic treatment of Shakespeare's Macbeth. And now once again here is Dwight MacDonald. Well now this film is called You know the night good night and it's by Ingmar Bergman. We met in 1953 and I think what's good about the film one of the
good things about of them is the fact that it not only has a very interesting sort of all over meaning to it which I'm going to go into in a minute but also that just taken as a drama quite well. Otherwise it really has a very good plot line I would say because the power of Albert and his mistress but of them at the same time trying to escape from the circus and from each other and betraying each other but by trying to be taken back by years from a rifle and shoot by giving ourself to the actor in the hopes of. Getting enough money to live for you and so on. I think that's a very interesting and very strong kind of a situation and then the way that the whole thing works out it seems to me is very true to live so to speak it doesn't involve any strange interpretation and also true to the characters involved.
And you do have a number of shop well-defined characters that's another thing you know about movies that you really do if you're supposed to have people in them. One of the top of the joy you have the spirit is that there was not one price and then the entire movie. Accept that Sandra was that fantastic nymphomaniac she can't really be called a partisan either she was interesting but not oppression but there wasn't anybody in the movie. Whereas here you have the actor and the wife for people in the Rye in which they interact and it's good. I kept thinking of a half a number of you probably did. Well for one thing that flashback sequence by the sea show is very reminiscent of the thing that I now have is reminiscent of that scene with the last Saturday when she dances for the boys also by the sea shore and has much the same feeling and I think it must have been somewhat influenced by this in fact the music played then in the south
again a scene and a half is very much like this kind of music and also in fact it's almost as if to some extent it's an unveiling of sex with the boys in the position of the offices. But generally it seems to me not only is the milieu of this woman this is also about entertainment business show business the psychosis on the stage. And this by the way is interesting I think because often movies take on an added interest when they are about the medium itself and this is involved with all kinds of things like you know the self-consciousness of the medium to die. Child in a power died for instance is essentially a thing about actors and pantomime Ista of 100 years ago and of course the operatic part of Citizen Kane was citing one of the strongest parts of that movie the amateur theatricals and rules of the game. John Locke Jr. But more than that I think
there's a very strong Paulos I'm here in the hard problem presented and the resolution of it this question of illusion and reality. For instance. But the cycle is really I think exactly in the same position as the movie director and I have same position professionally. He's sort of an able really to make this because he's as used to all of what those in money want to get out of it. Can't do it. And the same position certainly as far as both his mistress and his wife. He's failed both of them as you know has. And the ending is really quite extraordinary like a half you see you have Albert finally finally having to face the fact that he really is a failure in every possible way in real life and so shoots himself in the rear Well sorry this fellow does or tries to when he's such a cat even succeed in showing himself. So then he goes and shoots the
bear not a very complicated thing you would see a marching riot he shoots the bear but anyway the effect of shooting the bit is the same sort of libertarian thing it seems to me that I was killing themself. Because what happens after that is that Albert is able to accept the price of all of the sanctions is his real world and a real world which is ex-wife lives and to him is really a dead world and an unfriendly world and in fact you might say that Abbott tried to commit suicide twice in the film and successfully the first time was when he tried to be taken back by as rife and become a little shopkeeper. Because this would have fit for him. Met death. So anyway like you know he accepted this is his way. His real world is the world of illusion of the stage and fantasy. And then having done that then he is able to accept people in his life with all of the facts and so on and that beautiful business at the end
and which I've never seen such a model as understated last two minutes in which nothing happens except you see rocking along. He's put the circus in motion in other words he's committed himself to keeping on with it. And then his and how it Addison simply comes along and quietly they look at each other and say nothing. And she smiles and she falls in step with them and I walk along to get it. And so you have the feeling that he has accepted the fact that he's accepted life in a way he's been able to accept live by giving up the fact that buzz given up she's given up the illusion that this actor or that life or the stage is for her because it is the one thing she's much too vital and animalistic in a good way for the life of the theatre and back to Cyprus is really it smells of manure and sweat and so on and it's full of lice and it's dirty and all rot but all of
this is really in a raw a plus for the environment. And if she'd gone with the actor she would have been the same way with Albert going with his brother Percy and dad former wife. So anyway they're a bunch of right of that kind of suicide and said I'm just going to go on together. So it seems to me that this is if you want to talk in terms of meaning this is a very and forced many but this is really right the film means that. The site is big it's a another one of these films of the discovery of what their life really is and the interesting thing is that most reviewers have attacked it on the grounds that it's hopelessly pessimistic and dismal and well I don't think it is. I think personally that somehow by faith you know by counting them out to the extreme that clown things that somehow or other you do get the feeling finally that life is going to rest and when it went the whole thing is wonderfully done.
Mr. McDonald continues now with a lively commentary on film of the recent past. Fielding questions from the floor here is a spirited reply when asked if he'd care to comment on Tony Richardson's production. The Loved One. Yes yes I have a lot of that. I was absolutely lousy I think was one of the whitest. I mean it may be good for college kids I don't think so I think maybe when I was at Yale I would have liked. But anyway here's what I think Tony bridges and as a ghastly director and I think he's a bad actor. And this is sort of basically in a radically because he throws everything into a picture he can't give up anything. An artist past to give up he has to subordinate things. If he tries to get every effect if he tries to touch all bases to get all the money going. He will simply confuse the work of art. Another example of a director who has a terrible directed because he can't give up anything any AFACT is because Johnny
Elliott has not. Who constantly not only overdoes everything but also has this jumble of stuff which really has not. Like most English people has no visual sense the English don't see their great literary rights but they really have trouble seeing as you can tell I mean that as in the last 200 years they were very good. Before that some of the great academics. But when you look at the Modern English architecture it's even worse than modern American hog that is about us and their movies have been very played parable for this reason and that we're uncomfortable with sin and sorrow here in the loved one what which is and does all the time. But he doesn't know what the scene of what is and he has no sense of pride I mean Francis no absolute no sense of rhythm. So he's always cutting the way much too soon that's one of the main things I notice about the film. There's Rod Steiger was really very good I thought you know in his role but good heavens he PADI had a chance to do anything. And what's that fellow's name the comedian Jonathan Winters
who I've seen on television as the absolute numbers and I thought as a comedian but here again he was on the Raps you know he could get his mouth Rodger's and was doing something with some stupid visual check or cutting away or some other scene to make another point. Also I thought that there was some little spirit of fun. That somehow you got this rather bleak very feeling out of the film it should have been what it should have been like let's say Strangelove. It's nice to have an even more horrible thing really. I get strange love as some form of this great spirit of pli and burlesque and high spirits whereas here I felt kind of typical was that of a mother who was looked like somebody out of a fiction. Yeah but I mean it is not funny I mean this is a why the people laugh at you so laugh at the Mad Men and the hunchback's you know I mean there's nothing funny about that kind of not only fatness but that kind of hard Harbor Fright she had.
And then when she grows up in the icebox and kolarov only a British director could gov that. They liked it and I thought the trouble was that he couldn't make up his mind whether he was making a kind of realistic document complete. For the most part. It seemed to be a complete spoof. But then there were those peculiar things like that he's always going to gum it up somewhere along that scene of the hunt which was a barbaric blood sport at that time recruiting for the sewage.
But I think it would take a lot more than that the magazine received more letters than my bad video that than any other film that I've reviewed badly drawn out and I'm in a minority I think by now I'm at about maybe 18 people in the last two years who agree with me. Some of them are people like Dan Simon Dan a common a writer a few hundred relatives were others that they got a critic that he promised that. But also I felt there was something of value effete and swishy Penzias about that film it's hard to put your finger on it. It was advertised and the New York Daily critic said with the sheep like Gary all said the same thing I said you know a lusty busty rollicking Well a nonsense really is novel is a novel of the man and the eighteenth century was a very sensitive there was something about this that seemed to me to be a very active scene
and I simply didn't believe in what it was but was to be funny as I got out. They were sort of tittering all the time all the way through it was often cute. They had these little asides delivered in a very fruity voice. I was active these little commentary things and Alan I didn't get really. Hard. Oh you did not at our Yeah that made me chuckle when I read that. Yes he's a magnet for we lived in England long movies that I thought that well and that Lester and I you know it's funny how fast everything goes in this 20th century. Things that take a long time in the
past like nothing it seems to me that I would say that. That lasts about a year and a half has deteriorated from I really demands a promising young director into a husband I mean in other words I think the line from A Hard Day's Night through the NAC to help is absolutely stored there. I mean A Hard Day's Night was I thought was best movie. God knows I have not the slightest interest in the Beatles except that I will turn out to be very charming and humorous young man I thought in the movie. But anyway I thought it was a very fresh and original to me party of the party the Marx Brothers little but Chaplin Keaton and had everything in it and also had a very good social satire including a satire of the very medium in which they operate. And then to come to the ME was destroyed by Lester has a very high
powered probs to movies you know he really gives that visual business I mean concepts in all kinds of facts in fact he learned his trade interesting enough as a maker of television commercials and I'm afraid that this is beginning to shower a little bit in his movies especially in the help of the knock I thought was that this is essentially a rather sad whimsical little man and a young girl and it was actually powered by applying this kind of technique to it whereas the Beatles can stand up to it because Sharman themselves but you also have showbiz as the subject of it. But then come down to help and help was really like a series of commercials I thought the color for instance if you haven't seen the spirit I mean you know which for other reasons like terribly but the color there was did you know the color was going in helping me
and also rather obvious the contrast I mean that they had black boots on and I was right. But. I really was much impressed with the Colorado Rocky y photography of the first I think is the same for the government was extremely good. But I don't have any hopes of that. Elizabeth I now I mean if you get to read blogs and have now in addition to the drugs you know not on Islam. And a home run perimeter. And here it was buried. No I don't and I have been trying to understand Aqua's that was since I have been writing this.
M C defeated by them they don't seem to have the faintest common sense or even a sense of self preservation. I mean they take them as town or roll them in a living I will appear and things are just not life in him and I just offer generally content. Very fine. For years now. She's been in the movie. And then you have met. Batum have doing that for that creature but also to incorporate her into his artistic life. I mean doesn't he have any self-respect at all. I think that's much. And in fact they are extremely good. In London it's a
very simple and honest fact the mother is not just in the movie but I think they're good enough. You can't be completely sure that you got shot at almost anything. But I don't know I'm just lack of visuals that address strikes me as much compared let's say to do it how the great actors have such a marvelous sense of how to make a film look
neglected I hate those kind of movies catenary things I mean I'm moving out of sight. I guess I'm more of a magic. I read the Breck with great revulsion. I don't think there's any cat with a mouse and then finally the one in fact in my column after the next. I go into that a great part of the coming screen version of Truman Capote's In car blood which I look forward to with any pleasure at all either but I'll probably have to say that because it'll be such a big production. Now I want to say a few things about Macbeth. Now I think you're thinking of the sound of blood I think the chief artistic flair as perhaps the split between the know the quality and the romantic liberalism in that operatic finale when the arrows shot into him and now he's made
two other films I think each of the more successful I didn't show them because I wanted to let you have a chance to read a great cry and also I thought would be interesting to compare the plight with this Throne of Blood. But I think the Seven Samurai and the man who trod on the tiger's tail these two movies are both of them superior. Because the summer I've ever magic will ism and it's a pretty modest rest and it's the best rest and ever matter that much question I would say and you have individual characterizations and so on. And the other one the man who trod on the tiger's tail is an actual not another player but a kabuki play which is almost as his No as it's another form of Japanese drama and there's an actual kabuki play and done pretty much in a kabuki style and it's a lovely film when you have a good chance to see it. Now the invaluable Mr. Ballard brought me a copy of sight and sound which has a lot of climate back in the town of blood that comparison I discovered across a Sony brought it I looked in my shell going to cause
I had a damn thing then I forgotten about it. But anyway I just would like to go through a few of the ways that he compares the two. He says a crucial problem was to find a natural means of X tantalising of objective find my best thoughts. And the problem was solved by divisive Birnam Wood by making the woods the fires around the castle making that kind of ACE as a marginal symbol becomes the main symbol of the whole movie and this is both the center of the confusion throughout and so on. In Macbeth and also frightens him very much but I also have to tax him against surprise and invade it as you know he says it once we're in the middle of flowers why nobody can find is the forester's Macbeth's mind says this writer was Mr. Blumenthal. He also points out of course that which whatever it is the strange
apparition the prophets the prophet is sexless and this is interesting I think I mentioned it in Juliette of the spirits across Bismillah is also sexless and also in the play The witches are also sexless because Macbeth says to them you should be women and yet your beards forbid me to one type or to sell and that usually pride as women but this I think is obviously wrong and I play with it anyway. This writer talks about a flock of squealing bats that comes flapping into the HOF and a far as you member that scene when according to Ritchie This is the thing that signals them that the virus has been cut down as the birds come into the house. I mean that birds first of all they're not bats obviously. But somebody pointed out to me after class that of course she is talking nonsense because she would not come in to right house when the fire is to chop down why one day of course not they just fly some other fathers come into our house. I didn't think of that and I now don't know what the
birds mean. We're back at the beginning of those birds. And then and then it begs another example he gives it which is a very good one of how a movie maker has to do something different from a play the horses you remember after the murder of Duncan. There are a number of shots of the horses in the courtyard of the palace the other grooms can't control them and also after Banquo's murder in the movie also his horse comes back you know without his rider on I didn't get that part of the ride and realize it was back. But anyway and I have a very hard time going Tottenham and they're plunging and careening around and. This is an example of a metaphor not a symbol but metaphor because in other words it's as an appliance as an strange things that happen you know after the death of a king or an emperor. According to the old mythology all kind of crazy all kinds of things happen you know in Julius Caesar this is blood and
all die and so on. And Ross says and Duncan's horse has a thing most strange and certain beauty was and swift the minions of that nature broke their stars flung out contending against the billions as they would make when I was mankind and the man says said to each other and I have just this little bit suggestion ahead Curacao has made this a very great image of these crosses in the collapse and chaos that happens when you have a ruin. Shakespeare was appalled by this you know I mean his home political view was based on me in a sense the divinity that that had to King and Saudi overthrow revolutions out of space it was something that had to be very much signalized. Yes the bit about lead in the bath you know. He says the rush man is one of us as most brilliant additions to the story and across it is a cause anyway seems to be a mis carriage which is what has added to the stuff. Now
I disagree I think that this is one of the things that make the film not as really graduate abroad as the book and I think it reduces it to a rather materialistic level to make that the reason for it. There's also cause that my interaction problem of Lady Macbeth children in fact is a famous essay was once written about Lady Macbeth children because you know she did have children because you said about I have had children now what it is to give suck and so on. And yet she doesn't have any at the time and nothing is ever said about them in the play and it's pretty hard to imagine her as a mother anyway. And yet this is another complication I'm pregnant. He said I mentioned heroes but treasures imagination that is the Japanese hero but one would be hard pressed to find much evidence of a vivid imagination and readies sad given as a barrage of Gabe's Grant's streak since knots and a taut motions of a trot but powerful animal rushes around Macbeth cannot articulate his nightmarish visions but there is no doubt that he
has them. Well again I think that if he can articulate them then how do you know that he has them and how do you know he has any imagination I don't think grunts and animalistic novices prove anything. But he faces this problem about the movie he says are the main consequences of these various transformations. There's the grotesque rapprochement between the human and animal kingdoms which is he claimed his comment about rights and he said as more complete and Throne of Blood and he said that the term likely Macbeth had to be transformed into a morons think the most physical creature. Perhaps one for whom the model of the mansion of behavior exists but seldom crosses the threshold of conceptualization into bread or poetry. When I was probably true of course but it's also true that animals are much less and it has in and men. And also that in The Seven Samurai I've said it's probably possible for each of us out to characterize inhuman times each one of these seven time you know bad men the so-called western bad men. Each one of them is active and it is possible in a movie to calculate seems to me I mean and
- Dwight MacDonald on film
- Producing Organization
- University of Texas
- KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
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- The Film Since 1950: The Underground; Warhol; Muriel
- Series of lectures by Dwight MacDonald on film: its makers, its history, its future.
- Film and Television
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Announcer: Miller, Phil
Producer: Jordan, Bill
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Speaker: Macdonald, Dwight
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University of Maryland
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- APA: Dwight MacDonald on film; The Film since 1950: The underground. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-x05xbr2x