Criterion is rereleasing ‘Zazie’ and while it really isn’t noir I couldn’t resist running this review from critic Michael Wilmington. The heroine is a tough little girl, director Louis Malle was a skilled noir storyteller (“Elevator to the Gallows” from 1958) and I still have Paris on the brain.
An impish little girl named Zazie with pre-Beatle bangs, an unusually profane vocabulary and a seemingly endless sense of adventure travels to Paris on the train with her mother (Odette Piquet). Once they hit Paris, her maman departs with her lover and leaves Zazie – a 12-year-old French gamine (played by the delightfully brash Catherine Demongeot) – to spend the day with her obliging, free-spirited Uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret). Zazie, tiny but indomitable, has a startling lack of reliance on adults, and that’s probably all to the good, since, as a babysitter, Gabriel seems initially a big fat fish out of water.
Oncle Gabriel, in fact, is a drag entertainer at a local restaurant-cabaret, where his size and manner recall that classic description of Oliver Hardy: “elephant on tippy-toe.” And Zazie keeps calling her uncle a “hormosessual,” even though the tart-tongued Gabriel is married to a loving wife named Albertine (Carla Marlier), who has the sweetest of dispositions and the looks of a movie star. But apparently, a “hormosessual” he is.
With or without Gabriel, Zazie has one big wish for her Parisian trip: She wants to ride on the Paris Metro. But the metro is on strike, and the subway gates are locked, so Zazie has to be content, for a while, with zipping around town in a taxicab with Gabriel and an exuberant driver (Antoine Roblot), who cheerfully misidentifies landmarks (The Church of St. Vincent de Paul becomes the Pantheon) and keeps getting caught in the traffic jams that the metro strike has caused.
Soon, however, Zazie breaks away and spends the day racing through the City of Light, picking up all sorts of strange new friends and enemies. In the course of Zazie’s spree, she turns Paris into a huge playground and the Eiffel Tower, in one astonishing scene, into the ultimate jungle gym. At the end, we see what looks like the beginning of a café revolution (Malle was ever the gentleman leftist).
“Zazie dans le Metro” was the movie that made Noiret a star – beginning a brilliant half-century film career and striking a blow for all those great movie actors who don’t look like Alain Delon. The film didn’t make a star of Demongeot. She acted in only three more films, and one of them was a cameo as Zazie, for Jean-Luc Godard‘s “A Woman is a Woman.” But it gave her something more precious: It made her immortal. More
L.A. Noire – the newest installment in a long line of genre-defining games from Rockstar Games and Team Bondi – fuses a sandbox-style, open-world, first-person detective game with the gritty and compelling backdrop of post-WWII Los Angeles. This daring venture, from the gaming think-tank made famous through the Grand Theft Auto series, has broken into uncharted territory with the first game ever to seamlessly blur the lines between gaming and cinema, doing so in near-perfect fashion.
As the opening cinematic sequence beautifully displays the glitz and glamour of golden-age ’40s Hollywood, we are introduced to our leading man Cole Phelps (Aaron Staton of “Mad Men”), an LAPD Detective who was thrown into his position headfirst after a brief stint as an officer in the war. The storyline follows Phelps as he climbs the ranks and battles over a seemingly unending quest to tackle cases of corruption, drugs, arson and murder, all the while fighting with his own brutal conscience and his decisions about morality.
It sounds more like the plot of a twisted noir novel than that of a multimillion-dollar gaming endeavor, but I assure you that every possible facet of this cinematic journey has been overly developed to the point where you can hardly discern between the enveloping story and the gameplay itself.
L.A. Noire is the first game on record to use Team Bondi’s new MotionScan animation-capture technology. With MotionScan, the game’s producers were able to capture actors’ facial expressions and body language with an accuracy never seen before on any gaming console. More to the point, it asks players to use every aspect of their intellect to evaluate and engage with the in-game characters’ physical actions and reactions.
This is a groundbreaking game on many other levels as well. The size and scope of the game are completely unmatched in anything I’ve ever come across on a console system. Everything from the scenic Los Angeles backdrop to the rich and enthralling soundtrack have been fine-tuned to deliver the true feeling of the dark and twisted world around you.
As far as the gameplay goes, there is little available on the open market to compare it to. The game delicately walks the tightrope between beautiful CGI and actual interactive gameplay. There are times in which the player has trouble figuring out when it’s actually time to pick up the controller and start playing. The cinematics are breathtaking, and the new sandbox engine far exceeds the greatest expectations of the most seasoned gaming veterans.
I would compare it to the GTA (Grand Theft Auto) series, but that would be doing L.A. Noire a serious injustice. You could spend countless hours exploring the rich scenery of a Los Angeles long forgotten. Angelinos may take particular interest here in that it’s pretty darn fun to explore your neighborhood as it looked nearly 70 years ago. With more than 60 model cars available, the driving is authentic and the shootouts feel realistic but not overwhelming.
The most interesting aspects of the game, however, are the deeply layered interrogation scenes. Each one of the dozens of cases comes with its own cast of characters, offering hundreds of unique and diverse plotlines. It’s up to the player to read and interpret the facial expressions and body language of the suspects, and the outcome of the story depends on your ability to do so accurately.More
The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood is running Suspense Account: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, featuring his Technicolor spectaculars, such as “North by Northwest,” “Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “The Birds,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and “To Catch a Thief.” Also showing are suspense thrillers “Notorious,” “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Suspicion,” “Spellbound,” “Saboteur” and “Psycho.” Now under way, the series runs through June 9.
Additionally, from June 23-30, the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica will host A Centennial Tribute to Composer Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975), one of cinema’s most brilliant and influential artists. The series will screen “Cape Fear,” On Dangerous Ground,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “Vertigo,” “Obsession,” “Marnie,” “Psycho,” and “Hangover Square.”
Check the schedule for more details. The Egyptian Theatre is at 6712 Hollywood Blvd. The Aero Theatre is at 1328 Montana Ave. General admission is $11; members pay $7.
Tyra Banks once said, “I’m not ugly, but my beauty is a total creation.” You can see both creations and critiques of beauty at a new exhibit in Century City.
The Annenberg Space for Photography’s BEAUTY CULTURE explores how feminine beauty is defined, revered and challenged in modern society, featuring works from iconic photographers such as Albert Watson, Bert Stern, Herb Ritts, Man Ray, Jean-Paul Goude, ORLAN, Guy Bourdin, Horst, Melvin Sokolsky, Ellen von Unwerth, Lillian Bassman, Matthew Rolston, Philippe Halsman, Lauren Greenfield, Susan Anderson, Tyen and Carrie May Weems. There are 175 images on display in the print gallery.
Organizers say they hope to spur dialogue about beauty’s allure and mystique as well as the cultlike glorification and multibillion-dollar industries that surround it. “As much as beauty can astonish and inspire, it can also corrupt and subvert, rendering all else – and even itself – broken and obsolete,” says Wallis Annenberg, board chairman, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation.
Show themes include: *Dreams on Paper: The Pin-Up Girl *Beauty, Inc.: The $300 Billion Cosmetics Industry *The Marilyn Syndrome *The Hollywood Glamour Machine: Vamps, Vixens and Bombshells
Visitors can also see a short documentary film directed by Lauren Greenfield as well as a digital slideshow and an interactive digital salon. In the salon, guests can alter images of themselves by changing their features (such as hair color, eye color and facial structure) and by applying cosmetics. Images can then be emailed or uploaded to Facebook.
Additionally, a Thursday-night lecture series, starting June 2, features photographers and editors discussing their experiences in the industry and their perspectives on photography’s role in defining beauty. The lectures are free to the public with advance registration.
Details, details Annenberg Space for Photography, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City, CA, 90067, 213-403-3000. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission is free. The exhibit runs through Nov. 27.
Ava Gardner photo from the film “The Killers,” copyright 1946 Ray Jones, Universal.
Peter Ford will discuss and sign his book “Glenn Ford: A Life” at 7 p.m. Friday at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA, 90069, 310-659-3110. The foreword is by Patrick McGilligan.
Some background on the book, provided by event organizers:
Glenn Ford – star of such now-classic films as “Gilda,” “Blackboard Jungle,” “The Big Heat,” “3:10 to Yuma,” and “The Rounders” – had rugged good looks, a long and successful career, and a glamorous Hollywood life. Yet the man who could be accessible and charming on screen retreated to a deeply private world he created behind closed doors.
This biography by Ford’s son, Peter, offers an intimate view of a star’s private and public life. Included are exclusive interviews with family, friends, and professional associates, and snippets from the Ford family collection of diaries, letters, audiotapes, unpublished interviews, and rare candid photos.
This biography tells a cautionary tale of Glenn Ford’s relentless infidelities and long, slow fade-out, but it also embraces his talent-driven career. The result is an authentic Hollywood story that isn’t afraid to reveal the truth.
At least 116 people have been reported dead in Joplin, Mo., after a devastating tornado hit the city on Sunday. ABC News has compiled a list of ways to donate to the tornado relief effort https://abcn.ws/iqIIJi.
Yesterday I found out about an intriguing new movie, “Recipe For Murder,” and I look forward to speaking with writer/director Sonia Bible. It was news to me that in the early 1950’s, Sydney was a city in the grip of a deadly crime wave. In just over a year, more than 100 people were poisoned; most of the killers were women. “Recipe For Murder” tells the true story of three notorious perpetrators: Yvonne Fletcher, Caroline Grills and Veronica Monty.
The 52-minute film combines gritty archive footage, film-noir re-enactments, interviews with witnesses and a score from “Animal Kingdom” composer Antony Partos. Last month, “Recipe For Murder” won a Silver Hugo award (documentary category, history/biography) in the Chicago film fest’s 2011 Hugo Television Competition.
B&W Boudoir: In the June issue of Elle, Rachel McAdams and the magazine’s creative director Joe Zee reinterpret Catherine Deneuve’s look in “Repulsion,” from 1965, by Roman Polanski. “Noir, Now” also features boudoir dressing suggestions, edited by Kyle Anderson. McAdams nails the film-noir vibe and it’s an excellent issue overall, particularly Cintra Wilson’s piece on how learning flamenco changed her life.
In Cannesclusion: Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes film fest, which ended Sunday. Kirsten Dunst snared best female actor for her role in “Melancholia” by Lars Von Trier. Harvey Weinstein calls this the best Cannes in 25 years. Read Peter Bradshaw’s wrapup in The Guardian at https://bit.ly/iZXTeV.
Bio: Klaus W. Kuddelmann grew up in a family of musicians. His father Hans was a classically trained violinist and his mother Clara was an operatic soprano of considerable acclaim.
Young Klaus first performed at the age of 6 weeks, playing “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik” to a packed house at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna.
While studying at the Mewlliard School in New York after World War Two, he made the acquaintance of the great actor/director Orson Welles. Upon accepting the part of the nefarious double-dealer Harry Lime in “The Third Man” (1949), Welles insisted that Kuddelmann be cast as his feline sidekick.
Off camera, Welles and Kuddelmann reportedly holed up in Welles’ Vienna hotel room, eating and drinking into the wee hours of the morning. As a musical purist, Kuddelmann abhorred the film’s famous zither music – calling it “excruciatingly middlebrow” – and made a point of hissing and clawing at Anton Karas.
After the “The Third Man,” Kuddelmann returned to music and enjoyed great success on the European concert circuit. He died in 1972; his obituary listed 19 children and 358 grandchildren.
After four days of back-to-back noirs at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs, it is hard to return to reality. I keep expecting to see men in fedoras and mink-coated molls. Or to hear terse whispers from crooks working a heist or an imperious “Ah, shut up” a la Joan Crawford. Well, it’s a rainy day and it’s still early so you never know what might happen.
The annual noir gathering, now in its 11th year, is one of my favorite fests and such a great chance to mingle with other noiristas, such as producer and programmer Alan K. Rode and the rest of the Dark City Players: Marvin Paige, Foster Hirsch, Kim Morgan and Eddie Muller. Ric and Rozene Supple are the fest’s executive producers and the Camelot Theatre does a great job hosting the event. The festival is named after its founder Arthur Lyons Jr., an author and longtime resident of Palm Springs.
From the first notes of Henry Mancini’s silky score for “Experiment in Terror,” which opened the fest, to the Palm Springs locations of 60 years ago, shown in the final movie, “The Damned Don’t Cry,” there was much to relish. In “Experiment in Terror” from 1962, Ross Martin hatches a plot to anonymously extort money from Lee Remick; his efforts are thwarted by FBI agent Glenn Ford.
It’s hard to shake the mood of menace that director Blake Edwards creates in this chilling tale. Stefanie Powers, who played Remick’s younger sister, spoke after the screening. “Nobody shot that way,” she said of Edwards’ daring camera, adding that the film may be the first time that someone died on screen, eyes open.
Friday’s fare included “The Underworld Story” (1950, Cy Endfield); “Six Bridges to Cross” (1955, Joseph Pevney); “A Kiss Before Dying” (1956, Gerd Oswald) and “Cape Fear” (1962, J. Lee Thompson).
I can never get enough of Dan Duryea, star of “Underworld,” and seeing Tony Curtis in “Six Bridges” was a rare treat. “You can’t help liking him even if he is a criminal,” said co-star Julie Adams in the post-screening Q&A, noting the natural charm Curtis brought to the part of inveterate schemer Jerry Florea. Sal Mineo made his screen debut in this movie, as the young Jerry, leader of a Boston street gang.
Then it was time for a dash of luscious color: The broad gaze of CinemaScope catches the hard-core badness of college student and casual killer Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) in “A Kiss Before Dying.” Though he was voted most likely to succeed in high school, at 25, he’s still stuck in college, despite the support of his doting mom (Mary Astor). He figures it would be a whole lot easier to ditch the books and marry into a rich family, even if it requires a murder or two.
Co-starring as his love interests are Joanne Woodward and Virginia Leith, both of whom are excellent. Director Gerd Oswald, a mainstay of the classic TV show “The Outer Limits” and the son of Vienna-born director Richard Oswald, elicits memorable performances, particularly from the young and sexy Wagner.
The evening ended with a classic thriller: “Cape Fear.” The top-notch cast includes Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Barrie Chase, Telly Savalas, Martin Balsam and Jack Kruschen. Adding to the mood is music by the maestro of the suspense film Bernard Herrmann.
Mitchum’s portrayal of Max Cady, a brutal sadist seeking revenge, is one of his best and most famous roles. On hand to reminisce after the movie was Chase, also an accomplished dancer who partnered with Fred Astaire on his TV specials. Chase said of Mitchum in this movie: “He was fantastically attractive as a horrible person.”
When she rehearsed her scene with Mitchum (she played a victim of his brutality), he made it very clear that he had nothing on under his pants. “It struck me as funny,” she said. (The audience had the same reaction.) “He was very kind and protective after that; he treated me like a kid sister.”
Also, Chase said, despite giving the impression that he winged it when it came to acting, Mitchum was “totally prepared, he knew exactly what he was going to do.” As for how she broke into movies, she told the audience she got the requisite encouragement to follow her dream from “a fella named Stanley Kubrick” whom she was going out with at the time.
On Saturday morning, critic Kim Morgan introduced “99 River Street” (1953, Phil Karlson) starring John Payne and Evelyn Keyes. Morgan pointed out that the film is a great example both of cinematographer Franz Planer’s work (he was on “Criss Cross,” 1949; “Letter from an Unknown Woman,” 1948; “Bad for Each Other,” 1953, and many others) and of the boxing noir sub-genre, along with “Body and Soul,” 1947, and “The Set-Up,” 1949. All three films, Morgan pointed out, likely would have been on Martin Scorsese’s radar as he prepared to make 1980’s “Raging Bull.”
Next up was “Plunder Road” from 1957, directed by the underrated Hubert Cornfield (“The Night of the Following Day,” 1969) and lensed by Ernest Haller. A reported favorite of Quentin Tarantino, this lean little caper flick is about a group of men stealing gold from a train, hauling it off in commercial trucks and melting it down in a foundry before getting it out of the country. It’s wildly far-fetched, true, but still a good time.
And what noir fest would be complete without an appearance of Elisha Cook, Jr.? Gene Raymond, Wayne Morris and Jeanne Cooper round out the cast; in her discussion with Foster Hirsch, Cooper recalled that Cornfield made the actors really learn the work involved at foundry. He wanted authenticity but also told them wryly: “Now you can back yourselves up and know something more than acting.” Cornfield’s advice on knowing another trade was sadly prophetic – he eventually turned to house painting to support himself.
Completing the afternoon was 1954’s “Loophole,” directed by Harold Schuster, much of which was shot on location in Los Angeles, Hollywood and Malibu. It’s a strong example of a noir staple: the wrongly accused and possibly doomed dude. Barry Sullivan is a standup bank teller; Dorothy Malone plays his loyal and devoted wife; Charles McGraw shines as the obnoxious insurance investigator determined to make Sullivan pay for his “crime.”
Another stalwart of noir is amnesia and in “Mirage,” from 1965, we see the topic deftly handled by master noir director Edward Dmytryk (“Murder, My Sweet, 1944; “Crossfire,” 1947). Gregory Peck stars as the afflicted; Walter Matthau plays a newbie gumshoe helping him out; Diane Baker is a mysterious woman from his past. The film also boasts a great collection of villains: Kevin McCarthy, Jack Weston, Leif Erickson, Walter Abel and George Kennedy.
Dmytryk effortlessly balances suspense with humor and there are many funny moments, such as when Peck tells Matthau, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if you knew what you were doing?” The film is written by Peter Stone, who also wrote “Charade” (1963) and co-wrote “Arabesque” (1966) both by director Stanley Donen, and you can definitely feel the similarities between the three movies.
Eddie Muller and Diane Baker chatted extensively after the movie, with Baker recalling Peck as being full of life with a “great sense of humor and great energy.”
Arguably, the best movies were saved for last. Sunday’s lineup was “Crashout” (1955, Lewis R. Foster), “Saboteur” (1942, Alfred Hitchcock) and “The Damned Don’t Cry” (1950, Vincent Sherman). Certainly, my favorite guest appearance was actor/producer Norman Lloyd, who was interviewed by Alan K. Rode. Lloyd, 96, regaled the crowd with many stories about Orson Welles, John Houseman, Charlie Chaplin, Hitchcock and others.
On learning about filmmaking Lloyd said: “When I came to Hollywood, I didn’t know the front end of the camera from the back. I was very nosy and Mr. Hitchcock was delighted to answer my questions. It happened by my talking a lot.”
On Hitchcock dealing with actors? “Hitchcock worked with a major star who had been trained in the Stanislavski method. Hitchcock directed him to sit and the star asked, ‘Why do I sit?’ Hitchcock replied, ‘To put your ass in the seat of the chair.”
And in case any viewers were flagging after four days of viewing, there was sustenance to be found in, as Rode put it, the “take-no-prisoners femme fatale” – none other than Joan Crawford in “The Damned Don’t Cry.” The film is loosely based on the real-life story of Virginia Hill, mistress of gangster Bugsy Siegel, and it’s a joy to watch Crawford savagely claw her way to the top of a national crime syndicate, breaking heart after heart and stubbing out cig after cig as she climbs.
I love this line from Crawford’s character Ethel Whitehead: “Don’t talk to me about self-respect. That’s something you tell yourself you got when you got nothing else.”
Watching Crawford was a terrific way to wrap up the fest and I was a bit sad to say goodbye. I think Eddie Muller summed it up best said when he introduced “Mirage” on Saturday night, telling the packed theater, “The best part of every noir is when the woman gets the gun in her hand.”