Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Two Great Movies

I'd always meant to watch Seance on Wet Afternoon and only came to it now. It's the story of a woman trying to make her way as a psychic and what lengths she goes to for success. A really creepy movie, slow-moving but worth the effort. Because the crime in it involved a child, it kept this viewer on the edge of her seat.
I also spent the whole movie wondering how this actress seemed so different in Planet of the Apes, before discovering this was Kim Stanley not Kim Hunter. Richard Attenborough, playing her husband and help meet in her endeavor, was outstanding too. Reminded me a bit of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe.
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (Keep Your Hands Off the Loot) was the tale of two gangsters, well past their prime, trying to retire after a big score. It was about friendship but quite brutal in its depiction of the 1954 Parisian crime scene. Tremendous atmosphere and Jeanne Moreau in a smallish part. Too bad the writer, Albert Simonin's crime novels were never translated. I have a feeling they'd be good. Anyone seen these?


Sandra Scoppettone said...

Kim Stanley never really made it in movies. The other movie that starred her was The Goddess. It has moments but is basically not very good. She was nominated for several Oscars for supporting roles in later years. But she hated Hollywood.

However, she was a brilliant stage actress and I'm happy to say I was lucky enough to have seen her in everything she did. There was really no one better during the years she was on stage. But she was a very troubled woman and an alcoholic. She couldn't take the pressure of being a star even on stage. After getting bad reviews for Three Sisters she swore she'd never act on stage again and she never did. At the end of her life she became an acting teacher. She died in 2001.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks. She was terrific in this movie where she was required to run the gamut of emotions.

Todd Mason said...

I saw SEANCE as a kid, but not since then and with typically large amounts of commercial interruption. Shall have to look at it again, and look into the other.

I does seem odd to think, these days, that a typical big-city UHF independent station would run the likes of REPULSION in the afternoons, or a commercial network station weekmights at 11:30 (in those years before their networks claimed the late hours). Nowadays, PBS stations have been doing well with syndicator American Public Television's film package on Saturday nights, mostly, those stations that don't take AUSTIN CITY LIMITS in pattern.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What I can't stand about our PBS station is the shills they use in pledge weeks. Why should I stick around to watch someone extol the virtue of their book on how to invest and then give the station money for it.

Ed Gorman said...

By modern standards Seance DOES seem interminable, especially the first act. But it has something that no contemporary thriller I can think of can claim--suspense that comes completely from character. Celia Fremlin and that generation of UK writers managed to incorporate domestic relationships into their crime stories just about as well as Margaret Millar did over here. (In my opinion Millar was the best crime writer of her generation and I include in that her husband Ross Macdonald (Ken Millar). Mark Shane, the man who wrote the book Seance, was actually only one of the names used by a guy who wrote in so many sub-genres it was impossible to keep up with his pseudonyms. I must have reviewed thirty of his books in the sixties and seventies when I was working for newspapers. This was, as I recall, his best and a book most of us would be happy to claim. You don't expect a movie about a kidnapping to be so melancholy, even tragic but to Bryan Forbes' credit he pulled it off.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Margaret Millar is my absolute favorite from that era. A Beast in My View and How Like an Angel are just terrific. Which reminds me I wanted to read Iron Gates, which fell out of my amazon cart somehow.
You are so right about the suspense coming from character. I almost think Attenborough should have remained an actor. Not an easy role to bring off.
Weak, passive, smarmy yet somehow sympathetic in the end.

Vince said...

Grisbi is tremendous. I had the chance to see this one on the big screen when it was reissued not too long ago. I'd watch a shot of Gabin's face for two hours.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You are so right about his face. And his body- pure elegance. Magical.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Different movies, but I don't know where else to post this. I've been renting movies from some of the recent film noir box sets, and I greatly enjoyed Eddie Muller's commentaries on several. He offered a great mix of anecdotes, opinions and criticism. Then I rented one with commentary by William Friedkin. I was astonished at how much worse Friedkin, a filmmaker, was when it came to discussing a film.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

pattinase (abbott) said...

Which ones, Peter?

Peter Rozovsky said...

Let's see: Eddie Muller did commentary for The Racket and Born to Kill, if I recall correctly, and William friedkin did so for On Dangerous Ground.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"