To celebrate Orson Welles birthday (6th May 1915) BOS mans Film of the Week is “The Lady from Shanghai” check his news letter for all the info.
Hopefully you are enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend with a feeling of more optimism as things slowly improve. I’m still enjoying the snooker coverage and at the moment I can’t call who will be lifting the trophy on Mon evening any more than who will be revealed as ‘H’ in Line of Duty on Sun Evening. There will probably be a period of national mourning once the series has ended.
It was nice to see the recent recipients of both Oscar and Bafta awards come from a variety of backgrounds, it felt like it was a much fairer and inclusive awards season and the choices were the right ones. Hopefully some of those films will find their way onto Lucems screen very soon.
Among the radio highlights this coming week one of the most interesting programmes is on Sunday 2nd May on Radio 3. ‘Tunes for Toons’ which looks at the music that accompanies cartoons from the earliest incarnation of Mickey Mouse to the sophisticated animations of today, you can catch the show at 5.00 pm (repeated Friday 7th 4.30 pm) or on BBC Sounds app. Radio 3’s ‘Sound of Cinema’ 3.00 pm on Saturday 8th celebrates the music of the legendary French film director Bertrand Tavernier who passed away earlier this year as well as France’s greatest film composers.
On TV on Monday Mark Kermode celebrates British History movies in his ‘Secrets of Cinema’ series (BBC 4 9.00 pm). In particular he notes that ‘historical facts rarely stand in the way of a good story’, no surprise there while Sky Arts begins a new three part series ‘Cold War and Cinema’ on Thurs 6th May at 9.00 pm. The first episode concentrates on the period 1945 – 1960 and looks at relations between the US and Russia during that time.
Any fans of the legendary Emmylou Harris are in for a treat on Friday night with an evening of shows dedicated to her career starting at 9.00 p.m. on BBC 4 with a documentary profile and for Orson Welles or film history aficionado’s see below for the BBC 4 documentary showing on Thursday night. As ever so much to enjoy.
Millions Like Us
Tuesday 4th May 1.05 p.m.
Freeview Ch 14 Sky Ch 313 Virgin Ch 428
Launder and Gilliat’s portrait of a family at war is remarkable not only for its breadth of social detail – Dad joins the Home Guard, Mum goes back to her old job as a telephonist, daughter joins the ATS, and son is sent overseas to fight – but also for its perceptive observation of the youngest daughter’s experiences as a factory worker. Patricia Roc’s life on the factory floor, and her relationships with the girls who share the dormitory accommodation, don’t shy away – as many other films of the period did – from the class conflicts which still riddled wartime English society. The ending, too, with the working class foreman (Portman) rejecting the rich society girl (Crawford) who has fallen for him, and looking forward instead to a new kind of society (one with a Labour government), raises pertinent questions about what exactly is being fought for. Is it the restoration of the old order, or the foundation of a new one? Intelligent entertainment at its best. ‘Time Out’
Tuesday 4th May 9.00 p.m.
Freeview Ch 68 Sky Ch 317 Sky Ch 149
Set in the plague year of 1348, Christopher Smith’s best film to date is a tale of fundamentalist Christianity, fearful superstition and atavistic paganism. Based on a fluid, intelligent screenplay by Dario Poloni, it marks Smith out as Britain’s most talented, least appreciated genre filmmaker. Striking visuals, confident storytelling, authentically grubby settings and an unsettling moral relativism combine to make his fourth feature emotionally involving, action-packed and thought-provoking.
Beneath this placid surface, however, is a roiling pit of religious duplicity and moral decay.
Horror fans will note a structural similarity to ‘The Wicker Man’, but the real creative touchstone here is Herzog’s ‘Aguirre, Wrath of God’. The ruthless Ulric represents the official church, yet his zealotry prompts the Abbot (David Warner) to remark: ‘That man is more dangerous than the pestilence itself.’ For all her showy paganism, is Langiva a heretical necromancer or merely a charlatan witch? Her bizarre bird’s-nest hairdo (and van Houten’s wavering accent) does not inspire confidence, yet the lovestruck Osmund is tempted to abandon his faith. This is bracing, often brutal stuff, set in a world where, as Ulric says, ‘God has slipped over the horizon.’ ‘Time Out’
Thursday 6th May 5.30 p.m.
Sony Movies Classic
Freeview Ch 51 Sky Ch 319 Virgin Ch 424
We’re accustomed to Welles as charismatic Harry Lime-like crooks or tragic heroes or Falstaffian grotesques. His character here, the mischievous adventurer Michael O’Hara, is as close as he comes to a conventional leading man.
Welles’s Irish accent may leave a lot to be desired, but he brings a mix of charm, naiveté and fatalism to the role. Michael is utterly bewitched by the blonde femme fatale (played by Welles’ wife Rita Hayworth, shortly before their marriage ended).
Welles enjoys being the Josef K-like dupe for a change. The film is as tangled and ingenious as any of Welles’s conjuring tricks. The shoot-out in the hall of mirrors is the most famous sequence, but there are other moments just as memorable – among them a razor sharp courtroom scene, a sequence in a Chinese theatre and a comic-erotic stolen kiss in an aquarium.
Hayworth’s gorgeous siren is even more lethal than the one she played in Gilda a year or two before. ‘Independent’
Granted exclusive access to hundreds of drawings and paintings by Orson Welles, film-maker Mark Cousins dives deep into the visual world of this legendary director and actor, to reveal a portrait of the artist as he’s never been seen before – through his own eyes, sketched by his own hand, painted with his own brush. Executive produced by Michael Moore, The Eyes of Orson Welles brings vividly to life the passions, politics and power of this 20th-century showman and explores how the genius of Welles still resonates today, more than 30 years after his death.
The film is told in three central acts – Pawn, Knight and King – with an epilogue on the theme of Jester. The Pawn sequence looks at Welles’s politics, his sympathy with ordinary people, those images that deal with the modesty of human beings – children, decent people who are not in positions of power. The Knight section looks at Welles’s obsession with love, his romances with the likes of Dolores del Rio and Rita Hayworth, and his quixotic attachment to what he himself saw as outmoded chivalric ideals. The King section looks at Welles’s fascination with power and its corruption, through illustrations that deal with figures such as Macbeth, Henry V, Kane and Welles himself – the epic mode of human beings, the lawmakers and abusers. The Jester epilogue explores the images that are about fun or mockery, with a surprising intervention by Welles himself.
The Eyes of Orson Welles is not only a portrait of a great man, but an account of the 20th century and a meditation on the continuing relevance of his genius in what Mark describes as these Wellesian times. ‘BBC 4 website’
The Tin Star
Friday 7th May 1.05 p.m.
Freeview Ch 14 Sky Ch 313 Virgin Ch 428
Here’s a real western, a sturdy, finely wrought work from masters of the genre in their prime, with lawman-turned-bounty hunter Henry Fonda helping young sheriff Anthony Perkins to hold down his job in a town ravaged by outlaws. Written by Dudley Nichols (Stagecoach) and Oscar-nominated for best story and screenplay, it’s directed by maestro Anthony Mann, who takes a deliberately under-emphatic approach, allowing the setting and characters to tell the story. Mann eschews false High Noon ethics and really understands the essence of heroism. The support cast includes faces that belong out West – Lee Van Cleef, John McIntire and the superb Neville Brand. This is an underrated, must-see experience. ‘Radio Times’
Saturday 8th May 8.50 p.m.
Freeview Channel 81 Sky Ch 328 Virgin Ch 445
This may seem like a strange choice as one of my week’s highlights, a brief overview of the British Postal Service that only last 9 minutes and was his first film as a director, released in 1934, but for those of you unfamiliar with the work of Humphrey Jenkins, he was described by film critic and director Lindsay Anderson in 1954 as “the only real poet that British cinema has yet produced.”
Widely considered to be one of Britain’s greatest filmmakers, Humphrey Jennings has long been celebrated as the director of works which beautifully capture the everyday heroism in times of war and peace. My intention in choosing this is to introduce our readers to the work of Jenkins and maybe they will seek out his other wonderful work.
‘Post Haste’ can also be found on the BFI release The Complete Humphrey Jennings Volume One: The First Days. For more information on Jennings the bio on the screenonline website is a good place to start.