CinemaInternational wrote: ↑May 9th, 2023, 11:10 am
Sorry to hear that you aren't feeling well, Bronxie. I hope you are on the mend soon.
I remember being absolutely charmed by Local Hero, and by its weird but beguiling small Scottish town. It's just a sweet little movie, and to have Burt Lancaster in a smaller role was just the icing on the cake. I do admit to have had a bit of a teenage crush on Jenny Seagrove, who has that small enigmatic role of a woman who might be a mermaid.
It was directed by Bill Forsyth, who also did another charmer, 1980's Gregory's Girl and another praised offbeat comedy, 1984's Comfort and Joy (unseen by me, although I am intrigued by the idea of it), before he briefly (and for him unhappily) came to the US to make three films in a gloomier vein: Housekeeping with Christine Lahti, Breaking In with Burt Reynolds, and Being Human with Robin Williams (who copied his director's thick accent for use in Mrs. Doubtfire), which was nearly completely buried by Warner Bros. after it laid on the shelf for a couple years. He then went back to Scotland, and aside from making one film since, has left film behind. Local Hero, Gregory's Girl, and Housekeeping (which has several very haunting moments) show how much we have missed, and it makes me want to seek out his other three.
Last Embrace, is that the Demme Hitchcock pastiche with Roy Scheider and Janet Margolin? If it is, the first half is a knockout, a full-bodied old-fashioned suspense film that has a truly unpredictable mystery at its center. Unfortunately, the second half isn't as strong as it throws in some copious and unnecessary female nudity to fit in amidst that late 70s style, and the revelations concerning a turn of the century white slavery group is odd. But Demme is a marvelous director, the leads are ideal, and you can't beat that Miklos Rozsa score. I feel as though the positives outweigh the negatives.
Demme had an unusual career: he started with Roger Corman quickies (Crazy Mama with Cloris Leachman and Ann Sothern is a very good exploitation type, mostly comic, but with bursts of sudden horrifying violence), then had a run of interesting offbeat studio films (Citizens Band, Last Embrace, Melvin and Howard, Swing Shift, Something Wild, Married to the Mob), before hitting the big- time with Silence of the Lambs....but of his post-Silence films, only Philadelphia was a hit, while Beloved (actually a pretty good adaptation) and ill-advised remakes of Charade and The Manchurian Candidate lost enormous sums of money. He finished his career with documentaries and two ragged tales of troubled women (Rachel Getting Married, Ricki and the Flash) .
Its definitely an odd career, but time and time again, he brought out the best in his actors, which is why so many of them worked with him multiple times. And that late 70s/80s run is remarkable. There are few films of rustic life as ebuillently offbeat as Citizens Band, Melvin and Howard is simply a wonderful film, Something Wild is truly hairraising. Swing Shift was taken out of his hands and a quarter of it was redone; a grainy VHS copy of his original cut is floating around the internet; I have heard this rare cut is better than the theatrical cut, which was still a good film. I saw a link to it once, I might have to find it again.
And then there is Married to the Mob. I honestly don't know what it is about that film, as it does contain four mob "hit" scenes and some of the most alarming haircuts and interior designs ever put to celluloid, but it is so incredibly, wildly entertaining to me. Michelle Pheiffer is radiant in it as a Mafia widow yearning for a normal life, Dean Stockwell is a memorably swaggering mob don, and Mercedes Ruehl is brawlingly hilarious as his jealous wife whose volcanic, full-volumed rage erupts frequently. The pounding soundtrack of 80s alt-rock songs is exceptional. And the combination of the funny script and Demme's direction is a match made in comedy heaven; I swear its honestly one of my favorite films of the 80s s. Its like an R-rated mob movie filtered through the dual lens of Looney Toons and Preston Sturges.
Recently, filmwise, I have caught some of these recent early morning titles on TCM ( Stamboul Quest and The Flame Within last Tuesday were both fascinating MGM titles), but I've been spending even more time with silent films. There are so many that are flooding YouTube now that all films from the 1890s through the 1920s are in the public domain, and I needed to see more of them since I have somewhat neglected the era and I seen so many 20th century American talkies that the remaining field of unseen titles of them is somewhat bare. I have fallen head over heels for the silents; they have a poetic quality all their own, and they bewitch and beguile so easily. And they are now just out there where anyone can see them, just ripe for the viewings.