Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

The Big Sleep

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The Big Sleep 1978 poster

Recently I watched the 1978 film remake of the Big Sleep. There has probably been a bigger waste of acting talent than that squandered by Michael Winner but nothing comes to mind.

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Bogart as Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Sternwood Rutledge in Howard Hawkes 1946 film of the Big Sleep.

The original 1946 version starring Humphrey Bogart and  Lauren Bacall was obviously made at a time nearer that of the novel, (published 1939). Raymond Chandler’s novels like the Sherlock Holmes stories of Conan Doyle occupy a particular time and place, in my opinion, this is, even more, the case with Chandler.

Setting the action of the Big Sleep in 1970s England didn’t work for me. In the Big Sleep, Chandler’s writes of Los Angeles, Hollywood, California and America at a time before it was touched by war, in the aftermath of Prohibition during the dying embers of the Depression. His novels are steeped in that sense of time and place. The characters who populate his stories are products of this period and like some fine wines, they do not travel well.

Get Carter

Michael Caine as Carter

A similar situation but travelling geographically in the opposite direction was the remake of Get Carter. Set originally in 1970’s Newcastle with Michael Caine playing Carter the 2000 remake with Sylvester Stallone in the title role was a poor shadow of the original. Get Carter was as was the Big Sleep comfortable in its own time and place the lack of Geordie accents didn’t diminish its quality. Stallone’s outing couldn’t and didn’t match Caine’s London hard man. Caine was totally credible, it is, in my opinion, the best ever British crime film.

Chandler’s only novel not to be made into a film. Playback is set in the early fifties and a different part of California. I hope it will find its way onto the silver screen, set in its correct time and place.

No copyright claimed for images used.

I Daniel Blake

Poster for the film I Daniel Blake

Advertising poster for the film I Daniel Blake

I watched the Ken Loach directed film “I Daniel Blake” Saturday evening.

Its first airing on BBC television. Probably one of the best British films ever made. Although the characters are fictional, their stories aren’t, the evidence haunts our streets. Our fellow citizens sitting on pavements, begging, hungry children at school and shopping trolleys in supermarkets collecting donations for food banks.

When I was an apprentice, my foreman, a Geordie told me of his family’s struggle to survive during the thirties, he was an apprentice himself then, having left school at fourteen. He told me about the visit by the “Means Test Man”, who forced the family to sell what few possessions they still had.

During my apprenticeship I attended Technical College one day a week, our English teacher gave another insight into the thirties. This man an old Etonian, an Oxford graduate and an economist, also taught economics to an evening class I attended. He was responsible for my wife and I being able to buy our own house. At the start of the college year in 1971, he walked into our English class, the first one of the new college year. Asking if any of us were thinking of getting married and buying a house? I replied I was thinking of it.

“Buy a house now”,  he said, “by this time next year they will have doubled in price”.

I asked if he was sure, he said he was absolutely certain, my girlfriend and I went out that weekend found a house under construction affordable for us we thought, the foundations were in. We secured it with a £25 plot deposit then struggled to get a mortgage, the cost of the house was £4150 in 1971, when we moved into our first home a year later the price was over £8000.

This English teacher told me of his in-laws a married couple; during the thirties, they were forced to live apart by the government. Made to work in different parts of the country as domestic servants.

He was probably one of the most left-wing people I have met also one of the most caring.

About this time Monetarism was being touted as an economic policy, he explained why it wouldn’t work and why its forerunner hadn’t worked in the thirties.

We all now know for most of us, the homeless and disadvantaged in particular that it doesn’t work.

To quote Glenda Jackson (Tribute speech to Margaret Thatcher), “greed has now become a virtue.”

Having known about the thirties and how it affected those suffering from the policies of a callous government, I had no desire to see the same horrors revisited.

I Daniel Blake is a commentary of what has happened to our society fictional only in its characters. A proper caring society should not accept the treatment of our fellow human beings meted out by an uncaring government, we the people are better than this even if our government isn’t.

 

Moon River

For many years I have loved the song Moon River, vaguely aware that it was connected with the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I was browsing the DVDs at a local charity shop looking for Funeral in Berlin when I found a copy of Breakfast at Tiffanys. I bought it and watched it tonight for the first time. Those of us who grew up during the sixties, well me at least, always associate that time, that decade with hope and a feeling that things were improving, would continue to improve.

Breakfast at Tiffanys has that feeling about it. A journey leading the two main characters, played by Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, away from dependency on those who sought to buy their souls to a hopeful better future. A film like all good films for me, with a happy ending. Most of us if not all us want happy endings, not always for ourselves but more importantly for those we love and care for.  A journey with our own Moon River perhaps.

 

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