Today’s Fabulous Image in Cinema: Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven
July 8, 2010

I’m well aware that Alfred Newman’s booming score ads a certain melodramatic je ne sais quoi that a single frame can’t do justice; nevertheless, there’s something to be said for the unsettlingly austere gaze with which Gene Tierney’s Ellen Berent spreads her father’s ashes (back and forth, back and forth!) on horseback  in John M. Stahl 1945 adaptation of Ben Ames Williams’s Leave Her to Heaven.  That, and those lips.  Seriously, either I’ve got an asexual fetish for crazy ladies in red lipstick, or dazzlingly red lips are Technicolor color coding for “psycho bitch.”  Either way, I love it.

And as usual, don’t hesitate to click to enlarge and appreciate the fabulousness of it all.

Today’s Fabulous Image in Cinema: Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes Is Your FACE
July 7, 2010

In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 Technicolor masterpiece The Red Shoes, Moira Shearer plays talented ballet protégé Victoria Page, a woman torn between the composer she loves (Marius Craster) and the (possibly gay–it’s a diva worship thing) impressario who has shone a light on her talent and brought it to fruition and fame (Anton Walbrook).  *SPOILER ALERT*: Things do not end well, as they are so wont to do in melodramas.

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Today’s Fabulous Image in Cinema: Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus
June 29, 2010

Because this single shot of Sister Ruth putting on her red lipstick in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1947 masterpiece, Black Narcissus, is simultaneously the single greatest moment of high-camp pleasure and psychological horror.  She’s undeniably fabulous, for sure, but this bitch has also lost her damn mind.

Oh, and don’t hesitate to click to enlarge and appreciate the fabulousness of it all.

Rest in Peace, Jack Cardiff
April 22, 2009

I hate to be a Debbie Downer at this late hour in the day, but the BBC is reporting that filmmaker Jack Cardiff has passed away at 94.  He had a wonderfully long and varied career as both and a director and a cinematographer.  I think he’s a Technicolor genius, and his cinematography work with Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger on the exceptional melodramas Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes may be some of the greatest ever.  I cannot recommend these films enough; his work in these movies is one of the great cases for film as a true art.  It’s a testament to his talent that, even on YouTube, his ability to capture color is simply stunning.  Let’s celebrate the life of a true artist with (what I believe to be) the crowning achievement of his work:

I recall sitting in a film class and encountering this scene for the first time.  I see plenty of movies, and many of them excite me in some way or another, but this scene was something special.  I crackled with an electric shock, like I was a human battery, as I sat through these moments, and the sensation never leaves me.

If it were not for the way that Mr. Cardiff captured the redness of Sister Rose’s lipstick of eerily calm pinks of the Himalayan sunrise in the sublime manner that he did, I wonder if this scene would have the same hypnotic control over me.  Powell and Pressburger indubitably played a large and important part in crafting the perfect finale of Black Narcissus (they’re the directors, and geniuses in their own right, after all), but the colors–so necessary to the feel and mood and affect of the film–are Cardiff’s doing.  He’s a man of supreme talent, and he shall be missed.

Why Should Anybody Be Watching Watchmen This Weekend When There’s Technicolor Gene Tierney Goodness to Be Had?
March 4, 2009

So last night I ran into my friend Brynn at Film Forum on my way to see Lola Montès–the crazy-brilliant cinematic extravaganza by Max Ophüls (more on that later)–and, while I was standing in line, she asked me, “So you know what comes out on Friday, right?”

My instantaneous reaction, given the inescapable barrage subway ads, movie trailers, and blue-johnson internet chatter, was obvious: Watchmen.

Oh, silly me!  She was speaking in particular to Film Forum’s release schedule, and trust me when I say that the movie she had in mind doesn’t need any blue genitals to be twice the cinematic doozy that Watchmen will be.  

Ladies and gentleman, all me to present to you the Technicolor fabulosity that is Leave Her to Heaven, back on the big screen for one week only (!):

Oh, snap, y’all!  Having seen Leave Her to Heaven on a mere television, I can absolutely  testify to how incredible it is as a movie, and I can guarantee that, on the big screen, it will positively MELT.  YOUR.  FACE.  (Academically speaking.)

I think we all know what this means…

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