Alec Guinness as The Man In The White Suit, Alexander MacKendrick, 1951
Tony Curtis with Sharon Tate in Don't Make Waves, Alexander MacKendrick, 1967
Surely I can't be the first person to have picked this up. The only thing that messes up the symmetry is that while Waves is MacKendrick's final film as director, Suit is not his first but his second film as director (the first was Whisky Galore!/Tight Little Island).
UPDATE: Several commenters have indirectly solicited my assessment of the latter film, which was recently made available via the indespensible albeit slightly irritating (because they're indespensible—it's a loop, you see) Warner Archive. I dig it. It doesn't have the verbal assets of such prime MacKendrick fare as White Suit, Sweet Smell of Success, and others, and there's a good deal of technical roughness around its edges, but it's pretty fascinatingly acerbic, Tate is wonderful in it, and the climactic scene should have been watched by Michael Bay before he tackled the folding-skyscraper sequence in Transformers: Bark At The Moon, or whatever the hell it was called. My old friend Joseph Failla has some notes on the film that are not inapt, complete with illustrations:
"It took awhile but when I caught up with DON'T MAKE WAVES, I wasn't disappointed in the least. While I have a liking for some of the sillier beach movies, WAVES as directed by Mackendrick seemed to have more on it's mind, basically skewering many American values of excess. This would make a good double feature with the incredibly acidic THE LOVED ONE,also helmed by an English director taking an even angrier aim at the same subject (in fact both films feature a sequence with valuable beach front property precariously teetering on the edge of destruction).
"I realize to call DON'T MAKE WAVES the LA DOLCE VITA of beach films is a stretch, although the these pics from both movies underscore an interesting affinity, I think. I may not have picked up on the white suits, but I find Tony Curtis makes for a decent Marcello Mastroianni, American style (think of Sidney Falco in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS as a more smarmy counterpart to Mastroianni's famous paparazzi, Marcello Rubini from VITA). While the inclusion of Claudia Cardinale reminds me of the presence of a European's eye view of the sweet life in '60s southern California. You may not feel both films should be mentioned in the same conversation but is there not a similar glint in Curtis' eye for Cardinale that Mastroianni has for Ekberg?"
Kael’s attraction to the art of the mass audience—the audience that includes our family and our neighbors—is about as far as you can get from Sontag’s prostration before the exalted and the disaffection from the mass audience it entails. Kael was wary of anything as humorless as exaltation. She was wary of anyone who took himself too seriously—such as Sontag’s adored Bresson, whom she charged with “inhuman pride.”—Craig Seligman, Sontag and Kael: Opposites Attract Me, Counterpoint, 2004
Bloggers and the writers who turn out well-crafted pieces on their own Web sites are free to write what they want. The best of them, such as Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule or Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun or Farran Nehme Smith at The Self-Styled Siren, give public voice to the way movies function as private obsession. Their film knowledge is broad and deep, but they wear that knowledge lightly. They understand that the true appreciation of any art begins in pleasure (and not in the “work” of watching movies). To read them is to read people grounded in the sensual response to movies, in what the presence or look of a certain star, or the way a shot is lit stirs in them. —Charles Taylor, “The Problem With Film Criticism,” Dissent, Fall 2011 (available on the internet to subscribers only)
Reading long, detailed arguments about a difference of millimeters in the aspect ratio of a new Blu-Ray disc, the only shrinking millimeters I’m aware of are those of my open eyes narrowing.— Taylor, Dissent
When the writer Dan Kois advanced the heretical notion in the New York Times that he couldn’t pretend to enjoy movies he found boring, the reaction he got made it seem as if he had said movies could never deviate from convention and audiences should never try anything new. The film historian David Bordwell even used the word “philistinism.”—Taylor, Dissent
In college, a friend demanded to know what kind of idiot I was that I hadn’t yet watched Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” “It’s so boring,” he said with evident awe. “You have to watch it, but you won’t get it.”
He was right: I had to watch it, and I didn’t get it. I had to watch it — on a laserdisc in the university library — because the intimation that there was a film that connoisseurs knew that I’d never heard of was too much to bear. I didn’t get it because its mesmerizing pace was so far removed from my cinematic metabolism that several times during its 165 minutes, I awoke in a panic, only to find that the same thing was happening onscreen as was happening when I closed my eyes. (Seas roiling; Russians brooding.) After I left the library, my friend asked me what I thought. “That was amazing,” I said. When he asked me what part I liked the best, I picked the five-minute sequence of a car driving down a highway,because it seemed the most boring. He nodded his approval. —Dan Kois, “Eating Your Cultural Vegetables,” The New York Times Magazine, April 29, 2011
The reaction to Kois was a sustained example of bullying masked as erudition.—Taylor, Dissent
What is interesting is the impression of a giddy, widespread abdiction of all time-consuming enterprises, from building an argument to watching a movie, and the accompanying implication that anything beyond an immediate gut-level response is suspect. Sometimes the abdication and the uses to which it is put are “market driven,” sometimes angst-ridden, sometimes politically cunning, and sometimes, as in Kois’s case, gleefully nonchalant. “My taste stubbornly remains my taste,” writes Kois as a summary statement: this is not film criticism, but rather its gleeful renunciation.—Kent Jones, “That was SO THEN, This is TOTALLY NOW,” Film Comment, September/October 2011 (Print only)
[Branded To Kill is] also a movie of rain and shadows, and Mr. Suzuki’s use of angular, minimalist 20th-century-modern interiors to convey blankness and isolation makes you wonder why anyone ever consented to be bored by Michelangelo Antonioni’s coffee-table anomie. —Charles Taylor, “New DVDs To Warm Your Toes By,” The New York Times, October 28, 2011
Images from Blow-Up (with Jeff Beck, 1966), Zabriskie Point (with Daria Halprin, 1970), The Passenger (with Maria Schneider, 1975) and Identification of a Woman (1982), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Lauren Bacall's first costume. ("First" in this case meaning with respect to the actual diegetic chronology; the picture actually begins after this scene, which is part of a lengthy flashback.) With Robert Stack.
Dorothy Malone's first costume. With John Larch as "Roy Carter."
Lauren Bacall's final costume. With Maidie Norman and Rock Hudson.
Dorothy Malone's final costume. With portrait of Robert Keith.
Shirley MacLaine, Some Came Running, Vincente Minnelli, 1958
"This movie must have a lot of meaning for you, given that you named your blog after it," my friend Tony Dayoub remarked as we entered the BAM complex for a screening of this, a part of the place's exemplary Complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective now in progress. "I guess," I shrugged. "But you know, it was also one of those things; I'd gotten bounced from my job that day, I got drunk, came home, started a blog..."
And to tell you the truth, I don't think I'd seen the picture in its entirety in some time at the point I started the blog. Nor had I seen the picture in its entirety, up until yesterday, since. Nor have I ever finished reading the enormous James Jones novel on which the film is based, which was generously gifted to me by my friend Tom Carson a few years back. And frankly when I named the blog I was thinking maybe as much of Michel Piccoli's character's intended homage to Dean Martin's Bama, in Godard's Contempt.
But it's a great picture, as I was happy to rediscover at the screening yesterday. It's a very peculiar picture in some ways. The screenplay by John Patrick and Arthur Sheekman seems an exemplarily schematic blueprint for a '50s epic contempo melodrama-entertainment event picture; a funny/ironic bit here, a heart-tugging sincere bit there, an explicit foreshadowing of what we expect is going to be a problem here, the "shocking" and galvanic articulation of the problem there. (Although some of the problems are not all that thoroughly articulated; we never really learn just what the deal is with Martha Hyer's character, do we?) The extent to which it's a very conventional '50s treatment of Big Authentic Feelings at odds with Narrow Smalltown Minds is pretty conventional, except for the meticulousness of Minnelli's direction, which you can see how it might have driven Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin nuts; there are a bunch of shots here in which you can see that the actor has to step on to one particular mark at precisely this time, or else the lighting effect that's gonna throw the shot/scene into a completely different kind of relief just isn't gonna come off. But it is most often in the not-necessarily expected and less directly overt exercises of that meticulousness when the film makes very moving contact with The Real, as in the above shot, wherein Shirley MacLaine's Ginnie Moorehead (yeesh, that name), making an awkward and eager confession to Martha Hyer's entirely more prim Gwen French, hangs her head in embarrassment/shame/self-abasement, and Minnelli and lenser William H. Daniels and editor Adrienne Fazan just hold the shot on MacLaine and allow you to get a really, really good look at her roots, which tell a story of their own. So yeah, I'm quite happy to have named the blog after this film.