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June 20, 2009


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That Breton quote is absolutely radiant. What an infectious attitude.

Randy Byers

Love it! What was it with surrealists and otherworldly love stories? Wasn't someone here or on Dave Kehr's blog recently saying that Bunuel loved Portrait of Jennie? Both movies have last acts that seem to happen in some kind of dream world, and perhaps that's the connection. Or perhaps it's that both movies sneer at rationality.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Hey Glenn,

I've just managed to track down the mysterious reference. "Ah! le beau voyage" is the French title of a 1927 silent feature directed by Robert Z. Leonard called "A Little Journey". Most of it's set on a train, and Albert E. Lewin, future director of the wonderful Surrealist touchstone "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman," is credited with the "continuity". (For more info, here's one link: http://yo-video.net/fr/film/43639-lefilm.html)




Randy, I think you're right the 2nd time around -- the Surrealists appreciate the way a director such as Dieterle or (as Mr. Rosenbaum points out here) Lewin can anchor a movie in the Hollywood aesthetic and still come up with something that is barely tethered to logic or reality. When I saw The Private Affairs of Bel-Ami recently I was struck by how Lewin would deliberately reinforce the artificiality of what was on screen. (There is a new version of Bel-Ami in the beginning stages with--heaven help us all--Robert Pattinson in the title role once played by George Sanders.)


"Ibbetson" isn't something you forget after you see it, that's for sure. I remember just popping it in and hitting play, not sure what to expect (I mostly knew Hathaway from minor stuff) and having to peel my jaw off the floor about twenty minutes in.

There are moments when Hathaway just takes off sometimes. His best films are actually pretty damn strange when you really think about them. "Niagara" is a noir in Technicolor, which is strange enough, but the script makes things even stranger (especially since an affair between the heroine and Joseph Cotten was obviously written out to please the censors). But you've still got the marriage dissolving, and a comic relief character who might have escaped from a David Lynch movie (seriously, this guy really loves him some oats).

Randy Byers

Campaspe, thanks for the pointers on Lewin. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman came up a lot recently when Jack Cardiff died, but now I see that Lewin's first three directorial efforts all star George Sanders. Looks like Lewin is someone I need to check out!

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