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Sesso nero (1980)
Guilt ridden last love rites
This languid, sloppily shot Joe D'Amato hardcore shocker is a poem of sex and death, set to a soundtrack of 70s cocktail jazz and disco. Mark Shannon plays one Mark Lester, a middle-class American with a rich, sterile wife who learns (it what must be a first and last time twist in porn cinema) that he has some kind of cancer of the genitalia and needs to have them completely removed if he is to live. He makes a deal with his doctor that he can have 15 days grace before surgery makes him a eunuch and heads off to a Caribbean on which he formerly lived and where he left the love of his life to die. The film is a kind of Last Holiday of the penis .
Like any hardcore film, the story is string on which to hang the sex sequences but it is hard to imagine what man would want to get off on a film in which the hero has the threat of complete castration hanging over him. The women are very beautiful yet the sex scenes themselves have a dead quality, as if the characters were performing under the weight of an incredible sadness; Nico Fidenco's melancholy scoring helps create this mood.
Lester is a less than admirable human being. Not only did he betray the woman who loved him, he's clearly made his wife feel pretty inadequate about her sterility and made it plain to her that he married for money; he humiliates a European friend still living on the Island with a local, ex-prostitute wife by insisting that she have sex with him before he donates to their local school project; he murders an overweight Caribbean prostitute whilst cursing her as a slut (which is rich coming from such a sleep around as him). His friend is little better, and only tells Lester's wife where the dying man is after she has performed fellatio on him. Still, Lester seems to know that he is an unredeemed sinner, as he gets drunk, screws around, slips in and out of sexual fantasies and doubles up in pain from his carcinogenic bits.
Definitely a product of a Catholic, Christian culture, D'Amato's Sesso Nero (literally "Black Sex") is a slow, depressing, conflicted and strangely compelling film. The denouement, where the dead girl and her family (through a mix of voodoo and deception) get their revenge on the man who wronged her, is both sudden and shocking. With its explicit self-emasculation, it rivals I Spit on Your Grave as a cinematic moment to make any man in the audience wince. As blood seeps from his self-inflicted wound into the sea, the protagonist dies a lonely, damned death in the arms of a memory, haunted by his sins.
Remember Me This Way (1974)
Now to be forgotten
An ironic title considering the film's subject's current reputation, Remember Me This Way is an hour long documentary on British Glam Rock star Gary Glitter, filmed at the height of his fame. The bulk of the film follows a rather anodyne version of Pennebaker's Don't Look Back template: the star is shown doing publicity interviews, hosting parties, rehearsing, recording, intercut with footage of his manager trying to get him the best deal over the telephone. Nothing much of interest is revealed, unless you are fascinated by how often Glitter's clothes get removed during gigs or that his speaking voice is rather posh. Glitter speaks of himself as rather a heart-throb for his fans, which just goes to show how much these thing are in the eye of the beholder. It is a shame, and perhaps telling, that there are no interviews with the fans themselves.
This being the mid-70s, there's an odd bit of undeveloped mockumentary where Glitter is seen filming a (fake) Hollywood feature, a scene where he karate-kicks his way through a group of villains. Quite why this is in the film is anyone's guess perhaps Glitter's people hoped that someone would put up the money for a genuine Gary feature. Nobody did, which is understandable seeing how Glitter acts in this segment.
The best bit of the film is the last 15 minutes, with concert footage from the Rainbow Theatre. Whatever you say about Glitter (and most of it won't be nice), he was a fine showman in his time and his concerts had a manic edge and rhythmic punch about them which were compelling. It is quite understandable from this footage why he was such a big star, as he sure knew how to entertain a crowd.
It is a quirk of fate that this film will probably never be reissued on DVD, given its star is now a convicted child sex abuser. This is a shame, as it doesn't invalidate the value of this film as a record of a highly successful UK pop artist at the height of his fame. Inconsequential though most of it is, it is pretty well edited and, as I say, the concert footage is magnificent.
Trivia fans might like to know that this was released as a second feature on a double bill with the Canadian kids film Brother of the Wind, both films being advertised as "for all the family to come and see".
Twenty Five Years (1977)
The Constant Royal Round
This documentary collage was released to cinemas in 1977 to coincide with the Queen's silver jubilee. If my memory serves me correctly, it was poorly reviewed and rather less than successful. There was even a storm in some local newspapers about it being pulled before the end of its first week of release commercial cinemas were apparently supposed to subsidised a flop because it was supporting the monarchy. The film was shown very soon after on television (bypassing the then 3 year after release agreement that UK terrestrial TV had in place with cinema distributors) and promptly vanished into obscurity. It disappeared so completely that for years it didn't even have an IMDb listing. Now it's released again on DVD, in the 60th anniversary year of Elizabeth II's coronation.
Viewing at this distance, it's easy to see why reviewers might have been less than enthusiastic. The film edits together disparate footage from the past quarter century in order to make a single point that though enormous changes have occurred, Elizabeth is a constant fixture. So, we see footage of the Queen with British Prime Ministers from Churchill to Heath, French premiers from De Gaulle to Giscard d'Estaing, various commonwealth leaders; we see footage of notable news and sports events, such as Kennedy's assassination, England's 1966 World Cup victory and the Moon landings. Against the backdrop of ever-shifting History, Elizabeth carries on her endless round of ceremonial events, openings and launches, state visits. The point is endlessly repeated through it all, she remains.
The trouble with this is, whilst it makes its point precisely, it doesn't offer any counter-argument. That a film celebrating the Silver Jubilee should unquestioningly support an argument for monarchy is unsurprising and it could hardly have done otherwise, yet this does not make for very exciting cinema. Nor does it reflect the problems that were on the surface in the UK by 1977, erupting in industrial disputes, the compact with Europe, tensions over immigration and a nascent Republicanism, soon to be spurred by the release of the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen single (a rather more commercially successful enterprise than 25 Years). A film which acknowledged all of this might still come down on the side of constitutional, hereditary monarchy but it would have had to take a more robust approach to the subject.
Still, Peter Morley's film is impeccably edited and, at 73 minutes, it hardly outstays its welcome. Because it is now more than 35 years old and much of the archive footage used is considerably older, it has genuine curiosity value. It also looks back at a time when coverage of the Royal family was neither salaciously celebrity-fixated nor resentful and critical. That attitude, of a detached and respectful deference and understated defence of the institution and people is long gone, was dated even in 1977. It is actually rather intriguing to see it now. Ironically it does because things have changed so much now carry a sense of unintended drama, as the argument it makes is so rarely heard in the mainstream, and certainly never in such an unfussy tone.
Finally, it is probable that Peter Morley meant to make something impressionistic, as the full title 25 Years Impressions suggests. Elizabeth's life is repetitive and unchanging, even as world-changing events fly by. Viewed in this way, the film does slyly suggest that the life-long job of the monarch is not particularly enviable and it could cause a grudging respect and empathy in the heart of all but the staunchest Republican.
From Noon Till Three (1976)
Bronson goes all Jean Genet
This odd Charles Bronson comedy western comes on like Support Your Local Gunfighter but turns out to be a strange, Jean Genet-tinged meditation on illusion, erotic games-playing, social construction and mythologizing. Bronson plays Graham, a two-bit outlaw who dreams that his gang's up-coming bank-job is doomed. On the way to town he loses his horse and the gang stop off at the ranch of a wealthy widow, Amanda (Jill Ireland); he engineers to stay at the ranch whilst the others go off to rob the bank.
There follows a strange, BDSM-ish and role-playing erotic encounter between Graham and Amanda. The film makes it clear that they are immediately sexually attracted but they have a protracted session of pretence in which he plays the part of a mean outlaw and she the prim lady in mourning. He attempts to ravish her but, crucially, can see that her resistance is a socially restrained charade. To facilitate her acquiescence, he pretends to be impotent and she pretends to help him to a cure. Through these games, which include a fair amount of rough and tumble play-fighting, the two manage to reach a place where their desires can be fulfilled. They spend an idyllic three hours together until Graham learns that the bank raid has gone wrong and his fellow robbers have been arrested. Amanda, determined to create him as the man of her dreams, insists that he goes to town to rescue them. Determined to feed her fantasy, Graham affects to ride into town but contrives to fake his own death by exchanging clothes with an itinerant dentist. The dead body (face hidden) is shown to Amanda, who (wearing a Jezebel-like red dress she'd put on to eroticise her time with Graham) faints when the posse brings the outlaw's corpse to the door. Graham is arrested for the dentist's misdemeanours and ends up with a year in gaol.
So far, the film has been pretty much contained within the enclosed space of Amanda's home, a kind of faux-European mansion in the middle of nowhere. Now the action opens up, with Amanda riding to town to be humiliated and scorned by the townsfolk as a scarlet woman, condemned for sharing illicit hours with an outlaw. Graham and Amanda's encounter suggests that a strange exchange takes place when an outlaw makes love to a respectable member of society he has to give up his outlaw status and she has to take on a mark of sin. But now the plot turns again, as Amanda gives a rousing speech to the crowd in which she affirms that she loved Graham for the 3 hours they spent together and it redeemed her life. The townsfolk love this and a passing writer offers to turn her story into a book.
The book about Graham and Amanda's encounter, romanticized and embellished, becomes a bestseller with spin-off song and other merchandise. When Graham is released from prison, he returns to the town in disguise to discover that it has turned itself into a theme-park, a memorial to the now mythic defeat of Graham's gang and the love of the outlaw and the lady. There are even tours to Amanda's mansion, which Graham takes. When he reveals himself to his love, she is none too pleased to see him. She'd remembered him and written him as taller and better looking! His meagre dream of escaping into a mediocre life of banking and marriage holds no appeal to Amanda, who wishes to uphold the myth for its worldwide audience of fans. Rather than give up the myth, Amanda kills herself, her real flesh disappearing to be replaced entirely by her legend.
Where does this leave the real Graham? Of course, no one believes him when he tells them who he is not even people who used to know him. They have all bought into the myth and the reality is no longer viable currency. Graham descends into a pitiful drunkenness. In ironic scenes, he interrupts songs and plays about his own life, only to be rejected by the audience. Finally he is left in a lunatic asylum where, in a bitter twist, the delusional accept him for who he really is.
From Noon Till Three tells an ambitious story of American mythologizing (reminiscent of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) but daringly combines it with a meditation on how the erotic is built on a fantasy which supplants the real. It is here the film resembles the plays of Jean Genet the whole of society becomes grounded in an erotic fantasy and woe-betide anyone who can't live up to it. Entire lives become mere dressing up and pretence.
The film is prevented by being great by the often pedestrian direction of its author, Frank Gilroy. There is a little visual flare in some shots but too often things feel like a television movie, lacking visual and cinematic poetry. This is a shame, because there are odd times when the sets are emphasised as just that theatrical sets and the theme of the film feels visualised appropriately. The opening an deserted Western set onto which the outlaws ride to meet their doom in what turns out to be Graham's dream is perfection and suggests that these characters lives are themselves dreams acted out in an entirely constructed society, where only sex and death are real. To Gilroy's credit as a director, he does get extraordinary performances from Ireland (the right mix of minx, coquette, prim and maniac) and Bronson, who stretches himself as never before and inhabits his series of disguises with aplomb, whilst never losing sight of the character's reality as a rather grubby nobody.
Disavowed homoeriticism in the Old South
A sort-of sequel to the rather splendid antebellum slavery melodrama Mandingo (it's based on the same novel series), Drum is less profound in its depiction of desire becoming catastrophe in a historic nightmare but it certainly contains enough to raise the eyebrows of viewers. As in Mandingo, the old South is a backdrop to transgressive sexual longings and congress, this time adding in homosexual desire (both male and female) to the mix.
Drum's view of lesbianism is relatively enlightened, showing a long-term loving relationship between a fallen Southern belle turned Madame and her maidservant. This being a period of violence and tragedy, the two are soon separated by the black woman's murder. Male homosexuality is less well depicted, with a sadistic old Southern queen of a slaver and his handsome pathic being it's representatives. The old queen DeMarigny's role in the film is contradictory, as although he is the main antagonist to the handsome slave protagonist Drum, he also makes explicit the film's homoerotic glorifying in the body and sexuality of the boxer turned actor Ken Norton. The filmmakers clearly needed to disavow this homoerotic aspect to their drama, as they have Drum settling his scores with DeMarigny by ripping his genitals off with his bare fist.
The film revels in its violence, cross-racial sexuality and spectacle to the extent that it feels less like Mandingo at times than the notorious slavery-Mondo film Addio zio Tom. The dialogue is salty and nasty, with liberal peppering of the "N" word and frank talk about white women's breasts and black men's "blacksnakes". Hearing as fine an actor as Warren Oates drooling "Oh you knows I likes big titties" is either hilarious or tragic, depending on what view you take. The film makes on feel like taking a bath after viewing, so foul is the world depicted therein but this suggests to me that exploitation is the best way of drenching an audience in as disreputable and irredeemable a period of history as the slave-era. This is subject matter which would only be diluted if drenched in liberal humanism and turned into a redemption drama.
Drum was advertised in the UK with the tagline "Mandingo lit the fuse, now Drum is the explosion" and the filmmakers certainly earn this as the screen does indeed erupt in chaos, riot and violence at the close. The Falconhurst mansion goes up not just in flames but in rather mystifying blasts, as if Oates' character were storing dynamite in most of the rooms. This complete destruction of the setting and most of the cast, as well as an extremely "unsatisfying" ending might be dramatically rather forced but it feels entirely appropriate for the subject matter.
Helga, la louve de Stilberg (1978)
An S&M dream in a hotel lobby
If some jaded, pervy European businessman had fallen asleep in the foyer of a second-rate hotel in 1977 and had a reverie which mixed his sadly tame S&M fantasies with that morning's newspaper report on revolutions in South America and the piped music in the lobby, the contents of Helga: She-Wolf of Stilberg might be that dream. Available in a boxed-set of Nazi Cult films, Helga in fact isn't set during World War Two nor is there a Swastika in sight; Helga's locale is some sort of dream-space, a banana republic situated in a European landscape.
Title character Helga is a rather incompetent version of Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS, given the job by her dictator president of running a vaguely Salo-like castle keep in which young women, mostly related to opposition and insurgent families, are imprisoned and, under Helga's rule, sexually abused and tortured. True to the flaccid and self-defeating nature of our businessman's fantasies, Helga's attempts to reign over her charges are met with derision and contempt by the prisoners and she is often left crying on her own, her wardrobe of red silk shirts and big-buckle leather belts no compensation for her failure to rule the roost.
The film is so incompetent that its repetitions (how many times do the prisoners line up to be chosen by the doctor? And how often does Helga walk down the skanky staircase to the dungeon?) and unmotivated action very much mirrors the droolings of a dreaming mind and its final fantasy of liberation is as feeble as could be expected from a jaded and pervy Euro-gent, perhaps one who is an Anglophile with a penchant for Carry On films, as the comeuppance of Helga reminds one of nothing less than the blanket-bath given by the rebellious patients to Hattie Jacques' matron in Carry on Doctor. That the liberation is called into question by the final shot, where the escaped heroin and her lover are in the sights of a gun aimed by a former prison guard, only goes to show that a tired businessman can, in his dreams, reach an unintended moment of vision bringing into focus the endless nature of the world's nightmare cycles of violence.
Dracula's Daughter (1936)
Promising character in a missed opportunity
The first official sequel to Universal's Dracula film loses both director Tod Browning and star Bela Lugosi as well as the central character the latter played, Count Dracula (Universal obviously didn't have as much nous as Hammer and think up various ways of revivifying him for sequels). Despite the film's beginning just moments after the 1931 film ends and in the same location, the bulk of the plot concerns the crimes and travails of the titular character, Dracula's Daughter.
Countess Zaleska is not happy being a vampire and hopes that the death of her father will break her habit of going out after dark and sucking the blood from the necks of innocent victims. No such luck, as Dracula still controls her from beyond the grave and she goes through men and women at a pace. The existential situation of the Countess is the most intriguing feature of the film she is like a sinner incapable of repentance or an addict unable to kick her addiction. In the course of seeking a cure for her behaviour/condition, she meets and falls badly for a psychiatrist, Dr Garth, but he is neither capable of reforming her nor interested in spending eternity as a member of the living death alongside her, so Zaleska is on a losing game. There is something moving and horrifying about her predicament and many people who aren't vampires will be able to identify with her inability to kick her addictions and avoid a terrible fate.
Whilst the main plot line is fairly successful, with many creepy moments, convincingly sick encounters and relationships and a fine performance by Gloria Holden as the Countess, the sub-plots in the film are mostly played for laughs, with Dr Garth and other characters' dialogues peppered with wise-cracks better suited to a Thin Man film than a Gothic horror. If the film had the courage of its convictions and concentrated on the existential malaise of its heroine, it would still hold up strong today. As it is, it looks like it was a missed opportunity at the time and is a curate's egg for us. But the good bits of the egg might well inspire the viewer.
The Eternal City of God grows from a Dying Rome
Augustine is a two-part, Italian-made mini-series about the influential theologian and church father Augustine of Hippo. The piece tells the story of his life from a teenager to his death at the age of 69. The last few weeks of his life, with him living as a famous church grandee and Bishop of Hippo during a siege of the city by Vandals, act as a framing device for flashbacks to his life and conversion to Christianity. Much of the content for the scenes of him as a young and middle-aged man come from his Confessions, which is probably the earliest extant autobiography.
The film takes us in a fairly stolid but not uninvolving way through his stealing of peaches as a boy, his studentship in the debauched city of Carthage, his rise as a lawyer, his struggles with conscience and the nature of truth, his involvement with the Manicheans, his time as court orator to the boy Emperor Valentinius II, his conversion to Christianity and his disputation with the Donatists. Each of these episodes is clearly, sometimes slightly simplistically, dealt with and includes genuine drama and character development. The framing story is less successful, although the climax has some power: Augustine personally goes into the Vandals camp and delivers some Hippo citizens who were being held as prisoners.
Augustine's major relationships with his mother, his concubine and Bishop Ambrose, who converted him are well-drawn if a little sentimentalised. There's also an apparently invented character, Valerius, who is a friend of Augustine's from his younger days and stands for the dying world of Rome, as Augustine stands for the eternal City of God. Augustine's mother Saint Monica comes across as a little one-dimensionally sanctimonious and this leads to the major fault of the series it takes a rather partial view on Augustine's Christianity, agreeing with him that it is The Truth but never really pinpointing why it is. Instead of a properly dramatised revelation of why Christianity is the way, the film substitutes posturing and welling, saccharine music. This is a shame, as the film does go some way to exposing why being a mere legal rhetorician or an elite, celibate Manichean is wrong. The debate with the self-righteous Donatists is well-done and dramatically reveals the Catholic doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, but this leads the film to rather humanise and underplay the austerity of Augustine's own doctrine of Original Sin.
Augustine himself isn't the most attractive character. He begins as a rather arrogant, egotistical man and continues there. Of course, this is part of the story's point that Augustine is a great father of the Church despite his personal faults. This rather radical dramatic strategy gets a bit lost in the script's unwise choice to have his final victory underlined by its facilitating a soppy love-story between a young Christian woman who looks up to him and a Roman centurion. Nevertheless, the mini-series is ambitious, informed and fairly faithful to the life of the man. It does attempt to dramatise profound questions and an important moment in the development of European civilisation. If you can forgive it's tasteless and tacky aspects, you might find much that intrigues.
The Evil That Men Do (1984)
Poker-faced lesson in immorality
The fifth Bronson/Lee Thompson collaboration is as misanthropic and cynical as a film can get. Using a grindhouse aesthetic, the film tells the story of the tracking and execution of a torturer by an assassin. The story is told in a pretty reductive way - we see examples of the torturer's crimes against humanity then we see the assassin hunting him down, killing his associates one by one before finally getting to the main quarry. Yet although the film is entirely free of editorialising, a moral question is raised entirely through the action is the assassin's murderous activity any superior than the torturer's? The torturer, Moloch, is portrayed as a middle-aged man without a country, a freelance adviser to totalitarian regimes (and Western democracies) who displays and passes on expertise in causing human suffering. He is a man without morals, whose only allegiance is to his sister, a haughty lesbian who has no qualms about her brother's business. This is a man with no redeeming features reptilian, merciless, immoral. His nemesis Holland (Bronson) is a retired assassin, living a lazy life on a luxurious island; clearly, his career as a paid killer has been highly profitable. He is lured out of retirement by what appear to be the pricks of conscience Moloch has murdered his friend (a crusading journalist) and Holland has also viewed videotaped testimony from torture survivors. Holland takes on the job of meting out retributive justice to Moloch without payment.
Holland is accompanied on his mission, at his request as he needs cover, by a woman and her daughter (the family of the murdered journalist). It is clear though unstated that this is a risky strategy, especially as it puts a child in jeopardy. The woman sees the assassin as he is immediately a cold and ruthless killer but nevertheless goes along with the mission as she requires revenge for her husband's death.
The bulk of the film is an episodic series of executions, as Moloch's team are killed in various grisly and sadistic ways. It has to be said, the audience is not discouraged from enjoying them most notably a barroom brawl in which Bronson grabs the erect penis of a bothersome macho through his jeans and squeezes it until the man passes out (in other words, tortures him). But as things progress, the assassin's methods become more morally questionable. He kidnaps Moloch's sister and this leads directly to the sister's death. The torturer in turn kidnaps the child, who is put in mortal danger. Although things work out "okay" in the end the child is saved and the torturer is killed by a pack of his disfigured victims the sadism we have been invited to indulge in and enjoy as morally justified leaves a rather nasty taste in the mouth.
At no moment does the film play its hand and admit that its agenda is to question the notion of violent retribution. Yet the net affect of watching the sadistic story play out creates a palpable need to shower off the dirt. Director Lee Thompson has played his game here with the perfect poker face; the entire action is an example of The Evil That Men Do.
Interestingly, for anyone following the Bronson/Lee Thompson collaboration, the film's protagonist Holland begins where Cabo Blanco's Giff ends, living the high-life by the beach. Giff was a mythologised exemplar of the Allied Powers' moral rectitude at the close of the Second World War. The Evil that Men Do shows that, by the 1980s, the US and its allies are morally compromised by their own use of Nazi torture techniques. Yet the film's cynicism demonstrates that any attempt to redress this state of affairs through violence will end up creating a closed cycle of morally barren sadism. The strikingly brief shot of a happy ending Holland with the woman and child returned to his beach retreat is utterly superficial and dismissive in its thankless resolution.
Parroting the legend of the good guys
The third collaboration between star Charles Bronson and veteran British director J Lee Thompson is, like its predecessor The White Buffalo, a strange beast but this time the collaboration doesn't quite manage produce something interesting. An all-star caper set in South America after the close of World War Two, Capo Blanco shows a disparate group of International adventurers going after what turns out to be a hoard of treasure looted by the Nazis during the war. The image of Capo Blanco as a melting pot of various International chancers gives the place in image as well as name a nod to Casablanca. The ex-patriot American protagonist, Giff (Bronson), runs a bar in town just like Rick in the classic and the supporting characters echo figures who once listened to the "You must remember this" refrain an ultimately good but morally compromised police chief (Fernando Rey doing Claude Rains), a wicked Nazi (Jason Robards for Conrad Veidt) and a mysterious, beautiful woman with Paris in her past (Dominique Sanda standing for Ingrid Bergman). There is an awkwardness to the film, as if Thompson is unsure as to whether this is an homage or a pastiche.
Thompson, in his later years especially, was a filmmaker whose world-view was riddled with misanthropy. Here he tries to take what Wilde might have termed a bank holiday from cynicism, as he confesses in a short "Making of" documentary filmed during the shoot, where he identifies the post-war setting as " an era of romanticism, an age when things seemed to have a drive and excitement of their own, when values were considered to be important and the feeling that the hero in the end should triumph and that you could root for good against bad. We've lost a lot of that, as indeed we should do in the modern cinema. But that is occasionally something which should occasionally appear on the screens when we're making a film today." Cabo Blanco is an exercise in nostalgia but it is exercising muscles in Thompson which had long-since wasted away. For the most part Cabo Blanco a tired film. The story is told without any real effort at audience engagement. Most of the excellent cast are on auto-pilot. Yet this is the logical consequence of its nostalgic romanticism.
The denouement, a long and not very well-paced scene in Giff's bar, sees the moral of the film being played out, yet it is as if the figures are animated waxworks re-enacting scenes from a no longer living past. The police chief, who has up until now assisted the Nazi in the search for the treasure, learns that it is loot from "Churches, synagogues, death camps" and so jumps ship, joining the good guys. He regains, in Giff's words, "his soul". The film dramatises a moment when the post-war allies had the moral high ground and where their rectitude could persuade others that they were indeed the good guys. This is a legend now, as the film self-consciously admits in a series of mythologising voice-overs, and Thompson can only repeat it, parrot it. The plot self-consciously involves a parrot's memory. It as if the myth were preserved in aspic, no longer a living thing. The epilogue, over which the voice over tells us that "the legend ( ) grew and grew and Cabo Blanco prospered", shows Giff with a swanky house on a hill with the girl, living the good life. A good life built of the legend that he is a good guy.
Yet Giff, as his back-story tells us, is a murderer. And as a murderer, he himself is on the run from gas chambers not in Nazi Germany but in the good old USA. Even when making a piece of supposedly romantic nostalgia, Thompson cannot help but let his cynicism seep out.