Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Chafed Elbows (1966)
I guess that it's not really a mystery why Robert Downey Sr.'s films get some weirdly bad reviews. Though his films are smart and hip, Downey goes after straight culture with an unmatched, gleeful, subversive eye, and generally hits what he aims at. Chafed Elbows epitomises this style, going after everything, including the making of movies itself. In Chafed Elbows, like Chris Marker, he uses still photographs to great effect, but more in the vein of National Lampoon magazine than F-Stop. This film plays like jazz, riffing from one theme to another, one scene to another, one character to another, eschewing plot for wit and speed and surreal wordplay. It's a wonder that this, and Downey's other movies, were ever made, they are so wonderfully offensive. His audience is, perhaps intentionally, small. The rewards, however, for those who do love his films, are great indeed. Viva Downey!
The Birthday Party (1968)
Harold Pinter's brilliant early play-on-film, The Birthday Party, is one of his best efforts, and perhaps, with The Homecoming, the pinnacle of the Theater of the Absurd. The plot itself is simple. Two men come to visit Stanley, a classical pianist who has, for unknown reasons, left his home and is staying with a provincial couple. He is visited by Shamus McCann (Patrick McGee) and Nat Goldberg (Sydney Tafler). They alternately celebrate and menace Stanley, who may or may or may not know them. Nothing is clearly stated. Most of the dialogue consists of insinuations and vague threats. Performances across the board are outstanding, with Robert Shaw outdoing himself as Stanley Weber. Moultrie Keisall as Petey is excellent but understated, and his final words really put the cherry on the birthday cake. (sorry for the pun). Nothing I can say can communicate the unique strangeness and power of this film. Top marks, 5 stars, classic.
The cast alone is worth the price of this movie. Carol Channing almost walks away with this movie, delivering a charming, madcap performance, and nailing the Skidoo theme song (oddly placed at the end of the film). Jackie Gleason more than holds his own, though, and I loved the acid trip his character took, in prison no less! The handling of contemporary issues in the movie is sweetly off-kilter, but the continued focus on "the generation gap" and women's power really worked for me. The plot is a glorious mess, but Preminger's direction holds it all together somehow. This is not a good movie, but for some (like me) who are sick of the same old plots, and who enjoy a sharp poke at the establishment, it is a GREAT movie. Not for serious minded snobby types.
Souls for Sale (1923)
Wonderful Early Hollywood Entertainment
Souls for Sale is a wonderful and entertaining film from the very early days of Hollywood. Directed by Rupert Hughes, Howard Hughes' uncle, and based on his novel, Souls for Sale gently lampoons the movie industry, and is chock full of cameos of current stars and industry greats. It is great to see Chaplin in a scene, directing Eleanor Boardman as she rides a horse, or Stroheim directing Greed. I was thoroughly entertained, and completely absorbed in the world this film created. Very fine work from all involved.
There has been some speculation about one of the cameo appearances- one by K.C.B. None of the current film reviewers seems to know who this might be. I posit that it may be Kenneth Carrol Beaton, a well known writer at the time, and one known to write, as K.C.B., about Hollywood. For those interested, please look here:
www dot archive dot org/ stream / filmdaily2324newy / filmdaily2324newy_djvu.txt
Sorry for the syntax there, but this site won't let me post a link, stupidly.
Also, a search on Abe books shows books by Kenneth Carrol Beaton as K.C.B.