Ridley Scott and a Bit More

We open today’s round, considerably briefer than yesterday’s, with Ridley Scott double feature—of sorts. Movie City News alerts us to an article by Scott himself that originally appeared in the August 1979 issue of American Cinematographer: “I felt that Alien should be primarily a film with a story about seven real characters—and that this would be the strength of the film, not the effects.” What follows is an amiable account of how he tackled the “many, many, many” problems he ran into while making that classic.

Women and Hollywood has posted an excerpt from Becky Aikman’s book Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge, a different one than the excerpt flagged here just over a week ago now. The focus here isn’t actually on Ridley Scott, but rather, on Callie Khouri, and specifically, the night in 1987 that she decided to write Thelma & Louise (1991).

More Reading

In 1951, the great actor John Garfield (The Postman Always Rings Twice,Force of Evil) was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. “My father was not a Communist,” writes his daughter, Julie Garfield in the New York Times, “but he declined to name people who might have been. The experience ruined his career.” Her mother believed it also cost him his life. Julie Garfield: “The F.B.I. had been following my father for about a year before his death, shadowing him wherever he went . . . Agents visited my school. They followed my mother to the grocery store. They tapped our phones. These actions were in every respect a true ‘witch hunt.’ . . . So I cringe when I hear President Trump claim to be the victim of a ‘witch hunt’ because of the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian interference in one of our most vital rights: free elections.”

“Horror is the most profitable genre in the industry and it’s booming,” writes Steve Rose in the Guardian. “Which basically means variations on well-established themes: supernatural possession, haunted houses, psychos, zombies. This is the market post-horror is reacting against.” He talks with Trey Edward Shults about It Comes at Night and with David Lowery about A Ghost Story.Julia Yepes talks with Lowery as well for Interview.

“It may be tempting to recommend Scarface (1932) or Little Caesar (1930) as a first viewing to newcomers of pre-Code,” grants Matthew Sorrento in Film International. “However, Mervyn LeRoy’s I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang! (1932) or the similarly powerful Wild Boys of the Road (William Wellman, 1933) are stronger choices with their torn-from-the-headlines appeal matching vivid portrayals of the Great Depression, capturing the spirit of perseverance in the face of defeat. Viewers are intrigued by the legacy, and critical readings, of these films as much as their backgrounds. Scott Allen Nollen’s monograph The Making and Influence of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang! (McFarland, 2016) offers much in the latter, while lacking in the former.”

“Despite their relative obscurity among film buffs, Frank and Eleanor Perry made a series of brilliant movies dealing with troubled young people and adults in crisis,” writes Kimberly Lindbergs for Streamline. “Keir Dullea and Janet Margolin made their screen debuts in David and Lisa [1962] and they deliver extraordinarily nuanced portrayals of young adults dealing with mental illness.”

Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (2007) “is a tale of self-dismantling,” while Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild (2014) is “one of self-making, and this makes sense given the ‘male as default’ history of selfhood,” writes Marilyn Adler Papayanis in Bright Lights Film Journal.

Goings On

New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck will be the Centerpiece presentation of the fifty-fifth New York Film Festival, running from September 28 through October 15.

Chicago. On Sunday, the Chicago Film Society presents Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993), shot on Super35 and blown up to 70 mm. Then on Wednesday, CFS presents a 35 mm print of Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo’s It Happened Here (1964). “The film’s polemical vision of a Fascist ‘new normal’ feels particularly relevant given the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the U.S. and Europe.”

Toronto. The TIFF Cinematheque series Panique: French Crime Classics opens today and runs through September 3. TIFF Review has posted James Quandt’s notes on films by Louis Malle, Jules Dassin, Jacques Becker, and more.

London. The BFI presents Ermanno Olmi’s Palme d’or-winning The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978) from tomorrow through Sunday and David Parkinson has five reasons for not missing it.

Arles.Road to Death, an exhibition of photographs by Christophe Rihet, is on view through September 24. Sarah Moroz for AnOther: “For the project, the photographer made pilgrimages to sites where some of the biggest 20th and 21st century pop culture icons have died, photographing them wholly emptied of activity at dawn or at dusk.”

In the Works

“Principal photography is underway in the UK on The Little Stranger, Lenny Abrahamson’s first feature since he was Oscar-nominated for Room,” reports Screen’s Tom Grater. “Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling, the film is a period ghost story that follows a doctor who, during a hot summer in 1948, is called to treat a patient at a haunted country house.”


Carolyn Cronenberg, who has died at the age of sixty-six, met her husband, David Cronenberg, “while working as a production assistant on one of his early films, Rabid, in 1979,” notes Etan Vlessing in the Hollywood Reporter. “She had editor credits on other David Cronenberg movies like The Brood and Fast Company. . . . She later directed Acts of Violence, a 2006 behind-the-scenes documentary about depictions of violence in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, a mob drama that starred Viggo Mortensen.” She also directed Too Commercial for Cannes, “about her husband bringing A History of Violence to Cannes.”

Ru Delphi is among several Russian-language news outlets reporting on the passing of screenwriter Svetlana Karmalita at the age of seventy-seven. Her best known work outside of Russia would be the screenplays she co-wrote with her husband, Alexei German, who died in 2013: Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998) and Hard to Be a God (2013).

“Suzanne Wasserman, a Chicago-born historian and filmmaker who made New York City, especially the Lower East Side, the focus of her work in a wide array of publications, exhibitions and educational programs, died on June 26 in Manhattan,” reports Richard Sandomir in the New York Times.


On the latest episode of You Must Remember This, Karina Longworth talks about Jean Seberg’s work with Otto Preminger, “a tyrannical svengali character whose methods would traumatize Jean for the rest of her life,” and Jane Fonda in New York, trying “to define herself as something other than Henry Fonda’s daughter” (63’54”).

TIFF UN/CUT presents a 2012 master class with Olivier Assayas (84’56”).

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