Monday, March 10, 2008

Frankly, my dear

I have a piece in the current issue of The Believer. I originally volunteered to write a piece about Sergio Leone but ended up sending something completely different. Ed Park said he liked it but he had a few questions, so I amplified by including my favourite anecdote about David Lean:

There’s a passage in Kevin Brownlow’s biography of David Lean that describes Trevor Howard’s response to a poignant scene in Brief Encounter, the Rachmaninoff-saturated classic of repressed British love: “They know jolly well this chap’s borrowed a flat, they know exactly why she’s coming back to him, why doesn’t he fuck her? All this talk about the wood being damp and that sort of stuff.”

Lean struggled to explain his vision.

Howard: “Oh God, you are a funny chap.”

Lean: “Funny chap or not, that’s the way we’re doing the scene. Now come on.”

This had no direct bearing on Ed's questions.


Mithridates said...

I love that you can see something not only redeemable but brilliant in such an awful Woody Allen film. Lesson learned. Anyway, it goes without saying that I'm headed directly to Barnes & Noble for a copy of The Believer. (I need to distract myself from the rather unbelievable story about the "link" (as yet unspecified) between New York's Governor Spitzer and a high-price prostitution ring, which come to think of it might be connected to your idea about the lovable exterior and the rather more interesting underside...)

Ithaca said...

Allen is strange. He has this compulsion to slip into minstrelization whenever he presents aspirations to 'high' culture; to the best of my knowledge he has a genuine love of Bergman, Fellini and other great European filmmakers, but he can't present this to the American public without mugging, he can't present a working-class woman's desire to understand art without making it look silly. It's peculiar, some kind of buying into reification, because in fact, of course, the great artists in the Western tradition (as opposed to those who bought their work) were not, for the most part, from the upper class; some of the most inventive were also self-inventers who hauled themselves by sheer force of will out of the modest circumstances into which they were born. (Turner and Hockney are the two who spring first to mind.)

william said...

I read a great story about Pinter directing one of his own plays. "What are you doing?" he asks an anguished, abstracted actor.

A,AA: Trying to figure out my motivation in this scene.

HP: Mind your own fucking business.