On the Bay with the Bard and the Big O
Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together
Greetings and salutations* Bay Area film snots … While Poppa H and the Daft Heiress continue our leisurely Sausalito Bay sojourn on Errol Flynn’s legendary 118-foot skiff, the Zaca, I’d like to turn the attention of the geek collective to a cinematic woolgathering I had while bobbing the day away.
My daydream came after my fourth morning Hemingway Daiquiri and took me back to my early days at Oxford and the Royal Shakespeare Academy when I foolishly ran for Class President under the premise that my administration aspired to inspire the lads of Generation X to spend less time studying the stems on Jessica Rabbit and more time studying the masters … the Cinema Masters. I lost that election in a landslide … but here’s my dusty Cinema Master List anyway:
• John Ford
• Jean Renoir
• Orson Welles
• Alfred Hitchcock
• Frank Capra
• John Huston
• Howard Hawks
• Billy Wilder
• Ingmar Bergman
• Stanley Kubrick
• Robert Altman
• Jean-Luc Godard
• John Cassavetes
• Francis Coppola
• Marty Scorsese
• David Lynch
If you’ve been keeping up with Hooker’s Reel, you know this week we’re putting the system on trial!* by ignoring the impact of the U.S.S. Spidertanic in almost 5,000 theaters and rocking it old school with the Bard and the Big O, two great tastes that taste great together. What’s that, mister? I’m crazy? You chuckleheads in the back row just hear me out … let me clear my throat.
The Bard and the Big O are two of the few legendary storytellers who could justly claim to have been The F’in Man of their respective time. … Few artists can make that distinction. Shakespeare and Welles: total ballers …
“He was among all dramatists, the first,” Welles said of Shakespeare. “The greatest poet, in terms of sheer accomplishment, and very possibly our greatest man. … So where does that leave a mere moviemaker? Nowhere …”
courtesy of Columbia Pictures
“Awesome” Welles Retrospective
Loquacious humility aside, The Big O is Hipster Zeus in the Pantheon of Modern Cinematic Masters, the best and brightest Indy Director of all time. Fearless risk taker, brash experimentalist, there’s no one today who comes close to bringing the iconoclastic thunder of Welles—no one.
Orson did it for the art: He didn’t care about power; he didn’t care about money. He put every dime he could get his meaty paws on back into his features. This is unheard of today. Orson helped write the director’s playbook, crafting two of America's greatest studio films (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons) then, years later, wrote the Indy director’s playbook, directing and starring in some of the world's greatest Bard adaptations. Does anyone care? In my dreams, you do.
Some of you may dig on Kenneth Branagh’s contempo Shakespeare work (Hamlet, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing) but even Branagh will tell you he can’t hold Welles’ cod-piece on any of the Bard’s paper battlefields. Okay … enough of the hard sell, I’m spent. … Apologies for the erudition, but it looked like you needed it …
The Daft Heiress and I are going for a dip. If you aren’t inspired to check out Chimes at Midnight Friday at the Mechanics’ Institute or any of the Big O’s three bard tales this weekend, try giving a few of Orson’s noir thrillers a whirl, then call me next Tuesday. I’m not talking to you. … I’ll call you.*
Until then, this is MRF the Surf signing off. Be bad and get into trouble, baby.*
courtesy of Specialty Films
Welles DVD Picks to Click
• The Lady from Shanghai (1948), Dir. Welles – Welles borrowed Errol Flynn’s yacht, the Zaca to film a classic noir flick with his then wife Rita Hayworth. Watch for a dazzling array of San Francisco and Sausalito set pieces from Chinatown to Ocean Beach to the Sausalito Bay. Best noir ending in a Fun House ever.
• Touch of Evil (1958), Dir. Welles – Legendary opening tracking shot with no cuts! Marlene Dietrich as a Border town Madame, Charlton Heston as a Mexican Cop, Janet Lee as a housewife souped up on Sweet Lady H and The Big O as a corrupt candy bar eatin’ cop. …You can’t get much better than this, babe.
• The Third Man (1949), Dir. Reed – Delicious as the infamous villain Harry Lime, Orson has the coolest entrance to a film—ever.
• Othello (1952), Dir. Welles – Shot for several years on the fly, Othello symbolizes Welles' work outside the studio system. Won the Palm d’Or at Cannes.
• F for Fake (1974), Dir. Welles – His last major film focuses on Elmyr de Hory, the art forger and Clifford Irving, de Hory's biographer and himself the author of a hoax "biography" of Howard Hughes. Still making F for Fake when Irving's hoax was discovered, the Big O deftly incorporated it as yet another twist in his movie.
“Hip Happenings” Round Town
• Friday (5/11) – Chimes at Midnight (1967), Dir. Welles – Mechanics Institute
• Through (5/10) – 2007 S.F. International Film Festival – Castro Theater
• Through (5/10) – Civic Duty (2007), Dir. Renfro – Bridge
• Saturday (5/12) – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Dir. Sharman – Clay Theater (Midnight Show)
• Black Book (2007), Dir. Verhoeven - Embarcadero
• Year of the Dog (2007), Dir. White – Embarcadero
• The Namesake (2007), Dir. Nair - Embarcadero
Volume 8 Footnotes
• “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater to Winona Ryder.
• “We’re putting the system on trial!” – And Justice for All (1979): Al Pacino shines in a tour de force performance as a lawyer with a hot streak.
• “I’m not talking to you…I’ll call you.” – The Big Picture (1989): Super-agent Marty Short schmoozing a fellow shark over lunch at the Ivy.
• “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.