Tag Archive: Rex Harrison


There’ve been quite a few fantastical tales, on celluloid reels, of humans falling in love with the unreal, and vice versa. Lets take a look at some great, and some far from great, renditions of this unusual phenomena, explored mainly on the Big Screen. Fairy tales for more mature audiences (teenagers and/or adults), if you may.
What brought about this sudden urge to write about unrealistic romances, portrayed in a realistic style on celluloid? I watched, Her (2013), back in March 2015 (on 22nd), and never got to write about it (of course films today aren’t made on celluloid, but am speaking in a general term, to reference cinema of the past). Plus it brought about memories of some really great films (as well as certain terrible movies), I’ve watched in the previous decades, going way back to my childhood.

In Her, a writer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls for an electronic voice, without a body (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In Lars and the Real Girl (2007) a lonely, simple headed, man, Lars (Ryan Gosling) falls for a sex toy, a female without a voice.

In Ruby Sparks (2012) a writer, Calvin (Paul Dano) creates a fictional character Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan) that comes to life. He fall in love with her, but treats her like his possession, in contrast to the sex toy, to whom, Lars, tends to show so much respect and affection towards. Ironically Lars doesn’t treat the sex toy as play thing, but Calvin treats Ruby, as a toy, making her do what he wants. An egoistical male’s god complex, of being in control of his woman. While Lars of Lars and the real Girl and Theodore from Her, are the exact opposite. Of course, when Theodore finds out the voice of Her is ‘in love’ with thousands of other human beings, he starts to feel jealous, knowing he wasn’t special. While we sympathise with Theodore and Lars, we can’t help but feel Calvin is a bloody prick.
Stranger than Fiction (2006), has a similar unreal premise, but am yet to watch it, so I shan’t comment on it further.

In the animated movie, Corpse Bride (2005), a man, Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp), accidentally marries a corpse (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Of course in this case, it’s the corpse, who falls for the human. Yet, the corpse, itself, was a human being once, who was tricked and murdered by her paramour, on her wedding day. Similarly in the comedy, Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), an Invisible man (Chevy Chase) and a woman (Daryl Hannah), fall for each other, yet the invisible man, being an actual human being, it makes it comparatively realistic. As in the case of Mr. India (Anil Kapoor) in Mr. India (1987), a vigilante who can become invisible with help of a devise created by his late father, happens to be the romantic object of many a women. He is still a human being. Yet, we see, the reporter, Seema (Sridevi), fall for the invisible vigilante, than his human self. In fact, she initially despises ‘Mr. India’ in his human form as Arun Verma, unaware that he is in fact her invisible hero. In Hollow Man (2000) and Invisible Strangler (1978), once the protagonists of these movies, find they can get away anything, in their invisible form, nothing stops them from acting on their lustful desires, committing rape/murder, on beautiful women.

In various superhero tales, you find a similar dilemma, as in Mr. India, faced by the love interest of the story. In Superman (1978), reporter Louis Lane (Margot Kidder) falls in love with Superman (Christopher Reeve), who actually is an alien from a distant planet. But she refuses to acknowledge, the affectionate advances from her co-worker Clark Kent, who happens to be her superhero in his human avatar. There have been quite a few ‘Superman’ films since.

Of course Superman is from another planet. But if you take other superhero’s; American conceptions like Batman (played on the Big Screen by many stars from 1966 till date), Spider-man (Nicholas Hammond, in the 70’s, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield & Tom Holland, this century), or Bollywood creations like Shahenshah (Amitabh Bachchan) from Shahenshah (1988) and Krrish (Hrithik Roshan) from Krrish (2006) and Krrish 3 (2013), sequels to Koi…. Mil Gaya (2003); in all these stories, the superhero happens to be human, with superpowers, but their leading ladies don’t necessarily, easily, fall for the man, but have more of a desire for the vigilante, unaware the two are one and the same. In love with not just the unreal, but impending danger as well. Dangerous, risk taking, hero’s, seem sexually more appealing to the fairer sex, than a realistic human companion. These kind of films actually also put pressure on growing young men. As kids, most guys like the idea, of imagining themselves as superhero’s, for fun. But when in their teens, it’s more to do with appeasing the opposite sex, through false perceptions of masculinity, showcased in such movies. Sometimes foolishly young men might try and take unnecessary risks, just to get the attention of their female peers, with disastrous consequences.
If you take classic fairytales, we read as little children, like Beauty and Beast and Princess and Frog, this phenomena of man and beast is nothing new. Yet at the same time, both the ‘Beast’ and the ‘Frog’, are actually human beings, making it somewhat acceptable for children. If you take Greek mythology, there is the famous tale of Minotaur, where the Minotaur is the result of the Queen of Crete mating with a white bull. Added to which there are plenty of tales of Gods and human love stories, as well, in Greek Mythology. Then there is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. There have been plenty of movie versions of these classic tales and great old literature. In I, Frankenstein (2014); as I stated on twitter ‘another 21st century ruination of a 19th century classic’; this dull horror movie ends with the hint, that Frankenstein’s monster, a man made being, has found a human companion, after searching for over 200 years. On a lighter vein, in not so great films (yet no where as near as terrible as I, Frankenstein), like the comedy, Hercules in New York (1970), Arnold Schwarzenegger falls from the skies (and not to forget Schwarzenegger’s ridiculous Terminator franchise, from 1984 onwards, with the craziest and cheesiest storylines, ever). Like in Corpse Bride, a man accidentally awakens a goddess, in the near pathetic, Goddess of Love (1988), while in Love-Struck (1997) we see a woman who doesn’t believe in love (Cynthia Gibb) fall for Cupid (Costas Mandylor) and vice versa; and Cupid has to decide if he wants to leave his immortal form, and become human. Similarly in City of Angels (1998), an angel (Nicolas Cage) gives up his human form, for his love for a human being (Meg Ryan). Date with an Angel (1987) is about another union between a man and beautiful angel.

In the 80’s and 90’s, there were quite a few teen comedies, based on this concept of unrealistic love, helping a young man find the perfect looking partner, especially if the lead character is a geek or considered a loser, who cannot attain the affections of the opposite sex.

Weird Science (1985) and Virtual Sexuality (1999), are two films I haven’t watched, but the concept of the two teen movies, are the same. In Weird Science, two geeks create a ‘perfect’ woman (Kelly LeBrock), while in Virtual Sexuality, a girl creates herself a ‘perfect’ man (Rupert Penry-Jones).

Similar to Corpse Bride and Goddess of Love, in Mannequin (1987), an artist (Andrew McCarthy) falls for a Mannequin (Kim Cattrall). Big (1988) and Date with an Angel; the two movies combined resulted in the crappy Bollywood take, that was Chandra Mukhi (1993). The film was so bad, that it was credited as being a Salman Khan idea (the lead actor of the movie). Getting back to Tom Hanks, star of Big, back in the 80’s he did a lot of run on the mill comedies; that weren’t great, but were enjoyable enough, thanks to Hanks. In Splash (1984), we see Hanks falling for a mermaid. This adult fairy tale, is similar to the classic children’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.
Funny though, how all these Hollywood romances, dealing with unreal love, where the perfect looking lover, be it a mannequin, a fairy, a goddess or mermaid, were all hot white women. What happened to the browns, blacks and yellows? Where are the gays and lesbians? Are they considered less than perfect???? Added to which why is it most of time a man finding the perfect mate? And that too preferably a Blonde one? Even better if the blonde’s in a red hot attire? Like the sequence in The Matrix (1999), where Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), suddenly turns to take a good look at a blonde in a red dress. Why did she have to be blonde? What if he saw an African-American? or an Indian beauty? What if he turned to look at a man? Even in Virtual Sexuality, though it’s creation is a male, the man is a white male, Blond, with a perfect physique. Of course when it came to the Bollywood films, the perfect hero/heroine are both Indian’s, obviously. But United States of America, is a diverse country with all colours and creeds, where the indigenous people of the country are actually Red skinned, not white. Yet the 80’s (and 90’s to a certain extent) target audience, were the straight white American youth. Even though these reached beyond borders. And in a way, 80’s was one of the worst periods for Hollywood, with a load crappy B-movies, being made. Not all, but most, including these fantasy flicks.

Getting back on the topic of films based on unrealistic romances, there are some interesting films of ghosts and people falling for one another. Like in Corpse Bride (discussed above), these dead spirits were humans at one time, and are scavenging earth ’cause of some unfinished business. In the classic Bollywood film, Ek Paheli (1971), a modern man, Sudhir (played by Feroz Khan) falls in love with a mysterious woman (Tanuja), whom we discover later, to be a spirit of a dead pianist, who had committed suicide, during the Post-war era. The only way for the two to be together is, if Sudhir leaves his bodily form, releasing his spirit. Similarly in Somewhere in Time (1980), a modern day Chicago playwright, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) falls for a photograph of an Edwardian beauty, a stage actress, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). He manages to travel back in time through self hypnosis (see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-II from December 2014). Yet, they can’t be together, as he’s thrown back into the late 70’s, due to a small mistake, he made, where she doesn’t exist anymore. The only way for them to be together, is for him to die of a broken heart, and letting their spirits unite in heavenly paradise forever.

In Paheli (2005) the exact opposite happens, a woman falls for a ghost, who’s taken her husband’s human form, and trapped her real husband’s spirit.

In Ghost (1990), when a banker, Sam Wheat ( Patrick Swayze) is killed by his best friend, he tries desperately to communicate with his fiancée, an artist, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), with the help of psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg). While in Love Can Be Murder (1992) a ghost of a former private detective brings chaos into the life of a living private detective, (Jaclyn Smith).

Then, there are on-screen figures/cartoon characters, where the real world intervenes with the celluloid/animated characters. In Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), an animated character; based on classic Hollywood stars, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall; seduces more than one human in the movie, and spectators alike. Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), has a movie character, walk off the screen and seduce his most ardent fan.

Getting back to man and beast/alien, PK (2014), sees a humanoid alien fall for a human. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), shows a great friendship between an alien and a human child. Planet of the Apes (1968) there is a famous kiss, between a man and an ape. In The Animal (2001) a man becomes sexually attracted to a goat in heat. He talks to the goat while rubbing her back and sloppily kisses her on the head. He then slaps her butt. All the popular Hulk films have a love interest

The Sixth Sense (1999), Warm Bodies (2013), Transcendence (2014), The Fly (1958 & 1986), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Bewitched (2005), Pleasantville (1998), Ex Machina (2014), all have similar unusual human and non-(real)human interactions.
The Stepford Wives (1975 & 2004), tells of how an intelligent woman finds it difficult, to integrate into a narrow minded society, when she moves into a new neighbourhood. Of course, all the wives (in the original 75’ film) turn out to be machines (while in the 04’ version, only one husband turns out to be a robot, while the other wives have been brainwashed). This is also symbolical, of how difficult it is, when a lone intellectual person gets trapped in an archaic society, that constantly tries to drag him or her down with them. I personally know how hard is to stay afloat, without changing for the worse, living in an extremist narrow minded country. It’s not easy not to be influenced by negativity. And just like Katharine Ross (in the original), and Nicole Kidman (in the comical remake); I have to fight to stay sane, not to be swayed by the rest.

In Moon (2009), we see a clone in love with the image of a dead human; while in The Space between us (2017), a human born in Mars feels like an Alien on Earth; and falls for a human, who decides to leave with him to Mars.
Then there are people who fall for wordsmiths, that they’ve never met. In Saajan (1991) we see a woman (Madhuri Dixit) fall deeply in love with a poet (whom, nobody knows what he looks like), when a man claiming to be the poet (Salman Khan) seduces her, she falls for him. But does she truly love him? If he turns out not to be the poet, would she still love this man? In the Bengali (Bengali/English bilingual)Art Film, The Japanese Wife (2010) and the Hindi (Hindi/English bilingual) Art Film, The Lunchbox (2013), two people have an entire love affair through letters, without ever meeting each other. In The Japanese Wife, they even get married; through ink.

Last but not the least, lets have another look at the union of onscreen humans & Aliens (besides ‘Superman’). Similar to Meet Joe Black and Paheli (as spoken of earlier) Jeff Bridges in Starman (1984), plays an alien who clones himself, into a dead man’s form; and gets the widow to help him escape. In The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), David Bowie plays a humanoid alien, sleeping around with women of earth. And not to forget the Vampires/Werewolves and human unions; in films like, Nosferatu (1922), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), The Hunger (1983) and the recent Twilight franchise.

Some great films on this unusual conception, some terrible, and some in between. But when they bring out something exceptional, those films are really worth checking out.

An ode to unrealistic romances.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Special Note: I actually worked on this post, one day (on the 22nd of April 2015), exactly a month after I watched the movie, ‘Her’, in March 2015, I wrote most of In Love with the Unreal, and left it incomplete, hoping to work on it the next day or so. I never got back to it, and left it pending. Then, five months later, in September 2015, I re-worked on it a bit, stopped, and didn’t touch it at all through out the Sweet Year of 2016. So it was just hanging there, untouched and incomplete.…That is until today. This was my second incomplete post, from April 2015, that I left unpublished; the other being The Beatles in Art movements through the ages. But I did mange to post in … the following month, May 2015. Anyway, back in April that year, I hardly got anything much done, so far as blogging was concerned. I only posted one blog-post, i.e. The Great Villain Blogathon: Juhi Chawla as corrupt politician ‘Sumitra Devi’ in GULAAB GANG (2014), on the 15th of April, 2015. Now there are no more pending posts. All done!!

Nuwan Sen (Pending Posts from April 2015 !! All Complete!!!!!)
Also see (my), Nu Film Site of Nuwan Sen – Nu Sense on Film (nu Sense on Film), started in August 2015.

Now though, later in Year , am actually planning to close nu Sense on Film!!! I prefer to continue blogging here, on No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen.

Nuwan Sen

Advertisements

Remembering Audrey Hepburn on her 87th Birth Anniversary
Nuwan Sen

Can you guess which Birthday cake represents which Audrey Hepburn Film?

Some My Favourite Audrey Hepburns films through Birthday Cakes

Last year, in June 2015, for the Blogiversary of ‘Silver Screen Serenade’, I sent a post (an Audrey Hepburn Cake quiz), as it coincided with my 40th Birthday, on 22nd June 2015. But She didn’t post it on the 22nd itself, but on a latter date. Anyway, today, I thought, I’d re-post the same cake quiz, for Audrey Hepburn’s 87th Birth Anniversary, on my Blog. None of the bloggers at ‘Silver Screen Serenade’ were able to guess which ‘Audrey Hepburn’ movie, each cake represented. Let’s see, how many of the cakes, my blogging community will be able to get. Hopefully all. 😉
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Do check out the original post, from ‘Silver Screen Serenade’, from Last Year.
I’ve re-blogged it below!!

Blogiversary Bash 2015: No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen

Silver Screen Serenade

Even Audrey is impressed by this party. Even Audrey is impressed by this party.

Happy Monday to all you fine folks! Erm. Maybe “happy” is too strong a word for a Monday. Tolerable Monday? Whatever the case, I’m here to make your Monday infinitely better with yet another splendiferous guest blogger for my Blogiversary Bash. Who is this splendiferous guest? Mr. Nuwan Sen from No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen!

View original post 146 more words

Pure British Sophistication!!! Chic & Classy, the Poshest of the Posh, Kate Winslet joins me, by turning 40 today. So, Happy Birthday, to one of my favourite Brits, of the 21st century!!!!!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

With her charming smile, her naturalistic simple appearance, and eloquently well spoken British English, that would have pleased Professor Higgins; Kate Winslet today, is one of the most talented British actresses to have graced the Big Screen, both, in her own homeland, as well as Hollywood. Her elegantly well spoken, vocal diction, is the most articulate, since Julie Andrews, ran singing up the Austrian hills in a habit, 50 years ago. Winslet’s acting skills are second to none other than that of, the marvellous 66 year old, Meryl Streep. With her great cinematic choices; grace, elegance, poise, and such a kindly face; she is my favourite actress of this century.

Back in the mid-90’s, I read a small snippet on the movie, Jude (1996), most probably before it’s release, on some magazine, which accompanied a picture of Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston. To my memory, this was the very first I heard, and/or saw a picture, of Kate Winslet. I don’t recall coming across anything about her, prior to that. I was really keen of watching Jude at the time, as it was based on the novel, Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. Soon I forgot the cast, but remembered that there was a movie called Jude, that I wish to see. Then in early 1998, in my second year, at Delhi University, Titanic (1997) was being shown at a relatively newer Cineplex in the city. Multiplexes were quite new back in the 90’s, in New Delhi, thus a craze among young Delhiites, and we had heard about the curved wide screens at this particular cinema, with multiple halls, called Satyam Cineplex. So one wintry night, close to spring, along with some fellow students (friends & acquaintances), we went all the way to Satyam, which was quite a distance, from the north campus, to watch the late night show of Titanic. Getting the tickets wasn’t easy, even at that late hour, and we ended up in the front row seats. Generally not a fan of sitting right in front, but Titanic was totally worth it. As the lead  character played by Michael Pitt, in my favourite film on film buffs, The Dreamers (2003), states, about sitting right up front in the cinema, “it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, second-hand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin.” Over five years later, when I watched Michael Pitt’s character, Matthew, narrate those words, I could relate to it, especially since I watched at least two movies in that manner, in my DU years, and one of them was Titanic. I loved the movie; even though somewhat censored, when it came to the innocent, non-sexual, nudity showcased in the film; and everything about it, including Kate Winslet. Post that, I’ve seen Titanic quite a few times.

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Being a great fan of Sandra Bullock, back in the 90’s, Winslet didn’t become my favourite actress, over-night. Literally!!! Titanic ended past midnight, thus next morning, and it was freezing cold by then. Later that year, I saw Jude, and fell in love with it, and thought Kate Winslet was brilliant. A couple of years later, I got to re-watch it. Consequently, over the next few years, I watched quite a lot of films of hers, some good, some not so, including, Heavenly Creatures (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Hamlet (1996), Hideous Kinky (1998), Holy Smoke (1999), Quills (2000), Enigma (2001) and Iris (2001). Jude happens to be my favourite of Kate Winslet movie from the 1990’s.

Then in 2004, whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, I watched two interesting movies of hers. One was the really good thriller, with a very clever twist, The Life of David Gale (2003). The other, was the brilliant, surreal, masterpiece, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004); for which Winslet was nominated for a fourth time, and which was her second ‘Best Actress’ nomination, the following year. So, Year 2004, was the year, Kate Winslet, became my favourite actress. And since then, she is till date, my favourite female star of the 21st century. Back in 2000, I fell in love with Jude Law, practically replacing Matt Damon, as my favourite actor, when I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), my favourite film from the 90’s decade, for which Law received his very first Oscar nomination. But it was four years later, after watching some more of his movies, that Law really became my favourite male star of the 21st century. So Year 2004, was a crucial year, for both Jude Law (who had quite a few releases that year) and Kate Winslet (mainly in regard to me). Year 2004, was when Law & Winslet, became my two favourite films stars, of the new century; and 11 years later, they still are (though unfortunately, Law hasn’t appeared in anything that impressive lately). It’s an interesting coincidence, to note, that both, Law & Winslet, happen to be Brits. Back then, they hadn’t actually worked together. But post 2004, Law & Winslet, have worked in a trio of films, out of which, I’ve unfortunately watched only, The Holiday (2006). A beautiful Christmassy romance flick, and if I remember correctly, I watched it on Boxing Day 2006, the day after Christmas; in Sydney, Australia. Later, I re-watched The Holiday, with my flatmates on DVD, the following year.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Then in early 2007, one Summer evening, at the height of the dry Australian heat, I saw Little Children (2006), on the Big Screen. Another excellent, Art House, film, and another superb Kate Winslet performance, for which she received her third ‘Best Actress’ Oscar nomination. By 2005, she was already, the youngest celebrity to be nominated four times, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). She was still 29, when she was nominated for a fourth time, for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Then came her magnum opus, The Reader (2008), for which she finally won the ‘Best Actress Oscar’. ’twas about time. I watched The Reader, twice within 2009 itself, the latter was on the Big Screen, in Paris, France. Today The Reader is my favourite of Kate Winslet movies. She’s definitely come a long way since her Titanic days. By now, I’ve seen quite a load of Winslet films of this century, including, Finding Neverland (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008), Carnage (2011) and Labor Day (2013). Added to which, I’ve also seen the excellent TV-miniseries, Mildred Pierce (2011), for which Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe award, an Emmy, among other wins, as well, for her performance as the titular character of the show. From her movies, that I haven’t seen yet, am really keen on watching, War Game (2002) & Pride (2004); for which she had lent her voice; All the King’s Men (2006), Contagion (2011), A Little Chaos (2014), Steve Jobs (2015) and The Dressmaker (2015), to name some.

It’s interesting to note, that Kate Winslet has appeared in some of my favourite pieces of literature, including adaptations of, Shakespeare’s Hamlet (an excellent modern adaptation), Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Love those Books, Love their movie adaptations just as much.

Wishing Kate Winslet, all the best, on her 40th Birthday (Actors, Parminder Nagra and Scott Weinger, also turn 40 today. Best Wishes to them as well).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Related posts/lists

Six Degrees of Separation: Kate Winslet
Mildred Pierce: TV miniseries
K Winslet
Oscar Winners … and then some 2012.
Labor Day: An Enjoyable Piece of Labour

(NSFS

Today happens to be the 101st Birth Anniversary of my all time favourite cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. His uniquely brilliant, colourful aesthetics, in movies like. Powell&Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), and King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), are stunningly splendid, with it’s vivid spectrum of striking colours. His creations on the big screen, are pure art. A massive canvas filled with moving pictures.

Jack CardiffJack Cardiff was born on the 18th of September, 1914, to a couple of music hall performers. By the age of four, he was already a child artiste, who’d worked in music hall productions as well as a few silent movies. As a child actor he starred in My Son, My Son (1918), Billy’s Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tiptoes (1927). By 15 he started working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner. By 21, Cardiff had graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer. Having already worked with Alfred Hitchcock, in The Skin Game (1931), as a clapper boy; soon he got a chance to work with Powell&Pressburger, as a second unit cameraman. Powell&Pressburger were so impressed that they hired him as a cinematographer, and the rest is history.

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

As a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s, I watched The Far Pavilions (1984), a beautiful mini-series, set in India, in the 1800’s. Back then, I had no idea who Jack Cardiff was, but was amazed by the superbly, epic scale, picturesque, television show, which has been tagged as, “Gone With The Wind (1939), of the north-west frontier of India.” I got to re-watch it in my teens, back in the early 1990’s. Thus, even though unaware at the time, this was my very first Cardiff involved show, that I witnessed. And I’ll end up watching quite a few Cardiff’s aesthetic brilliance of the big screen (on the small screen), before I learn the cinematographer responsible for the visual beauty of these great movies.

The Red Shoes (2)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Still as a kid, towards late 80’s, when I watched The Red Shoes, I was spellbound. The beautiful colour combination, costumes, the respectable art form of the ballet, the story, the movie as a whole, I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. And at the time I didn’t even realise it was an old movie. Especially ’cause I had no idea who the actors were. By then I knew quite a few classic stars, from Charles Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Al Pacino et al; so I felt these must be very new actors, who aren’t famous yet. In fact, even now, besides The Red Shoes, am not familiar with the work of Moira Shearer (who was actually a renowned ballet dancer, and had appeared in very few films), Austrian actor, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring. The story follows the life of a young ballerina, who becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called, The Red Shoes, a fairy tale. The movie tells a story within a story. One through the ballet, and the other, the movie plot. I remember this scene, where the lead male character, asks the ballerina, “Why do you want to dance?”, she fearlessly quickly answers with another question, “Why do you want to live?”
I only saw The Red Shoes, once, less than 30 years ago, but I still remember, that scene so well, as if I saw it yesterday. That was the scene, that changes the lead character, played by Moira Shearer, Victoria Page’s, life, in the movie. The ballet sequences were mesmerising, telling a beautifully epic tale of it’s own, and filmed so beautifully. My personal favourite was the one with raggedy clothes, portraying an exhausted ballerina, complimenting the frighteningly beautiful visual effects of the time. Eons before the evolution of CGI.

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace

Scenes from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

The next, was War and Peace, which I watched around the same time, more ‘cause I was already a great fan of Audrey Hepburn by then. A brilliant epic, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel, War & Peace. With a stellar star cast, including Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Brett, May Britt and Anita Ekberg, this Hollywood adaptation, of a novel based on Napoleonic Wars, especially Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, happens to be amongst my favourite of epic scale war movies. And again, I recall, how brilliant the cinematography was. Of course the movie mainly focuses on complex relationship and personal maturation, of the three lead characters, and two aristocratic families, on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion. I got to re-watch War and Peace, as an adult, just over a decade ago, whilst living in London. ’Twas  really worth it.

In the 90’s, as a teen, I watched Paul Czinner’s, As You Like It (1936). A pretty good movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famed comedy. Jack Cardiff worked as a camera operator for this film, starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t recall much greatness, cinematography wise. Anyway, Cardiff wasn’t responsible for cinematography. Plus this happens to be a Black & White film, and Cardiff was famous for excelling in colourful epics.

Whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, 11 years ago, around this time, most probably to celebrate Jack Cardiff’s 90th Birthday (he was still alive then), one of the British channels, telecast, two of his movies. I already knew about both these films, and had heard about Cardiff. But it was that particular day, 11 years ago, that I got to know who Jack Cardiff was, after seeing these two films, which were shown one after another, that day. Black Narcissus and Under Capricorn. I loved the movie, and learnt a lot more about Cardiff, once I googled him out, back in 2004. And to see he was responsible for the magnificent cinematography, of my childhood films, The Red Shoes and War and Peace as well, was an added bonus. Since then, Cardiff happens to be my all time favourite cinematographer, of yesteryear.

Black Narcissus (3)

Scenes from Black Narcissus

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Cardiff’s work, on Black Narcissus, is undeniably the best I’ve seen till date. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India, and made as India was on the verge of getting their Independence from the British Raj, it’s another excellent movie, in every way possible, from the narrative, the brilliant cast, the setting, the cinematography, you name it. Starring Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons (playing an Indian girl named ‘Kanchi’), Flora Robson, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar, Esmond Knight, Nancy Roberts and Sabu Dastagir, it’s a touching story of a group of Anglican nuns living in isolation, who have to ultimately, after being tragic victims of jealousy and lust, have to leave their peaceful life in India, under the British Empire. Jack Cardiff won his very first Oscar, for his beautiful creation of Black Narcissus, under the category, ‘Best Cinematography, Colour’. He was nominated for three more Oscars, twice for colour cinematography, and once for film direction, but never won. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, as the ‘Master of light and colour’. Prior to that, in 1995, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, by the British Society of Cinematographers. And in Year 2000, Jack Cardiff was also awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under.

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is set Down Under, in the depths of the heat and dust of the Australian outback, i.e. Sydney of 1831, a town full of ex-convicts. Starring Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding, the movie tells the story of how an Irish gentleman, who visits Australia, comes across his childhood friend, now a married woman, who’s suffering from alcohol abuse, and helplessly watches her decent into madness. Amazingly George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), a superb piece of noir, too dealt with a married woman’s (played by Bergman as well) decent into madness, and Cotton played, a sympathiser, who saves her from her murderous husband, the man responsible for driving her insane. Under Capricorn, was Hitchcock’s second film made in Technicolor, after Rope (1948).

Death on the Nile (2)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Back then I also got to watch, Death on the Nile (1978), a very good adaptation of crime writer, Agatha Christie’s novel. Which was a really good movie, though not great. But again the cinematography capturing ancient Egyptian monuments was simply brilliant.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Five years ago, I saw the documentary short film, Delhi (1938), online, on the BFI (British Film Institute) page, on the Youtube website. Another colourfully breathtaking insight of Old and New Delhi, of the 1930’s, showcasing the beautiful historic architecture, the modern wide roads, and Indian attire, of the period under the British Raj, and captured to perfection by Jack Cardiff. One of the best short documentaries I’ve seen, and this 10 minutes of reel is definitely worth checking out.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Then there was Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger. Another classic film with breathtaking cinematography, based on an acclaimed play by George Bernard Shaw. Yet, Caesar and Cleopatra, is no where near as great, as some of the other movies mentioned above (cinematography wise), but still it’s another excellent cinematic experience, altogether. I watched this online as well, on Youtube, a few years ago. Sadly that’s the last of Cardiff’s films I saw, and I don’t own a single. All these movies of his, in which he worked as a cinematographer, is no doubt worth, adding to my home library, collection of movies.

Cameraman - The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

A documentary titled, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010), was released, five years ago. Being a great fan of Cardiff, am really keen on checking it out. It chronicles his career of over seventy years, as a cinematographer, reviews his magnificent work, and details how he ended up mastering the process of Technicolor in Cinema of a bygone era.

Besides being a maestro in cinematography, Cardiff was also a film director. But from his directorial ventures, I’ve only watched, to my memory, My Geisha (1962), starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Robert Cummings. That too, I watched, back in the 1980’s. My Geisha, was a hilarious comedy about an actress, Lucy Dell (MacLaine), who disguises herself as a Japanese Geisha, to bag the lead role, unaware to her husband (Montand), in her husbands new directorial venture, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s, renowned Opera, Madame Butterfly.

Some of Jack Cardiff's directorial ventures, Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Some of Jack Cardiff’s directorial ventures: Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Being a fan of D.H. Lawrence, I’d really love to watch Cardiff’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller and Mary Ure. Sons and Lovers, was Cardiff ’s very first nomination, for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. Ironically it won one Oscar, for ‘Best Cinematography, Black-and-White’, for which he wasn’t responsible for. From Cardiff’s other works as a cinematographer, am really keen on watching, The African Queen (1951), Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and Crossed Swords (1977), with Oliver Reed, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings and Mark Lester, to name a few.

All of Cardiff’s works I mentioned here as a cinematographer, are excellent films as a whole, except for Under Capricorn and Death in the Nile. Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is not necessarily Hitchcock’s best film, yet it’s still a near excellent noir flick. And John Guillermin’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed novel, Death in the Nile, though not the best adaptation of one of her novels, is still a very good crime movie.

In memory of Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009), who shall forever be remembered for his masterworks in colour, especially at a time, when colour movies were a rarity, back in the 1930’s & 40’s. I’d love to watch more of his cinematic wonders, be it as a cinematographer, or a film director.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s ART Sense

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1965
A look back at The 37th Annual Academy Awards, held in April 1965.
Oscars 1965 aThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, is fast approaching. I doubt I’ll get to watch it though, but am definitely looking forward to finding out who wins what. From the movies I’ve seen so far, am really keen on Boyhood (2014) grabbing the Oscars for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and ‘Best Original Screenplay’ (see my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). Boyhood has already won awards, including for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’, at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies, earlier this year. Eddie Redmayne should take home the golden naked baldy, for ‘Best Actor’, for his brilliant performance, in The Theory of Everything (2014), depicting the bold life of famed, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who’s been suffering from motor neuron disease, since his early 20’s (see my post Redmayne ‘is’ Hawking, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking from earlier this month). Again Redmayne bagged the ‘Best Actor’ award at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies, this year. The Theory of Everything also won the BAFTA for ‘Outstanding British Film’. For ‘Best Actress’, Felicity Jones was superb, but was her performance Oscar win worthy. It’s hard for me to judge. The Theory of Everything should hopefully also take home the ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ Oscar. When it comes to ‘Original Musical Score’, ‘Production Design’, ‘Sound Effects’ and ‘Visual Effects’, Interstellar (2014), should definitely bag the awards for all five technical categories, that it’s been nominated for. The haunting background score, by Hans Zimmer, no doubt deserves to win for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ (also see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014).

Oscar Season 2015 Special
Thus, for this post, I decided, to go back in time, 50 years ago, to see what the Oscars were like, in the ‘Year 1965’.

My all time favourite musical, My Fair Lady (1964), took home 8 Golden statuettes.
‘Best Picture’
‘Best Director’ to George Cukor
‘Best Actor’ to Rex Harrison
‘Best Cinematography (Colour)’ to Harry Stradling
‘Best Art Direction/Set Décor (Colour)’ to Cecil Beaton, Gene Allen & George James Hopkins
‘Best Costume Design’ to Cecil Beaton
‘Best Adaptation/Treatment Musical Score’ to André Previn
‘Best Sound’ to George R. Groves (Warner Brothers Studio)
Actress Audrey Hepburn, unfortunately, wasn’t even nominated, for her dazzling performance as Eliza Doolittle, a woman who’s transformed from a mere, cockney accented, flower girl into an, eloquently speaking, Hungarian Princess, by, linguistics expert, the snobbish phonetics professor, Professor Henry Higgins (played brilliantly by Rex Harrison). One of the reasons sighted was, that Audrey Hepburn didn’t sing in the movie, and that her singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon. Which wasn’t exactly Hepburn’s fault. A pity, out of the 12 nominated categories, My Fair Lady, took home 8 Oscars, and the main actress, of this, much loved, musical, wasn’t even nominated. Must be amongst the worst Oscar snubs, in the history of the Academy Awards.

Stanley Holloway and Gladys Cooper, from My Fair Lady, were nominated for their respective supporting roles, but lost out to; British actor, of Russian (and other European) roots, plus Ethiopian Royal ancestry; Peter Ustinov and; Russian-born French actress; Lila Kedrova; for their performances in; Topkapi (1964) and Zorba the Greek (1964); respectively. Neither of which, I’ve watched yet. Alan Jay Lerner, lost out the Oscar for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to Edward Anhalt, for Becket (1964), an excellent historical drama, I watched twice as a child, during my British School days, in the mid-80’s. Watched at home, as well as, was shown at school, as we were studying about Thomas Becket, King Henry – II, the division/conflict between the King of England and the church in the 1160’s, et al. I hardly remember, I must have been around 10 or 11 years old, at the time. William Ziegler, lost out the Oscar for ‘Best Film Editing’, to Cotton Warburton, for Mary Poppins (1964). Another musical, I really enjoyed, when I watched it as a child, in the 80’s, but not so much (not to the same effect at least), as an adult, when I re-watched it, in the early noughties. But Mary Poppins is no doubt a remarkable children’s movie.
Oscars 1965 bJulie Andrews bagged the ‘Best Actress’ trophy for her performance of the flying nanny, in the Disney children’s classic, Mary Poppins (1964). There was a lot of debate, over Andrews taking home an Oscar, while Hepburn was not even nominated; and the ‘Doolittle’ role. I’ve spoken about it at length in my post Audrey Hepburn & The Musical from May 2014, which I did, for Audrey Hepburn’s 85th Birth Anniversary. Mary Poppins, altogether, won five Awards, including for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ and ‘Best Special Visual Effects’.

The Night of the Iguana (1964), another of my favourite films ever, bagged the award for ‘Best Costume Design (in a Black & White movie)’, which went to Dorothy Jeakins. The Americanization of Emily (1964), another really good, Julie Andrews film, was nominated for ‘Best Black & White Cinematography’ and ‘Best Art Direction’, but won neither. The excellent Kubrick satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), was nominated in four categories, but won none (also see my post The Essential 60’s Blogathon : Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) from September 2014). The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) was nominated for one Oscar, which went to Mary Poppins. The French musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), see my post Being mesmerised by ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from a couple of years ago, and the Japanese film, adapted from a novel be Kôbô Abe, Woman in the Dunes (1964), lost out the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ Oscar, to an Italian movie starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

None of the four Oscar awards, in the acting categories, in 1965, went to American actors. The Year 1965, also marked, the only time in Oscar history, where three films got 12 or more nominations. Becket and My Fair Lady, both had 12 nominations, and Mary Poppins, 13.
Oscars 1965 cThe 37th Annual Academy Awards, was hosted by Bob Hope in Santa Monica, California, USA. I haven’t seen this show (obviously as I didn’t exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I have seen a few sequences; where Audrey Hepburn, delightedly, announces the ‘Best Actor’ winner; Rex Harrison thanks both ‘Fair Ladies’; Sydney Poitier announces the ‘Best Actress’ award; Julie Andrews jokingly hints, that it’s ‘Ridiculous’, she won the award; Gregory Peck presents the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar; et al, online, on Youtube.

MY FAIR LADY (1964) – Best Picture. Winner of 8 Oscars.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the Oscars

For my own Blogathon, I decided to work on the famous/infamous 60’s piece of satire by Stanley Kubrick, Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), made at the height of the cold war, about an accidental American nuclear mission to blow up the then communist Soviet Union (USSR).
Dr. Strangelove pix 3The plot
Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was made and set at the height of the cold war, a time when there was no actual physical warfare, but political and military tensions arose between the communist countries of the Eastern bloc and the Western powers (NATO headed by the United States); hence known as the Cold War. A crazed general, Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) secretly orders a surprise nuclear attack on Russia (USSR). Everyone, from the President of the United States, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) to General Ripper’s aid, RAF exchange officer, Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers again), fruitlessly try to stop the bombing. A bombing which may cause a Doomsday scenario, ridding the entire planet Earth of it’s inhabitants. Which is a fact confirmed by, the very sinister looking, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers yet again), the President’s advisor. Thus ensues a hilarious battle of the wits.

'The War Room'

‘The War Room’

The Art Décor
The set designs are beyond impressive. Especially the ‘War Room’ at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. (Arlington County, Virginia), USA, where the President and his men discuss how to avert the impending crisis. The room is so well designed, futuristic in style (also remember the movie was made at the height of the Space Age, which brought about an important facet towards the Cold War), it feels like a space station. And supposedly when actor Ronald Regan became the President of the United States in 1981, he had wanted to see the ‘War Room’, which existed in the movie, Dr. Strangelove. Alas!!! was he disappointed to find out that such a thing didn’t exist.
Added to that, the interiors of the flight is very impressive, as is the mirrored bedroom of Miss Scott (Tracy Reed) and the offices at the Air Force Base. Though set in the States, this British-American film was entirely made in England, United Kingdom.
Besides the art décor, the cinematography is an added bonus with beautiful aerial shots of snow capped mountains to the ice bergs on the ocean floor.

PETER SELLERS TRIPLE ROLE Top Left: as President Merkin Muffley Bottom Left: as Dr. Strangelove Right (Top & Bottom): as Captain Lionel Mandrake

PETER SELLERS TRIPLE ROLE
Top Left: as President Merkin Muffley
Bottom Left: as Dr. Strangelove
Right (Top & Bottom): as Captain Lionel Mandrake

Trio of Sellers
Peter Sellers does a triple role of three very varied characters in Dr Strangelove.

(i) Sellers plays President Merkin Muffley, the President of the United States, the only serious character is this dark comedy. Ironic, considering the fact that Sellers is known more as a comedian than a serious actor. Though President Merkin Muffley is a very serious character, with a slight (non-comical) cold, his tongue in cheek name suggests otherwise. The bald president is named  Merkin, and a merkin is actually a pubic wig. Added to that he does have some interesting dialogues, like “Gentleman, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room”. Peter Sellers improvises a lot of his dialogues with the three characters he plays.

(ii) Sellers plays Captain Lionel Mandrake. This the most recognisable Sellers character, as a Brit, serving the British crown and country. Added to that his appearance, with his famous moustache intact, he feels more Peter Sellers than any of the other characters he plays.

(iii) Last but not the least, Sellers plays Dr. Strangelove, the presidents scientific advisor, an ex-Nazi scientist. Most probably recruited through ‘Operation Paperclip’, through which many a German scientists, technicians et al, from Nazi Germany and other countries, were brought into the United States, post World War – II, for employment beneficial to the United States. Dr. Strangelove is the most intriguing character, as the name suggests. His actual German name happens to be Dr. Merkwürdigliebe, which he apparently changed to it’s literal English meaning, i.e. Strangelove, when he became an American citizen. He is a proper avant-garde sinister character with a disability. We see the menacing Dr. Strangelove to be wheelchair bound, which adds to his sinister character. Sellers modelled this character after the character of ‘Rotwang’ from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), my favourite silent film without sound, and my favourite film from the Roaring 20’s. Adding to the appearance of this disturbing character, Sellers is seen wearing one glove, a black glove that belonged to director Stanley Kubrick. Recognising the connection to Lang’s work, Sellers borrowed one of Kubrick’s black gloves, which he felt naturally menacing. Dr. Strangelove is by far the best interpretation of a evil comical genius by Sellers in the movie. The character has a unique German accent that adds to his threatening appearance. And the character slowly losing the control of his gloved hand, due to ‘diagnostic apraxia’ or ‘alien hand syndrome’, a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movements without a person having control over it’s actions, adds to the hilarity of the situation at hand (Pun intended).

'Dr. Strangelove'

‘Dr. Strangelove’

The rest of the lead Cast & the characters they play
Besides Sellers, George C. Scott is hilarious as the very childish, immature and the heavily bellied, General Buck Turgidson. His surname itself suggests his pompous and pretentious personality. He also has false pride and a fake sense of patriotism, which finds him jubilant at the prospects of bombing down the communist nation.

Sterling Hayden is superb as the eccentric, paranoid, extremist, ultra-nationalist. His charcter genuinely believes in a conspiracy theory by the communists to impurify the “precious bodily fluids” of Americans, through Water fluoridation. Apparently it’s a Russian conspiracy to pacify people so that they would easily trust authority. The name Jack D. Ripper is an obvious synonym to the notorious Jack the Ripper of 19th Century England (London).

Major T. J. “King” Kong, Piloting the Air Force flight, was initially to be played by Peter Sellers himself, but was replaced by Slim Pickens, once Sellers, who had been reluctant at first at the work load anyway, sprained his ankle and could not work in the cramped cockpit set.

Keenan Wynn as a clueless Colonel Bat Guano, with a permanent horrified look on his face, is funny character himself. One interesting scene is, when he has to shoot off a coca cola machine in the bullet riddled Air Force building, he initially refuses stating it’s “private property”.

Also check out a young James Earl Jones in his debut performance as a Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52 bombardier.

'Miss Scott'

‘Miss Scott’

Sexual Connotations
The movie is filled with some really interesting sexual innuendoes via man made devices portrayed in very suggestive modes. One of the best sexual imagery is right at the beginning, as the credits role in. One plane is shown fuelling another, with very romantic music going on in the background. It literally looks like two flying insects mating up in the air. Could be a metaphor on the two heads of states trying to get on well together, a bit too intimately, during a crisis. Then there is a bomb falling towards it’s orgasmic end, with a man riding on it, waving his cowboy hat. Pretty homoerotic, to see a man riding a phallic shaped object hurling downwards. It’s hilariously intended to look overtly sexual, and apparently Stanley Kubrick confirmed it.
Ironically the bikini clad Tracy Reed (in her introductory role), as General Turgidson’s secretary and mistress, the only female character in the entire male oriented movie, is the least sexual impression in Dr Strangelove, besides her semi-nude centrefold, aptly nicknamed ‘Miss Foreign Affairs’, shown through a Playboy magazine.

Screening Delay
A private screening of the film was scheduled for the 22nd of November, 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The film was just weeks from its scheduled premiere. But due to the assassination the release was ultimately delayed until January 1964.

Award Nominations
The film was nominated for four Oscars. For ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ to Stanley Kubrick, for Peter Sellers a ‘Best Actor’ nomination, and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ for Stanley Kubrick, Peter George and Terry Southern. The movie won none. After all My Fair Lady (1964), well deservedly garnered the top three awards; for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ for George Cukor, and a ‘Best Actor’ win for Rex Harrison; that year. And the historical epic Becket (1964), definitely deserved the award for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.

None the less, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) is among the greatest movies ever made. And it’s definitely worth checking out.

My Rating
Excellent !!!!! 10/10.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
60's c

60's dTo my fellow Bloggers,
Do check out my previous post The Essential 60’s Blogathon. There is still time to take part in this blogathon, if you are interested.
Thanking you
Yours sincerely
Nuwan Sen

Audrey Hepburn, one of the classiest actresses Hollywood has ever seen, with an impeccable dress sense, is among rare actresses of her time, along with Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, who rarely, or never, appeared in a Musical. Hepburn has appeared in only two musicals in her career.

Audrey Hepburn in the classic 'Funny Face'Pix: ; In front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace (a 2nd-century BC, Hellenistic, marble sculpture of the Greek goddess ‘Nike’, a.k.a.‘Victory’ ), at the Louvre, in Paris, France; in a scene from Funny Face (1957)

Playing Eliza Doolittle
Even though not a musical star, Audrey Hepburn played the lead in one of the best musicals ever made, which also happens to be my all time favourite musical ever, and my favourite ‘Best Picture’ Oscar winner from the 1960’s. The film was My Fair Lady (1964); directed by George Cukor, and co-starring Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Stanley Holloway, Gladys Cooper and Jeremy Brett; which took home eight Oscars, including for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’, ‘Best Cinematography’, and ‘Best Costume Design’.
My Fair Lady was based on a Broadway musical starring Julie Andrews, which was based on a play, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw.

Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison), Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) & Colonel Hugh Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White): at the ball from ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964)

Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison), Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) & Colonel Hugh Pickering (Wilfrid Hyde-White): at the ball from ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964)

The first time I watched My Fair Lady was when I was about 8 or 9 years old, way back in the 1980’s, in New Delhi. And I’ve watched it a zillion times since then. Among my favourite musicals, we (my little sister, friends and I) use to sing and dance to these songs, especially “Lot’s of chocolates…” and “Just you wait”, and cycle to “Do a Deer…” from The Sound of Music (1965), and pretend to be Topol from Fiddler on the Roof (1971). Ah! The innocence of childhood and good movies we use to watch. These films are timeless and age well. I can’t think of any musical today that could have the same effect on a child. Sure Chicago (2002) and Nine (2009) are two very stylish musicals, but those seductive numbers are hardly suitable for little innocent minds.

Initially Audrey Hepburn had refused the part, stating that the role of Eliza Doolittle belongs to Julie Andrews and Andrews alone. But Warner Brothers weren’t that keen on taking Andrews as she wasn’t yet a famous film star, thus once Hepburn refused they were asking around to take some one else as popular as Hepburn. Soon Hepburn accepted when she realised Andrews wasn’t going to get the part anyway. Audrey Hepburn is brilliant as Eliza, in this story of an ordinary ‘Flower Girl’ who is transformed into an ‘Hungarian Princess’, with the help of a snobbish professor of phonetics, Professor Higgins (). Professor Higgins’ Edwardian library with a spiral staircase is one of my favourites, when it comes to set décor, and I’ve wished to have a library like that someday, since childhood. It still remains a dream, unfortunately.

Professor Higgins’ (Rex Harrison) Home Library from ‘My Fair Lady’

Professor Higgins’ (Rex Harrison) Home Library from ‘My Fair Lady’

Sadly unaware to Hepburn, her voice was dubbed for the songs by Marni Nixon. Hepburn, initially furious, had walked out of the sets when she found out, for she had practiced hard to sing the songs to perfection, with lengthy vocal preparation. But the next day she came and apologised, yet she mentioned that she should have been told. So except for one line in “I Could Have Danced All Night”, first verse of “Just you Wait” and it’s repetition, and the  partial singing n’ talking parts of “The Rain in Spain”, the rest of the songs are all dubbed by Marni Nixon’s operatic vocals, who supposedly had stated that Hepburn’s voice was too “low-mezzo”. What rubbish???? How can one forget Audrey Hepburn singing all her songs in Funny Face (1957). And Hepburn’s rendition of Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” in Sabrina (1954) and Hepburn lending her vocals to Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). Plus I saw Hepburn’s original rendition of “Lot’s of chocolates for me to eat” in an old Television documentary, over a decade ago. She was magnificent, the songs did not need dubbing. Jeremy Brett’s songs too were dubbed, by Bill Shirley.

What was worse was, that at the Oscars the following year, Audrey Hepburn was not even nominated, in the ‘Best Actress’ category. Julie Andrews won for Mary Poppins (1964). Andrews was superb as the flying governess, but Hepburn was a zillion times better as Eliza. The Press had a field day concocting up a fictional rivalry between the two contemporaries. Yet, Andrews herself believed she won the Oscar out of sympathy for losing out on the role of Eliza. In fact, Andrews later mentioned that Audrey Hepburn did a great job and should have won the Oscar instead of her.

Professor Higgins bribes Eliza Doolittle with ‘Lots of Chocolates’ in ‘My Fair Lady’

Professor Higgins bribes Eliza Doolittle with ‘Lots of Chocolates’ in ‘My Fair Lady’

Playing Jo Stockton
The first time I watched Funny Face (1957), was as a teenager in 1994, in New Delhi. Roman Holiday (1953), which too I watched, in 94’ just before Funny Face, 20 years on, is till date, not just my favourite Hepburn movie ever, but also my all time favourite movie. Back in September 2003, after handing in my final dissertation, a 30,000 worded book titled Marriage in Hitchcock Films: From Rebecca to Marnie, for my M.A. in International Cinema, I treated myself to a video box set of Audrey Hepburn films which included Roman Holiday and Funny Face, from the main shopping complex in Luton, UK, close proximity to my University there. Thus I have watched those tapes a zillion times since then.

Unlike in My Fair Lady (1964), Audrey Hepburn sings all her songs in Funny Face (1957). An enjoyable musical set among the fashion elite in Paris, contrasting to the Parisian underground where the existentialist meet. Hepburn plays a young existentialist, Jo Stockton; with high belief in ‘Empathicalsim’, and Empathicalsim being the only way to move forward and to achieve world peace; who is lured into a modelling contract for a lead American Fashion magazine by fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) and the magazine editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson). The only reason she takes the job is so that she can go to Paris and meet Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair), one of the lead modern day philosophers behind the existentialist movement in Paris at the time.

Audrey Hepburn’s bohemian style dance number in ‘Funny Face’ (1957)

Audrey Hepburn’s bohemian style dance number in ‘Funny Face’ (1957)

Audrey Hepburn also displays her dancing skills along with her singing talent, especially with the bohemian style dance number she does in the underground night club where, modern 1950’s, existentialist meet. She brings life to the movie. Check out the black attire she wears in most of the movie. An attire with ankle length black pants, white socks and black shoes, which ended up being a trademark style of an 80’s pop icon, i.e. Michael Jackson. Ironically Jackson’s love for dance was inspired by the older star of Funny Face, i.e. actor/dancer Fred Astaire. Sadly none of them are alive today.

What I enjoyed most about this musical, was the sub-plot of the existentialist philosophy and Audrey Hepburn’s rants about ‘Empathicalsim’. But being a commercial venture, and that too a musical, the movie mainly revolves around the fashion industry, along with the breathtaking views of Paris and some catchy song and dance. Though not an excellent movie, it’s still very enjoyable, especially thanks to Audrey Hepburn.

Jo Stockton (Hepburn) and Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), have an existentialist dispute on the subject of ‘Empathicalsim’, at the underground Parisian Bar, in ‘Funny Face’ (1957)  NSFS

Jo Stockton (Hepburn) and Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), have an existentialist dispute on the subject of ‘Empathicalsim’, at the underground Parisian Bar, in ‘Funny Face’ (1957)
NSFS

Musical Verdict
My Fair Lady (1964) Excellent 10/10
Funny Face (1957) Pretty Good 7/10

Today happens to be, my all time favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn’s, 85th Birth Anniversary. She was born on 4th May 1929, in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium to Dutch-Irish parentage. She departed this world on the 20th of January,1993, aged 63. (also see Audrey Hepburn’s 20th Death Anniversary)

The legend lives on through her movies and philanthropy, especially her contributions to the UNICEF since 1954, and later work as the UNICEF Goodwill ambassador in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, until her death.
She was awarded the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’; in recognition of her work in some of the most profoundly disadvantaged communities of Africa, South America and Asia between 1988 and 1992, as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; in December 1992, a month before she died.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

My Favourite movie by decade, My Favourite Oscar Winner per decade (Oscar 2014 Special)
RH NS
Back in April 2011, I made a list titled My Favourite movie by decade, and in November 2012, I made a list titled Why I love …., comprising of my TOP-10 all time favourite movies, and critiquing on each one of them, on IMDB.
This evening, prior to watching this years Oscars, which will be shown live tomorrow early morning (i.e. tonight in the United States), I decided to do a post, both about my Favourite movie from each decade and my Favourite Oscar Winner per decade. For my Favourite movie from each decade is not necessarily the Best film of the decade, neither is it necessarily an Oscar Winner for ‘Best Picture’.

Three Centuries, Ten decades (I’ve omitted out the first two decades of the 20th century, for I don’t have a favourite from those two decades so far)

PRE-OSCARS
The 19th Century
1890’s
L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat (1895)
French Film (Silent Cinema)
The very first moving picture made, by the two Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière. It just showcased a train coming to a platform and stopping. Sadly, like the Birth of a child, which starts with a frightened baby crying his/her lungs out, the Birth of Cinema, was marked with tragedy. People had never seen a moving picture before, and when the audience saw a train approaching towards them, on the Big screen, they started to run. So Lumière Brothers’ L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat resulted in a tragic stampede.
I saw this film, most probably somewhere in the 90’s, when I accidentally came across a documentary about cinema, on the telly. I don’t recall the documentary, for it was late one night, and I couldn’t watch the rest of the programme, but at least I got to watch the very first film ever made, and learn about the tragic aftermath. I haven’t seen this movie since, worth checking out for any movie buff.

The 20th Century  
1920’s
Metropolis (1927)
German Film (Silent Cinema)
An excellent German Expressionism, avant-garde, surreal, science fiction, cinematic wonder. I got to watch this classic on the big screen, back in 2007, at the Sydney public library, Sydney, Australia. I fell in love with this movie, set in a futuristic urban dystopia, almost instantly. And in 2008, when I was in Paris, France; I saw the metallic costume worn by actress Brigitte Helm, who played the lead female character, and the female android; when I visited the Cinémathèque Française there.
Metropolis (1927)
POST-OSCARS
The very first Academy Awards was held in May 1929. The winner for the most ‘Outstanding Picture’ Oscar (which was later, after going through many a name changes, from 1944 to 1961, known as the ‘Best Motion Picture’ award, and from 1962 onwards, till date, is known as the ‘Best Picture’ award), went to the silent venture, Wings (1927). Am yet to watch this silent classic, that bagged the very first Best film award. The oldest Best Picture winner I’ve watched is All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which was excellent. Thus, my favourite Oscar winner from the end of the roaring 20’s, and the best, is All Quiet on the Western Front, which was the first film to win awards for both, ‘Outstanding Production’ (award name for Best Film at the time) and ‘Best Director’.

1930’s
Gone with the Wind (1939), my favourite movie of the 1930’s, my favourite Oscar Winner of that decade, and the Best Film to come out in that decade. My second all time favourite movie.

1940’s
Casablanca (1942), my favourite movie from the 1940’s, my favourite Oscar Winner of that decade, and the Best Film to come out in that decade. My third all time favourite movie.
1950's
1950’s
Roman Holiday (1953) – My Favourite movie from the 1950’s, also happens to be my all time favourite movie. Audrey Hepburn, my all time favourite film star, bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar for Roman Holiday.
Special mention: Ben-Hur (1959), my Favourite Oscar Winner, and the Best Film, to come out of the 1950’s. (Also see my lists 50-50’s, The Foxy Fifties, These are a Few of my Favourites, Hepburn flicks through pictures and many more on IMDB)

1960’s
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – My Favourite movie from the 1960’s.
My Fair Lady (1964) is my favourite Oscar Winner from the sizzling 60’s.
Special mention: I think François Truffaut’s, French new wave flick, Jules et Jim (1962), is the Best film of that decade, which also happens to be my second favourite film from the 1960’s. (Also see my lists The Essential 60’s (Top 60), The Late 60’s (1966-1970) öö, My Top 5 Musicals from the sizzling 60’s & 70’s and many more on IMDB)
60's
1970’s
A Clockwork Orange (1971) – My Favourite movie from the 1970’s, and the best film of that decade.
The Godfather: Part II (1974), is my favourite Oscar Winner from the suave n’ sophisticated 70’s. A very masculine decade for film, with a blend of classy and thuggery. The Godfather: Part II, also happens to be my second favourite from the 70’s. (Also see my lists My 70’s Top 5 and The Great 70’s Picture Show on IMDB)

1980’s
Rain Man (1988) is my favourite movie of the 1980’s, my favourite Oscar Winner of that decade.
Special mention: Another Oscar winner, which I feel is the Best Film to come out in the 1980’s, is, the epic scale, bio-pic, of a modern day saint, directed by Richard Attenborough. The British film, Gandhi (1982). The 1980’s were a great decade for British, Historical and Heritage, films.
The 1980's
1990’s
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), is my favourite movie from the naughty 90’s.
Forrest Gump (1994), which also happens to be my second favourite from the 90’s, is my favourite Oscar Winner from that decade.
Special mention: Schindler’s List (1993), my third favourite from the 90’s, yet another Oscar winner, I feel, is the Best Film of that decade. (Also see my list The Nineteen Nineties (Top-5) on IMDB)

The 21st Century  
2000’s (2001-2010)
From the first decade of the 21st century, my favourite flick happens to be,  Closer (2004).
A Beautiful Mind (2001), my favourite Oscar winner from the last decade.
Special mention: Brokeback Mountain (2005), is the Best film to come out of the noughties. The Biggest mistake the Oscars made, this century, was not handing the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar to this gay themed epic.

This Decade
From this decade, which is only just over three years old, so far my favourite film, favourite Oscar winner and the Best Film, happens to be, The Artist (2011), a great tribute to early cinema and the roaring 20’s. One of my favourite silent films with sound.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
(Also see nuwansdel_02 , for the menu page, for all my list on IMDB)

Loving Film

Six Degrees of Separation: from Alain Delon to …
(Alain Delon celebrated his 78th Birthday earlier this month, on 8th November 2013)

Alain Delon 6°
…Charlize Theron
Delon played a criminal mastermind devoid of any conscience, in Plein Soleil (1959/60), which was based on the novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith (1), and another crime novel of hers was the basis for the Alfred Hitchcock (2) classic, of the same name, Strangers on a Train (1951), and Hitchcock made the movie Torn Curtain (1966); an espionage thriller set beyond the Iron Curtain of East Germany; starring Julie Andrews (3), who starred in the musical, based on a true life story that took place in Austria, The Sound of Music (1965), which also starred Nicholas Hammond (4), who later played the famous fictional webbed suited superhero, ‘Spider-Man’, in the television series, The Amazing Spider-Man (1977–1979), and later Tobey Maguire (5) took over the reigns, and played the webbed superhero, in a more skin-tight stretchy suit, in the trio of Spider-Man franchise of films (from 2002 to 2007), and Maguire appeared in The Cider House Rules (1999), which co-starred Charlize Theron (6).

…Lee Remick
Delon at one time was engaged to actress Romy Schneider (1); with whom he worked on a few projects, including Christine (1958), L’Amour à la Mer (1964) and La Piscine (1969) to name a few; and Schneider was famously associated with the trilogy of Sissi films (1955,1956 & 1957), where she portrayed the well known 19th century fashionista, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (2), a.k.a. Queen of Hungary (nicknamed ‘Sissi’), as did Ava Gardner (3) in Mayerling (1968), and Gardner starred alongside Deborah Kerr (4) in  The Night of the Iguana (1964), and Kerr starred in the beautifully, spooky, children’s horror flick, The Innocents (1961), which was based on a novel, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James (5), and another novel, of his, was the basis for the film, The Europeans (1979) starring Lee Remick (6).

…Jacqueline Kennedy
Delon starred alongside Claudia Cardinale (1) in the Italian venture, Il Gattopardo (1963), and Cardinale appeared in the Hollywood crime comedy, The Pink Panther (1963), which was directed by Blake Edwards (2), as was 10 (1979), which also starred Dee Wallace (3), who played mother to a very tiny little Drew Barrymore (4) in the children’s, science fiction, drama, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Barrymore played Edith Bouvier Beale (5), a.k.a. Little Eddie, in Grey Gardens (2009), who was the cousin of, the United States of America’s, former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (6).

AD 6° Connections

…Juhi Chawla
Delon starred in Luchino Visconti’s (1) Rocco and His Brothers (1960), and Visconti directed Italian actress Alida Valli (2) in Senso (1954), who earlier came in the noir classic, The Paradine Case (1947), along with French born, Hollywood star, Louis Jourdan (3), and Jourdan played lead villain in the Bond flick Octopussy (1983), along with Indian actor Kabir Bedi (4), whose daughter, Pooja Bedi (5), came in the Bollywood flick, Lootere (1993), which co-starred, Punjabi born, former beauty queen (Miss India 1984), and Bollywood superstar of the 1990’s, Juhi Chawla (6).

…Helen Mirren
Delon appeared in Is Paris Burning? (1966), which co-starred Kirk Douglas (1), father of actor Michael Douglas (2), who came in Coma (1978); a mystery set in a hospital, where suddenly young healthy people start falling into a coma, after being operated on, and a young female doctor tries to uncover this conspiracy, which in turn ends up being a threat to her own life; the said young doctor was played by Canadian born actress, Geneviève Bujold (3), who portrayed the famous 15th century Queen consort, Anne Boleyn (4), in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), mother of, the famous virgin queen of the 15th and early 16th centuries, Queen Elizabeth-I (5), who was portrayed by Helen Mirren (6), in the television mini-series Elizabeth I (2005).

…Madhuri Dixit
Delon played Julius Caesar (1) in the comedy Astérix aux jeux Olympiques (2008), as did Rex Harrison (2) in Cleopatra (1963), and Harrison played the lead negative role in the Bollywood gem heist of a movie, Shalimar (1978), which co-starred Zeenat Aman (3), whose most notable role happens to be that of the Hippie girl she played in Bollywood’s most loved Hippie movie, Haré Raama Haré Krishna (1971), which co-starred actress Mumtaz (4), who starred alongside Vyjayanthimala (5) in Suraj (1966), and Vyjayanthimala played a courtesan in Devdas (1955), and actress Madhuri Dixit (6), took over the role of the courtesan, in the re-make, Devdas (2002).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

I’m starting this new segment today, called Question Time. This is not a quiz, for that would require a general knowledge of the particular subject. No, this is more to do with a matter of opinion. More specifically, your opinion, for anyone that’s interested. So play along and enjoy.

My Fair Lady (1964) * &

Eliza Doolittle (AH)
Q° 1. Julie Andrews played the role of Eliza Doolittle, on Broadway (USA) and West End (UK) in the late 50’s, in My Fair Lady, a stage musical adaptation of the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. In Hollywood’s grand cinematic musical adaptation of My Fair Lady (1964), the role of Miss. Doolittle went to Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn gave a brilliant performance, but, for the songs, her voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon.
Would you have preferred :-
a) to hear what Audrey Hepburn’s vocals actually sounded like in lieu of Nixon’s?
b) to see Julie Andrews play the role in the movie version as well, instead of Hepburn?
-or-
c) not change anything about the movie?

Q° 2. In the end of My Fair Lady (1964), Eliza goes back to Professor Higgins. If it were set in the 60’s itself, instead of the Edwardian period, should she :-
a) have gone back to him?
b) hooked up with young Freddie, who was infatuated with her?
-or-
c) lead an independent life altogether without either of them?

Q° 3. In 1965, at the 37th Academy Awards, Rex Harrison took home the Best Actor trophy for My Fair Lady (1964), while Julie Andrews bagged the Best Actress Oscar for Mary Poppins (1964). Audrey Hepburn was not even nominated. Do you feel Audrey Hepburn should have won the Oscar that year? Or at least been nominated for My Fair Lady (1964)?

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Untitled