October 16, 2006

Robert Aldrich Blog-a-Thon.

Robert Aldrich Dennis Cozzalio is hosting "the day-long celebration of one of Hollywood’s true mavericks, a director who rarely hid the rough edges of his films or his sensibility, whose films teem with vitality and power even when they stumble and fall, who deserves a whole lot more recognition 24 years after his death than he has managed to muster among all but the most dedicated cinephiles," and notes that Robert Aldrich will be getting a bit of that recognition when the Torino Film Festival stages its retrospective next month. Dennis's own contribution: an appreciation of Emperor of the North, "a movie I loved unconditionally when I saw it upon its initial release back in 1973."

Updated through 10/21.

That Little Round-Headed Boy offers his takes on 4 for Texas, The Flight of the Phoenix, Vera Cruz and Hustle.


Peter Nellhaus has more on that one, "something of an homage to Aldrich's film noir roots," but also overtly political: "If film was to do more than entertain, it allowed Aldrich to speak on behalf of those people for whom the American Dream seemed elusive."

On the other hand, John McElwee on The Dirty Dozen: "Oliver Stone missed the boat when he had Born on the Fourth of July's Tom Cruise watching Sands of Iwo Jima before rushing off to enlist. If he'd substituted The Dirty Dozen, I might have found the scene more convincing. John Wayne makes a softer target for post-60s filmmakers scoring political points, but the truly insidious pied piper might well have been Robert Aldrich. No wonder viewers still have to make excuses for liking this movie."

More on the Last Supper tableau in that film from Andy Horbal.

Check Dennis's Aldrich Blog-a-Thon Central for more as it appears throughout the day.

Related: Profiles from RJ Thompson in Screening the Past and Alain Silver in Senses of Cinema.

Updates, 10/17: Tom Sutpen: "There's absolutely nothing elegiac about Attack. Setting its central conflict deep within the American Army's officer class during the least controversial military engagement in its history, exploring the underlying insanity at the heart of all warfare, seeing it as an institution virtually designed to exploit the absolute worst in everyone it touches, Robert Aldrich emerged with nothing less than the most radical war picture of the 1950s." More from Wagstaff at Edward Copeland's site.

C Jerry Kutner at Bright Lights After Dark: "While the rest of the blogosphere is celebrating director Robert Aldrich, I thought I'd put in a word for one of my favorite - and least discussed - Aldrich films, The Flight of the Phoenix."

Brian Darr: "[N]othing could really have prepared me for the utter preposterousness of seeing Apache's stars Burt Lancaster and Jean Peters in Technicolor 'redface' makeup for ninety minutes."

John McElwee recalls what went wrong with 4 for Texas.

David Lowery on Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte: "Bette Davis is Bette Davis, of course, but Joseph Cotten turns in a pretty sly turn and Agnes Moorehead pretty much steals the entire movie."

Updates, 10/19: Michael Guillén: "I thought it would be fun to explore a bit why Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? has had such an impact on 'gay sensibility' and why - even for [former] Advocate [arts] editor Alonso Duralde - it required inclusion into his 101 Must-See Movies For Gay Men."

"Calling Kiss Me Deadly one of the darkest detective thrillers ever made, or the ultimate film noir, doesn't do it justice," writes Matt Zoller Seitz at the House Next Door. "Director Robert Aldrich and screenwriter AI Bezzeride's 1955 version of Mickey Spillane's novel - in which our thug hero chases a mysterious, all-powerful "Great Whatsit" in pursuit of fortune and glory - doesn't merely exemplify those two genres and identify the places where they overlap. It defines the difference between cynicism and nihilism, then throws down with the nihilists, if for no other reason than to show you what it means to live in a world where nothing matters."

Update, 10/21: Girish on The Grissom Gang: "Aldrich is examining institutions—family, parenthood, romantic union—that have been represented in countless other films. Well aware of this, his view of these institutions is unconventional, distanced and sardonic but nicely complicated by sympathy. In this sense, his eye is not unlike Chabrol's: a touch entomological, although not, I would argue, misanthropic." Also, notes on Hustle.

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Posted by dwhudson at October 16, 2006 5:29 AM