Tag Archives: Martin Scorsese


Blu-ray Review: Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 3, from the Criterion Collection

WCP3Long live The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Martin Scorsese’s passion project that has restored more than 40 oft-neglected films from around the world. Same sentiment applies to the Criterion Collection’s steady stream of home video releases of the project’s restorations, including stellar standalone editions of films like Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl or Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day, and box sets of some of the more obscure titles. There’s no doubt Criterion’s line has trended toward a more mainstream approach over the last five years or so as the big studios have become much more open about licensing, but the company’s continued commitment to releasing these films on Blu-ray is heartening.

Like the first two sets, Criterion has released Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 3 as a dual-format collection, with each film getting its own DVD and two films sharing each Blu-ray. This review will focus on the Blu-rays, but the content is identical on the DVD copies. The films are:


Lucía (1968)
Directed by Humberto Solás

An ambitious triptych, Lucía is fashioned as an epic, but its structure relies on cumulative thematic rhyming more than large-scale storytelling. Recounting the tales of three major inflection points in Cuban history, each segment features a woman named Lucía, though each is played by a different actress. Solás adopts a different genre packaging for each part, but there’s a distinct through-line of how the political becomes personal; history is writ small in these societal microcosms.

Part one, which is set in 1895 during Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain, is the strongest. Lucía (Raquel Revuelta) is an aristocratic Cuban woman who falls for Rafael (Eduardo Moore), a man who claims to have both Cuban and Spanish heritage. With a blitheness that’s exclusively reserved for the upper class, he assures her that he has no interest in politics.

Solás films the posh life with a blinding gleam, pushing the whites to near-overexposure in scenes of society women mingling. But the horrors of war lurk just outside, and Lucía soon discovers she can’t stay aloof. As the segment progresses, Solás pushes the visual degradation further and further, adding jagged, grainy blacks to the increasingly blown-out whites. By the end, this section has morphed into a full-on horror film, with many of its queasy images reminding me of another 1968 release, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

The film’s middle part, an achingly melancholy melodrama set in 1932, concerns a middle-class Lucía (Eslinda Núñez) who abandons her comfortable bourgeois lifestyle to take up with Aldo (Ramón Brito), a freedom fighter against the Gerardo Machado regime. Though the change in lifestyle lends some excitement to her life, Lucía never seems to be able to shake the feeling of being an outsider, and her doomed romance is mirrored in a revolution that doesn’t quite take.

The film’s third segment, set in the Castro 1960s, opts for rowdy, acrid comedy in its story of newlyweds Lucía (Adela Legrá) and Tomas (Adolfo Llauradó) clashing over gender roles. As in the first two sections, this Lucía is deeply in love with a man, but in a shift, she has no interest in him determining the trajectory of her life. Tomas’s revolutionary ideals apparently stop at the doorway to his house, and he bristles at Lucía’s interest in learning to read (particularly given that the state-sponsored tutor is a handsome young man) and remaining in the workforce. After the charged romantic doom of the first two parts, this finale can feel a bit flippant in comparison, but its honest vision of an imperfect revolution fits right in. Though Solás clearly posits the 1960s revolution was a giant leap forward for Cuba, he’s clear-eyed about the challenges that remain.

The restoration work that the WCP performs on many of the films they encounter is heroic, and the efforts pay dividends on this set, which is by and large, stunning. Lucía sports a 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer on the Blu-ray, restored in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative and several duplicate positives to replace sections of the neg that were severely damaged. This is a beautiful transfer, from the high-contrast graininess of the first section to the sunny naturalism of the third. Clarity and detail are strong throughout, and any shifts between materials are not obvious (particularly given the shifting visual style of the first part). Uncompressed mono audio is solid.

Like all the films in the set, Scorsese offers a brief filmed introduction, talking both about what makes the film notable and any restoration challenges. Also included is a 2020 documentary short featuring interviews with Solás and other members of the cast and crew.

AfterTheCurfewAfter the Curfew (Lewat djam malam, 1954)
Directed by Usmar Ismail

There are some easy criticisms to make of Indonesian filmmaker Usmar Ismail’s study of postwar malaise, most obviously its somewhat manufactured ending, telegraphed pointedly by both the film’s opening sequence and its title. But despite the film’s blunt storytelling, there’s a lot to admire about its moody treatment of a man who can’t find a place to fit in after fighting as a revolutionary in Indonesia’s war of independence from the Netherlands.

Iskandar (A.N. Alcaff) is seemingly set up perfectly after being discharged from the army. He has a caring fiancée, Norma (Netty Herawaty), and a father-in-law who’s arranged a job for him at the governor’s office. But Iskandar can’t settle in, haunted by PTSD for his actions during the war and disillusioned by a society that he sees as riddled with corruption. None of this feels pro forma as performed by Alcaff, who possesses a Cassavetes-like rueful intensity.

The film’s best scenes contrast the joy of a welcome-home party Norma throws for Iskandar and the doleful domestic life of a prostitute, Laila (Dhalia), whose pimp is a former squadron-mate of Iskandar’s. The happiness is hollow for Iskandar at the party, and he finds some solace spending time with Laila, who dreamily admires consumer goods in catalogs. The smallness — and yet obvious futility — of her desires seems to resonate with Iskandar, and it’s a small island of delusional but comforting hope in an environment where hope is in short supply.

The disc’s 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer is sourced from a 4K restoration of a variety of elements, and it’s easily the set’s most problematic transfer, with frequent occurrences of celluloid degradation that swallow up large parts of the image. Still, this is incredibly impressive restoration work, with mold damage largely mitigated and consistent image stability that belies the huge amount of work done. Clarity and detail are quite nice outside of the damaged portions and segments that use a lesser source. Uncompressed mono audio is also cobbled together from multiple sources, and it has its share of harshness and variable fidelity.

Extras include the Scorsese intro and a new interview with journalist J.B. Kristanto.

PixotePixote (1980)
Directed by Héctor Babenco

Probably the most well-known film in the set, Pixote is a landmark in Brazilian cinema, and an early triumph for Argentinian director Héctor Babenco, who would go on to a brief detour in Hollywood. Pixote is an achingly beautiful piece of work, sidestepping poverty porn and miserablism pitfalls to tell a harrowing but emotionally sensitive story about children trying to survive in a society where they’re not valued.

Taking on the mantle of Neorealism, Babenco cast mostly nonprofessional youths, including 13-year-old Fernando Ramos da Silva as Pixote, part of a group of young people rounded up by the corrupt police department and sentenced to a juvenile detention center masquerading as a reform school. Da Silva delivers what is surely one of the most astonishing child performances ever, suffusing Pixote with easy charisma and heart-wrenching vulnerability.

Part of what makes Pixote so effective is it’s no tale of corrupted innocence. In one of the film’s early scenes, Pixote shows he’s savvy enough to keep quiet after witnessing a brutal gang rape in the living quarters. Any innocence was long gone before the film began. Babenco’s frank depiction of the disposition kids must adopt in this environment allows us to experience Pixote as a person, not a cautionary tale. The picaresque film involves Pixote and his makeshift family of other kids descending deeper and deeper into a life of crime, but Babenco is laser-focused on his characters’ humanity, and the film’s brief grace notes are like a gulp of fresh air.

The film’s 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer is sourced from a 4K restoration of the original 35mm camera negative, with a first-generation internegative subbing in for some missing frames. This is a gorgeous transfer, handling the film’s heavy grain beautifully, with no apparent dip in quality during a switch in elements used. The image is clear, with great depth of detail. There is a slight yellowish/greenish tint to the color grading, which tends to be the kind of thing that’s more distracting when seen in a single frame than when watching the film in motion. It does lend a slightly sickly look to some scenes, but I can’t say it bothered me much at all, especially considering the strengths of the transfer otherwise. Uncompressed mono audio sounds superb.

Extras include the Scorsese intro, where he relates the terribly tragic fate of da Silva — a stark reminder that the events of the film are only nominally fictional. A filmed introduction by Babenco that opened the US cut of the film has him explaining the real-life inspiration for Pixote: the Brazilian law that made children vulnerable to exploitation because they couldn’t be prosecuted for crimes. Excerpts from a 2016 interview with the late Babenco are also included.

DosMonjesDos Monjes (1934)
Directed by Juan Bustillo Oro

Early sound films can be thrilling and awkward in equal measures, propelling filmmakers to new experimentation but providing as many opportunities for clunky missteps. Mexican director Juan Bustillo Oro’s Dos Monjes has both elements in about equal measure, with a stolid narrative undercutting some of the film’s structural inventiveness and German Expressionism-inspired visual style.

After a monk, Javier (Carlos Villatoro), suddenly flies into a rage and tries to murder Juan (Víctor Urruchúa), another monk who’s newly joined his monastery, the other clergy members are left with the task of puzzling out why. Bustillo Oro’s bifurcated film is a proto-Rashomon, first recounting Javier’s side of the story, and then Juan’s.

Visually, this strategy pays dividends, with differences ranging from subtle changes in costume to the bold flourishes of obviously divergent camera setups to distinguish the two sides. Unfortunately, the love triangle with a woman named Ana (Magda Haller) that constitutes the pair’s disagreement is rather dull. And though the film predates Rashomon by nearly two decades, it’s more a case of one character being deliberately left in the dark about certain facts than an examination of the murky nature of perspective and truth.

More interesting than the flashbacks are the bookends set in an imposing Gothic monastery, where prolific cinematographer Agustín Jiménez shoots the stark shadows of spookily barren rooms to great effect. And any narrative shortcomings are quickly forgotten when the film tips over into all-out surrealism in a finale that splits open Javier’s tortured psyche.

The film’s 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer is sourced from a 4K restoration of the 35mm duplicate negative and a 35mm positive print. Damage in the way of fine vertical lines is persistent, but has been mitigated well, with the underlying image displaying impressive clarity. The image is slightly soft throughout, but detail remains decent. There are a number of dropouts from missing frames. Uncompressed mono audio is pretty flat, but clean enough.

Extras include the Scorsese intro and a new interview with scholar Charles Ramírez Berg.

SoleilOSoleil Ô (1970)
Directed by Med Hondo

Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo’s acerbic, ambitious and slyly funny debut feature Soleil Ô was completed in fits and starts over several years, whenever the director could afford film stock and carve out time for shooting. The film’s herky-jerkiness reflects its production history, but its discursive qualities are far more a feature than a bug.

This is a film that’s angry and ecstatic in almost equal measures, with a stylistic expansiveness that reveals a filmmaker bursting with ideas. Hondo rails against a viciously racist European society, where the through-line from the colonial era to late-’60s Paris couldn’t be neater, but every scene makes the point in a new way.

Robert Liensol stars as a West African immigrant who arrives in Paris with a cheery optimism about his future. He’s quickly disabused of that feeling, as he encounters a spectrum of racism, from the overt hatred of those who refuse to hire him to the fetishization of white women curious about the novelty of having sex with a Black man to the pompous intellectualization of a sociologist who politely dehumanizes African immigrants in a spiel about labor conditions. Hondo cuts back and forth between these and other events in an almost essay-like approach, smashing spittle-flecked animosity and high-minded prejudice against each other, revealing their fundamental sameness.

The film is presented in a 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer, sourced from a 4K restoration that used the 16mm original reversal positive and 16mm and 35mm duplicate negatives. This might be the best-looking film in the set, featuring an exceptionally clean image and perfect handling of the heavy 16mm grain. Uncompressed mono audio offers a solid showcase for the film’s musical elements and its experimental soundtrack. Extras include the Scorsese intro and a 2018 interview with the late Hondo, who fortunately got to see his wonderful film restored and celebrated before his death.

DownpourDownpour (1972)
Directed by Bahram Beyzaie

The set closes out with another debut feature and an early entry in the burgeoning Iranian New Wave. Bahram Beyzaie’s Downpour is both wistful and wry in its examination of a slow-blossoming romance and the many obstacles it faces. Parviz Fannizadeh stars as Mr. Hekmati, an urbane schoolteacher assigned to an insular community in a Tehran suburb. His arrival is full of portent — with a gaggle of curious schoolchildren observing, he attempts to unload his cart of belongings on a steep street, but disaster strikes. Hekmati finds himself in a similarly precarious situation trying to ingratiate himself among his new neighbors, and there are signs that he’s as hapless as that opening scene suggests.

But Hekmati dedicates himself to his new role and pushes past his outsider status. And he shows himself to be not entirely hapless in his pursuit of Atefeh (Parvaneh Massoumi), the older sister of one of his students. Their romance is beyond tentative, accompanied by the community’s prying eyes — a charming scene features a medium shot of the pair on a park bench that cuts to a wide shot of a bunch of schoolkids watching from the trees — and Atefeh’s begrudging commitment to Rahim (Manuchehr Farid), the town butcher who’s bullied her into betrothal with his financial support.

Beyzaie succeeds at building a world that feels real, even with an antagonist in Rahim who borders on the cartoonish. The longing between Hekmati and Atefeh grows quietly, building toward a catharsis that never really arrives, even as it appears to be right around the bend during the film’s climactic rainstorm sequence. There’s no sea change to be found in Downpour, but even as the film ends on a visual rhyme, it’s clear that some things won’t ever be the same.

The film is presented in a 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer, sourced from a 4K restoration of Beyzaie’s personal 35mm print, the only known surviving copy after the negative and other copies were destroyed after the Iranian Revolution. This is the most impressive restoration effort in the set, taking a print that was in rough shape and creating a digital transfer that looks nearly pristine, aside from a few stray marks. Blacks and whites are luminous and fine detail is abundant. The only real clue to the difficult circumstances surrounding the elements is the burned-in English subtitles. The subtitles have their share of issues, including frequent untranslated lines, poor delineation that can cause them to get swallowed up on white backgrounds and instability that has them bouncing around the bottom part of the frame. Still, this is a remarkable rescue job. Uncompressed mono audio is fairly flat and suffers from some distortion, but is fine overall.

Extras include the Scorsese intro and a newly filmed interview with Beyzaie, who’s lived in exile in the US since 2010.

Last not but least, the set is accompanied by a booklet with essays by Cecilia Cenciarelli, Dennis Lim, Adrian Jonathan Pasaribu, Stephanie Dennison, Elisa Lozano, Aboubakar Sanogo and Hamid Naficy, along with restoration notes. Bring on more volumes of this indispensable line forever, Criterion.


Blu-ray Review Round-Up: Films by Shirley Clarke, Miklós Jancsó, Akira Kurosawa & more!

Magic BoxThe Magic Box: The Films of Shirley Clarke (1929-1987)
Milestone Films

Milestone’s series of Shirley Clarke releases is one of the great passion projects of the home video era. That fact is vigorously reaffirmed by the fourth volume, which collects experimental shorts, documentaries, home movies and rare material not seen in decades, and comes close to completing Clarke’s extant filmography on Blu-ray. (The one major piece missing: the Frederick Wiseman-produced The Cool World [1963], which doesn’t have a commercial release from Wiseman’s Zipporah Films.)

Like Clarke’s genre-puncturing and form-stretching The Connection (1961), Portrait of Jason (1967) and Ornette: Made in America (1985), the films in Milestone’s fourth volume reveal a filmmaker deeply comfortable with straddling worlds, whether that means embracing the fundamental elasticity of documentary or filming other artistic disciplines — here, theater and dance — in ways that complement their strengths while remaining cinematic.

This compulsively watchable three-disc Blu-ray set begins with a disc of Clarke’s experimental work, including a variety of city-symphony riffs from the ’50s and some mind-bending dispatches from the early video era. Her editing prowess gets an early showcase with Brussels Loops, a compilation of three-minute shorts created with D.A. Pennebaker for the 1957 Brussels World Fair; each bristles with energy whether showcasing feats of American architectural beauty or slyly undercutting consumerist inventions.

The surreal collage of Bridges-Go-Round, presented in several versions, is one of the great avant-garde architecture films, while Skyscraper takes a more straightforward approach to the industrial film. The newly rediscovered Butterfly, with its scratched celluloid and high-pitched soundtrack, is a brief primal scream against the Vietnam War.

Two video pieces feature acclaimed experimental playwright Joseph Chaikin’s collaborations with Sam Shepard (Tongues, Savage/Love), and Clarke’s restless special effects distort the image to fascinating ends. These are singular documents, but the most eye-opening film on the disc might be Scary Time, commissioned by the UN to promote UNICEF giving on Halloween, but banned by the UN for getting too real. Clarke’s use of close-ups and her intercutting between Halloween celebrations and images of famine are disquieting and startlingly confrontational.

Disc two revolves around Clarke’s first passion: dance. Her earliest forays into filmmaking can be seen here, including the unfinished Fear Flight with Beatrice Seckler and her first completed short, Dance in the Sun, starring Daniel Nagrin. Clarke’s continued interest in capturing movement can be seen in the lovely postcard In Paris Parks, presented alongside outtakes and footage from a second, unfinished Paris film.

This disc gets even more interesting with a turn into experimental territory, first seen in the layered imagery and unreal colors of Bullfight, with Anna Sokolow. Footage from the unfinished The Rose and the Players hints at Clarke’s desire to marry some experimental techniques with a narrative told through dance. Four collaborations with choreographer Marion Scott combine modern dance with Clarke’s film and video experimentation.

The final disc could be largely thought of as bonus material, with the bulk consisting of silent home-video footage of Clarke’s childhood, wedding, vacations and her appearance in Agnès Varda’s Lions Love (1969). There are two proper films here though, a once-lost children’s adventure short Christopher and Me and the Oscar-winning Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World, which depicts two college speaking engagements from the last year of the poet’s life. The film, which was taken away from Clarke during editing, is certainly on the conventional side, particularly with regards to its obvious narration, but a segment where Frost remarks on the artificiality of documentary-making has Clarke’s fingerprints all over it.

This Herculean feat of film scholarship and curation also looks largely remarkable. Milestone’s 1080p, 1.33:1 transfers are sourced from a variety of materials, but most of the non-video footage looks convincingly film-like, with solid levels of fine detail and clarity. Damage never surpasses expected levels of speckling and fine scratches. A few highlights: the brilliant, deeply saturated colors of the Brussels Loops and the Paris films, and the excellent grayscale reproduction in Robert Frost, restored by UCLA and the Academy Film Archive. The set is accompanied by a booklet with helpful contextual notes about the films.

Milestone Films / 1929-1987 / Color and black and white / 1.33:1 / 480 min / $119.99

DreamsDreams (1990)
The Criterion Collection

If only because his filmography is so full of major works, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams generally feels like a minor one. Anthology films often do.

Still, this collection of eight stories, inspired by Kurosawa’s own dreams and folk legends he heard growing up, is a thoroughly enjoyable filmgoing experience, particularly viewed on Criterion’s new Blu-ray, which really allows the vivid tableaux to shine in all their colorfully transfixing glory. Even when some of the segments dip into trite sentiment or obvious polemic, Dreams is always interesting to look at.

Focusing on man’s relationship to nature, the fleeting nature of joy, the solitude of creating art, humans’ capacity for regret and their even larger capacity for destruction, Dreams reveals an artist working in a deeply contemplative mode. This is a film rooted in melancholy when it’s not given over to outright pessimism, though by its conclusion, Kurosawa seems to have reached a sense of peace by looking backward.

There’s an otherworldly quality to the early segments that make them especially dreamlike: A young boy (Toshihiko Nakano) disobeys his mother to spy on a fox wedding processional, the figures emerging from the mist in a deliberate, regimented line; an adolescent boy (Mitsunori Isaki) laments his family’s chopped-down peach-tree orchard and receives a visit from dozens of life-size dolls; a man (Akira Terao, who plays the protagonist in the rest of the segments) finds himself nearly paralyzed by a blizzard and receives a visit from the mythical Yuki-onna (Mieko Harada).

The dream logic and airy feel of the early vignettes dissipate as the film turns more overtly political in segments that are plenty surreal, but not exactly dreamlike. A soldier’s encounter with a zombie platoon full of dead men he’s responsible for is haunting and heartbreaking, with a caustic view of the long-term effects of war. Two stories about nuclear war and its aftermath are comparatively heavy-handed.

Famous faces pop up in several other stories, including Martin Scorsese as Vincent van Gogh, framed alongside Terao’s painter in brilliant fields of color, and Chishu Ryu, who rarely worked with Kurosawa, as a voice of serenity in the film’s lovely closing segment.

Even for those who might be lukewarm on the film, Criterion’s edition of Dreams has a ton to like, beginning with the 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer, sourced from a new 4K restoration. The colors in this transfer are lush and vibrant, with eye-popping reds and yellows especially standing out. In keeping with what seems to be a recent trend, blue colors do tend toward the teal side of the spectrum, but it’s not overwhelming. Grain is beautifully rendered, image clarity and sharpness is strong and the transfer looks impressively film-like throughout. The 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is crisp and fairly dynamic.

The extras here are also formidable, beginning with a newly recorded audio commentary from Stephen Prince that is positively packed with information. The only time Prince pauses is to allow us to hear a line of dialogue in the van Gogh sequence; otherwise, he fills every available second with a wealth of information on Kurosawa’s approach, the film’s debt to Noh and Kabuki theater, the cultural and political climate it was created in and the film’s place among Kurosawa’s career.

Also on the packed disc: A 150-minute making-of, featuring tons of on-set footage, from House (1977) director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi (in SD); 2011 documentary Kurosawa’s Way, in which longtime translator Catherine Cadou interviews tons of legendary filmmakers — Abbas Kiarostami, Theo Angelopoulos, Clint Eastwood and Hayao Miyazaki among them — about Kurosawa’s legacy; new interviews with production manager Teruyo Nogami and assistant director Takashi Koizumi; and a trailer. A hefty booklet includes an essay by Bilge Ebiri and the script for an unfilmed ninth segment, “A Wonderful Dream.”

The Criterion Collection / 1990 / Color / 1.85:1 / 120 min / $39.95

ElectraElectra, My Love (Szerelmem, Elektra, 1974)
Second Run

Hungarian filmmaker Miklós Jancsó, whose work is well represented on the Second Run label, is renowned for his long takes, and that quality is especially evident in Electra, My Love, a reworking of the Greek myth that unfolds in just a dozen shots over the course of 74 minutes.

This transfixing film pushes the boundaries of the medium and emerges as a truly interdisciplinary work, almost as reliant on modes of experimental theater and dance as it is film — though it’s still foremost a cinematic work, as the glorious camera swoops and crane shots can attest to.

The Electra myth is one of the most enduring in Greek mythology, with major versions by Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles and numerous adaptations since. Jancsó’s take doesn’t deviate from too many fundamental details: Electra (Mari Törőcsik), the daughter of deposed and murdered king Agamemnon is harassed and humiliated by his usurper, Aegisthus (József Madaras), but the arrival of her thought-dead brother Orestes (György Cserhalmi) presents an opportunity for revolution.

Jancsó’s fluid approach to storytelling adds a pointedly political anachronistic conclusion and reframes a familiar story in a fresh way, pushing down the importance of narrative coherence and personal identification with characters to look at the tale from a grand perspective. The film uses hundreds of extras, often in tightly choreographed movement, as Jancsó uses masses of humans to portray oppression’s effect on a population.

Shot entirely outdoors in the Hungarian steppe, Electra, My Love is populated with numerous frames that are as stunning as they are odd — bodies, often nude, huddled together or prostrate or gathered near a pool of blood, a hillside ablaze with candles, a tyrant hoisted atop a giant ball — but even more arresting is the way Jancsó’s camera navigates these scenes, each long take a miniature feat of architecture. Letting these images wash you over you makes for 74 minutes of cinematic ecstasy.

Second Run presents Electra, My Love in a 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer, sourced from the Hungarian Digital Archive and Film Institute’s new 2K restoration. The region-free disc presents an image that is very clean, with stable, if somewhat muted colors. Fine detail isn’t remarkable, as there’s a persistent slight softness to the image, but the film looks largely very good, and Second Run’s disc easily outclasses previously available home video versions. The 1.0 uncompressed mono soundtrack is just fine at handling the post-dubbed sound.

The one on-disc extra is a new interview with cinematographer János Kende, who shot a number of Jancsó’s films and talks about his working experience with him, the process of shooting long takes and Jancsó’s legacy. An included booklet features an essay from Peter Hames.

Second Run / 1974 / Color / 1.66:1 / 74 min / £19.99

DivorceChildren of Divorce (1927)
Flicker Alley

Crisscrossing love lives of the wealthy and beautiful are on display in Children of Divorce, almost a perfectly pure confection of silent-film melodrama starring Clara Bow at the height of her powers. Made directly after It (1927), which features Bow’s signature role as an irresistible flapper girl, Children of Divorce is a near-shameless combination of sex appeal and lifestyle porn, hung on an impressively overwrought framework that doesn’t just tug the heartstrings; it threatens to siphon the tears out of your eyes itself.

Lest that sound like a pan, let’s be clear: Children of Divorce is an utter delight, especially if you enjoy ogling the preternaturally attractive visages of Bow and a young Gary Cooper, which come through in stunning clarity in Flicker Alley’s new Blu-ray release. Only the second Bow film to get a US Blu-ray (the other being Wings), this disc makes it incontrovertibly clear that Bow knew exactly how to deploy her impish charm for maximum appeal.

Directed by Frank Lloyd, with uncredited reshoots by Josef von Sternberg, Children of Divorce amps up the emotion with a frame story about American children sent to live in a Paris “divorce colony,” a sort of orphanage/summer camp hybrid that allowed newly single parents to go live it up for a while. Adorable moppets with quivering lips make up at least five percent of this film, and Joyce Coad, who played Pearl in Victor Sjöström’s The Scarlet Letter and stars as the younger version of Bow’s character, looks like she’s trying to crush your heart between her tiny fingers as the camera holds steady on her face.

Flash forward, and Kitty Flanders (Bow), rich heiress and best friend Jean Waddington (Esther Ralston) and wealthy playboy Teddy Larrabee (Cooper) reunite for the first time as a trio since they were kids. Jean and Teddy have a residual mutual attraction that starts to regain steam, but Kitty, egged on by her serially married mom (Hedda Hopper in a brief cameo), is determined to make Teddy her first husband.

The film veers quickly from jaunty comedy of flirtation to heart-rending drama as Kitty’s selfish choices have a ripple effect through the years. (On hand to assist the heart-rending: toddler cutie Mary Louise Miller, who played the baby in Mary Pickford’s Sparrows, as Kitty’s daughter.) Because of its short length and Bow’s ineffable screen appeal, the film never crumbles beneath its piled-on emotions, and in the von Sternberg-shot ending, actually becomes quite moving.

Sourced from Paramount’s 4K scan of a Library of Congress restoration, the 1080p, 1.33:1 transfer on Flicker Alley’s disc is very strong, especially considering the problematic history of the source elements, which were badly preserved. Image clarity and high levels of fine detail are pronounced immediately, with damage largely relegated to fine scratches that don’t overwhelm the image. There are some softer moments later in the film, and an insert shot of a letter being written displays extreme nitrate decomposition — a clue to how badly the film was preserved — but all in all, the film looks great. A newly recorded score from the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra is presented in LPCM 2.0 stereo, and sounds fantastic.

The major extra in Flicker Alley’s package is the 1999 TCM documentary on Bow’s tumultuous personal and professional life, which provides an excellent overview in an hour. (Despite the legion of online complaints, Courtney Love’s narration is fine.) The doc is presented in standard def. Also included is a booklet with an excerpt from David Stenn’s biography (which is not kind to Children of Divorce) and notes on the restoration, score and the TCM doc. A DVD copy is also included in this combo pack.

Flicker Alley / 1927 / Black and white / 1.33:1 / 71 min / $39.95

PrivatePrivate Property (1960)
Cinelicious Pics

Suburban dread oozes out of the pores of Private Property, a once lost film from director Leslie Stevens where nastiness bubbles just below the surface for nearly the entirety of this slow-burn anti-thriller. Rediscovered and restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the film is probably most notable as the first starring role for Warren Oates, whose timid impotence here is a far cry from the swaggering or subdued antiheroes he played in some of the ’70s most singular American films.

Corey Allen stars as Duke, a maniacal drifter on the road with Oates’ Boots where they’re on the hunt for a place to stay in Los Angeles and some female companionship for Boots, which Duke promises to deliver. Within minutes, they’ve hijacked a ride to stalk the alluring Ann Carlyle (Kate Manx, Stevens’ wife in her first of only two film roles) to her home in the Hollywood Hills, shared with her often absent executive husband.

After finding a vacant house to squat in next door, Duke poses as a handyman and squirms his way into Ann’s life, while Boots is often left over there, only able to watch from a top-floor window as Duke and Ann flirt poolside. Both Boots and Duke are incessant voyeurs, but only one of them is ever able to do anything about it.

The veneer of charm on Allen’s sneering performance is very thin indeed, but it’s enough to appeal to Ann; Manx’s performance has a palpable longing — both sexual and emotional — that’s accompanied by a kind of paralysis. Wealth, status and societal convention have pinned her inside her home, and a reckless decision or two might be her only chance at escape.

Private Property isn’t really a major rediscovery, especially given the expected path it eventually treads, but it’s an enjoyably acrid take on the horrors of domestic living — and worse.

Cinelicious’ 1080p, 1.66:1 transfer, sourced from UCLA’s 4K restoration, is gorgeous, presenting a detailed, sharp image full of beautiful, well-resolved grain. The noirish film has plenty of dark scenes, but shadow detail remains strong. Damage is minimal. The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 soundtrack is clean and free of noticeable defects.

Extras include a newly filmed interview with set photographer Alexander Singer, who had a long career directing television and a few films after getting his start on the set of this and several early Stanley Kubrick films. His personal remembrance is a nice addition to the disc. Film notes from historian Don Malcolm are presented in an included insert, as is a DVD copy in this combo pack.

Cinelicious Pics / 1960 / Black and white / 1.66:1 / 79 min / $34.99

Man FacingMan Facing Southeast (Hombre mirando al sudeste, 1986)
Kino Lorber

A low-key Argentinian science fiction film with a modest cult following to match, Eliseo Subiela’s Man Facing Southeast probably isn’t a Blu-ray upgrade that’s been sitting on many wish lists, but Kino’s release is welcome, particularly since the film never even received a Region 1 DVD.

With a plot that will be familiar to anyone who read or watched K-PAX (2001) — similarities were noted at the time of the later film’s release, but no connection was established — Man Facing Southeast tells the story of two men whose lives become intertwined. One is a respected psychiatrist, Dr. Julio Denis (Lorenzo Quinteros), whose professional acumen and personal failings come right out of some hoary screenwriters’ manual. The other is Rantés (Hugo Soto), a mysterious man who appears in Denis’ mental hospital one day, claiming to be a messenger sent from another planet to save humanity from its own shortcomings.

Soto’s performance is generally guided by a kind of anodyne solemnity, and the movie tends to follow suit, less interested in exploiting any drama out of Rantés’ claims — which Denis reflexively rejects — than weaving philosophical conversations between the two and quietly gawking at his strange behavior, like standing outside every evening to send and receive transmissions from his home planet.

Despite his proclamations, Rantés doesn’t do much for the good of humanity in the film, and his overt acts make for some of the film’s most risible scenes, including one where he helps feed a hungry family in a diner by moving other people’s food psychokinetically to their spot at the counter. The cinematic dullness of fishing-wire gags aside, how does allowing people to get a few bites off a stolen plate before having to flee the restaurant while he creates another distraction help them at all?

The enigmas around Rantés abound, including his relationship with frequent visitor Beatriz (Inés Vernengo) — though a backwards subtitle here gives it away — but they’re moderately compelling at best. I suppose there’s an audience for a less visually and narratively experimental The Man Who Fell to Earth, but I’m not in it.

Kino’s 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer is certainly going to be an improvement over old VHS copies, but it has some issues of its own. Things begin promisingly, despite some pronounced telecine wobble, with a naturalistic, fairly detailed transfer. There are marks here and there, but nothing overwhelming, and for much of the film, color reproduction is solid. That changes at chapter 8, where suddenly, there are massive color density fluctuations that turn the image into a blobby mess. This lasts for around 10 minutes. Whether this is an elements issue or an encoding one, it’s bad.

The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio stereo track is also problematic, featuring intermittent hiss and high-pitched background tone. The overworked saxophone-based score sounds OK, and dialogue is fine.

Kino assembles a nice slate of extras for this disc including three 20-minute-plus interviews with Subiela, Soto and DP Ricardo De Angelis. The Soto interview appears to be archival, but the other two look newly produced. A booklet features a brief director’s statement and an essay by historian Nancy J. Membrez.

Kino Lorber / 1986 / Color / 1.85:1 / 108 min / $34.95


Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based writer and editor who splits his critical ambitions between writing Blu-ray & DVD reviews and theater criticism. He’s a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.

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Rob Reiner: Overlooked Auteur

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Almost every night of the week, some cable TV channel shows a classic film directed by Rob Reiner, either The Princess Bride, Stand by Me, This Is Spinal TapMisery or A Few Good Men. But until recently (on April 27 and 28 the Film Society of Lincoln Center will hold a two-day retrospective of films Reiner directed and Martin Scorsese will present him with the Chaplin Award) many people have thought of him as “Meathead” from the 1970s television series All in The Family, or as a Hollywood director who happened to make excellent films in various genres.  According to Andrew Sarris’s three-pronged definition of an auteur, a filmmaker who repeatedly explores the same themes, has consistency in tone, and is technically competent, Reiner qualifies. His most famous films demonstrate recurring themes that weave throughout his larger body of work, a seriocomic sensibility and a technical competence. Although he’s worked with a variety of screenwriters, including Aaron Sorkin, William Goldman, Nora Ephron and Alan Zweibel, Reiner consistently addresses common themes. Himself a writer since the 1960s, he focuses on writers and the obstacles they confront, the process of creativity, the value of stories, and the use of words to combat corrupt authority figures and bullies. He also demonstrates a consistent tone by balancing the sad and dark with the lighthearted, sometimes punctuating tense or dramatic scenes with out-of-the-blue humor. Although his visual style is not showy, it is effective, and he is a gifted storyteller with an excellent sense of pacing and timing.

Reiner is interested in the beneficial effects of stories and art, and the creative process (Stand by MeMiseryAlex and EmmaFlipped, The Magic of Belle IsleThe Princess Bride).  In his romantic comedies, the protagonist is often a writer, but is inevitably a spontaneous partner courting, or coexisting uneasily with, a stodgier mate (When Harry Met SallyAlex and Emma,The Story of UsThe Sure Thing). The hero or heroine in the romances also often worries about making a commitment. Finally, in a few films Reiner expresses outrage at the abuse of power. His protagonists use brains, not brawn, to thwart the powerful villains or bullies (A Few Good MenThe American PresidentGhosts of Mississippi).

Stories often comfort or cheer Reiner’s characters. The first shot of The Princess Bride is of a video game watched by a sick little boy who has no enthusiasm for listening to a mushy tale his grandfather proposes to read aloud. At the film’s end the boy, now fascinated, asks the old man to return the following day to read it again. Stories that Gordie invents in Stand by Me give him respite from a troubled home life and a father who doesn’t love him. His stories also give him a sense of identity and accomplishment, and the one about the fat kid who gets revenge on the townspeople who mocked him by setting off mass, contagious barfing heartens his friends, who also have been victims of teasing. Alex in Alex and Emma started writing as a child as a way to express feelings he couldn’t voice after his parents’ divorce. Paul Sheldon’s romantic novels bring joy to Annie Wilkes, the bedeviled fan in Misery.

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Reiner also examines the creative process; in films from This Is Spinal Tap (1984) to The Magic of Belle Isle (2012) the director presents artists, usually writers, wrestling with obstacles to their craft. Writers struggle to find their voice (Stand by Me,The Magic of Belle Isle), recapture their voice (Misery), overcome writer’s block (The Magic of Belle Isle) and come to terms with readers’ expectations (Misery). Alex and Emma is entirely about a novelist, his muse/critic/audience, and the creative process; the two characters discuss writer’s block, inspiration, responsibility to the reader, character development, writing oneself into and out of a corner, deadline pressure, borrowing from life to lend to the story, devising a plot, and other aspects of creating fiction. Rob Reiner movies that delve into writers’ and artists’ relationship with their fans include Misery, in which an unhinged reader torments a novelist when he stops writing bodice rippers and This Is Spinal Tap, in which the aging rockers face dwindling audiences.

In some of Reiner’s romantic comedies, the leading man or lady is a writer (The Story of UsAlex and Emma, Rumor Has It), but in all of them one partner is zanier, and more uninhibited and fun-loving than the other, who is relatively reserved and cautious. By the movie’s end, the free-spirited partner partially grows up and the more restrained mate partially loosens up, sometimes doing something silly or playful just for the hell of it. The staid Michelle Pfeiffer dons a noisy fireman’s hat in response to Bruce Willis’s shenanigans in The Story of Us, and John Cusak  provokes the responsible, organized college girl in The Sure Thing to bare her breasts to a carful of strangers. Although The Bucket List is not a romance, it pairs Jack Nicholson’s impulsive character with Morgan Freeman’s more thoughtful one, and the former influences the latter to become adventurous at the end of his life. In The American President Sydney’s passion for combatting global warming and standing up for worthy causes finally affects the president, who has focused on what he thinks he can pragmatically accomplish until his spirited speech at the movie’s conclusion.


The American President also exemplifies the director’s outrage at bullies and unscrupulous authority figures. The Republican politician who plans to run for president lies to the American people and falsely accuses Sydney of trading sexual favors for political gain. Some of these villains are megalomaniacs, others cruel, insensitive jerks. In Ghosts of Mississippi, Reiner deplores white Southerners who behave inhumanely to African Americans, particularly the coward who shoots Medgar Evers in the back in front of the house where his children sleep. Gordie’s father in Stand by Me asks him why he can’t be more like his deceased older brother, and in A Few Good Men Col. Jessup lies and destroys evidence after a soldier dies during a hazing he ordered.

The good guys or victims prevail by using their noggins.  An instance of a protagonist employing his wits to foil a bully occurs in Stand by Me when Kiefer Sutherland’s Ace finally realizes Gordie won’t back down when the boy tells the juvenile delinquent, “Suck my fat one, you cheap dime-store hood.” The hobbled Paul Sheldon outwits and overcomes his crazed but sturdy captor, Annie Wilkes, in Misery, and Tom Cruise’s character manipulates Jack Nicholson’s Col. Jessup into incriminating himself inA Few Good Men. Near the end of The Princess Bride Westley, the “mostly dead” but recovering hero instructs Inigo Montoya and the giant as the latter drags his rubbery body around the evil king’s castle.

Like Reiner himself, the protagonists in A Few Good Men and Stand by Me have fathers who seem larger than life, and the two characters suffer from anxiety that they  won’t live up to paternal expectations.

So Reiner, a writer and a son of the formidable comedian/writer/actor/director/producer Carl Reiner, clearly addresses personal issues in his films. He has undoubtedly made some clunkers, notably NorthThe Story of Us and Rumor Has It. But Reiner is artistically ambitious, and even these, his least successful films, address his perennial themes of the spontaneous writer who matures and learns to accept a more straitlaced mate (The Story of Us, Rumor Has It) or a child, like the boys in Stand by Me and Flipped, who feels neglected by his parents and creates stories to overcome his sorrow (North).

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Budd Boetticher: A Maverick Voice from the Past

It never occurred to me when I began working on my book Lee Marvin: Point Blank back in 1994, that it would take almost 20 years to get published. That may have proven to be a good thing as I was lucky enough to encounter many of the greats who worked with Marvin but, are no longer with us. Case in point, maverick director Budd Boetticher who passed away in 2001.

Sadly overlooked for many years by Hollywood, toward the end of his life cinephiles rediscovered his gritty brilliance. Filmmakers as diverse as Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino have paid homage to him (Michael Madsen’s character in Kill Bill is named Budd). Boetticher’s films, especially the Westerns, had a special sparse quality. Not as taut as Sam Fuller, nor as grandiose as John Ford, his style fit comfortably somewhere in between. His personal life would make a fascinating film itself as it included athletics, bullfighting, brushes with the law, and a self-imposed exile to Mexico. What is most amazing is that in spite of undeniable setbacks that would weaken a lesser man, Boetticher’s indefatigable spirit and optimism remained intact to the end of his life.

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I interviewed him by phonefor my book on October 30, 1994, and as will be seen, his anecdotes go beyond his work with Lee Marvin and are compelling in their own right. World Cinema Paradise thought so as well and agreed to run the interview here. It is intact, and, it is the first time it has ever seen the light of the day in its entirety.

Dwayne Epstein: Good morning, Mr. Boetticher.

Budd Boetticher: Hello, Dwayne. You’re up bright and early.

DE: Actually, I thought I was calling a little late.

BB: Sounds like you forgot to set your clock back.

DE: (Pause) Geez, I forgot all about it! I guess I’m on time, then [both laugh]

BB: You wanted to talk about Lee Marvin, right?

DE: Absolutely. You made two films with Lee Marvin, right? Seminole (1953) and 7 Men from Now (1956)?

BB: Yes, I did. The films I made with Randy (Scott), four or five are back in theaters, and not just on video. In Europe, they’ve been re-released on the big screen where they belong.

DE: Do you recall which ones?

BB: Sure. Ride Lonesome (1959), Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), The Tall T (1957), and Comanche Station (1960). I haven’t seen them in a while and the Director’s Guild held a retrospective recently. I must say they’re pretty damn good.

DE: That’s terrific! Before we go any further, I just wanted to tell you that the gangster film you made is one of my favorites…

BB: Oh yeah, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960). with Ray Danton. That also had a young Warren Oates and Dyan Cannon making their debuts.

DE: Very cool. So, the first picture you used Lee in was Seminole, right?

BB:  Right. He played Sgt. Magruder and he was very, very good. [Screenwriter] Burt Kennedy brought him in. He suggested Lee to play the second lead on my next picture with Randy [Scott]. Now Duke Wayne [as producer], and you can quote me on this, Duke was either a son-of-a-bitch or the best friend you ever had, depending on the mood he was in. Burt asked Duke, “Who should we use?” Duke said, “Let’s use Randy. He’s through.”

DE: [laughs] Well, that was nice of him.

BB: Yes, well in every Randolph Scott movie there was always a breakout star because Randy didn’t really care. But Duke…he was another story.

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DE: How was Lee Marvin to work with on 7 Men from Now?

BB: He was wonderful. He was an ex-Marine. He was one of the few actors who really knew how to handle a gun. I wanted to try something I had never seen in a Western before. I’ve never seen in a Western, while a gunfighter was urinating or whatever, I’ve never seen him practicing his draw. So, what I did was every chance I could, I had Lee draw and practice. His death was so dramatic when Randy shot him because of that. He just stood there for a minute and stared at his gun in his hand in disbelief. The audience loved it. The reaction, when we previewed it at the Pantages, was something I had never seen before. They stopped the film and reran the scene.

DE: Wow, I’ve never heard of that being done before.

BB: Yeah, the sneak preview — if you can believe it — it was a double bill with Serenade (1956) starring Mario Lanza. Nobody in the audience was under forty. The marquee outside the theater only mentioned Serenade. I turned to John Wayne and said, “Jesus Kee-rist, Duke!” People started to walk out when they saw it was a Western starring Randy. Once it started, and people started watching it, though, they stayed and really enjoyed it. Yeah, but Lee was great.

DE: Did you ever want to work with him after that?

BB: Actually, I wrote Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) with him in mind. What happened was I went and saw Lee in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and thought to myself that he was drunk. Be careful how you write this part. Anyway…

DE: Well, I spoke with Woody Strode who told me Lee was drunk.

BB: How’s Woody doing? I worked with him on City Beneath the Sea (1953).

DE: Well, he’s doing fine, considering. He’s a very sweet man and was forthcoming with a lot of information. He still lives in Glendora but he’s alone a lot now.

BB: Well, would you do me a favor and give him my number? I’d love to talk to him again.

DE:  I sure will. So you thought Lee was drunk in Liberty Valance?

BB: Well, that was the rumor. I asked around. I checked him out through others and they said he was. I thought he drank too much and couldn’t work with him.

DE: What happened to the script?

BB: Universal eventually made it and they screwed it up. I tell you, you can’t quote me, but Eastwood’s character has to be an idiot not to smell liquor and cigars on her breath. In my version she was a courtesan not a prostitute [Shirley MacLaine’s character is a prostitute disguised as a nun]. Anyway, I found out years later that Martin Scorsese was a big fan of my work and wanted some memorabilia. I found the original screenplay to Sister Sara. It was over twenty years old and falling apart. I had to Xerox it because it was falling apart. I sent the original and a copy to Scorsese and made a copy for myself. I read it again and thought it was just great. I’ll tell you a funny story about that. A few years back they were showing it on late night TV and I got a call about 1 a.m. This gruff voice asked me, “I missed all the credits. Did you direct this piece of shit Sister Sarah I just watched?” I said, “No, I only wrote screenplay…” The voice said, “Good!” and slammed down the phone. It was John Ford. [Both laugh]. Okay, what else do you want to know about Lee Marvin?

DE: You said you didn’t want to work with Marvin?

BB: Well, I heard he drank too much.

DE: [Stuntman] Tony Epper referred to him as a bottle actor. He thought he did his best work when he drank.

BB: I don’t believe that. You can work hard without drinking and then relax after five, like everyone else. Duke had a [screenwriter] friend named James Edward Grant. He wanted to direct but he believed that if he couldn’t drink, he couldn’t direct. That’s a lot of crap. No actor is better unless you catch him on the third drink. But he’s usually on the fifth drink and by then he can’t finish the picture.

DE: Did you ever consider him for anything else?

BB: No, not really. I’ve been working on this book about bullfighting called When, in Disgrace. You should read it sometime. I think it’s available at Samuel French or Larry Edmunds Bookstore. It’s all about bullfighting. See, I started in the business with a job most women would kill for. I had to show Tyrone Power how to move as a bullfighter for Blood and Sand (1941). When I started making westerns with Randy, I gave them what they wanted. If they wanted a movie to run an hour and 26 minutes, I brought it in at an hour and 27 minutes. It usually only took 18 days. The great things about those movies were the scripts. Burt Kennedy worked on most of them and we had Lucien Ballard as a cinematographer. Lucien did great work for us. They held a retrospective of my work in Dallas, recently, and they gave me some kind of pretentious award. I had not seen some of my films in years and was quite surprised they were so good. We didn’t have any dirty words. There was no open mouth kissing. The films they make today…I went to Mexico and stopped making films. I went to Mexico for seven years and worked on the book about [bullfighter Carlos] Arruza. I finally got a screenplay out of it and we’re going to filming it soon.

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DE: Well, I’m glad it paid off for you.

BB: See, the great thing about my career is that I never won an Academy Award, or an Emmy, or any of that shit. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave me the Career Achievement Award in 1992. That meant something because you can’t fool around with it. [Laughs] They can’t agree on anything but they voted unanimously on the Career Achievement Award.

DE: That’s quite an honor. Interesting how you weren’t appreciated before but now…

BB: Yeah, if you stick around long enough. It’s funny. I made 37 pictures and only ten were westerns, so they call me a western director. I made a couple of gangster pictures and they call me a gangster director.

DE: What made you stop directing?

BB: I don’t believe a lady should say “fuck” to establish a character. I didn’t want to be involved in that kind of filmmaking. But, I am working again. I just waited until the right project came along. I’m going to be directing A Horse for Mr. Barnum.

DE: What’s it about?

BB: It’s a true story about P.T. Barnum picking up several Andalusian horses and the cowboys he hires to bring them back.

DE: That sounds interesting. Is a cast lined up?

BB: Well, we got Robert Mitchum as Barnum and Jorge Rivero, who’s the biggest star in Mexico, as one of the cowboys. James Coburn is in it, too. We’ll be using Lippizans.

DE: I’ll be looking forward to it.

BB: I’m delighted you’re writing this book on Lee Marvin. He was a great actor. He gave more to a director than you could ask for.

DE: How did he get along with Randolph Scott?

BB: He got along with everybody.

DE: How did Scott get along with him? Did they establish a good rapport?

BB: Scott had very little report with anybody. He wasn’t the guy wearing white all the time type of hero.

DE: With the square jaw.

BB: Right. He just kept to himself. When Burt and I were having dinner one night, after shooting that day, he said, “What’s the kid in the red underwear?” I said, “James Coburn. He said, “He’s pretty good. Write him some more lyrics.” In six of the seven pictures I made with Randy, the second lead stole the show. If the second lead killed Randy, no one would care, not like in a John Wayne picture. The second lead often made it very big after working with Randy. We had Richard Boone, Pernell Roberts, James Coburn; a whole bunch of good actors.

DE: It sure sounds like it.

BB: I’ll tell you a funny story about Richard Boone. He was starring on the TV show Medic and I wanted to use him in the picture I was doing with Randy called The Tall T. Now, if Harry Cohn was still there, I wouldn’t have had a problem. But Sam Briskin was running Columbia, and he said to me, “You don’t want Boone. He’s got no sense of humor and he’s got all kinds of pock marks…” I had to find out for myself. I called Boone and told him I wanted him for a film. I said Briskin didn’t think he had a sense of humor. Boone said, “I guess he doesn’t think heart operations are pretty fucking funny.”

DE: [Laughing] Sounds like he had a sense humor, to me. You know, your career is a lot like Sam Fuller’s in that you both got recognition later in your career.

BB: My agent, who’s Jewish — that’s probably why he’s so good at it — he got me a three-picture deal. He told me, “You know, you’re the Gentile Sam Fuller.” I told him, “I’d rather be the Jewish John Ford.”