Category Archives: Film Trailers

Dillinger Is Dead Trailer (1969) – The Criterion Collection


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Dillinger Is Dead (Italian: Dillinger è morto) is a 1969 Italian drama directed by Marco Ferreri. It stars Michel Piccoli, Anita Pallenberg and Annie Girardot. The story is a darkly satiric blend of fantasy and reality. It follows a bored, alienated man over the course of one night in his home. The title comes from a newspaper headline featured in the film which proclaims the death of the real life American gangster John Dillinger.

The film proved controversial on its initial release for its subject matter and violence but is now generally regarded as Ferreri’s masterpiece. It was acclaimed by the influential French film magazine Cahiers du cinéma and afterwards Ferreri worked and lived in Paris for many years. Since the mid-1980s the film has been screened only very rarely.

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Plot

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Glauco, a middle-aged industrial designer of gas masks, is growing tired of his occupation. Having discussed alienation with a colleague at the factory, he returns home. His wife is in bed with a headache but has left him dinner, which has become cold. He is dissatisfied with the food and begins preparing himself a gourmet meal.

While collecting ingredients he discovers an old revolver wrapped in a 1934 newspaper with the headline “Dillinger is dead” and an account of the famous American gangster’s death. Glauco cleans and restores the gun while continuing to cook his dinner, then paints it red with white polka dots.

He also eats his meal, watches some television and projected home movies, listens to music and seduces their maid. With the gun he enacts suicide a number of times. At dawn he shoots his wife thrice in the head as she sleeps. Then he drives to the seaside where he gets a job as a chef on a yacht bound for Tahiti.

Themes

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The film, and especially its surreal finale in which the character Glauco leaves home and finds a job on a yacht, has been interpreted variously. Author Fabio Vighi approached it from a psychoanalytical standpoint, suggesting the uxoricide is an attempt to “kill” something inside himself. Glauco repeatedly stages his own suicide throughout the film. The final murder, then, is a means to escape his life by eliminating the primary link to his bourgeois lifestyle, which he would otherwise be unable to leave.[1]

Writer Mira Liehm posits director Marco Ferreri followed in the style of the Theatre of the Absurd and did not apply psychology or logic to his characters but then placed his absurdist creations in a real world context. The home with its many luxuries, such as the gourmet dining and film projector, as well as the cleaning and decoration of the gun, are meaningless diversions which trap Glauco in a metaphorical prison and suffocate him. His isolation leads to death or an “illusionary escape.”[2] As Italian film historian Paolo Bertetto explained, “The escape to Tahiti means a total closure of all horizons, the paralysis of all possibilities; we are brought down to zero, stripped of all perspectives, and restored to the original nothingness.”[2]

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Cast

  • Michel Piccoli as Glauco: a middle-age designer of protective masks which allow people to breathe under inhospitable conditions. Isolated, ennuyed and insomniac, he searches his house for diversion. Piccoli viewed the role as that of an “eternal child or this childlike rebirth of ‘mature’ man, between despair, suicide, simple insomnia, dream.”[3]
  • Anita Pallenberg as the wife
  • Annie Girardot as the maid

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Production

Director Marco Ferreri first met leading man Michel Piccoli when he visited the actor on the set of Alain Cavalier‘s La Chamade (1968).

Ferreri had Piccoli read a few pages from Dillinger Is Dead and hired him immediately. Piccoli has said Ferreri did not direct his performance and only gave simple blocking instructions. He played the character as solitary and volatile, comparing it to his role in Agnès Varda‘s The Creatures (1966).

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Release and reception

The film was entered into the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.[4] Dillinger Is Dead was the subject of controversy on its release for its violence and depiction of the parvenu set.[3] Critics have also called it director Marco Ferreri’s masterpiece.[2]

The influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma praised the film, interviewed the director and translated two of his previous interviews from the Italian magazine Cinema & Film. The acclaim opened the resources of Paris to Ferreri and he spent much of the next 15 years living there.

During that time he made his internationally best known films, including The Last Woman (1976) and Bye Bye Monkey (1978). Ferreri and Michel Piccoli became fast friends and worked together subsequently on films such as The Last Woman and La Grande Bouffe (1973).[5]

According to critic Viano Maurizio, by the mid-1980s Reaganomics‘ effect on the film market resulted in Dillinger’s near disappearance and it has been rarely seen since.[5] It appeared in the 2006 Marco Ferreri Retrospective in London.[6][7] A new print was provided by The Criterion Collection for the 2007 Telluride Film Festival.[8] It premiered on Turner Classic Movies in America on June 26, 2016.[9]

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References

  1. Jump up^ Vighi, Fabio (2006). “Enjoying the Real: unconscious strategies of subversion”. Traumatic Encounters in Italian Film: Locating the Cinematic Unconscious. Intellect Books. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-84150-140-6.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c Liehm, Mira (March 1986). “The Glorious Sixties (1961 – 1969)”. Passion and Defiance: Italian Film from 1942 to the Present. University of California Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0-520-05744-9.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Béghin, Cyril (November 2005). “The Actor and the Secret: Interview with Michel Piccoli”. Sally Shafto (trans). Cahiers du cinéma. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  4. Jump up^ “Festival de Cannes: Dillinger Is Dead”. festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b Viano, Maurizio (2004). “La Grande Abbuffata / La Grande Bouffe”. In Giorgio Bertellini. The Cinema of Italy. Wallflower Press. p. 195. ISBN 1-903364-98-1.
  6. Jump up^ “Marco Ferreri Retrospective” (PDF). Ciné Lumière. November 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-08.[permanent dead link]
  7. Jump up^ “Marco Ferreri”. Vertigo Magazine. 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  8. Jump up^ Kramer, Edith (2007). “32: Dillinger Is Dead” (PDF). 34th Telluride Film Festival. Telluride Film Festival. p. 20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  9. Jump up^ TCM Forum, Accessed July 6, 2016

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Bigger Than Life Trailer (1956) – The Criterion Collection


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Bigger Than Life is an American DeLuxe Color CinemaScope film made in 1956 directed by Nicholas Ray and starring James Mason, who also co-wrote and produced the film, about a school teacher and family man whose life spins out of control upon becoming addicted to cortisone.

The film co-stars Barbara Rush as his wife and Walter Matthau as his closest friend, a fellow teacher. Though it was a box-office flop upon its initial release,[2] many modern critics hail it as a masterpiece and brilliant indictment of contemporary attitudes towards mental illness and addiction.[3]

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In 1963, Jean-Luc Godard named it one of the ten best American sound films ever made.[4]

Bigger Than Life was based on a 1955 article by medical writer Berton Roueché in The New Yorker, titled “Ten Feet Tall”.[5]

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Plot summary

Schoolteacher and family man Ed Avery (James Mason), who has been suffering bouts of severe pain and even blackouts, is hospitalized with what is diagnosed as polyarteritis nodosa, a rare inflammation of the arteries. Told by doctors that he probably has only months to live, Ed agrees to an experimental treatment: doses of the hormone cortisone.

Ed makes a remarkable recovery. He returns home to his wife, Lou (Barbara Rush), and their son, Richie (Christopher Olsen). He must keep taking cortisone tablets regularly to prevent a recurrence of his illness. But the “miracle” cure turns into a nightmare when Ed begins to misuse the tablets, causing him to experience wild mood swings and, ultimately, a psychotic episode which threatens the safety of his family.

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Cast

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Reception

Bigger Than Life was extremely controversial upon its release,[citation needed] and it was not a financial success. Mason, who produced the film as well as starring in it, blamed its failure on its use of the then-novel widescreen CinemaScope format.[2]

American critics panned the film, considering it melodramatic and heavyhanded.[6] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it tedious, “dismal”, and “more pitiful than terrifying to watch”.[7]

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However, the film was popular with critics at the influential magazine Cahiers du cinéma. Jean-Luc Godard called it one of the ten best American sound films.[4] Likewise, François Truffaut praised the film, noting the “intelligent, subtle” script, the “extraordinary precision” of Mason’s performance, and the beauty of the film’s CinemaScope photography.[8]

Modern critics have pointed out Ray’s use of widescreen cinematography to depict the interior spaces of a family drama, rather than the open vistas typically associated with the format, as well as his use of extreme close-ups in portraying the main character’s psychosis and megalomania.[9]

The film is also recognized for its multi-layered examination of the American nuclear family in the Eisenhower era. While the film can be read as a straightforward exposé on medical malpractice and the overuse of prescription drugs in modern American society,[10] it has also been seen as a critique of consumerism, the male-dominated traditional family structure, and the claustrophobic conformism of suburban life.[3][11][12]

Truffaut saw Ed’s drug-influenced speech to the parents of the parent-teacher association as having fascist overtones.[13] The film has also been interpreted as an examination of masculinity and a leftist critique of the low salaries of public school teachers in the United States.[14]

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Notes

  1. Jump up^ Solomon 1989, p. 250.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Cossar 2011, p. 273.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Halliwell 2013, pp. 159-162.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b Marshall, Colin (December 2, 2013). “A Young Jean-Luc Godard Picks the 10 Best American Films Ever Made (1963)”. Open Culture.
  5. Jump up^ Roueché, Berton (September 10, 1955). “Ten Feet Tall”. The New Yorker: 47–77.
  6. Jump up^ Schiebel 2014, p. 183.
  7. Jump up^ Crowther, Bosley (August 3, 1956). “Screen: Tax of Tedium; ‘Bigger Than Life’ Has Debut at Victoria”. The New York Times.
  8. Jump up^ Truffaut 2009, pp. 143-147.
  9. Jump up^ Cossar 2011, pp. 120-123.
  10. Jump up^ Truffaut 2009, pp. 145–146. Truffaut noted Nicholas Ray’s low opinion of the medical profession, and of so-called “miracle drugs”. His discussion of Bigger Than Life points out the visual similarity between the doctors in the film and “gangsters in crime films”.
  11. Jump up^ Basinger 2013, pp. 231-234.
  12. Jump up^ Rosenbaum 1997, pp. 131-133.
  13. Jump up^ Truffaut & pp-145-146.
  14. Jump up^ Schiebel 2014, p. 182.

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See also

References

  • Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press.

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Vivre Sa Vie Trailer (1962) – The Criterion Collection


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My Life to Live (French: Vivre sa vie : film en douze tableaux; To Live Her Life: A Film in Twelve Scenes) is a 1962 French drama film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It was released as My Life to Live in North America and as It’s My Life in United Kingdom. The DVD releases use the original French title.

Plot

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Nana (Anna Karina), a beautiful Parisian in her early twenties, leaves her husband and infant son hoping to become an actress. Without money, beyond what she earns as a shopgirl, and unable to enter acting, she elects to earn better money as a prostitute.

Soon she has a pimp, Raoul, who after an unspecified period agrees to sell Nana to another pimp. During the exchange the pimps argue and Nana is killed in a gun battle. Nana’s short life on film is told in 12 brief episodes each preceded by a written intertitle.

Cast

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Production

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The film was shot over the course of four weeks for $40,000.[1][2]

Style

In Vivre sa vie, Godard borrowed the aesthetics of the cinéma vérité approach to documentary film-making that was then becoming fashionable.

However, this film differed from other films of the French New Wave by being photographed with a heavy Mitchell camera, as opposed to the light weight cameras used for earlier films.[citation needed] The cinematographer was Raoul Coutard, a frequent collaborator of Godard.

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Influences

One of the film’s original sources is a study of contemporary prostitution, Où en est la prostitution by Marcel Sacotte, an examining magistrate.

Vivre sa vie was released shortly after Cahiers du cinéma (the film magazine for which Godard occasionally wrote) published an issue devoted to Bertolt Brecht and his theory of ‘epic theatre‘.

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Godard may have been influenced by it, as Vivre sa vie uses several alienation effects: twelve intertitles appear before the film’s ‘chapters’ explaining what will happen next; jump cuts disrupt the editing flow; characters are shot from behind when they are talking; they are strongly backlit; they talk directly to the camera; the statistical results derived from official questionnaires are given in a voice-over; and so on.

The film also draws from the writings of Montaigne, Baudelaire, Zola and Edgar Allan Poe, to the cinema of Robert Bresson, Jean Renoir and Carl Dreyer.[citation needed] And Jean Douchet, the French critic, has written that Godard’s film “would have been impossible without Street of Shame, Kenji Mizoguchi‘s last and most sublime film.”[3]

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Nana gets into an earnest discussion with a philosopher (played by Brice Parain, Godard’s former philosophy tutor), about the limits of speech and written language. In the next scene, as if to illustrate this point, the sound track ceases and the images are overlaid by Godard’s personal narration. This formal playfulness is typical of the way in which the director was working with sound and vision during this period.[citation needed]

The film depicts the consumerist culture of Godard’s Paris; a shiny new world of cinemas, coffee bars, neon-lit pool halls, pop records, photographs, wall posters, pin-ups, pinball machines, juke boxes, foreign cars, the latest hairstyles, typewriters, advertising, gangsters and Americana.

It also features allusions to popular culture; for example, the scene where a melancholy young man walks into a cafe, puts on a juke box disc, and then sits down to listen. The unnamed actor is in fact the well known singer-songwriter Jean Ferrat, who is performing his own hit tune “Ma Môme” on the track that he has just selected.

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Nana’s bobbed haircut replicates that made famous by Louise Brooks in the 1928 film Pandora’s Box, where the doomed heroine also falls into a life of prostitution and violent death. In one sequence we are shown a queue outside a Paris cinema waiting to see Jules et Jim, the new wave film directed by François Truffaut, at the time both a close friend and sometime rival of Godard.

The film was remade as She Lives Her Life in 2014 by director Mark Thimijan.

Reception

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The film was the fourth most popular movie at the French box office in its year of release.[1]

Critical response

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Vivre sa Vie enjoys an extremely positive critical reputation. Author and cultural critic Susan Sontag described it as “a perfect film” and “one of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of.”[4] According to critic Roger Ebert in his essay on the film in the book The Great Movies, “The effect of the film is astonishing. It is clear, astringent, unsentimental, abrupt.”[5]

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c Archer, Eugene (27 Sep 1964). “France’s Far Out Filmmaker”. New York Times. p. X11.
  2. Jump up^ Sterritt, David (1999). The Films of Jean-Luc Godard: Seeing the Invisible. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  3. Jump up^ Jean Douchet “French New Wave” ISBN 1-56466-057-5
  4. Jump up^ Susan Sontag, On Godard’s Vivre sa vie, Moviegoer, no. 2, Summer/Autumn 1964, p. 9.
  5. Jump up^ “Roger Ebert, “Great Movies” – Vivre sa Vie/My Life to Live”. Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 2001-04-01. Retrieved 2012-02-06.

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Further reading

  • Colin MacCabe (2004) Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-16378-2.

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Lola Montes Trailer (1955) – The Criterion Collection


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Lola Montès (1955) is an epic historical romance film and the last completed film of German-born director Max Ophüls. It is based on the life of the celebrated Irish dancer and courtesan Lola Montez (1821–1861), portrayed by Martine Carol, and tells the story of the most famous of her many notorious affairs, those with Franz Liszt and Ludwig I of Bavaria.

A French production, the dialogue is mostly in French and German, with a few English language sequences. The most expensive European film produced up to its time, Lola Montès flopped at the box office.

It had an important artistic influence, however, on the French New Wave cinema movement and continues to have many distinguished critical admirers. Heavily re-edited (multiple times) and shortened after its initial release for commercial reasons, it has been twice restored (1968, 2008). It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America by The Criterion Collection in February 2010.

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Plot summary

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In the mid-19th-century, Lola Montès (Martine Carol) is a famous, past-her-prime dancer and courtesan who has led an eventful and highly scandalous life. (She supposedly holds a world record for number of lovers.)

She is now reduced to performing in a New Orleans circus, where an impresario/ringmaster (Peter Ustinov) has both befriended and exploited her by making her the central attraction. In the course of a single circus performance — which dramatically reenacts Lola’s life and career — flashbacks reveal, first, her affair with composer Franz Liszt (Will Quadflieg); second, her unhappy youth and marriage to her own mother’s boyfriend, Lt. Thomas James (Ivan Desny); and then her scandalous public breakup with conductor Claudio Pirotto (Claude Pinoteau).

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Along the way, her career as a dancer and “actress” has its ups and downs and she initially rejects the career advances of a younger version of Ustinov’s impresario. In a longer flashback, constituting most of the second half of the film, her career as courtesan reaches a peak: her affair with the Bavarian King Ludwig I (Anton Walbrook), which incenses his subjects and leads to his eventual downfall in the March Revolution of 1848. In a final circus sequence, Lola — a “fallen woman” — ascends to the apex of the big top tent for a symbolic, death-defying plunge. She is last seen allowing herself to be touched, or kissed, by a very long queue of male, fee-paying circus patrons.

Cast

Martine Carol in Max Ophüls' LOLA MONTÈS (1955). Credit: Rialto Pictures. Playing 10/10-10/30

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Production

Lola Montès was filmed in Paris, Nice, and Munich.

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Release

This would be the last film directed by Ophüls before his death of a heart attack in March 1957. As originally shown in France in 1955, the audience sees the events of Lola Montès’ life through the use of flashbacks. Use of the technique was criticized upon its release and the movie did poorly at the box office. In response, the producers re-cut the film and shortened it in favor of a more chronological storyline, against the director’s wishes.

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According to Roger Ebert, a “savagely butchered version was in circulation for a few years” following Ophuls’ death.[1] The film critic Andrew Sarris and others eventually showed improved versions, progressively closer to the original, at the New York Film Festival in 1963 and 1968.

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Restoration

Certain elements remained missing and believed lost, but the recent discovery and restoration efforts by Technicolor artists of the lost footage allowed a new version to be edited according to Ophul’s original intentions. The color version of the film with missing footage was digitally restored by a small team of restoration artists including John Healy at Technicolor under the direction of Tom Burton.

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The black and white version of the film was repaired by Martina Müller and Werner Dütsch.[2] The color version including lost footage was shown at the New York Film Festival according to the director’s edit version on Sept. 26 – Oct. 12, 2008.[3]

Lola Montès was re-released by Rialto Pictures in November 2008 with the full Cinemascope aspect ratio restored and with five minutes of additional footage never before shown in any U.S. release.

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Lola Montès was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America by The Criterion Collection in February 2010.[4]

Legacy

Roger Ebert lauded the film’s camerawork and set design, but felt that Carol’s “wooden [and] shallow” performance as the titular character prevented the film from achieving greatness.[1] Nonetheless, it is today among Ophüls’ revered works.[5] Dave Kehr called it a masterpiece, and wrote that “certainly this story of a courtesan’s life is among the most emotionally plangent, visually ravishing works the cinema has to offer.”[6]

The film also received five votes in the British Film Institute‘s 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll.[7] Lola Montès is acclaimed in Danny Peary‘s 1981 book, Cult Movies as one of the 100 most representative examples of the cult film phenomenon.

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References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Ebert, Roger (November 5, 2008). Lola Montes movie review”. Chicago Sun-Times.
  2. Jump up^ Martina Müller, Werner Dütsch: Lola Montez – Eine Filmgeschichte
  3. Jump up^ “New York Film Festival review of the restored version”. Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  4. Jump up^ http://www.criterion.com/films/938
  5. Jump up^ “Max Ophüls’s Acclaimed Films”. February 7, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  6. Jump up^ Kehr, Dave. “Lola Montes”. Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  7. Jump up^ “Votes for LOLA MONTÈS (1955)”. British Film Institute. Retrieved July 24, 2016.

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8 1/2 Trailer (1963) – The Criterion Collection


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(Italian title: Otto e mezzo [ˈɔtto e mˈmɛddzo]) is a 1963 semi-autobiographical comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini. Co-scripted by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, and Brunello Rondi, it stars Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian film director. Shot in black-and-white by cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo, the film features a soundtrack by Nino Rota with costume and set designs by Piero Gherardi.

Its title refers to it being Fellini’s eighth and a half film as a director. His previous directorial work consisted of six features, two short segments, and a collaboration with another director, Alberto Lattuada, the latter three treated as “half” films.[3] The plot concerns a director (played by Marcello Mastroianni) who suffers from stifled creativity as he attempts to direct an epic science fiction film.

Claudia Cardinale and Federico Fellini during the production of FEDERICO FELLINI'S 8 1/2, 1963.

won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white). Acknowledged as an avant-garde film[4] and a highly influential classic,[5] it was among the top 10 on BFI The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time, ranked third in a 2002 poll of film directors conducted by the British Film Institute[6] and is also listed on the Vatican‘s compilation of the 45 best films made before 1995, the 100th anniversary of cinema.[7] It is now considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.

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Plot

Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), a famous Italian film director, is suffering from “director’s block“. Stalled on his new science fiction film that includes thinly veiled autobiographical references, he has lost interest amid artistic and marital difficulties.

While attempting to recover from his anxieties at a luxurious spa, Guido hires a well-known critic (Jean Rougeul) to review his ideas for his film, but the critic blasts them as weak, intellectually spineless, and confusing. Meanwhile, Guido has recurring visions of an Ideal Woman (Claudia Cardinale), which he sees as key to his story. His vivacious mistress Carla (Sandra Milo) comes from Rome to visit him, but Guido puts her in a separate hotel and mostly ignores her.

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The film production crew relocates to Guido’s hotel in an attempt to get him to work on the movie, but he evades his staff, ignores journalists, and refuses to make decisions, not even telling actors their roles. As the pressure mounts to begin filming, Guido retreats into childhood memories: spending the night at his grandmother’s villa, dancing with a prostitute (Eddra Gale) on the beach as a schoolboy, and being punished by his strict Catholic school as a result. The film critic claims that these memories are too sentimental and ambiguous to be used in Guido’s movie.

Granted the rare opportunity to have a personal audience with a Cardinal in a steam bath (a scene which Guido plans to replicate in his movie), Guido admits that he isn’t happy. The Cardinal responds with quotes from the catechism and offers little insight into his condition.

Guido invites his estranged wife Luisa (Anouk Aimée) and her friends to join him. They dance, suggesting that the couple still has a chance to reconcile, but Guido abandons her for his production crew. The crew tours the steel infrastructure of a life-sized rocket ship set built on the beach, and Guido confesses to his wife’s best friend Rosella (Rossella Falk) that he wanted to make a movie that was pure and honest, but he is struggling with something honest to say.

Carla surprises Guido, Luisa, and Rosella outside the hotel, and Guido claims that he and Carla ended their affair years ago. Luisa and Rosella call him on the lie, and Guido slips into a fantasy world where he lords over a harem of women from his life. They bathe him (like at his grandmother’s villa) and spray him with powder, but a rejected showgirl starts a rebellion. The fantasy women attack Guido with harsh truths about himself and his sex life, and Guido literally whips them back into shape.

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Fed up with delays, the producer (Guido Alberti) forces Guido to review his many screen tests, but Guido still won’t make any decisions. The screen tests are for roles portrayed earlier in , such as Carla, the prostitute, the Cardinal, etc. When Luisa sees how bitterly Guido chooses to represent her in the movie, she flees the theater, declaring that their marriage is over since Guido is unable to deal with the truth.

But Guido’s Ideal Woman arrives in the form of an actress named Claudia. Guido takes her to visit a proposed set, explaining that his movie is about a burned-out man who finds salvation in this Ideal Woman. Claudia listens intently, but concludes that the protagonist is unsympathetic because he is incapable of love.

Broken, Guido calls off the film, but the producer and the film’s staff announce a massive press conference at the rocket ship set. Guido attempts to escape from the frenzied journalists, and when pressed for a statement, he instead crawls under a table and shoots himself in the head.

The crew begins to disassemble the rocket ship, since the film is canceled. The critic praises Guido for making a wise decision, and Guido has a revelation— he was attempting to solve his personal confusion by creating a film to help others, when instead he needs to accept his life for what it is. He asks Luisa for her assistance in doing so, and she says she’ll try.

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A group of musical clowns, led by a young Guido, transform the rocket ship set into a circus, leading the men and women of Guido’s life down the steps of the set. Shouting through a megaphone, Guido directs them into a circus ring, and Carla tells him that she figured out what he was trying to say— that Guido can’t do without the people in his life. The men and women hold hands and run around the circle, Guido and Luisa joining them last.

Cast

  • Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a film director
  • Anouk Aimée as Luisa Anselmi, Guido’s wife
  • Rossella Falk as Rossella, Luisa’s best friend and Guido’s confidante
  • Sandra Milo as Carla, Guido’s mistress
  • Claudia Cardinale as Claudia, a movie star Guido casts as his Ideal Woman
  • Simonetta Simeoni as young girl
  • Guido Alberti as Pace, a film producer
  • Mario Conocchia as Mario Conocchia, Guido’s production assistant
  • Bruno Agostini as Bruno Agostini, the production director
  • Cesarino Miceli Picardi as Cesarino, the production supervisor
  • Jean Rougeul as Carini Daumier, a film critic
  • Mario Pisu as Mario Mezzabotta, Guido’s friend
  • Barbara Steele as Gloria Morin, Mezzabotta’s new young girlfriend
  • Madeleine LeBeau as Madeleine, a French actress
  • Caterina Boratto as a mysterious lady in the hotel
  • Eddra Gale as La Saraghina, a prostitute
  • Eugene Walter as an American journalist
  • Mary Indovino as Maya, the clairvoyant
  • Ian Dallas as Maurice, Maya’s assistant
  • Edy Vessel as a mannequin

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Production

In an October 1960 letter to his colleague Brunello Rondi, Fellini first outlined his film ideas about a man suffering creative block: “Well then – a guy (a writer? any kind of professional man? a theatrical producer?) has to interrupt the usual rhythm of his life for two weeks because of a not-too-serious disease. It’s a warning bell: something is blocking up his system.”[8] Unclear about the script, its title, and his protagonist’s profession, he scouted locations throughout Italy “looking for the film”[9] in the hope of resolving his confusion. Flaiano suggested La bella confusione (literally The Beautiful Confusion) as the movie’s title. Under pressure from his producers, Fellini finally settled on , a self-referential title referring principally (but not exclusively)[10] to the number of films he had directed up to that time.

Giving the order to start production in spring 1962, Fellini signed deals with his producer Rizzoli, fixed dates, had sets constructed, cast Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, and Sandra Milo in lead roles, and did screen tests at the Scalera Studios in Rome. He hired cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo, among key personnel. But apart from naming his hero Guido Anselmi, he still couldn’t decide what his character did for a living.[11] The crisis came to a head in April when, sitting in his Cinecittà office, he began a letter to Rizzoli confessing he had “lost his film” and had to abandon the project. Interrupted by the chief machinist requesting he celebrate the launch of , Fellini put aside the letter and went on the set. Raising a toast to the crew, he “felt overwhelmed by shame… I was in a no exit situation. I was a director who wanted to make a film he no longer remembers. And lo and behold, at that very moment everything fell into place. I got straight to the heart of the film. I would narrate everything that had been happening to me. I would make a film telling the story of a director who no longer knows what film he wanted to make”.[12]

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When shooting began on 9 May 1962, Eugene Walter recalled Fellini taking “a little piece of brown paper tape” and sticking it near the viewfinder of the camera. Written on it was Ricordati che è un film comico (“Remember that this is a comic film”).[13] Perplexed by the seemingly chaotic, incessant improvisation on the set, Deena Boyer, the director’s American press officer at the time, asked for a rationale. Fellini told her that he hoped to convey the three levels “on which our minds live: the past, the present, and the conditional – the realm of fantasy”.[14]

was filmed in the spherical cinematographic process, using 35-millimeter film, and exhibited with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. As with most Italian films of this period, the sound was entirely dubbed in afterwards; following a technique dear to Fellini, many lines of the dialogue were written only during post production, while the actors on the set mouthed random lines. Otto e mezzo marks the first time that actress Claudia Cardinale was allowed to dub her own dialogue; previously her voice was thought to be too throaty and, coupled with her Tunisian accent, was considered undesirable.[15]

In September 1962, Fellini shot the end of the film as initially written: Guido and his wife sit together in the restaurant car of a train bound for Rome. Lost in thought, Guido looks up to see all the characters of his film smiling ambiguously at him as the train enters a tunnel. Fellini then shot an alternative ending set around the spaceship on the beach at dusk but with the intention of using the scenes as a trailer for promotional purposes only. In the documentary Fellini: I’m a Born Liar, co-scriptwriter Tullio Pinelli explains how he warned Fellini to abandon the train sequence with its implicit theme of suicide for an upbeat ending.[16] Fellini accepted the advice, using the alternate beach sequence as a more harmonious and exuberant finale.[17]

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After shooting wrapped on 14 October, Nino Rota composed various circus marches and fanfares that would later become signature tunes of the maestro’s cinema.[18]

Reception

First released in Italy on 14 February 1963, Otto e mezzo received virtually unanimous acclaim, with reviewers hailing Fellini as “a genius possessed of a magic touch, a prodigious style”.[19] Italian novelist and critic Alberto Moravia described the film’s protagonist, Guido Anselmi, as “obsessed by eroticism, a sadist, a masochist, a self-mythologizer, an adulterer, a clown, a liar and a cheat. He’s afraid of life and wants to return to his mother’s womb…. In some respects he resembles Leopold Bloom, the hero of James Joyce‘s Ulysses, and we have the impression that Fellini has read and contemplated this book. The film is introverted, a sort of private monologue interspersed with glimpses of reality…. Fellini’s dreams are always surprising and, in a figurative sense, original, but his memories are pervaded by a deeper, more delicate sentiment. This is why the two episodes concerning the hero’s childhood at the old country house in Romagna and his meeting with the woman on the beach in Rimini are the best of the film, and among the best of all Fellini’s works to date”.[20]

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Reviewing for Corriere della Sera, Giovanni Grazzini underlined that “the beauty of the film lies in its ‘confusion’… a mixture of error and truth, reality and dream, stylistic and human values, and in the complete harmony between Fellini’s cinematographic language and Guido’s rambling imagination. It is impossible to distinguish Fellini from his fictional director and so Fellini’s faults coincide with Guido’s spiritual doubts. The osmosis between art and life is amazing. It will be difficult to repeat this achievement.[21] Fellini’s genius shines in everything here, as it has rarely shone in the movies.

There isn’t a set, a character or a situation that doesn’t have a precise meaning on the great stage that is “.[22] Mario Verdone of Bianco e Nero insisted the film was “like a brilliant improvisation…. The film became the most difficult feat the director ever tried to pull off. It is like a series of acrobats [sic] that a tightrope walker tries to execute high above the crowd,… always on the verge of falling and being smashed on the ground. But at just the right moment, the acrobat knows how to perform the right somersault: with a push he straightens up, saves himself and wins”.[23]

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screened at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival in April to “almost universal acclaim”[24] and was Italy’s official entry in the later 3rd Moscow International Film Festival where it won the Grand Prize. French film director François Truffaut wrote: “Fellini’s film is complete, simple, beautiful, honest, like the one Guido wants to make in “.[25] Premier Plan critics André Bouissy and Raymond Borde argued that the film “has the importance, magnitude, and technical mastery of Citizen Kane.

It has aged twenty years of the avant-garde in one fell swoop because it both integrates and surpasses all the discoveries of experimental cinema”.[26] Pierre Kast of Les Cahiers du Cinéma explained that “my admiration for Fellini is not without limits. For instance, I did not enjoy La strada but I did I vitelloni. But I think we must all admit that , leaving aside for the moment all prejudice and reserve, is prodigious. Fantastic liberality, a total absence of precaution and hypocrisy, absolute dispassionate sincerity, artistic and financial courage these are the characteristics of this incredible undertaking”.[27]

Released in the United States on 25 June 1963 by Joseph E. Levine, who had bought the rights sight unseen, the film was screened at the Festival Theatre in New York City in the presence of Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni. The acclaim was unanimous with the exception of reviews by Judith Crist, Pauline Kael, and John Simon. Crist “didn’t think the film touched the heart or moved the spirit”.[24]

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Kael derided the film as a “structural disaster” while Simon considered it “a disheartening fiasco”.[28][29] Newsweek defended the film as “beyond doubt, a work of art of the first magnitude”.[24] Bosley Crowther praised it in the New York Times as “a piece of entertainment that will really make you sit up straight and think, a movie endowed with the challenge of a fascinating intellectual game…. If Mr. Fellini has not produced another masterpiece –another all-powerful exposure of Italy’s ironic sweet life –he has made a stimulating contemplation of what might be called, with equal irony, a sweet guy”.[30]

Archer Winsten of The New York Post interpreted the film as “a kind of review and summary of Fellini’s picture-making” but doubted that it would appeal as directly to the American public as La Dolce Vita had three years earlier: “This is a subtler, more imaginative, less sensational piece of work. There will be more people here who consider it confused and confusing. And when they do understand what it is about –the simultaneous creation of a work of art, a philosophy of living together in happiness, and the imposition of each upon the other, they will not be as pleased as if they had attended the exposition of an international scandal”.[31] Audiences, however, loved it to such an extent that a company attempted to obtain the rights to mass-produce Guido Anselmi’s black director’s hat.[28]

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Fellini biographer Hollis Alpert noted that in the months following its release, critical commentary on proliferated as the film “became an intellectual cud to chew on”.[32] Philosopher and social critic Dwight Macdonald, for example, insisted it was “the most brilliant, varied, and entertaining movie since Citizen Kane“.[32] In 1987, a group of thirty European intellectuals and filmmakers voted Otto e mezzo the most important European film ever made.[33]

In 1993, Chicago Sun-Times film reviewer Roger Ebert wrote that “despite the efforts of several other filmmakers to make their own versions of the same story, it remains the definitive film about director’s block”.[34] It came number two on the 1992 and 2002 Sight & Sound Director’s Poll beaten only by Citizen Kane. is a fixture on the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound critics’ and directors’ polls of the top ten films ever made. It ranked number two on the magazine’s 2002 Directors’ Top Ten Poll and number eight on the Critics’ Top Ten Poll[6] and stayed within the top ten, but slightly lower in the 2012 poll (number four on the 2012 directors’ poll[35] and ten on the 2012 critics’ poll).[36] Director Martin Scorsese also listed it as one of his favourite films of all time.[37]

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Themes

is about the struggles involved in the creative process, both technical and personal, and the problems artists face when expected to deliver something personal and profound with intense public scrutiny, on a constricted schedule, while simultaneously having to deal with their own personal relationships. It is, in a larger sense, about finding a sense of meaning in life despite its being difficult and fragmented. Like several Italian films of the period (most evident in the films of Fellini’s contemporary, Michelangelo Antonioni), also is about the alienating effects of modernization.[38]

The title is in keeping with Fellini’s self-reflexive theme: the making of his eighth-and-a-half film.[39] His previous six feature films included Lo sceicco bianco (1952), I vitelloni (1953), La strada (1954), Il bidone (1955), Le notti di Cabiria (1957), and La Dolce Vita (1960). With Alberto Lattuada, he co-directed Luci del varietà (Variety Lights) in 1950. His two short segments included Un’Agenzia Matrimoniale (A Marriage Agency) in the 1953 omnibus film L’amore in città (Love in the City) and Le Tentazioni del Dottor Antonio from the 1962 omnibus film Boccaccio ’70. The working title for was La bella confusione (The Beautiful Confusion) proposed by co-screenwriter, Ennio Flaiano, but Fellini then “had the simpler idea (which proved entirely wrong) to call it Comedy“.[40]

According to Italian writer Alberto Arbasino, Fellini’s film used similar artistic procedures and had parallels with Musil’s 1930 novel The Man Without Qualities.[41]

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Influence

Later in the year of the film’s 1963 release, a group of young Italian writers founded Gruppo ’63, a literary collective of the neoavanguardia composed of novelists, reviewers, critics, and poets inspired by and Umberto Eco‘s seminal essay, Opera aperta (Open Work).[42]

“Imitations of pile up by directors all over the world”, wrote Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich.[43] The following is Kezich’s short-list of the films it has inspired: Mickey One (Arthur Penn, 1965), Alex in Wonderland (Paul Mazursky, 1970), Beware of a Holy Whore (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1971), La Nuit américaine (“Day for Night”) (François Truffaut, 1974), All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979), Stardust Memories (Woody Allen, 1980), Sogni d’oro (Nanni Moretti, 1981), Parad Planet (Vadim Abdrashitov, 1984), La Pelicula del rey (Carlos Sorin, 1986), Living in Oblivion (Tom DiCillo, 1995), 8½ Women (Peter Greenaway, 1999), 8 ½ $ (Grigori Konstantinopolsky, 1999), Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008), and The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013).

Eight and One Half 21

The Tony-winning 1982 Broadway musical, Nine (score by Maury Yeston, book by Arthur Kopit) is based on the film, underscoring Guido’s obsession with women by making him the only male character. The original production, directed by Tommy Tune starred Raul Julia as Guido, Anita Morris as Carla, Liliane Montevecchi as Liliane LaFleur, Guido’s producer and Karen Akers as Luisa. A 2003 broadway revival starred Antonio Banderas, Jane Krakowski, Mary Stuart Masterson and Chita Rivera. It was made into a film in 2009, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido alongside Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Penélope Cruz and Sophia Loren.[44]

The 1993 music video for R.E.M.‘s song “Everybody Hurts” draws heavily from s opening dream sequence, with the band stuck in a traffic jam. Subtitles of the thoughts of people trapped inside cars appear on screen until everyone abandons their vehicle to walk instead; then they vanish.

The European Network of Young Cinema NISI MASA was named after the phrase “Asa Nisi Masa” in .

In 2010, the film was ranked #62 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema”.[45]

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Awards

won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white) while garnering three other nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Art Direction (black-and-white).[46] The New York Film Critics Circle also named best foreign language film. The Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists awarded the movie all seven prizes for director, producer, original story, screenplay, music, cinematography, and best supporting actress (Sandra Milo). It also garnered nominations for Best Actor, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design.

At the Saint Vincent Film Festival, it was awarded Grand Prize over Luchino Visconti‘s Il gattopardo (The Leopard). The film screened in April at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival[47] to “almost universal acclaim but no prize was awarded because it was shown outside the competition. Cannes rules demanded exclusivity in competition entries, and was already earmarked as Italy’s official entry in the later Moscow festival”.[48] Presented on 18 July 1963 to an audience of 8,000 in the Kremlin‘s conference hall, won the prestigious Grand Prize at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival[49] to acclaim that, according to Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich, worried the Soviet festival authorities: the applause was “a cry for freedom”.[28] Jury members included Stanley Kramer, Jean Marais, Satyajit Ray, and screenwriter Sergio Amidei.[50]

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See also

Eight and One Half 24

References

Notes

  1. Jump up^ “8½”. BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  2. Jump up^ “Top Rental Films of 1963”, Variety, 8 January 1964 p 37
  3. Jump up^ Almar Haflidason Updated 17 April 2001 (17 April 2001). “BBC – Review of Fellini’s ‘8½'”. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  4. Jump up^ Alberto Arbasino (1963), review of 8½ in Il Giorno, 6 March 1963: “The film is a step forward in the history of novelistic form. The block structure of La Dolce Vita already paved the way in both cinema and littérature. Otto et mezzo, however, not only outdistances by many years almost all films currently made but impacts our narrative at the most sensitive moment of the friction between convention and avant-garde, and may well provide a boost in the direction of the experimental, i.e. the future, as regards, among other things, the problems of being, of writing, and the relationship with reality.”
  5. Jump up^ Film scholar Charles Affron writes that “the status of as a ‘classic’ text can be recognized in the homage of its imitations and versions.” Cf. Affron, 5. Fellini scholar Peter Bondanella concurs: “As might be expected from the work’s important place in the history of the cinema, the criticism on is voluminous.” Cf. Bondanella, The Cinema of Federico Fellini, 163
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b “Directors’ Top Ten Poll”. British Film Institute. Archived from the originalon 18 March 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  7. Jump up^ “Vatican Best Films List”. USCCB. Archived from the original on 23 July 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  8. Jump up^ Affron, 227
  9. Jump up^ Alpert, 159
  10. Jump up^ Kezich, 234 and Affron, 3-4
  11. Jump up^ Alpert, 160
  12. Jump up^ Fellini, Comments on Film, 161-62
  13. Jump up^ Eugene Walter, “Dinner with Fellini”, The Transatlantic Review, Autumn 1964. Quoted in Affron, 267
  14. Jump up^ Alpert, 170
  15. Jump up^ , Criterion Collection DVD, featured commentary track.
  16. Jump up^ “The suicide theme is so overwhelming,” Pinelli told Fellini, “that you’ll crush your film.” Cited in Fellini: I’m a Born Liar (2002), directed by Damian Pettigrew.
  17. Jump up^ Alpert, 174-175, and Kezich, 245. The documentary L’Ultima sequenza (2003) also discusses the lost sequence.
  18. Jump up^ Kezich, 245
  19. Jump up^ Kezich, 245
  20. Jump up^ Moravia’s review first published in L’Espresso (Rome) on 17 February 1963. Quoted in Fava and Vigano, 115-116
  21. Jump up^ Grazzini’s review first published in Corriere della Sera (Milan) on 16 February 1963. Quoted in Fava and Vigano, 116
  22. Jump up^ This translation of Grazzini’s review quoted in Affron, 255
  23. Jump up^ Affron, 255
  24. ^ Jump up to:a b c Alpert, 180
  25. Jump up^ Truffaut’s review first published in Lui (Paris), 1 July 1963. Affron, 257
  26. Jump up^ First published in Premier Plan (Paris), 30 November 1963. Affron, 257
  27. Jump up^ First published in Les Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July 1963. Fava and Vigano, 116
  28. ^ Jump up to:a b c Kezich, 247
  29. Jump up^ John Simon considered the film’s originality was compromised “because the ‘dance of life’ at the end was suggested by Bergman’s dance of death in The Seventh Seal (which Fellini had not seen)”. Quoted in Alpert, 181
  30. Jump up^ First published in the NYT, 26 June 1963. Fava and Vigano, 118
  31. Jump up^ First published in The New York Post, 26 June 1963. Fava and Vigano, 118.
  32. ^ Jump up to:a b Alpert, 181
  33. Jump up^ Bondanella, The Films of Federico Fellini, 93.
  34. Jump up^ Ebert,“Fellini’s , Chicago Sun-Times (7 May 1993). Retrieved on 21 December 2008.
  35. Jump up^ “The 2012 Sight & Sound Directors’ Top Ten.” British Film Institute. 2 August 2012. http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/sight-sound-2012-directors-top-ten. Accessed 8 Aug 2012.
  36. Jump up^ “The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time.” British Film Institute. 1 Aug 2012. http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time/ Accessed 8 Aug 2012.
  37. Jump up^ “Scorsese’s 12 favorite films”. Miramax.com. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  38. Jump up^ “Screening the Past”. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
  39. Jump up^ Bondanella, The Cinema of Federico Fellini, 175
  40. Jump up^ Quoted in Kezich, 234
  41. Jump up^ Gabriele Pedullà, Alberto Arbasino [2000] “Interviste –Sull’albero di ciliegie” (“On the Cherry Tree”) in CONTEMPORANEA Rivista di studi sulla letteratura e sulla comunicazione, Volume 1, 2003. Q: In some of your texts written during the 60s – I’m thinking above all of Certi romanzi – critical reflections on questions of the novel […] are always interlaced in both an implicit and explicit way with reflections on cinema. In particular, it seems to me that your affinity with Fellini is especially significant: for example, your review of Otto e mezzo in Il Giorno. A: Reading Musil, we discovered parallels and similar procedures. But without being able to establish, either then or today, how much there was of Flaiano and how much, on the other hand, was of [Fellini’s] own intuition.
  42. Jump up^ Kezich, 246
  43. Jump up^ Kezich, 249
  44. Jump up^ Kezich, 249-250
  45. Jump up^ “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema”. Empire. 62. 8½
  46. Jump up^ “The 36th Academy Awards (1964) Nominees and Winners”. oscars.org. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  47. Jump up^ “Festival de Cannes: 8½”. festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  48. Jump up^ Alpert, 180.
  49. Jump up^ “3rd Moscow International Film Festival (1963)”. MIFF. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
  50. Jump up^ Kezich, 248

Eight and One Half 25

Bibliography

  • Affron, Charles. 8½: Federico Fellini, Director. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989.
  • Alpert, Hollis. Fellini: A Life. New York: Paragon House, 1988.
  • Bondanella, Peter. The Cinema of Federico Fellini. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
  • Bondanella, Peter. The Films of Federico Fellini. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Fava, Claudio and Aldo Vigano. The Films of Federico Fellini. New York: Citadel Press, 1990.
  • Fellini, Federico. Comments on Film. Ed. Giovanni Grazzini. Trans. Joseph Henry. Fresno: The Press of California State University at Fresno, 1988.
  • Kezich, Tullio. Federico Fellini: His Life and Work. New York: Faber and Faber, 2006.

Eight and One Half 26

Film Collectors Corner

Watch 8 1/2 Now – Instant Video

https://www.amazon.com/8-1-2-English-Subtitled/dp/B00VWT3E38/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_1?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Criterion Collection

DVD Copy

Criterion Collection

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Trailer – The Criterion Collection


Kiss Me Deadly 1Kiss Me Deadly 2

 

Kiss Me Deadly is an 1955 film noir, produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, that stars Ralph Meeker. The screenplay was written by A.I. Bezzerides, based on the Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer mystery novel Kiss Me, Deadly. The film was released by United Artists

Kiss Me Deadly grossed $726,000 in the United States and a total of $226,000 overseas. The film also withstood scrutiny from the Kefauver Commission, which called it a film “designed to ruin young viewers”, leading director Aldrich to protest the Commission’s conclusions.

Kiss Me Deadly marked the film debuts of the actresses Cloris Leachman and Maxine Cooper.[3]

Kiss Me Deadly is often considered a classic of the noir genre. In 1999, Kiss Me Deadly was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

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Plot

Ralph Meeker plays Mike Hammer, a tough Los Angeles private eye who is almost as brutal as the crooks he chases. Mike and his assistant/secretary/lover, Velda (Maxine Cooper), usually work on “penny-ante divorce cases”.

One evening on a lonely country road, Hammer gives a ride to Christina (Cloris Leachman), an attractive hitchhiker wearing nothing but a trench coat. She has escaped from a mental institution, most probably the nearby Camarillo State Mental Hospital. Thugs waylay them and Hammer awakens in some unknown location where he hears Christina screaming and being tortured to death. The thugs then push Hammer’s car off a cliff with Christina’s body and an unconscious Hammer inside. Hammer next awakens in a hospital with Velda by his bedside. He decides to pursue the case, for vengeance, a sense of guilt (as Christina had asked him to “remember me” if she got killed), and because “she (Christina) must be connected with something big” behind it all.

Kiss Me Deadly 5

The twisting plot takes Hammer to the apartment of Lily Carver (Gaby Rodgers), a sexy, waif-like woman who is posing as Christina’s ex-roommate. Lily tells Hammer she has gone into hiding and asks Hammer to protect her. It turns out that she is after a mysterious box that, she believes, has contents worth a fortune.

“The great whatsit”, as Velda calls it, at the center of Hammer’s quest is a small, mysterious valise that is hot to the touch and contains a dangerous, glowing substance. (It comes to represent the 1950s Cold War fear and paranoia about the atomic bomb that permeated American culture.)

Later, at an isolated beach house, Hammer finds “Lily”, who is revealed to be an imposter named Gabrielle, with her evil boss, Dr. Soberin (Albert Dekker). Velda is their hostage, tied up in a bedroom. Soberin and Gabrielle are vying for the contents of the box. Gabrielle shoots Soberin, believing that she can keep the mysterious contents for herself. She also shoots and wounds Hammer, who manages to find Velda. As Gabrielle slyly opens the case, it is ultimately revealed to be stolen radionuclide material, which reaches explosive criticality when the box is fully opened. Horrifying sounds emanate from the nuclear material as Gabrielle and the house burst into flames, just as Hammer and Velda escape.

Kiss Me Deadly 6

Alternative Ending

The original American release of the film shows Hammer and Velda escaping from the burning house at the end, staggering into the ocean as the words “The End” come over them on the screen. Sometime after its first release, the ending was altered on the film’s original negative, removing more than a minute’s worth of shots where Hammer and Velda escape and superimposing the words “The End” over the burning house. This implied that Hammer and Velda perished in the atomic blaze, and was often interpreted to represent the apocalypse. In 1997 the original conclusion was restored, where Velda and Mike survive. The DVD release has the original ending, and offers the truncated ending as an extra.

The film is described as “the definitive, apocalyptic, nihilistic, science-fiction film noir of all time – at the close of the classic noir period”.[4]

Kiss Me Deadly 7

Cast

Kiss Me Deadly 8

Background

Los Angeles locations

Kiss Me Deadly remains one of the great time capsules of Los Angeles. The Bunker Hill locations were all destroyed when the downtown neighborhood was razed in the late 1960s.

  • Hill Crest Hotel, NE corner of Third and Olive Streets, Bunker Hill (Italian opera singer’s home)
  • The Donigan ‘Castle’, a Victorian mansion at 325 S. Bunker Hill Avenue (where Cloris Leachman’s character lived; it was used for interiors and exteriors).
  • Apartment Building, 10401 Wilshire Blvd, NW corner of Wilshire and Beverly Glen (Hammer’s apartment building; still standing)
  • Carl Evello’s Mansion, 603 Doheny Road, Beverly Hills, California
  • Clay Street, an alley beneath Angels Flight incline railway, on Bunker Hill, where Hammer parks his Corvette and then takes the back steps up to the Hill Crest Hotel, but when we cut to him approaching the hotel’s large porch, he’s on the Third Street steps opposite Angels Flight.
  • Club Pigalle, 4800 block of Figueroa Avenue (the black jazz nightclub where Hammer hangs out)
  • Hollywood Athletic Club, 6525 W. Sunset Blvd. (where Hammer finds the radioactive box; still standing)

Kiss Me Deadly 9

Reception

Critical response

Critical commentary generally views it as a metaphor for the paranoia and nuclear fears of the Cold War era in which it was filmed.[5]

Although a leftist at the time of the Hollywood blacklist, Bezzerides denied any conscious intention for this meaning in his script. About the topic, he said, “I was having fun with it. I wanted to make every scene, every character, interesting.”[6]

Film critic Nick Schager wrote, “Never was Mike Hammer’s name more fitting than in Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich’s blisteringly nihilistic noir in which star Ralph Meeker embodies Mickey Spillane’s legendary P.I. with brute force savagery… The gumshoe’s subsequent investigation into the woman’s death doubles as a lacerating indictment of modern society’s dissolution into physical/moral/spiritual degeneracy – a reversion that ultimately leads to nuclear apocalypse and man’s return to the primordial sea – with the director’s knuckle-sandwich cynicism pummeling the genre’s romantic fatalism into a bloody pulp. ‘Remember me’? Aldrich’s sadistic, fatalistic masterpiece is impossible to forget.”[7]

The film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 97% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 37 reviews.[8]

Kiss Me Deadly 10

Accolades

In 1999, Kiss Me Deadly was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

American Film Institute

Kiss Me Deadly 12

Influence

Homage is paid to the glowing suitcase MacGuffin in the 1984 cult film Repo Man, the film Ronin, and in Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction. The “shiny blue suitcase” is mentioned with other famous MacGuffins in Guardians of the Galaxy. In the film Southland Tales, Richard Kelly pays homage to the film, showing the main characters watching the beginning on their television and later the opening of the case is shown on screens on board the mega-Zeppelin.

Kiss Me Deadly 13.jpg

Differences from the novel

The original novel, while providing much of the plot, is about a mafia conspiracy and does not feature espionage and the nuclear suitcase, elements added to the film version by the scriptwriter, A.I. Bezzerides.

It further subverted Spillane’s book by portraying the already tough Hammer as a narcissistic bully, the darkest anti-hero private detective in the film noir genre. He apparently makes most of his living by blackmailing adulterous husbands and wives, and he takes an obvious sadistic pleasure in violence, whether he’s beating up thugs sent to kill him, breaking a contact’s treasured record to get him to talk, or roughing up a coroner who’s slow to part with a piece of information. He also apparently has no compunction about engaging in nefarious acts such as pimping his secretary. Bezzerides wrote of the script: “I wrote it fast because I had contempt for it … I tell you Spillane didn’t like what I did with his book. I ran into him at a restaurant and, boy, he didn’t like me”.[9]

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Home media

A digitally restored version of the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection in June 2011 and has the alternative ending as a bonus feature.[10]

See also

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References

  1. Jump up^ Alain Silver and James Ursini, Whatever Happened to Robert Aldrich?, Limelight, 1995 p 238
  2. Jump up^ French box office results for Robert Aldrich films at Box Office Story
  3. Jump up^ Nelson, Valerie J. (2009-04-15). “Maxine Cooper Gomberg dies at 84; actress in the film noir classic ‘Kiss Me Deadly'”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  4. Jump up^ Dirks, Tim. “Kiss Me Deadly”. Filmsite.org.
  5. Jump up^ Prince, Stephen, Visions of Empire: Political Imagery in Contemporary American Film, Praeger/Greenwood, 1992, ISBN 0-275-93662-7.
  6. Jump up^ Vallance, Tom Archived 2007-10-01 at the Wayback Machine.. The Independent, Obituary, “A. I. Bezzerides. No-nonsense novelist/screenwriter,” January 20, 2007. Last accessed: March 25, 2008.
  7. Jump up^ Schager, Nick. Slant Magazine, film review, 2006. Last accessed: March 25, 2008.
  8. Jump up^ Kiss Me Deadly at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: February 22, 2013.
  9. Jump up^ Bergan, Ronald The Guardian, Obituary, “A.I. Bezzerides: Screenwriter victim of the Hollywood blacklist, he is renowned for three classic American film noirs,” February 6, 2007.
  10. Jump up^ “Kiss Me Deadly”. The Criterion Collection.

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Bibliography

  • Parish, James Robert and Michael R. Pitts. The Great Science Fiction Pictures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1977. ISBN 0-8108-1029-8.
  • Strick, Philip. Science Fiction Movies. London: Octopus Books Limited, 1976. ISBN 0-7064-0470-X.
  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching The Skies Vol I: 1950–1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

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Film Collectors Corner

Watch Kiss Me Deadly Now – Instant Video on You Tube

Blu-Ray Copy

Criterion Collection

DVD Copy

Criterion Collection

 

Kiss Me Deadly 20

 

 

Paris, Texas (1984) Trailer – The Criterion Collection


Paris Texas 1

 

Paris, Texas is a 1984 drama film directed by Wim Wenders and starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, and Hunter Carson. The screenplay was written by L.M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard, and the distinctive musical score was composed by Ry Cooder. The cinematography was by Robby Müller. The film was a co-production between companies in France and West Germany, and was filmed in the United States.

The plot focuses on an amnesiac (Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert, attempts to reconnect with his brother (Stockwell) and seven-year-old son (Carson). He and his son end up embarking on a voyage through the American Southwest to track down his long-missing wife (Kinski).

The film unanimously won the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival from the official jury, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[4] The film has been released on DVD and Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection.

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Contents

Plot

Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) is walking alone across a vast South Texas desert landscape. Looking for water, he enters a saloon and collapses. He is treated by a doctor (Bernhard Wicki), but does not speak or respond to questions. The doctor finds a phone number on Travis, calls the Los Angeles number, and reaches his brother, Walt Henderson (Dean Stockwell), who agrees to pick him up. When Walt arrives in Texas, he discovers that Travis is gone. When he finds him wandering alone, Walt tells his silent brother that he will take him back to Los Angeles. They stop at a motel, but Travis wanders off again. Walt finds him, and the two drive to a diner, where Walt begins to question the still silent Travis more forcefully about his disappearance. Walt and his wife, Anne (Aurore Clément), have not heard from Travis in four years. After Travis abandoned his son Hunter (Hunter Carson), Walt and Anne took care of him for four years. Travis is visibly moved by the mention of his son, and tears flow from his eyes.

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Travis finally breaks his silence when he is looking at a map and remarks “Paris,” talking about how he’d like to go there, although Walt mistakenly thinks that he is talking about France, telling him that it is a little out of the way. When Travis refuses to fly, Walt rents a car, and the brothers begin a two-day road trip back to Los Angeles. The next day, as the two brothers continue their journey, Travis shows Walt a weathered photograph of a vacant lot. He explains that he purchased the property in Paris, Texas, a town he believes is the place where he was conceived, based on a story told by their mother.

When they arrive in Los Angeles, Travis meets Anne and the son whom he abandoned four years earlier. Hunter is uncomfortable around this stranger who is his father. Walt shows some old home movies, hoping to evoke good memories and help break the ice between the father and son. The movies show Travis with his wife, Jane (Nastassja Kinski), and their young son, sharing a day at the beach.

In the coming days, the relationship between Travis and his son slowly grows, and a bond of trust between the two starts to develop. Anne tells Travis that although she has not heard from Hunter’s mother for a long time, she still deposits money into a bank account for her son on the same day each month. She reveals the name of the bank in Houston, where the deposits are made. Travis becomes determined to find his lost wife, and when he tells his son that he plans to travel to Houston to find his mother, the boy says he will accompany him.

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Travis and Hunter leave for Texas without telling Walt and Anne. During their journey, Travis and Hunter grow closer, with Hunter sharing things he learned in school, and Travis sharing his memories. When they arrive in Houston on the expected day of deposit, Hunter spots his mother leaving the bank. They follow her to a parking lot of a peep show club. Telling Hunter to wait in the car, Travis enters the club, containing rooms where customers sit behind one-way mirrors and tell the strippers what they want to see via telephone. The women cannot see the customers. Travis is shocked, but ends up in a room opposite Jane. After several minutes of awkward silence, Travis walks out, returns to the car, and drives to a bar, where he begins to drink.

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The next day, Travis drops Hunter off at the Méridien Hotel in downtown Houston, and heads back to the club. Travis enters a room with Jane on the other side of the one-way mirror. He picks up the phone, turns his chair away from her, and tells her a story of a man and a young girl who fell in love, married, and had a child, probably before they were ready. At first, Jane is confused by the story, but she soon realizes who is on the other side of the glass, and that the story is that of their relationship. Travis describes how the couple’s love turned from being joyful to stifling, explains how the drunken man suffocated the young girl with his jealousy and control, and tells how he came to loathe himself and why he disappeared to a place “without language or streets” — never wanting to see anyone again.

When Travis prepares to leave, Jane urges him to stay. She tells how hard it was to leave him, that for years she thought of him often. Travis finally faces the glass, turns a lamp on his face so Jane can see him, and tells her where she can find Hunter, asking her to go there and reunite with her son. Jane agrees and Travis leaves the room. Later that night, Jane enters the hotel room where Hunter is waiting, and they reunite at last. Travis watches from the parking lot and then leaves Houston behind him, driving alone.

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Cast

In order of their appearance

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Production

Wenders said the film shot in only four to five weeks, with only a small group working the last weeks, very short and fast. There was a break in shooting during which time the script was completed.[5]

Filming commenced with the story and script only half written, the intention being that they would shoot chronologically and writer Sam Shepard would, once he had watched how the actors interpreted the roles, write the second half accordingly. Shepard left to work on another project, however, resulting in the second half of the film being written by Shepard remotely with notes sent by Wenders.[6]

Filmmaker Allison Anders worked as a production assistant on the film.[5]

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Title

The film is named for the Texas town of Paris, but no footage was shot there: filming largely took place in Fort Stockton and Marathon in the Trans-Pecos region of west Texas; and Nordheim, southeast of San Antonio. Instead, Paris is referred to as the location of a vacant lot owned by Travis that is seen in a photograph. His obsession with the town is based on the notion that he may have been conceived there. The photograph shows a desert landscape, although in reality Paris lies on the edge of the forests in Northeast Texas and the flat to gently-rolling humid farmland of the north-central part of that state, far from any desert. Paris, Texas, is mentioned on page 123 of W.H. Davies‘ cult classic The Autobiography of a Supertramp, 1908, a possible source for the title of the film.

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Style

Paris, Texas is notable for its images of the Texas landscape and climate. The first shot is a bird’s eye-view of the desert, a bleak, dry, alien landscape. Shots follow of old advertisement billboards, placards, graffiti, rusty iron carcasses, old railway lines, neon signs, motels, seemingly never-ending roads, and Los Angeles, finally culminating in some famous scenes shot outside a drive-through bank in Downtown Houston. The film’s production design was by Kate Altman. The cinematography is typical of Robby Müller‘s work, a long-time collaborator of Wim Wenders.

The film is accompanied by a slide-guitar score by Ry Cooder, based on Blind Willie Johnson‘s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground“.

Release

Paris, Texas was released in West Germany at the Hof, Internationale Filmtage on 24 October 1984.[1] It was distributed in West Germany by Filmverlag der Autoren GmbH & Co. Vertriebs KG.[1]

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Reception

After its premiere at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, the film went on to sweep the top prizes from all three juries at Cannes: the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) from the official jury, the FIPRESCI Prize, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[4]

It was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1985 and again in 2006 as part of the Sundance Collection category.[7]

The film also won the BAFTA Awards for Best Director and was nominated for Best Film and other categories.

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Paris, Texas currently has a score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, based on 28 reviews with an average rating of 8.3 out of 10.[8] Critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, particularly praising the performance of Hunter Carson.

Summarizing his review of the film, Ebert wrote “Paris, Texas is a movie with the kind of passion and willingness to experiment that was more common fifteen years ago than it is now. It has more links with films like Five Easy Pieces and Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy, than with the slick arcade games that are the box-office winners of the 1980s. It is true, deep, and brilliant.”[9]

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Newsweek referred to the film as “a story of the United States, a grim portrait of a land where people like Travis and Jane cannot put down roots, a story of a sprawling, powerful, richly endowed land where people can get desperately lost.”[10] Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, writing, “The film is wonderful and funny and full of real emotion as it details the means by which Travis and the boy become reconciled. Then it goes flying out the car window when father and son decide to take off for Texas in search of Jane.”[11]

The film has had an enduring legacy, where it has been a favorite film of critics like Guy Lodge of The Guardian.[12]

Musician/Writer Matt Selou believes there are many similarities to the film Harry and Tonto – especially with the protagonist trying to fly but for some reason having to turn back at the airport and taking a car for the long distance. There’s also the similarity of the young, new person in the protagonist’s life to seek out someone they hadn’t seen in years.

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In popular culture

  • Irish rock group U2 cite Paris, Texas as an inspiration for their album The Joshua Tree.[13]
  • Scottish bands Travis and Texas both took their names from this film.[14][15]
  • Musicians Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith said this was their favorite film of all time.[16]
  • Defunct instrumental rock band The Six Parts Seven used samples from the film at the beginning of the song “From California to Houston, on Lightspeed”. The song’s title is also an homage to the film.
  • Jane Henderson’s line “Yep, I know that feeling” is sampled on Primal Scream‘s 1991 album Screamadelica, at the end of the song “I’m Comin’ Down”; it is also repeated in the song “Space Angel Station” on the 1994 Drum Club album Drums Are Dangerous.
  • Dialogue from the film is sampled during the song “O.O.B.E.” on the album Live 93 by The Orb.
  • Dialogue “Do you think he still loves her? How would I know that Hunter? I think he does.” is sampled during the song “She Stands Up” on M83 by the band M83.
  • Travis Touchdown from the 2008 Grasshopper Manufacture video game No More Heroes is named after the main character.

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References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “Paris, Texas”. Filmportal.de. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  2. Jump up^ “Paris, Texas (35MM)”. Australian Classification Board. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  3. Jump up^ “Paris, Texas (1984) – Box Office Mojo”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b “Festival de Cannes: Paris, Texas”. Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b Anders, Allison; Wenders, Wim (9 September 2015). “Allison Anders (Grace of My Heart) Talks with Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas) for The Talkhouse Film Podcast”. The Talkhouse. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  6. Jump up^ Wenders, Wim. “Anchor Bay’s The Wim Wenders Collection; Paris, Texas; Wim Wenders DVD Commentary”. cineoutsider – Paris, Texas DVD Review.
  7. Jump up^ “2006 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films From the Sundance Collection” (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. 23 January 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  8. Jump up^ Paris, Texas at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. Jump up^ Ebert, Roger. “Paris, Texas,” Chicago Sun-Times (1 Jan. 1984). Archived on RogerEbert.com.
  10. Jump up^ “Paris, Texas Official Site”. Wim-wenders.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  11. Jump up^ Canby, Vincent (14 October 1984). “Movie Review: Paris Texas (1984) ‘Paris, Texas’ From Wim Wenders”. The New York Times. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  12. Jump up^ Lodge, Guy (27 April 2015). “My favourite Cannes winner: Paris, Texas”. The Guardian. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  13. Jump up^ Kelly, Nick (25 April 2009). “From the Lone Star State to outer space”. The Independent. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  14. Jump up^ Levine, Nick (12 March 2010). “Sharleen Spiteri”. Digital Spy. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  15. Jump up^ Graham, Polly (21 September 2007). “Paper, Scissors, Rock: The return of Travis”. Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  16. Jump up^ Phipps, Keith (2009-03-20) Paris, Texas: Better Late Than Never?, The A.V. Club

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External links

 

Film Collectors Corner

Watch Paris, Texas Now – Amazon Instant Video

 

Blu-Ray Copy
Criterion Collection

DVD Copy
Criterion Collection