Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Guy Said, 'Your Taste is in Your Mouth'

Trembling with excitement yesterday anticipating an evening watching a much-praised movie with friends on friends' Great Wall o' TV as I like to call it, though not in its presence because if I piss it off it looks powerful enough to fry me with microwaves at a hundred yards.

The classic in question was The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp, which Miz Gayle had procured because it was Michael Powell handiwork, and she was up to what cinephiles are always up to, that is, working through the oeuvre of the masters.

Now I had seen the damn thing back in grad school days but had a kind of amnesia about it, remembering only the principal actor and his gravelly voice. I just assumed I had been stunned with wonder at the time, which explained the fact my memory of the film was a circle around a vacancy.

So down we sat and within I'd say five minutes we were aware we were in for an evening of sociology. That is, the movie seemed kind of bad in terms of crisp, clear plotting and character motivation -- nice technicolor, though -- but it certainly did encourage us to engage in a bit of reverse engineering as we tried to figure out why the Brits made this movie right in the middle of War World II, when things were still in doubt.

(Released 1943, so probably made early that year or even in 1942, just when the Yanks started coming?)

The argument *seemed to be* that there were some good Germans, at least the ones who fled the country as the Nazis gained power -- though some who claimed that category were probably spies, so watch out -- and more to the point the British needed to fight dirty or at least fight sneaky to win the war because THE BRITISH YOU KNOW ARE JUST SO KIND AND FAIR.

So you wonderful old farts, get with the program.

It was kind of fun as a study of the limits propaganda places on art in a democracy in time of war against that great luxury in an opponent, to wit absolute evil -- though look at how brilliant wartime propaganda can be, as in Casablanca -- and Deborah Kerr played three separate parts spread over 40 years, women who looked exactly alike but weren't even related, but Miz Gayle said it probably meant she was a kind of placeholder, the ideal of British womanhood, which from one point of view suggested to a certain kind of British man women of a certain cast of face and mind were pretty much interchangeable.

Good job, Gayle. The active mind creates meaning, not un-Sibyl-like, and finds the fun.

We agreed it was maybe * or 1.5* out of five. And then I find this at wikipedia.
Maybe they sent us the outtakes???????

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