Sunday, July 01, 2007

Time Capsule: Durgnat, S&S, '82

Was going through some files and just came across the 1982 Sight & Sound list (the one for the year of my birth), broken down by critic--here are the titles chosen by Raymond Durgnat, who had one of the most idiosyncratic lists (as one would expect):

The Big Night (Joseph Losey, 1951)
Blonde Venus (Josef von Sternberg, 1932)
Chinese Checkers (Stephen Dwoskin, 1964)
Dom (Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, 1958)
Fellini-Satyricon (Federico Fellini, 1969)
The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (Roy Rowland, 1953)
Le Mystère Koumiko (Chris Marker, 1965)
Ruby Gentry (King Vidor, 1952)
Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)
Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 1968)

"How painful to pass over true friends like Renoir and Franju, Groucho and Kong, who saw me through from infancy to early middle age. Whatever this list suggests, my soul remains a 30s baby's, born of poetic realism and the magic realms around it--of, let's say, Next of Kin and Les Enfants du Paradis, of Hellzapoppin' and Senza pietà ..."

Of the above list, I've only seen the Sternberg, Fellini, and Dreyer (and some of Yellow Submarine) ... better get crackin'.


girish said...

The same 3 (Sternberg, Fellini and Dreyer) for me as well. I have 5000 Fingers and mean to watch it soon; and I realized the other day that the Vidor is netflixable.

Anonymous said...

The Big Night is pretty good, my favorite american Losey.

Ruby Gentry is just wonderful, post-war Vidor at its best and most expressive, a real great pick.

Anonymous said...

I actually was able to see 5000 Fingers of Dr. T theatrically in the late 70s. Did you know it was written by another doctor, named Suess? I caught Ruby Gentry at a MoMA retrospective of Vidor, which Donald Ritchie would not allow Japanese War Bride to be included. I use to love reading Durgnat, who opened my eyes to a bunch of films.

ZC said...

I've been meaning to get to Ruby Gentry for years, just haven't actually done it. (I've known Durgnat was a fan of it, of Vidor, and of Jennifer Jones for a long time.)

And indeed I knew that Dr. T. (5000 Fingers Of, not the one with the Women) was a Seussian concotion ...

Peter, do you no longer love reading Durgnat, or did you mean that the intensity of the eye-opening was for a previous part of your life?

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I was reading Durgnat back when he was alive, and I was studying film at NYU. I may have started to read him before then as I had discovered the British film magazines (Sight & Sound, Films and Filming, Movie) while I was a Junior in high school. I stopped reading the film magazines of any kind of regular basis after I left NYC in 1977.

By the way, I hope you don't mind, but I tagged you a couple of days ago. Not that you are obliged to respond.

ZC said...

Ah! I glimpsed that great video box (Tag: The Assassination Game) on your site and hastily thought you did a review of a little-known '80s action movie. (Probably scouting the Internets for something else at the time, I filed it away and surfed on.) Thanks so much for the tag, it's very flattering. I'll do my own soon.

And thanks for clarifying re: Durgnat. He died just as I was starting to get into some of his stuff.

Anonymous said...

In his article on Durgnat in May-June 1973 issue of Film Comment, Jonathan Rosenbaum recounts Durgnat's top ten list from 1969:

Quai des Brumes
La Ronde
Miracle in Milan
Duel in the Sun
The Saga of Anatahan
Alegretto (Oskar Fischinger)
Duck Soup
The Thief of Bagdad (Powell)
French Cancan

Interesting (but hardly surprising) that only a single movie from this list had survived the test of time and reoccured on his 1982 "hit parade".

ZC said...

Dmitry, thanks, I knew I'd seen that earlier list and was trying to find it online (but yet to no avail). My impression is that he was still a big fan of a lot of the films he had earlier championed.

Wasn't it with that '69 top ten list that he also listed ten favorite directors, one of whom was Tony Conrad? That's part of why Durgnat & his eclecticism are so likable--whenever he stands up for B-movies or middlebrow cinema, he's not doing it out of philistinism or misguided "populism," because he'll just as readily stand up for flicker films, for Stephen Dwoskin, for all sorts of really difficult and comparatively obscure names too ...

Anonymous said...

You have a remarkable memory. Here are Durgnat's ten favorite directors circa 1969:

Len Lye
Norman McLaren
Tex Avery
King Vidor
Tony Conrad

ZC said...

Thanks again, Dmitry!

My memory is only remarkable for occasional stray trivia (alas).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this list. It made me seek Le Mystére Koumiko and that was great.

Clenbuterol said...

I didn't hear about these films but I also want to be in the theme, so I'll watch them if I find