Category Archives: fiction

RIP Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009)

RIP Simon Vinkenoog, 80, Dutch poet and writer.

Vinkenoog with Spinvis in a totally Fela Kuti-esque track

Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009) was a Dutch poet and writer. He was instrumental in launching the Dutch “Fifties Movement“.

In the Anglosphere Vinkenoog’s name is associated with the Albert Hall poetry event (and the film Wholly Communion) and his connection with IT magazine.

He was one of the Néerlandophone beat writers. The same cultural climate that begot the beat writers in the United States engendered European counterparts.

These countercultures must be looked for in two spheres, the sphere of European counterculture and the sphere of European avant-garde.

In France this was the Letterist International, in Germany perhaps Gruppe 47; visually and on a European scale there was COBRA.

Vinkenoog was born in the same year as Andy Warhol, Serge Gainsbourg, Jeanne Moreau, Nicolas Roeg, Guy Bourdin, Luigi Colani, Stanley Kubrick, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, William Klein, Roger Vadim, Yves Klein, Jacques Rivette, Alvin Toffler, Ennio Morricone and Oswalt Kolle.

“Gradiva” by Alain Robbe-Grillet out on DVD

http://mondomacabrodvd.blogspot.com/2009/06/gradiva-cover-art-stills-nsfw.html Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Still from Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

The good people at Mondo Macabro[1] are releasing Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle), the last film by French master-erotomaniac Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Monell points out in a recent post [2].

C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle (2006) is a French language film by Alain Robbe-Grillet starring: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo. It premiered at the 2006 Venice film festival on September 8 and in French cinemas on May 9 of 2007.

The film, Grillet’s last, is a Franco-Belgian production loosely based on Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy by Wilhelm Jensen. The setting has been updated to modern times, at least, no earlier than the 1970s, based on vehicles and appliances seen in the film. It begins with an English art historian named John Locke is doing research in Morocco on the paintings and drawings that French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) produced when he spent time in that country (back then, a French colony) more than a century before. Locke spots a beautiful, mysterious blonde girl (Gradiva, of course) in flowing robes dashing through the back alleys of Marrakech, and becomes consumed with the need to track her down. Like most of Robbe-Grillet’s cinematic output, this film is highly surrealistic and also involves a surprisingly explicit amount of “sex slave” nudity and S&M, although it is a serious film and not just softcore fluff.

Some of the film’s prehistory.

via gutenberg.spiegel.de Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy

A Pompeiian Fancy is a novel by Wilhelm Jensen published by in German as Ein pompejanisches Phantasiestuck (Dresden and Leipzig: Carl Reissner) in 1903.

The story is about an archaeologist named Norbert Hanhold who holds a fascination for a woman depicted in a relief that he sees in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Hanhold later dreams that he has been transported back in time to meet the girl, whose unusual gait captivates him as he imagines her walking on the stepping stones that cross the roads in Pompeii while the hot ashes subsume the city in 79 AD.

via www.greeninteger.com

Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva (1907) is an essay by Sigmund Freud that analyzes the novel Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen from a psychoanalytical point of view.

After that, Gravida became a favourite of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí used the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife, Gala Dalí. He used the figure of Gradiva in a number of his paintings, including Gradiva encuentra las ruinas de Antropomorphos (Gradiva finds the ruins of Antropomorphos)[3]. The figure Gradiva was used in other Surrealist paintings as well. Gradiva (Metamorphosis of Gradiva)[4], 1939, by André Masson explores the sexual iconography of the character.

In 1937 the Surrealist wirter Andre Breton opened an art gallery on the Left Bank, 31 rue de Seine, christening it with the title: Gradiva. Marcel Duchamp designed it, giving its door the form of a double cast shadow.

via upload.wikimedia.org Gradiva

Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais

Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais

Friar John and  Panurge give the Blason and contreblason du couillon  by  Rabelais

As I noted in a previous post[1] on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.

There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.

The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced ApuleiusThe Golden Ass, PetroniusSatyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.

Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit[2] (1535) by Clément Marot.

Rabelais‘s blason and contreblason du couillon (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock(s)) respectively sing the praise and disparagement of the male testicles. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.

These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and content-wise liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.

The c. is short for couillons (bollocks).

Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives):

Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
Manual C. Partitional C.
Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
full blason here

Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
full counterblason here

As I noted in a previous post[1] on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.

There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.

The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced ApuleiusThe Golden Ass, PetroniusSatyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.

Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit[2] (1535) by Clément Marot.

Rabelais‘s Blason and contreblason du couillons (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock) are two blasons which are featured in the Third Book of Gargantua and Pantagruel. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.

These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and essential liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.

Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives)::

Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
Manual C. Partitional C.
Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
full blason here

Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
full counterblason here

Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis

Introducing Le Comte de Gabalis

Sourced via pierrepainblanc

I’ve just spent a good deal of hours researching Comte de Gabalis, a quest prompted by a new release on Creation BooksCreation Oneiros imprint and the reference I found there to occult fiction. Wikipedia has no entry on occult fiction but Googling them did bring up Gabalis.

I am not that a big a fan of occultism except when I find it represented in fiction, such as supernatural horror or le fantastique.

A recap of what I found:

The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars, first published anonymously in 1670. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus‘s four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology by the Gale Group notes that the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.

David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist. Oil on canvas. 44 x 58.5 cm. Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence, Italy.  Comte de Gabalis The Comte De Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus’s four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant.  It was anonymously published in 1670 under the title: “Comte De Gabalis.”  The meaning suggests the Count of the Cabala as the text is cabalistic in nature.  The “Holy Cabala” is mentioned explicitly throughout. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology by the Gale Group notes that  the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.

David Teniers the Younger. The Alchemist

It was also very pleasant to find and wikify elements in fiction:

Shakespeare‘s plays abound in elemental beings including Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ariel in The Tempest. Alexander Pope was influenced by the Comte de Gabalis in his Rosicrucian poem “Rape of the Lock.” Sylphs have been the favorites of the bards. The “Mahābhārata” is full of stories about beings of the elements and their heroic offspring with their human partners. Similar themes and references are found in Homer‘s The Iliad and The Odyssey in which the elemental beings appear as gods and goddesses such as the mighty Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, and Achilles, son of a mortal man and the goddess Nymph Thetis (see The Iliad by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1990). German writer Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué wrote about a beautiful water-nymph, “Undine,” and Sir Walter Scott endowed the White Lady of Avenel with many of the attributes of the nymphs. Other works or characters influenced include Lord Lytton‘s Zanoni, James Barrie‘s Tinker Bell; and the bowlers Rip Van Winkle encountered in the Catskill Mountains. The story of Melusina is based on the historical marriage of a gentleman and a water nymph. Charles Mackay, father of Marie Corelli, wrote “Salamandrine,” a poem about a great love between a human and a female salamander. Cabalism, in general, influenced many Mediaeval poems as well as the writings of Dante.

The most interesting aspect of The Comte De Gabalis is the sexual union of gods and mortals. I like half creatures and I like the sexual part of it. It was the work of the minor British publisher of  anthropologica Robert H. Fryar who most clearly brought this link to my attention by reprinting in the late 19th century the Comte de Gabalis with its tale of the immortalization of elementals through sexual intercourse with men and supplementing the work with long citations from the recently discovered Demoniality Or Incubi and Succubi[1], an eighteenth-century work by Father Sinistrari on the dangers of incubi and succubi.

Carlo Jacono @80 and Italian exploitation

Carlo Jacono @80 and Italian exploitation

Segretissimo n° 75 (art cover by Carlo Jacono)

An Italian translation of Malory by American author James Hadley Chase

Cover design by Carlo Jacono

Carlo Jacono (March 17, 1929June 7, 2000) was an Italian illustrator detective novel covers and regular contributor to Mondadori’s gialli and Urania magazine.

A digression into Italian exploitation.

My interest in regional exploitation or pulp culture is that what it tells about the region where it is produced. I am searching for national stereotypes by way of their exploitation culture; regional stereotypes deduced from regional fears and desires (horror and eroticism).

Italian exploitation culture is literature and films in the “low culture” tradition originating from Italy, cultural products which address the prurient interests of its audience. A quick glance at Italian society on the one hand, which its firm anchor in puritan Christianity, and its abundance on the other hand of graphic exploitation material, quickly reveals its double standards.

In print culture there has been giallo fiction, quickly followed by adult comics, the so-called fumetti neri.

But the nature of Italian prurience is most readily revealed in Italian cinema. Genres such as cannibal films, Italian erotica, Italian horror films, giallo films, mondo films, il sexy, spaghetti westerns, sword and sandal films all went a tad further than contemporary products of European exploitation.

Had it not for the world wide web, these maligned genres would probably not have been so widely known, but if you prefer reading books to the internet, here is a list of publications on European exploitation you may enjoy.

Carl Theodor Dreyer @110

Carl Theodor Dreyer, Danish film director (18891968)

Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer) by hipecac

Most iconic image of Dreyer’s career, from Vampyr

 by nequest

Second most iconic image of Dreyer’s career, from Vampyr

Still from The Passion of Joan of Arc

Still from The Passion of Joan of Arc

Carl Theodor Dreyer (February 3, 1889March 20, 1968) was a Danish film director. He is regarded as one of the greatest directors in cinema. Although his career spanned the 1910s through the 1960s, his meticulousness, dictatorial methods, idiosyncratic shooting style, and stubborn devotion to his art ensured that his output remained low. In spite of this, he is an icon in the world of art film.

At the same time he produced work which is of interest to film lovers with sensational inclinations, which merits his placement in the nobrow canon.

Thus, we tend to remember best of his oeuvre films such as Vampyr (a vampire film) and The Passion of Joan of Arc (for its execution by burning scene).

The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc is a silent film produced in France in 1928. It is based on the trial records of Joan of Arc. The film stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti and Antonin Artaud.

Though made in the late 1920s (and therefore without the assistance of computer graphics), includes a relatively graphic and realistic treatment of Jeanne‘s execution by burning. The film stars Antonin Artaud. The film was banned in Britain for its portrayal of crude English soldiers who mock and torment Joan in scenes that mirror biblical accounts of Christ’s mocking at the hands of Roman soldiers.

Scenes from Passion appear in Jean-Luc Godard‘s Vivre sa Vie (1962), in which the protagonist Nana sees the film at a cinema and identifies with Joan. In Henry & June Henry Miller is shown watching the last scenes of the film and in voice-over narrates a letter to Anaïs Nin comparing her to Joan and himself to the “mad monk” character played by Antonin Artaud.

Vampyr

Vampyr is a French-German film released in 1932. An art film, it is short on dialogue and plot, and is admired today for its innovative use of light and shadow. Dreyer achieved some of these effects through using a fine gauze filter in front of the camera lens to make characters and objects appear hazy and indistinct, as though glimpsed in a dream.

The film, produced in 1930 but not released until 1932, was originally regarded as an artistic failure. It got shortened by distributors, who also added narration. This left Dreyer deeply depressed, and a decade passed before he able to direct another feature film, Day of Wrath.

Film critics have noted that the appearance of the vampire hunting professor in Roman Polanski‘s film The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) is inspired by the Village doctor played in Vampyr. The plot is credited to J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s collection In a Glass Darkly, which includes the vampire novella Carmilla, although, as Timothy Sullivan has argued, its departures from the source are more striking than its similarities.

Vampyr shows the obvious influence of Symbolist imagery; parts of the film resemble tableau vivant re-creations of the early paintings of Edvard Munch.

Vampyr and The Passion of Joan of Arc are World Cinema Classics #83 and 84.

RIP Donald Westlake

The Black Ice Score

A Gold Medal Books original by Westlake under the name Stark.

Donald Edwin Westlake (12 July 1933 in Brooklyn, New York31 December 2008 in Mexico) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers with an occasional foray into science fiction. He created the psychopathic fictional character Parker.

lee marvin - ‘point blank’ by mr. diazzler

Film still from Point Blank

Outside of the world of literature he is perhaps best-known for the film adaptation of his novel The Hunter as Point Blank in 1967 with Lee Marvin. The Hunter was written by Donald E. Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark. The plot concerns a criminal, Parker (or Walker in Point Blank), who is himself betrayed, shot, and left for dead by his partner, and his relentless pursuit to retrieve his money and wreak revenge.
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPKL3KHE–I]
Jean-Luc Godard‘s Made in USA (1966) which was an extremely loose adaptation of “The Jugger,” a novel by Westlake. Neither the film’s producer nor Godard purchased the rights to the novel, so Westlake successfully sued to prevent the film’s commercial distribution in the United States.

What the Butler Saw

I have received questions about the signification of What the Butler Saw in my post on the Düsseldorf erotic art exposition [1].

I’ve introduced two fictional characters on this blog. One has been rather active, Sholem Stein[2], another, Waloli has only done three posts[3]. The butler may be third character (although the only character I now feel comfortable with – in terms of what kind of message he can bring – is Sholem Stein.

But I sometimes feel it’s easier to express things in the third person, like Facebook invites you to do in their status updates.

What the butler saw

The butler is the voyeur, the ultimate peeping tom, the man who sees everything but whose duty it is to remain silent. Silence is golden, remember?

As for the encylopedic stuff:

What the Butler Saw first referred to an early mutoscope softcore series of erotic films.

Mutoscopes were a popular feature of amusement arcades and pleasure piers from the 1890s until the mid-20th century. The typical arcade installation included multiple machines offering a mixture of fare. Both in the early days and during the revival, that mixture usually included “girlie” reels which ran the gamut from risqué to outright soft-core pornography. It was, however, common for these reels to have suggestive titles that implied more than the reel actually delivered. The title of one such reel, What the Butler Saw, became a byword, and Mutoscopes are commonly known in England as “What-the-Butler-Saw machines.” (What the butler saw, presumably through a keyhole, was a woman partially disrobing.)

What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton

English playwright Joe Orton appropriated the title What the Butler Saw to make a theatrical farce of the same name, first staged in London on 5 March 1969. Cinema-goers recognised situations used by Orton’s contemporaries, the Carry On comedians of the late 1960s. For example, Carry On Doctor was showing whilst the play was being written in 1967.

What the Swedish Butler Saw

An early 1970s reference is the title of the film What the Swedish Butler Saw, also known as Champagnegalopp, a Swedish film from 1975 directed by Vernon P. Becker. The story is based on the Victorian anonymous novel The Way of a Man with a Maid. This sex comedy, in English known as What the Swedish Butler Saw or Confessions of a Swedish Butler, the film starred Ole Søltoft and Diana Dors.

Peepint Gom

As of the 2000s, the expression What the Butler Saw has functioned as a byword for voyeurism in general, much like peeping tom before it.

A lovely surprise. I am spinning at a party, so it seems. Dear me.

Jahsonic

RIP Ann Savage (1921 – 2008)

RIP American actress Ann Savage at age 87, best-known for her iconic bad girl role in Detour.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFXQqEoNofA]

Ann Savage discusses Detour

Ann Savage (19212008) is mainly remembered as the cigarette-puffing femme fatale in Detour (1945) and other Hollywood B-movies and film noirs of the 1940s.

When it became public domain, Detour was often run on syndicated television and several versions were released on VHS home video. Although made on a small budget and containing only rudimentary sets and camera work, the film has garnered substantial praise through the years and is held in high regard. Director Wim Wenders called her work in Detour “at least 15 years ahead of its time”. The film’s ending is notable as an exemplum of involuntary manslaughter.

Ann most recently earned rave reviews in all media for her stunning performance as Canadian director Guy Maddin‘s mother in his most acclaimed film My Winnipeg (2008).

RIP Harold Pinter (1930 – 2008)

Harold Pinter is dead @78

Harold Pinter (1930 – 2008) is the man I know from his auctorial descriptive Pinteresque, his connection to the Theatre of the Absurd and his screenplay work on other writers’ novels, such as The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1970), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1980), and especially The Comfort of Strangers[1][2] (1990), one of the more devastating film experiences of the eighties.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjdKxVFd_K8]

The Comfort of Strangers

Outside of theatre, Pinter’s most popular lemma is the title of his play The Birthday Party, which survives to this day as Nick Cave‘s band The Birthday Party.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5I2vEcVC_I&]

“Nick The Stripper” (1981) by The Birthday Party

Theatre of the Absurd

Harold Pinter is a defining playwright of the 1962-coined Theatre of the Absurd theatrical movement along with French Eugène Ionesco, British Samuel Beckett, French Jean Genet, and Russian Arthur Adamov. The movement’s avant-la-lettre predecessors include Alfred Jarry, Luigi Pirandello, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Guillaume Apollinaire, and the Surrealists. Other playwrights associated are Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Fernando Arrabal and Edward Albee.

Pinteresque

I don’t know what to think of Pinteresque. I feel as if Pinter and Buñuel share a set of the same sensibilities but I wonder. If one does a Celebrity Deathmatch between Pinteresque[3] and Buñuelian[4], Pinter wins with 19000+ vs 6000+ for Bunuel. Which is a pity, because I find Buñuelian absurdism a fuller experience than the Pinteresque, Buñuel manages to add spiritualism, humor and sensuality to his work whereas Pinter seems to bog down in kitchen-sink-naturalism. But Pinteresque is clearly the winner here, with Wikipedia defining Pinteresque in their separate article characteristics of Harold Pinter’s work and clearly no Buñuelian counterpart.

The Pinter pause

Another interesting aspect of Pinter’s work is his use of pauses, typographically represented by ellipses. Pinter uses it to such an extent that it has gained fame as the “Pinter pause“, a theatrical technique used for example to great effect in the water dripping faucet seduction scene in The Servant (1963).

The following exchange between Aston and Davies in The Caretaker is typical of the Pinter pause:

ASTON. More or less exactly what you…
DAVIES. That’s it … that’s what I’m getting at is … I mean, what sort of jobs … (Pause.)
ASTON. Well, there’s things like the stairs … and the … the bells …
DAVIES. But it’d be a matter … wouldn’t it … it’d be a matter of a broom … isn’t it?

Still, I prefer my ellipses by Céline (although he shares Pinter’s pessimism), who famously used them in Death on the Installment Plan in 1936, and which then became his trademark style, giving innovative, chaotic, and antiheroic visions of human suffering. In Death on the Installment Plan, he extensively uses ellipses scattered all throughout the text to enhance the rhythm and to emphasise the style of speech.

An example of Céline’s ellipses:

“So I start moseying down the Boulevard Sebastopol, then the rue de Rivoli . . . I’ve kind of lost track. It’s so stifling you can hardly move . . . I drag myself through the arcades . . . along the shop fronts . . . “How about the Bois de Boulogne!” I says to myself . . . I kept on walking quite a while . . . But it was getting to be unbearable . . . unbearable . . . When I see the gates of the Tuileries, I turn off … across the street and into the gardens . . . There was a hell of a crowd already.” —Death on the Installment Plan