Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 3. 1971
Destruction of self, of soul: complete and utter desolation of character: piteous men competing for freedom under their own lightly circumcised horizons, wit and banal banter, desperately calling on their conditions to love, to have loved, and to be loved. Marl Crowley's boys are terrifyingly real, and after a play that ran a millenia of seasons on [unclear: Brandway]. toured around the world appeared in an Australian version, they are seen in. William Friedkin's film version, politely vile, and most desperately wishing to communicate their self-same destruction with us.
Oh it's a deplorable stale of affairs having to battle with one's emotions for two hours of sexual case histories, blared out with all the venomous energy of a psychosomatic brain/crutch delousing.
You don't wish to communicate with anyone, least yourself after it. Virginia Woolf with Albee's original intentions may spring to mind and also Herbert's Fortune and Men's Eyes, (a far superior work with none of the classy illusionary bullshit that swathes the film in its 40-Hollywood references. Tennesse Williams, and naturally O'Herlihy's cowboy). Boys is deliberately self-conscious in that it strips down to each's persona before your own eyes and this becomes wearisome, and by turn, embarrassing.page break
Each boy is the archtype of the homosexual: the bitch, the lover, the bi-, the don't-mention-that-school-friend-of-mincto-my-wife-sort, the hustler, etc., all perfectly gifted, as only Crowley knows how to give it to you straight.
Jokes flow out of its tinted loveliness like poor Preston Sturge's honest bravura bellyaches, but even they soar over-head, and miss most people.
All the great spitting 'fucks' and 'cunts' have been removed by our very kiwi-beer swilling-one-of-the-boys censor, and the first two reels are a nightmare of splicing gone hairily awry.
I find it of no real importance to mention every one of the boys, except, as can be expected their performances are what one expects from such a gifted band.
Peter White as Alan, host Michael's some-time friend, is the only one whose salvation keeps him from breaking down completely. When Michael breaks down terrifyingly at the end, Alan's comforting of him seems to have broken the barrier of his tormentable tongue, but he retaliates nastily. It is an equally revolting conclusion to the film proper.
The film starts with Cole Porter's Anything Goes, showing all the boys doing things in the New York streets. Emory mincing, and Alan engaged in a little fantasy with the young owner of a car port; it seems to suggest that. Friedkin may be enhancing the cloistered arena-to-come for a while.
But once the exteriors are finished with, theatricalities take over. Friedkin showed exemplary cleverness with The Night They Raided Minskys, and his Pinter film. The Birthday Party, by reviews, seems to have worked both ways.
Even Chabrol (one of the few contemporary directors who can make a room out-dimensionalise the camera's movements) would have found difficulty with the so marked labelling of entrance of A, neuroses of M, hysteria and bitching between A and G. Mr. Cukor should have directed it, with his The Women, praised for its magnificent artificiality working within the structure of interiors.
It's powerful, and it engages our sympathy and disgust, and it lasts in the memory, but it should have gone ahead, without preliminaries. And such quotable lines, which I will not bother to repeat.
Otto Preminger's latest work. Tell Me That You Love Me Junie MOOn (CIC) has been "turned down" by Kerridge, Amalgamated and Independant Distributor for reasons only known by them, and it was with the most enervating satisfaction that a screening of this distrubing film was arranged.
Preminger, (whose career and output is at times equal to the banality of his style) seems to have discarded the past, or that part of his creative career that has unfortunately been so unrefined, unsensitive and at times downright disgusting. Junie Moon, which has just opened in London, is an intimate portrait of three physically sick people, who have left a hospital and set themselves up in a rotten old shack in a little American town. The girl, Junie Moon (Liza Minnelli) is scarred by a sadish lover, who makes her strip in a cemetery, grovel like a dog, and pours battery acid over her face. (Most of the cemetery scene has been removed, naturally, by the censor - thus making much of that to follow completely incomprehensible; in toto 180 feet has been excised!) The two cripples, one an epileptic (Ken Howard), the other a wheelchaired homosexual (Robert Moore) plus our Junie, the most piteous three-some that I have seen for a long while. Most amazingly they don't realy give a damn about us, in the way they share their wounded bodies, minds and underthings. In fact the emotional level of this film is centred around their complete acceptance of the other.
In a borrowed van from their only friend, a fisherman, they journey to a luxury hotel resort; the cripple is treated to a negro's services by being piggybacked everywhere and is later to make-it (as it were) with a pretty negro lady on a beach; these scenes reminded me of Losey's Secret Ceremony, if only for their apparition of happiness soon to end. Boris Kauffman's magnificantly deep-toned colour, and Preminger's use of the Ford-size-of-lenses give superb definition. I cannot believe that any of you won't see this film. Negotiations are under way to get it for Film Societies only (could the cuts be re-instated?) and it is only the start to get several worthwhile films shown, which otherwise would never been seen: Bye Bye Braverman. Sidney Lumet's jewish comedy, Paul Almond's terrifying Isabel, and not to mention Peter Bogdanovich's Targets, and John Korty's Riverrun. Meanwhile, Junie Moon is a significant, and really heartrending film, and why people are scared of it, is like asking Mr. McIntosh why he banned Preminger's petite rien Skiddo in 1969, I suppose.
H.G. Clouzot's Diabolique (1955) has been reissued by New Zealand Film Services; and aged rather mystiyingly. For some it will be an old classic rechurning, but even they, I fear, will wonder why it seemed so daring in those days. With cardboard-like lethargy, yanky-dubbing, and atrociously stiff, if not embalmed performances, the whole thing is so boring. Still the finale sends shivers up the usual places, and if the guesser having guessed correctly finds himself dozing off, none could be any wiser. Pity about this.
Remarkable too that Monsieur Chabrol's Les Cousins (1959 which Film Soc, mercifully have) is obviously more rooted in the cinematic idiom (I have not seen it yet), because Chabrol has been making possibly some of the greatest psychologically-disturbing cinema of late.
Pierre Etaix La Grande Amour, his latest work, minus one (As Long As You're Healthy..) after Yoyo, is in ripe colour, quaintly Chaplinesque, but rather indulgent in a detached sort of way: the us al batch of hilarious dialogueless scenes, and embarrassed situations which he is so fond of. Etaix is facially stiff, and rather saddening. Escargot-paced farce for narcissistic comiques, eh?
Under negotiation at this very moment, NZFS are trying to purchase Jean-Luc Godard's black-power-porno-Stones at work etc., ode Sympathy For the Devil (One Plus One) Producer's version from Australia. A very successful season in both Sydney and Melbourne, and a little bit of diggerydoodling has made this possible. Some censorship trouble (naturally) and it is worth keeping what one values most crossed to see that this important film will be on our commercial screens soon.
Meanwhile I suggest you join a Film Society, any one wilt do, because it is becoming increasingly important that only there will you see films that ordinarily would not be seen. It is hoped that film companies, as a result of fantastic response to this year's programme, will consider releasing films of dubious importance, cuts re-instated, and films that have been banned because no-one knows what the hell the cinema is up to, e.g. Performance, and Cover Me Babe.
I hope to write on Performance very shortly; it is one film that when seen, I believe, will ruin your chances as a human being for life!
Rush rush to see Elia Kazan's overdue The Arrangement, and Sam Peckinpah's wistful Ballad of Cable Hogue if you know what's good for you.