My Gleanings

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Claude Chabrol American director thumbnails -- Dec 1955

I have previously posted a translation of the thumbnail critiques which Claude Chabrol contributed to the Dec63/Jan64 special American Cinema issue of Cahiers du Cinema. Eight years before, in December 1955, Cahiers had also published a special American Cinema issue. For that issue,Chabrol wrote thumbnail critiques of 25 directors, only three of whom he covered in the later special. Here are those three for anyone who might want to compare.

Robert Aldrich
(page 47)

The revelation of the year. His entrance into cinema owes less to "replacement" than to an imperious "get yourself from where I am putting myself" of a ball in a game of darts. One generation throws the other out vigorously, entering with a good deal of insolence, a little bit of bluff, a lot of talent and a great sincerity. After Apache and The Big Knife, one can no longer see in Zinneman or Kazan the brains of Hollywood. In Aldrich's universe, one breathes in the atomic air: of Jean Cocteau - Aldrich has a most lively sense of the realism which surges on the bounce when one no longer expects it to - and of Orson Welles - the loud and peremptory aesthetic every shot unforeseeable, defying the rules, every scene frustrating the classic adaptation. If Aldrich's characters are stylized, the framework where - for better or for worse - they breathe is contrived. Aldrich's plots cast into question the entire world and this world can die out: Kiss Me Deadly or The Big Knife or be reborn Apache, Vera Cruz. Aldrich can still bear the old world on his shoulders, put the new one in his pocket and forget it - World for Ransom. For this hefty Robert, direction is an Olympic game, his career makes one imagine a long-distance stock car race and roller derby combined. He is the most alive of all directors alive, the one in whose work you recognize the love of cinema and the pleasure of making it.

John Brahm (page 48)

On his good days, a drinker of intoxicating beer. Let's forget the bad and remember Hangover Square an absolutely maniacal film which strides alongside the ridiculous to arrive most quickly before the gates of paroxysm. Brahm inflicts on us, alas, still too many like The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima and then, one fine day, out of the blue. . .

Edward Dmytryk (page 50)

A director without well-defined political opinions. A kind of a unity appears in his work, nevertheless: that of a heavy and sometimes striking style in the German mode. He does not seem to enormously interest himself in the quality of the subjects which he treats and his work lapses into anonymity. His talent is real, however - the title sequence in the rain of The End of the Affair. But all things pass along as though he were not capable of using them.