A blog formerly known as Bookishness
By Charles Matthews"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Foreign Correspondent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)
*Hitchcock's American stay was much criticized in Britain, although he didn't become a citizen of the United States until 1955. His absence from Britain, especially during the war, may be one reason why, even though he retained dual citizenship, he was not knighted by Queen Elizabeth II until the year of his death, 1980. In 1943 and early 1944, partly in response to the criticism, he went to Britain to make two short propaganda films for the British Ministry of Information. Both of them, Aventure Malgache and Bon Voyage, were in French and were designed to be shown to the Free French forces as morale boosters for the Resistance, although whether they were actually released as such is unclear. After the war they disappeared into the British National Archives and were not rediscovered until the 1990s, when Hitchcock scholars retrieved them for public showing and video release. The story of Aventure Malgache is framed by a group of actors putting on their makeup. One of them remarks on how much another of the group resembles a Vichy official he knew when he was in the Resistance on Madagascar. The official had the actor imprisoned, but after the Vichy government was ousted by the Battle of Madagascar in 1942, the official hid his portrait of Pétain, hung a portrait of Queen Victoria, and stuck his bottle of Vichy water in a cabinet -- perhaps an echo of Claude Rains's dropping the Vichy bottle in a wastebasket in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942). Bon Voyage is a more complex narrative about an RAF pilot who is shot down in France and is aided in his return to Britain by the Resistance -- or so he thinks. When he reaches London he learns that the supposed Resistance man was actually a German counter-spy using him to unmask real members of the Resistance. Neither film is first-rate, though both, especially the unreliable narrative of Bon Voyage, show the sure-handedness of an experienced director.