The Devil and Miss Jones. This will set your blood boiling and your pulse searing, but those symptoms ain't eroticism--one's reaction is closer to severe moral confusion at this graphic, phallus-worshipping, degrading film. Georgia Spelvin plays the lead role, but the real "stars" are the penises and vaginas which fill the screen: the only way not to die of boredom is to imagine them as the new actors and actresses of the future, personified, with tiny little faces which are kinda cute and even vaguely expressive. Except for this puppet show element, The Devil and Miss Jones is no more than snakes, bananas, and--if you've seen hard-core before--a reaction of strange and unsettling tumultuousness. A dollar and a half; "for Harvard students only," the notice says.
The Blue Angel. Perfect to contrast to the above. One of the most sensuous movies ever made. You can't hurry this picture--you have to let its pace wash over you slowly, and feel the real, physical undercurrent beneath the stern languor. Set in decadent cabaret Weimar; made in 1930 by Joseph von Sternburg. With Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings.
Topper. A couple of decadent ghosts (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett-- who is disqustingly cutesie here) try to loosen up a stodgy and henpecked banker (Roland Young, well-cast). We are supposed to sympathize with the decadent ones and think that they've found the only way to live: the only trouble is that their idea of living is more than having harmless drunken fun--they're selfish and cruel and irresponsible throughout. This is a thirties high society movie that you just can't pardon. It isn't even very witty. With Billie Burke, the Good Witch in Oz, as Youngs's puritanical wife. Hal Roach produced this in 1937; directed by Norman Macleod.
Lawrence of Arabia was a lot of people's favorite movie when they were are kid (for boys especially, since there are no women in the film, although some girls might have had a weakness for Peter O'Toole's blue eyes--the effect heightened by eyedrops--at that age), and a second look is disillusioning. The desert looks phony (even though shot on location), and in re-release the picture was cut mercilessly. Omar Sharif is probably the biggest deadhead in screen history, too. Made by David Lean over several years with a great deal of money, and brought out in 1962 when it won a host of Oscars.
Boston Film Festival. A very respectable series, including too many films to list here. The highlight is perhaps Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien, a new film about French collaboration during World War II. But also Attica, a Laughton film, a DeBroca film, Max von Sydow as Steppenwolf, a Boorman film, Monty Python, and the new Bunuel. Call the Orson Welles for the schedule.
Chinatown. I reserve judgment on this controversial picture until I see it again under competent circumstances. But Polanski seemed cold and showy in this movie, and to cut off possibilities for making points by creating character so self-interested and manipulative that they never even hint at what they really feel.
Pine Ridge. A film about policy struggle in a Chinese village. From the People's Republic.