November 28th, 2009

An evening at Fancast:
Night People in Paris, Texas

Posted in Movies by ed

Saw three remarkable films last night on Fancast, the Poor Man’s Friend.


1. The Elephant Man. Magnificent again.

Brings to mind Dwight Gooden’s glorious rookie year, in that David Lynch never made a better film, although great things did follow.


Gorgeous black & white — in 1980. BEFORE Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise. I had transposed the two in memory.

Had the last American feature distributed (just barely) in b&w been Faces by Cassavetes in 1968?

People who know their movies probably know.


Anthony Hopkins here became a film star.

And John Hurt, hidden behind the hideous mask, yet so there, won the British oscar, and it seems perhaps a squeeze of Charlotte Rampling.


Hurt went on to be Winston in Michael Radford’s 1984, four years later.

Two milestones to be proud of.

Or three, counting Charlotte.



2. Mister 880. 1950.

Young buck Burt Lancaster as a Treasury cad on the heels of genial counterfeiter Edmund Gwenn, who three years before had been Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.

In each case nominated for an Oscar.



3. Night People. 1954. Berlin. Or at least a few long shots to establish the Geschmack. In stark raving Technicolor.

Gregory Peck is a colonel of Army intelligence, stiff as a board, but the script is so good, along with Buddy Ebsen and Broderick Crawford, that it’s great.

The story is as realistic, violent and accurate as to the ways of Spookdom as any John Le Carre. What’s odd is the deadpan vaudevillian humor. An odd mix not easy to pull off, I imagine.

But they did.

And there’s a Soviet colonel who wants to defect. Colonel Peck has made the arrangements.

The Russian’s one demand?


To be re-settled in Paris, Texas.


The Russian, during the war, when Russ and Yank were friends, had passed through on a flight from Kamchatcha, east across the Bering Sea.

Had stopped to refuel in Paris, Texas.

And ever since had been dreaming … Of a girl?

Natasha Kinski ?

His daughter?

Had he promised her Parisian mother to return?


Alas. Berlin was to be his last battleground.

And did mom finally fail, leaving their daughter to the streets, to which years later she fled in return?

I suppose none of this is news to people who know their movies.

Newsweek said (of Wim Wenders’ film):

It is a story of the United states, a grim portrait of a land where people like Travis and Jane cannot put down roots, a story of a sprawling, powerful, richly endowed land where people can get desperately lost.

But not without reason?


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  1. Sebastian Hussain says:

    Anthony Hopkins is one of the veteran actors in Hollywood that should be given a lifetime acheivement award..~’

    July 9th, 2010 at 8:35 am

  2. Niamh Carter says:

    when i hear the name Anthony Hopkins, i always tought of the movie Meet Joe Black.`,”

    July 11th, 2010 at 12:38 am

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