12.15.2009

The Password is Courage Trailer

I'm watching this one pretty soon, and finding the trailer on YouTube has made me even more excited about finally seeing it!! Enjoy! :)


12.11.2009

Hot Enough for June movie stills

On ebay I won some great original 8" x 10" glossy promotional photos from the American release of Hot Enough for June (strangely retitled for American audiences as "Agent 8/34") and they just arrived in the mail today!! I immediately scanned them, and here they are! :)










12.06.2009

Did you know....

Dirk Bogarde was cast as T.E. Lawrence in a 1950's biopic that never came to fruition.

Here is an excerpt from Bogarde's autobiography, Snakes and Ladders, which explains his enthusiasm about the part and ultimate disappointment when the film was called off.



"...Anthony Asquith arrived with a beautiful script by Rattigan on Lawrence of Arabia.

Although this could, under no circumstances, by termed Family Fun, to my delighted astonishment the Studio agreed. (Looking back from this distance it might just have been a ploy to shut me up.) This was to be no monumental epic, rather the straight-forward, if there could be such a term applied to such a man, story about Lawrence, starting in Uxbridge and ending with his still-unexplained death on the lovely country road to Clouds Hill. I had never, in my life, wanted a part, or script, so much. Asquith spent a lot of time helping me to put aside my very serious doubts about my ability, my physical resemblance (nil) and my acceptability in such a role. Locations were found and King Feisal offered us his entire army.

Mr. Davis insisted that an hour should be cut from the three-hour running time; this was reluctantly agreed to, and Script Conferences started daily, almost hourly. Wig fittings, costume fittings and intensive research now occupied my time entirely. I thought of nothing else but the man I was to represent, which was a word that Puffin Asquith and I agreed on mutually rather than the word "be". I could never "be" Lawrence, but we both felt that it could be possible to offer a portrait of the man to a public generally in ignorance of his stature. I read every book available on his work and life, wrote to his friends, received warm and encouraging letters in return, especially from Geoffrey Woolley who even sent me unpublished letters and a mass of deeply considered information, and quite lost my own identity in what the Americans call a period of total immersion.

So lost was I in preparation and absorption that I took little, if any, notice of what was going on around me: all I could think of was the strange blond wig which was slowly, and carefully, taking shape in Make-Up, and the probable starting date in the desert of April 7th. I didn't take any notice at all of what was happening about the Studios, which is why I was so completely unprepared for Olive Dodd's cool, impersonal, business-voice on the telephone on Friday, March 14th at six-thirty precisely to announce that "Lawrence" was now off...."

A scene from Accident

This is one of my favorite scenes from Accident, which I described in my post a few weeks ago. Dirk Bogarde's character, middle-aged and married, has a small uncomfortable crush on one of his students, played by Jacqueline Sassard. When he's asked to join her & another student on a little boat trip he reluctantly agrees. The ensuing trip is a combination of lovely cinematography, soft jazz and palpable awkwardness.

Pay special attention to the part when Dirk realizes the proximity of his hand to her thigh and clumsily repositions, tucking his hands under his armpits. The juxtaposition of his discomfort with the beauty and ease of everything going on around him is like gawky poetry.





12.03.2009

Some photos from my latest scans


This one is my new favorite,
also my desktop background on my laptop.



with Kay Kendall, one of his dearest friends


with Lilli Palmer


with director Joseph Losey

These were scanned by me from the book The Films of Dirk Bogarde.

12.01.2009

Programming Alert

TCM = Today, December 1st = 3:00PM EST = So Long at the Fair

So Long at the Fair on TCMdb

11.24.2009

Programming Alert

TCM = Today, November 24th = 10:30AM EST = Cast a Dark Shadow

Cast a Dark Shadow on TCMdb
My review of Cast a Dark Shadow

11.22.2009

Did you know....

Dirk Bogarde was disc jockey for a radio program on the BBC in the 1950's. He chose Fred Astaire's "I'm Old Fashioned" as his signature song, and played a mix of tunes from the 1920's and 1930's.

11.21.2009

oh-so-British

me + boredom + access to Photoshop + a new Dirk Bogarde blog = this

11.20.2009

Hot Enough for June (1964)


As you might recall, a little over a month ago I received a gigantic order of Dirk Bogarde DVDs. Before they actually arrived in the mail, I was planning on having a Dirk Bogarde spree and watching them all at once. But when they came I chickened out. I realized that there are only so many DB movies available, and I really should ration them.

The one that I kept eyeing, putting in my dvd player and taking back out again-- trying to put off until the last minute because it looked SO good that I wanted to save it as long as I could-- was Hot Enough for June.

Hot Enough for June is a James Bond spoof from 1964. It begins with an agent turning in the shoes, passport and belongings of another agent who was killed in the line of duty. Right away we find out that the agent was James Bond.



Instead of recruiting a professional spy to take 007's place, the British government decides to pluck someone from the ranks of the unemployed. Enter unemployed (and unpublished) writer Nicholas Whistler, played by Dirk Bogarde.

Whistler enjoys the life of the unemployed writer, and does everything he can NOT to get the job offered to him at the unemployment office. He shows up for his appointment late, puts his feet up on the desk of his potential employer, jokes about getting out of army service and confesses that he had no real formal education. Despite all of his efforts, Whistler is hired. As far as he knows, he's some kind of executive at a glass manufacturing company. Little does he know that he's about to go on a top-secret Government assignment behind the iron curtain (or "the thing" as he hilariously refers to it in the film.)

While Hot Enough for June is a spoof of a James Bond film-- with the espionage, bikini-clad love interest and cold war theme, it also had elements of Hitchcock films like North by Northwest, with the innocent bloke getting mixed up in a huge conspiracy.

Typically, spoofs can be either really good or really, really bad. If the laughs are played up too much, it stops being a spoof and just becomes farcical nonsense. But Hot Enough for June struck the perfect balance between a real plot, with real suspense and real intrigue - and the comedic flourishes that made it such a fun film.

Dirk Bogarde was perfect playing Nicholas Whistler -- he was at once clever in getting himself out of all the sticky spy situations and yet rather bumbling and confused about what was going on around him. A few of the hilarious moments come when he is trying to find out who his contact is in Prague. His code phrase is "Hot enough for June", to which his contact should answer "but you should have been here last September." He approaches a few people before finally finding the right man, and his attempts at finding a way to work that phrase into the conversation are laugh-out-loud funny.

The plot also makes use of the suspense-film cliche where a man on the run has to keep changing his clothes to stay a step ahead of the police. Stealing a jacket, or changing hats with someone in a bar so that his appearance won't match the description on the Wanted signs. Dirk Bogarde goes through seven different outfits during his time on the lamb, a few of which are absolutely hilarious to see.

The supporting cast was no less fantastic-- Robert Morley plays the employer, a slightly inept, amusing, and easily amused man who connives DB into accepting the job. Sylvia Koscina is a really charming actress, and I'm sure makes the film a delight for male fans to watch. (Sorry you guys but 99% of my screen shots were of DB. I did include three of Sylvia for you, though!)

After finishing the film last night at 5am (!!) I put it on again to listen to as I dozed off to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I started it over again and laid in bed watching the whole film before eating my breakfast. I could easily watch it again tonight, but I won't... I'm going to give the Dirk Bogarde films a rest for a few days.

Rationing time again.

In the end, I'm glad that I waited to watch the film. I had very high hopes for it, and it thouroughly exceeded all expectations -- it's definitely my #2 favorite DB film (The #1 spot will, I'm sure, always belong to The Mind Benders)






I took over 30 screen shots from the film.
You can view them in my flickr set here.


11.07.2009

Accident (1967)


Last night I watched Accident -- it's described in the movie poster as a love triangle between four people (not sure how that's possible) but it's even more complicated than that. It's actually a love "triangle" between six people.

*****

Stephen (Dirk Bogarde) - a middle aged philosophy tutor at Oxford, married with two kids and one on the way. Hopelessly in love with the foreign exchange student Anna.

Charley (Stanley Baker) - Stephen's best friend - a middle aged professor, married with three kids, sleeping with the foreign exchange student Anna.

William (Michael York) - an aristocratic student, one of Stephen's pupils. In love with Anna.

Rosalind (Vivien Merchant) - Stephen's wife.

Laura (Ann Firbank) - Charley's wife.

Anna (Jaqueline Sassard) - The foreign exchange student at the center of the love polygon.

*****

The movie opens with the sound of an awful car crash happening in the distance, while the camera focuses on Dirk Bogarde's house. He runs out to see what happened and finds William and Anna in the car. William is obviously dead, and Anna has minor injuries. The rest of the film is a flashback of how they all met and what led up to the accident.

The trailer for Accident:



I was incredibly excited to watch this film since I loved The Servant so much -- this was made with the same writer-director-actor team of Harold Pinter, Joseph Losey and Dirk Bogarde.

I really loved everything about this movie, especially Dirk Bogarde (obviously) but I have to say that the star of the film was Harold Pinter's script. The dialogue (and deliberate lack thereof- many, many awkward pauses) was absolutely superb. One of my favorite exchanges from the script:
Charley: [reading from learned journal] A statistical analysis of sexual intercourse at Kolenzo University, Milwaukee showed... that 70% did it in the evening, 29.9% between 2 and 4 in the afternoon and 0.1% during a lecture on Aristotle.

Aged Professor: I'm surprised to hear that Aristotle is on the syllabus in the State of Wisconsin. [imdb]
I just thought that was hilarious. The dialogue, even when oozing with sharp wit, was delightfully frank and real. Often the camera comes in when characters are already in mid-conversation, and leaves before the conversation has finished. The audience is left to deduce what was going on. To me, it was like the bits of conversations you hear when you're out -- maybe in a restaurant you hear two women whispering about their husbands, or a man walking down the sidewalk arguing about business matters on his cell phone. Both in real life, and in Accident, you don't know the full context and history of the people whose lives you're intruding on- you just get a small glimpse.

Every line of dialogue in Accident is fantastic, but often it's the scenes without any dialogue that pack the most punch. In one particular scene, Dirk Bogarde comes home drunk from a meeting in London to find Anna and Charley using his house for a rendezvous. He stares at them for a while, they exchange about two sentences, and then he walks into the kitchen to make scrambled eggs. The entire scene lasts about ten minutes but there couldn't have been more than ten sentences. Instead of giving us words to indicate what's going on, we're instead presented with the tense visual of Dirk Bogarde scrambling eggs in the foreground- obviously perturbed by the reality that his best friend is sleeping with the student that he is lusting after - while the lovers wait in the background. Words just aren't necessary.

One of the complaints that I read about this film before watching it was that there wasn't a single sympathetic character in the lot, but I actually found Dirk Bogarde's character to be very sympathetic. He can't be blamed for having feelings for his student - in one scene he looks like he's positively writhing in pain from the guilt. And his character was sweetly pathetic in many ways. While Anna flirts & succumbs to the advances of William & Charley, she never lets Dirk Bogarde lay a hand on her - the embarrassment he feels is almost palpable. He has a slight clumsiness throughout the film that should resonate with anyone who isn't a natural social butterfly.

When asked to join William and Anna on a little boat trip, he hesitantly agrees but is obviously uncomfortable the entire time, especially when he's aware that his arm is dangerously close to Anna's legs. He carefully raises his arms and tucks them under his armpits to avoid any accidental touching. The awkwardness of the situation is really enough to make you blush, as if it were happening to you.

I really thought this was a marvelous movie, but it is very 1960's and it's an acquired taste if you prefer the rapid-fire dialogue, clean innocence and shiny perfection of films from the 30's and 40's. You can watch the full film on YouTube here.

Also, Robert Leeming wrote an excellent review of Joseph Losey's work in England that includes some great insight into Accident - I highly recommend reading it before you watch the film.


Update:

I'm always anxious to read what other people have to say about a movie, but only AFTER I've written a post, since I don't want any of the other information seeping into what I want to write. I just finished reading some of the reviews on imdb and I just loved this one quote from a review, and had to share it:

"As Pinter said in a 1966 interview: "So in this film everything is buried, it is implicit. There is really very little dialogue, and that is mostly trivial, meaningless. The drama goes on inside the characters." In the published screenplay his directions for one scene indicate that "the words are fragments of realistic conversation. They are not thoughts..." and what comes across is the brilliant contrast between the nondescript, mundane, day-to-day attempts at communication between the characters combined with a hard look at the underlying reality of the characters' situations. Nothing is like it seems to be." - From commenter John Webber

10.22.2009

The Mind Benders (1963)


I think that generally there are two kinds of films -- films that you watch and films that you experience. The Mind Benders is definitely the latter. And during a month when "scary" is defined as monsters and ghouls, this movie scared me out of my wits without one hint of the supernatural.

Conventional monster movies always give me the spooks, but I'm only really petrified when the terror in a film seems like it could actually happen - or when the main character is so dreadfully afraid in the film that you become just as afraid yourself. The Mind Benders deals with one of the most frightening experiences that man could suffer through- complete isolation. Isolation from sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and human contact. The experience is made so real, so absolutely horrifying that I actually felt sick to my stomach at one point. Now this might not seem like a selling point, but it is. I was so engulfed in this film that I want to pop the disc in my dvd player again tonight. I want to be with it again, to see it again. I'm not a sadist or anything- the film isn't torture. While it has it's unsettling moments, it is actually incredibly moving and really makes you think.

The film opens with an elderly scientist committing suicide by jumping off of a moving train. Next to his body they find a suitcase filled with cash, apparently the money he was given for leaking top-secret scientific information to the Communists. What seems like a simple open-and-shut case of treason is actually much, much more complicated. The scientist, Dr. Sharpey, was working on a disturbing project called Isolation in which he was attempting to find out what happens to the human brain when all of the senses are taken away. The guinea pigs in the study were Dr. Sharpey himself, and his colleague, Dr. Longman-- played by Dirk Bogarde.

Longman realizes that the only way to prove that Sharpey wasn't the kind of man who would commit treason is to show that once you go through "Isolation" you don't come out the same man. The only way to prove this is to go through Isolation himself. While the plot seems to be about espionage and proving someone's innocence, it really isn't. It's about what makes us human, and how fragile that something is.

I can't tell you how much I want to go into more detail about the plot and the twists, and how DB's character progresses throughout the film but I think that if I had known any of that before I watched it, the intensity of the movie would have definitely been blunted. You need to see this film fresh for the first time, with no preconceptions and no spoilers, in order to full appreciate it. One thing to look out for, though-- Dirk Bogarde's eyes before and after Isolation. They seem to get darker in color, but they don't. It's not a special effect; it's a cold, icy look -- and it is remarkable.

This was by far, hands down the best DB performance I've seen so far. I don't know how he didn't have a nervous breakdown while acting this part. He is so emotional and intense it is almost incomprehensible. When I first discovered DB back in August, I had no idea how much talent he had-- I thought he was a handsome, skilled actor and that I'd like to see more of his films. I am so glad that I followed through, because I think his might be the single best performance I've seen by an actor in my entire life. It was absolutely brilliant, and I think that it actually enriches my life to have seen him in this movie.

I loved this film so much (can you tell?) that I really wanted to write the most brilliant blog post ever about it, but I'm so tongue tied (or keyboard tied, as it were) that I can't express myself. Good films do this to me, they knock all of the wordiness out and just leave me gaping and staring at the screen. Since I watched it last night, I've gone to sleep, woken up, eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner, worked and had fun. But inside I am still gaping and staring at the screen. It has a hold on me and I think I need to watch it again tonight. I'm sorry, I mean I need to experience it.

***

Netflix has the film in its database, but it doesn't have it available to rent yet. You can buy it on amazon here or on ebay here. It's pretty cheap (about $4) and well worth every penny!!

Or if you're broke & desperate, email me and I'll make you a copy from my tape. I want everyone who's interested to see this movie, it's really one of the best films I've ever watched.


The "after Isolation" eyes






I took over 20 screenshots from the film--
to see the rest, click here.


10.21.2009

A cure for what ails you


Whether you are suffering from depression, boredom, the flu or bogardeitis (the excessive desire to watch Dirk Bogarde movies) I have the perfect medicine for you -- The Doctor series.

Made between 1952-1963, The four films in the Doctor series follow a young Doctor Simon Sparrow (DB) as he experiences the ups and downs of joining the medical profession. Each film is a blast with beautiful innuendo and that biting British wit that you don't find in American comedies.

The one thing that can be a bit befuddling is the lack of continuity. The same actors appear in every film, but Dirk Bogarde is the only person who played the same character in all four installments. James Robinson Justice's character Sir Lancelot Spratt (a big, burly and grumpy doctor) appears in three of the films -- but in the second movie he is named Captain Hogg. Simon Sparrow seems to be engaged to a different woman at the end of each film, but she isn't mentioned in the next movie. And while DB is a shy, introverted student who is almost afraid of women in the first three, he is a full-fledged womanizer in the last movie! Maybe the fact that these were released with a span of at least two years between each one, they hoped the audiences would just forget what had happened last time..


Doctor in the House is the first Doctor film, which introduces us to Dr. Sparrow - a first year medical student who is inexperienced in medicine and love. The first one is actually my least favorite. Usually sequels are pitiful, but I think that in this case the series improved with each installment. I attribute that mainly to the script and the fact that the characters were more finely tuned in the later films.

Another reason for the progressive improvement of the series is that Dirk Bogarde was given the opportunity to act in more substantial, challenging films after his first turn as Dr. Sparrow. Up until this point he had been type-cast as seedy young hooligans, often in low budget pictures with so-so scripts. Personally I think he excelled in these roles, but it is obvious that his talent improved tenfold after he was really given the chance to show his acting chops. Doctor in the House was such a rip-roaring success that DB was offered more prestigious roles from then on.


Doctor at Sea is the second film in the series. After being scared away from his previous job by a homely, and overly amorous, woman, Simon Sparrow gets a job as the doctor on a ship. An under-stocked supply cabinet, sea-sickness and reluctant patients are just a handful of the problems that he has to deal with at sea. One particular scene when DB tries to extract a tooth from a scared shipmate is laugh-out-loud hilarious! Of course, his bad sea voyage changes course when a buxom beauty joins them on board. Doctor at Sea stars a really young brunette Brigette Bardot as DB's love interest. This was her first English-speaking film, and she sings a really cute song when she makes her entrance.

Don't they look cute together?


In Doctor at Large we get the first glimpse of Simon Sparrow: the wolf. He's still kind of pathetic at it, but he does convince a woman to spend a night in a country hotel. Granted, things don't go as planned- but he's trying! He doesn't become a bona fide wolf until the last film, when the 1960's are in full swing and staying overnight with your girlfriend is much more acceptable anyway. This film sees Dr. Sparrow through a series of jobs - from a swank doctors office where he treats Maharajahs and movie stars to a small country practice where he is paid with stolen fish. His girlfriend from the first movie is back, but there is no reference to them having ever dated. It's one of the funniest Doctor movies, but the girlfriend thing is kind of confusing.


My favorite was Doctor in Distress. You can definitely see that this is now the swinging sixties in London-- the women's outfits are fantastic and Simon Sparrow has THE most awesome couch in history.

The plot revolves around Sir Lancelot Spratt's discovery of love. Now an expert on the subject, Simon Sparrow dispenses advice on how to hook the girl. The story is much more cohesive than the other three films, and rather than just barking and being grumpy all the time, Spratt is quite a teddy bear in this one. Simon Sparrow deals with some issues at the hospital, but the situation which causes the most distress is a dinner party with beautiful, but aggressive, Swedish twins. (Yup, it's the sixties.) The twins are just two of the really fun characters in this movie- it's filled to the brim with great supporting roles. And if you look carefully, Richard Briers (Tom Good from The Good Neighbors, my favorite Brit Com!) plays a student intern in the first few minutes of the film!


The couch!!!


It seems fitting that DB made his last Doctor film the same year that he made The Servant. The Servant represented a new chapter in DB's career-- the roles from here on in were much edgier and avante garde. And so he ended his long stint as a matinee idol by playing the same character that started it all, Doctor Simon Sparrow.

10.19.2009

Dirk Bogarde - Artist


According to my Fan Star Library biography (I haven't purchased an official biography yet, sue me!)

"On D-Day itself, which was June 6, he was among the first troops to land in Normandy, and as a result of the rather rough crossing of the English Channel his sketch book was rather damp. But he just had to do a bit of sketching, and found a piece of blotting paper which he used instead.

Two of his D-Day sketches were later bought by the British War Museum. Two others went to America."

DB's mother had hoped he would consider studying to become a commercial artist, definitely a more reliable career than acting. Despite his insistence to become an actor, it is obvious from the artwork posted on the Dirk Bogarde Estate website that he certainly had the talent to be a professional artist if he had chosen that path. All of the artwork featured on the site is exceptional, and it displays the same kind of skill that you see in sketches by Picasso or Van Gogh. Some of the drawings are from his wartime service, some are random doodles and some were used to illustrate his several books.

Oh, right-- he also wrote books. Tell me, is there ANYTHING this man could not do??





For more art, click here.


10.11.2009

Damn the Defiant! (1962)



As you can probably tell by how few and far between my Dirk Bogarde film reviews have become, I have resorted to rationing. I thought I only had a few more films left to view, so I wanted to make sure that I didn't watch them all in one spurt. Luckily, I found someone that had more than 15 Dirk Bogarde films I thought were unavailable, and I'm expecting them in the mail this week! Now I can binge instead of ration ;)

While I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Dirk Bogarde (hereto after referred to on this blog as DB) stash, I watched Damn the Defiant!, which was described on Netflix as a British version of Mutiny on the Bounty. It really wasn't.

I actually thought it was better than Mutiny on the Bounty. (I'm referring to the Clark Gable version, I've never seen --nor do I care to see-- the Marlon Brando version.) Alec Guinness stars as the soft spoken, gentle Captain Crawford. DB is the blustery, brazen and hard-nosed Lieutenant Scott-Padget. (A name that was really fun to hear them repeat over and over. Just say it aloud, isn't it a fun name? Scott-Padget!) While the Captain thinks that his crew works better if they aren't pushed too hard, the Lieutenant prefers to brow beat the poor men, and punish them for even the slightest wrongdoing. And Lt. Scott-Padget has a history of undermining the Captains of ships he has sailed on before-- a trait that reminded me very much of his character in The Servant. Perhaps it was this role that made the producers of The Servant realize how perfect DB would be for that part.

There are a few things that make this movie completely different from Mutiny on the Bounty. First of all, the Captain is a teddy bear! No Charles Laughton is he. The real problem child on this ship is DB, whose very presence makes the crew mutinous. Additionally, the crew remains committed to serving their country despite their mutinous intentions. And one more thing. This movie will literally make you sea sick. The camera constantly bobs up and down, from side to side as if you're standing on the boat with the actors. It makes for great technique but you might want to take a Dramamine before viewing!

(You can see how lopsided the camera is in this shot.)

This also contained some of the most graphic episodes of violence that I've seen in a film from this period. There were quite a few battles scenes that turned my stomach (I mean in addition to it already being upset from the rough seas.) Nothing like a modern slasher, mind you, but enough to be a little disturbing.

Damn the Defiant! is definitely one of my favorite DB movies. As ruthless and sadistic as his character was, I couldn't help but like him! Perhaps it has something to do with how devastatingly handsome he was in this movie... just maybe...

Seriously!!!