Saturday, 3 May 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 150: Sat May 31

Touch of Evil (Welles, 1958) & Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960):
Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

This is part of the year-long 70x70 film season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list.

Here Sinclair describes the two films he and Anne Sinclair will be introducing at the screening: 

“Touch of Evil has been a point of reference since I saw it on its original release (as a second feature) at the Paris Pullman. Now I appreciate the fact that it was produced by Albert Zugsmith, who also produced – one year later – the exploitation quickie The Beat Generation. From Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh to Steve Cochran, Mamie van Doren, Ray Danton. Films at the end of cycle carry a particular freight. This one shadows the much more  successful (financially) Psycho. Motels with gimpy weirdo handymen. Janet Leigh threatened with gang rape or butchered. I lose interest in Psycho after the death of Leigh: it devolves into television. The opening represents Hitchcock’s response to European cinema and the French critics who championed him. The end reverts to his early German influences, now calculated for architectural shock-horrors.

But what strikes me, years later, when we hit the San Diego Freeway is how new this landscape is and how trivial the human interventions. Oil donkeys nod on low hills. We are in the Mexico of Hank Quinlan. Orson Welles created a sleazy border town out of Venice Beach for his Hollywood swansong. Death comes, with wheezing Shakespearean flourish, among the fouled ponds of the speculative oil field. Nodding donkeys, pumping away, day and night, take the place of actual animals. ‘Your future,’ as Marlene Dietrich said, ‘is all used up.’ In Los Angeles they dig for oil where other cities have allotments.”

Here (and above) is the famous opening to Touch of Evil.

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