His Girl Friday, late, very late, Friday
This week would have been a disaster if I hadn’t snuck two of the top one hundred in on the last two days of Week 25. It’s been a week of still being in the land of Antonioni in my head.
His Girl Friday (1940) took me out two weeks of Antonioni’s grip of isolation, alienation and desolation.
I’m now reinvigorated by solid Hollywood filmmaking, which was new and ravishing in its day, breaking with the comedy staple of the 1930s and embracing a different kind of rapid fire – sophisticated – back and forth. Someone will burst my bubble, tell me that it wasn’t Hawks and Hecht who created this gem. It was probably all based on the patter of Mae West and W. C. Fields, Marx Bros, Hellzapoppin’ (1941) and silent German comedies no one has ever heard of.
I was in Antonioni’s head for more than two weeks. It’s a dark place. Not as dark as Pasolini, but still essentially, anti-social. The reason?
It’s not enough to view films, I have to make a reasonable attempt at reaching an understanding of it: or why they’re highly regarded in a filmmaker’s larger body of works, and so highly regarded they’re considered masterpieces.
When I went into the world of Bresson, Bergman, Renoir, Chaplin and Truffaut, it was the same thing. One week became two and ended in complete immersion. Not everyone has read what I wrote last week, or two months ago, so for fear of repeating myself ad nauseum, I will say, briefly, the scope of the project has grown from something reasonable, watching 130 masterpieces by 100 directors, to watching as much as I can see of any one filmmaker. I throw in the easily digestible regular filmmaking like Night of the Hunter (1955) or Lawrence of Arabia (1962) or Blue Velvet (1986) or Blade Runner (1982) to help me get through the sheer number of films that I now realise I need to see.