The Watch List For 3/25/13
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) --- James Bond veers left of Dr. No's comic book thrilling to beat Russians and SPECTRE out of a decoder with no specific military or strategic value, just a box we'd call "McGuffin" after Hitchcock example. Interesting was borrow of that device, as The Master disdained on-the-nose intrigues of 007 and further steals from his canon (Russia's helicopter assault on Bond a grab off North By Northwest). Would youth today that like Daniel Craig quick-cuts sit for this? 007's briefcase introduced here was what Santa brought me for 1965 Christmas. The case itself fell apart readily enough, but I still have the billfold, rubber dagger, pistol, and scope.
Modesty was maintained in the second of Bonds --- elephantitis still a couple of entries off. Latter-half travel over rails emits warm glow of Sherlock Holmes and Hitchcock (him again) having train-crossed to final dénouement with villainy. In fact, much of what happens after Connery subdues Robert Shaw while aboard seems anti-climactic. I'd almost forgotten stuff with the helicopter and boats until here they were again, but not the stinger of Lotte Lenya's (and how) orthopedic shoes. Bondian lifestyle is further explored and celebrated. I like just watching his check-ins and scan of hotel digs for bugging gear. Little things Connery did made such difference, like hesitation before tossing his hat on the bed, then going ahead as if to tempt bad luck. Did SC ad-lib this, or was it in the writing? 007 menu choices are always healthy ones. Should I order green figs and yogurt for my next Hadley's breakfast, or will they send me packing for deviation from biscuits/gravy and near-raw bacon per usual? The Blu-Ray of From Russia With Love is fantastic --- I don't know how it could look any better.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) --- At last on home 3-D, other than 16mm abridgements sold decades ago by Universal with red/green spectacles that lent small enhancement to depth effect. Does the added dimension click on digital? For me, most definitely. Glasses I used were more like goggles, light loss made up by Uni's exemplary transfer. Part of why 3-D tanked in the 50's was slapdash projection. Not a problem here, margins for error being reduced considerably thanks to digital rather than further attempt at Polaroid or stone-age go at Simplex sync-up. I now recognize 3-D as essential adjunct to Creature viewing, and am resolved not to watch again the flat way (and by all means, Universal, include Revenge Of The Creature with 2013's hoped-for further packaging of Blu-Ray monsters).
The Gill Man's triumph lay largely in the suit, plus sympathetic qualities (like Frankenstein's monster, he's more sinned against than sinning) that align him with gothic-bred forebears. Did science-fiction's first 50's cycle incubate other outcasts whose pain we so felt? Dinosaurs were maybe too large and impersonal for group hugs, and being animated or man-in-a-suit, could not achieve expressive range of the Creature (was King Kong the only really big monster that managed it?). Gilly's was admittedly a limited wardrobe, but he was a most exquisitely turned-out of beasts Universal generated during the 50's, this Creature truly off costuming's Savile Row. I wonder if he wasn't the leading boy-crush of
My closest brush with a real-life Creature was a hotel register encounter with Ben Chapman at which he asked to borrow my pen. Yes, he did. But I didn't seek an autograph in return. Why not? Guess it's tough associating a human face with the Gill-Man's. Of course, these were numerous through the three-pic series. I like how Richard Carlson stands down at the first one's end rather than finishing the Creature off. Left unsaid, but distinctly understood, was Let's Save Him For the Sequel, which everyone on board surely knew would come. I'm only amazed that Universal hasn't got round to rebooting the Gill-Man (but am aware of aborted attempts toward that over years since '54).