The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of March 15

Seattle screenings and cinema events are surveyed at Parallax View here.

Mad Magazine’s ‘Casabonkers’

“How gauche! Stop that fighting this minute! You want to wake up the audience?!?” If you recognized that as a line from Borey Lyndon, Grady Hendrix’s tribute to Mad Magazine’s movie parodies should prove right up your alley. Supplemented by interviews with editor-in-chief John Ficarra and artist Tom Richmond that underline how much the format has had to change in the current blockbuster-oriented, spoiler-phobic landscape. Also at Film Comment, Chuck Stephens’s short appreciation of Jay C. Flippen.

Generally overshadowed by his costars whether they were romantic partners (Lucille Ball) or antagonists (Richard Widmark), Mark Stevens still managed a kind of small-scale immortality as he rushed through noir pictures ever anxious and impatient about his future, onscreen and off. Mark Fertig offers praise, not least for his two turns as a director.

Absolutely indispensable tumblr Cinephilia & Beyond (which will pop up again later in these links) spots a pair of magnificent resources available to read for free on the University of California Press’s website. Backstory 2 and Backstory 3, both edited by Patrick McGilligan, collect interviews with screenwriters from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, including Leigh Brackett, Arthur Laurents, Curt Siodmak, Stewart Stern—and that’s only scratching the surface of the first volume.

My apologies for being a few weeks late catching up to Luke McKernan’s marvelous assessment of The Third Man, “a plot of almost classical perfection, whose ingenuities transfix us throughout, yet what the film does is constantly to elude the specifics of plot.” Passed along by most everybody, because it really is that good.

McKernan himself passes along Chris O’Rourke’s fine history of London’s famed music hall-boxing venue-movie theater Wonderland. The first screening, in 1896, was something of a disaster, leading to a lawsuit and a brief, priceless exchange (“Yes, the Bear Lady was padding”) between owner Jonas Woolf and the lawyer for “Theatrograph’s” R. W. Paul.

“You wanna quit, Ethan?” “That’ll be the day.” For Martin Scorsese, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, The Searchers is a bottomless film, one that can always be revisited and always reveals sadder, “deeply painful” layers with each new viewing.

Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro in ‘The King of Comedy’

The faith, love, and resolution that’s shot through every frame (okay, most) of Scorsese’s work, meanwhile, receives elegant appreciation from Glenn Kenny at Humanities. On his own blog, Kenny has an interesting exchange with film restorer James White on what the job has become, for good and (some) ill, in the digital age, with examples from his two most recent projects: The Passion of Joan of Arc and Fulci’s Zombi. Never let it be said the restorer’s lot is unvaried.

“You Freud, me Jane?” Secrets stashed away, protective clasps, suggestive folds: Kim Morgan offers the only possible reading of Marnie’s many purses.

Aaron Cutler’s review of Ozu’s A Hen in the Wind does a good job of demonstrating how the director’s ostensibly identical films kept changing in step with Japan’s mutating fortunes. Via Criterion.

Richard Brody unpacks the many meanings—political, personal, cinematic—of the torture scene in Godard’s Le Petit Soldat; a good reading, though I’d rather he hadn’t used it to (again) bash Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.

“Tell him to burn them for all I care.” Andy Marx offers the charming tale of how he, with a crucial assist from Jack Nicholson, changed grandfather Groucho’s mind and convinced him to salvage the film reels of You Bet Your Life.

The above comes via Sheila O’Malley, whose own writing on film is marked by an almost fearsome ability to empathize with the characters. Which makes her take on cinema’s definitive blank slate, Alain Delon’s Jef Costello, all the more fascinating.

Alain Delon in ‘Le Samourai’

Mike D’Angelo’s latest Scenic Route, a look at the opening sequence of Brick, gets the boost of additional commentary from Rian Johnson.

The BFI’s Ashley Clark beats the drum for Sergio Giral, in his lights an unheralded master of Cuban cinema.

And now it’s Ray Winstone threatening to leave his country in a pique over high taxes. If John Goodman starts going Tea Party, we definitely have a trend on our hands.

Dick Hebidge’s discursive description of James Benning’s Two Cabins—the isolated outposts of Thoreau and Unibomber Ted Kaczynski recreated near Benning’s Sierra Nevada home—can make it hard to envision how the piece looks; but the work seems so allusive in its literary and artistic references, it’s easy to understand how he keeps dropping down the rabbit hole. Via Catherine Grant.

Vice’s Jamie Lee Curtis Taete puts the acid test to the notion of whether an actor can in fact be universally beloved, calling up various hate groups (Westboro Baptist Church, Nazis, the Nation of Islam) to get their opinions on Jennifer Lawrence.

“He told me that he screened Pierrot le fou. Twenty minutes after it started, the students asked for it to be stopped because it was going nowhere. Pierrot le fou? There’s guns and girls and colours. I mean really? If I was there, I would kick their fucking brains in. I would break their arms. I would break their necks. Really.” Interviewed by MUBI’s David Jenkins, Pedro Costa reveals he’s still a young punk at heart—angry, idealistic, frustrated by those he admires who aren’t on his side of the struggle (his ending plea to David Fincher is fantastic).

“How many drinks have you had?” “This will make six martinis.” “All right. Will you bring me five more martinis, Leo? Line them right up here.” Rosie Schaap, writer of Drinking with Men, tells Vulture’s Gwynne Watkins her favorite bar scenes; a few offbeat choices are pleasantly tossed in the mix.

Some secret of Michael Caine’s charm, as captured in previously unpublished photos taken in 1966 by Bill Ray, is surely discernible in his casual mien; I don’t think I’ve seen another actor’s photo shoot so dominated by images of him laying down on a couch or slumped low and comfortable in chairs. Confirmation of his charm comes from the chemistry with fellow photographees Natalie Wood, Sally Kellerman, and an almost laughably long string of “unidentified woman.”

Video: Cinephilia & Beyond found one of YouTube’s grandest offerings:  the complete run of Orson Welles’ Sketch Book, six 15-minute reminiscences, made for the BBC in 1955, on subjects ranging from critics to bullfighting to police brutality, each topic handled by a master storyteller gazing right out the screen to catch the viewer’s eye and lead us through his tale.

Malachi Throne

Obituary

American actor Malachi Throne had a long and memorable career on American television, very busy through the sixties and seventies, less busy but still active in the years since. He played Robert Wagner’s boss on It Takes a Thief but mostly he was a guest star on dozens of shows (including the voice of “The Keeper” in the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” as well as Commodore Mendez in the revised version of the episode, “The Menagerie”) and a busy voice actor. More at his official website. No surprise, the Star Trek websites are the first with their remembrances.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker.