Monday, February 28, 2011

A page...

... from my Dracula story in Almost Silent. I chose to take it out since I was a bit unhappy about it. If it had been included it would have been on page 22.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Humphrey Bogart is a dull businessman, William Holden is his younger, playboy brother. Both are part of a wealthy family on Long Island. Audrey Hepburn is Sabrina, the chauffeur's daughter, who gets their attention when she comes back from two years in Paris. Directed by Billy Wilder.

A timeless classic, and Hepburn at her most beautiful. You could probably turn down the sound and still be able to enjoy the film just for the elegance of it's black and white compositions on the screen. What modern comedy can you say that about? It's another film I remember seeing on tv as a kid, so some nostalgic feelings might be involved. Humphrey Bogart is a bit too old for his part. At least it is acknowledged in the script, Bogart at some point looking at Hepburn and saying, If I were ten years younger... I can't help but imagine how the film would have been if the first choice for the older brother, Cary Grant, had done the part. Grant and Holden could actually pass for brothers, Bogart and Holden... not so much.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Polish film posters...

... are pretty amazing.

Love in The Afternoon

Music student Audrey Hepburn falls for aging millionaire bachelor Gary Cooper. Also starring Maurice Chevalier, directed by Billy Wilder.

Well, the film looks gorgeous in black and white, with a classic, understated direction by Wilder, but it's not that fun, really. Hepburn was often paired with actors old enough to be her dad, like Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire, here it's Gary Cooper. It's just very hard to root for them as a couple. At the end of the film you just feel bad for Hepburn being stuck with the old geezer. And at over two hours the film feels too long.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A silkscreened poster...

... from a signing tour in the US, 2003.

Paris When It Sizzles

Secretary Audrey Hepburn helps screenwriter William Holden who is stuck on his script. Also starring Noel Coward and Tony Curtis with cameos of Marlene Dietrich and Mel Ferrer, directed by Richard Quine.

I've already talked about two Quine movies, The Notorious Landlady, which I didn't like and How To Murder Your Wife, which I wasn't even able to finish. The guy knows how to point the camera in the right direction but doesn't seem to have much of a visual sense. And based on this film he's not too good with the actors either. This is the first Audrey Hepburn film I've seen where she's actually a bit annoying, her mannerisms turned up to eleven. But maybe the director asked her to do that Audrey Hepburn thing. William Holden is also normally an sympathetic actor, here he's just trying too hard. The two of them work on the script, then we see them as actors in that movie, only for Holden to scrap that idea and try something else. After half an hour it gets tiresome and there's still an hour left. If the movie within the movie had been exciting it might have worked. But in the end they decide it's just silly hackwork. So why exactly have we been watching it?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Audrey Hepburn, part 2

Got some more Audrey Hepburn films! First: The Children's Hour. Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine are the headmistresses of a school for girls. One pupil accuses them of being lovers. Also starring James Garner, based on Lillian Hellman's play, directed by William Wyler.

It's a dated, but still quite powerful film. Released the year before Days of Wine And Roses, it's one of the first issue films, showing that the medium could be something more than just escapism. Both the main actresses are excellent. The director could maybe have asked the main child actor to dial it down a bit. Veronica Cartwright as one of the other kids is more convincing, pretty much doing the same job here that she later did in Alien.

As it turns out, there is a bit of truth in the girl's accusation, setting up the tragic ending of the film. It's an ending that can be debated, I suppose. From a dramatic point of view it's effective, less so if it is viewed as the moral of the story. If made today, there probably would have been some uplifting You go, girl! ending, but I'm not sure if it would make a better film. As it is, it shows the changes in society the last fifty years. And maybe I'm just a sucker for sad endings.

End papers...

... for an issue of Mjau Mjau.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It Happened One Night

Claudette Colbert is a spoiled brat running away from her father who wants to annul her marriage. Going back to her husband and to avoid detectives sent to catch her she takes the bus, ending up on the seat next to reporter Clarc Gable. Directed by Frank Capra.

Since I didn't care too much for You Can't Take It With You I wanted to re-watch Capra's earlier Oscar winner It Happened One Night, from 1934. Being a simple love story the film feels less dated than other Capra films. The scene on the bus with everybody singing and Colbert and Gable then giving their money to a poor boy and his mother who fainted is probably the most capraesque sequence in the film. I assume Colbert was a big star at the time, but I think this is the only film of hers I've seen. Gable is very funny as the journalist. Of course, in the beginning they can't stand each other, only gradually warming up, and at the same time creating the mold for pretty much every romantic comedy ever made. The scene where they pretend to be married in front of the detectives is probably my favourite. The hitch-hiking scene is also very funny. A classic.

Another D.V. strip

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An old illustration


James Stewart helps his brother Dean Martin and his gang to escape from a prison. They kidnap Raquel Welch and head off into Mexico, followed by sheriff George Kennedy and a posse. Directed by Andrew McLaglen.

Yes, Stewart and Martin play brothers in this film. Are there any Hollywood actors from this period that look less like brothers? They should have hired Jack Palance as a third one. Stewart seems to have realized the unlikeliness of the casting and plays his part as if it was a comedy. Mexican bandits are taking on the role usually played by Indians, faceless villains to be gunned down by the main characters. The film is no classic, but fairly entertaining and that there Raquel Welch sure was purty.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winchester '73

James Stewart is looking for the man who killed his father. At the same time we follow a winchester prize rifle as it goes from one owner to the next. Also starring Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea and in a small part Tony Curtis, directed by Anthony Mann.

This is the first of the Stewart / Mann westerns, and probably the best one. The film looks great in black and white, much better than The Naked Spur did in colour. And it always helps to have Dan Duryea as the villain, even though he only turns up two thirds into the film. Why wasn't this guy a huge star? He was pretty much the Cary Grant of bad guys. The Indians in the film actually say Hooka-Hey! when they attack, just like in the Blueberry comics. I thought that was something Charlier and Giraud had made up. One can also admire the economy of the film, how there's no dragged out ending. When the story is over, the film is over. It doesn't have the "Okay, let's talk about our feelings for five minutes." often found in modern films.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Fabiolous drawing

Ah, sorry about the awful pun. This is a drawing by Fabio Viscogliosi done for the Norwegian version of Pocket Full of Rain. Fabio is one of my favourite cartoonists and an inspiration for me starting to do wordless comics. I recommend his book Da Capo, published by L'Association, that collects all his vagabond cat stories.

The Naked Spur

James Stewart gets help from old guy Millard Mitchell and ex-soldier Ralph Meeker in capturing outlaw Robert Ryan who has a 5000 $ reward on his head. On the way to the nearest city to collect the money Ryan tries to set the other men up against each other. Also starring Janet Leigh, directed by Anthony Mann.

The film is in colour, but in the pre widescreen 1,33:1 format, that feels a bit claustrophobic for a western. Mann doesn't get to use the landscape that much as part of the story. The concept for the film is simple but effective - the men slowly turning against each other, but I thought that was much better done in The Treasure of The Sierra Madre. In this film it doesn't get as ugly as it could have been. The greyhaired and middleaged James Stewart from the westerns of the fifties looks really different from the the young Stewart from the Capra films in the thirties. If you didn't know better, you'd actually find it hard to guess that it's the same actor.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A drawing...

... of the character Courtney Crumrin, created by Ted Naifeh. Originally drawn for a comic book store in Montpellier when Naifeh had a signing there, it was later included in a gallery in the back of an album published by Akileos.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

James Stewart is the young and naive senator battling the cynical forces of Washington. Also starring Jean Arthur, Claude Rains and Thomas Mitchell, directed by Frank Capra.

This film is also dated, but not as bad as You Can't take It With You. A film like It's A Wonderful Life still works today since it has an element of a fairytale or a tale of Dickens. In this film that takes place in the more realistic world of politics you lose that element. I still find it a bit hard to believe in Capra's insistence of the decency of the common man, but even an old cynic like me have to confess that I was moved by Stewart's performance towards the end of the film.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Curse of Jippi Kafé

You Can't Take It With You

James Stewart, the son of a rich man, falls for Jean Athur who comes from a family of eccentrics. Directed by Frank Capra.

Well, they can't all be classics... The film won the Oscar for best film of 1938, but has dated pretty badly. It has some of the same ideas as It's A Wonderful Life, that friends are more important than money, but while it worked in that film it leaves a bad taste in this one. Apparently, all rich people are stuffy and unhappy, the working man is the only sensible one and the sollution for everybody is to become a child again. It can be seen as either terribly naive or phoney and condescending, a movie made for the common people by a rich film director. Having seen the film you risk ending up as a strong believer in capitalism, and I'm not sure if that was the intention.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Son of Jippi Kafé

James Stewart, part 2

Some more James Stewart films. First: The Shop Around The Corner. Stewart and Margaret Sullavan work in the same shop, in Budapest, and have trouble getting along. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

It's a classic that still holds up well - it's old Hollywood at it's best, and an example of the famous Lubitch touch. The film is more appealing than actually funny, especially in the sympathetic tone it has towards all of it's characters, none of them simply clichés, including the owner of the shop, Mr Matuschek, played by Frank Morgan. There's actually a certain darkness in the film, a suicide attempt that goes wrong. Happiness wins out in the end, though, but it feels well earned, and not simply tacked on.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some books I've read 3

Lowside of The Road - A Life of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns

I guess the trouble with a Tom Waits biography is - do you really want to know the truth? If Waits says he was born in the back of a cab, do you want to read and find out that he wasn't? But it's a well written book. When I've put on some Tom Waits I've mostly been listening to Swordfishtrombones / Rain Dogs / Frank's Wild Years. The book made me re-listen to the older material, the Asylum records. I had forgotten how good they are, especially Small Change and Heartattack And Wine.

A Freewheelin' Time by Suze Rotolo

It's an interesting memoir about Greenwich Village in the sixties and her time with Bob Dylan, even more so since it's written without any bitterness.

Positively Fourth Street by David Hadju.

Another book about Bob Dylan and also about Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. The writer brings that whole period to life, from Dylan arriving in New York to his motorcycle accident in Woodstock and the death of Farina. It's a great book. I tried to read Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me once, many years ago. Maybe I should give it a second try. And Dylan sure was an asshole towards Joan Baez...

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

I've started re-reading my Chandler books. This one is a bit slow, but well worth reading a second time. It's maybe his most literary novel. He seems less interested in the plot. Currently reading The Little Sister and still enjoying Chandler's use of language and vernacular.

Still waiting on my bedside table: The Selected Letters of Jack Kerouac. I'll get to them eventually, okay?! I promise! Don't rush me! It's over 1000 pages for chrissake...

An old strip

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jippi Kafé

These were the indicia / editorial - pages from issues of Mjau Mjau.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


... done for the Angoulême edition of free French newspaper 20 minutes. Colours by Hubert.