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Joan Collins on current cinema

Along with The National Rust, my magazines of choice are The Week and The Spectator. 

I like the former for its balance, 3/4 views on every topic and its scope – covering politics, the arts, travel, sport and business.

I do not always chime with the High Toryism of The Spectator especially over Brexit but I always enjoy Martin Gayford on art and the hilarious advice column of Mary Killen on the social problems that the haute bourgeoisie experience.

I am far less impressed by Deborah Ross as film critic. This is not actually serious critique based on detailed knowledge of film actors, directors ,the art and craft of film-making but a platform for her wit in which I seems to populate every sentence.

So I was rather pleased when Joan Collins, in the diary section, addressed the state of modern cinema. She wrote:

I am not alone in my opinion that many of them ( her stack of DVDs of current films) are dull, pretentious and preachy: most are far too long and drawn-out, and many of my fellow Oscar voters are bemoaning the lack of good solid product. Hollywood will probably despise me for saying this but when I watch a motion picture I want to be entertained, kept interested and intrigued. Romance, charm and style seem to have been replaced by brutal violence, revolting profanity or far-fetched and alien plot-lines.” 

No, you are not alone.

My take is that after Star Wars (1975) film-making lost its way and became over -reliant on special effects, branding and box office stars.

This week I was tempted to see The Shape of  Water, being a great fan of Guillermo Toro who directed the brilliant Pan’s Labyrinth. However the story of a woman falling for a creature from the sea seemed suspiciously  close to Beauty and the Beast or Amelie.  

I therefore took from my stack of DVDs the 1969 film Two for the Road starring Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn- no shortage of style and charm with her. It’s a road movie cum Who Is afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

A couple whose ten year marriage is on the rocks drive down to the South Of France. Albert Finney plays Mark, an architect, Audrey Hepburn his wayward wife. The script, written by Frederic Raphael, is crisply tart and witty. The director is Stanley Donen.

For a 1969 film it’s somewhat daring. You see Finney in bed with Hepburn though no sex nor revelation of the privates. The film does not stay in the same time frame with frequent flashbacks to a previous car journey in which they meet the family from Hell: an American lady with her ghastly daughter and her over-organised husband Howie. In those parts the film is more com than rom.

Yes it’s dated but glamorous, fun and with a happy ending when the couple – for all their bitchy arguing and affairs – agree to soldier on as they love each other. Watch out for cameos from Judy Cornwell and  Jacqueline Bisset who, after a decent career, made a fortune in real estate.

One day I will write an article on actor’s other careers. For 10 years Joan Crawford was a director of Pepsi Cola and character actor Maurice Denham was a lift operator.

The on-screen chemistry between Finney and Hepburn worked so well that you wondered if it continued off screen. Finney, one of our major actors, is 80 now and la Hepburn no longer with us, but her quintessential glamour still lives on.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts