Old Hollywood
Cinema
1900-1979

Nostalgia is a seductive liar - George Wildman Ball
Stills from Overlord (1975, dir. Stuart Cooper) (via bfi.org.uk)

Stills from Overlord (1975, dir. Stuart Cooper) (via bfi.org.uk)

A Clockwork Orange (1971, dir. Stanley Kubrick) Scene here.
"It had been a wonderful evening and what I needed now, to give it the perfect ending, was a little of the Ludwig Van. Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!"

A Clockwork Orange (1971, dir. Stanley Kubrick) Scene here.

"It had been a wonderful evening and what I needed now, to give it the perfect ending, was a little of the Ludwig Van. Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!"

Pam Grier in publicity still for Hit Man (1972, dir. George Armitage)
"Me, sexy? I’m just plain ol’ beans and rice."

Pam Grier in publicity still for Hit Man (1972, dir. George Armitage)

"Me, sexy? I’m just plain ol’ beans and rice."

Roy Ayers - Coffy is the Color (Coffy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Pam Grier in Coffy (1973, dir. Jack Hill)
"The Baddest One-Chick Hit-Squad that ever hit town! They call her Coffy and she’ll cream you!"

Pam Grier in Coffy (1973, dir. Jack Hill)

"The Baddest One-Chick Hit-Squad that ever hit town! They call her Coffy and she’ll cream you!"

Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange (1971, dir.Stanley Kubrick)
Q. What was your attitude towards violence and eroticism in your film? 
Stanley Kubrick: The violence in the story has to  be given sufficient dramatic weight so that the moral dilemma it poses can  be seen in the right context. It is absolutely essential that Alex is seen  to be guilty of a terrible violence against society, so that when he is  eventually transformed by the State into a harmless zombie you can reach a  meaningful conclusion about the relative rights and wrongs. If we did not  see Alex first as a brutal and merciless thug it would be too easy to  agree that the State is involved in a worse evil in depriving him of his  freedom to choose between good and evil. It must be clear that it is wrong  to turn even unforgivably vicious criminals into vegetables, otherwise the  story would fall into the same logical trap as did the old, anti-lynching  Hollywood westerns which always nullified their theme by lynching an  innocent person. Of course no one will disagree that you shouldn’t lynch  an innocent person, but will they agree that it’s just as bad to lynch a  guilty person, perhaps even someone guilty of a horrible crime? And so it  is with conditioning Alex.
Q. In your films, you seem to be critical of all political factions.  Would you define yourself as a pessimist or anarchist? 
Kubrick: I am certainly not an anarchist, and I don’t think of myself as a  pessimist. I believe very strongly in parliamentary democracy, and I am of  the opinion that the power and authority of the State should be optimized  and exercised only to the extent that is required to keep things  civilized. History has shown us what happens when you try to make  society too civilized, or do too good a job of eliminating undesirable  elements. It also shows the tragic fallacy in the belief that the  destruction of democratic institutions will cause better ones to arise in  their place.
Certainly one of the most challenging and difficult social problems we  face today is, how can the State maintain the necessary degree of control  over society without becoming repressive, and how can it achieve this in  the face of an increasingly impatient electorate who are beginning to  regard legal and political solutions as too slow? The State sees the  spectre looming ahead of terrorism and anarchy, and this increases the  risk of its over-reaction and a reduction in our freedom. As with  everything else in life, it is a matter of groping for the right balance,  and a certain amount of luck.
-excerpted from Kubrick: The Definitive Edition by Michel Ciment, Gilbert Adair, & Robert Bononno

Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange (1971, dir.Stanley Kubrick)

Q. What was your attitude towards violence and eroticism in your film?

Stanley Kubrick: The violence in the story has to be given sufficient dramatic weight so that the moral dilemma it poses can be seen in the right context. It is absolutely essential that Alex is seen to be guilty of a terrible violence against society, so that when he is eventually transformed by the State into a harmless zombie you can reach a meaningful conclusion about the relative rights and wrongs. If we did not see Alex first as a brutal and merciless thug it would be too easy to agree that the State is involved in a worse evil in depriving him of his freedom to choose between good and evil. It must be clear that it is wrong to turn even unforgivably vicious criminals into vegetables, otherwise the story would fall into the same logical trap as did the old, anti-lynching Hollywood westerns which always nullified their theme by lynching an innocent person. Of course no one will disagree that you shouldn’t lynch an innocent person, but will they agree that it’s just as bad to lynch a guilty person, perhaps even someone guilty of a horrible crime? And so it is with conditioning Alex.

Q. In your films, you seem to be critical of all political factions. Would you define yourself as a pessimist or anarchist?

Kubrick: I am certainly not an anarchist, and I don’t think of myself as a pessimist. I believe very strongly in parliamentary democracy, and I am of the opinion that the power and authority of the State should be optimized and exercised only to the extent that is required to keep things civilized. History has shown us what happens when you try to make society too civilized, or do too good a job of eliminating undesirable elements. It also shows the tragic fallacy in the belief that the destruction of democratic institutions will cause better ones to arise in their place.

Certainly one of the most challenging and difficult social problems we face today is, how can the State maintain the necessary degree of control over society without becoming repressive, and how can it achieve this in the face of an increasingly impatient electorate who are beginning to regard legal and political solutions as too slow? The State sees the spectre looming ahead of terrorism and anarchy, and this increases the risk of its over-reaction and a reduction in our freedom. As with everything else in life, it is a matter of groping for the right balance, and a certain amount of luck.

-excerpted from Kubrick: The Definitive Edition by Michel Ciment, Gilbert Adair, & Robert Bononno

Jean-Louis Trintignant in The Conformist (1970, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
“Marcello is really a very complex character, searching to conform because of his great, violent anti-conformism. A true conformist is someone who has no wish to change; to wish to conform is really to say that the truth is the contrary.”
(Bernardo Bertolucci: interviews)

Jean-Louis Trintignant in The Conformist (1970, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)

“Marcello is really a very complex character, searching to conform because of his great, violent anti-conformism. A true conformist is someone who has no wish to change; to wish to conform is really to say that the truth is the contrary.”

(Bernardo Bertolucci: interviews)

Fun decorating ideas for whimsical rich people via L’anticristo (1974, dir. Alberto de Martino)

Fun decorating ideas for whimsical rich people via L’anticristo (1974, dir. Alberto de Martino)

Johnny Mandel (music) & Mike Altman (lyrics) Suicide is Painless (M*A*S*H: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Young  Frankenstein (1974, dir. Mel Brooks)

Young Frankenstein (1974, dir. Mel Brooks)

Faye Dunaway tries to kill director/Fugitive to the Stars Roman Polanski with her mind on the set of Chinatown (1974)
Polanski vs. Dunaway, Or: It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets a Face Full of Urine
"The actors were used to the American warm bath school of directing, which is to say, a collaborative approach. That was not Polanski’s way. ‘Roman is Napoleon with actors, ‘They do what I tell them to do,” says [Paramount production head Robert] Evans. ‘He’d say, ‘In Poland, I could just go make my fucking movies.’ He was dictatorial & controlling. He gave Jack Nicholson so many line readings that Anthea Sylbert, the costume designer, half expected Nicholson to begin speaking with a Polish accent. But Nicholson & Polanski were good friends and Nicholson was more often than not amused by Polanski’s eccentricities. Dunaway, on the contrary, was decidedly not.
Dunaway was puzzled about her character’s motivation, and by all accounts, got little guidance from Polanski. He would shout, ‘Say the fucking words. Your salary is your motivation.’ Things came to a head two weeks into shooting. According to Polanski, ‘There was one hair that would stick out from her hairdo and catch the light and I was trying to get rid of it, trying to flatten it and it would not stay.’ Polanski walked around behind her and plucked the hair. Dunaway screamed, ‘That motherfucker plucked my hair!’ and stormed off the set. Polanski did the same. Evans arranged a truce between the director and his leading lady, but it didn’t last long. ‘There was a scene where she gets in the car after seeing her daughter, and Jack is in the car waiting for her and scares the shit out of her,’ recalls John Alonzo, the DP. ‘She kept saying to Roman, ‘Roman, I have to pee. I have to pee.’ ‘No. No. You stay there. You stay there. We shoot, we shoot.’ And then he said, ‘Roll the window down. I got to talk to you. You’re turning too far right. Don’t look at Jack, look ahead.’ Then she threw a coffee-cup full of liquid in Roman’s face. He said, ‘You cunt, that’s piss!’ And she said, ‘Yes, you little putz,’ and rolled the window up. We were all speculating that maybe Jack peed in the cup for her. [Or maybe] she had a small bladder or something.”
-excerpted from Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Faye Dunaway tries to kill director/Fugitive to the Stars Roman Polanski with her mind on the set of Chinatown (1974)

Polanski vs. Dunaway, Or: It’s All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets a Face Full of Urine

"The actors were used to the American warm bath school of directing, which is to say, a collaborative approach. That was not Polanski’s way. ‘Roman is Napoleon with actors, ‘They do what I tell them to do,” says [Paramount production head Robert] Evans. ‘He’d say, ‘In Poland, I could just go make my fucking movies.’ He was dictatorial & controlling. He gave Jack Nicholson so many line readings that Anthea Sylbert, the costume designer, half expected Nicholson to begin speaking with a Polish accent. But Nicholson & Polanski were good friends and Nicholson was more often than not amused by Polanski’s eccentricities. Dunaway, on the contrary, was decidedly not.

Dunaway was puzzled about her character’s motivation, and by all accounts, got little guidance from Polanski. He would shout, ‘Say the fucking words. Your salary is your motivation.’ Things came to a head two weeks into shooting. According to Polanski, ‘There was one hair that would stick out from her hairdo and catch the light and I was trying to get rid of it, trying to flatten it and it would not stay.’ Polanski walked around behind her and plucked the hair. Dunaway screamed, ‘That motherfucker plucked my hair!’ and stormed off the set. Polanski did the same.

Evans arranged a truce between the director and his leading lady, but it didn’t last long. ‘There was a scene where she gets in the car after seeing her daughter, and Jack is in the car waiting for her and scares the shit out of her,’ recalls John Alonzo, the DP. ‘She kept saying to Roman, ‘Roman, I have to pee. I have to pee.’ ‘No. No. You stay there. You stay there. We shoot, we shoot.’ And then he said, ‘Roll the window down. I got to talk to you. You’re turning too far right. Don’t look at Jack, look ahead.’ Then she threw a coffee-cup full of liquid in Roman’s face. He said, ‘You cunt, that’s piss!’ And she said, ‘Yes, you little putz,’ and rolled the window up. We were all speculating that maybe Jack peed in the cup for her. [Or maybe] she had a small bladder or something.”

-excerpted from Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls