Monday, February 13, 2006

The Siren Awakes From Uneasy Dreams

For years the Siren's dreams were no more than vaguely annoying, with a cast assembled from her daily life. Twice in the past month, however, she has had someone from Hollywood's Golden Age show up to badger her during REM sleep. A couple of weeks ago, it was Cary Grant, wearing a double-breasted suit, who came to her house to tell her that she had bad manners.

And last night, the Siren found herself confronting Fritz Lang, looking as he did in Contempt. Lang told the Siren she looks old. I am afraid that in this dream I completely lost my temper and found myself shrieking at Fritz that "all your actors HATED YOUR GUTS!! Marlene Dietrich said you WERE A SADIST!!"

What annoys me most is that I didn't even see a Fritz Lang film last week, though I crammed in a lot of movie-viewing. I was thinking--thinking, mind you--of watching Clash by Night and I guess that was all it took. I considered trying to re-program myself by watching a Thin Man movie but now I am terribly afraid William Powell might pop into my unconscious to tell me I have lousy comic timing.


girish said...

"Lang told the Siren she looks old."
Fritz--Throw away the damn monocle, swallow your pride, and get yourself tested for some high-powered glassses.

Gloria said...

It is curious that some highly considered film directors (thankfully, not all) seem to have (or are accused of having) a bent towards sadism/bullying: Remember Moira Shearer's comments about Michael Powell in the interview which was linked from this site? We could add the names of Hitchcock, Sternberg... or if you remember Maureen O'Hara's recent memoirs, John Ford

Campaspe said...

Girish, thanks! In the dream I was pretty seriously irked, especially Lang looked like a big unhappy sea turtle in Contempt.

Gloria, you are right. Directing is a profession that attracts some truly brutal personalities. Otto Preminger also comes to mind. William Wyler wasn't truly nasty but he was famous for having about 100 takes until he got what he wanted from the actor ... only he was famously unable to explain what he wanted in words. He'd just say, "do it again."

It seems that the nice guys were more of an exception. George Cukor comes to mind; D.W. Griffith's actors loved him too, as do Robert Altman's.

Gloria said...

Well... as for entirely loveable chaps, the first which springs to my mind is Jean Renoir: I've come across many positive comments about him... Mind you, unlike Hitchcock and others, Renoir (as the humanist avant la lettre he was) greatly respected/loved actors.

As per the one-film-director of a movie which you and many posters to this blog love-which I suppose needs not to be mentioned ;)-, according to all witnesses, he just charmed the pants of his cast and crew...and again, this director had a great respect for actors... well, inevitably ;)

Exiled in NJ said...

Well, think on the bright side. Herr Lang could have had you doing your blogging in the bathroom, with Rosalind Ivan biting off your head every time you opened the door.

tempesttozephyr said...

F, even your nightmares are classier than other people's. I'd rather have Cary Grant criticising me in my sleep than my mother.

As for Fritz Lang, a pox on him!

Zach Campbell said...

If one is going to be lectured for bad manners in a dream, Cary Grant is probably the best way to go about it.

As for directors and their relationship to actors ... there was Fassbinder, for whom love and sadism towards his actors, not to mention his entire conception of acting in cinema, were intertwined and inseparable.

And Cassavetes, for whom life and filmmaking became likewise intertwined, who loved his actors but could be hard on all those around him.

Exiled in NJ said...

Let's hope tonight's dream does not go down the Klaus Kinski-Werner Herzog path.

Peter Nellhaus said...

Your mention of William Powell brings to mind a reference to Powell and the Thin Man in the song, "Sleeping with the TV On" by The Dictators. They were a funny hard rock group from NYC. One of the band members later founded a band called The Del Lords, named after the frequent director of Three Stooges shorts.