FILM . FESTIVAL
l l i i l
Although the Film Festival has tracked down a couple of the ﬁlms de Toth made in Hungary before departing for America when World War ll broke out. the main focus of the Edinburgh event is on six of his 40s and 50s Hollywood pictures and his last completed feature. 1968‘s Play Dirty. a sour and bitterly controversial British spin on The Dirty Dozen. with an implacable Michael Caine leading a group of brutal desperadoes in an attack on a German base in North Africa.
While the organisers have gone to the length of procuring a new. specially reflective screen on which to show House Of War in all its three—
' dimensional glory. the mini-season also offers a rare chance to see unjustly overlooked offerings like the latterday noir thriller Crime Wave — a dark and ambiguous l954 Sterling Hayden movie apparently much admired by Jean Pierre Melville — which will precede dc Toth‘s appearance on stage to discuss his remarkable life (he‘s fathered nineteen children and broken his neck at least three times) and ﬁlm career.
Tough Westerns like 1947's Ramrod and 1953‘s impressive Gary Cooper vehicle Springfield Riﬂe are represented too. alongside the Korda- produced gothic melodrama Dark Waters (1944) and the uncomfortable portrait of suburbia‘s lurking secrets in Pitfall (1948). At 81 (some sources say 84). the old boy certainly has a lot left to give. as his uncompromising testimony in Fragments more than bears out. Chances to share ﬁrst hand the reminiscences ofthe studio guys who made Hollywood are getting rarer and rarer: don‘t miss this one. Crimewave. Cameo 1. Wed 17. 6.15pm. followed by a discussion between the director and Guardian ﬁlm critic Derek
Malcolm. De Toth Retrospective begins
on Sun [4 and continues throughout the
Festival. Fragments is published by
3 Faber at £20.
As the Film Festival mounts a tribute to Andre’ de Toth, Trevor Johnston discovers there’s life in the old dog yet.
When it comes to Hollywood directors of the studio era. you need to ask the people who know. And there are few better guides to the revered and semi- forgotten talents of an entire era than Martin Scorsese and Bertrand Tavemer. Each has signiﬁcantly contributed an introduction to Fragments. the highly individual memoirs of Hungarian expatriate director Andre de Toth. published by Faber to tie in with his short retrospective at this year‘s Edinburgh Film Festival.
Although every ﬁlm trivia bore will tell you that de Toth has only one eye but still managed to direct the 3-D Vincent Price horror classic House Of Wax. de Toth‘s own book and this mini- season of his ﬁlms should prove he‘s much more than a single-anecdote talent. Marty. for instance. calls him ‘a director‘s director‘ and ‘an unsung hero'. ‘Be it in his ﬁlm noir or in his Westerns.’ he says. ‘de Toth's characters always move in a treacherous world where deception and cynicism are aimed at one goal: survival.‘
Tavernier too. another walking encyclopaedia of ﬁlm history. once interviewed him for Cahiers de Cinema and offers a striking foreword. detailed in its analysis of de Toth‘s often bravura camera style and the surprisingly unsentimental tone of many of his pictures. ‘He is one of those whose ﬁlms. underrated for far too long, are appreciated more and more each time one see them. As the years go by they have become indispensable companions, which stimulate and restore my conﬁdence,‘ Tavernier reckons.
I To live Fugui is a would-be playboy in 40s China who gambles away his fatnily home and almost loses his wife and young family in the process. During the Great Leap Forward. however. he is able to witness the public execution of the man who took his place as landlord. Such are the ironies that manifest themselves in the lives of ordinary people in Zhang Yimou‘s latest beautifully photographed epic. Decades of political unrest manipulate the characters like the shadowplays from which Fugui now makes his living. The ﬁlm, which shows more humour than is usual in Zhang‘s work. won the Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor Award at Cannes. (AM)
To Live. Film/rouse 1. Sun 14. 6.30pm.
I The Hudsucker Proxy More than genre pastiche. the Coen Brothers‘ latest roots itself in the celluloid fairy-tale world of 30s/40s romantic screwball comedy, with a touch of satire on post—80s corporate greed. Tim Robbins is cast in the Jimmy Stewart mould as an eager kid from the mailroom who gets promoted to the board by a devious Paul Newman when the company‘s chief takes a dive onto the Madison Avenue basement. Jennifer Jason Leigh slips into Katharine Hepbum‘s shoes for the love interest in a stylish fantasy-cum-morality tale that knows all the tricks of the trade. (AM)
The Hudsucker Proxy. Film/rouse I . Sun [4. 8.30pm and Cameo I. Tue [6, [.30pm.
M N 3M- 5.... \. I. ‘u\‘ W \‘ wmvm 5‘ $5
I Brotherly Love One of the stand-out ﬁlms in a strong Scottish line-up is Angus Reid‘s ﬁlm debut. pan of his larger ‘single project of anistic research‘. Speakeasy. which has included the Fringe First-winning plays How To Kill and Believer. Two brothers travel to the north of Scotland in a claustrophobic car, working out personal and mutual problems en route. The ﬁlm shows European leanings (Wenders perhaps tnost of all). although its impressive photographic techniques are all its own. And at the centre are compelling performances by real-life siblings Russell and Tam Dean Burn. whose improvisational scenes crackle with genuine feeling. (AM)
Brotherly Love. Cameo 1. Tue [6. 8.30pm.
70 The List 12-18 August 1994