The Flaus Dossier has overwhelmed me – I am at a loss for words.
I know that statement will be met with a measure of doubt by many of those who have had dealings with me over the years, but it’s true – almost entirely so. I did not appreciate the degree of respect which so many people have for me; I felt that I was reading my obituaries!! (If that’s what they think of me now, what will they say when I’m gone?!)
I simply say “thank you” to all those who contributed their opinion of me and my usefulness to screen culture – with a footnote to Phillip Adams: I’ve got a bone to pick with you, my boy. My apologies to Bruce Hodsdon, who is disappointed that I never went on to write at length about the filmmakers whose work I most admired (except for von Sternberg). Bruce, it was because I did not see myself as intellectually and emotionally sufficient to speak with authority about the work of such as Ozu, Dreyer, Jennings, Godard. Even in the case of Australian filmmakers, I did have a crack at writing about Albie Thoms and Paul Winkler – perhaps not too well, but the Cantrills’ films were too big a challenge for me to try.
And, finally, I offer three additional parallacts which may provoke some discussion among readers:
WHAT THE BOY WONDER SAID TO THE MAGNATE
I prestidigitate magic and joy,
The most you can make are mere millions.
See: Orson Welles, 1975 foreword to Marion Davies’ The Times We Had
“AND THE WINNER IS…”
Art prostrates itself to vanity;
egos preened, markets primed, suckers hooked.
Some who know me may question how I can say the above and yet accept awards from the Australian Writers’ Guild and the Australian Screen Directors Association. Well, those awards were recognition of contributions to the industry made over a period of years; they were not glory chasing, look-at-me one-offs boosting a product on current release. Besides, I object philosophically to works of art being exploited in vulgar competition (yeah, all right, I’ve heard of Aeschylus and the mob that followed him).
TO THE SOUND OF A FALLING CHAIR
She whose time is short embraces life,
Another, in her bloom, hastens death.
See: The Seventh Victim (1943)
In apparent defiance of what I’ve just said above, and in order to stimulate debate, I hereby make a “best” judgement about movies – all movies: this Val Lewton production has the best ending of any dramatic narrative I have ever seen. Of course, that is a radically subjective “best”; I leave it to the filmniks (and maybe also the buffs) to debate the criteria, the procedure and the validity of such a judgement.