Author Topic: Remembering Ken: French Dressing  (Read 2944 times)

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Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 11:31:10 PM »
PS do Americans know Cliff Richard?

I wa going to say yes, but then realized I was confusing Cliff Richard with Lonnie Donegan. Does anybody remember Lonnie Donegan?

As for "French Dressing," I do think it is a film that is underappreciated, even by Ken's fans, as for the first time we get to see what Ken could do on the big screen.

And what could he do on the big screen? He could use a camera, to best effect, like few other directors.

We also get to see the courage of his convictions.  Which he would maintain throughout his film career from here in 1963 to "Trapped Ashes" in 2006.

As for his use of the sailor suit in his films, what intrigues me more his using of a Tadzio look-alike. Again, in this film and then later in his "Mahler." And what makes his use even more intriguing, while 1974's "Mahler" came some 3 years after 1971's "Death in Venice," 1963's "French Dressing" came some 8 years before "Death in Venice." Why and where did that come from?

And everybody has to start someplace, but does anybody know how he got the job of directing this film, when he had never directed a film for the big screen before?

Offline Rosebud

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2012, 03:55:24 AM »
After posing the previous comment I realized that I goofed.
I meant to say "I doubt very many Americans under the age of 30 would know the name Cliff Richard."
I doubt very few Americans under the age of 30 would know the name Cliff Richard.  I believe he was relatively well know in the states from the late 1950's to the early 1980's.  He had several minor hits throughout those years.
I'm an American, who first became aware of the name Cliff Richard as a teenager, while watching syndicated episodes of "The Young Ones."  If you have seen the show you probably recall the character of Rick the anarchist, who constantly obsesses over him.  Then I learned that the song "Suddenly" from the movie "Xanadu" was a duet between him and Olivia Newton-John.   I don't think I knew what Cliff Richard looked like until I saw "A British Picture" a few years back, which showed clips of the Ken Russell directed video for "She's So Beautiful."

Offline Rosebud

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 10:55:46 PM »
I doubt very few Americans under the age of 30 would know the name Cliff Richard.  I believe he was relatively well know in the states from the late 1950's to the early 1980's.  He had several minor hits throughout those years.
I'm an American, who first became aware of the name Cliff Richard as a teenager, while watching syndicated episodes of "The Young Ones."  If you have seen the show you probably recall the character of Rick the anarchist, who constantly obsesses over him.  Then I learned that the song "Suddenly" from the movie "Xanadu" was a duet between him and Olivia Newton-John.   I don't think I knew what Cliff Richard looked like until I saw "A British Picture" and few years back, which showed clips of the Ken Russell directed video for "She's So Beautiful."

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2012, 10:08:00 PM »
PS do Americans know Cliff Richard?

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2012, 09:58:22 PM »
Phallic Frency by Joseph Lanza skims over the film.  He points out correctly the overall premise is not new- Cliff Richard's films and The Beatles A Hard Days Night are close to the overall feel.

But, in my opinion, he misreads the films stating "if the story called for something silly... [ it ] takes on a macabre edge".  When I saw the film on a cinema screen recently, you see the timing of the humour is spot on.  It is a very funny film, and almost a family film- ignoring slight nudity.

Ken Hanke's early book on Ken (1984) also dismisses it, in a paragraph "not especially funny" and "show[ s ] little of either the promise of the BBC films or the greatness of his later features".

John Baxter in An Appalling Talent covers it more, pointing out comparisons with Jean Vigo and Jacques Tati.  Some good background to the film "French Dressing might have gained a moderate success had the producers given it adequate distribution.  Instead it is bundled out largely without promotion, cut to an hour for double-billing in countries like Australia, and in the USA never released at all.  Russell rashly attends the London critics' screen to answer questions- none are asked..."

And Baxter is gives more insight when talking to Ken "Only after a long discussion of the visual similarities of scenes in The Devils and French Dressing and a number of attempts to evade the question did he agree that the tumbled corpses in the plague pit [of The Devils] resemble the plastic dummies in French Dressing and the bath or corpses in Billion Dollar Brain."

More from Baxter soon.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2012, 10:14:43 PM by Iain Fisher »

Offline Iain Fisher

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2012, 09:35:59 PM »
I've not heard of anything, but Ken's films on DVD seem to pop up without notice and at random.  A box set of a number of films with extras etc would be great.

Offline Rosebud

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Re: Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2012, 02:00:51 AM »
The only theatrical film of Ken's that I have never seen.  I've been wanting to see it for over a decade.  Has there been any recent talk about a DVD release?

Offline Iain Fisher

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Remembering Ken: French Dressing
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2012, 12:31:40 AM »
Ken's first cinema film from 1963.  A light comedy, something Ken hasn't done since, and a strange choice for someone famous for his documentaries on composers.  Presumably Ken not being a cinema director had little choice for his first film.

My memories before rewatching it (actually I saw it in the cinema of the British Film Institute a short while back so I am recreating my memories before I saw it then).  A good innocent love story of two innocents (newcomer Alita Naughton, minor British comedy star James Booth), coupled with spectacular photography.  I liked the girl's worldy innocence, and the images I remembered were the opening scene on the pier with the long cycle ride, the deckchairs in the water, and Alita framed in the whole screen using her typewriter.

The site has some photos of these, but they are pretty small (Internet speeds allow bigger photos) so I will try and update with better photos soon.

Phallic Frenzy, the last overview of Ken's films, dismisses the film, unfairly I think, in under three pages, and with few insights into the film.

More to come, comments and other views welcome.

Iain