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Saturday, August 19, 2006

A double life

Following with "The Masked Marvel": one of the interesting things about it is that it deals with the theme of a double life, something which Laughton could have portrayed well.

Laughton was always keen on giving a character a well-rounded, multi-layered self. Never an actor to conform himself with a flat, one dimensional delivery, he had successfully embodied respectable citizens with a skeleton in the closet, such as in "Payment Deferred" or "The Suspect". Those cases, though, deal more with people concerned with the cover-up of an accidental -or temporary- disruption (i.e. crime) in their routinely lifestyle than a fully fledged double life. "The Masked Marvel", in that sense, would have given him the chance of playing a man living a double life in a sustained way (Not that he would have had to gone too far to source himself, ha).

In this context I think that it would be appropiate to quote A.E. Wilson's (1) very perceptive description of Laughton's villains:
"Charles Laughton very often hands out a neat line in villainy of the subtle hand. He is not the bold and desperate villain who could as soon drown, poison or tie to the railway lines or mill-wheel the discarded victim of his cruel deceit as he would smoke or crush a cigarette. He is of the furtive and secret kind who would blush to let his bad deeds be known and who really has no stomach and relish for wickedness (2). This is not bold, black villainy as the good old Adelphi knew it; it is rather a wishy-washy sort of grey according to the old standards."

"(...) furtive and secret kind"... One wonders whether Mr. Wilson had an X-ray eyesight, or maybe Laughton did want to tell, in an oblique way, but tell, after all?

(1) From the book "Theatre Guyed. The Baedeker of Thespia" (1935) by A.E. Wilson. Introduction by Sidney Horler. Illustrations by Tom Titt. Published by Methuen
(2) Not that it was always that way: Laughton played well bold, black villainy in "A Man With Red Hair" or "White Woman" .

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Masked Marvel

When I first came across an early promotion of the film "Nacho Libre", there was something familiar about the story... as this blogger , I had read in Cameron Crowe's interview book with Billy Wilder about a film script idea he had for Laughton. Billy & Charles finally settled for "Witness For The Prosecution"... Which leaves one wondering what kind of film this could have been.

What one can be reasonably sure is that "The Masked Marvel" would probably be as different from "Nacho Libre" as Billy Wilder is from Jared Hess or Charles Laughton is from Jack Black...

Ni mehó, ni peó... zolo diherente

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ens estimem tant en Charlie

I've finished the main work in an article for the Catalan Wikipedia (with odds and bits to be added later).

The main point behind me doing it is that the red-blooded -and well-meaning- Laughtonian should not only enjoy his work indoors but, as much as possible, spread the good news to others. Proselitize gently, if you may, but proselitize... Don't leave your dear ones in the dark about what the real good thing is.