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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hunter Jazz, and a list of one hundred films

Just a few posts before, I talked about a project by Mr. Pierre Fablet and a ensemble of jazz musicians: a jazz concert inspired by "The Night of The Hunter", and Walter Schumman's score for it.

The good news is that Mr. Fablet's project to record the concert is going ahead. To that end, he has opened a subscription: anyone who'd like to contribute to make the CD release possible can participate (For those of you interested click here for a subscription leafleet).

I hope the CD becomes a reality soon and I can make a post about it ;D

At the time of its release, one of the few appreciative reviews that "The Night Of The Hunter" received was one by Francois Truffaut. Truffaut sadly realized that Laughton's original parable was bound to be too conventional for Hollywood's staple: while praising Laughton's film-making as having the courage "to knock over a few red lights and some traffic cops in his unusual film. It makes us fall in love again with an experimental cinema that truly experiments and a cinema of discovery that, in fact, discovers" he also predicted that "screenplays such as this are not the way to launch your career as a Hollywood director. The film runs counter to the rules of commercialism: it will probably be Laughton's single experience as a director".

Recently, a group of 78 critics were asked by Cahiers du Cinema (the renowned French magazine to which Truffaut used to contribute) to vote for their favourite films: the result lists one hundred films, of which Laughton's "The Night Of The Hunter" ranks second, tied there with his good friend Jean Renoir's "La régle du jeu" (I just love that tie, particularly since Charles and Jean's joint 1943 effort is what made a Laughtonienne out of me).

I've read a number of online comments about that list which question the selection, and of course a list of just one hundred film, however remarkable, is bound to leave a good number of films outside, in fact a list of a thousand films would also undoubtedly leave out many films of worth. Maybe I'd add more films to a personal list, films by Mikio Naruse, Jose Luis Berlanga, Isao Takahata, Alexander Mckendrick, Norman MacLaren, Marco Ferreri, Albert Lewin, Hayao Miyazaki, Powell & Pressburger, Pedro Almodovar, Preston Sturges, Bertrand Tavernier or Mitchell Leisen, among many others, but then there is such a lot of films I still have to see that... well, I'd probably leaving out a lot of excellent films as well!

Anyway, I don't think that the list was meant to be an "absolute" one, those critics voted their their favourites, and wether you agree or not with their choices, I don't see bad films there. And... well, yours truly is awfully pleased that "The Night of the Hunter" made it number two ;p

(1) Truffaut's review for "The Night Of The Hunter" is published in an enjoyable anthology of his reviews "The Films In My Life" (Originally published in French as "Les films de ma vie". I might as well mention that you should be able read the english version of the review thanks to the "look inside" search facility).

La edición castellana de este libro, "Las películas de mi vida" se publicó en 1976 por Ediciones Mensajero (Bilbao). Por si no la pudiérais localizar ni de segunda mano ni en bibliotecas... click, click

My thanks to Olivier for first giving me the news.