The Night of the Hunter

Yes, that Charles Laughton: Yorkshireman, legendary character actor (where are all the character actors today, huh?) and consummate man of the stage. And, for one night only, film director.

Cast Robert Mitchum as a con artist who poses as a preacher to part gullible widows from their inheritance and you have a bit of a cliché. Put him on the trail of the widow and children one-time cellmate, hanged for his part in an armed robbery gone bad, and you have a recipe for a classic slice of film noir. Buit anybody looking here for gritty realism and suspense is going to be disappointed. Everything is just too over-the-top to be credible in that context.

But look at it from another angle; as a fairy-tale, the kind of dark, nightmarish fairy-tale that the Grimm brothers harvested from the forests of Hessen; then you find yourself looking at a little bit of genius. It all makes sense then. Mitchum pulls off the pantomime baddie with all the sinister charm that you could wish for. Lillian Gish gives a peach of a performance as a feisty fairy godmother: terrifying but golden-hearted. The children recall Hansel and Gretel, lost in flight from danger. That boat carrying the children down the Ohio River, watched over by the animals under a huge crescent moon, reeks of allegory; a journey from tarnished innocence into the wisdom of experience (paralleled by Miss Cooper’s teenaged ward, Ruby, in her early sexual encounters). Naturally, it all brings to mind Huckleberry Finn; Siegfried’s journey down the Rhine; even Watership Down. (And yes, The Lord of the Rings if you must.)

Looked at in the right way, this film is a little gem that deserves to be better-known than it is. It’s such a shame that Charles Laughton never had a chance to weave such magic again.


Birthday girl

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Tosca - Birthday Girl
Say “happy birthday” to Tosca, who is four years old today!

Health bulletin

Friday, 11 July 2008

The doc assured me – after a urine test – that I don’t have kidney problems and I’m not diabetic. I do, however, have an infection of the urinary tract (and it does seem a bit counterintuitive to me that this should cause aching in my lower back but I guess that’s where the tubes from the kidneys go). So I’m on antibiotics and instructions to take it easy.

Don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed!


Friday, 11 July 2008

I feel like shit. It’s been on an off like this since I had my bad turn a couple of weeks ago, never actually feeling really ill in that way again, but on and off I’ve been feeling nauseous, and with not exactly a pain but a dull ache that seems to be rooted in the small of my back. Which suggests kidneys to me. Maybe kidney stones, I don’t know. I’ve been out of sorts for a few days now, and the ache gets steadily worse. Last night I couldn’t get comfortable and slept only fitfully. This morning I couldn’t bring myself to go for a run (not entirely because it’s been pissing down all morning.)

Anyway, I’ve arranged to see the doc this afternoon and maybe I’ll learn more. I can’t really believe it’s anything serious but one should be prepared, I think.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

The only thing that could cheer me up right now is if I could give my Roger a big compensatory hug. And one or two other things. Fancy losing to that vacuous pretty-boy. You’re my champion, Roger!

The people’s flag?

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Red flag

As I walked into town this morning I saw a sight that made my heart leap for joy even in the rain. A red flag flying proudly over Barrow Town Hall! Could it really be? David Cameron under house arrest? Blood running in the leafy avenues of Hawcoat as the residents are dragged through the streets to be cast into teh quarry? Jack Richardson shackled to the piers of Walney Bridge to await the passage of three high tides? All marketing people rounded up and pressed into useful labour commensurate with their intellectual ability (like scraping the chewing gum off the pavement)?

Alas, it was not to be. The scarlet banner turns out, on closer inspection, to be the triskalion flag of the Isle of Man. I expect babooshka might tell us what this is all about, if we ask her nicely.

The vandals!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Mental Health

What’s the world coming to? Don’t the people looking after them know that they are sometimes violent towards their surroundings? Can’t they keep an eye on them? Otherwise, what do you expect? 😉