Posts tagged “The Misfits

London Trip (28-30/1/16) – Part 2

My second day in the capital saw me take in four more galleries that got better and better. The day started off at Collyer Bristow Gallery for photographic exhibition Frame Thy Fearful Symmetry that left me with mixed feelings. There were pieces that I was really engaging with, wondering how they were constructed. Whilst others I felt they were just plain literally with little thought beyond being an ironic meme. Pointless for me, by David Raymond ConroyEarly Abandonment the title was added in pink swirly bubble writing, on-top of an image clearly constructed for the image, of charges and cables outside a pawn shop. It felt too forced and lazy to really have any impact for me. Maybe that was the point which passed me by.

Another piece by Rachel Maclean which at a distance looked like a bright depiction of Hindu gods became something more bright and kitsch almost. Usually this style is far too much for me. However for me was all about the construction of the piece. It’s obvious that she has posed a number of times, characters of her on creation, manipulated and enhanced to create this over the top image that is too much too look at yet drawn in by something I can’t explain still.

The Next show was a one of the highlights of the weekend for me, seeing the work of Roberto Almango Suspended in Space in Rosenfeld Porcini. His sculptures look like 3dimensional drawings that have the illusion of hovering off the walls of the gallery space. He does the seemingly impossible with wood that he finds in the woods, bending them into wonderful shapes. I could have spent all day in that gallery space.

We moved onto the Halycon Art Gallery to look at Russell Young – Superstar, I came away enjoying the last photos of Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold some of which were taken during the filming of The Misfits (1961) which was a her last film. It was a nice surprise after the pop-art pieces with all the crushed diamonds which after a few minutes exposed their true identity as opulence for the rich. Of course the works in the show among other piece of pop-art, some made from hundreds of notes, other versions of Andy Warhol’s campbel soup cans.

The final exhibition was really playful and intricate work by Japanese artist Yuken Teruya at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery who takes paper cutting to another level. Most of the work made in the last two years, he is very playful in his work at the same time he is very much about nature and the economy. He takes the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees” and literally makes trees from rolled up notes with cut-out leaves. Even making a game of it with the Monopoly game. The financial world until recently has plated with money like it was a game, so maybe this could be too literal. Yet at the same time using monopoly you have the double meaning of how out of control, how successful players can be when playing, Yet you are safer playing these printed notes which come in a limited supply. Here we can see what could happen if we just let nature take over. Each piece is very intricate, made with real care and attention to detail,

Hud (1963)

Hud (1963)This has been on my radar for a year or so now, never really knowing much about the Hud (1963) beyond the poster, which is very little. I remember around the time of release there was a glut of neo-western’s that were released, such as The Misfits (1963) and Lonely are the Brave (1961) which explore the old west through a fresh pair of eyes, It’s always tired, worn down and fenced off. Focusing on a single man Hud Bannon (Paul Newman), long out of his time, leaving a path of unrest behind him. The black sheep of the family who roams around town causing trouble on a nightly basis, unable to grow-up and consider the consequences of his actions.

Part of a ranching family who are entering the worst period of their history when a horse is found with possible foot and mouth, a killer for most farmers even today. I remember the horrific scenes on the News of piles of carcases being burned, creating giant clouds of smoke, the smell of lost livelihoods in the air. A stench that issmelt in the early 1960’s. An issue that is never dealt with in the classic west, only the movement and sale of cattle, the struggle for land between rival land owners who fight for wars if they have to have the upper hand.

With the law very much in place that’s all gone, the science is very much a hard fact of modern agriculture, abiding by those laws, Something that Hud would happily disregard, with no real conscience, enjoy the pleasure of alcohol and women, both which come easy to him. His father Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas) has all but disowned his son that is the polar opposite of his dead son who is mentioned through, the gold standard that Hud can never reach and really doesn’t care. Living also with Homer is his grandson Louie Bannon (Brandon De Wilde) at an impressionable age, caught in between his grandfather and uncle who he both looks up to. Whilst house-keeper Alma Brown (Patricia Neal) is the only female influence in the Bannon house. A maternal influence for Louie and someone for Homer to rely on. Having her share of men in her past, she just carries on, doing her best to survive.

We see the Bannon family in their final hours as foot and mouth lingers in the air, waiting for the results to be confirmed adding to the tension already in the house. As Hud continues to go out every night, not caring if he leads Louie astray, whilst Homer looks on with worry at his family and livelihood.

It’s a raw family drama with Newman once more at his best delivering his lines at break-neck speed, he’s on it. Whilst more seasoned actor Douglas reminds me of Richard Farnsworthwith more fire in his belly, a man who has seen his share of fights, unsure of what the future might bring. We have an acting masterclass here along with Patricia Neal who trudges on with grace and determination in a man’s world that she thought she was cut out for.  

I’m surprised that Hud isn’t held in higher regard with The Misfits that marks the end of the west, the west here as grown up not completely died, the reality of the myth has washed away to reveal the hardships of the cattle business. That the gunfighter has no place in society today, left to wandering around causing trouble for their family and friends. Things have to change.

Related Articles

The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)

The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)It’s taken me too long to get around to watching The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) I don’t know why really either, not knowing what it was really about until I thought, just stick it on, sit back and relax. And relax I did as another turn of the century Sam Peckinpah western unfolded. A more gentle affair from a director known for his bloody violence that will always be associated with him, which overlooks the rest of his work. which includes this. 

A man who is left to die has to go on a journey that begins with survival and revenge becomes so much more when he Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) finds  what he has prayed for the last few days, dehydrated and desperate for salvation. Not really a religious man he turns to God, who is directed towards the water that he has been praying for. Leading him once back into civilization and financial success in the form of a stagecoach station that he hopes to construct. Taking the opportunity to reap what he has been given.

This gift of water is something he isn’t so easy to give away, charging everyone at first just drink from it, costing one man his life and a philandering preacher man Joshua (David Warner) an uneasy hand in friendship.

It seems whatever Hogue has to do gain respect and trust he has a fight on his hand, with the little he has he later reaps from those who love him. Especially one prostitute Hildy (Stella Stevens) who he sees so much hope and love in, he will go to the other side of the Earth for her. Who we are first introduced to in most masculine way, that is forever burned in the viewers mind. We are seeing a flawed and imperfect man who wants to make his mark, to be known by a few.

The majority of the film takes place in the stagecoach station/stop, as people come and go. A light sweeping piece of film, but remains true to the genre of the wild west. Peckinpah is more comfortable, playing with the fabric of the film, manipulating its speed for comic effect, which today could be seen as dated, yet works for the film that doesn’t take itself to seriously. And when it does, its graceful in showing the passing of time, through a musical number of the overlapping of images, he wants us to be lost in what made the western so great, always returning to the stagecoach, which was the first real form of travel for the masses, and first updating the genre in Stagecoach (1939). Fleshing out the drivers of the vehicle, mainly in the form of Slim Pickens that clearly references the original driver from Stagecoach’s Andy Devinethe overweight and grumpy but loveable driver.

I felt there was a need for Peckinpah to respond to the earlier film The Misfits (1961) that saw the death of the cowboy from the modern world perspective. In Hogue it’s a chance to see this at a much earlier date, when a stronger romantic air was around. We have a group of character who don’t fit into society, not wanting to conform to the ways of civilization until they really are forced to in their own ways. The introduction of the automobile scares those who have not seen it, a greater danger than before to be reckoned with.

Lastly there is a re-teaming of Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones who were the comic relief in The Wild Bunch (1969) that were brought back into different characters, but very much the same on the surface. Very much in the steps of John Ford and his stock company of actors who played similar roles in numerous films, a gesture is being made in his direction. And the real test of the man for Hogue who at the beginning was stranded alone in the desert by these two. They test each others strength as men, and in the end Hogue is the stronger man for waiting for them to return, having learnt a lot over the duration of the film. Whilst the double act learn when to give up and accept their place. Before a low-key and poignant end to the film that sums up where we have come from and now to.