KIM    Victor Saville    1950

The director and almost everyone in the cast is British  —  except Dean Stockwell.  But this film is as American as a fifties film can be.  The tone is all wrong.   Dean Stockwell is always an excellent actor; but unfortunately, thanks to the writing and directing, he  makes Rudyard Kipling’s daring child hero a sarcastic know-it-all like the kind Hollywood made a specialty, as would television eventually.  In the brothel scenes of Kipling’s book Kim knows where he is (for plot reasons of his own) but, being way short of puberty, remains uninterested.  Stockwell’s Kim is too knowing about women in that leering Disney way.  A noticeably aging Errol Flynn is mainly noticeably aging.

That one of our language’s great adventures could become so hollow a film is sad, especially since the screenplay is very faithful to characters and narrative.


In Toni Morrison’s novel Tar Baby

About Valerian’s wife:  “She fell asleep immediately when first she lay down, but after an hour she woke rigid and frightened from a dream of large hats.  Large beautiful women’s hats like Norma Shearer’s and Mae West’s and Jeanette MacDonald’s although the dreamer is too young to have seen their movies or remembered if she had.”

“When she and Valerian lay snug in bed, facing each other and touching toes, the pearl-gray S on the sheet hems and pillow slips coiled at her and she stiffened like Joan Fontaine in Rebecca until she learned from her husband that his ex-wife had nothing to do with it.”  (Knopf, 1981)

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Have you noticed that on mainstream evening news broadcasts prominent anchors now often introduce a major story with clips from a film related to the events or persons involved in the  news story?  Please respond if you have reactions to the meaning of this new use to which commercial film is being put  —  or the use to which commercial film is putting newscasts.

Until then,
See you at the movies,

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