St Valentine’s Day At The Paramount

19720901-10The Godfather. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Richard Conte, Sterling Hayden, James Caan, John Marley. Distributed by Paramount Pictures. Cert X. 175 minutes.

I always thought a “press show” was when a movie renter showed his latest product to the press. But the Godfather press show changed all that. All 900 tickets had been allocated weeks before but still the press showed up in force to tell us where they’re really at. The Paramount staff had to deal with a crowd that behaved more like a crowd of hungry bears than like a corps of serious-minded critics.

19720901-11One ageing trendy tried to slip his amoureuse past the cordon by folding his ticket in half. “I haf two tickets. Ve are ze German Press.”

But Paramount’s lady at the gate wasn’t having any of that and the German Press’s lady was sent to stand with the ether ticketless wall flowers.

So the carnage had started outside the cinema, with people trying to storm the barricades. And even if the people in the cinema clap at the end. it seemed hardly worth the effort.

It isn’t so much that The Godfather is a bad movie, it’s just that it’s two hours and 55 minutes long.

Brando’s make-up is good, his acting is as good, but it’s hidden by all that face he’s wearing.

The story is a vicious as they come, and not half as boring as Mario Puzo’s novel which it’s based on – largely because Puzo and Coppola have gutted the hopelessly wordy novel

But it still leaves a hopelessly long movie. Maybe it’s because the style it’s made in is the style gangster movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s were made in – the heavy dissolve from scene to scene.

The movie treats the decline of a powerful Mafia family without mentioning the Mafia once – the Italian-American community leaned on Paramount to get the word cut out.

Instead we get “the mob”, “the family”, “the racket” where we should have the Mafia, and it makes it all seem rather silly – euphemisms always do.

The best thing is the music, by Nino Rota, who always did run up a nice little score for the odd movie.

The most entertaining thing was the press clawing at each other, but when this gets into print they’ll be fighting at another viewing.

In fact I fell asleep in the first hour, but it didn’t make much difference to my understanding of what was going on.

Two disturbing factors: The Godfather is apallingly sexist and it enjoys its violence like any good little rich voyeur getting his kicks.

Drifters Magic

“Saturday Night at the Club” – The Drifters – Atlantic K40412

19720901-11Following the recent chart success of the re-issue of At the Club and Saturday Night At The Movies on a maxi single, Atlantic have released a generous 14-track album of The Drifters, featuring the two previously mentioned tracks.

The Drifters have had a long and successful career, and despite many personnel changes, have produced some of the most rewarding soul music on record. Even in their earlier days, when recording techniques were primitive by today’s standards, the amount of attention paid to the quality of their sound put them away above what most other similar groups were doing. And they have consistently maintained this quality on all but a few of their recordings.

Other factors which have attributed to their continuing popularity have been the use of exceptionally fine rhythm sections, and well thought out and inventive arrangements. And what with their smooth vocal work they have created songs that will be played for some time to come.

Apart from the title tracks, the most notable songs included on this album are Baby What I Mean (which is still an evergreen favourite in discotheques), She Never Talked To Me That Way and Be My Lady. Another particularly good track is Up In The Streets Of Harlem, which comes from their On Broadway/Under The Boardwalk period and has much of the same sound that made those tracks so excellent.

Kemping It Up

(The word CAMP is locally pronounced Kemp in the posh Morningside area of Edinburgh)

19720901-11Lindsay is back! And boy do we know what to expect!

The Lindsay Kemp Theatre Troupe last put on “Our Lady of the Flowers” late in 1970 at the Traverse Theatre Club in Edinburgh to a storm of critical praise. This production, which will be repeated during the Edinburgh Festival, is significantly different, and a whole lot more interesting for gay men.

I say gay men, because this is a mimed play about male homosexuals. The period is 1938 Paris; the visions are those of an old crone in prison who conjures up the most erotic imaginings as a means of self-stimulation and sexual release. The 1972 production does not falter in presenting these images to its audiences.

The scenes are linked by narrative (reader Lindsay Levy, London GWLG) which is the more interesting because it is read in a half drowsy monotone; a casual “nothing-shocks-one” voice. The play opens in a nunnery, where, in the half light we see mysterious figures. They are the nuns: mindless and aimless, desperate for erotic stimulation. Stimulation arrives in the form of Ian Oliver whose extraordinarily beautiful naked body is carried round the crypt. There is more than a passing allusion to a Christ-like figure. “The chosen one” – a lovely young youth — is stripped naked by the nuns and the two proceed to make symbolic love/sacrifice before the cross.

There are various scenes in the dives of pre-war Paris. One remarkable performance shows the two male lovers gazing into one another’s eyes quite oblivious to the vigorous, but appalling, acting of the cafe’s prostitutes. “Bye, Bye, Blackbird” can never be the same after the twists and enhancements given to it by the Kemp Troupe. The play’s ending is heartbreaking, and here we have the traditional outlook on the homosexual: it must all end in tragedy, in gore. But even this is carried off well – and is much appreciated by the older members in the audience.

The cast is 9 men 2 women. Lindsay Kemp and Orlando have shouted the triumph of physical homosexual eroticism, and have picked a cast of very attractive, visually stimulating men. Andrew Wilson of London GLF created the music sequences.

Reason With Them

19720901-11Fresh news has just come in from the Paramount, where there was a spectacular confrontation between the ‘Paramount’ Family and a band of ‘Reviewer’ mercenaries. Eyewitness accounts of the scene, which took place outside a cinema known as ‘The Paramount’ (believed to be a reference to the beliefs of the members of the Paramount organisation), speak of heated clashes occasionally leading to scenes of violence.

At least one of the ‘Paramount publicity girls’ (from the propoganda wing of the organisation) came into violent contact with the mercenaries, when her clothing was torn and damaged, although she herself escaped unscathed. An entire sleeve was torn from the fetching orange and black two-tone mididress which she had bought specially for the occasion.