Motorway To Times Past

FELLINI’S ROMADirected by Federico Fellini. Starring Peter Gonzales, Fiona Florence. Distributed by United Artists. Cert ‘X’

As with The Clowns, Fellini continues his mock documentary technique with his latest full length film, Fellini’s Roma. And as he did with , he uses his extraordinary visionary and stylistic skills to replace what can only be called a fantastic travelogue.

Rome – the city of illusions is, when seen through Fellini’s eyes, both timeless and immediate. The scenes of his early childhood and his growing obsession with Rome open the film which moves on to his arrival in that city at the beginning of Italy’s involvement in World War 2. This is the Rome of Mussolini and the Fascists, but by using ingenious intercutting, makes one notice that the swaggering fascists are not so very different from the brutal, mindless police who set upon a crowd of hippies in modern-day Rome later on in the Film.

The intercutting of scenes from both the past and present is continuous throughout the movie, from Fellini’s first memories and reactions to the city, up to his impressions of encroaching technology and its destructive/horrific effects and impersonality. Fellini’s swirling series of memory images is more than just a’reconstruction of events. The people – the Romans – are shown as we possibly have never seen them before. At all times they are boisterous, alive people, displaying an openness and awareness that is only limited by the ever-dominating power and influence of the Roman church.

Fellini, as usual, displays his hilarious sense of humour to the utmost. The centrepiece of the film is the high society Ecclesiastical Fashion Show – a nostalgic fantasy of an old world-weary princess, who manically craves for the high protocol and exclusive glittering customs of the past. This spectacular sequence has to be seen to be believed. The models show off the latest creations for priests, nuns and the rest of the Roman Church’s hierarchy by walking, swaying, hopping, cycling, roller-skating, etc around a horseshoe shaped platform. The rest of the fashions and the opulent, magnificent final scene of this sequence are better left for movie-goers to discover for themselves.

Fellini also creates a traffic jam, which is equal to anything previously staged in either Jacques Tati’s Traffic or Godard’s Weekend.

Other sequences which immediately spring to the mind of this reviewer, who has had his senses battered and dazed in the way he comes to expect with a Fellini film, are the showing of subway excavators unearthing beautiful, ancient frescoes which soon evaporate through contact with air; the reconstuction of Roman music-hall, and the bizarre meetings of the sexes in both seedy and luxurious whore-houses. And the Romans’ passion for constantly eating is displayed as funny and very human.

Peter Gonzales excellently plays the part of the young Fellini when he first arrives in Rome. Whilst the music of Nino Rota, once again, provides the perfect accompaniment to the moods and events portrayed.

Fellini’s Roma is more than just an enjoyable and successful film – it is a statement of Super Realism*, “where beauty and ugliness exist as absolute forms, without flaws.” It is also a chance for audiences to share the expanding and perceptive visions of an artist, through a mosaic of memory, actuality and imagination.

* John Calendo, Andy Warhol’s Interview, November 1972.

Fun Bubble Boggles Eyes

THE BUBBLEWritten, directed and produced by Arch Oboler. Starring Michael Cole, Deborah Walley and Johnny Desmond. Distributed by LMG. Cert ‘A’.

Sometimes gimmicks work, sometimes they don’t. The idea of 3D seemed a perfect one in the fifties for halting the decline in cinema audiences. But, as cinema historians will remember, 3D was a dismal failure. The special glasses needed to be worn were a nuisance and the films that were only partly produced in the new ‘wonder’ process ruined the continuity of the whole film. And in general, apart from one or two notable exceptions, ie House Of Wax, the gimmick was little more than a lot of spectacular advance publicity.

Despite the past, at the beginning of 1973, along comes Space-Vision. And this time the gimmick is far more than just a novelty, for this newly developed technique really adds another dimension to popular cinema, without the amateurishness and limitations of the earlier process. The vehicle to introduce Space-Vision is a science fiction film called The Bubble.

The story tells of a young married couple, Catherine (Deborah Walley) and Mark (Michael Cole). At the beginning of the film they are aboard a small plane that lands in what they and their pilot Tony (Johnny Desmond) suppose is a small outlying landing strip. The wife is prematurely in labour, thus the necessity to reach a town and find medical aid. After touching down they discover that they have in fact, landed in a deserted street. Mike, the husband, soon notices the oddness of the nearby town’s inhabitants and the strangely miscellaneous architecture as he wanders around whilst his wife is giving birth to their first child in the local hospital. And a few days later, Mike and Catherine, along with their baby and the pilot, Tony, discover that the town and the surrounding area is covered by an impenetrable transparent bubble. To tell you more of the story would spoil the twists and turns of the plot as well as giving a way the final outcome, to any of you who may go along to see the film for yourselves.

The film, despite the somewhat vague storyline at times and the often wooden acting, has a number of simple social messages to put across, similar to Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And The Bubble, considering the entertainment level it is working on, is fairly successful and frequently becomes quite exciting.

But it is the Space-Vision technique that makes the whole production such good entertainment. It’s a must for kids of course, and will also give much pleasure to those who are not averse to honest to goodness fun. Some of the effects are a bit corny now and again, as they nearly all were with 3D, but more often than not they are deservedly successful and at times quite amazing.

Objects really do appear to leave the screen and come gliding out into the auditorium. The audience still has to wear special viewing glasses, this supposedly accounts for the rise in seat prices for this film. The glasses though are not uncomfortable to wear, as the 3D ones were, and they are easy to slip on top of an ordinary pair of spectacles. Incidentally the use of the added dimension is continuous throughout the show.

The Bubble is a fun film with a message if you care to notice it. The movie is also a valid attempt to bring excitement and adventure back to the cinema. I am looking forward to seeing more films using the Space-Vision process in the future.

Things That Go Thug In The Night

NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT. Directed by Peter Sasdy, with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
ALL COPPERS ARE… Directed by Sidney Hayers, with Martin Potter and Nicky Henson. A Peter Rogers Production.

Judging by some of their recent releases, “Death Line”, “Vampire Circus”, “Night Hair Child” etc, the Rank Organisation are attempting to cash in on the success of Hammer, and they have now secured the services of Messrs Lee and Cushing, which I am sure they consider to be a nadir of success in this who can make a movie on the lowest budget contest. And there’s no doubt that NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, title no connection with the content, is low budget, so low budget in fact, so superficially directed, that it’s tame enough to have an AA certificate instead of the regulation X for horror. Not even Diana Dors, a former auburn and later blonde. Rank starlet, from the good old days of British Film making, resplendent in an ill fitting chestnut wig, can bring life to Brian Hayles’ script with its reams of meaningless dialogue, and a style that turns the film into an awful pastiche of the worst type of 1950s style, British B picture.

Relegated to second place publicity wise, in this double bill, but definitely the dominant partner quality wise, ALL COPPERS ARE… “also starring” would you believe, Sandra Dome and Queenie Watts, is a very very tongue-in-cheek, well photographed, (up the junction, Battersea) look at a few days in the life of a young copper, Martin Potter, and the local long-haired crook, natty dresser and spiv, Nicky Henson. There are some awful right wing jokes about homosexuals, demonstrators and other assorted trendies which had the audience cackling and writhing with delight, but what with Martin Potter and Nicky Henson chasing Julia Foster, who could really take any of it seriously?

Criticism Of Criticism Of Criticism

Phoenix Theatre,
Charing Cross Road,
London W1.

Dear Gay News,

I felt I just had to write and have a moan about your film critic, David Seligman.

A couple of times he has given bad reviews to quite good films. But his latest criticism of the Poseidon Adventure was completely unwarranted.

To start with, to compare this film with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is ridiculous. “The Poseidon Adventure” is pure escapism, whereas “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was a mature study of life.

It’s like comparing “2001” with “Carry On Camping”. Both in their way good entertainment but vastly different.

I feel very sorry for Mr Seligman if he is unable to watch and enjoy a film just for its entertainment value and to stop worrying about the fact that nobody has Jewish schmaltzy neighbours anymore.

Also if Mister Seligman wishes to make references to other films (ie George Sanders) but is unable to give the title of these films, then he should leave well alone.

Martha and Fong


True, my comparisons are sometimes vague and uncertain, but if the audience had reacted positively to the “Poseidon Adventure”, I would have said so. When I saw it at the Carlton, Haymarket, people were continually fidgeting, yawning, or even walking out. In the long run I believe that if the ever emptying cinemas are going to survive, and be recognised as valid competition to the telly, films have either got to be entertaining in a vastly different, totally cinematic way, like good horror movies, or provide a completely alternative, something mind shattering, thought provoking, amazingly visual on a large screen, like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or a “Clockwork Orange”.

DS