Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

18 June 2009

Neither Paris nor London Is Burning

I cannot for the life of me figure out why René Clément made Is Paris Burning? when Darryl F. Zanuck had already made The Longest Day. Particularly when Zanuck does everything right that Clément does wrong.

Some film scholar, I am sure, will fight with me on this, but I don't see how anyone can. The Longest Day is shown from the French, German, British, and USAmerican points of view, with original languages intact and no dubbing (unlike Paris Brûle-t-il?). And Longest Day is good movie-making: tiny stories comprising a larger narrative, most all of which are interesting. Longest Day is far too weighted in the USAmericans' favor, and it treats the Germans a bit too much like buffoons, but (and this is key) it is never boring—even though its running time is nearly three hours.

I should also say that Longest Day's stars are well utilized. We get plenty of face time from Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, John Wayne, Richard Burton. Two hours in there is even a surprise appearance from Robert Wagner. (I was excited.)

Yesterday, I finally watched the film of Jonathan Harvey's play Beautiful Thing. I loved it. For years I avoided this movie because I had a moratorium out on gay movies that didn't end happily. Turns out (and I am about to give away the ending) Beautiful Thing ends happily. I was so pleased with this. It's a cute little gay coming-of-age story set in London in the 1990s among the working classes. It's delightful. A little Maurice-y in terms of its ending, but still well worth its ninety-minute running time.