Page 6, 1st May 1981

1st May 1981
Page 6
Page 6, 1st May 1981 — Socialism and Popeye

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Socialism and Popeye

ROUGH Treatment ("AA". Camden Plaza) is not a brandnew movie by Andrzej Wajda. the great Polish director. It must be over a year since I saw it. Nor is this a solo masterpiece. but the work of the group Wajda heads. It is topical only insofar as it is a study of the kind of treatment Poles have had to learn to contend with in order to achieve their triumphs of the past year.

Rough Treatment the English title calls it. The original Polish title was Without Anaesthetic. It is not a story of torture or of obvious persecution. but of the systematic pin-pricks by which a middle-aged journalist is deliberately out manoeuvred and finally defeated in his professional and personal fife by the authoritarian organisation of society.

The film is unsensational, unspectacular, but powerful, subtle and finely acted by Daniel Olbrzy-ski.

Of the new Anglo-American movies, the shining exception to an otherwise disappointing Easter clutch was our old friend. Popeye ("U". Odeon Leicester Square), Perhaps I should say my old friend. For if I am not an authority on Popeye, objectively I should be. One of my'oddest jobs was that of film censor for a commercial television company. In

the early days before TV companies were as sure of themselves as they have become, they carefully vetted every film they showed, excising scenes. or even shots of sadistic suspense, for example, considered too frightening for children. That seems a long time ago.

During that vetting. I sat through hour upon hour. of Popeye cartoons, always with a certain grudging affection for the old curmudgeon and a genuine attraction to his skinny girl-friend, Olive Oyl. Never had I expected to see them brought to life by human actors, the cartoon legend romanticised by no less a director than Robert Altman, creator of Nashville. The Wedding and half a dozen more award-winners or nominees.

Above all, I had never expected to see the grotesque Olive Oyl blossom into such an exotic though precisely recognisable realisation as Shelley Duval brilliantly fulfils, all rat-plait hairdo. squeals and wriggles and saucer eyes. Robin Williams is fine as Popeye and the infant found for "Sweet Pea" or "Sweepie" is a baby of pure uncuyified charm.

I enjoyed this best Disney feature. for years among an audience of holiday children. What. I wondered, could they who had probably never seen the cartoons, make of Popeye the Sailor's voyage in search of his Pappy. At I suspected the absence of that breathless tension to he expected of a rapt audience of children. But when Popeye is restored to his Puppy the gasps of delight begin. The cartoon. you remember, started as a commercial for spinach. At first I feared it had been forgotten. But there among the hidden treasure on the seabed was the tin of muscle-building spinach and a -.good time. I think was had by all.

The other new movies are. as I said, in various degrees disappointing. Anybody who saw Lily Tomlin's impersonations of TV for Parkinson, or on the big screen in Nine to Five. must look forward to seeing her as The Incredible Shrinking Woman ("A". Plaza 2) — inspired by The Incredible Shrinking Man which never saw.

Turned feminine, the idea cnelartkaeisnlvthehashopursoe niwiifsee:heWrohinaet complain, unlike other women. That she is last fading away, is an allergy to most consumer-goods, to the environmental poisons of this plastic and cosmetic age. The trouble is that the good idea is developed — except for isolated inspirations like the terror of the waste disposal unit or the bland male chauvinism of the . husband (Charles Grodin) %vatching television show his wife disappear with poor imaginative resource and taste, and rather poor inventive technique.

The colour is light and brassy and the opportunities for trick photography hardly ever taken to show the lady vanishing in proportion to others. Lily Tomlin is evidently a skilled and appealing performer. but I am driven by this film and her previous flop with Johnny Travolta to deduce she is one of those not-too-rare actresses who are unlucky or simply bad at choosing their material.

Coming after David Puttnam's success in producing Chariots of Fire his production of so trite a tale as Foxes ("AA". Odeon. St Martin's Lane) must also be rather disappointing. The film's principal attraction and best actress is Jodie Foster as the leader of a gang of wild teenage girls. They behave as badly as teenage girls of any era. perhaps worse than some. After creating mayhem at home, they want to set up house together, away from family restraint. But when Jeanne (Jodie Foster) and her mother

Kellermann) fall on each other's necks and declare their love for each other. it seems a pity they didn't say so earlier and render the film superfluous. -Fox", I learn, is current American slang for a pretty young thing — or so I'm told.

Although I have admired many Canadian films from the brilliant cartoons to winter Olympics, 1 find myself inhibited by my dislike of horror movies and my failure to like Or understand computers from admiring Scanners ("X", Classic Haymarket). As far as I could gather. scanners were a breed of supermen and women (Stephen Lack and Jennifer O'Neil) bred or recruited by the bearded Dr Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) who are able to kill with a thought or similarly to interfere with earthly telephones and computer programmes.

David Cronenherg, ho made it. is a nice young man iShirers and Rohl& who believes that horror films may act as a catalyst for our natural terrorism. If you believe that. you might enjoy it.

Freda Bruce Lock hart

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