Page 6, 26th March 1976

26th March 1976
Page 6
Page 6, 26th March 1976 — Warning against trust in names
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Warning against trust in names

QUOTATIONS from nuFsery days ("a rose by any other name") should warn us against putting our trust in names. In the context of films and in an advertising age, it is a difficult lesson to learn. A movie called The Hindenburg ("A", Casino) must surely be a big picture, either about the pre-Hitler President of Germany, or about the airship which burst into flames on landing in America in 1937.

Starring George Scott and Anne Bancroft, and directed b■ Robert Wise (of "West Side Story ') it must be something important, not just another disaster flight. Alas, it proves to be just that.

The disaster we know from the outset. Scott is the special security officer assigned to counter bomb threats. Anne Bancroft is the aristocrat on the usual mixed passenger list. This one includes a dog-loving couple with their Dalmatian, an entertainer and a Gestapo agent. A member of the crew is the terrorist-saboteur whom the script tries to whitewash with the legendary good German Resistance.

Resistance legend and concentration camp talk at thal early dale are only one of the anachronistic-sounding allusions. But the film remains no more than an efficiently reconstructed disaster Flight.

David Bowie is the name of a pop-singer which would nvt normally draw me in to see a movie called The Man Who Fell to Earth ."X", Leicester Square Theatre). the.'casting of Bowie with the Unisex aspect of his figure and face /roves to be the most successful .hing about this pretentious piece of xience-fiction.

From his arrival in a soft-shell flying saucer somewhere near enough New York to enable him to appear next at the New York office of a patents lawyer, Newton (Bowie) looks like a visitor from another planet. We can believe in his paranormal genius equal to inspiring enough inventions to found a world monopoly "Newton's World Enterprises".

Not having read Walter Tevis's original novel. I understand that the best and more coherent parts of the film are those closest to his.science.fiction story.

When it gets lost in deliberate mysi.ification and revels in orgies of sex and psychedelic nightmares (while Newton hatches seven television programmes many recognisable old movies like "The Third Man") the decline is due to Newton's corruption by the materialism, the greed and sensuality of this planet.

Candy Clark does all right by Newton's very earthy girlfriend whom he leaves to return to his other-planetary wife and children. But Nicholas Roeg's movie, though spectacular and effective in parts is alternately too deliberately obscure 'anti too deliberately indecent to be taken seriously.

Mahogany ("AA". Plaza 2) is the trade name given to a brown model (Diana Ross) who is determined not only to get to the top of her profession but also make good as a designer of the perfectly frightful dresses we see her showing in Chicago and later in Rome,

She leaves her more conscientious compatriot (Billy Dee Williams) to clean up their corner of Chicago while she sets out to conquer Rome with the backing of a pseudo-masculine dress designer (Anthony Perkins). One memorable line is: "In Rome you call them ruins. We call them slums."

Diamonds ("A", Charlton) is the simple title of a tortuously complicated would-be thriller set in TelAviv. It would have been better as an avowed travelogue with a guide to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Instead it slats Robert ("Jaws") Shaw as twin brothers, one who builds safes and one who is a diamond merchant, and Richard ("Shaft") Roundtree, as the synopsis helpfully introduces them, as a famous safe-breaker.

Part of the spectacular Christmas Eve operations is to steal the crown from Our Lady's statue in the Church of the Nativity, but this is a subordinate plot to the effort to break into the diamond exchange. This is a longish, aomplIcated tale hardly worth the trouble it takes and gives. With the death last week of Luchino Visconti we have lost another great Italian master of the cinema and of the theatre and the operalic stage also. From the social zeal of his early Sicilian quasi-documentaries "La Terra 'Irma" and later "Rocco and his Brothers", to the exquisite elegance of "Death in Venice" and the richness of "The Leopard", or the perfection of all his more theatrical adaptations, Visconti made his a name which really could be counted on in the cinema. The disappointment of his last, "Conyersnon Piece", can clearly now be seen as the failing effort of an ageing master.




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