Posts Tagged ‘Broderick Crawford’

Blackpaint 452 – Folk Art, Song and Flowers of the Field

June 26, 2014

British Folk Art, at Tate Britain  

Now I have my membership card, I’m trying to make it pay for itself in a few weeks – so, back to Folk Art and Kenneth Clark again.  I didn’t mention Walter Greaves, the painter who Whistler discovered and apparently turned into a version of himself (see the result on display).  Before the Whistlerisation, Greaves had painted a picture of Hammersmith Bridge, with every precarious foot-or bum-hold occupied by a foot (or bum), watching the passage of the Boat Race crews on the river below.  Could it really be accurate?

Hammersmith Bridge on Boat-race Day c.1862 by Walter Greaves 1846-1930


Then, there is a dark brownish landscape with distorted trees and maybe horses, that’s just like some of the Ben Nicholsons at Dulwich, that I covered a blog or two ago.  There’s a field full of angry bulls in another picture and immense pigs in yet another.  I see my memory played me tricks when I described a couple of other things: the man taking a crap behind the tree is being stalked by men with muskets, not a pack of dogs as I said – and the elegant figurehead is wearing a brown, not blue hat.

Other new stuff at Tate B

Not new of course, but newly out of storage – or new to me, anyway:

Two great, sombre Bombergs – “Bomb Store” I believe.  Reminded me of Rouault.

There’s a whole room of Alan Davie, who died a few weeks ago.  Best pictures are “Fish God” (see previous blog, “Shark Penis of the Fish God”) and “Sacrifice”, a rough, dirty tangle on a great blue ground.

alan davie

That “Fauvist” portrait of a woman is by Fergusson, one of the Scottish Colourists – get the little book of SC postcards.


There’s a beautiful bowl somewhere, by William Nicholson, Ben’s father.

And there’s that brilliantly coloured abstract in the same room as the Basil Beattie, which looks really crude close up – but absolutely beautiful from across the room.  Can’t remember the name – sounds North African to me – so can’t find a photo, but you will know what I mean when you see it.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

I’ve just got to the bit where Winston reads Goldstein’s book.  In it, Goldstein relates how the permanent state of war existing between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia has had the effect of stabilising their economies by burning off surplus capital that would otherwise lead to crises of overproduction.  this seems just a whisker away from the “permanent arms economy” described – not sure if its his original idea – by Michael Kidron, in his old Pelican(?) paperback, “Western Capitalism Since the War”.  He’s writing about the Cold War and the constant renewal of military hardware, but still, pretty close.  Years since I read the Kidron and I’ve lost my copy, so maybe he mentions Orwell.

Flowers of the Field (to 13th July)

A  play by Kevin Mandry at the White Bear pub theatre in Kennington; it fits nicely with the British Folk Art exhibition, where the DVD, made by the British film Institute, entitled “Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow” is on sale.  The play, set in 1916,  concerns the efforts of a war-damaged British officer to collect folk songs in rural Sussex; he inadvertently walks into a drama to do with the ownership of a farm and the efforts of a young girl to avoid  forced marriage to a rapacious landowner.  The difficulties faced by the officer in getting the locals to come up with the real goods, as opposed to hymns, old music hall songs and ballads, make for some very funny scenes and echo real problems faced by the early collectors, like Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger.

The second half is darker, concerned as it is with the question of the farm and the marriage.  The song which the officer eventually succeeds in recording, is a southern version of “I Once Loved a Lass”.  This is a Scottish variation, recorded among others by Sandy Denny.  Words different, but similar; tune pretty much the same in both versions.

I saw my love to the church go,

With brides and brides’ maidens, she made a fine show,

And I followed on with a heart full of woe,

For she’s gone to be wed to another.

As for the DVD, the High Spens Sword Dance group and the Britannia Coconut Dancers (not blacked up here) have to be seen.

Il Bidone

Fellini’s great film about con men in 50’s Italy, starring the monumental Broderick Crawford (he looked almost the same throughout his career, give or take a few white hairs).  Apparently Fellini used him for his presence – he didn’t act much, just did himself, according to the commentary.  I think he was effective across a fair range though – menace, dignity, vulnerability, pathos, cynicism – and he could really wear a big, shapeless suit.  The music, inevitably by Nino Rota, is very reminiscent of “Blackadder”.



Lizard Reunion




Blackpaint 318 – 5 o’clock shadow and the Chrysler eggs

January 10, 2012

Larry Cohen

This week, the new DiCaprio film “J.Edgar” is on release, which reminds me of Cohen’s great film of 1977, covering the same ground: “The Private Files of J.Edgar Hoover”.  This must be seen, if for no other reason than the fact that it stars Broderick Crawford as Hoover.  In addressing one of his FBI agents, he delivers the line, “You have a tendency to 5 o’clock shadow – shave twice a day”.  Quite why this is brilliant coming from Crawford, I’m not sure – would it be as resonant from DiCaprio,though?  The film has Dan Dailey as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s (alleged) lover.  The cast list, in fact, is full of famous names from the 50s.

The Chrysler eggs refers to “Q the Winged Serpent”, Cohen’s later masterpiece, in which Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec deity, pictured as a sort of archaeopterix – type dinosaur, nests in the top of the Chrysler building and starts to snatch and eat unwary New Yorkers.  Fantastic, funny and I’ve just decided to get both on DVD.

The above is not intended to disparage DiCaprio, who I think is a strong and versatile actor; Broderick Crawford just has to be himself, though – he’s a winged serpent.


Nicola Kalinsky in the Phaidon book says that G was not much good at figures; the Andrews, for instance, are “peg-like” and stiff….clothes horses”.  I suppose this is true enough – I always felt there was a caricature-ish appearance to this picture, as if G were satirising them in some way.  It’s interesting that Gainsborough did his own dresses and draperies, rather than leaving it to an assistant; nowadays, we tend to prize the rendition of the silks and satins more than the subjects – after all, who knows what they really looked like?

Van Gogh

There really was no pleasing him; when, in 1889, Isaacson the painter praised his work, calling him a pioneer, VG wrote that his review was highly exaggerated and “it would be preferable if he said nothing about me at all” (letter 611).  Later, when Aurier wrote a very overblown piece on him, he wrote back saying Gauguin and Monticelli deserved the praise.  And he sold a painting, “the Red Vineyard”, at the Les Vingt exhibition in Brussels.  All this leads Walther and Metzger, in the Taschen Van Goch, to the colossal assumption that “His solid conviction that he would have to pay for success, sooner or later, was to drive Van Gogh to suicide” (Van Gogh, the Complete Paintings, Taschen 2010, p.573).  Lovely example of art criticism – not a scrap of evidence that this is true.

ICA – Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011:  In the Presence

This is a free exhibiton of 40 recent art graduates’ work, and there is a lot of interesting and some good stuff to be seen.  I’ll start with three today:

Jessica Sarah Rinland

“Nulepsy” – a video dream sequence, I imagine, of a naked young man sleeping, interspersed with stills of him with parts of his body shrouded in some white, film – like mould on a corpse – too quick to see more clearly.   Naked skateboarding in a park follows.  Yes, we’ve all done it in our dreams.

Jonathan Trayte

“In the Presence of Nature” – A huge joint of meat on the sawn-off bone, like a section of a sheep’s torso, cast in bronze and sprayed or coated gold.  At least, I think (and hope) it’s meat; wood wouldn’t be as interesting.

Joshua Bilton

“Post Diptych” – A pair (obviously) of photographs, lovely white and grey tones, one of a wooden triangular structure like a giant dog kennel in a bare field of earth; the other a tree study, which close up, contains a trellis like structure.  One of those things that draws your eye across a room.  More next time.

Figures in a (Crowded) Landscape



Blackpaint 303

November 6, 2011

We Need to Talk about Kevin

I saw this brilliant film last night and could only use tired superlatives about Tilda Swinton’s performance, so I won’t bother.  One thing did strike me, however; a feeling of familiarity when her terrifying son turned and smiled at her, at one point.  Where had I seen that before?  Didn’t have to think long – Bjorn Andresson, luring Dirk Bogarde on, in “Death in Venice”.  Probably fanciful, since I’ve only just watched “Venice” again and read the story for the first time – I was intrigued to find that Mann made the pursuit of Tadzio more redolent of corruption than the film suggested; bit more darkness at the heart.  Tadzio – all those women pursuing him, shouting “Tadzi-uu, Tadzi-uu” all the time – is one of the most dislikeable characters in film.  Now he’s joined by Kevin, in all his incarnations; but perhaps “dislikeable” is rather too weak in Kevin’s case.

Whose idea in “Kevin” to use Lonnie Donegan and Washington Phillips on the soundtrack?  Totally incongruous. but it worked, like everything else in the film.

Il Bidone

Broderick Crawford looks exactly the same in all his films – bit more or less flab, more or fewer wrinkles, but basically the same old ten-four.  He doesn’t act, according to Dominique Delouche, Fellini’s assistant director on Bidone, he just is (and had to be kept off the booze while making the above).  Ridiculous thing to say, but I find he has a sort of vulnerability about him, like Mitchum in “Eddie Coyle”, say.  Great hard man, though, cf.  Neville Brand. 

Delouche had a sad story about Fellini, after “La Strada” was booed and jeered at Cannes or somewhere.  He pursued Fellini to offer his praises and found Giuletta Masina with black eye make-up running in tears down her face, while Fellini trudged dejectedly beside her – like a pair of sad elephants, he said.  Strange to think of this feted Italian hero being jeered.


There was so much fantastic stuff at the Biennale, I’m going to have to do a few artists a day to get it all in.  First up, the Belgian pavilion had “Feuilleton” by Angel Vergara, “curated” by (what does that mean?) Tuymans.   Perspex panes, spattered and smeared with brilliant colours, fixed over news footage illustrating the Seven Deadly Sins.  The effect like moving, noisy Rauschenburgs.


Swedish pavilion.  Andreas Ericksson, another painter in that Kirkeby groove – I’m a pushover for dark, licheny, broody Scando surfaces, maybe with livid slashes of colour…

Seth Price.  There as an individual artist, doing great things with lengths of rope attached with resin to textured, painted canvas surfaces.  Doesn’t sound exciting, but it is.

Pipilotti Rist.  Another individual, more brilliant colours, video Venicescapes with Northern Lights, naked women (poss. Rist herself), gynaecological features I think, but hard to tell…. intriguing.

Christopher Wool.  Huge, blotty, dark – well, blots in varying (modulating) colours. remind me a bit of those mid- 60’s Joan Mitchells, only enormous.

More tomorrow; here’s one of mine,

Head of St. Blaise

Blackpaint (Chris Lessware)