Tag Archives: Jacqueline Bisset

The Set of 400: #156 – My Favorite Dreams of Orson Welles

Today! Because we’ll shoot the scene when you find a cat that can act –

La nuit americaine (Day For Night) (1973)

Directed by Francois Truffaut

Starring Jacqueline Bisset (x2), Jean-Pierre Leaud, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Francois Truffaut, Dani, Alexandra Stewart, Jean Champion, Nike Arrighi, Nathalie Baye

Ah, movies about movies! And there are few better than Francois Truffaut’s serio-comic masterpiece Day For Night – a movie that happened to come along at just the right point in my life to stick around apparently forever after. I enjoyed it when I first saw it, sometime early in college, but then as now I wasn’t a huge fan of foreign films. Like, I can appreciate them, but subtitles just have a natural tendency to keep you at arm’s length, so it’s hard to gather up a more advanced fondness, I find. However, in short order, there were two big things that helped Day For Night in reaching this pantheon all these years later. One – again, movies about movies – that’s my wheelhouse. And two, right around the time I first saw this movie I started writing a play – a play within a play, actually – and a pretty autobiographical one at that – and found myself borrowing a lot of ideas from this movie. That thing – forever lost to the ages, dear readers! – eventually was titled Play For Night, and was staged in one of the more nonsensical summers of my life – 2002 – replete with heavy drama among a cast that by the end largely didn’t get along (entirely my fault), a number of people moving out of their apartments (others) and parents’ house (me), and my getting hammered with my dad at a Red Barons doubleheader as he tried to dissuade me from an avalanche of shitty decision making I’d already set in motion, as detailed back in #170 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. “But how was the play?” I can hear you asking. Never mind all this ancient teenage (20ish?) interpersonal drama! Play For Night…didn’t work. The less said the better, really.

(I actually wrote an insane follow-up play – a play within a play within a play, actually – about the staging of that play, more as a joke than anything, but it actually fares considerably better, in that it’s waaaaay shorter. Jacques the Monkey, that one was called. No, none of these are available to read.) Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #374 – My Favorite Snowbound Train

Today! Because a repulsive murderer has himself been repulsively, and, perhaps deservedly, murdered –

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave (x2), Martin Balsam, John Gielgud, Michael York, Wendy Hiller, Richard Widmark, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Rachel Roberts, Colin Blakely, George Coulouris

Sidney Lumet’s all-star take on the Agatha Christie classic is still the definitive big screen take on her work. Most Christie novels are a little too uncinematic to make for really great movies, and thus there have been far more and better TV versions of her stories than films (the Branagh Orient Express from 2017 is also pretty good, so hopes are high for Death on the Nile). But this one has everything – all the stars as in the heavens turned out for this film, a terrific locked-in train set that heightens the tension and suspense one scene after the other, a script where basically every line is vital to fully telling the tale, and Finney’s masterful work as Poirot tying the whole thing together. Widmark allegedly signed on in the relatively brief role as the doomed villain Ratchett (The book’s been out for 80 years! No complaining!) just so he could meet the other stars of the picture. Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for essentially one scene of significant dialogue! Sean Connery’s epic mustache nearly trumps Poirot’s! Continue reading

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