Friday, 9 April 2010

The Director As Bond Villain

Look at this clip of an interview with director Nicholas Ray:

Check out the eyepatch and the excellent cigarette work – it’s like he’s a conductor directing his own lips.

I’ve been watching this documentary about cinema – A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies – and you get to see a lot of clips of directors at work, especially from the first half of the twentieth century.

What struck me was the preponderance of eyepatches among them. Have a look at these chaps below. Lang in particular is just a white cat away from Bond-villain status:

Fritz Lang:

Nicholas Ray:

Raoul Walsh:

John Ford:

What’s the deal here? Maybe a lifetime of squinting through dirty viewfinders has a long-term effect on the body, like tennis elbow and jogger’s nipple? Perhaps they all failed to employ a conscientious lens-wiper, and fell afoul of unhygienic directorial apparatus. We may never know. And look – it’s almost always the right eye - Suggestive, as Hugo Rune might say.

I wonder what the incidence of eyepatch-wearing is among film directors, compared to the population as a whole? I mean, you just don’t see that many eyepatches on the train to work these days. Which is a pity. Not that I’m advocating the partial blinding of random commuters to satisfy some deranged piratical fixation, but you can’t deny that they look cool.

Thinking about it, I’m not happy about how both of my eyes look – one of them’s a bit droopier than the other - and it would certainly be a relief to only have to worry about getting one looking nice in the morning, and just bunging a patch over the other. I could even alternate, depending on how I felt.

Here are my top eyepatch wearers:

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. Obviously. He damaged his eye in World War Two, but only fully lost his sight in it years later, refusing to get it fixed straight away because it would take him out of the action for too long. A bit like Rocky and his dodgy eye in the second film, which they kind of forgot about by the third. Anyway, Nick Fury with an eyepatch = cool. I always wanted Sgt Nick Fury to be played by John Cassavetes as he was in The Dirty Dozen. Probably a bit late for that now though.

Claus von Stauffenberg – I’ve just tried to find a picture of him with his eyepatch on Google Images, and honestly, all you can find is Tom bloody Cruise in Valkyrie. Tch.

Kirk Douglas in the Vikings. At least, I thought he wore an eyepatch, but if you look at stills from the film, you’ll see that he’s mainly unadorned, and sports his milky scarred peeper with pride, out and proud. By the way, I’ve requested that my funeral be conducted in the style of Einar’s from the end sequence of The Vikings – long ship, flaming arrows and that soundtrack. Bloody brilliant.

Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken. Of course. Like Nick Fury, being blind in one eye is clearly no obstacle to being a crack shot (with a basketball even, if you acknowledge the existence of Escape From L.A.)

Travis off of Blake’s Seven. By which I mean the first Travis, who may have gone on to play Marcus in Birds Of A Feather. Not the second one – Brian Croucher? - who was a bit rubbish. I didn’t like the starey little peep-hole in the middle of Travis’ tar-like eyepatch. Must’ve been made by the same people who made the mutoid’s moulded Lego hair.

The Naughty Brigadier from Doctor Who. Was that Enemy Of The World? Or Inferno? The one with the primords. Anyway, Nicholas Courtney with an eyepatch from the alternate Earth. Brilliant, even if he was severely lacking in the moustache department, much like Jamie Lee Curtis in that respect (maybe that’s just me though). The best New Who could do for alternate Earths was Trigger in a wheelchair. Rubbish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... - here's a couple more for you.