Destination: Ferness, Scotland

First of all, there is no Ferness, Scotland. It is a fictitious seaside town created by writer/director Bill Forsyth for his 1983 film, Local Hero. It is also a place that lives on in the hearts and minds of moviegoers who were bewitched by its picturesque beauty, eccentric but appealing residents and its tranquil setting far removed from urban blight and the madding crowd. To outsiders, it might look like a slice of heaven, an ideal place to live or revisit. But Forsyth’s film slyly juxtaposes this romanticized environment against the inevitability of progress and creates a gentle culture clash comedy that has far more resonance than you’d expect. It’s not sentimental or cynical but an intoxicating mixture of the wry and whimsical with a bittersweet finish.

Continue reading

The Feel Bad Bachelor Party

The Bachelor Party (1957)As you can see this is not the raunchy 1984 comedy, Bachelor Party starring Tom Hanks and Tawny Kitaen but the 1957 drama The Bachelor Party, adapted for the screen by Paddy Chayefsky and featuring Don Murray who had just made a big splash in his feature film debut opposite Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop that same year. Made two years after Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning breakout hit Marty, The Bachelor Party continues the author/playwright’s preoccupation with the urban male in a drama brimming with angst, alienation and other candid observations of the human condition. A comedy it is not though there are moments of idiosyncratic humor sprinkled throughout but nothing that comes close to the scathing satire of Chayefsky’s later work such as The Hospital (1971) or Network (1976).    Continue reading

Middle Age Crazy

original posterIt’s hard to imagine a more unlikely prospect for a film adaptation than John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer, which was first published in The New Yorker. Yet, it was actually adapted into a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Burt Lancaster. Was it a success? Hardly. Even though a handful of critics endorsed it, the public stayed away but for some who were lucky enough to see it, the film resonated for years. Now it is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Grindhouse Releasing and a reassessment is in order. Continue reading