Re: Andres Deinum (was Joris Ivens Question)

From: Mund, Verena (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Sep 28 2006 - 07:58:47 PDT

Lang didn't emigrate with his wife Thea von Harbou. She stayed in Nazi
Germany and was one of their most successful screenwriters.


Verena Mund



From: Experimental Film Discussion List
[mailto:email suppressed] On Behalf Of db
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 8:09 PM
To: email suppressed
Subject: Re: Andres Deinum (was Joris Ivens Question)


A bit more about Andres, from "A Girl and a Gun" blog (just found)




While the City Sleeps (1956)-10/3/04
Fritz Lang was forty-two years old and Germany's preeminent filmmaker in
1933 when Josef Goebbels invited him to the propaganda ministry for a
little talk. It transpired that Goebbels's boss thought Metropolis
(1925) was the greatest film ever made, and the idea was to put him to
work making films for Hitler's new regime. It was no secret that Lang's
mother was Jewish, but apparently the Nazis were willing to overlook
that and make him an honorary Aryan. As Lang told the story, he could
look out the windows of Goebbels's office and see the clock on the
exterior wall of a nearby office building. It was a few minutes to noon
on a Saturday. He had only minutes to get to the bank. He thanked
Goebbels politely, said he would like to discuss the generous offer with
his wife, left, and went to his bank, drawing out all his assets. He
then phoned his wife and told her to pack. They left almost immediately,
going first to France, where Lang directed one film, and then to the US,
where he directed twenty-five before returning to Germany for two late
efforts. Poor eyesight forced him to stop working, and he died in 1976.
I was in my final months of teaching at Reed College in Portland,
Oregon, in the summer of 1970. My colleague and friend Gene Lunn, also
an historian of modern Europe with a heavy film addiction, had agreed to
join me in a summer school course for Master of Arts in Teaching
candidates. But since neither of us had ever taught a film course
before, the program wouldn't authorize us unless we could get a pro to
join us. We rustled up Andries Deinum, who taught film and ran something
called The Center for the Moving Image at Portland State University.
Andries was born in the Netherlands in 1921 (I believe), went to the UK
during the war, where he worked with the OSS, then came to the
US-southern California, to be specific. He had worked on documentary
films as a very young man, and wanted to get into the US industry. As he
told it, "I was walking down Sunset Boulevard one day not long after I
arrived, and there, standing on the sidewalk talking to someone, was
Fritz Lang. It was like being a young composer in Berlin and suddenly
seeing Brahms. I was thunderstruck." Andries worked for Lang as a
personal assistant, and also for John Ford, before getting a teaching
job as the University of Southern California in 1950. Things went
swimmingly for a while, but Hollywood was of course a major target of
the red-baiters running the blacklist, and after a few years
Andries-always on the left, and a member of the Communist Party in
1946-50-found himself before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee
of cherished memory. They asked him to name names; he politely suggested
they blow it out their collective elbow. USC, great guardian of our
personal freedoms that it was in those days, fired him the next day. But
Andries was a fighter, and he continued to speak out for what he
believed in-social activism, freedom of expression and association, the
left in general. He served as a sort of research director for the
Hollywood Ten before making his way north to Portland.
The Oregon of these days is known as a sort of quirky haven for the
unconventional-assisted suicide and that sort of thing. In the early
'60s, it was run by right-wing yahoos and a nebbish of a mayor named
Terry Schrunk. (I had to sign a loyalty oath to teach at Reed, a private
institution, in 1963.) Schrunk's police closed down a theater showing
Louis Malle's The Lovers, there was a protest at city hall, and Andries
went toe-to-toe with Hizzoner. To its everlasting credit, Portland State
hired him not long thereafter. Andries thought his years in the party
were a youthful mistake, but he was never apologetic about it. Communist
influence in the movies? "One night, we held a big party because some of
us working on a movie had been asked to create a little business for a
brief shot of several men going up in an elevator. I gave one of the
guys two bars of a tune to whistle. It was 'The Internationale.' We
partied all night." He realized he probably wasn't going to get any
directing jobs when, on one set, Lang told him he was going to get his
big moment. Andries smoked a pipe in those days, and Lang wanted him to
take several big puffs off camera and then blow the smoke into the
frame, for atmosphere. After that, teaching started looking pretty good.
Lang had turned out some tight little films when he first came to the
US: Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), and later followed with
several minor-key beauties, Hangmen Also Die (1943), Ministry of Fear
(1944), The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street (both 1945). Rancho
Notorious (1952) has its fans and The Big Heat (1953) is always cited as
top-drawer noir. By 1956, though, the well was running dry, and While
the City Sleeps was not served well by its script, which tries to do far
too much and ends up doing almost nothing. It's a story about a struggle
for control of a media empire in New York, and that's interwoven with a
love story, and they're both tangled up with a serial killer (although
they didn't call them that in 1956). The treatment of the killer is
especially dreadful; he's played by John Barrymore Jr., who seems to
have taken his inspiration from the potheads in those marijuana movies
made during the '30s. It works best as a collection of "moments," of
glances and gestures and jokes and double-entendres (Lang works a
surprising amount of sex into the conversations) and amusing reversals,
and as a commentary on a phenomenon Lang thought was becoming very big
and had no idea how big it would in fact become. He deals with
newspapers, television, comic books (!), corporate power, and shows none
of them in an especially flattering light.
The cast included Dana Andrews (who is the hero, but also drunk about
half the time), George Sanders (who committed suicide in 1972, leaving a
note that said, "I'm so bored"), Thomas Mitchell, Rhonda Fleming,
Vincent Price (in non-Gothic mode, but still so creepy it's hard to see
how even the golddigger played by Fleming would let him lay a hand on
her), Ida Lupino (by far the most effective, and hilarious in a bar
scene where Andrews is staring loopily into her cleavage), James Craig,
and Howard Duff (the radio voice of Sam Spade, and a great one). At
least one of these people seemed to be in every movie I saw during the
1950s. Having them all in the same one was like old home week.
Our course that summer included Lang's M, on which Andries held forth
stunningly; de Sica's Umberto D; Bertolucci's Before the
Revolution-films I was watching for the first time, and which remain
among my personal favorites. As knowledgeable as Andries was, he left
the two novices plenty of room, and I think Gene and I grew a lot during
those two months. Part of my own growth came from just being in the same
room with Gene for a few hours a day. He was one of the most brilliant
men I've ever known, and if I had not already lost any religious
convictions, I'm sure his death from cancer at age forty-eight in 1990
would have finished them off. Andries died in January 1995 at the age of

October 31, 2004 at 10:24 AM

__________________________________________________________________ For
info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.