Iain Sinclair: 70x70 – an autobiographical journey in film
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1958. Dir. Don Siegel.
The favourite director of Michael Reeves, who spent many hours re-running a 16mm print of The Killers. The Lineup is tight, economic, and effectively scripted by Sterling Silliphant. Here, before Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager, are Eli Wallach and Robert Keith as journeyman-killers. Compare and contrast this low-budget San Francisco with Dirty Harry. More useful to think of The Lady from Shanghai. The hit men collect last words and prime locations.
1960. Dir. Joseph Losey.
The reason for my first excursion to Dalston. I was a film student in Brixton, on the other side of the river, and came across, getting the bus from Liverpool Street for the first of many rides in the direction of the Rio.
Thanks to Gareth Evans, I was given space to discuss this film, at length, in Vertigo (Vol 3, No 1, Summer 2006):
‘The Criminal is a ‘baroque realist’ prison drama with a vestigial heist plot tacked on. The romantic element, involving a bemused Margit Saad, is a smokescreen to ameliorate the testosterone stink, the banter and bonding of the alternative seminary of the prison.
‘Fractured continuity stems from the thirty-five minutes hacked out of the delivered cut. But this works in Losey’s favour: life outside the prison walls is an hallucination, the women have no more reality than the pin-ups taped to the trustee’s wall.
‘Losey’s London is factored from location-hunting Polaroids. The last flicker of dying consciousness in a snow-covered field. A concluding sequence that links directly with Truffaut’s contemporaneous Shoot the Pianist (derived from David Goodis).’
- Iain Sinclair