Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
Christian Bale Set For Jungle Book: Origins
Naomie Harris, Cate Blanchett and more also aboard
Nicolas Cage In New Outcast Trailer
It ends in blood...
New Screenwriter For Chaos Walking
Jamie Linden replaces Charlie Kaufman
More Movie News

The Older, The Better
Edinburgh retrospectives are festival hi

24 August 2006  |  Written by   

submit to reddit

Movie premieres and visits by Hollywood stars are the twin backbones of any festival, but a world-class event isn’t complete without a solid retrospective. Film fans at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival are spoilt for choice, with two well-chosen retros running right through the 14-day programme. Both celebrate different ‘golden ages’ of American cinema – the glittering studio-system heyday of the 1930s and the gritty creative explosion of the 1970s. The former focuses on the neglected work of journeyman director Mitchell Leisen; the latter, subtitled ‘They Might Be Giants’, ranges across “other voices from the New American Cinema” such as Arthur Penn, Monte Hellman, Hal Ashby and Walter Hill.

Personally, the Leisen retro has been something of a revelation. Like most of the critical world, I had dismissed his work behind the camera in favour of the heavyweights behind the scripts – Preston Sturges on Easy Living and Remember The Night, Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett on Midnight, Arise My Love and Hold Back The Dawn. Watched individually as rare television screenings, those films’ famous names might indeed push Leisen’s work into the shadows. But seen on a daily basis back to back, the essence of his style becomes apparent. Leisen had a wonderful touch for screwball sophistication and, later in his career, when World War II darkened the mood of his movies, he facilitated the scripts’ changes of tone with a graceful hand. In a Leisen movie the costumes sparkle, the photography glows and the actors are at their career best. If a telly near you is showing Claudette Colbert as a sparky foreign correspondent in Arise My Love or Charles Boyer as a gigolo with a conscience in Hold Back The Dawn, jump at the chance.

The Hollywood 1970s retrospective contains some more familiar names, both in terms of the movies themselves and the people who made them. It’s a favourite period for the majority of clued-up fans, but Edinburgh is avoiding the obvious – no Altman or Coppola, no Deer Hunter or Taxi Driver. Instead, the retrospective digs deeper into the texture of the industry, as reproduced in muck-raking tome Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, to uncover one of the most exciting, innovative, challenging and, yes, entertaining periods of sustained filmmaking in the history of English-language cinema. Filling daily programme slots at 5pm and 9.30pm, the 24-strong selection contains some works easily available on DVD (The Driver, The Last Detail, Dark Star, The Hired Hand) but also some genuine rarities (The Spook Who Sat By The Door, Little Murders, Busting, Electra Glide in Blue). Hopes had been high that EIFF would have been able to screen the uncertificated Cockfighter on Tuesday night but, alas, laws on animal cruelty meant that it had to be replaced by Two-Lane Blacktop by the same director, Monte Hellman (I had resisted the ‘Cocks Out In Edinburgh’ headline for this piece… until now). But that disappointment is only a small detail because as a whole this retrospective has broadened the reference points for anyone who considers themselves a cineaste simply because they namecheck The Godfather and Means Streets among their all-time favourites.

The best of the Leisen movies have screened already, but there are plenty of unsung classics still to come in the 1970s line-up. Thursday evening boasts the to-die-for triple bill of Night Moves, a live Arthur Penn audience Q&A and Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To. At times like these, you can keep your red carpet premieres – this is what festivals are all about.
Alan Morrison

Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

World Exclusive: The New Wall-E Trailer
This kicks shiny metal butt!
New LOTR DVD Snippet Online
A few minutes of the Fellowship entry

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Gamescom 2014: The 10 Most Exciting Games
Zombies! Guns! Tombs! Sheep! Watch the trailers right here...

Who Is Mack Bolan? Your Guide To Cinema's New Action Man
As Bradley Cooper lines up to star as the hero, here's your handy guide to his story so far

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

The 100 Greatest Games Of All Time
You voted, we counted, and here they are: beat-'em-ups, shoot-'em-ups, RPGs, JRPGs, MMORPGs, RTSs, first-person shooters, platformers, sims and much more!

Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's 25 Greatest Battles
From smalltime scraps to epic struggles, these are the conflicts that have stunned cinema since 1989

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)