[Editor’s note: This is the second half of an interview with Telluride Guest Directors Kim Morgan and Guy Maddin. Read part one here.]
Gerhard: We’ve covered two of the films you’re presenting at Telluride this year. How about the other four?
Morgan: Il Grido by Antonioni; it stars Steve Cochran—we kept returning to it. Should we program it? Yes, of course! We love this movie. We wanted to program it because it’s not considered an important film in the Antonioni canon. It’s considered a more transitional film and downgraded for that. I read a book on Antonioni and the writer was dismissive of it. I think it’s a masterpiece; it’s just really heartbreaking and beautifully shot. I’ve never seen it on the big screen.
Maddin: It was shot in Antonioni’s home [in the Po Valley, near Bologna] and boy does he nail every shot.
Morgan: And Wicked Woman, a 1953 picture. What did you say, ‘even less than Grade B?’
Maddin: It [made me think of] Detour. Wicked Woman was the first movie Kim showed me when we first met. Not since seeing Detour have I been as thrilled by the power that a low-budget film can deliver! It was just four years ago. It’s a little less pared down than Detour, but not by much. It’s really lurid and punchy; everything you get when your submerge yourself in Poverty Row minus the boredom.
Morgan: Beverly Michaels, the star, is fantastic. A six-foot-tall woman. It’s really quite sympathetic of her. It’s really intelligent, not just a pulpy picture. It gets into the heart of human nature, women, suffering, manipulation…what women do just to survive.
Maddin: I think of Wicked Woman as belonging to the same sorority as The Naked Kiss and Detour.
Morgan: It’s kitchen-sink pulp. If Cassavetes had made noir, this is the one he’d make. Maybe it’s better than Cassavetes. How dare I say that…I’m kidding. They’re both great filmmakers.
Maddin: We have a Howard Hawks movie, The Road to Glory. Like Man’s Castle, it has never been out on DVD, Super 8, VHS. It’s from 1936, starring a really intense Warren Baxter—way more intense than he is in his most famous role, 42nd Street. Fredric March is fantastic. It has all those Howard Hawks’ traits: comradeship, fraternity, romance. Lionel Barrymore plays a hilarious character. William Faulkner was one of the screenwriters. It’s full of his really dark and twisted sense of humor. It’s a really interesting hybrid of Faulkner and Hawks. Who knows how much Faulkner wrote; it’s disputed. But he presides over the thing. It has Gregg Toland [Citizen Kane] as cinematographer and uses battle footage from [French film] Wooden Crosses. I love when movies are collaged together fast and loose like that.
Morgan: It’s not really talked about as one of his great movies.
Maddin: It’s hard to find anything positive written about the picture.
Morgan: The last film we chose was California Split, the Altman film with Elliott Gould and George Segal. [The performances are] so charming and hilarious and funny; so jazzy riffy.
Maddin: They planted microphones all over the place and decided later which sound would be the best; decided after shooting.
Morgan: You feel like you’re there with these guys. And in fact you will be there with these guys! Elliott Gould and Joseph Walsh [whose autobiographical screenplay was the base of the film] will be on stage together. We met Elliott Gould at a party; it felt like Elvis was walking in.
Maddin: I peed in my pants. I was listening to the commentary track … the end of the movie was re-written on the spot. Walsh also appears in the movie as a performer, and he’s incredible. What a great guy! I met him in washroom a long time ago, and he overheard me talking about the film. We started up a friendship in the washroom. He’s great in this film as a powerful bookie.
Gerhard: So maybe you can re-enact that conversation on stage?
Maddin: We need a sink on stage. And a soap dispenser. I think we can do it.
Susan Gerhard is the Editor of Keyframe.