Yesterday I saw Went the Day Well? at Film Forum. The film is a British wartime propaganda number, based on a story by Graham Greene, and in the hands of director Alberto Cavalcanti it breaks out into completely unexpected territory. As the inhabitants of a stock English village fight off German invaders, they cast off all restraints & turn into savage killing machines. Ax wielding, pistol bearing women do their duty, and matriarchs bear the brunt of hand grenades to spare the lives of village children. They're no Fugitive Girls, but still ...The entire Home Guard unit is slaughtered, and even the white-haired vicar bites the bullet. There were a lot of laughs in the audience as the bodies fell.
At the Forum, most of the seats bear the names of benefactors. I happened to sit behind Miss Portland Hamlin (A Great Lady & A Great Cat), and Mel Johnson, and a little to the left of them was Fuckerhouse Films. Miss Portland, a sixty something bearded man, & Mel, his wife, were clearly habitual moviegoers, and there was earnest pre-feature talk about the merits of various films. Mel wondered why, in The Blues of the Night, the characters were all so happy to be living in a barn in Weehawken, and found the plot scattered. The leading lady, she thought, was detestable. It was no wonder the guy threw her off a cliff. Both of them admired Lumet, though Miss Portland hated Dog Day Afternoon, and found the characters "garbage". Miss Portland was not swayed by Mel's protests. Who cared if it was based on a real story? "Isn't it amazing that I feel this way? The film is a piece of crap!" This verdict bothered me no end. I was dying to jump in here, in defence of my favorite film, but said nothing. Next to Miss P., Fuckerhouse had no problem keeping quiet. A portly man in a checkered shirt and a wig, he was a sour presence, shoveling in the popcorn & swigging soda glumly. His was the sad face of solitary movie-going, and I saw him leaving as the credits rolled, with his bright white sneakers and pants just a little too short. Not well at all, I fear.
Going back along Sixth, the late afternoon light was crazily beautiful. The chattering fools at Bar Pitti seemed oblivious to this (and yes, I do pity them).
At West 4th, I stopped to watch a pick-up game for a bit, to catch that light for a little longer, before heading down to the train. A breeze blew away the heat's intensity. The sun's decline made everything rich and evanescent. The day went. Just fine.