Lockwood & Aimée in Model Shop
On Thursday, December 18, Turner Classic Movies offers two films rarely ever broadcast and unavailable on region 1 DVD. Model Shop (1969) was Jacques Demy’s one and only Hollywood production. Made at the invitation of Columbia Pictures (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was an art house hit), it continues the adventures of Lola (1961) with Anouk Aimée reprising her role as a cabaret dancer turned model. Fresh from 2001: A Space Odyssey and inches away from Palookaville, Gary Lockwood plays the callow young man in pursuit. (Another candidate for the role was then-unknown Harrison Ford, who talks about it with Agnès Varda in her excellent documentary, L’ Univers de Jacques Demy.) The critics weren’t kind and the public stayed away: Demy referred to it as ‘Model Flop’ and resumed his career in Europe.
Jules Dassin’s Phaedra (1962) was made between the box office hits Never on Sunday and Topkapi, and they all starred his muse (and future wife) Melina Mercouri. 1960s and 70s Dassin is a far different kettle of fish from the 1940s Dassin of Brute Force and Thieves’ Highway. I’ve always found David Thomson’s summation in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film fairly accurate and funny, if a little caustic:
“Together [Dassin and Mercouri] made some of the most entertainingly bad films of the sixties and seventies: pictures that outstrip their own deficiencies and end up being riotously enjoyable as one waits to see how far pretentiousness will stretch. In good company, and a little drink, He Who Must Die, Phaedra, and 10:30 p.m. Summer might cure would-be suicides.”
Labels: Capsule reviews, Jacques Demy, Melina Mercouri