Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning...and autographs

I rewatched -- and thoroughly enjoyed -- Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) last night and it made me think of an anecdote.

I'm not much for autographs anymore; despite meeting loads of bands during my record store career, I was never much for the autograph thing. I saw a lot of people who acted as if the singer or musician was just there to sign something like a robot. Once they had their autograph, these people would mutter "Thanks" and slink away.

I, on the other hand, was much more interested in meeting the bands. I was also a decent bullshitter: accidentally meeting Kurt Cobain in early 1990 and telling him how much I liked Bleach when I actually hated it; padding out sales figures that I reported to CMJ to ensure that better "promos" were sent to me by the major labels.

I was happy meeting Lenny Kravitz when he was just starting, took delight in being politely greeted by the Indigo Girls even while they bitched to their staff about all the little things wrong with their sound system, and that kind of thing.

I am happy that I got to meet and talk with Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses -- even giving her a book of Rimbaud's -- without even asking for an autograph.

And very, very grateful that I got to go to an intimate dinner with The Blue Nile, who were on a promotional, non-performing, tour in 1990. And I had much, much more to talk to the band about than any of the handful of people there at the dinner table from A&M Records; I think I monopolized them but maybe I did them a service by keeping them away from the label flunkies who were not the fan I had been for five years already.

Which is a long way to get to my anecdote about good autographs to have.

I'm not much for autographs but I have this book autographed by: Val Guest, Veronica Carlson, Virginia Wetherell, Jimmy Sangster, Caroline Munro, and Freddie Francis.

A crop of the photo of Caroline Munro with me and my friend. This was in June, 1997, at the convention under discussion, in Timonium, Maryland, outside Baltimore.

It was at a sci-fi/horror film convention outside of Baltimore in 1997. I also met Forrest J. Ackerman there as he manned his booth and ate a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza. That was like seeing the little man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz (1939); Ackerman was a god to me as a kid as I bought Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine whenever I could and hoped that my mom wouldn't cut out all the gory pictures (which wasn't as bad as Spielberg's mom as she supposedly destroyed his issues!).

So as I made my way down the table, getting my book signed. I tried to think of something to say to Sangster and Francis. I can't quite remember what I said to Sangster but I do recall that when I got to Francis I mumbled something about his cinematography on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), in particular, the carnival sequence.

I guess he'd been asked a lot about Cape Fear (1991) or The Innocents (1961) and I was trying to go for the less obvious; despite being a panel of Hammer Studios luminaries, I was asking about a non-Hammer film.

Anyway, Mr. Francis looked completely baffled. Maybe he was hard of hearing? I repeated my compliment and he actually had to pause and think back, saying something like: "Oh, oh, right. The Albert Finney picture."

So, what was one young man's treasured vision of post-war England was another man's job.

Get the film: it's probably the best of the kitchen sink films -- less pretentious than Look Back in Anger (1959), less depressing on the whole than The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner (1962).

And while A Taste of Honey (1961) is quite good, it's a bit more than simply an "angry young man" drama.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) is a fascinating, quick-moving slice-of-life in post-war England. It's a class study. And it's a romance.

And every glorious black-and-white frame of the film is a work of art even if Freddie Francis didn't quite remember shooting it.