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The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969

15 August 2019
Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... This month​ marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock festival. MichaelLang, the tenacious 24-year-old who made Woodstock happen, has a habit of surfacing at Woodstock birthdays: one book to mark the tenth anniversary, another to mark the fortieth, a couple of namesake ...
19 April 2017
... As far​ as we know, Fritz Lang’s life of crime was confined to his films, although there was some gossip about the circumstances of his first wife’s convenient death. The familiar phrase has many uses and meanings, of course ...

Dead Not Deid

James Meek: A Great Radical Modernist

22 May 2008
Kieron Smith, Boy 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 422 pp., £18.99, April 2008, 978 0 241 14241 7
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... had to go with the queen and the redcoats. ‘So it was the English, that was who ye were if ye were Scottish,’ Kieron concludes. Fraternisation is possible. Kieron has Catholic friends, such as MichaelLang. ‘MichaelLang was brave because of all what happened to Papes. It was a shame for him. I saw him in my head. He was split in two, the bit I knew and the other bit was a Pape.’ In a long ...

At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: ‘Le Mépris’

21 January 2016
Le Mépris 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... the credits are given to us in a curiously informal way, spoken in voiceover, not printed. ‘It’s based on a novel by Alberto Moravia. There are Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance … And also Fritz Lang … The images are by Raoul Coutard … It’s a film by Jean-Luc Godard.’ Then we do get a bit of text to read, from André Bazin, telling us that films create a world ‘more in accordance with ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities

15 November 2007
The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... for you,’ the narrator replies. In the alternative reality of the book, the man who commanded the British auxiliary front in America’s war on terror was not Tony Blair, but someone called Adam Lang. Blair and Lang are not entirely unalike: their names scan the same way; Lang, like Blair, has a Scottish family background; he was born in the mid-1950s; he’s a Christian. ‘I want you to ...

At the Movies

Michael​ Wood: ‘The Ghost Writer’, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

22 April 2010
The Ghost Writer 
directed by Roman Polanski.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
directed by Niels Arden Oplev.
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... believe him. He’s not that interested in suspense either, which is just as well. What he likes, and what remains in the mind, is the set-up. It was a brilliant idea to have Pierce Brosnan play Adam Lang, the former prime minister whose career so closely resembles that of a recent one we know. Brosnan is an actor who can be suave and charming without the faintest effort but always looks like a model ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael​ Newton: Charles Williams

7 September 2016
Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... it’s something of a surprise that Williams didn’t join Meynell in the Catholic Church. Perhaps it was too public a club. In 1917 he married Florence Conway, a schoolteacher; their only child, Michael, was born in 1922. Williams turned out to be a fugitive husband and absentee father. As a refuge from the pram in the hall, he became involved with A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, an ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin

9 June 1994
... might expect the Mirror to grieve at length; more unexpected was that the Sun should do so as well. The political parties also behaved impeccably. The eulogies I heard – Major, Beckett, Ashdown and Lang – were all remarkable for their dignity, sensitivity and generosity. Mr Major’s was the best speech I have heard him make and Mr Lang – who I have hitherto associated only with heavy-handed ...

After the Movies

Michael​ Wood: Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma

4 December 2008
Histoire(s) du cinéma 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... à une véritable histoire du cinéma, based on a series of talks Godard gave in Canada, where he discussed quite a few of his own films in relation to the work of selected classic directors: Lang, Dreyer, Minnelli, Resnais, Rossellini, Eisenstein. Certainly all of these directors recur in Histoire(s), as do many of Godard’s own long-serving ideas. But the form is different: an intense and ...

The Wonderfulness of Us

Richard J. Evans: The Tory Interpretation of History

17 March 2011
... One of the under-appreciated tragedies of our time has been the sundering of our society from its past,’ Michael Gove announced at the Tory Party Conference last October: Children are growing up ignorant of one of the most inspiring stories I know – the history of our United Kingdom. Our history has moments ...

It looks so charming

Tom Vanderbilt: Sweatshops

29 October 1998
No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers 
edited by Andrew Ross.
Verso, 256 pp., £14, September 1997, 1 85984 172 4
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... for wages so low they wouldn’t cover the cost of buying one pair. This is real grunt work. The athletic shoe industry, and the fashion industry as a whole, traffics in images. A Nike as depicts Michael Jordan as a corporate CEO who takes time in between games to inspect the shoes bearing his name. The figures of athletes and supermodels flash everywhere. ‘Because beauty has something to say ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over

17 September 1998
The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... the loving tributes to movies that never even made it to cult status, were part and parcel of a coherent and considered re-evaluation of classic American cinema. Godard recognised Hitchcock and Lang and Griffith as great masters – alongside Rossellini, Renoir and Eisenstein – but he also recognised the strengths of marginal and eccentric Hollywood productions, the odd films out of the studio ...

Burning Witches

Michael​ Rogin

4 September 1997
Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... for which he, as much as any other person, was responsible. Film noir is the meeting of German Expressionism and American hard-boiled crime melodrama. One originator, the refugee film director Fritz Lang, made his first films in the United States, Fury and They Only Live Once, in 1936-7: both are very un American portrayals of a menacing society that turns those icons of American innocence, Spencer ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman

4 September 1980
The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael​ Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... Sherlock Holmes has been the object of a scholarship cult for a long time, and must be the most thoroughly investigated fictional character of his age. What was practised as a diversion by Andrew Lang and Ronald Knox has turned into a full-scale critical apparatus. It’s a mock apparatus, and not really engaged with criticism; and yet not just a joke, since it does elucidate something – those ...

The Kiss

Gaby Wood

9 February 1995
Jean Renoir: Letters 
edited by Lorraine LoBianco and David Thompson, translated by Craig Carlson, Natasha Arnoldi and Michael​ Wells.
Faber, 605 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 571 17298 9
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... up. Another thing that comes out of them (and their footnotes) is an understanding that despite the clear authorship of many Hollywood films, ideas or stories did not belong to the individual. Fritz Lang re-made La Bête humaine as Human Desire, and La Chienne as Scarlett Street, Buñuel re-made Diary of a Chambermaid in 1964, and Dudley Nichols’s idea of making Thieves like Us was taken up by ...

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