“The tragedy of our predicament when we are within ideology is that when we think that we escape [from] it into our dreams, at that point we are within ideology,” says Slavoj Žižek in THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY—screening here at the Brattle over the next week. This is precisely the predicament of Travis Bickle, the wayward, psychopathic hero of TAXI DRIVER. Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) has it right when she says Travis is “a prophet and a pusher, partly truth, partly fiction. A walking contradiction.” Travis is a cultural observer at odds with the ideologies in which he participates.
Author: Nick DeSimone
BEAT THE DEVIL was a flop when it was released in 1953, despite an all-star cast, including Humphrey Bogart in the lead role with John Huston writing/directing and Truman Capote helping out with the script. Huston and Bogart’s collaborative track record had been phenomenally successful up to this point with tons of Oscar nods for THE MALTESE FALCON, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, and THE AFRICAN QUEEN. But BEAT THE DEVIL just didn’t resonate with audiences, and Bogart, who bankrolled the film, lost a pretty penny in the fallout.
There are two certainties in the world of Harold Lloyd’s SAFETY LAST!: Death and suits. For what is, on its surface, a sweet, endearing and inoffensive rom-com, there are significantly dark undertones present, which put forth a bleak critique of modern life. The most iconic shot of this classic film is of Lloyd hanging; nine stories up, from the hand of a clock, at any moment about to fall to his certain death. And if that image alone isn’t enough to give you a serious case of vertigo, you should know Lloyd had blown his right thumb and index finger to smithereens a few years earlier after an on-set accident involving a bomb prop (he wears a flesh-colored glove to cover up his misplaced digits). Lloyd is not just hanging on for dear life; he’s doing it with only one good hand.