Weekend links 311

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Sphinx (2015) by Lupe Vasconcelos.

• I’ve been reading my way through Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels for the past couple of weeks, and may well progress to some of her other books once I’m finished. Highsmith had a long career so there’s a lot to read on the web. Catching my eye this week were 10 Best Patricia Highsmith Books recommended by her biographer, Joan Schenkar; The Patricia Highsmith Recommendation Engine; Highsmith on Desert Island Discs in 1979 (the book she said she’d take, Moby-Dick, is the same one chosen by JG Ballard, albeit for different reasons); and a prickly interview late in her life with Naim Attalah.

Discovering 20th-century literature: books, manuscripts and other documents in the collection of the British Library.

• Signed copies of Paul Gorman’s Barney Bubbles monograph, Reasons To Be Cheerful, may be ordered from the author.

• How a mysterious ghost ship brought cosmic disco to Cape Verde. Related: Quirino Do Canto by Mino Di Mama.

• Zombi drummer AE Paterra and composer Paul Lawler make prog-synth epics as Contact.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 185, a locked-groove mix by Massimo Carozzi.

• In London next weekend: Alchemy and Magic at Brompton Cemetery.

Die or DIY?: scarcities from the post-punk outer limits.

• More Penda’s Fen: a lengthy appraisal by Jerry Whyte.

Dennis Cooper salutes James Coburn

Bandcamp is good for musicians.

Vladimir Nabokov’s butterfly art.

• This Heat: Rimp Ramp Romp (1977) | 24 Track Loop (1979) | Health And Efficiency (1980) | Makeshift Swahili (1981)

Welles at 100

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Orson Welles: A First Biography (1946) by Roy Alexander Fowler.

Happy birthday, Orson. The premature celebrity biography is nothing new, as this small volume from the Coulthart library demonstrates. Welles was only 31 in 1946 but was already the director of three feature films. If I’m less of a Welles obsessive today it’s because many of the films and radio plays that were once inaccessible can now be easily seen and heard, although a handful of unfinished projects still wait in the wings. The following is a selection of some favourite Wellesiana, old and new.

• The Mercury Theatre On The Air: Recordings of Welles’ theatre troupe at the Internet Archive and at the dedicated website. The Mercury production of The War of the Worlds is the essential one, of course, but I’m also partial to their production of Dracula which featured Agnes Moorehead playing Mina Harker, Welles as the Count, and a suitably spooky score by Bernard Herrmann. The production of Around the World in 80 Days was later expanded by Welles into an ambitious (and expensive) stage musical in collaboration with Cole Porter.

The Night America Trembled (1957) is a TV dramatisation of the alarmed reaction of some Americans to the War of the Worlds broadcast. Presented live by Ed Murrow, the drama features Warren Beatty, James Coburn, Warren Oates, and Ed Asner (who later presented the BBC’s RKO Story). Closer to Welles is The Night That Panicked America (1975) a TV movie recreation of the original broadcast with Paul Shenar as the director.

Newsreel footage of the final scenes of the so-called Voodoo Macbeth from 1936. As part of the WPA program to return Americans to work, Welles directed an all-black cast with the action of the play moved to Haiti. As usual, Welles wasn’t afraid of rearranging the Bard’s words, and this staging ends with the same lines as his 1948 film version: “Peace! The charm’s wound up.”

• My favourite Welles book is still This is Orson Welles (1992), a collection of Peter Bogdanovich’s interviews edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Bogdanovich’s interview tapes can be heard at the Internet Archive.

Orson Welles’ Horrorshow: Colin Fleming on Welles’ Macbeth, “the horror film no one likes to call a horror film”.

Peter Bradshaw on Citizen Kane and the meaning of “Rosebud”.

Six actors who have played Orson Welles onscreen

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Fountain of Youth
The Complete Citizen Kane
Return to Glennascaul, a film by Hilton Edwards
Screening Kafka
The Panic Broadcast

Suspicion: The Voice in the Night

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This isn’t the best quality at all but it’s worth noting for those of us intrigued by the very small number of film and television adaptations of William Hope Hodgson’s stories. The Voice in the Night (1907) is Hodgson’s most popular story with anthologists, a tale of fungal horror that features a number of the author’s familiar motifs: the derelict ship, the uncharted island, and the sea as a home of insidious menace. The story was filmed by Godzilla director Ishiro Honda in 1963 as Matango (aka Fungus of Terror, Curse of the Mushroom People and Attack of the Mushroom People) but I’ve never seen this so I can’t comment on it.

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Hodgson aficionados evidently prefer the 1958 television film directed by Arthur Hiller and shown as part of NBC’s Suspicion series. The title on this copy is Alfred Hitchcock’s Voice in the Night although Hitchcock seems to have had nothing to do with the production. Stirling Silliphant adapted the story, and he does a good job of fleshing out the narrative without spoiling things. James Donald and Barbara Rush are the doomed shipwreck survivors who find a fungus-covered derelict, and beyond this, an uncharted and similarly fungus-covered island. Patrick Macnee and James Coburn play the two sailors to whom Thomason (Donald) narrates his tale, although their scenes in this copy are so murky and indistinct it might as well be a radio play. Quality aside, this is a very effective adaptation even if it does evade some of the more terrible details in the closing pages of the story. It’s closer to the spirit of Hodgson than The Horse of the Invisible or Dennis Wheatley’s Hodgsonian The Lost Continent. The Suspicion series doesn’t seem to have been released on DVD so for now YouTube is the only place you can see this film. (Big thanks to Ross for the tip!)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Hodgsonian vibrations
The Horse of the Invisible
Tentacles #2: The Lost Continent
Tentacles #1: The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’
Hodgson versus Houdini
Weekend links: Hodgson edition
Druillet meets Hodgson