trying to kill a trope –
but the cinema clichés
refuse to die.
“It’s curtains for you Mug!!” When someone is threatened with death in the old gangster/hardboiled detective movies & stories, it was always curtains. This term derived from theatre, when the last bit of stage direction was curtain – indicating the end of the show/play, and dropping the curtain.
“It’s curtains for you” is a metaphor. The final ‘Curtain’ is drawn across the stage at the conclusion of the person’s life. The expression ‘it is curtains for you’ simply means you are finished, your escapade is over, the game is up, you have been discovered, you are about to receive your punishment, you have arrived at the conclusion of your wrongdoing, the time is up for you. The hardboiled characters used this as a threat of imminent death. So well-worn was this expression of existential threat that it became a cliché and used in parody. Even Bugs Bunny menaced those gangsters when the jigs was up.
Surreal: having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic, phantasmagorical, uncanny, intense hyper-reality, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur. Characteristics associated with art and literature created by founders and followers of cultural movement known as Surrealism.
( The video came to my attention by way of Mobius Faith’s blog, On Being and Becoming. Make sure to check it out. )
Surreal Thursday has arrived and this post brings you a few images from that classic Midnight Matinee Special, The House That Dripped Pudding. Fondly remembered as a key movie in Alternative Cinema History; it is one of the great-might-have-beens . This moody horror mystery thriller was directed by that superb Greek-Finish auteur, Francois Amynedd MacSirc~Bathsky. This film, intended as a quick B movie, in MacSirc~Bathsky’s hands became a cultural turning point as it elevated the Old Mysterious House Genre to unexpected artistic levels. His follow-up, a studio demanded semi-sequel, House of The Seven Tapioca Windows, was controversial for its Kafkaesque plot twists, use of iambic pentameter blank verse and a dance sequence that, even after studio cuts, is considered one of the great horror sequences in film history.
It was MacSirc~Bathsky’s use of dance, puppetry and animation based on Medieval illuminated manuscripts and recipe-books combined with creative special effects and make-up that created new interpretations of the Tropes associated with the Old Mysterious House Genre. The House That Dripped Pudding raised the genre to social commentary and added psychological depth not previously associated with these types of films. Ironically, though the film featured a host of actors who would become greatly in demand , they are famously unknown today. The 1950s morality backlash & the famous Hollywood black list drove many into obscurity or live theatre. A few turned to fashion design or painting, while one was rumoured to have turned to his/her South American heritage and became a Shaman & tango instructor.
MacSirc~Bathsky went on to a remarkable career in spite of his difficulties with the Hollywood Studios. His work with the Canadian NFB has been noted elsewhere. The impact of his Taxi Cab Driver On A Hot Tin Roof is monumental and well documented. He will always be remembered for the opening/closing scene of The Last Haiku in Paris Ontario.