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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:49 am 

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Stan Czarnecki wrote:
Well Anger and Cammell certainly shared a lot of sensibilities as artists. One could say that they both defined the so-called psychedelic film at exactly the same time.

They also knew each other and were both devotees (to a greater or lesser extent) of Aleister Crowley (Cammell's father being Crowley's biographer). When (or if) Cammell says that Anger was an influence, though, I suspect it's mostly his 40s-50s work and maybe his personality. Puce Moment, however, leaps immediately to mind when I think of the central scenes of Performance.

And speaking of Roeg, I was rewatching Anger's Eaux d'artifice the other night and couldn't help but notice how much Don't Look Now has in common with it. Not only do they both feature elusive midgets, but the way they both play with water and light is astonishingly similar.

Back to Performance: It is amazing to me that Roeg found Cammell's final cut of the film to be incomprehensible, as it pretty clearly paves the way for the editing style of his own films. Cammell himself seems pretty miffed about this, saying in interviews how the style of Performance, though initially disparaged by Roeg, has subsequently become synonymous with him. For what it's worth, all (with Demon Seed being only a slightly less certain example) of Cammell's subsequent films employ a similar editing style which is, to my mind, far more logical than Roeg's editing often is and quite a bit less self-consciously flashy. Wild Side, for example, uses montage very pointedly, whereas Roeg's style often tends toward non sequiturs.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:39 pm 
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leo goldsmith wrote:
... which unfortunately lacks a footnote. Does anyone know if this is from The Ultimate Performance?

I have a few books on Roeg and about 20 years worth of magazine and newspaper clippings and I have never come across this in any of them, and I have just been having a look. I would doubt something that has only one source, unless it is a very good one, given that the same quotes about Anger or from Anger about Cammell, etc, keep reappearing in those articles. I would imagine it is from the Ultimate Performance.

One thing I did come across though was a comparison of Performance with The Ladykillers. The writer made a good case for it. I always thought of it as Sunset Boulevard on acid myself.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:57 pm 
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Felix wrote:
leo goldsmith wrote:
... which unfortunately lacks a footnote. Does anyone know if this is from The Ultimate Performance?

I would doubt something that has only one source, unless it is a very good one, given that the same quotes about Anger or from Anger about Cammell, etc, keep reappearing in those articles. I would imagine it is from the Ultimate Performance.

Possibly, or it might originate from Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side, given the fact that Barry Miles quotes Cammell in his book review.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:28 am 
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kinjitsu wrote:
Possibly, or it might originate from Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side, given the fact that Barry Miles quotes Cammell in his book review.

Oops, I think it was the book I meant... Miles was there to be sure (I love the way his autobiography brings Paul McCartney back from tweeness and domesticity and reveals him as the real revolutionary in the Beatles) but I still find it odd that such a major influence is not referenced elsewhere. I may drag out my old TV documentary on Cammell and see if it touches on this.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 2:06 pm 
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The quotation isn't in Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side, either. That's why I was motivated to ask where the quotation came from, because I've never read an interview with Cammell in which he said that.

Incidentally, while Anger may have been a devotee of Crowley, the above book pretty much debunks the notion that Donald Cammell had any interest in Crowley (he may have been bounced on Crowley's knee as small boy, that much is true), and while it's true that Cammell's father, Charles Richard, did write a biography of Crowley, he was exclusively interested in Crowley's early poetry (and his feats of mountain climbing), and wasn't much interested in Crowleyean "Magick." If you've read John Symonds book on Crowley (The Beast 666), it's clear that Cammell and Crowley had a severe break in their friendship during the war, and that toward the end of his life Cammell thought Crowley a "charlatan."


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:05 pm 
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nazarin wrote:
The quotation isn't in Donald Cammell: A Life on the Wild Side, either. That's why I was motivated to ask where the quotation came from, because I've never read an interview with Cammell in which he said that.

Incidentally, while Anger may have been a devotee of Crowley, the above book pretty much debunks the notion that Donald Cammell had any interest in Crowley (he may have been bounced on Crowley's knee as small boy, that much is true), and while it's true that Cammell's father, Charles Richard, did write a biography of Crowley, he was exclusively interested in Crowley's early poetry (and his feats of mountain climbing), and wasn't much interested in Crowleyean "Magick." If you've read John Symonds book on Crowley (The Beast 666), it's clear that Cammell and Crowley had a severe break in their friendship during the war, and that toward the end of his life Cammell thought Crowley a "charlatan."

The longer I go without finding any sort of corroboration whatsoever for the quote, the more unlikely I consider it to be true. Here is another interview, from Video Watchdog.

What did you make of the book Nazarin? I am watching the BBC2 TX documentary at the moment and it is reminding me just how interesting Cammell was. He certainly was dealt a good hand wasn't he? Stunning looks, genuine artistic gifts (including his painting), erudite, loads of money, fascinating family background. God it's embarrassing...

Incidentally, if anyone is interested in the comparison with The Ladykillers, let me know and I will type some of it out (if I can find the time). The writer also opined that both films sum up a trait in British cinema where, for want of a better term, Upstairs and Downstairs clash (The Servant also gets a mention).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:03 pm 
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Last edited by kinjitsu on Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 2:16 am 
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Felix wrote:
What did you make of the book Nazarin?

I haven't read it (nor am I Nazarin!), but MacCabe contributed a rather scathing review of it to Sight & Sound a few months ago. It may be disappointing.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:13 am 
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foggy eyes wrote:
Felix wrote:
What did you make of the book Nazarin?

I haven't read it (nor am I Nazarin!), but MacCabe contributed a rather scathing review of it to Sight & Sound a few months ago. It may be disappointing.

Actually, reviews of the book have been exceptionally good, MacCabe's review the sole exception (and, to be fair, it wasn't entirely negative), but that's what you get when the editor assigns someone to review a book who has his own agenda. The London Times liked it very much, as did the Guardian, and Peter Murphy, who writes for Ireland's Hotpress magazine named it "Book of the Year." The reviewer for Film Comment liked it (thought it was a "mindfuck") and I also see that it was nominated for a Rondo Hatton Award as "Best Book of the Year." So I guess I'm not sure if you'd be disappointed or not. I learned a great deal from it, myself.

P.S. Thanks for the screen grabs!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 1:24 pm 
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Not to belabor the point, has anyone read Mick Brown's book?

Mick Brown wrote:
Anger's films can be seen as a direct precursor to, and a significant influence on, Performance. Indeed, Donald Cammell admitted that Anger was `the major influence at the time I made Performance' ...


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:48 pm 
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kinjitsu wrote:
By the way, has anyone read Mick Brown's book?

I have. It's very good. Does Brown give a source for the quotation, then? I'm not saying that the assertion is false, I'm just curious as to the print source for the quotation.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:50 pm 
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DVD Savant review


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:45 am 
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Quote:
Performance: Anita Pallenberg talks about the notorious Sixties film

By Chris Sullivan
Published: 16 March 2007

At the centre of international counter culture for the last 40 years, Anita Pallenberg co-starred in two of the most stylish and influential films - Barbarella and Performance. She came to the attention of the British public as the girlfriend of the Rolling Stone Brian Jones, whom she left for Keith Richards - the father of her two children, Marlon, now 37 and Angela, now 35.

"But I'd been around a lot before I met any of the Rolling Stones," says Pallenberg, in her beautiful, wood-panelled, apartment overlooking Chelsea Embankment. "I was in Rome in 1960 just as La Dolce Vita was happening and met [Federico] Fellini, Alberto Moravia, [Luchino] Visconti and [Paolo] Pasolini. Then I went to model in New York in 1963 and hung out with Andy Warhol and all the Pop artists, and met the Beat poets. And then I went to Paris." On a modelling assignment in the French capital, Pallenberg secured a part in director Volker Schlöndorff's new film, A Degree of Murder.There she met Donald Cammell, the writer and director of Performance.

The film, which is released this week for the first time in the UK on DVD, is the tale of Chas (James Fox), a sadistic, sharp-suited London gangland enforcer who, by killing one of his own, falls foul of the boss Harry Flowers (Johnny Shannon) and hides out in the home of the reclusive rock star Turner (Mick Jagger). And as Chas is sucked into Turner's world of Eastern mysticism and Western debauchery, he is plied with hallucinogenic mushrooms, accepts the advances of Turner and his sexually insatiable inamoratas - the stunning Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and the androgynous Lucy (Michèle Breton) - and loses the plot.

Praised by Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci and Stanley Kubrick, Performance is held in high esteem as one of the great British gangster flicks. The film-makers based Harry Flowers on Ronnie Kray. "David Litvinoff [who Marianne Faithfull once described as 'a genuine Mob boss'] was a great friend of Ronnie Kray and was given the title of dialogue consultant on the film," recalls Pallenberg. "But, really, he was Donald and co-director Nicolas Roeg's passport into the underworld. He knew them and took James Fox around London to meet the real guys."

Performance managed not only to accurately depict the archetypal Sixties hoodlum but also captured the avant-garde bohemianism of the era. "I guess Turner was based on Brian Jones to a certain extent," says Pallenberg, who often entertained the star-struck Cammell at the house she shared with Jones between 1965 and 1967. "Donald was part of that thing when English intellectuals mixed with rock stars and discussed Eastern mysticism, sat on exotic rugs, burnt incense and smoked hash."

Besotted with the Stones, Cammell engaged the services of Mick Jagger and sold the film as caper movie that would capture "swinging London" and allow Warner Brothers to break into the coveted teen market. He pulled in Pallenberg to replace Tuesday Weld, who had broken her neck, and started shooting exterior shots at 25 Powis Square and interiors at 15 Lowndes Square, Knightsbridge in the late summer of 1968.

"It was an absolute nightmare," recalls Pallenberg. "Donald was a real prima donna - going into fits of fury, screaming, shouting and trying to put all of these mad, deviant, perverted sexual scenarios into the movie. Nic Roeg would spend seven hours lighting one shot. We'd sit huddled together in the basement, shivering, getting stoned and waiting for scenes that we would eventually do maybe 28 times. It was all very, very messy."

Adding to Pallenberg's discomfort was the understandably miffed Keith Richards who had to watch his significant other jump out of his bed and into Jagger's. "I hated it," admits Pallenberg. "At night I would go home and Keith would be slagging off Donald and the movie."

Some of the scenes, encouraged by the salacious director, were so explicit that the processing lab called to say that they breached obscenity laws and that they were obliged to destroy them.

"It was like a porno shoot, and Donald loved it," recalls the actress. "At one point I spent a week in bed with Michèle and Mick. There was a camera under the sheets and there was all kinds of sex going on but I put it down to method acting." But when asked, categorically, if sexual congress did actually occur Pallenberg is unequivocal. "No, it never did. I was a one-man girl at the time and Keith was the man for me. I loved him. And anyway, Jagger was the last guy I would have done that with."

While the three cavorted, Cammell courted chaos, encouraging Pallenberg to do her worst. "Donald used my character to make the rest feel ill at ease," she recalls. "I'd tease James, telling him I'd spiced his coffee with LSD. It was not harmonious. And that was what Donald wanted - pandemonium and paranoia." Such shenanigans have been blamed for Breton never acting again, Fox abandoning his craft for the next decade in favour of Christian vocational work, and Cammell's dramatic suicide in 1997. But Pallenberg is not convinced. "The roots of all that were there before," she says, dismissively.

When the finished cut was screened in Los Angeles it caused one of the Warner executives' wives to throw up, didn't feature Jagger until halfway through and, instead of being the groovy London pop-meets-wisecracking gangland feature that Warner expected, was a homoerotic, sadomasochistic, sexually fuelled, venomous and violent London gangster flick. And so they demanded a re-edit. The resulting reworking of the film, overseen by Cammell (Roeg had gone to Australia to do Walkabout) and performed by Frank Mazzola (a former gang member who showed James Dean exactly how to wield a switchblade in Rebel Without a Cause), employed a series of rapid cuts that, designed to lose much of the offending sex, drugs and violence, gave the film its breakneck pace, upped the tension and revolutionised the art of film-making.

"The movie signalled the end of the hippie era and the end of innocence," asserts Pallenberg. "It was as if the James Fox character personified all these exterior forces that polluted this rather naive world, and things were never quite the same again." Although the film led to other roles, by 1976 Pallenberg had lost interest, as her drug and alcohol abuse spiralled.

But, of late, she has seen her acting career blossom once again. Scheduled for release later this year is the cult director Harmony Korine's eagerly anticipated Mister Lonely, in which she co-stars as the queen of England, while this month she is back in Cinecitta studios in Rome acting in Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales, starring Willem Dafoe, Bob Hoskins, Matthew Modine and Asia Argento. "I've often been in the right place at the right time," chuckles Pallenberg. "I guess it's a knack."

'Performance' is available now on Warner Home Video; 'Mister Lonely' opens later this year.

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:37 pm 
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DVD Times review


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:44 am 
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Saw this at Tim Lucas's blog; the French dvd cover:

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:21 pm 
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Uh... :shock:


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:50 am 
Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance is now up in its complete version (consisting of nine parts) at youtube.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:28 pm 
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I have a DVD-R of the Cammell doc and keep it in a double-case with the R1 Performance. One of the best docs on a filmmaker I have ever seen.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:31 pm 
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Anita Pallenberg says (above) - "I guess Turner was based on Brian Jones to a certain extent."
I just watched a newly released DVD Documentary "The Rolling Stones Under Review 1967 - 1969" which makes the case more strongly. Several of the commentators include people close to the band at the time and they assert that Jagger was definitely and consciously playing Brian Jones, and that the house used in the movie was carefully set-dressed to look like the interior of Jones' home. Hope this is not old news.

While I'm here, I will say that the doc is mostly talking heads and not music, but I thought it was excellent and recommend it. It covers their music output from "Between the Buttons" to "Let it Bleed" and the commentators are not afraid to criticise as well as praise. They note that Jagger and Richards were "hard men" in their treatment of Brian Jones.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:08 am 

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Forgive me, a newbie, bringing this up again but I've looked for explanations on why Warners 'fudged' the DVD issue of Performance. I've written to them but had no response.

The line 'here's to old England' is indeed missing, but the error is easily explained. Basically half the stereo soundtrack has been used in both speakers. Loads of the music is missing as are some of the noises in the soundtrack during the musical sequence of 'Poor White Hound Dog'. The moment Turner plugs a cable into a piece of equipment should produce a low, ominiously throbbing noise - that's missing. Some of the noises when he dances with the flourescent tube are also missing. Lots of the guitars during 'Memo From Turner' aren't there at the end. Try playing the soundtrack album and then listen to the DVDs soundtrack - it's incomplete. As this is the climax to the whole film and possibly my favourite sequence in cinema I shelved my newly acquired DVD and went back to the VHS tape I played so often.

I can't work out why Warners could have got this so wrong. I've watched the film on so many occasions and was gutted when playing the DVD. Does anyone know if there are plans for the correct version to be issued?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:43 am 
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Indeed, thank you for bringing it up. You're the kind of newbie we like around here. This is the first I've heard that the sound problems extended beyond the "old England" line (though I thought there was something wrong with the mix of "Memo from Turner") and it's possible that Warner Bros. themselves are not aware of the problem. They have re-pressed discs before for more minor problems, but I don't know if they could be persuaded to do so for a release they seemed to care so little about in the first place. You can try contacting Warner Home Video at 1-800-553-6937 and hope for a sympathetic ear.


Last edited by Matt on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:49 am 
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Annoyingly, I'm going to have to buy my second copy of the DVD tomorrow, because I don't think I'm ever going to get the first one back off the friend I lent it to (it's her all-time favourite film), and I need to watch it again in the next fortnight.

Still, it's extremely cheap, which is its saving grace. And if I buy the PAL version, presumably I can have a go at ripping the DVD to my laptop and dropping in the sound of the correct VHS version at the appropriate spot...


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:24 am 
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Someone at Warner Home Video in a position to do something about the problem has been made aware of it.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:28 am 

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Matt wrote:
Indeed, thank you for bringing it up. You're the kind of newbie we like around here. This is the first I've heard that the sound problems extended beyond the "old England" line (though I thought there was something wrong with the mix of "Memo from Turner") and it's possible that Warner Bros. themselves are not aware of the problem.

I have never heard of anyone else grumbling beyond the missing Turner quote but I spotted it straightaway - my anticipation had been building as the musical section drew near. I was so disappointed when it came as they've simply not paid any attention to detail, yet it's the key scene in the whole film. The rest looks fantastic - you can see and hear everything properly, right until that crucial moment!

I'll try calling Warners but they didn't respond to my letter so I wonder if I'll get anywhere this time.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 5:44 pm 
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Perhaps this will be the incentive Warner needs to give this the proper SE release it richly deserves...though I have a feeling we'll be lucky if we even get a corrected repressing of the existing disc (though I'd love to be wrong).

I've emailed Tim Lucas with this info; hopefully he can at least post in his blog about this, if not use whatever influence he may have in other, more direct ways to get the issue addressed.


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