Friday, 23 March 2012

THE HOUSE OF HARRINGTON (2008)

I've always had affection for Curtis Harrington without ever really regarding myself as a fan. He was a product of the so-called American Avante Garde along with his friend Kenneth Anger. Most of the films that fall into this category , particularly Anger's, today look like nothing more than very amatuerish home movies. Harrington at least made it into the real/reel world with a series of interesting if unremarkable horror movies, along the way working as an assistant to Jerry Wald and directing episodes of everything from BARETTA to CHARLIE'S ANGELS and DYNASTY. I once wrote a short article pointing out that his films show the influences of directors such as Clouzot, Hitchcock, Sternberg etc as well as knowingly doing such enjoyable trifles as THE DEAD DON'T DIE and THE CAT CREATURE - the mere titles of which invoke such names as Bela Lugosi and Val Lewton. But I still think it is near impossible to discern the personality of Harrington himself. Harrington began and ended his career with versions of his favourite Edgar Allan Poe story, The Fall of the House of Usher and it is perhaps in his final film, simply entitled USHER, with Harrington playing both the hapless siblings, that we might get a glimpse of the man himself. THE HOUSE OF HARRINGTON is a useful short which comprises of an interview with Harrington himself commenting on his main films and clips from the films themselves. Curtis comes over as a nice guy, obsessed by horror films. Rating ***

3 comments:

Cerpts said...

I have to agree with you that Harrington's movies are such that I want to like them more than I do but nevertheless have a great affection for them and him. That sounds like an interesting DVD (?) I've seen Harrington in several documentaries on horror films and he's something of a raconteur so I'll bet it's entertaining to hear him speak about his films. I'll always remember the James Whale anecdote he liked to tell about the premiere of FRANKENSTEIN: James Whale was awakened in the middle of the night by a phone caller asking if he was the director of that film that just opened. Whale replied yes and the caller snapped: "Well, I can't sleep and I'll be damned if I'll let YOU sleep"!

ernest said...

The documentary (a meagre 25 mins)is available in 4 parts on You Tube.

wellyousaythat© said...

Baretta Charlies Angels Dynasty; sounds like a Tarantino wish list. I will look into Mr Harrington's other work now.