A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

Helen Lawrence A One Take Film & Larry Campbells' Ghost
Wednesday, March 19, 2014



 
Mayor Gerry Grattan McGeer


This is the background as I see it to tonight’s terrific opening performance of the Arts Club Theatre Production of Helen Lawrence – Vancouver Confidential. It was conceived by Stan Douglas with story by Chris Haddock and Stan Douglas & written by Chris Haddock. It runs to April 13.

1. Bill Millerd in the program notes writes: 

In the spring of 2012 director Kim Collier (Tear the Curtain!/Electric Theatre Company) talked to Rachel Ditor and myself about the project and we became intrigued, not only by the new technology that Stan Douglas was working on, but also the involvement of Chris Haddock.

2. Playback (a form of it) Raymond Chandler’s second-to-last novel (followed by the unfinished Poodle Springs) had been written in 1944 before, Little Sister, 1949, and The Long Goodbye, 1953.

I found this out in the introduction by Philippe Garnier to Playback - A Graphic Novel by Ted Benoit and Francois Ayroles. The latter is the illustrator and the former the man who adapted the original film treatment by Chandler who had tinkered with it until 1947 when he tried to sell it, unsuccessfully, to Universal Pictures.




What is interesting about this original screenplay was that it was set in Vancouver. Chandler wanted to explore the ramifications of Canadian liquor laws, its justice system and wanted to play with the idea of crossing borders with necessary documents. When Chandler was unable to sell his screenplay he moved the action to La Jolla, California, and renamed it Esmeralda. The original version of Playback begins with a beautiful blonde on a train to Vancouver.

3. I met Chris Haddock, if briefly behind the scenes of Larry Campbell's victory night at the Vancouver Public Library atrium in November 2002. I had taken the photographs for Campbell’s campaign and I was aware how Campbell’s career as City Coroner had been the inspiration for Haddock’s Da Vinci’s Inquest. I think Haddock and I might have nodded at each other, we both knew the man. 


Larry Campbell & Jim Green, Nov 2002
 

4. When I saw the opening performance of the joint Arts Club Theatre/Electric Theatre Company production of Tear the Curtain on September 15, 2010 I was amazed by an original blend of theatre with film that reminded me of a Czech theatre production called Magic Lantern that I saw during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The production combined live theatre with back projection.

5. Helen Lawrence is an almost seamless (more on why below) improvement of what has preceded it.

In a seamless  production you would be at the movies seeing a film and not knowing that the actors in back alleys, hotel rooms and bars were not there but on a lit stage and filmed while combining their images to the background and foreground.

Luckily for us Helen Lawrence is done so that you see the silhouettes of the camera persons behind the huge scrim in front on which is projected that combination of actors and backgrounds. The actors are in “living” colour but the finished product is in effective black and white with lots of noir lighting touches.

The actors all look the part, in particular Nicholas Lea (as Percy Walker, he of the hatpin), and Lisa Ryder as the Chandler blonde. Everybody else is just about perfect.

But there was one person mentioned but not seen. The Vancouver mayor, shortly after the war, 1947 in Helen Lawrence, would have been Gerald (Gerry) Grattan McGeer.  His picture is shown above. The likes of him would have never allowed for a corrupt-on-the-take police chief like Gerard Plunkett’s Chief James Muldoon or a nasty drunkard Sergeant Leonard Perkins played to tipsy perfection by Tom McBeath. I just wish our Honourable Senator would have perhaps used spring break to appear in tonight's play. Campbell would have fitted in perfectly.


Major Larry Campbell - November 2002

I am a sucker for anything experimental and I tip my hat to the Arts Club Theatre Company for taking a chance. I have always considered Robert Montgomery’s 1947 camera-point-of-view film noir Lady in the Lake a masterpiece.

Some might say why go to the Stanley to see a movie? I would answer, “Go to the Stanley to see a one take movie and you see it being filmed. Now that’s a movie you will not see anywhere else.” 

Malibu Noir



     

Previous Posts
Jerome Charyn's White House & Teddy's Desk

The Lord's Fiddle

Between The Sheets - An Excruciating Play That Sat...

I Think The Longest Hour

The Snapshot - La Instantánea

The Spirit Lasts

Smelling Roses & Eros On A Linoleum-tiled Floor

Omphaloskepsis

Almost Black

Fuji FP-3000B & Revolving Chandeliers



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6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17