Richard Layne, Nicky Smith, Helen Vincent and I discuss Quick Millions, part of the early sound Fox films programmed at this year´s Ritrovato. We discuss it in relation to other gangster films of the era such as Public Enemy and Scarface, the passage of time montages, the iconography of the suit, Newsies, and the presence of both Spencer Tracy and George Raft, who makes quite an impression dancing. As we wrap up, Bertrand Tavernier walks past.
The film is on youtube and can be seen below: the difference in image and sound quality between this and what we saw in Bologna is reason enough to go to Ritrovato. George Raft´s dance can also be seen below just under the film itself,
I think it took me about a decade to really become acculturated in the UK, or at least as much as I wanted to be. The moment I knew I had become so was when I ‘got’ all the Mapp and Lucia books, laughed out loud at the word play, the social mores, had no trouble imagining tone of voice from what was visible in print; saw the humour in Mrs. Mapp’s resentment of Lucia’s social wars, Giorgino mio’s collecting, the queerness of ‘Quaint’ Irene, the fraught social situations where the invisible could be a call to battle etc . There were a series of other writers that helped nudge me along: some of Evelyn Waugh (I like the pre-war work best), the glamorous comic masterpieces by Nancy Mitford (Love in a Cold Climate, The Pursuit of Love), Barbara Pym’s excellent women — doing all the vicars’ work and quietly cycling along in spite of being side-lined and overlooked — in the lovely, sparse, pointillist novels: some of my very favourites. I’ve often re-read Mitford, and probably have read everything on her and her notorious family but E.F. Benson’s world is the cozy, lovely, humorous one I find most comforting. As my friend Helen Vincent says, ‘The thing that differentiates Benson from Waugh and Mitford and quite a few others who share his love of the deliciously bitchy is that he, like Olga and Georgie and a lot of his other characters, is fundamentally kind and generous-hearted towards the social climbers and spinsters and retired colonels in all their petty scheming ways, and that is why I love him so much more than them.’ That goes for me too.