spap1’s review published on Letterboxd:
i watched Anything Goes - Sutton Foster is one of my favourite people on this planet - in the West End today for like the third time this Summer, so i thought i’d keep up the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’ sort of vibe for tonight’s film.
and this was just as good, if not better, a second time around. i’ve never gotten a chance to talk about i’m depth though, so i’ll just talk about the musings that i noticed this time around.
despite being part of the problem, Hollywood sure does - or at least did - love making movies about how shit people can be - who are we kidding Joker literally came out two years ago. but you know what, for the entertainment of it… i’m there.
it’s actually genuinely interesting to think about how American art has vilified individuals for their vices and corruption, when it has indeed been the system itself which has allowed this corruption to take place in the first place, giving this sort of longing for strength and dominance as a prominent part of the mind, taking up its own section, seeping into what we know as the judgment portion of our minds, allowing us to make decisions based off of, perhaps, differing motivations other than what is clearly logical.
we’re easily impressionable, it’s true. no matter our age, we can’t help but sometimes fall into the trappings of desire, longing, wishing for something that someone else may have that we don’t, it’s a big part of our lives, but has it made us become who we wish, and longed not to be? i’m going to avoid using the big C word - one that ends in an -ism - because it’s so simple to blame it on a certain ideology when it is a world as a whole that had fallen into these moral dilemmas.
i pin my argument upon American society because it is, in general, the most well documented within modern literature, cinema etc. but i believe that there is a certain hypocrisy that lies within the entirety of us, one that even i find myself falling into at times, but then what else can we think? some of us have dwellings that give us dark thoughts, all of us have the ability to act upon things that may be even beyond our imagination at the present, but we do all have varying degrees of darkness lurking just below the surfaces of our skins.
Wilder knew. he knew exactly how the world had been, he knew exactly how to manipulate it, especially for the period. he, ever so slyly, placed everyone’s ugliest traits on a screen in front of them, sprawled across within the bodies of other people, and made them love it. their obsession with money, the ease of deceit and betrayal in the face of difficulty, the longing to divert from the beaten path, and the ease of, and overwhelming pleasure, attaining to wrongdoing.
i think the opening shot of a crippled man walking on crutches can speak volumes to what i have just spoken about.
i’ve spoken endlessly, at least it feels like it, about the mastery of Billy Wilder, but i’ll just say that he was one of the biggest voices in 50’s and 60’s Hollywood cinema, and that there is so much that the man is responsible for, with the ripple effects of his work seen reverberating through the structure of cinema that we still see today. his fearlessness when touching on taboo subjects, to as far an extent as he could, and the brilliance of his wit and fervour of persistence in the face of criticism is something to be admired. we can all learn something from the wonderful heart and mind of Billy Wilder.
the depth of his characters is something to be adored, with every single one being dispossessed in some way, torn apart from the reality they had once dreamed possible, crossed to the point where they feel as though their voices no longer have the strength to even voice any sort of queries about their own lives; however, this does not mean they stay this way. they are stretched to the limits that a person can go, they are trodden over, to the point where they must shout out, to scream at the top of their lungs and made themselves heard. but even then, they quickly fall into the horrors of that question that plagues all our minds at some point in our lives: what is the purpose of it all? they follow a sub, surreptitious life, lurking beneath their surface, building their outer shell into the ideal of perfection, with the pain never quite alleviating itself.
i’m always so shocked by the cinematography and stylistic nature of this film, particularly as it sprouted during the second world war, a time where most cinema had even been war focussed, or entire feel good in nature - at least mainstream cinema anyway. but Wilder managed to stand out from that crowd, he pushed his wonderfully cynical view of the world into reality, perhaps creating an allegory for the violence of the war in relation to the unsettled societal nature of America during this era, with tensions high over an increasingly disillusioned population, but perhaps this would have been filtering into pride during the war. trust Wilder to remind everyone of the reality they had been in. there’s no pride in war, nobody wins.
anyway, i went on a slight tangent there, but reeling myself back in: i’m sure it’s clear and obvious, but i’m only realising now that this film could truly be cited as a starting point of the film noir movement. those themes of violence; those cool, smokey sets with sun streaming through slats in the windows - that also gave me Hitchcock’s Rebecca vibes; characters, or anti-heroes, that would usually be despicable made loving and relatable in their imperfection. how did i never notice this before?
what a king.