Now here’s a documentary on Stanley Kubrick with real substance — it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen on the director. It’s only been up on YouTube a few days, and Joe Dante forwarded the link. Kubrick by Kubrick is a beautifully constructed, great-looking feature documentary from 2020, by writer-director Gregory Monro.
Talk about ‘prime source’ content: the backbone of the docu is excellent audio of Kubrick recorded by his biographer Michel Ciment. Kubrick comes off as the most rational, intelligent person one could imagine … if he wants to spend 4 years researching and investigating a new movie, who can deny that he’s doing the right thing? The show has great clips, and despite not trying to be ‘comprehensive’ it appears to cover all bases. We even hear Kubrick’s candid thoughts on a movie he wanted to forget, Fear and Desire.
It’s very judicious and discriminating – -clips and quotes aren’t used just because they’re available. Sterling Hayden’s interview bite is sensational, as are those of Shelley Duvall, Ken Adam, Arthur C. Clarke, others. Only Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman deliver anything less than inspired statements.
The show is organized visually around the ‘alien hotel room’ from 2001 … adding other props and set dressing as needed. It’s a stimulating watch.
A big thanks to advisor / contributor / Gary Teetzel: responding to last week’s review for John Parker’s horror classic Dementia, Gary performed one of his searches of vintage trade papers to see what exhibitors were told about a show that had to wait two years to be passed by the New York censors, to get one miserable booking in a Manhattan art house. Plenty of sources repeat the misinformation that it had some kind of release in 1953, when poor John Parker was likely holding private showings here and there in New York, probably on his own dime, trying to find a distributor.
The first mention Gary discovered came in 1955: it looks as if John Parker and his backer are trying to drum up interest in a (never made) Dementia follow-up called Panic. Take it away, Gary:
“This July 27 ’55 column piece in Variety mentions John Parker as the maker of the ‘avant gorde’ film Dementia.”
“Motion Picture Daily, November 25, 1955.” ‘The first foreign film to come out of Hollywood.’
“Variety, November 30, 1955.” ‘The New York Censor board originally banned the film in toto on the ground that it was inhuman and indecent.’
“Variety review from December 28.” ‘Dementia may be the strangest film ever offered for theatrical release.’ In show biz trade paper terms that statement is really saying something.
“Motion Picture Exhibitor, January 19, 1956.” Is the phrase ‘suited for particular situations only’ exhibitor code for ‘Caution, this has content that can get you in trouble?’
“January 25, 1956 — The Motion Picture Exhibitor reviews the film.” ‘For the people who glory in the repulsive, the offering will prove a delight.’
“Motion Picture Exhibitor then recycles the review on February 20, 1957 for the Daughter of Horror version, adding a mention of Ed McMahon’s narration.”
“Lastly, on May 28, 1958, over one year after the Exhibitor review, Variety reports on grosses at a theater in Boston that appears to specialize in racy fare. John Parker was by now likely out of the picture completely, bought out by ‘Exploitation Productions, Inc.’. Watching from the sidelines, what was his reaction to the report of ‘Nice’ box office receipts?”
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson