The '68 Comeback Special, Born to be Wildly Pretentious

David Cairns straps on his helmet and jumps on his hog for this week's '68 Comeback Special for a look at rogue cinematographer-turned-director Jack Cardiff's Girl on a Motorcycle. This film was met with howls of laughter and stark, outraged silence when I screened it last. I found it a suffocatingly hip proto-giallo with no murder, making the film an exercise in building tension and never releasing it. Cardiff, who is one of the greatest cinematographers in history, never really found his, uh, instrument as a director. The film of his I've enjoyed the most was a post-Dirty Dozen colonialist actioner called Dark of the Sun, perhaps it lacked the pap-psychology of Girl and was free of the unearned pretensions of this and his early, literary films. I've never understood why so many great cinematographers turn to directing and the care and patient craft they're known for just vanishes...but then maybe I've answered my own question. Nevertheless Cardiff sneaks a few beautiful shots in between the rear-projection and the oblique circus of the body. Alain Delon as a professor of sex is plenty hilarious, so it wasn't all bad.

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