Thursday, January 10, 1974
I HE MICHIGAN DAILY
Papillon 'flutters to its death
By DN BORUS
As a genre, the escape film
has yet to scale the artistic
heights of the gangster film or
the Western. No Scarface or
High Noon has been produced
with a prison break as focal
point. A fully realized work on
the trials and tribulations of
f r e e d o m, imprisonment and
guilt would be a welcome addi-
tion to the cinema collections.
Unfortunately, Papillon is not
that welcome addition, despite
the claims and the high cost of
production. A $14 million block-
buster with name players Dustin
Hoffman and Steve McQueen,
Papillon looks and feels more
like a travelogue than a thriller.
Ultimately, the film is more
concerned with scenery than
Not surprisingly, F r a n k
Schaffner, the man who brought
you Patton, has created a Dev-
il's Island (which is hardly ter-
rifying,) a truly remarkable
achievement for the money.
Schaffner's lack of realism and
hence lack of credibility flows in
part from his inattention to de-
For $14 million, he could have
given his prison guards French
accents instead of allowing them
win critics', awards
to sound as if they were straight
from the Oklahoma Correctional
System. Frankly, it's annoying.
Equally annoying is the ex-
cessive length of the film. Tight
editing could have heightened the
excitement of the picture, made
the characters believable, but
Schaffner lets his picture run
through three hours and through
some of the most unnecessary
Central American excursions
since Cook's Tours was founded.
By adding the scenic looks of
a leper colony and a native In-
dian village, Schaffner adds no
appreciable elements to the plot,
only more time.
Papillon, taken from the novel
of the same name, centers
around the escape attempts of
Papillon (Steve McQueen), sen-
tenced to life imprisonment for
the murder of a pimp, a crime he
claims not to have committed.
During his journey over he be-
friends fellow prisoner and
France's greatest counterfeiter,
In return for protection, Hoff-
man promises to finance any es-
cape attempt from his bank roll
cleverly stashed in a tube placed
in his colon. That's the only
cleverly placed thing about the
After a series of floggings, be-
headings in living color, solitary
imprisonments, and aborted es-
cape attempts, Papillon leaps
over the walls to freedom. With
him he takes Hoffman, a reluc-
tant traveller, who breaks his
leg in the process. Then the im-
probability reaches total in-
credulity, as the group escapes
NEW YORK t P) - Day for
Night, a French romantic com-
edy - drama on the art of film
making, has been voted the best
movie of 1973 by the New York
Film Critics Circle.
In the critics' annual poll yes-
terday, Francois Truffaut and
Valentina Cortese were named
the year's top director and sup-
porting actress for their work
in Day for Night.
Selected as best actor was
Marlon Brando, for his depic-
tion of a troubled American in
the French-made, sexually ex-
plicit Last Tango in Paris.
Joanne Woodward -was cited
as the outstanding actress of
1973 for her role as a rest-
less, middle-aged wife in Sum-
mer Wishes, Winter Dreams.
Honored as best supporting ac-
tor was Robert De Niro, who
played a small-time hoodlum in
Mean Streets, a film about.life
in Manhattan's Little Italy.
The critics cited for the year's
best screen writing American
Graffiti, which depicted teen-
agers growing up in a Califor-
nia town in 1962.
The 26 film critics participat-
ing in the poll will present
plaques to the winners Jan. 27 at
Sardi's Restaurant in the Man-
hattan theater district.
..-.._.-._..-. v v -.a . ~' 9
only through the largesse of a
heretofore unmentioned leper
colony. But all is for naught as
the escapees are caught, thanks
to a very un-Christian nun.
Papillon is fraught with intel-
lectual pretensions, and Schaff-
ner's inability to either upgrade
his content or edit them out ruins
Schaffners realizes that a film
of escape should deal with the
problems of both freedom and
guilt, yet he is not cinematically
conversant enough with either
subject to make his work worth-
Despite McQueen's frequent
longing for freedom, he is never
convincing and the viewer can-
not identify with Papillon's long-
ing to escape. Devil's Island,
looking even lush at times, nev-
er appears to be such a site of
punishment. Schaffner manages
to reduce a desperate struggle to
an exercise in escape.
At one point, Hoffman ask
McQueen if he will survive the
escape attempt. McQueen ans-
wers, "Will it matter?" It had
better matter . . . or why have
made the picture?
Even when dealing with guilt,
Schaffner fails to mold Papillon
into a believable character. He
telegraphs his intellectual pun-
ches, leaving the viewer simply
surfeited with meaning. After
o new comedy by
Saturday and Sunday
3:00 and 8:00
Power Center box office open
January 12-13 at 1:00 P.M.
Papillon tells Hoffman of his
sentence and cries out his inno-
cence, Hoffman, in a pretentious
moment, in which he may as well
have told the audience "Hey,
gang, this is important", tells
McQueen, "We're all guilty of
During his solitary imprison-
ment, McQueen dreams he is
declared guilty of living an un-
productive life, a la Joseph K. I
never would have guessed.
The advertisements call Papil-
Ion, "the greatest adventure of
escape," but the only question is
how long will it take the audi-
ence to leave the theater.
THE COMIC OPERA GUILD
GILBERT & CLAY'S
Jan. 12: 8:00-$2.50
Jan. 19: 2:00-$2.00
Jan. 19: 8:00-$2.50
Tickets on sale now at
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2ND FLOOR, MICHIGAN UNION 763-2147
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0 Gilbert & Sullivan Society
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MARCH 2ND - 9TH
8 DAYS AND 7 NIGHTS
JET AIR JAMAICA FROM DETROIT
MONTEGO BAY, HERITAGE HOTEL
Barbara Streisand Ryan O'Neil
in Peter Bogdanovich's screwball comedy
What's Up, Doc?
7:00 FRIDAY 8:40 SATURDAY 10:20
Modern Languages Auditorium
STEVE McQUEEN Al McGRAW
FRI., SAT., Jan. 18-19
in Sam Peckinpoh's film
Friday, Jan. 25
r sp, and the Rolling Stones in
Saturday, Jan. 26
Jane Fonda Yves Montand
Tout Va Bien
and Tom Hayden, Rip Torn
Mellow and intricate
Seals and Crofts perform in Crisler Arena on Sun day, Jan. 20. UAC-Daystar is now selling tickets in
the Michigan Union.
- --- - - -
Ragtime artist Eubie Blake
to speak at campus ceremony
with the Jefferson Airplane
the weekend film festival
friends of newsreel
Ir I / /I MI
Known to many as the "grand
old man of ragtime," Eubie
Blake will join other well-known
black artists for the presentation
of the Eva Jessye Afro - Ameri-
can Music Collection at the Uni-
versity Jan. 19.
Dr. Eve Jessye, the first black
woman to gain international re-
cognition as a choral conductor,
has given her personal collec-
tion of black music memorabilia
to the University.
The collection, which will be
presented in a 3 p.m. ceremony
at the North Campus Stearns
Bldg., i n c I u d e s mementos,
scores, manuscripts, and photos.
Prof. James Standifer, the
collection's director, says of
Jessye, "Her rich experiences in
the theater world of the twenties,
when she worked as choral direc-
tor with George Gershwin and
Virgil Thompson and traveled
through America and Europe
with her Eva-Jessve Choir,
brought her many friends among
the great performers and com-
posers of that era of musi-
cal theatre known as the 'Golden
Blake, who has recently donat-
ed to the collection a video-tap-
ed interview of himself by Stan-
difer, will hold a special seminar
at 2:30 Jan. 18 in the Cady Room
of the Stearns Bldg. The session
is free to the public.
Blake, now 90, will also pre-
sent a short talk and possibly a
rendition of her "Crazy Fingers"
during the Jan. 19 ceremony.
Among the other guests present
will be concert singer Etta Mo-
ten Barnett, who will reflect on
the life and times of Jessye with
the aid of Robert Nolan, music
editor of the Michigan Chronicle.
The musical program of the
presentation ceremony will in-
clhde a jazz medley by William
Bolcom of the University's mu-
sic composition faculty and a
choral work by Jessve entitled
Move! Let Me Shine! sung by
the members of the University
Standifer and Dwight Andrews,
president of the University Black
Music Students Association, will
present the Jessye collection to
the University. President Robben
Fleming will accept the gift.
A reception will follow the
ceremony, and the collection
will be open for viewing.
National Geographic - documen-
tarv. "Journey to the Outer Lim-
its." Nineteen teenagers at Colo-
rado's Outward Bound School
challenge the wilderness to discov-
2 One More Time. A touch of nos-
talgia with Pearl Bailey, Carol Chan-
ning, the Pointer Sisters, Pat
Boone, Tiny Tim, the Jackson Five,
and Pat Boone.
56 Movie: "The Gold Rush" (1925)
with Charlie Chaplin.
2 News Special. President Nixon's
comments on Watergate, the econ-
omy and the energy crisis.
4 Burt Bacharach Special. Music and
comedy with the Harlem Globe-
trotters, Jack Jones, Roger Moore,
7 women's Sports Special. Dinah
Shore hosts. Billie Jean King, Ol-
ga Korbut, Princess. Anne.
FILM-New World Film Co-op presents Ashby's Harold and
Maude in Nat. Sci. Aud. at 7 and 9; Cinema Guild fea-
tures David Copperfield in Arch. Aud. at 7 and 9:05.
MUSIC-Bach Club holds its spring organizational meeting