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February 13, 1973 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1973-02-13

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- Tuesday, February 13, 1973


Page Three

Tuesday, February 13, 1973 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Three

"Infinitely more
interesting than
'The Godfather'!"
CBS-TV, Los Angeles
F10M Cow'bs PtChes LI
7:05 and 9:15
LATE SHOW Fri. and Sat.
plus "FLASH GORDON" chapt. 3

Killen weaves his
narrator's spell

"... And the name they gave
me was the croppy boy:" Lou
Killen sings to his audience,
hands holding a concertina, his
bearded face intent. The sound
is incredible - the result of a
naturally fine voice governed by
high artistic standards. The au-
dience is intent, listening to each
word of the old, bloody Scots bal-
lads, the pastoral English coun-
try songs, and the sea chanties.
This is a typical evening with
Lou Killen.
Lou is a Geordie: he comes
from the area of Northumber-
land around the river Tyne, from
a singing family. This is not to
say that his singing is a sort of
perpetuation of family tradition,
as is the case with the Copper
Family, for example, even
though music has been an im-
portant element of his life al-
most from birth. "Some people
grow up with several hundred
songs," he says, and cites Jean-
nie Robertson and Harry Cox as
examples. "I didn't." His songs
come from many sources, some

picked up from his family and
around Tyneside; many more
from records and books, such as
the collection in the Cecil Sharp
Lou isn't a collector of folk
songs - it was something he did
only once, seventeen years ago,
long before he became a profes-
sional singer. He calls field col-
lecting "an art in itself," but no
way for someone who makes his
living singing to get his mater-
ial. It's hard work and time con-
suming ,too much so'for the pro-
fessional performer. But there
is more than a little of the folk-
lorist in Killen - he prefaces his
ballads with explanations of their
history and talks knowledgably
about English traditions - the
Morris Dance, the Christmas
Concertina and tin whistle, the
instruments Lou relies on when
singing alone, are only two of
the several he plays, and his
ability to play several instru-
ments was one of the factors in
his joining the Clancy Brothers
after Tommy Maken left the

group. Killen and the Clancys
had kon each other for many
years, and their repertoires ov-
erlapped. The Clancys needed a
good instrumentalist with show
business experience: Killen was ;:.r:
a logical choice.
Besides singing alone and sing-
ing with the Clancys, Lou intro-
duced a new partner just a week
ago, at the Kent State Folk Fes-
tival - his wife, Sally. Their
singing together is not a new
thing - they've done it often at 4
home - but Sally had the be- ;
ginning performer's usual ner-
vousness about facing an audi-
ence. Their duets are English
country songs with beautifully
arranged English harmonies, and
Sally's clear voice matches and
complements Lou's.
More than one folksinger is a
storyteller as well, and those
people who've heard Killen
weave his narrator's spell at the
Ark for several years now can
testify that he's one of the best.
He can curdle your blood with a
tale like "Mr. Fox" or have the
audience laughing hysterically
with one of his stories from the
"Pitman's Bible." The "Pitman's
Bible" is a Geordie retelling of
some of the significant stories in
the Bible, transmitted orally
among the miners in the Tyne-
side area.T
Godfat her's gory
andsenseless son

Geor ge Shirley:
tenor of times past

George SHIRLEY, tenor with George
Posel, pianist. Sunday, Feb.-11, Hill
Auditorium. Choral Union Series of
the University Musical Society.
George Shirley transported his
audience last Sunday back to
simpler, less-troubled times past
with his warm, infectious lyric-
ism. A major portion of the pro-
gram consisted of French 'Ro-
mantic songs ranging from Ber-
lioz (early 19th century), Mas-
senet, Duparc, Faure, Debussy,
to Ravel (early 20th century).
Shirley more than matched the
depth of expression in these pre-
ciously beautiful songs with his
own, but to the point of often
letting his unbridled emotional
intensity interfere with a firm
control of soft dynamics. Therein'
lies his only major flaw, for Shir-
ley is endowed with a sumptuous,
heavy voice; creamy-silken in
texture throughout his whole
range even in the most pronounc-
ed crescendos, and supple in vi-
brato and phrasing. His enuncia-
tion and pitch were flawless-yet
the static inflection and limited
dynamic variation point up areas
in whch he has room to mature.
Shirley's interpretations of the
program's works was romantic;
taking liberal pauses at phrase
endings for dramatic climaxes
and linking notes in fluid phras-
ing, both practices often result-
ing in the extension of notes
through the rests (silences).
The two operatic excerpts from
Orpheus and Acis and Galatea
were incisively delivered with
bitter torment and lyric sadness,
respectively. The group of old
nostalgic Irish songs by Munro,

Sneaks, McGill, Del Riego, and
Klemm (popular around the turn
of the century, as Shirley in-
formed the audience) had the
dust shaken from them by Shir-
ley's powerful melodramatic per-
formance; they were vital in
spite of all the predictable ca-
dences. The lamenting rendition
of two-gospel - spiritual encores
further demonstrated his ability
for melodramatic climaxes. Shir-
ley's sonorous romanticism prov-
ed highly effective in many of
the French songs, yet the lighter,
delicate little gems by Debussy
and Ravel would have benefitted
enormously if Shirley had peeled
a few layers of sonority off his
voice to produce a more trans-
parent tone. His romanticism did
not convey the brash lilting ca-
baret mood and obscene humor
of Blitzstein's Kurt Weill-esque
Jimmie's Got A Goil employing
the e. e. Cummings poem of the
same name for text. Neither did
Shirley convincingly effect the
'olde English' intonation he at-
tempted in Purcell's coquettish
There's Not a Swain.
Posell's accompaniment was
for the most part effectively com-
plementarv although often void
of dynamics contrast and a bit
bungled in his attempt to impro-
vise embellishments in the ex-
cernt from Handel's Acis and
It is clear that Shirley's forte
lies in trditional material calling
for emotion and climax of or
near operatic pitch rather than
much or more contemporary ma-
terial in a less-serious and emo-
tional vein.

Doily Photo by TOM GOTTLIEB
Lon Killen

Movies procreate in strange
ways. The happy embrace of cel-
luloid and success attracts en-
vious onlookers and, suddenly,
there's a bastard lurking in the
Son of The Godfather, entitled
The Valachi Papers for the sake
of subtlety, is a vulgar bastard
indeed, one whose only claim to
legitimacy is the possibility that
its story is true.
Joseph Valachi did testify be-
fore a Senate committee in the
fall of 1963. The newspapers her-
alded his testimony as the first
revealing information from a
soldier close to the top of the
Cosa Nostra. The public recoiled
at the horror stories revealed by
this 60-year-old, self-confessed
participant in five gangland mur-
Strangely enough, some of the
film's less believable incidents
were reported in New York
Times articles on the Senate
hearings - Valachi's Mafia initi-
ation; the kiss of death from
kingpin Vito Genovese, branding
the suspected informer. One can
conclude, if only for the pur-
poses of argument, that most
of the events in The Valachi Pa-
pers happened, or at least a Ma-
fia insider said they happened.

The details are available to us.
We can read news accounts, the
book by Peter Maas, and the Va-
lachi testimony itself. And now
we can see the most gory and
senseless series of homicides in
the history of gangster films.
Murder gives the film its only
continuity; characters are knif-
ed, gunned or strangled before
you can figure out who they are,
and no one can sit in a restaur-
ant or stand on the street for
more than a few minutes without
getting hit by either his own
power-hungry men or by the sold-
iers of the rival faction. Against
this sordid backdrop, life and
love go on, stealing only an in-
significant percentage of view-
ing time from the all-powerful
color red.
The film raises valid questions:
What twisted sense of unity
binds men into such a violent
brotherhood? What impulses
force them to betray this brother-
hood? How much s - - - can one
person take before he says no
to a perverted code of honor?
A good film would not have to
answer such questions, nor
would it have to ignore blood-
shed and hate. It would, how-
ever, offer some insight: its por-
traval of violence wo'ld contrib-
ute to an understanding of the

questions raised.
The Valachi Papers does nei-
ther and succeeds only in some-
how being repulsive and boring
at the same time. Note that the
laudatory comments listed in ad-
vertising for the movie all praise,
not the film, but Charles Bron-
son's performance. If Valachi's
subjection to mandfinal betrayal
of the Mafia are unconvincing, it
is not Bronson's fault. He does
well, particularly in carrying his
character through 30 years of
Mafia involvement.
But the screenplay gives Bron-
son too little to work with and,
failing strength in characteriza-
tion, the film can hold the audi-
ence's attention only by increas-
ing violence in every scene.
This trend reaches an impos-
sible climax when Valachi must
witness the castration of his best
friend. The scene goes on for-
ever, showing everything but. A
foot-long switchblade, piercing
shrieks, Valachi's agonized face,
not to mention the agonized face
of - Enough. See The Valachi
Papers if this kind of violence
carries meaning for you.
In this theatrical wasteland of
quantity without much quality, it
is temptingly easy to scour the
Thesauras for superlatives to de-
scribe any professional company
that wanders into town. It is
equally simple to leap to the
other extreme and lambaste a
touring group because the actors
did not match the quality of
Laurence Olivier in "Hamlet."
Resisting both traps, I'm forc-
ed to say the New York City
Center Acting Company's pro-
duction of Maxim Gorky's "The
Lower Depths" last Sunday was
not as good as I had hoped, but
not as bad as I feared.
This young company, drawn
from the drama division of New
Y o r k ' s prestigious Julliard
School, chose a fiendishly diffi-
cult play. Gorky's characters,

f I



r Depths' stays in
cal middle ground

FUTURE WORLD LECTURE SERIES-Paolo Soleri, architect,
"Future of Aesthetics" at 3 at Hill.
COUNCIL ON BLACK CONCERNS-speakers: Bobby Seale,
Ricardo Sanchez, John Sinclair at the Power Center at
7:30 tonight.
FILM-The AA Film Co-op presents Allen's Bananas at 7,
8:45 tonight in And. A, Angell; Cinema Guild shows Von
Sternberg's The Blue Angel at Arch. Aud., at 7, 9:05
tonight; New World Film Co-op presents The Magic
Christian at 7:30 tonight; End of a Revolution at 9
tonight in And. 3 MLB.

like the Chekovian sisters, are
hypnotized by dreams of a bet-
ter life but rooted by inertia.
Living in a miserable slum,
Gorky's collection of thieves,
bums, whores and drunks fabri-
cate pathetic stories, to convince
themselves they still are worth-
while human beings.
One character, the "Actor",
poisoned by alcohol, insists he
played in Shakespeare but can
only remember jumbled bits and
pieces of lines from the plays.
An old man, Luka, joins the
prisoners of the flophouse for -a
day, dispensing hope and pity.
He accepts all the fantasies,
comforting these sad people with
his understanding and compas-
sion, living by the law, "Don't
hurt people."
But this Christ-like character
is unable to prevent the play's
central tragedy. Vaska Pepel, a
thief, tries to extricate himself
from an affair with the married
Vasilissa, the landlady. Vaska,
encouraged by .Luka, wants to
escape the slum with the land-
lady's sister Natasha. But the
evil Vasilissa ruins their plans,

manages to have her husband
killed and pins the murder on
When every dream turns into
a mocking nightmare for these
beings drowning in the slime of
the lower depths, when illusion
is the only defense against total
despair, life .loses all meaning in
Gorky's black world. People only
live in the hope of something
It's foolish to expect actors in
their early and middle 20's to be
capable of bravura performances
in this layered, tragic-comic
It's hard to keep the charac-
ters alive and exciting for the,
audience, while simultaneously
emphasizing Gorky's philosophi-
cal messages.
Given the limitations of youth
and of the play, there were many
beautiful moments in this pro-
duction. Director Boris Tumar-
in, using designer Douglas W.
Schmidt's cage-like set of old
brick and rags, arranges the
actors like parasites, leaning
against walls, clinging to ladders
to soak up strength and vitality.





Tony Richardson's
Laughter in the Dark
"As sensual and exciting as
anything I have seen on the
screen in a long time. A
hypnotic nightmare which I
found absorbing and fasci-
nating." -Red Reed
"Those nude love scenes have
well-earned the film's (X-)
-N.Y. Post


based on the novel by

Also film segment


Seeptoy by EDWARD BOND domed a o<,b nove< b;VLADIMlR NABOKOV
7:30 and 9:30-MOD. LANG. AUD. 3

$1 .25

Friends of NR

Roman Polanski's film of MACBE T H
originally scheduled for this evening. Instead,
WOODY ALLEN in the knock-about comedy,
A New York fumbler gets involved with Caribbean revolutions!
0 S 6~~~ 0

6:00 2 4 7 News
9 Courtship of Eddie's Father
50 Flintstones
56 Operation Second Chance
6:30 2 CBS News
4 NBC News
7 ABC News
9 I Dream of Jeannie
50 Gilligan's island
56 How Do Your Children Grow?
7:00 2 Truth or Consequences
4 News
7 To Tell The Truth
9 Beverly Hillbillies
50 I Love Lucy
56 French Chef
7:30 2 What's My Line
4 You Asked For It
7 Price is Right
9 Protectors
50 Hogan's Heroes
56 Evening at Pops
8:00 2 Maude
4 Movie
"The Great Man's Whiskers"
7 Temperatures Rising
Vhere Ann Arbor
touches the
Atlantic Ocean!
Thins 85year old

50 Dragnet
8:30 2 Hawaii Five-O
7 Movie
"TheGreat American Beauty
56 Bill Moyers' Journal
50 Merv Griffin
9:00 9 News
56 Common Ground
9:30 2 Movie
"The Horror at 37,000 Feet"
9 Front Page Challenge
56 Black Journal
10:00 4 America
7 Marcus Welby, M.D.
9 Nature of Things
50 Perry Mason
56 Detroit Black Journal
10:30 9 Man Alive
56 360 Degrees
11:00 2 4 7 News
9 CBC News
50 One Step Beyond
11:20 9 News
11:30 2 Movie
"Wild in the Streets"
4 Johnny Carson
7 Suicide Club
50 Movie
"The Gunfighter" (1950)
12:00 9 Movie
"Beat" the Devil" (1953)
1:00 4 7 News
1:30 Movie
"The Killer is Loose" (1956)
3:00 2 It's Your Bet
3:30 2 News~


MArWfu! Magi ca! Musical
Fr T'URE >

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