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September 16, 1977 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-09-16

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, September 16, 1977-Page 7

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'Boone' left Pioneer days behind


"Young Dan'l Boone", a frontier
adventure that premiered last Mon-
day on NBC, isn't quality television,
but it displays an interesting phe-
nomena of television. -,
The T.V. Docu-dramas, like "Raid
on Entebbe" or "Truman: Incident
at Potsdam", are misleading to
viewers who assume that a drama
with actors portraying recently liv-
ing persons has to portray the truth.

They underestimate the T.V. writer's
instincts of tying up loose ends, and
the network's tendencies to inject
literal scripts with doses of sex or
violence in order to liven them up and
win rating points.
Although Daniel Boone was a real
person, most viewers will] under-
stand that "Dan'l's" adventures are
fictional. However, any historical
drama tries to recreate the atmos-
phere of the era it is portraying. In


Too much violence
undermines 'Tenant'

the first episode of "Young - Dan'l
Boone", we meet Dan'l, a gorgeous
hunk of man with spotless buckskins.,
He has a girlfriend, a liberated type
who says "What about a woman's
dreams? Don't they count for any-
thing?" There's a former slave who
taught himself to read from Shakes-
peare, and an Indian who spouts
wisdom like, "I'll never understand
the white man. How can you own the
land that's for walking on?"
These are admirable types, but did
they ever exist? Would Daniel Boone
still be so handsome if Robert
Redford wasn't? Before the woman's
equality movement, wouldn't the
girlfriend have been more likely to
say, "My place is by your side,
Dan'l."? Before "Roots", would the
slave have been able to spell his own
name? If Marlon Brando had never
been, would the Indian have said any
more than "Ugh"?
Historical television tells us more
about today's standards than they do
about the standards of the times they.
represent. The difference between
"Gunsmoke" and "Young Dan'l,
Boone" is the difference between the
sixties and the seventies. The West-
ern used to be a showplace of
violence. Showdowns, saloon fights,
savage Indians; that was the wild

West. "Dan'l", although set before
the days of the cowboy, is a Western
in spirit, but where is the bloodshed?
In-the first episode, the violence was
almost comical. During the major
gunfight, the principal adversaries
were yards away from each other,
their guns spewing out dozens of
bullets. Yet every shot was a near
miss, and each bullet gave off an
improbable number of sparks as they
hit the rocks or trees which the
characters were hiding behind. When
the fight was over, not one person
was wounded, not even the tradi-
tional extra with the traditional flesh
wound. The only wound of any kind
was inflicted by a.bear.
What can we deduce from this?
Was the early frontier a tranquil
place, or has the infamous- Family
Hour struck again?
The Networks claim violence is no
longer profitable, and that pressure
groups are forcing them to cut it
down. They. say minorities and
women are now coming "in". Writ-
ers claim they need the freedom to
use violence when they deem it
"artistically necessary. W o m e n
and minorities are still demanding
more iealistic roles in T.V. series.
What a shame the battle has to take
place on the Cumberland Gap.

jfscIbsT s.
Some disturbing trends
and an invitation k
I have noticed a disturbing trend recently, one which I shall name (for
lack of a better) "anti-chic." It consists of voicing an opinion contrary to the
popular opinion, for the sake of doing so. Not that this is a new idea - snobs
have been doing it for years. Only lately does it seem to have become in-
credibly prevalent.
Three recent phenomena point this up: the popularity of Star Wars, A
Chorus Line, and Beverly Sills. It just so happens that JI am wild about the
two latter, personally, and I enjoyed the former. But that is irrelevant to the
matter at hand.
It is a form of one-upmanship, I suppose, to be the first one out with the
opinion that leaves the pack behind, the slavering mob crawling at your feet.
If everyone loved Star Wars, then clearly it would be bad manners for the
r true anti-chic disciple to do so too.
How can this breed be distinguished? That's easy: last week I went to
Burger Chef, bought bne of their outrageous 49t Cokes and became the proud
possessor of my own Luke Skywalker poster (first in a series 'of four).
This thing is true kitsch. It features a Norman Rockwellian drawing of
Luke, with background portraits of all the other biggies in the film, and a
paragraph or so of "biographical" information on Luke in the lower right-
hand corner. I put it up on the wall in my office and received, inside of the
three days, probably no less than thirty different comments on it.
Not about the poster, for any disparaging remarks about it would be
quite understandlable; the thing is the concentrated essence of kiddieland
mid-America. The remarks, however, were directed about the film. How
could I debase my dignity, etc. on such a trite piece of nonsense for the.
I was intrigued. I happened to ask the commenters, or at least one of
them, whether or not he'd seen the film. When pressed, he admitted that he
had not. How then, could he comment? "Well, it's obvious," he said, trailing
off into mumbles of a Oresimian sort.
The theme of his argument was that, as everybody loved it, and as
Everybody is well-known to have extremely Bad Taste, that the film itself
had to be - well -garbage -
This is an extreme case. Most people do not voice opinions of things they
haven't seen. To do so is to invite comparisons of oneself with baboons. And
yet, it is possible to bring oneself into a similarly idiotic frame of mind
previous to viewing anything that is as popular as Star Wars came to be. The
argument is simple, and has' already been outlined, the conclusion startling-
ly obvious: I can't like this film, because to do so would be to declare myself
in the camp of the Common. Therefore I prepare myself to hate it.
The time span between a (for example) a film's popularity and its
denunciation as middle-class used to be quite long; it would have to be on its
third run through the theaters, and even your Aunt Gladys would have to
have seen it. Now that time has reduced itself to a matter of weeks.
Is it difficult to find people maligning Star Wars, or A Chorus Line, or
even Beverly Sills' amazing voice nowadays? Heavens, no.
The opposite question may now be asked: Must I then like everything
popular? tAm I allowed no independent opinion, or does that invite ac-
cusations of snobbery and toeing the "anti-chic" party line? The' answer is
that, on the one hand, everyone, no matter how inherently bad their taste, is
allowed an opinion; on the other, there is no way to know how much of that is
colored by furor and how much by perception.
The fact is, that ninety-five per cent of all people who see films have no
way of evaluating quality objectively, and anything they say on such subject
is, in any case, open to question. Thus the idea of anti-chic is all too appli-
cable, particularly for this person.'

This Friday and Saturday nights, the
Couzens film co-op will present two
showings of The Tenant, not infamous
director Roman Polanski's best crea-
tion, but certainly one of his most lurid-
ly intriguing. The film features Polan-
ski himself as the title character, a self-
effacing, dwarfish outcast who eventu-
ally succumbs to a frightening blend of
self-induced guilt and panonoia. Isa-
belle Adjani also appears, portraying
Polanski's only companion.
For those who cherish the bizarre,
The Tenant should prove a most tem-
pting item. Take the story: In Paris, a
newly arrived foreigner (Polanski)
rents a flat whose former tenant cut her
lease short by committing suicide. The
other tenants are crotchety and sus-
picious, and lose no time in harrassing
Polanski about the most minute of-
fenses conceivable.
Unable to assert himself, he becomes
obsessed with the idea that they have
conspired to drive him to suicide, by
way of forcing him to "become" the
former tenant.
Reading the most complex devious
meanings into their everyday actions,
he weaves a grotesque nightmare of
dread and panic, complying with their
mythical conspiracy, until he is de-
stroyed by his gross delusions.
Even if viewed as a horror film, The

Tenant is excessive, and'like The Ex-
orcist, often too explicit to be truly
frightening. In Chinatown, the script
andl genre restrained Polanski; here, he
allows his love for the macabre to boil
over, and is unable to sustain the ten-
sion and mood that are the hallmarks of
his best films.
Nevertheless, Polanski serves up a
fair quantity of startling and vivid im-°
ages, all beautifully photographed by
Sven Nykvist. As a study of excessive
paronoia, one wishes that The Tenant
was more psychologically probing, pos-
sibly by tying in the title character's
manic suspicion to some earlier event.
But in spite of its shortcomings. Po-
lanski is enough of a cinematic stylist to
make The Tenant compelling movie en-
Low School Films
Paul Newman
Jackie Gleason
7 and 9:30 PM admission $1.00
Hutchins Hall, Room 100

(Fred Zimmerman, 1966)
Against the backdrop of 16th century London, we witness the historic
battle between King Henry Vll (ROBERT SHAW) and Sir Thomas More
(PAUL SCOFIELD), with Orson Wells making his appearance as the
poisonous Cardinal. Wolsey. A dramatic and beautiful film study afaacon-
flict of wills. The cost includes SUSANNAH. YORK, VANE$SA RED '4VEK,
AND COLLIN BLAKELY. Scofield won'an Oscar for his portrayal of Morel
7:00 & 9:15 ADMISSION $1.50
Friday, September 16 AUD. A

S '!f 11CwNlf ( ' !I


FRI. & SAT.-7 & 9:30
admission: $1.50

Another rather disturbing trend spotted recently is for famous and well-
loved people to die off; recently, among the departed have been two fine
comedians, a poet, and a world-stature conductor; each has given the world
many rare rpoments of pleasure - Mostel in his roles, Groucho with his
shtick, Lowell with his verse, and Stokowski with lilting, wonderful music.
Each will be sorely missed.

* * *.

* * *

This is the first in what promises to be a long series of columns observing
on trends, and as the title suggests, kitsch in the arts. Ideally, this should be
more than the musings of one columnist, it should be a kind of dialogue. To
that end, I invite anyone with an opinion or just a comment to write in, and I
will print some of the more articulate and interesting of them here, with or
without appropriate commentary. I'd like to know what everyone is think-
Ann Arbor Film Co-op
FRIDAY, September 16
(Woody Allen, 1971) 7 & 10:15-MLB 3
Allen's humor at its height. A thoroughly alienated tester of Rube Goldberg
gadgets takes off for a South American country where he is transformed into
a revolutionary with a false beard. Louise Lasser in her best non-Mary
Hartman role. "An indecently funny comedy."-Vincent Canby.
/Alfred E. Green. 1954 8:3 R-O MLY-AML 3

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