Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Overlooked Movies: Alphaville

Insert usual apologies for talking about a movie that's not really overlooked.

I've probably told this story before, but it's worth repeating.  In the middle 1960s, Channel 11 in Dallas was a movie channel. I have no idea who programmed it, but I was lucky enough to be around to watch for a while.  One programming block was the "Sons of Hercules," and it brought all sorts of Italian beefcake into our little apartment. Another block was of French movies about a private-eye named Lemmy Caution, played by Eddie Constantine. I believe they showed the movies more or less in order of appearance, but I know for sure they ended with Alphaville.  

I have no idea what Constantine thought he was getting into when he signed for the movie. I don't know if he even saw a script. What I do know is that the movie's nothing at all like any of the others in the series but that Constantine played it as if it was.  While everything around him is screaming, "This is really weird stuff!" he went right on being the same Lemmy Caution of all the B-movies he'd made before.  Even when he's driving a car that's supposed to be a spaceship. It pretty much works out fine.

The movie is a dystopian SF tale of a future where the world, or at least the city of Alpahville, is ruled by Alpha 60, a computer, which assures that everything is run logically. Emotion is outlawed. Caution is supposed to be searching for a missing agent, kill the creator of the computer, and destroy the computer itself. [SPOILER ALERT] He accomplishes the last part of the mission by posing a riddle the computer can't answer. It involves poetry, which doesn't compute with the logical computer.

The movie's strange, funny, and certainly unlike any other Lemmy Caution movie ever made.  


Anonymous said...

I must admit that ALPHAVILLE is the only Caution movie I've ever seen so can't judge. But it was certainly different.


Todd Mason said...

I've never gotten around to it, but it would be nice to have another Godard film aside from BREATHLESS to actually enjoy.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have always meant to see this one. Maybe someday.

James Reasoner said...

And while you were watching all those Sons of Hercules and Lemmy Caution movies on Channel 11, so was I. It was a great station.

Have you read Eddie Constantine's novel about the movie business? I don't remember what it's called, but I used to have a copy.

Bill Crider said...

I haven't read his novel. I might look around for it.

Ron Scheer said...

I loved Godard's early stuff before he got so political. I thought putting a standard gumshoe in a futuristic story was delightful. Would love to see it again.