Friday, August 03, 2007


The second movie I saw after being vaccinated on Monday was the strange little Spanish farce El Verdugo (Not on Your Life, 1963; though translated as the Hangman on this print's title card).* This is the second Spanish film I've recently seen presented in a scratchy, junky incarnation with bad subtitles, sowing the suspicion that, in this age of comprehensive remastering, these have sprung from deep within the proverbial vault. The subtitles were problematic: sometimes flashing through paragraphs at top speed, sometimes omitting phrases, words, or partial letters. Knowing just enough Spanish to identify an incorrect subtitle is particularly frustrating. Luckily, after guessing my way though three-fourths of the convoluted screwball plot, the whole movie is quickly recounted just before the finale. Normally this would irritate me; but in this case it was a godsend. After an official execution, the kindly old hangman accidentally leaves his bag of archaic strangulation devices in a young mortician's truck. When the bag is returned, the mortician meets the hangman's pretty daughter. Both youngsters seek a relationship unburdened by the stigma of their macabre world, and so instigate a convenient, if loveless, secret affair. In due course they are discovered, however, prompting a hasty proposal which is accepted when the daughter turns out to be pregnant. CUT TO: INT. CHAPEL, a Wedding. As members of an undesirable class, the morbid young lovers must hastily wage their ceremony in the leftovers of a previous wedding as ushers remove the flowers and douse the candles. Soon, the old hangman dreams of the beneficial state retirement program, if only he can convince his son-in-law to take up the family business. This is an interesting comedy in which the requisite situational jokes are set-up but discomfort and harrowing moral frailties are the punch lines. Very bizarre. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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