Just when we thought the discussion of lists might be at a natural pause, here comes Ken Russell, who responds to his film class’s request for the director’s top 10:
“’Please, Professor Ken, I’m just starting a serious collection of DVD movie masterpieces. What are your Top Ten recommendations? And please don’t mention any of your own films, as we’ve already got them all, thanks to your generous discounted prices’ (Laughter).
‘And please don’t mention horror films because we’ve got all those, too,’ pipes up another voice in the film studies class I teach at Southampton University.
‘That’s a tough one,’ I reply. ‘I could give you a hundred titles off the top of my head, but ten — that’s something else.’”
But fret not. Russell comes up with a list, all right, and this very amusing piece chronicles his attempt to justify his choices to his jaded, know-it-all students. And since it wouldn’t be a Ken Russell List without some shock or surprise, wait till you get to number 10.
Thanks to Kim and David for tipping me to this one. David also points the way to Tim Lucas’ review of the new biography on Russell by Jospeh Lanza, entitled Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films. Tim’s mixed view of the book is pretty representative of other reviews I’ve read of it—not without interest, but misses the boat in key areas and indulges Russell in many of the same ways he tended to indulge his subjects on film. For a more sympathetic view of Lanza’s work, check out this review at Jim’s Book Reviews.
Russell has been much on my mind again lately, having just last weekend seen a screening of his great film The Devils, which is likely to come up for more detailed discussion in the next week or so as part of my film-by-film attack on my own top 100. But for now, to lead you into and through your weekend, how about a couple of YouTube treats, Ken Russell style.
The first is a nice accompaniment to the Ken Russell Top 10: the director rhapsodizing about Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
And finally, just because I haven’t seen it in years, the 1812 Overture as visually augmented by Russell in the movie he made just before The Devils-- Glenda Jackson and Richard Chamberlain (as Tchaikovsky) in The Music Lovers (1970).