Alan Price lives in London. He is a poet, scriptwriter, short story writer, film critic for filmuforia.co.uk and blogger at alanprice69.wordpress.com . His short story collection The Other Side of the Mirror, an alternative take on vampirism, was published by Citron Press in 1999. A TV film A Box of Swan was broadcast on BBC2 In 1990. Alan has scripted five short films. The last one Pack of Pain (2010) won four international film festival awards. His debut collection of poetry Outfoxing Hyenas was published by Indigo Dreams in 2012. A pamphlet of prose poems Angels at the Edge (Tuba Press) appeared in 2016. The poetry
chapbook Mahler’s Hut was published in 2017 by Original Plus Books. The High Window published his collection Wardrobe Blues for a Japanese Lady in 2018. In October 2019 Ebionvale Press published a collection of stories and flash fiction called The Illiterate Ghost. His most recent collection is The Trio Confessions (The High Window, 2020). Alan is currently writing a novel and working on a series of prose poems with the working title The Cinephile Poems.
‘We live in an age of the list. The 100 best films, novels, songs, poems etc. Social media, with its bloggers, has seen a vast expansion of lists. I’ve decided to react against this trend by not adding my own list to the cultural stockpile. My poetry project is a book revealing 40 of my favourite films. I want to convey the epiphany I had seeing these films for the first time and on subsequent viewings. Each film is poetic in its own unique way. And each hopefully can be re-lived as poetry. If my poems make a reader go to the films, and return to re-read and enjoy what I saw in them, then I will have achieved a gratifying double-hit!’ AP
Alan Price: Four Film Poems
PICK UP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) directed by Samuel Fuller
A necktie selling woman licked her pencil, informed the cops. Fifty dollars – last instalment on a Long Island burial plot. “I have to go on making a living so I could die.” Plonked on her bed the shoes of a communist: gunning for a microfilm. The lady’s head blown off. Sweet Mademoiselle loudly sings her record. For Sam life is terrible for ‘dopey’ looking agents. On a waterfront hangs out a three-time loser: pickpocket throwing a bottle of beer to a sweating detective dishing out crumpled bucks and hating routine. How on a Summer day
a thief unclipped the commie’s girlfriend’s bag in a subway train; groping behind tissues, makeup, ID for money: scarce seeing the cops, arrested by abuse, the system, a dame’s
bruised face and transformations of love sticky on arrival. I never met a Red. Nearest I got was the SWP, gassy lager and an overdose of American imperialisms.
THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) directed by John Huston
“You’re good, you’re very good.” Sam Spade weighed up Miss Wonderly (her back facing him) as she poked the fire, lit a cigarette and fussed: allowing time for another lie. Miss Wonderly became Brigid O’Shaughnessy to morph into Mary Astor for Humphrey Bogart to fall in love with. The falcon remained a leaden fake covering no diamonds and precious stones. Nothing but a MacGuffin. Causing the fat man, the punk who shadowed and the one of perfumed handkerchiefs, to consider looking elsewhere, even Turkey. O’Shaughnessy confessed to shooting Miles, Sam’s partner. Bogart, touching stardom, all gritted teeth and intense cold eyes, said he’d have a few sleepless nights but get over her. I went on holiday to Malta, finding a café called The Falcon. I sat there John, as your camera angles, direction and dialogue percolated through a waking dream. My Maltese coffee arriving too soon – luke warm, instant.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (1964) directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
What cinephile succour could I offer nuns and children enduring a film approved by the Pope? Timid souls fidget. One shields a little girl’s eyes. Had the Vatican blown it?
Good Friday’s blistering gospel from a Marxist unbeliever. “You will be hated by all, because you bear my name.” Jesus rebukes, attacks, hectors and spits out his message; knifing the Pharisees, bursting open the moneylenders, stealing nets from fishermen. “Abandon family and friends” demanding that their darkness can only ever receive his light. Armed with ecstasy and palms they dash towards Christ. Hand-held camera running as if a panther by their side; then prowling caged behind the backs of soldiers, witness for a rough-hewn Passion. Pasolini casting his own mother as the aged and rejected Mary. Her lost Messiah, born to fight immaculate, returns to disobey: resurrected with a sword.
L’AVVENTURA (1960) Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
A rich Italian party: bodies, looks, gestures, an island, rocks, the sea, a church, a piazza and a rooftop holding on to a continual ache in a exquisite design of loneliness. Anna went missing on the island. She was already about to vanish; made invisible by her friends’ boredom. Her body never found. No one’s ever found. The camera as Anna’s ghost watching others failing to see her or themselves. Claudia and Sandro lie kissing in a field
as a train passes giving meaning, or maybe none at all, to their passion. Do you love me? Why do you love me? What do I need from you? Who am I? Claudia tenderly placing her hand on the back of Sandro’s head, as he sat on a bench. Not to forgive his infidelity. Nor show pity…yet. I let the film fall into my mind, validate my melancholy, unable or unwilling to deflect another time and place.