John Schlesinger

(Copyright © 1999-2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

7.0 Midnight Cowboy (1969)
7.0 Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971)
7.0 The Marathon Man (1976)
5.5 Eye for an Eye (1996)
6.0 The Next Big Thing (2000)

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. John Schlesinger (Britain, 1926) esordì nell'ambito del free-cinema con A Kind of Loving (1962). Il film narra il fidanzamento, il matrimonio e la crisi di una coppia di giovani piccolo borghesi in un paese di provincia. Billy Liar (1965), la commedia di Keith Waterhouse, è un altro ritratto di ambiente piccolo borghese provinciale, speranze, illusioni e realtà di un giovane sognatore. La solitudine e l'insoddisfazione emergono anche da Darling (1965), con Julie Christie borghese irrequieta e amorale, e sex symbol della swinging London. Il film, raccontato come un flashback ottenuto attraverso l'espediente di un documentario sulla vita della modella, sembra, in effetti, un documentario dell'epoca. A giant poster of a beautiful model is being glued to a billboard hiding the previous poster that had photos of starving Africans. The narrating voice is interviewing the model (basically a lengthy flashback). She begins by telling of her childhood. She was never content. As a young woman Diana, better known as Darling (Julie Christie), enters the business of television and is attracted to a married tv reporter, Robert (Dirk Bogarde), who discovered her when she was interviewed for a tv reportage on the British youth. In the meantime she is dating a "desperately immature" young man, Tony. Eventually she seduces the married man and they elope on a vacation together. Robert lies to his wife and she lies to Tony from a phone booth. Initially she is shocked by her own amorality. She spies Robert at home with his family through a spyglass. Robert works on a reportage, interviewing people in the street about what is wrong with Britain. She is still living with Robert when she meets Miles, a wealthy and influential owner of an agency who can help her to launch her career in cinema. Miles gets her the role of protagonist in a film, and she watches the premiere sitting next to Robert. When she gets pregnant, she realizes that a child would ruin her career. However, after her selfish abortion she is disgusted by life with Robert and by sex. In order to get a job in Paris, she accepts to sleep with Miles. She is digusted when he enters the bed where she is waiting for him. Then she goes back to Robert's flat, to whom she lies. He probably senses that she is lying, but gives her money nonetheless to buy what she needs for the trip. Miles takes her to the party thrown by a lesbian sculptor. The guests play a game in which they undress while dancing and throw their clothes in the air for others to pick them up. When the music stop, a guest has to impersonate the guest whose clothes she or he obtained. The first victim of the game is Darling, and she gets humiliated by a black man who depicts her as a prostitute willing to do anything for her career. Next it's her turn, and she has to depict Miles: she mocks Miles as a heartless and narcissistic pimp. Miles is turned on by her cruel performance. (Basically each is aware of the other's real motives and acknowledges her/his own). She lies to Robert the same way Robert lied to his wife: a fake phone call from a phone booth while she is next to her secret lover. When she returns to London, Robert finds her at an art gallery and calls her a whore. They fight in a shopping mall. She tries to defend herself, but he walks out of her life. Next she meets a gay photographer, Malcolm, hired by Miles to jump-start her career as a model. They have to travel together to the Italian countryside for a job. There she meets an old Italian prince who owns a huge villa. She enjoys the company of the gay Malcolm, finally a man who has no interest in her body. Malcolm's theory is that she still thinks of Robert. To test her, Robert tells her that he has seen Robert with a gorgeous young girl. She dreams of living in the quiet countryside with Malcolm. She tells him that she doesn't really like sex that much. It's Malcolm who has a date: one night he takes off with a (male) waiter. The following morning she calls him "traitor". Out of the blue, the old prince proposes to Darling. She has no hesitation: she is not interested in changing her life. Back in London, Miles and Darling throw a party at her flat. Robert shows up unexpectedly to try to repair their relationship, but hears that another man is in the flat with her, and leaves. Darling is disturbed. She insults Miles, who promises to destroy her career. After a mysterious phone call, she falls into a depression and is saved by a priest who helps her rediscover religion. But she has another ace in the sleeve: she accepts the prince's marriage proposal. The television makes a documentary of her new status as an Italian princess, princess Diana. Darling is sleeping with men who are higher and higher in society. She moves into the giant villa and immediately regrets it: the aristocratic life is boring and lonely, despite all the servants (and even grown-up stepchildren). She cries. She returns to Robert. Robert welcomes her at the airport and sleeps with her. She is happy. But Robert is simply getting his revenge: he coldly dumps her after they make love. She has no pride anymore: she cries the whole way to the airport. At the airport she is met by reporters who want to interview her and photographs who want to photograph her. Back in Italy, the newsstands are displaying magazines with her photo under the headline "the ideal woman"...

Midnight Cowboy (1969) spostò l'obiettivo sulla alienazione urbana: un vanesio texano (Hoffman) vaga per New York in cerca di fortuna in compagnia di un italiano zoppo; la metropoli stronca il suo entusiasmo e in breve lo riduce sul marciapiede, testimone e vittima di spettacoli sempre più degradanti.

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) tocca il fondo del pessimismo di Schlesinger. Un medico omosessuale di mezza età ha una relazione con un giovane designer il quale a sua volta ha per amante una donna divorziata; il classico triangolo viene stravolto dalla cupa amara rappresentazione della solitudine e della nevrosi urbana.

The Day of the Locust (1974) narra l'amore fra una attrice e uno scenografo nel mondo disumano di Hollywood. La denuncia di una civiltà sbagliata, eretta da una umanità abbattuta, culmina nella rinuncia dell'uomo, una sorta di suicidio morale che lo libera.

The Marathon Man (1976) is a suspense-filled political semi-spy thriller. The plot is sometimes implausible (the dying man who crawls back to an apartment) and not completely rational (it is never clear what was the deal between the spies and the nazist).

In New York, "Babe" (Dustin Hoffman) is training for a marathon running along a lake. An old man can't start the car and is blocking the street. Another old man gets upset and starts yelling at him. He says something in Hebrew and the other one replies with antisemitic insults in German. The Jew starts bumping into the German's car, which finally restarts. The Jew keeps chasing the German until they get into a terrible accident. Both cars are set on fire and they both die. As the German is dying, he drops a safety-box key. The marathon man returns home and takes a bath. Meanwhile, in a Paris hotel room his brother "Doc" is having a cryptic telephone conversation. He then visits a shop, where he has a cryptic conversation with the owner, and is almost killed by a bomb, after a Chinese man has been following him. Doc meets his boss Peter Janeway at a cafe. Neither seems too shocked by the bomb. Doc then heads to the opera where the shopowner promised to deliver a package to him, but Doc finds him dead: someone slit his throat. Meanwhile, in New York, Babe is taking history lessons at the university and we learn that this has to do with this father, a man who was wrongfully accused of being a communist during the McCarthy era and committed suicide. In Paris, Doc has further scary encounters. The Chinese man tries to strangle him while he is watching a political demonstration from the window of his hotel (an old man sees the scene from across the street but can't help him). Doc then calmly calls a number and asks for the body to be disposed of. Doc is clearly a secret agent of some kind, and someone is trying to kill him. His boss Janeway explains that Szell's brother has been killed in a car accident in New York and we finally see the connection between the top stories: the old man was the brother of this Szell, and Doc is somehow after this Szell. Babe is studying at the library when a pretty girl shows up and triggers his curiosity. She leaves behind a book that conveniently has her name an address on it. Babe returns the book to her and, smitten, asks for a date. Soon, they become lovers. Now the film moves to South America, where we meet Szell (Laurence Olivier), a German nazist who has a picture of his dead brother on the desk. He shaves his head and then sets out for a trip. As Babe and Elsa are walking in the park, two men attack them and beat up Babe. Szell arrives at the airport and is welcomed by precisely those two men. During the night someone enters Babe's apartment and Babe fears another attack, but it's a bad joke by his brother Doc, who came to visit him. Doc has told Babe that he is an executive working for an oil corporation. Doc loves Babe but is distraught that Babe is working on a thesis that has to do with their father's tragedy, which Babe should forget about. Babe tells him of Elsa, and Doc invites them to dinner. During dinner Doc easily finds out that Elsa has lied about her identity. Elsa leaves humiliated. Babe is upset that Doc played a trick on his girlfriend and runs after her. Doc meets Szell and complains that they are involving his brother Babe. Somehow they work together. Szell claims it was just a warning. We learn that Szell is afraid that Doc would steal his fortune, kept in a bank. Szell then stabs Doc. Doc manages to crawl back to Babe's apartment but dies before he can say anything. The cops interrogate Babe as if he had committed a crime. Doc's boss Janeway reveals to Babe that his brother Doc was working as a spy for the government. Janeway really wants Babe to remember what Doc said before dying and Babe repeats in vain that Doc didn't say anything. During the night Szell's thugs kidnap Babe. He wakes up in a room, tied to a chair. Szell walks in and proceeds to torture him with dentist's tools. Szell is convinced that Babe knows something about his safety box, which Babe honestly doesn't know anything about. Finally, Doc's boss Janeway arrives, shoots the thugs and carries Babe out. Janeway again asks Babe what Doc told me, and now reveals that Doc was a courier carrying diamonds for Szell in a shady government operation that was paying Szell, a former Nazi, for turning up former Nazis around the world. Babe again repeats that Doc didn't tell him anything. Janeway drives him back to Szell's place, where Szell and his thugs are alive and well: Janeway only pretended to kill them, and in reality he is in cahoots with Szell. Szell proceeds to torture him again, but this time Babe manages to escape. He runs half-naked in the middle of the night through the streets of New York, chased by Janeway and the thugs. Babe gets into a taxi, paying the taxi driver with his expensive watch (which the taxi driver happily accepts, even if it's obviously a lot more than needed). Janeway is watching his apartment but Babe asks a gang to rob his apartment, and take whatever they want as long as they give him his clothes and his gun. Now wearing decent clothes, he asks Elsa for help. Elsa drives him to a remote cabin. Babe has finally realized that Elsa works for Szell and confronts her. Elsa confesses that the cabin is belonged to Szell's brother and that the thugs are on their way. Babe takes Elsa hostage and waits for Janeway and the thugs. Suddenly turned into an infallible shooter, Babe manages to kill Janeway and the two thugs, although Janeway kills Elsa (unnecessarily). At the same time Szell is walking in a street full of jewelry shops where he inquires about the value of diamonds, but he is recognized by survivors of the concentration camp. Szell doesn't hesitate to slit the throat of an old Jew who confronts him. Szell then runs away in a taxi and heads to the bank where the diamonds are kept. He fills an entire briefcase of diamonds and walks out, but Babe is there waiting for him. Babe forces him at gunpoint to walk to a water facility. Szell admits that it all happened because Szell was afraid of being robbed of the diamonds. Instead of just killing him, Babe tells Szell that he can keep the diamonds he can swallow. Szell swallows one but then refuses. Babe starts the entire briefcase full of diamonds in the water, driving Szell mad. Szell rolls down the staircase leading to the water and accidentally kills himself with his own knife. (Somehow Babe was willing to kill the thugs but not the mass murderer). Babe walks calmly out (apparently nobody has called the police) and throws the gun in the lake by the trail where he used to train for his marathon. Il film contrappone l'ambiente freddo e bestiale degli intrighi internazionali con la vita intima di un ragazzo come tanti, e i due mondi sono tenuti nettamente separati anche quando si intersecano dolorosamente.

Yankees intreccia tre storie d'amore nell'Inghilterra del 1943.

Crazy Runners (1983) è invece una farsa spensierata, al limite della satira di costume dell'America degli anni Ottanta: eccentrici e grotteschi turisti partiti da città diverse per andare in Florida finiscono tutti in un piccolo paese isolato, poiché i suoi abitanti, per vendicarsi di chi ha negato loro uno svincolo sulla freeway, hanno fatto saltare in aria un valico.

Englishman Abroad (1983)

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985): un giovane scopre un losco intrigo della CIA e decide di vendere informazioni ai Sovietici per riparare; una volta entrato nel meccanismo, non riesce più ad uscirne, anche per il pressappochismo del suo complice, e viene scoperto dagli americani.

Due ragazzi sono cresciuti insieme, entrambi figli di famiglie per bene. Uno diventa un tossicodipendente e spacciatore, ed è ricercato dalla polizia. L'altro, figlio di un agente governativo segue le orme del padre e si impiega in un ufficio top secret, dove il collega negro e la segretaria si godono la vita. Idealista, scopre per caso che la CIA sta mentendo agli alleati. Decide allora di fare giustizia e vendere ai sovietici i documenti segreti a cui ha accesso. Per farlo, si serve dell'amico drogato, che contatta l'ambasciata sovietica in Messico. Stabilito il contatto, inizia il commercio. In breve il drogato si arricchisce, diventa ancora più arrogante e intrattabile, e finisce per dare sui nervi anche ai sovietici. L'informatore, colto da rimorsi, decide di trattare di persona e di mettere fine alla cosa. Il drogato è oramai patetico, solo e terrorizzato. L'informatore lascia la splendida girlfruel..., per non coinvolgerla. I sovietici non vogliono più il drogato, e, quando lui insiste a presentarsi all'ambasciata, lo consegnano alla polizia messicana. Picchiato e torturato viene restituito agli US. Nel frattempo l'informatore ha capito di essere sempre stato controllato dai suoi (un microfono nel gufo impagliato che il collega negro gli regalò), e infatti viene arrestato. Trama poco credibile, stereotipo. Soltanto il ritratto del drogato è interessante.

Believers (1987): horror soprannaturale; uno psichiatra indaga su casi di bambini orrendamente seviziati e uccisi; un poliziotto ispanico è impazzito e muore lasciando intuire l'esistenza di una setta nera; questi prendono di mira anche il figlio dello psichiatra e la sua amante. Mentre lei viene sfigurata dagli scorpioni cresciuti dentro la sua guancia, il bambino affidato ai nonni, sta per essere sacrificato dal padre stesso; lieto fine.

Madame Sousatzka (1988) celebra la pianista.

Madame Sousatzka (1988)

Pacific Heights (1990)

The Innocent (1993)

Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

Eye for an Eye (1996), adapted from Erika Holzer's novel, feels like a remix of Death Wish.

His last film was The Next Best Thing (2000). He died in 2003.

What is unique about this cinema database