Films Glimpsed in Films

Stalker, Distant, Ennui

Was just reading Geoffrey Deyer’ book Zona (recommended!), about his relationship with Tarkovsky’s Stalker.  At one point he digresses about a scene from Ceylon’s Distant where Stalker is glimpsed in the background on a character's t.v.  He goes on to then suggest what an interesting study could be made of films in which other films are seen in the background.  This is actually long been something I have been obsessed with, but have never had the head of steam to begin cataloguing instances of this, usually because when they occur I am deeply planted on my couch.

But now, what the hell, maybe I will begin.  Please contribute if you can.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Dyer himself mentions, in addition to Distant, three others:  Frankenstein in Spirit of the Beehive, Red River in Last Picture Show, and Passion of Joan of Arc in Vivra Sa Vie.  What I like about these is in each case they are either central to the narrative of the film (in the case of Beehive) or thematically organic to the works which reference them.

And I would ask that we use this as a criterion for inclusion.  Simply throwing in references to prove street cred (Tarantino!) is not sufficient.  The clip must in some way be central to overall meaning of the film.

So I will add to Dyer’s excellent start the following:

Gun Crazy, glimpsed in the movie theater in which our lovers (is that the New Beverly…the Nuart?), Richard Gere and Valerie Karpinsky, hide out from the police in Jim McBride’s remake of Breathless.  Young lovers on the lam glimpsing a ur-text about lovers on the lam.

The Illusionist.  The Tati character attends a film, and that film is Mon Oncle!!

Mean Streets.  The boys watch The Searchers (“Twenty Dollars!”  Let‘s go to the movies!”), which is obviously a hugely influential film for Scorsese and that crowd, and is also an interesting commentary on the nature of manhood, which is central to Mean Streets.

1 comment:

Debra said...

Ah...the one that comes to mind is the well known and often quoted ("I'll have what she's having") romantic comedy, "When Harry Met Sally". There's a split-screen moment where these two lovers-in-denial are ironically watching from their own beds and discussing via the phone, the closing scene of another often quoted film..."Casablanca".
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"