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Judy Berlin

06 Apr 2002

It's been ages since I've seen a black and white film on black and white film stock. Remember "Schindler's List"? Unless you were lucky enough to see it in a major center, you probably saw it on colour stock, which looks very adequate, but it's not black and white. When you print on colour stock, you always get some colour -- a blue or brown tint. But real black and white stock glows. A sunset can be crisp and beautifully detailed with an archival feel to the image. It's just lovely.

"Judy Berlin" is shot in black and white, and I had the pleasure of seeing a black and white print. (Now is the correct point for you to say "ooh" and "ahh".) The film follows a collection of people on the day of a solar eclipse. Judy Berlin is on her last day at work before moving to California to pursue an acting career. Judy's mother, a public school teacher, is getting ready for the first day of the new school year. Her affections belong to Arthur Gold, the principal. Who is married to Alice (Madeline Kahn). Alice's 30 year old son David takes a break from moping around his mother's house to go for a walk. While he's out, he runs into Judy Berlin, an acquaintance from high school. And on it goes.

What makes the film work is its experienced players. I don't know how director Eric Mendelsohn did it, but he got Barbara Barrie (played Barney Miller's wife from the TV series "Barney Miller"), Madeline Kahn, Julie Kavner (who has been in more of Woody Allen's films than almost anyone), Anne Meara, and Edie Falco. Talent. You can't beat it.

I remember an interview with an (all but unknown) pop singer I heard a couple of years ago on the CBC. The story was that he had gotten Eric Clapton to play on his album. The interviewer asked, "How did you get Eric Clapton on your album?" The reply? "I paid him." It was that simple. Sometimes it's like that, I guess.

Related Sites

Judy Berlin (Official site, quite nice)
Judy Berlin (IMDB)