James Bidgood double bill

With introductory notes by Ryan Powell, lecturer in Film Studies at King's College London.

18.45 Pink Narcissus

USA 1971. Dir James Bidgood. With Bobby Kendall, Don Brooks. Costume and set design James Bidgood. c.71 min

With experience in still photography and stage costume design, but no training in film whatsoever, Bidgood shot Pink Narcissus on the cheap in the confines of his bedroom, using Bolex cameras with 8mm Kodachrome and eventually 16mm Ektachrome stock. It took over seven years to make and the result is an epic and bold work. A series of homoerotic fantasies, the film’s singular aesthetic is at once highly camp and deliberately trashy, yet moving and stunningly beautiful. Its charming ‘naivety’ evokes early film pioneers such as Méliès or de Chomon and like them Bidgood was heavily invested in fabricating his own elaborate sets and costumes, as well as his own universe of solutions and tricks. Sadly, the film was not edited by the artist himself who had, by the early 1970s, lost creative control of his mesmerising footage.

+ 20.15 The Ziegfeld Girl

USA 1941. Dir Robert Z. Leonard. With Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, James Stewart. Costumes Adrian, sets Cedric Gibbons and Merrill Pye, choreography Busby Berkeley. c.133 min

Perpetuating the Ziegfeld Follies mythology, this is Leonard’s second foray into the subject (after the Academy Award-winning The Great Ziegfeld,1936). The star-studded musical follows the utterly predictable career transformations of three budding Ziegfeld girls as they are ‘processed’ by the showbiz genius. Hoping to out-Ziegfeld the man himself with its special effects, candy-floss sartorial frivolities and celestial cast, the film embraces a glamour that is quintessentially Ziegfeldian with girls parading in outlandish costumes dripping with sequins courtesy of MGM’s star designer Adrian. The number ‘You Stepped Out of a Dream’ recycles from the 1936 film the colossal tiered cake staircase and uses clouds of mist for an added dreamlike effect. The opulence of the Ziegfeld Follies’ costumes and sets has been a life-long inspiration for Bidgood who has enthusiastically referred to them ever since the days he designed costumes for Club 82 in New York.

The Horse Hospital Thursday 02 Dec 2010, 18.45 + 20.15