Most of these couplets originally appeared in the book Parallacts: Motley Saws and Modest Conceits, published by Mark Time Books in 2012. Parallacts includes pieces on a range of subjects, topics and inspirations and we have only republished those clearly related to the cinema. A number of subsequent pieces by John are also included here and will be published in a later volume. Published and republished with the kind permission of the author.

 

NO WAY TO FORGET

The storm in my face may seem like tears,

A storm that will last two thousand years.

See: short film by Richard Franklin (1996)

 

CITIZEN OF THE WORLD

Too rich to become a great artist,

His all was not enough – he lost her.

See: Morocco (1930)

 

WHO SPEAKS HER FIRST NAME?

Known on file as X-27,

Traitor to the nation that betrayed her.

See: Dishonored (1932)

 

CRADLE WATCH

We cherish hopes in modest measure

And our disappointments strengthen love.

See: Hitori Musuko (The Only Son, 1932)

 

VENDONAH

He might have made a splendid yachtsman,

But pride and progress brought comeuppance.

See: The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

 

CARIBBEAN FLYING FISH

Living javelins over moonbright sea,

On graceful wing from ravenous jaws.

See: I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

 

AMBIGUITY AND/OR AMBIVALENCE

“I love you too” – as you love me, Keyes,

Or as I love her who has killed me?

See: Double Indemnity (1944)

 

ENGENDERED GENRES

Anguish of male bereft of his Role,

Fury of female trapped within hers.

 

HARRY HAYDEN (1882-1955)

Mr Nobody in two hundred roles,

He served “the dinner” to the strangers.

See: The Killers (1946)

 

HEARD IN THE FRONT STALLS

As Ringo rides hard across sandhills:

“Where does he think he is – Arabia?”

See: The Gunfighter (1950)

 

NIGHT TRAIN

Tense and lethal prelude to glory:

Lincoln comes like a thief in the night.

See: The Tall Target (1951)

 

TOMBS OF OUR OWN MAKING

We distend our lives on duty’s rack.

Yield, no longer yearn for yesterday.

See: There’s Always Tomorrow (1956)

 

WANDERER BETWEEN THE WINDS

“As sure as the turnin’ of the earth.”

Long hate sustained his quest, love broke him.

See: The Searchers (1956)

 

ATONEMENT

Here was she hanged, where the stark tree stands;

Vengeance will go where justice may not.

See: Ride Lonesome (1959)

 

BORGES AND HE

As Godard’s Melville might, so much have I,

“To become immortal, and then die.”

See: À bout de souffle (1960)

 

OLD DARK HOUSES

Hopper placed his beside the railroad.

In another, Norman dwelt with Mother.

 

TEST OF FAITH

What dark sin did my parent commit

That my body must bear this affliction?

See: Winter Light (1963)

 

BEFORE THE SOLUTION

“There are more than six million of us.

[He shrugs]… What can they do – kill us all?”

See: Ship of Fools (1965)

 

HEINZ RÜHMANN 1902-1994

Favourite of Hitler and Goebbels,

Adorning a wall in Anne Frank’s room.

 

ONE FANTASY AFTER ANOTHER

In the here-now is our Nemesis

And our destination Nowhere.

See: Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

 

BABE IN THE MANGER

Set the tiny fingers curl in sleep;

Could therein lie the world’s salvation?

See: Camminacammina (1983)

 

CONSTANCY

“A smell… that will outlive religion” –

But not strong enough for politics?

See: Kenny (2006)

 

The following have not been previously published:

 

JOE THE PANTS PRESSER

His name contrived and tone sardonic,

With art exquisite, wit ironic.

See: Josef von Sternberg 1894-1969

 

CAMP FOLLOWER

“We have no medals – but we are brave.”

Those pearls were the spoils of surrender.

See: Morocco (1930)

 

TOKENISM

Platonic love’s lasted centuries,

Platonic jewellery – that’s modern.

See: The Divorcee (1930)

 

B-GRADE

Sometimes a step beyond formula,

Since short on budget and ballyhoo.

 

HAPPY ENDING

The waiting judge was floored at what he saw:

The blushing bride with freshly blackened eye.

See: Carefree (1938)

 

UNHOLY GRAIL

Intrigue, theft and murder down the years –

For what? The stuff that dreams are made of.

See: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

 

“WHEN ARE YOU COMIN’ HOME, ALVIN?”

We presumed pity for that poor woman –

Such wondrous joy as we may never have.

See: Sergeant York (1941)

 

IDIOSYNCRASY

Sure I ain’t gotta, but I’m gonna,

“That’s the kind of a hairpin I am.”

See: The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

 

PEOPLE OF THE CANEFIELDS

There is crying tonight, a child was born:

To toil by day and dance by voodoo moon.

See: I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

 

CHRIS ON THE CROSS

Without malice but guilty no less,

Doomed to long endure unjust deserts.

See: Scarlet Street (1945)

 

ANGELUS

“Bells ring at this hour all over the world.”

“ – I guess I wasn’t listening.”

See: The Miracle of the Bells (1948)

 

THE STAR CONFIDES IN THE DIRECTOR

“There’s just you and me and the cameras

And those people out there in the dark.”

See: Sunset Blvd. (1950) (quotation not exact)

 

UNDER THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SEVEN VULTURES

Hot news! Crisis! Here in the papers!

“Tomorrow… they’ll wrap a fish in it.”

See: Ace in the Hole (1951)

 

MARABUNTA!

Stop worrying about the insects,

This romance has conflicts to resolve.

See: The Naked Jungle (1954)

 

TAMING THE WEST

“We heard only church bells this morning.

The beast will never growl again.”

See: A Lawless Street (1955)

 

A POIGNANT IMAGE

The scum resettles on the surface,

Thus time hides truth never to be told.

See: Pather Panchali (1955)

 

“THANK YOU KINDLY” (MOSES HARPER)

Sad ageing simpleton, he it was

Who twice gleaned “where little Debry is.”

See: The Searchers (1956)

 

AGRY TOWN

The man from West Texas rides away.

“Don’t just stand there, Amos – get a shovel.”

See: Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)

 

SANTA CRUZ TRAIL

Face the day and feel the morning sun –

No surer way to forget your hurts.

See: Ride Lonesome (1959)

 

A MERCENARY ON HIS DEATHBED

“Chris, I don’t want to die a sucker” –

We fought for profit, not principle.

See: The Magnificent Seven (1960)

 

STANDARD GRAMMAR: CUT ON EYELINE

Two glances meet – he looks down, to see

Worlds emerging in a coffee cup.

See: Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle (1967)

 

SILENT PROTEST

No one has a worse revulsion from war

Than is felt by those who must wage it.

See: Gardens of Stone (1987)

 

            HE DIED FINE

Old comrades delayed that last action –

Jake spurred on, became his own hangman.

See: Lonesome Dove (1989)

 

WHAT PART OF “REAL” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?

“Cue the sun!”: So spake the creator,

While the millions watched and thus believed.

See: The Truman Show (1998)

 

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

In all the movies I’ve seen of that town,

It never seems to rain… thanks, Woody.

 

HANS LUCAS

Some sort of critic, made some movies;

What’s he do now? – meditate, perhaps…

About The Author

John Flaus began writing film criticism in 1954, and was sacked the following year when he wrote that On the Waterfront was right-wing propaganda. He has been writing film reviews intermittently ever since. These days he makes a living as an actor, script editor and occasional lecturer.