Poe-try in Motion

Imagine Edgar Allen Poe filtered through a Euro sensibility and the delirious excesses of the ‘60s, and you’re apt to conjure cinematic pleasures great and, uh, less great. But even the don’t-quite-work moments in Spirits of the Dead (1968), the infamous, lavish, three-story compilation film based on Poe's works, are weirdly fascinating. The curtain raiser, Metzengerstein, finds Jane Fonda playing a spoiled French countess with a thing for her cousin -- played, perversely, by brother Peter. (She and husband-slash-director Roger Vadim re-teamed on Barbarella immediately after this project.) Louis Malle conceived and directed William Wilson, starring the pompous Alain Delon as a brutish military man tormented by a double whose plaything includes Brigitte Bardot. The final tale, Toby Dammit (based on the short story “Never Bet the Devil Your Head”), is not just the best of the three but a certified classic, with Terrence Stamp as a breathtakingly dissolute movie star speeding (well, tripping) like a lunatic through Federico Fellini’s Rome. The remarkable thing about Poe is that, across borders and centuries, his tales haunt and inspire other people’s deranged nightmares.
Thu., June 28, 7 p.m., 2012

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