Gilbey on Film: Curious collaborations

Our critic picks five unlikely couplings from the world of cinema

The past few days have felt like a variation on one of those "key parties" that provided such grisly amusement in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm; all weekend there were two needy partygoers left vying for the single set of car keys languishing in the bowl. Then Gordon Brown excused himself from the undignified dance, volunteering an as-yet-undecided junior to take his place in Nick Clegg's groovy waterbed (to stretch the Ice Storm analogy). Once we become accustomed to that idea, it was time to grapple once again with the spectre of a Clegg-Cameron love-in ("Clegg to be Cameron's deputy PM", tweeted Mark Thomas after chucking-out time at the Lib-Dem meeting, "though in Eton they still call it fagging"). Ever since the early hours of 7 May, this country has been forced to consider the prospect of strange bedfellows in all their permutations.

So now we know it's Cameron and Clegg. Or Cameron and Osborne, with Clegg on the Z-bed. But let's be optimistic, if only for the sake of variety. Offbeat collaborations can sometimes yield unforeseen advantages. Don't press me on the details right now, but take heart instead from the list below of random, film-related odd-couplings or unusual rapprochements. All have produced ripples of pleasure, even if some of them might appear initially to go together about as well as Adam Boulton and Alastair Campbell.

Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl

Olivier's disdain for his co-star in this 1957 film (adapted by Terrence Rattigan from his own fizzy play The Sleeping Prince) is by now notorious. Judge for yourself if the rancour is kept entirely off-screen when the picture is screened this week at London's BFI South Bank as part of a season celebrating its cinematographer, Jack Cardiff (who would rank as a legend even if he had shot nothing but his Powell and Pressburger hat-trick -- A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes).

David Lynch and a $45m science-fiction shaggy-dog story

New light is shed on the folly of Lynch's Dune by this six-minute excerpt from the video diary of one its stars, Sean Young. Sting chows down in the catering tent, Jurgen Prochnow trips up, Francesca Annis flashes her underwear and Young provides some distracted theories on what she considers to be Lynch's failure of nerve.

Bill Murray and Emily Dickinson (and others)

The reigning genius of US comic cinema reads poetry to New York construction workers. Obviously. Like the man says -- "A pretty nice piece of bliss..."

Lynne Ramsay and the pop promo

A season of Ramsay's work would barely fill an afternoon. Good job it's all so original and absorbing. While we await her film of Lionel Shriver's novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, here are two different edits -- one here, another here -- of her video for the 2005 Doves single, "Black and White Town." Her mastery of the shorter form remains as assured as it was in early shorts like Gasman and Small Deaths; this promo plays like an x-ray of the people who pass before the lens. Ramsay proves the adage that most of a director's work is done in the casting. Look at these kids' faces, at once lamblike and yet so hard and angular they could have been bashed into shape on an anvil. Also, watching this makes you realise what a vital influence she has been on fellow Brits: the most visually striking films of the last two or three years -- Red Road, Fish Tank, Hunger, Better Things and Helen -- have all followed in her trail.

Blondie and Bond

Debbie Harry gives it the full Shirley Bassey in Blondie's live romp through "Goldfinger" for German TV in 1977. Feisty fun, though it lacks the daredevil thrill of Tommy McCook's reggae twist on the evergreen Bond theme. (As a not-unconnected bonus, here are Arctic Monkeys with "Diamonds Are Forever" from Glastonbury 2007.)

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Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

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The mizzly tones of Source FM

Drewzy (male, fortysomething) composedly, gently, talks of “time condensing like dew on a damp Cornish window”.

A mizzly Thursday in Falmouth and the community radio presenters Drewzy and the Robot are playing a Fat Larry’s Band single they picked up in a local charity shop. Drewzy (male, fortysomething) composedly, gently, talks of “time condensing like dew on a damp Cornish window”, and selects a Taiwanese folk song about muntjacs co-operating with the rifles of hunters. The robot (possibly the same person using an electronic voice-changer with a volume booster, but I wouldn’t swear to it) is particularly testy today about his co-host’s music choices (“I don’t like any of it”), the pair of them broadcasting from inside two converted shipping containers off the Tregenver Road.

I am told the Source can have an audience of up to 5,500 across Falmouth and Penryn, although when I fan-mail Drewzy about this he replies: “In my mind it is just me, the listener (singular), and the robot.” Which is doubtless why on air he achieves such epigrammatic fluency – a kind of democratic ease characteristic of a lot of the station’s 60-plus volunteer presenters, some regular, some spookily quiescent, only appearing now and again. There’s Pirate Pete, who recently bewailed the scarcity of pop songs written in celebration of Pancake Day (too true); there’s the Cornish Cream slot (“showcasing artists . . . who have gone to the trouble of recording their efforts”), on which a guest recently complained that her Brazilian lover made her a compilation CD, only to disappear before itemising the bloody tracks (we’ve all been there).

But even more mysterious than the identity of Drewzy’s sweetly sour robot is the Lazy Prophet, apparently diagnosed with PTSD and refusing medication. His presenter profile states, “I’ve spent the last year in almost total isolation and reclusion observing the way we do things as a species.”

That, and allowing his energies to ascend to a whole new plateau, constructing a two-hour Sunday-morning set – no speaking: just a mash-up of movie moments, music, animal and nature sounds – so expert that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in fact someone like the La’s Salinger-esque Lee Mavers, escaped from Liverpool. I’m tempted to stake out the shipping containers.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle