Boogie Woogie Typewriter
Posted on July 17, 2015
You couldn’t call it a typewriter movie, but there’s a telling typewriter scene in the 2009 movie Boogie Woogie – a scene involving a portable typewriter which is indicative of the movie itself …
… in that it was produced in the UK, borders on bad taste, yet is strangely appealing.
The movie, directed by Duncan Ward and based on a novel by Danny Moynihan, who wrote the screenplay, is a satirical take on the art scene of contemporary London, and has a great ensemble cast led by Danny Huston as art dealer Art Spindle, and Stellan John Skarsgård as his rival, art dealer Bob Maclestone.
Despite a slow start – I was tempted to hit the eject button on my DVD player fifteen minutes in – things got better and in the end I was glad I persevered with it. There’s a lot to like about this movie – and I don’t just mean Amanda Seyfried roller-blading in a tartan mini skirt!
Gillian Anderson (of X-files fame) is a hoot as Jean, the sordidly spoilt wife of Bob Maclestone.
Alan Cumming is great fun as Dewi Dalamantousis, the hopelessly diffident and extremely camp agent of video artist Elaine (Jamie Winstone) who adds an American Beauty-style vibe to the proceedings by recording footage of her lesbian proclivities on a camcorder.
And the late Christopher Lee is a joy to watch as the wealthy art owner Alfred Rhinegold, a feisty octogenarian who breathes with the aid of an oxygen mask while puffing intermittently on a Havana cigar.
The aforementioned typewriter – a plastic Smith Corona (SCM) “Super G” – is used by Alfred’s debonair but scheming manservant, Robert Freign (played by Simon McBurney, an actor who bears more than a passing resemblance to Roman Polanski).
Freign conspires with Rhinegold’s daughter, Alfreda (Joanna Lumley) to sell a valuable Mondrian painting owned by her father, and cannily plays one art dealer against the other by sending out increasingly extortive typewritten letters.
Having, in the distant past, purchased the painting for “$500 pounds CASH from the Master himself”, Alfred has formed an attachment to the painting that transcends monetary value and he stubbornly refuses to sell. Suffice to say Alfred’s stubbornness – not to mention his smoking habit – proves very detrimental to his health.
The title of the movie and the novel is derived from Victory Boogie-Woogie the last, unfinished, work by the Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian. (Indeed, when you consider that Mondrian evolved a non-representational form of art which he termed neoplasticism, the choice of typewriter is entirely appropriate.)
The fictional “Boogie Woogie”
The real thing
The only Mondrian I could ever afford to buy would be a work of art in the manner of a Mondrian, such as this one …
Mind you, like most other brightly coloured typewriter objet d’art, it’s probably grossly over-priced!