News from the Locarno Festival

Aye Aye, Tourneur

Aye Aye, Tourneur



It was March 1977 when Jacques Manlay asked Jacques Tourneur news about Appointment in Honduras and Tourner had been living far from the cinema in Bergerac France, for a few years. Manlay’s television interview, made with Jean Ricaud for channel FR3-Bordeaux, is an important document, it is included in our retrospective and our advise is to watch it. Jacques Tourneur answered to the question explaining a little trick very well known in the United States: the “Message for Garcia.” “The ‘Message for Garcia’ is that story about a General that calls Garcia and tells him: ‘Could you deliver this note to the General so-and-so, somewhere in the middle of the jungle?’ ‘Aye Aye Sir,’ Garcia answers and goes. The entire story is focused on how Garcia will find this man in the jungle. This is the example which is used in film when talking about a straight line. In this case Glenn Ford had to deliver some gold through the jungle of Honduras.”

Let’s consider this then as a “Message for Garcia” but aimed at all the audience and cinephiles of the Festival. Watch all the films directed by Jacques Tourneur from the ‘30s to the ‘60s. Follow this path and you will discover that you won’t miss the adventure. You'll be carried away by the spooky black and white of RKO horror films (Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man),

the heartbreaking noir flashbacks of Out of the Past and the beautiful Nightfall, make sure that your eyes absorb the Technicolor shades of the yellow robe of Ann Sheridan in Appointment in Honduras or the red ribbon of Captain Providence/Jean Peters in Anne of the Indies. And what about Tourneur’s magnificent westerns? Canyon Passage, Great Day in the Morning, Wichita are three superb and unique films, articulated like Chinese boxes and dealing with morals, violence and passions. And also a one of a kind film such as Stars in my Crown, one of his best works and played by a magnificent Joel McCrea, or even Night of the Demon. This journey is a careful analysis of cinema. France, California, England, Italy: Tourneur worked in every situation testing every genre and always doing his best.

But then what about the “Message for Garcia?” The general to be reached in the jungle was Jacques Tourneur himself. Is this not the moral of our journey?

Rinaldo Censi

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