Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Quotable "Comedians"

One of my happier duties while working on the liner notes to Film Score Monthly's release of Laurence Rosenthal's The Comedians/Hotel Paradiso was the selection of quotes for the tray insert. The challenge: to take a film, and pick out the one line of dialogue or short exchange which best captures its essence great fun, for an English major! The Comedians features a screenplay by the great English novelist, playwright, and critic Graham Greene (who also wrote the book), and so I found myself with an abundance of interesting options. I ultimately settled on: 

"I'm a bit of a play-actor, myself. Who isn't, in this place? We all play drawing-room comedies in a blackout." 

I love the imagery here, which speaks directly to the film's title, and alludes to the darkness at the core of Papa Doc's Haiti. If I had it to do over again, that's still the quote I'd pick. But since there was so much rich dialogue to choose from, I figured I'd put some alternates up on the blog and let my readers decide if I made the right call. Here they are, in the order I wrote them down (as with FSM's final packaging, the speakers are not identified and no context is given): 

"There are days when I wonder, especially in the empty afternoons. You have a devil in you in the afternoons. When you're not with me, I wonder what the devil does."

"I don't concern myself with politics. I support the economy, when there are tourists."

"It's a horrifying world. I sometimes think that Haiti is no different from life anywhere."

"We shouldn't be ashamed of being comedians. You know, it's an honorable profession
if only we were good ones. We could perhaps give the world ... I don't know, a sense of style."

"You can't be jealous of the past."
"Oh, yes I can. One day, I'll be the past. There'll be a difference."

"You have a sense of humor. I'm in favor of jokes. They have a political value. A release for the cowardly and the impotent."

"You can't believe in such nonsense."
"Is there no nonsense you believe in?"
"You're afraid to believe in anything at all."

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