Monday, November 30, 2009

Filmmaker Jocelyne Chaput dropped by last night with her excellent edit of Eric Cable's 16mm documentation of James Clavell's The Sweet and the Bitter (1967), a film I will be screening at the Pacific Cinematheque on December 10.

For those unfamiliar with Clavell's film, it concerns the story of a Japanese woman who comes to Vancouver as a mail order bride (betrothed to a Japanese fisherman) with the intention of seducing -- and ruining -- the son of the salmon canner who expropriated her father's fishing boat after the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbour. The film is also significant in that it was the first film to be shot and set in Vancouver, and the one and only effort of the West Vancouver-based Commonwealth Film Productions, whose sound stage, if I'm not mistaken, was used by Robert Altman when shooting the second film to be shot and set in Vancouver: That Cold Day In The Park (1969).

The footage Jocelyne edited (from a repetitive 38 minutes to 22) opens and closes with Cable's kooky homemade credits, and features the building of the CFP studio and its colourful Arthurian mural. From there we visit locations such as the long-erased Millard Cannery (started by the grandfather of the Arts Club's Bill Millard), the dock at Ballantine Pier, the former BC Hydro Building (now the Electra apartments), Lighthouse Park and another West Vancouver park whose name escapes me.

Instrumental in sourcing both Clavell's film and Cable's documentation (from Colin Preston at CBC Archives) is Pacific Cinematheque volunteer and advocate Anu Sahota, to whom I am very grateful.

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