Saturday, 17 November 2007

Makeup Artist Monty Westmore R.I.P.

Monty Westmore, the legendary makeup artist whose work ranged from the small screen's Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to the big screen's Seven, died November 12 at the age of 84 from prostate cancer.

Monty Westmore was born on June 12, 1923 in Los Angeles into the Westmore family, which included some of the most legendary makeup artists in Hollywood. His father, Monte Westmore, was the makeup artist on The King of Kings and Gone with the Wind. Monty Westmore's career began in 1943 when he apprenticed to his uncle, Perc Westmore, who had worked on such films as Public Enemy and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Westmore spent seven years at Universal working with his uncle. He received his first on screen credit on the film The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady in 1950. Westmore did makeup for such movies in the fifties as Colt .45 and Sex Kittens Go to College. He also did uncredited work on such classics as Touch of Evil. From 1961 to 1965 he did makeup on various episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. He was Joan Crawford's personal makeup artist on the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

It was in the Seventies that Westmore came into his own as a makeup artist. He worked on such films as the John Wayne movie Rio Lobo, The Life and Times and Judge Roy Bean, Uptown Saturday Night, Doc Savage: the Man of Bronze, and 3 Women. The Eighties saw Westmore do some of his most remarkable work, on such films as Fort Apache the Bronx, The Dead Pool, Alien Nation, and Blaze

The Nineties saw Westmore doing more genre films than he previously had in his career. He was the makeup artist on Hook, The Hudsucker Proxy, Jurassic Park, The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, and two Star Trek movies (Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection). Westmore worked into the naughts, doing his last work on the film adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Monty Westmore was a talented makeup artist who had a very long career in Hollywood, working well into his seventies. He worked his magic, whether credited or not, on such films as The Treasure of Sierra and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. And his talent went beyond making actors like Joan Crawford and Paul Newman look, relatively speaking, good. He created aliens for such films as Alien Nation and Star Trek: First Contact, and was responisble for some of the grisly work on Seven. He was definitely one of the best.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Laraine Day Passes On

Laraine Day, the beautiful star of Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, perhaps best known for playing Nurse Lamont in the Dr. Kildare films, died November 10 at the age of 87.

Laraine Day was born in Laraine Johnson in Roosevelt, Utah. The family moved to California when Laraine was nine years old. While in her teens she began her acting career with the Long Beach Players. Her first appearance was in an unbilled, bit part in the 1937 melodrama Stella Dallas. In 1938, still using the name Laraine Johnson, she appeared as Peg Smith in the Paramount film Scandal Sheet. She appeared as the leading lady in several of George O'Brien's B Westerns from 1938 to 1939. Signing with MGM in 1939, she adopted the stage name "Laraine Day." Her first film with MGM was Sergeant Madden, directed by Josef von Sternberg. It would be with her next film for MGM, Calling Dr. Kildare in 1939, that she would play the role that would bring her fame. Day played Nurse Mary Lamont in seven Dr. Kildare movies. The character was killed off in Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day. For years afterwards she would be asked by people why Mary Lamont had to die.

Day's career at MGM consisted primarily of programmers, such as the Dr. Kildare series. She was only cast in major motion pictures when she was loaned out to other studios. Such was the case with Foreign Correspondent, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and distributed by United Artists. In that film Day played the love interest of Joel McCrea's much put upon reporter. In Mr. Lucky, Day would play the society girl with whom Cary Grant's gambler falls in love. The film was produced by RKO. Having played Nurse Lamont in many of the Kildare films, she played a nurse again when loaned to Paramount for Cecil DeMille's The Story of Dr. Wassell. In RKO's film noirThe Locket not only did Day play the lead role, but she got to play against type. Nancy Monks Blair Patton was a scheming femme fatale, worlds away from honest, wholesome Mary Lamont. In Tycoon she played opposite John Wayne, as the wife of a man building a railroad tunnel through a mountain.

In the Fifties Day's career shifted primarily to television. She made her first appearance on the small screen on an episode of Nash Airflyte Theatre in 1951. She was the host of the TV series Daydreaming with Laraine, also called The Laraine Day Show in 1951. She was the co-host (with then husband Leo Durocher, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers) of the series Double Play in 1953. In the Fifties she appeared on such shows as The Jack Benny Programme, General Electric Theatre, Lux Video Theatre, and Playhouse 90. She continued to appear in films, such as John Wayne's The High and Mighty and the 1956 films Toy Tiger and Three for Jamie Dawn.

From the Sixties to the Eighties, Day's career was almost entirely in television. She guest starred on Checkmate, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Burke's Law, Wagon Train, The Name of the Game, Lou Grant, Airwolf, and Murder, She Wrote (on which she played the wife of protagonist Jessica Fletcher's brother in law).

Laraine Day was a talented actress who never was given the sort of roles she actually deserved. Sadly, MGM seemed content to cast in her in the role of romantic interests in B movies. That she could do so much more is proven by the film she made outside of MGM. Day could quite convincingly play sweet, wholesome Nurse Mary Lamont, but she could just as easily play the scheming, deceitful Nancy Monks Blair Patton (if you're wondering about her name, well, Nancy had several husbands...). She gave sterling performances in such films as Foreign Correspondent and Mr. Lucky. I rather suspect that in times to come she will be remembered more for her few roles in major motion pictures than as Nurse Lamont, whom she played in so many Dr. Kildare movies.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Mutt and Jeff Turn 100

Today many are accustomed to thinking of mass media as a fairly recent phenomenon. We do not stop to think just how long books and newspapers have been in existence, let alone think about the age of such characters as Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan. As a mark of just how long mass media has had an impact on the United States, consider that today a comic strip which produced two of the most famous characters in Anglo-American pop culture made its debut. You see, it was on this day in 1907 that a comic strip called A. Mutt, written by Harry "Bud" Fisher, debuted on the sports page of the San Francisco Chronicle. The comic strip would gain even more fame under its later title, Mutt and Jeff.

Originally, the comic strip focused on tall, wiry Augustus Mutt. There is still debate over the origin of Mutt's name--whether the name demonstrated his place in his own home (roughly the same as the family dog) or if it was short for "muttonhead (a slang term for "fool")." Regardless, Mutt was a luckless fellow who loved gambling at the racetrack and was dominated at home by his harridan of a wife. In this respect, A. Mutt was not particularly original. Just a few years earlier there had been a comic strip called A. Piker Clerk, written by Clare Briggs (who would later create Mr.and Mrs.) and published in the Chicago American. Clerk was a devoted gambler who would spend every day at the track. A. Piker Clerk appears to have been the first comic strip published on a regular, five day basis (a claim often erroneously made for Mutt and Jeff). That having been said, it did not last long. William Randolph Hearst cancelled A. Piker Clerk in 1904.

Had A. Mutt remained an imitation of A. Piker clerk, Augustus Mutt might not be remembered 100 years after his first appearance. Fortunately, only four months into its run an event took place which would change the comic strip forever and turn it into a phenomenon. It was on March 8, 1908 that Augustus Mutt met a fellow named Jeff in a mental institution (named for boxing champ James Jeffries, Jeff was under the delusion that he was the champ). Jeff was physically Mutt's opposite; he was short and rotund while Mutt was tall and rangy. That having been said, the two were apparently born to be the best of friends. Indeed, they complimented each other perfectly. Mutt was simple minded and forgetful, while Jeff was a good deal brighter and, as it so happened, certifiably insane (as mentioned earlier, the two had met in a mental institution....). The team of Mutt and Jeff proved so popular that it immediately changed the direction of the comic strip. By August 4, 1908, less than a month after Jeff's first appearance, the strip was renamed Mutt and Jeff. By June 1908 Mutt and Jeff moved from the sports pages of the San Francisco Chronicle to William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. It would only be a few years before it entered national syndication and become a national phenomenon. In the end, it became the first successful daily comic strip and Bud Fisher the first celebrity cartoonist.

Fisher apparently saw the potential in his creation. He took the precaution of copyrighting Mutt and Jeff in his own name, even displaying the copyright on the strip itself. As a result, Bud Fisher would become a very rich man. He would also have some control in which venues the comic strip appeared. In fact, by 1914 Fisher would jump ship, moving from Mutt and Jeff from Hearst's King Features Syndicate to the Wheeler Syndicate in a deal that gave him 60% of the comic strip's revenue. Fisher's ownership of the comic strip was upheld in 1921 when the New York Court of Appeals ruled that newspaper publisher Star Co. could not use Mutt and Jeff without Fisher's permission.

If Bud Fisher knew that Mutt and Jeff would be successful, he was absolutely right in his assumption. Mutt and Jeff would become the first comic strip characters to make the leap to animated cartoons. In 1913 Fisher founded the Bud Fisher Film Corporation to produce and distribute animated Mutt and Jeff cartoons. The first cartoon was released on February 10, 1913. In the end there would be over 300 Mutt and Jeff cartoons, making the longest series of theatrical cartoons ever made.

The animated cartoons were not the end of the Mutt and Jeff bonanza. Naturally, there were the inevitable anthology collections of the comic strips (still published today). And there was a wide variety of other Mutt and Jeff merchandise as well, ranging from banks to dolls to tobacco cards to pinback buttons. In 1922 there was even a two act, vaudeville musical comedy based on the comic strip, with a book by Bud Fisher and Richard F. Carroll. Comedians LeRoy "Stringbeans" Brown and T. H. Hammond played Mutt and Jeff respectively. In 1928 Augustus Mutt would make history as the first comic strip character to run for president. By the Thirties Mutt and Jeff were appearing on boxes of Kellogg's All-Bran cereal, as well as in ads for the product. Mutt and Jeff were also featured on the cover of the first modern day comic book, Famous Funnies #1. They would be a regular feature in All-American Comics (published by All-American Comics Inc.) from its first issue to its 102nd issue, after which it became All-American Western. They received their own comic book in 1939. It lasted until 1965, being published in turn by All-American, National Periodical Publications (the company created after National Comics acquired All-American Comics), Dell, and Harvey.

While Bud Fisher made a good deal of money from Mutt and Jeff, he actually had very little to do with his creation after 1913, relying more and more upon ghosts such as Ken Kling and Ed Mack in the following years. In fact, the man who wrote Mutt and Jeff for the majority of its run was one of Fisher's ghosts, Al Smith. A former art director for the New York World, Smith took over the strip entirely in 1932. Smith softened Mrs. Mutt, making her less of a harpy and thus making the comic strip more family friendly. He also created the comic strip's Sunday topper (a topper being a small comic strip accompanying another strip), Cicero's Cat, about Mutt's son's pet cat. Smith would stay with Mutt and Jeff until 1980. Despite his long tenure on the comic strip, he never signed his name to it until after Bud Fisher's death in 1954.

Ultimately, Mutt and Jeff would become one of the longest running comic strips in the history of the medium. It lasted until 1982, a staggering 75 years. While no new Mutt and Jeff comic strips have appeared since then, it has continued in newspaper syndication to this day through Universal Press Syndicate, As of today, then, Mutt and Jeff has appeared continuously in newspapers for 100 years. That is a feat unmatched by any other comic strip. Many of the early Mutt and Jeff animated cartoons have recently been released on DVD. And collections of the comic strips are still being published.

If one needs further proof of the impact of Mutt and Jeff on Anglo-American pop culture, he or she need look no further than the fact that the pair long ago entered the English language. To this day a pair of men, one tall and skinny and the other short and portly, are referred to as a "Mutt and Jeff couple." The term "Mutt and Jeff" is also used of the "good cop"/"bad cop" routine (I assume Jeff would be the bad cop...). The pair also entered into Cockney rhyming slang--"Mutt 'n' Jeff" meaning "deaf." A town in Texas was even named "Mutt and Jeff (apparently its two chief merchants resembled the pair), as was a lion and his pet dog (Mutt was the lion and Jeff was the dog--the two had grown up together) at the Sibley Zoo in Minnesota in the Thirties and Forties.

My parents, uncles, and aunts were all part of the generation that grew up when Mutt and Jeff was at the height of its success (here I must stress that I am not that old--my mom and dad were in their forties when I was born). In fact, it was my maternal uncle's favourite comic strip besides Barney Google. Mutt and Jeff was then one of the earliest comic strips of which I had ever heard. And while I don't ever remember reading it in newspapers, I read plenty of the old Mutt and Jeff anthologies as a child. It is then easy for me to see how Mutt and Jeff has lasted 100 years. It was a genuinely funny comic strip, whose humour originated from the contrast between shiftless, slow witted Mutt and the more intelligent, but mentally unbalanced Jeff. In some respects it was the forerunner of every comedic odd couple ever since.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Ira Levin R.I.P.

Ira Levin, novelist , playwright, television writer, and songwriter, died Monday at the age of 78 in Manhattan. He is perhaps best known for his books Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives.

Ira Levin was born August 27, 1929 in Manhattan, New York. He grew up in both the Bronx and Manhattan. Levin attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa for two years before transferring to New York University. Levin graduated from New York University in 1950 with a bachelor's degree. He also served in the Army Signal Corps from 1953 to 1955.

While a senior there Levin entered a teleplay writing contest sponsored by CBS. Despite the fact that he did not win, Levin was able to see his teleplay to NBC as the episode "Leda's Portrait" of the anthology show Lights Out (it first aired in 1950). By 1953 he would publish his first novel, A Kiss Before Dying. It won the 1954 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and would be adapted to the big screen twice (once in 1955 and again in 1991). He continued to write for television, writing the episode "The Notebook Warrior" and adapting Mac Hyman's No Time for Sergeants for The U. S. Steel Hour. Starring Andy Griffith as Will Stockdale, a hillbilly who finds himself in the Air Force, No Time For Sergeants put Levin on the map as a writer. Levin would adapt it as a play on Broadway, where it ran for 796 performances. It also earned Andy Griffith a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. The play in turn would be adapted into the 1958 motion picture.

Levin continued to write for television, writing the episode "Sylvia" for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and "The Devil You Say" for General Electric Theatre. For the next several years, however, the bulk of Levin's work would be on the stage, although his success there was often hit and miss. His plays Interlock (1958), Dr. Cook's Garden (1968), and Veronica's Room all bombed. He would have successes with Critic's Choice and Deattrap. Critic's Choice (1960) ran for 189 performances on Broadway. It would later be adapted as a motion picture in 1963. Deathtrap (1978) was arguably Levin's most successful play. It ran for 1793 performances and was nominated for several Tonys.

Levin wrote the book and the lyrics to the songs of one musical, Drat! The Cat!. A parody of Victorian melodramas, it closed after only eleven performances. Ironically, Barbara Streisand would have a hit with one of the songs, "He Touched Me."

Levin did not write another book after A Kiss Before Dying for 14 years; however, that novel would become a cultural phenomenon. Rosemary's Baby was a best seller in which a young wife is chosen to bear the Anti-Christ. It would not only be adapted as the classic 1968 movie by Roman Polanski, but would inspire a slough of movies and novels touching upon the Devil in the Seventies. The movie was followed by a made-for-TV sequel called Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby; it bore almost no relation to the novel. Levin published an official sequel to the book, Son of Rosemary, in 1997.

Levin would repeat the success of Rosemary's Baby with The Stepford Wives, published in 1972. The Stepford Wives would be adapted into a 1975 motion picture. Between the novel and the book Stepford would enter the English language as an adjective for anything that is overly obedient or robotic. The 1975 motion picture would be followed by three made-for-TV movies (none of which bore any particular relation to the book or the first film). Another major motion picture adaptation was made in 2004.

Levin's next book, The Boys From Brazil, would not quite have the pop culture clout of either Rosemary's Baby or The Stepford Wives. That having been said, it was one of the earliest mainstream books to deal with cloning and it was a bestseller. It was adapted into a 1978 movie and New Line Cinema is currently working on a remake. Levin's other books included This Perfect Day and Sliver.

To say Ira Levin was a multifaceted writer would be a bit of an understatement. He wrote novels, plays, and television shows, doing well in each medium. His novels A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary's Baby, and The Stepford Wives are classics in their respective genres. Levin's adaptation of the novel No Time for Sergeants is one of the greatest teleplays of all time. Critic's Choice and Deathtrap were both two of the best plays of their times. He was certainly one of the most influential writers of our time. References to Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, and even The Boys From Brazil abound in Anglo-American pop culture.

If Ira Levin has been so influential, it is perhaps because he had a gift for combining the utterly ordinary with the utterly outré. In the world of Levin's novels and plays, something terrifying generally lurked amongst mundane, ordinary lives. Rosemary Woodhouse was an ordinary, young mother who just happens to be bearing Satan's child. Stepford, Connecticut appears to be a fairly standard New England town, except for the fact that wives often find themselves replaced by robotic surrogates. Josef Mengele is alive and well in Paraguay and busy cloning Hitler. Levin was a master of making the absurd believable by couching it in a world that was all too real. Few writers today match his talent. I doubt there will be very many in the future who will match him either.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Director Delbert Mann Passes On

Delbert Mann, who directed both the teleplay "Marty" and the movie based upon it, passed Sunday at the age of 87 from pneumonia.

Mann was born January 30, 1920 in Lawrence, Kansas. His father took a job teaching sociology at Scarritt College in Nashville and moved the family there while Mann was still young. Mann attended Vanderbilt University, and worked at the Nashville Community Playhouse. There he met Fred Coe, who go onto become a legendary television producer and with whom Mann often collaborated. Mann graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in political science in 1941. During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps, piloting B-24 bombers. Following the war he earned a master's degree at the Yale School of Drama.
Mann directed regional theatre for a time before moving to New York to take a job as a floor manager at NBC in 1949. It was that same year that he received his first director's credit, for an episode of the anthology series Lights Out. He would go on to direct several episodes of Goodyear Television Playhouse, including "October Story," "Printer's Measure," and "The Rabbit Trap." In 1953 he made his name with an episode of Goodyear Television Playhouse entitled "Marty." Written by Paddy Chayefsky, it received much acclaim and is still highly regarded today. That same year he directed "The Bachelor Party," also by Paddy Chayefsky, to wide acclaim. Among the other episodes of Philco Television Playhouse that Delbert Mann directed were "The Life of Vincent Van Gogh," "The Pupil," and "Play Me Hearts and Flowers."

It was with his most acclaimed television presentation that Mann entered motion pictures. He directed the 1955 adaptation of Marty. The movie won Mann the Oscar for Best Director, Ernest Borgnine the award for Best Actor in a Lead Role, and Paddy Chayefsky the award for Best Writing, Screenplay. Despite his success with the film, Mann continued to work in television. He directed episodes of Producer's Showcase (including an adaptation of Our Town), Four Star Jubilee, Sunday Showcase, and Playhouse 90.

As the Fifties progressed,however, the anthology series of late Forties and early Fifties began to die out. Perhaps as a result, Mann increasingly turned towards directing motion pictures. He directed the 1957 adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky's The Bachelor Party, Desire Under the Elms, and Separate Tables all late in the decade. It was with the Sixties, however, that Mann came into his own as a movie director. He directed two classic Doris Day films, Lover Come Back (whose screenplay, by Stanley Shapiro and Beverly Hillbillies creator Paul Henning, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen) and That Touch of Mink. He also directed the films A Gathering of Eagles and Fitzwilly.

Although successful as a filmmaker, Mann's first love was television. After an absence from the medium for around eight years, Mann returned to it with a production that was more famous for interrupting a football game than anything else. Delbert Mann's version of Heidi was among the best adaptations of that novel ever made, but it would become best known as the movie for which NBC preempted a football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets in 1968. Football fans were not happy and let NBC know this fact in droves. The rest of Mann's career would be spent in television. He would direct such telefilms as an adaptation of David Copperfield, an adaptation of Jane Eyre, The Girl Named Sooner, an adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front, Ironclads, and Incident in a Small Town. After 1968, he only returned to feature films a few times, directing the films Birch Interval, Night Crossing, and Brönte.

With roots on the stage, Mann also directed on Broadway. He directed the 1956 play Season of Murder and the 1969 comedy Zelda. He also directed productions of A Quiet Place and The Glass Menagerie. He also served as the president of the Director's Guild of America from 1967 to 1971 and served on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Delbert Mann was a director whose greatest talent seemed to be his work with his actors. Perhaps because of his background in theatre, Mann was able to obtain great performances from such actors as Ernest Borgnine, Carolyn Jones, and Rock Hudson. Whether teleplays or movies, his work was always character driven. If movies such as Marty and Lover Come Back still hold up today, it is largely becasue of the performances Mann received from his performers and his focus on themes that remain timeless.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Perfume: the Story of a Murderer

First published in 1985, Patrick Suskind's novel Das Parfum became a literary sensation. Translated into several languages (in English as Perfume), it also became an international best seller. As might be expected, this naturally attracted the attention of the film industry. Over the years such directors as Martin Scorsese, Milos Foreman, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton himself considered adapting the novel. Reportedly Kubrick himself claimed he book was "unfilmable." In the end, however, it was Tom Tykwer (German like author Paul Suskind and director of Run, Lola, Run) who would bring the novel to film as Perfume: the Story of a Murderer.

Set in 18th century France, Perfume: the Story of a Murderer is the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw), a young man born with no scent of his own, but nonetheless possessing a phenomenal sense of smell. His superhuman olfactory sense makes him the perfect perfumer. Unfortunately, it also leads to obsession, as Jean-Baptiste seeks to create the ultimate perfume. Perfume: the Story of a Murderer is about much more about perfume or even 19th century. Director Tom Tykwer and screenwriters Bernd Eichinger and Andrew Birkin have successfully captured the novel's complexities and brought them to the big screen. Like the book, Perfume: the Story of a Murderer has many layers, exploring not only 18th century France and the perfume industry of that milieu, but exploring the nature of identity, obsession, morality, and society. Even if it wasn't set in 18th century France, Perfume: the Story of a Murderer would not be a run of the mill serial killer movie.

To this end Tom Tykwer may well have been the perfect director to bring the novel to the big screen. He does what might seem highly unlikely--he captures scent on film. Through the use of close ups, colour, and some rather precise editing, Tykwer gives a visual experience of the various smells filling Jean-Baptiste's remarkable nose. It is a task in which a lesser director may have failed, but Tykwer succeeds admirably. The film also has an amazing look. Director Tom Tykwer, cinematographer Frank Griebe, and art director Laia Colet have produced a visually stunning film. From the ugliness of the Paris fish market to the beauty of the mansion of Richis (Alan Rickman), Perfume: the Story of a Murderer not only captures the look and feel of 18th century France, but the mood and emotional underpinnings of the milieu as well.

If Perfume: the Story of a Murderer fails in one respect, it is that for the most part Tykwer failed in creating an emotional connection to the characters. I really did not feel much of anything for Jean-Baptiste, neither sympathy at his search for identity nor even disgust at his murders of young girls in his search for the perfect perfume. Even the murders of the young women themselves did not provoke much of an emotional response in me. Ultimately, only two characters in the entire film generate much of an emotional resonance. Dustin Hoffman, as the once great Italian perfumer Giuseppe Baldini, first evokes pity at his plight (once the talk of Paris, he is now a has been) and then joy at the resurgence of his business as he puts Jean-Baptiste's remarkable sense of smell to his own use. Even better is Alan Rickman as Antoine Richis, second consul in the city of Grasse. Rickman makes Richis sympathetic to the viewer as Jean-Baptiste undertakes his murder spree, trying to keep his head as the citizens of Grasse lose theirs while at the same time worrying about the safety of his own daughter, Laura (Rachel Hurd-Wood).

For other films, the failure to generate an emotional connection with most of the character might be a fatal flaw, but Perfume: the Story of a Murderer is a movie with complexities enough to overcome it. The movie swiftly captures the viewer's attention, as it unfolds the many levels of its story, and holds the viewer's attention not only with a genuinely interesting plot, but with a truly amazing atmosphere. Perfume: the Story of a Murderer may not be a perfect film, but it is certainly a good one.