rydra_wong: Norma Shearer looking sideways, with a velvet dressing gown nearly slipping off one shoulder. (norma -- side)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
(Here via [personal profile] onyxlynx, thanks!)

Just in case anyone here might not already have heard about it ...

You Must Remember This

It's a podcast, available on iTunes or your podcatcher of choice, about "the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century" (and skewing fairly heavily towards the first half of that century).

Generally thoughtful and well-researched, with a deliberate focus on telling the stories of women, LGBT people, POC, and others dis-privileged within the Hollywood system -- but that makes it sound dry; instead, as the Guardian puts it, it "sounds like a dreamy mix of film noir voiceover, 1940s gossip column and Pathe news broadcast." Writer/performer Karina Longworth says: "I wanted the show to feel like something spooky that you would hear late at night on a drive through the middle of nowhere."

Assorted articles about it:

The Guardian: You Must Remember This: the woman spilling Hollywood's long-held secrets
Jezebel: A Chat With the Creator of Can't-Miss Classic Hollywood Podcast You Must Remember This
KQED: Karina Longworth Talks ‘You Must Remember This’ Before Going on Hiatus

As the last article indicates, it's currently on hiatus while Longworth finishes writing a book, but there are 92 episodes already, so it makes excellent binge-listening if -- for example -- you need to avoid thinking about the US elections or something.
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Seeing old movies and the obstacles thereto:
That means that when deciding which titles to prepare for digital release, archive managers must walk a tightrope between serving their audience and protecting the bottom line. Some classics are easy calls. "There always will be a place on the retail shelf for 'Casablanca,' 'King Kong' or 'Citizen Kane,'" says Warner's Feltenstein. But finer judgments are required for what Feltenstein calls "the deeper part of the library."

"My job is to monetize that content, make it available to the largest number of people possible and do so profitably," Feltenstein told me. [...]


Feltenstein says Warners is releasing 30 more titles to its manufacturing-on-demand library every month. "It's growing precipitously and there's no end in sight." Universal's Gardner says there's "real momentum" at her studio behind "making our titles more available than ever before."
(Found this article in October and apparently forgot all about it.  Sorry.)
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 My, there is a lot of dust here!  Let me just brush some of it off...there.  That's better.

So.  West Side Story.  I saw it about 50 years ago; we were in Europe when it came out originally, but it was re-released somewhere around '64-'65.  It was a must-see movie.  My cousins, of course, saw it first-run and knew all the lyrics and half the dialog, and quoted and sung frequently.  I had obtained the Original Soundtrack record when I signed up for Columbia Record Club (I was under age) and ground every note deeply into my DNA.  There was a production in San Francisco several years ago where I had to be prevented from singing along.  Did I mention the "ground into the DNA" part?

The Suck Fairy, which has not only visited beloved old movies but moved in with furniture, did bring a few things into tighter focus.  (I of course know the backstory of the Broadway musical, that the film's location was a condemned neighborhood subsequently torn down to build Lincoln Center, etc.)  Somewhere along the line, I had noticed that the Puerto Rican gang gets the short end of the characterization stick; I hadn't noticed that most of them aren't even Puerto Rican.  (Yes, I know.)  The irony that the "American" gang is composed of previous immigrants is not lost on me now.  Tony (Richard Beymer)...I have to admit that I was laughing and shaking my head a lot.  These days, he comes across as stiff and a bit hammy.  And I could not believe that someone in an alley calling "Maria!" would not have had at least 10 other windows opening.  And the accent kept escaping Natalie Wood.  And apparently I managed to miss that the scene in the candy store is a near-rape.

The music, of course, still holds up very well, and I still know all the words to "Officer Krupke."  The dancing is still excellent.  

ETA:  I should have mentioned that the cartoon shown was a very early Bugs Bunny.
glinda: I want everything I've ever seen in the movies (movies)
[personal profile] glinda
So, I'm currently working on a couple of film watching projects on where I'm trying to watch one film from every year since film-making began and the other where I watch 10 'Classic Movies'.

I spent some time as a film student when I was younger, but my films of choice (and mild obsession) as a teen were 50s and 60s B Movies and thus I never saw many of the accepted canon films and thus I often encountered the horrified 'what do you mean you haven't seen X?! And you call yourself a film student!' attitude. And half the time when I try to 'correct' this and actually watch some of the supposed 'canon' the films leave me cold. So while I'm a bit embarassed that I've never seen Forbidden Planet, I'm not remotely convinced that my life is likely to be improved by watching the Godfather trilogy.

Also the major problem I've found with lots of the lists of 'classic' films that I've found are Hollywood centric (and Hollywood from the 40s to the 70s at that), maybe with a couple of arty European affairs thrown in for good measure, but frankly when it comes to films from outside of Hollywood if Satyajit Ray or Yasujiro Ozu get a passing nod then they're doing well.

Which leads me to here. Members of this comm seem to have a rather more sensible attitude to 'classic film', so it seems the best place to ask: what makes a film a classic? And which of the so-called classics are actually worth watching?
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 One finds the oddest lists, with odd details.  I'd thought some of those people were in fact dead.  Wrong!

(I was looking up someone who is in fact dead, and saw the sidebar.  Never look at the sidebar!)

So Few

Dec. 15th, 2013 09:49 pm
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 Joan Fontaine, one of the great stars of the '40s, is dead.
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
IMDb seems to be having some sort of problem at the moment, so I can't point you at the entry for Glenda Farrell or Barton MacLane, who were the stars of the series, but yesterday afternoon I sat through either three or four Torchy Blane movies with several more promised later that day.  (There were seven nine in all.)  (ETA:  FINALLY!)

This was not a series I had heard of; I think that I might have run across one and shrugged.  These were Warner Bros. movies and therefore slightly more tethered to reality (prices are mentioned).  Glenda Farrell, who if I remember correctly turns up in The Maltese Falcon, plays Theresa "Torchy" Blane, girl reporter for a Great Metropolitan Newspaper in what seems to be New York City.  Ms. Blane's long suffering fiancé and rising detective on the force, Steve McBride, is portrayed by Barton MacLane.  Together, they fight crime solve murders, Torchy being the intuitive but smart half of the team (Steve isn't bumbling, but he has a certain rigidity of mind.  Hey, is this sounding familiar yet?).  Other newspapermen (Torchy seems to be the lone female in that office) and policemen make up the stock company of characters supporting the two stars; one of this mob was William Hopper with *gasp* dark hair.  (He generally has one line per movie, and his voice has that tickle of familiarity.)

The murder mysteries are typical '30s mysteries, that is, timing, coincidences, lies, and impossibilities.  Probably the less said about the romantic-comedy side, the better.

There weren't many people of color in these movies; I suspect the average is one per film.  (The shoeshine guy was Italian.)

[personal profile] laughingrat , you said something about a book?

onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Dave Kehr reviews Things to Come (being released on DVD & Blu-ray) and makes the case for its influence:
This retro-future, where rusting automobiles are pulled by horses, colonnaded halls are heated by bonfires and ragged mobs march by torchlight, may have been a vision of hell to a progressive like Wells, but for the romantic neo-tribalists of the present generation of movie heroes, it looks like a land of opportunity, free from corporate oppression and technological tyranny.
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Three from the Atlantic's Romantic Comedy beat:
  • A two year old article referencing a New Yorker piece and taking the "alternate universe" premise to heart (slideshow);
  • Christopher Orr asks "Why are romantic comedies so bad?" (with historic overview and responding video);
    Among the most fundamental obligations of romantic comedy is that there must be an obstacle to nuptial bliss for the budding couple to overcome. And, put simply, such obstacles are getting harder and harder to come by. They used to lie thick on the ground: parental disapproval, difference in social class, a promise made to another. But society has spent decades busily uprooting any impediment to the marriage of true minds. Love is increasingly presumed—perhaps in Hollywood most of all—to transcend class, profession, faith, age, race, gender, and (on occasion) marital status.
  • Blame Hollywood's lack of imagination for crummy rom-coms.  (Partly a response to the preceding article.)
laughingrat: Keaton in front of a movie camera, giving us the high sign (High Sign/Movies)
[personal profile] laughingrat

If the first of the five films is any indication, Kino's complete set of the recently restored Fantomas films is a masterpiece of restoration. A previous experience with Image's edition of Les Vampires, from roughly the same time period, suffered from poor visual quality, making it difficult to watch. The same restoration crew that worked on Fantomas also worked on Kino's new edition of Les Vampires, and I'm eagerly awaiting my own copy to see just how improved their version will be.

As far as the films themselves go, Fantomas in the Shadow of the Guillotine (the only one I've seen yet) bears the usual marks of its time--stationary cameras, no close-ups, straightforward storytelling--but is nevertheless lively. It roughly adapts the first Fantomas novel, although it leaves out a great deal in the interest of time and pacing. For contemporary audiences, who would have been as familiar with Fantomas as modern audiences are with the Joker, there would have been little need to build up the character as a sinister, brilliant, omnipresent figure of menace. The film could skip that buildup and pare the original novel's sprawling plot into a series of brief episodes leading to the surprise finish.

Viewers unfamiliar with films of this period may be surprised, and hopefully delighted, by the range of features and body types present in the cast. None of the actors is particularly handsome or beautiful, and the actresses are all considerably larger and more solid-bodied than those we see in television and film today. Their features are expressive and distinctive, but not pretty, not even in the case of Lady Beltham (Renee Carl), mistress of Fantomas and "the most beautiful woman in Paris." In more ways than one, these films are a window onto a different world.


Nov. 25th, 2012 08:45 am
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Film prints, digital cinema, and preservation.
But studios and archives are also reluctant to loan films because projecting them eventually destroys them. Each pass through a projector, no matter how well maintained, leads to scratching and fading. When I tried to screen 35mm materials at the Library of Congress, Mike Mashon, head of the moving image section at the Library's Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, told me that, "Every 35mm print now has to be considered an archival print." In other words, they can't run through a machine.
"El lenguaje del cine" is going to have some stretches of hieroglyphics, cuneiform, and Linear B at this rate.
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 The US National Film Preservation Foundation is streaming footage from The White Shadow (non-Ken Howard), for which Alfred Hitchcock wrote and edited, and was assistant director and art director.  The footage will be available for two months (approximately until January 16) at the link.  (Mentioned here last year.)

Via the CBC, which has a bit of information.
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Yes, I know, it's been a while.

All of Alfred Hitchcock's cameos
(a video on Roger Ebert's blog) including his early movies. I mentioned Hitchcock's little penchant at someone once. So.

I missed Ghostbusters and Frankenstein.  If I need a Christmas movie fix, it will have to be Miracle on 34th Street.  No, the real one.
laughingrat: Damn the Man! (Babel)
[personal profile] laughingrat
Recovered 1927 Metropolis Film Program Goes Behind the Scenes of a Sci-Fi Masterpiece
Now, a remarkable 32-page theater program from Metropolis’ 1927 debut has surfaced at a well-known rare book shop in London, which scanned it and shared some pages with Wired. The program was created for the premiere of Metropolis at London’s Marble Arch Pavilion, and it’s packed with firsthand anecdotes from the making of the movie, and some stunning photographs. Only three surviving copies of this program are known to exist, according to the Peter Harrington rare book shop, which has its copy on sale for 2,750 pounds ($4,244).
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
 Paramount Theatre's current slate of "classic" films a mere 35 or fewer years old.  (They will still be shown with newsreel and cartoon and previews, but we know that by the late '70s newsreels were of the past.)

I'll probably still go to see Ghostbusters, though.
kareila: (Default)
[personal profile] kareila

I sought this out at my local library because I saw a review online claiming this was the best cinematic adaptation of a fairy tale yet to be filmed. I don't quite agree with that, but there is a great deal here of interest.

This is a black and white, French language film. The subtitles are adequate but fail to capture certain subtleties of the dialogue, such as the delightful moment when Beauty switches from calling Beast "la bête" (the beast) to "ma bête" (my beast). Both are simply subtitled as "Beast!" in the version I watched.

The special effects are impressive. Unseen hands tend to Beauty. Statues come to life. The Beast's hands smoke whenever he kills. And the ending... I don't want to spoil it, but it is lovely.

If you want to spend an hour and a half on some old-fashioned character development and cinematic sleight of hand, this is a good pick.


Jan. 21st, 2012 08:43 am
onyxlynx: BxW F. Lang & T. von Harbou each reading. (Fritz Lang Thea von Harbou)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Anne of Green Gables (the silent) recreated, sort of, by Canadian collectors (the video plays two [2] commercials before the story, which is annoying) from 21 stills and a score.
laughingrat: A detail of leaping rats from an original movie poster for the first film of Nosferatu (Default)
[personal profile] laughingrat
Normally I wouldn't post what amounts to an ad in here (at least not an ad for Amazon.com), but this pre-Code set, which I've watched before and which is legitimately excellent-quality, is on huge sale right now. Normally $50, now $13. Probably limited time, as these things are. I snapped up a copy and wanted to give fellow film peeps a heads-up.
ar: Lady Mary Crawley facing away from the camera in a red dress, walking towards an unknown destination. (downton abbey - mary wandering)
[personal profile] ar
It's always fun to hear what people have watched and what they thought about it! Maybe we can get some ideas from each other. Tell us about a couple of movies you've been thinking about lately--either because you just watched them or because you've been meaning to.

This morning, I finally got around to watching the 1966 A Man for All Seasons, which I taped off TCM back in February. And I loved it to pieces. The performances were great--Orson Welles was so good as Cardinal Wolsey, and Paul Scofield just owned St. Thomas More--and I really enjoyed the writing a lot. It was funnier than I was expecting it to be, and even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still really engrossed in seeing it all unfold. (And, speaking as a Catholic, it was nice to see the story of someone so principled and stalwart when facing the dangers he did.)

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to watch more of the films from a collection of 50 musicals on DVD that I bought a while back. It's all B-musicals, which are basically my favourite, and while the stories are incredibly slight, they feature performances of some incredibly talented musicians. I found the collection for $10, which works out to something like twenty cents a movie--and at a price like that, I can highly recommend the collection to anyone interested in the more disposable pictures Hollywood put out in the 40s and 50s. (I'm getting to be a big fan of boxfuls of movies like this one--I've also got one of horror and monster movies from the first half of the 20th century. They're bare-bones collections, but you're getting one heck of a bang for your buck! And sometimes the films can be near-impossible to find outside them.)


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