Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

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Big Silent Fan

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 7:05 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:Over the years, I've compiled detailed reviews of films I found exceptional. My choice for Movie Night will be "Crainquebill" (Crane-que-bille)(1922). When it was released in the U.S. in 1923, it was known as "Old Bill of Paris." Director Jacques Feyder would later direct Garbo in "The Kiss" as well as the German language version of "Anna Christie."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crainquebille" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
If you haven't seen this, it's based on the French story, "The Crainquebille Affair" by Anatole France. The film actually contains everything found in the book summary http://voices.yahoo.com/the-crainquebil ... 93382.html" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
I've already done a long review in 2007 of the film but perhaps I'll see even more in a fresh look at this old favorite of mine.


I watched this again last night with my my neighbor and my wife who seldom will watch anything old or in B&W. We all enjoyed the film.
When I began watching the Silent films we all call classics (Sunrise, Greed, Way Down East for example), I turned to detailed reviews by Tim Dirks that carefully described every detail before I invested time to watch. Many of these can be found at http://www.filmsite.org/momentsindx.html" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

With his work as my guide, I began writing my own detailed summaries to many of my favorite films. This review is based on one originally written by me in 2007, the last time I watched this film. Reading the review, it is easy for me to replay the film in my mind. I think you'll enjoy it too. I don't think that I omitted any detail in telling the story in the film.

CRAINQUEBILLE (1922)



As the story begins, a parade of produce wagons are being pulled to the Farmer's Market in Paris.  When the wagons enter his neighborhood, we meet Dr. Mathieu who apparently has been awakened by all the commotion.
Then the wagons pass through the gay nightlife area where we meet Mr. Lemerle, attorney at law whose out enjoying a little romance with two lovely ladies. [let's see now, what is this called?]
Next we're introduced to Madame Laure, a lady of questionable morals, standing out on the street corner.
Dawn comes, revealing the central market activities where the various produce is carefully displayed.  Finally, we watch as the street peddlers with their carts now filled, begin their trek out and down the streets of Paris to meet their customers.
Another kind of wagon, the police 'Paddy Wagon' arrives to cart off the night's catch including Madame Laure.  We learn from the film that Madame is well acquainted with the police and we see her both arrested and then later released.  Regardless, she still is in good standing with the concierge of her building (simply meaning that she hasn't caused problems where she lives).
Later in the day, we see Madame Laure passing time in her room with fortune cards.  Clever camera work causes a double exposure whenever she points at one of the cards.  Her parents are coming for a visit this day and when she opens the door to greet them,she sees a young girl in the doorway (apparently her sister), whose dressed as if for her First Communion.
The scene changes and we meet Mouse, a young homeless lad and his dog.  The story tells us he lives alone with only the dog for a friend. Next, we meet Crainquebille for the first time in the story.  He was one of the many peddlers seen in the beginning and the title tells us he's been pushing his cart through the Paris streets for 50 years (the novel says 40).
In a comical moment, we watch as Mouse stops to talk with a merchant while his dog, lifting his hind leg, relieves himself on the leg of a chair.  Afterward, some other kids are abusing the dog. When Mouse comes to his aid, he's attacked by the other boys until Crainquebille comes to his rescue.  The scene is very short, under one minute and young Mouse won't be seen again until the very end of the film. With most all the characters introduced, the story begins.
Crainquebille continues on his route where he first meets Madame Laure, his longtime customer. Having set her things down on the cart while selecting her purchase, it seems that she left something behind when picking up her purse. As Crainquebille hands it to her, the camera brings the image to a close-up.
[Thanks to my friend in France, I've learned that this was a bank savings book belonging to Madame Laurel.]
Since they are old friends, she jokingly talks about what her life will be like someday when she's retired, with her own garden and chickens to look after. Old Crainquebille smiles at her and says he'd probably be her neighbor and the daydreams of the two friends are brought to life on the screen; she in her garden and he, chasing butterflies.
Next we meet Madame Bayard, a shoe merchant in a busy part of Paris. She comes out of her shop and chooses some onions. Realizing she hasn't any money with her, she tells Craniquebille to wait while she goes back into the store. As it turns out, she finds a customer in her store and forgets everything to wait on her.
The mood and music changes as a policeman comes and tells Crainquebille to “Move Along.” He tells the officer that he will, just as soon as he receives his payment, saying, “Madame Bayard is still in her shop.” This makes the policeman angry because he though he heard Crainquebille say, “Kill the cops,” when he actually had said “in her shop.”
[The English translation make the two phrases rhyme to sound similar. In the original French film and novel, Crainquebille says "Mort aux vaches." This phrase literally means: "Death to the cows." In our day, a disorderly person would most likely use the word "pigs" instead of "cows."]
The frustrated Crainquebille attempts to explain what he said but the angry policeman wasn't listening. When Madame Baynard comes out of her shop as her customer leaves, seeing the commotion around Crainquebille she remembers her debt and goes back inside for the money as the curious onlookers fill the street. Among them is Dr. Mathieu who steps forward and tells the policeman that he must be mistaken about what he heard. The doctor tells him that he's willing to also go to the station to clear this up, so off the three men go just as Madame Bayard comes out with her money. Seeing that Crainquebille had been arrested, she tells another woman that she's no longer responsible for the debt.
For Crainquebille, prison life seemed like a luxury. A clean heated room, a bed with clean sheets and blanket, his meals delivered to him, life seemed very good as he warmed his feet near the radiator under the table. This was perhaps also the first time in his life he had ever used indoor plumbing since he seemed fascinated by the faucets and sink. With lots of time on his hands, he wonders to himself, “Where have they put my cart?” Throughout his time in jail, he'll ask that question repeatedly to himself.
His first visitor is a court appointed lawyer, Mr. Lemerle, who hardly listens to Crainquebille. To the lawyer, he's just another old man and the lawyer's head is filled with dreams of winning big at the race track. As Lemerle quickly shuffles through the court papers, the image goes in and out of focus representing the lawyer's indifference and Crainquebille's confusion about the whole situation. Lemerle calls him an old fool and then (while acting in a friendly manner) says to him, “You'd be better off confessing.” Dumbfounded, Crainquebille had no idea of what he had to confess. Apparently a trial date was set because Dr. Mathieu received a summons while at work at the hospital.

The trial begins. The intertitle tells us that Crainquebille was terrified and, “he wasn't able to see clearly.” It also appeared that his imagination was working overtime. As he gazed around at the people in the courtroom, the image again went in and out of focus. When the judge first addressed him we learn that his full name is Jerome Crainquebille. [Perhaps from this point on, he'll be called Jerome in this review.]
Looking at the defendant, the judge instructs Jerome to tell his story and then sits back to listen. As he begins, we see the Prosecuting attorney busy practicing 'Origami' (Japanese paper folding) to pass the time as he gazes out the window, waiting for the day to end. Jerome's attorney is much too busy handicapping the horse races to pay attention and the judge doesn't seem to be listening either as the picture once again goes in and out of focus. Jerome glances up at the “Bust of Justice” (above the judges) as it magically turns and lowers her head in boredom (one of the first special effects). Not knowing what to say, Jerome begins telling everything he can think of about himself until the judge stops him saying, “I didn't ask for your life story.”
Now it became time for the witnesses to testify, beginning first with the policeman. After he was sworn in and began his statement, the camera suddenly shows him larger than life, towering over the witness stand as the judges look up to him in awe. Once he's finished, he saluted the judges and leaves the stand, not realizing that he had forgotten and left his nightstick belt behind. Looking over at Jerome, the judge demands a response to what's just been said. Again, the old man repeats his claim that the policeman said “Kill the cops” before he did. When the judge again asks Jerome if he “still insists that the officer said it first,” Jerome sees a distorted image of the judges as his frustration grows at being asked the same question again and again after he had just finished saying the truth. Again, Jerome answers “Yes” to the question and the judge tells him that it was a wise choice to make. Confused, not knowing what to say, Jerome calls out to his lawyer who tells him to sit down. Jerome looks around him in the (out of focus) courtroom. Pulling his hair in frustration, he sits down and places his head on his hands.
There's some commotion in the courtroom and as Jerome looks up, Madame Bayard is called to the witness stand. She of course doesn't know anything and says she was busy “trying on a pair of shoes on a child in her shop at the time.” The courtroom is filled with chatter as she leaves, giving Jerome a scornful look.
Next up, Dr. Mathieu appears as a witness for the defense. As he begins his testimony, Jerome watches in disbelief as the doctor is magically reduced in size with his head just above the handrail in another special effect. Frustrated by the judges response to the doctor's testimony, Jerome watches as the doctor's image is now reduced even smaller until he's just a speck on the floor while the judge impatiently waits for the doctor to finish. Looking again at the “Bust of Justice,” Jerome again sees it move as it did before. Finally, the doctor concludes, saying. ”And everyone around me agreed that the constable had made a mistake.” At this time, an attractive woman comes up and hands a note to the judge, and we see Crainquebille's lawyer flash his eyes and wink when she looks his way.
Surprisingly, the judge recalls the officer to question him about the doctor's testimony and has the doctor remain, seated behind the witness stand. The distraught officer seemed troubled that his word was questioned and when the judge asked if he remembered being told by the doctor that he was mistaken, he replies, “But your honor, he insulted me!” The officer is dismissed and realizing his nightstick belt had been left on the hand rail, he removes it and takes it with him. As he leaves, we see the frustrated doctor shaking his head in disbelief.
There's more disturbance seen in the courtroom with a man being removed. The judge cautions that he'll have the courtroom cleared if the disturbance continues. Looking to his lawyer for guidance, the smiling lawyer tells Jerome to settle down.
The (half-asleep) prosecutor didn't see any need to say anything and it became Mr. Lemerle's turn to defend his client. As he begins, a double-exposure has him appear to have four arms as the image begins to go in and ot of focus. Jerome listens in disbelief as the attorney describes him as the “Illegitimate child of a pushcart peddler, who was born an alcoholic!” Looking at his audience, the lawyer continues, “You see here a man numbered by 60 years of poverty. Gentlemen, you must conclude that he is irresponsible.
As Jerome stands for the judgment, the music turns from gay to somber as the judge announces the decision. Guilty! The sentence? Two weeks in prison and a 50 franc fine. When the room begins to empty, Crainquebille turns to the guard and says, “So, I'm a condemned man?” As the guard leads him out of the courtroom Jerome wonders aloud, “Where did they stick my cart?” Realizing that the guard had never once spoken to him, he looks at him and says, “You never open your mouth? Afraid your breath stinks?” Still not getting a response from the man, Jerome is taken back to his cell by another officer.
We watch as attorney Lemerle leaves the building where he's stopped by Dr. Mathieu, who asks him to give 100 francs to Jerome, but not tell him who sent it. As the lawyer enters the cab, we are able to watch an actual street car traveling down a Paris street ( a small piece of history).
Crainquibille has accepted his sentence which for him was a time of comparable luxury. Just as he's getting settled, a guard delivers a letter from his lawyer telling about the 100 franc gift.
[I think that we the viewer were just as surprised as Jerome to learn that his lawyer was actually going to give him the money and not spend it at the racetrack.] Life was indeed very good.
But life wasn't so good for Dr. Mathieu. Smoldering ashes in his bedroom fireplace were filling the room with smoke while he slept. This caused the doctor to dream that he was in a nightmarish smoke filled courtroom. All the judges and even the “Bust of Justice” were now in blackface, and the doctor was once again on the witness stand pleading his case, having to stand on his toes in order to be seen. Behind him sat men in white robes. In his dream, the three judges changed again and were now white as before. He watched as they rose to their feet and as the doctor began chocking in the dream, papers began to fly as the three judges stood on their desk and began to come at him. While he continued to choke, they leaped at him, flying through the air and the scene finishes with an extreme close-up of a judge's face with eyes wide open and a menacing grin. Fortunately, the good doctor awoke in a panic and discovering the smoke in his bedroom, he quickly doused the embers with water. Dr. Mathieu could have been killed had the dream not startled him so.
Two weeks have passed and Crainquebille's sentence has been completed. Without explanation we see him once again as before, with his cart on the Paris streets. Prison was a good experience for Jerome because now he's got money in his pockets and his cart back. What Jerome doesn't realize is that his real punishment is about to begin.
His loyal customers who faithfully awaited his arrival in the past now turn their heads away when he approached. One by one, he realized that they now were giving him dirty looks and avoiding him. When he called out after seeing his old friend Madame Laure with a competitor and she didn't answer, he called her a “Hussy!” He continues arguing with her as a crowd gathered and when she finally had enough she replies, “Just out of prison and already insulting people.” As the crowd began to laugh at Crainquebille (and begins to grow), seeing a policeman approaching, Jerome decides that it's best to leave.
Angered by all that's changed, old Jerome turns to the same place many go to work out their problems...the corner bar. The intertitle reads; “From that day on, the less he earned, the more he drank.” Next came poverty and Jerome was thrown out into the street.
With only his pushcart to call home, he fashioned a bed under it on the ground at night and would spend many of his days in the bars. Having spent all that he had on liquor, he was turned down for credit at the tavern and even by a street vendor. When Crainquebille encounters shop owner Madame Bayard, he asks her for the money he's owed. She scoffs at him saying, “You don't own anything to people who have been in prison.” Angered by this, he chases her to her shop where she goes inside and bolts the door.
That night, the city sewers have overflowed and flooded the ground where Jerome would have slept. Climbing onto his cart and seeing all the rats that have escaped the sewer, he remembers the comparable comfort of prison life. He thinks to himself, “Since I know the trick, why not use it?” Going back out into the rain, he approaches a policeman and says, “Kill the cops!” When the officer ignores him, Crainquebille yells at him, again saying, “Kill the cops!” Finally, the officer looks at him in disgust and says, “That's no way to talk. At your age you ought to know better. Now get on your way.”
“Why don't you arrest me?”, Jerome protested to the policeman, but the man tells him again, “On your way, I'm not going to arrest you.”
Old Crainquebille walked away feeling miserable and remembering happier times and how far he'd fallen in the world. As he walks along the rivers edge, he stops near a lamp post. Leaning over, his hat falls into the water as a sorrowful look comes over his face and he begins to weep.
At that very moment on the bridge above, young Mouse looks and sees Crainquebille preparing to jump into the river. Mouse and his dog rush down and tells Jerome, “You have to live!” The despondent man replies, “You think so Mouse?” The boy takes his hand and leads him to the place where Mouse lives. A dry place to sleep, with someone to eat and drink with,.the two sit down to a meal.
As Cranquebille thinks of his hat floating in the river, the camera iris closes to black and then opens again just as they've finished the meal. Mouse reaches into a box and produces a single cigarette; breaking it in two and giving half to Jerome, he lights a match. As they share a smoke, the dog is seen standing on his hind legs as if begging for attention.
As Mouse begins to clear the table, Crainquebille pulls him close and says, “Always remember, at your age young fella, you saved a man's life.” The camera alternates from Jerome to Mouse as the two look at each other while the picture fades to black.
When the image returns, we see a final distant shot of the two together and then, a final view of the river front at night just before the film ends.

If you're lucky enough to understand French, a nice quality video of the 1922 film is available on YouTube.

If you use my summery as a guide, you'll have enough information to follow the story since many of the English titles are included.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 9:09 am

Wish I had time to write a review, but I will say that it was a mistake to wait so long on the Palm Beach Story.
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Matthew White

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 11:20 am

As planned, I finally got around to watching "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Unfortunately, I have the Image Entertainment version of the film and not the improved Kino release. Ideally, the film will be released on bluray from whatever are the best existing elements.

For good measure I also watched another film I have never seen -- Virginia City. Granted the film is not a silent, but you can't go wrong with the combination of Michael Curtiz and Errol Flynn. :D
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 11:36 am

What did you think of Caligari?
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 3:52 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:What did you think of Caligari?


And even better question might be, "Whose the real Mad Man in the story?

Once you understand that, all those weird distortions suddenly have a purpose.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 10:22 pm

I watched They Gave Him a Gun (1937) this evening, a drama starring Spencer Tracy, Gladys George, and Franchot Tone. I’ve had this DVD for a long time. Several years ago I wrote an essay on the comedies Tracy made at Fox in the early ‘30s, and in the course of my research found that some of these films are hard to track down. (And by the way, if anyone here knows where to find Six Cylinder Love, I’d still like to see it.) I bought several of them from a dealer who threw in this MGM feature as a bonus disc. I watched the first ten minutes or so, but it didn’t grab me, and somehow didn’t get around to viewing the rest of it until now. Why not? Well, a big factor was that nobody seems to think it’s very good. Leonard Maltin’s guide gives it two-and-a-half stars and says: “Dramatically obvious, and falls apart with the entrance of nurse Gladys George.” Halliwell’s Film Guide is even less encouraging: “Dullish moral melodrama with its stars looking as though stuck in glue.” Gee, that sounds inviting. And then to top it off, in James Curtis’s biography of Tracy, we learn that the star of the show recorded his own impressions of the film in his datebook. He felt that Fred Willis, the character he played, was merely a “nice dumb guy,” and that the movie itself was “bad.” So, with all that to go on, I wasn’t exactly stoked to see it.

But I went in with low expectations, and now I’ve seen it, and can tell the world that – yep, they’re right. Tracy was right, Halliwell was spot on, and Maltin’s rating was a little on the generous side. It’s not a terrible movie, mind you, just phony through and through, and the actors appear to know it. Nonetheless, they do their jobs efficiently, like the pros they were.

Okay, here’s the synopsis:

Tracy and Tone meet in the army, in France during World War I. From the outset, it’s clear that Tone’s character Jimmy is a moral weakling. He’s whiny and soft, but once a gun is put in his hand (note the title) he feels like a he-man. Not just a soldier, but a superman. On the firing range, the prospect of killing Germans gives him a creepy thrill. And in battle, he turns sinister. When Jimmy gets a bead on several enemy soldiers in a machine gun nest he murmurs “What a dish!” and picks them off one by one, including the last man standing, who attempts to surrender. Sergeant York he ain’t. Meanwhile, Tracy’s character Fred Willis is not entirely a goody two-shoes; when he hears that their Colonel wants the regiment to advance, even if they suffer 50% casualties, he mutters: “Nuthin’ small about the Colonel.” But Willis plays by the rules, and regards soldiering as a dirty job that has to be done.

Jimmy is wounded, and tended by a nurse named Rose, played by Gladys George. (Jean Harlow was considered for the part, but took another job instead. It’s a little strange to see George in a conventional leading lady role, but Harlow would’ve been even more out of place.) At this point, the film turns into a conventional love triangle. Rose falls in love with Fred, but he has to leave for the front while Jimmy is still in Rose’s care. When word comes that Fred has been killed, Rose reluctantly agrees to marry Jimmy. But then, like Enoch Arden, Fred comes back alive. When he learns what has happened, and sees how badly Jimmy needs Rose, he backs out, falsely claiming to Rose that he’s already married. She believes him, of course, and sticks with Jimmy the cowardly but dangerous psycho.

Back in the States, Fred resumes his job managing a circus. Jimmy is a ruthless gangster (which is obvious because Tone now delivers tough-guy clichés out of the corner of his mouth), but Rose is completely clueless about how her husband earns so much money. Fred finds out and tells Rose, who doesn’t believe him. Then she figures it out, and rats on her husband to the police. In a packed courtroom, as his lawyer is on the verge of getting Jimmy cleared by citing his war record, our anti-hero has a belated attack of bad conscience and confesses his guilt. But later still Jimmy breaks out of prison, finds Fred and Rose together, and is on the verge of shooting Fred when --- well, I guess you’ll just have to see it yourself to find out how the story is [ever so neatly] resolved. But in the film’s final moments there’s a perfunctory attempt to blame Jimmy’s fate on his army training, which struck me as pretty twisted.

No shortage of Hollywood hokum, here. This is the kind of movie where a dramatic confrontation occurs during a thunderstorm, and claps of thunder are perfectly timed to underscore significant lines. Another sample: Rose, who hadn’t suspected that her husband is boss to a gang of killers, easily infiltrates their hideaway (the door isn’t locked, and no one is standing guard), then eavesdrops just in time to hear Jimmy lay out his wicked plan. And one other tidbit: after the war, when Fred gets drunk in a French bistro, he consoles himself with two of the freshest, cleanest, most stylishly turned-out hookers you’ll ever see. MGM-style hookers, compliments of Joe Breen.

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the best part of the picture: the stylish opening credits, followed by a well edited Great War montage. This was the work of the one and only Slavko Vorkapich, and conveys more in a couple of minutes than the rest of the film manages to say in an hour and a half.
-- Charlie Morrow
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Matthew White

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 10:34 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:What did you think of Caligari?



I love to read books about film. However, I am always reticent to read about films I haven't seen yet -- I don't won't the story spoiled by revealing too much. Well, all I can say is I'm glad I never read too much about the actual story of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" that would have ruined it. Wow, what an ending! I totally didn't see it coming. I think I might be the ideal audience -- when I suspend disbelief, I totally suspend it. I get sucked right in and I'm easily manipulated by the storyteller.

Great film! My son (14-years old) loved it also. :D
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 10:45 pm

Image

Kino's set of the "Pagnol Trilogy" from around 2007, now apparently out of print (but watchable via Amazon), includes an essay from Bertrand Tavernier in which he compares Pagnol putting the working class figures of Marseille on stage (originally) to Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in terms of bringing an earthy subculture to the genteel theatre for the first time. The actor Raimu, talking about Pagnol's dialogue, said "I speak as if I would at home and yet it's considered a triumph. I cannot understand why."

Well, what seems like utter realism to one generation always reveals itself as stylized in a new way to the next, and like A Streetcar Named Desire, say, or Barry Levinson's Diner, Pagnol heightens reality with characters who love to talk and do so in an almost baroque manner that is less how these people would talk in real life than how they'd talk if they could really give voice to their feelings. And boy do they love to talk; it's worth noting that when Hollywood turned basically the first two of these three films into Port of Seven Seas (1938), they squeezed four hours of French dialogue into 81 minutes of actual plot.

The characters are, in a sense, types, laid out early on and then working toward their inevitable destinies; but as E.M. Forster said of Dickens' two dimensional characters, in the right hands there's more to flatness than we may want to admit. The younger ones throb with desire, sexual on the surface but also plainly a desire to finally be adults and masters of their own fates instead of stuck in the roles of son or daughter in a claustrophobic society. The older ones chatter endlessly to justify themselves, portray themselves as wise or heroic, but are all too obviously unsure, vulnerable, self-deluding. To some extent they may be clockworks, but very well crafted ones, each ticking toward his own fate, none of them simply there to move the plot along. Everyone has his reasons.

Image
Raimu as Cesar and Pierre Fresnay as Marius.

All this works if you have the cast for it and Pagnol mostly does. Orane Demazis, as Fanny, seems to be the one who comes in for the most criticism; she has Fanny's intense, erotic longing but you wish for a Margaret Sullavan-esque delicacy and poignancy, or something, and the very earthbound Demazis doesn't have that. (It may also be that critics don't find her angular, very Gallic looks especially attractive.) But Pierre Fresnay has a hardbitten quality for Marius (even if he's blatantly older than the claimed 23 in Marius) and a subtle way of showing how he's matured while away; Fernand Charpin, especially in the second and third films, is wonderful as the openhearted Panisse; and the soul of the movies is Raimu as César, volcanic one moment, tender the next, the part written for his personality as tightly as ever a part was crafted for one actor. Is he the greatest actor ever, as Orson Welles and others claimed? Well... I think a claim like that is sort of like when you ask a chef where he likes to go eat; in my experience 9 times out of 10 he'll name a sushi place, because it's a kind of expertise so far from what he does that it represents no competition. Orson Welles considered Raimu the greatest French actor playing barkeeps in Provence, of that much I feel certain.

Besides the vivid performances, the films have one other huge advantage that makes them immensely watchable today: Marseilles itself, and the location shooting that gives the studio settings credibility. A studio Marseilles would have sucked life out of the dialogue scenes, but the grittiness of the city, often filmed guerrilla-style, is in every frame (of the first two at least) and I don't doubt Tavernier's claim that the films were influences on Italian neorealism a decade or so (and one world war) later. I think the influence was earlier than that; it's hard to imagine a location-shot proto-noir work of 30s "poetic realism" like Quai des Brumes/Port of Shadows (1938) without these films, and something like Boris Barnet's Outskirts, from 1933, clearly draws inspiration from Pagnol's elliptical way with self-motivating characters. By the same token I would bet Preston Sturges, who did the adaptation for Port of Seven Seas, picked up a few lessons from Pagnol about giving every character his own vivid way of speaking and reason for being, even if he's just there for a moment to move the plot. It might be a shorter distance than you'd guess from Panisse to the Wienie King, however much a Texas Wienie would appall Alice Waters.

Spoilers below, sort of, though you know where all these movies are going as soon as they start.

MARIUS (1931)

In the first film, based on what seems to have originally been a standalone play, we meet the bar owner César and his son Marius, who dreams of the sea, and Marius' childhood friend Fanny, who dreams of Marius who barely notices her. The dilemma is obvious: will Fanny keep Marius in Marseilles, and probably embitter him over time, or will she let him go off to see the world and break her own heart?

Alexander Korda directed, and this is the one that seems most clearly a filmed play, or like live TV, as the actors do their own thing and the camera tries to be in the same place at the same time. But Korda— who sold himself as the director based on his love for the play*— keeps the camera in tight on the actors, even at the risk of occasionally misframing them, and just being in their presence is enough to give the film better pace than you'd expect a 1931 stage adaptation to have, and I never felt the dead air that can make films of that time a tough sit.

* Though there's also a story that Korda wanted to replace Raimu, thinking his accent was too strong for audiences outside Provence, and Pagnol told him "He cannot be replaced. You can." But Tavernier talks about Korda winning over the (evidently temperamental) Raimu, so who knows.

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Raimu, Orane Demazis as Fanny and Fernand Charpin as Panisse.

FANNY (1932)

Fanny, secretly pregnant by Marius, considers the marriage proposal of Panisse, an older, prosperous sail merchant, but in this tightknit society such an arrangement is everyone's business. Also, you will note that Pierre Fresnay still gets billing, so Marius is bound to turn up in port at some point...

I had wondered, after Marius, why Panisse (a comic character who reminded me of Wimpy in Popeye), had been thought important enough to give his name to one of America's most-admired restaurants. But in this film Charpin as Panisse really comes into his own, as the putative-father-to-be whose boundless love for the idea of a family isn't deterred in the least by biological details.

Ironically, Paramount in France turned this one down because, as a studio, they didn't believe in sequels. (The good old days...) So Pagnol reunited almost all of the cast (Captain Escartefigue is suddenly a thinner actor) and produced this himself, launching his career as a producer though not yet a director; the director is Marc Allegret, and there's a distinct improvement in its cinematicness and the integration of location shooting with the sets.

CÉSAR (1936)

Years pass both on-screen and off before we get the third film, and Pagnol was directing his fifth feature when he made this one, which actually originated in the movies and then moved to the theater. (On stage, because Raimu had quarreled with the producer, the role of César now belonged to Harry Baur of Bernard's Les Miserables, but it remained Raimu's on film.) Césariot (André Fouché), the son, is now 20 and Panisse, in his 70s is dying; his brother, a priest, insists that he be honest with Césariot about his origins, and so the son seeks out Marius, who eventually comes back for a third act showdown with César, Fanny and pretty much everybody.

This is the weakest of the films, easily, the one that most settles into sitcomish hanging out with characters we already know and love rather than actually going anywhere. The beginning is good, with Panisse ever philosophical about his death, and the end is strong, with Fresnay returning to make dramatic sparks, but the contrivances in the middle, with Césariot, who's not too dislikable as a well-educated bit of a prig, the Lew Ayres or Neil Hamilton of this trilogy, don't have the dramatic spark of the first two films. And the fact that the setting has largely moved from waterfront working class to petit-bourgeois (as if everyone has come into Panisse's money, not just Fanny) kind of saps the life out of the picture of gritty Marseilles life. This is Pagnol as he could be sometimes, too cute for his stories to be real. Still, even coasting on goodwill from the first two movies and the strong performances of Charpin and Fresnay in particular, it's satisfying if not great.

Kino's edition was more than watchable, but it appears to be based on late 50s/early 60s reissues which may have been trimmed (the IMDB shows running times of anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes longer having existed at one time), have some disconcerting moments of foleying which are way too high fidelity to fit the compressed 30s soundtrack, and various other signs of roughness (César has notably weaker contrast than the other two). One hopes that these films, landmarks in French cinema, are the subject of restoration efforts at some near point, and that others of Pagnol's films— especially his masterpiece to my mind along with Marius and Fanny, The Baker's Wife— get proper video releases in the U.S. and elsewhere at some future date.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 11:38 pm

My entry, Trail of the Axe (1922), turned out to be partly what I suspected: an indifferent programmer. But it is more than that in that it is also a temperance melodrama with a pinch of Red Scare style labor manipulation thrown in (though without any actual Reds). Set in a logging camp and its nearby mill town, it features Dustin Farnum as a lumber entrepreneur and George Fisher as his drunken sot of a brother. Both love the same woman, who for some reason prefers the drunk. The resulting story is essentially a drama of disappointed hopes for those who try to help the alcoholic, followed by by fraternal perfidy after Farnum gives his sibling the boot.

This was an independent venture of Farnum's, who normally appeared under the Fox label.

The DVD was a low-resolution job from Classic Video Streams. Some sequences appear to missing as it runs only 48 minutes.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 1:27 pm

Battleship Potemkin

I rewatch this film after many years with a certain amount of background on it. I went to film school in the 1970’s, and of course in those days Eisenstein was a must-view and read filmmaker/theorist, and I heard a lot about it, was assigned Film Form and Film Sense. Was told a lot from teachers about his innovations in editing, though much of the credit he got now seems to be from ignorance at that time about what else had been going on in France and elsewhere, by people like Gance, L’Herbier, and the Russian émigrés in France. I realized this fairly early on, and have not felt much motivation to relook at Eisenstein’s films in recent years, but since I have had this disc for a couple of years, it seemed appropriate to pull for this event.

I had watched the documentary on the restoration and read the booklet a couple of days ago, and it was interesting to find out that most of what has been seen for many years was an edit made and censored in Germany the year after the Russian release.

So I started the film, and I can immediately see that the print quality has improved drastically from the old scratchy, washed out 16mm prints I had seen back in the day, and the score is very effective; however, from the very beginning, I begin to remember why I haven’t been motivated to see it again…the first lines of dialogue are propaganda jargon that does not sound the slightest bit like a human being talking, and we immediately get into a long detailed scene about maggot infested meat (including some vivid close shots of the maggots) that has been forced on hardworking sailors by their greedy masters. Wonderful.

As I watched more, the rhythm of the editing and soundtrack helped to increase my interest some, but I have to say I still felt pretty uninvolved. I had a problem watching a movie that really does not have any characters in it, but I also realize that I can’t really criticize Eisenstein for failing to make a movie he was not trying to make; he made it pretty clear in his writing on casting by typage (which I still have some dim memories of from film school) that he was not interested in specific characters but only general types. Personal stories are not what his films were about, especially at this time.

The mutiny scene aboard ship is well handled and exciting, then there is a slow build up when the boat pulls into Odessa, and the town turns out to see the corpse of a fallen sailor. At this point, there is another rabble-rousing scene of the townspeople getting upset at the dead sailor and denouncing the tyranny of the officers; this was not very moving or convincing to me; maybe if I was a soviet citizen at the time this was made I would be more involved but it seemed pretty rote to me, but I will admit as the rhythm increased and the montage and score kicked in it picked up interest by the end of the scene.

Eventually, the Russian authorities arrive and there is the famous massacre on the Odessa Steps sequence (apparently the least-factual event in the mostly-accurate film, from my cursory reading today), about which there is little I can add now, except noticing that early Odessa shot, when there is a long shot looking up at the empty steps, it looks surprising like the steps Laurel and Hardy used in the Music Box; not sure if there was an element of parody in that or not. Also, as well shot, edited and scored as the scene is, is does start fairly awkward and abruptly, a strange transition from the crowd cheering the crew of the boat, to them suddenly running and screaming down the steps, to finally then showing an extreme long shot of soldiers firing onto the stairs.

After the pyrotechnics of the Odessa steps sequence, the remainder of the film, the meeting of the Battleship with a squadron set to capture them, is very anticlimactic, all buildup to a pretty anemic finish. But I suppose this ending was dictated by the point of view and the historical facts. At this point, I was fairly happy that this admittedly pretty short film (a mere 72 minutes) was over.

At any rate, I think the next time I want to drag out a Kino Blu-Ray of a silent film from the mid-twenties that is set on and named after a boat, I will dig out my copy of The Navigator, which I still haven’t looked at in this most recent edition. In addition, I need to get a broader idea of Soviet silent film by finally watching my copies of Chess Fever, Bed and Board, Miss Mend and Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom which I have been holding off on viewing, probably because I've had some subconscious idea they'd be too much like this film.
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Mitch Farish

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 1:47 pm

Filmed in Nazi-occupied France, the post-production work completed after liberation, Marcel Carné's Children of Paradise has a fascinating history. An extra with ties to the resistance was whisked away by Gestapo men; the production and costume designers, both Jewish, were hidden in country homes because their discovery would have meant the camps not just for them but for Carné. The lead actress, Arletty, was involved in a public affair with a high-ranking Gestapo officer. Arrested by the resistance, she was treated in a very rough and "lewd" manner according to Carné, but was ultimately released.

The film takes place in the 1830s as four men through a series of related circumstances are drawn into a web of jealousy surrounding a mysterious woman known only as Garance (Arletty) who despite her obvious sophistication and intelligence is reduced by unexplained events to performing in what amounts to a peep show, standing naked in a rain barrel for paying customers to stare at. She quits, explaining to one of her admirers that some of the customers became too inquisitive. Her pursuers include Baptiste Debureau, a mime in the low-brow theatre the Funambules on the Boulevard du Crime; one Lacenaire, a misanthropic thief and murderer and dramatist by avocation; Frédérick Lemaître, a flamboyantly conceited and insincere actor exuding an abundance of wit and charm; and the Comte Édouard de Montray, a sophisticated but cold and prosaic nobleman with only his title and wealth to offer.

Although the film begins in the year 1827, it might be 1927, because the rivalry over Garance between the two performers sets up a rivalry between silent pantomime on one hand and spoken drama on the other. Lemaître, envious of Baptiste's delicacy and ability to communicate with his body, chafes at having to perform in silence in the Funambules, unable to hear is own voice or even approach Baptiste’s mute eloquence. Nothing Baptiste does on-stage will remind you very much of Keaton or Chaplin, but off-stage he captures the heart of Garance in a gesture that must have been inspired by The Gold Rush. Spying Garance in a public house dining with the criminal Lacenaire, Baptiste invites her to dance. Grateful for his assistance in freeing her from a charge of pickpocketing (he had mimed for the police the crime he had seen committed by Lacenaire), she accepts and they dance. Lacenaire cues his henchman to put Baptiste out of the tavern and he promptly tosses Baptiste though a window. After a stunned silence, Baptiste comes back through the door, dusting himself off and offering his arm to Garance as if crashing through a window were nothing out of the ordinary. When the henchman comes at him again he whirls gracefully and flattens him with a foot to the midsection before decorously exiting with Garance on his arm. It’s a lovely moment for silent film fans, and points out screenwriter Jacques Prévert's love of the silent clowns – according to the liner notes he was a big fan of Buster Keaton.

Throughout the film it’s obvious that Prévert believes in the natural superiority of the silent comedians. Of all Garance’s pursuers, only the silent Baptiste is able to win her true love, only his motives are pure enough to be worthy of her love, and he ironically refuses to sleep with her because he isn’t sure her love is pure. Garance is the muse of both performers, instilling enough humility and jealousy in Lemaitre to allow him to perform Othello with conviction, and enough longing in Baptiste to allow him to achieve preeminence in the theatre as the clown doomed to love from afar.

Children of Paradise is a wonderful film, superbly directed, written, and performed by a cast I know almost nothing about. But if you would like to buy the disc, please get the Criterion DVD, which looks more film-like than the Blu-ray, which has been scrubbed of grain so much that it has a cartoonish look about it.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 2:35 pm

Mitch Farish wrote:Filmed in Nazi-occupied France, the post-production work completed after liberation, Marcel Carné's Children of Paradise...


This truly is a beautiful film, done in the 'Old French' language where the lines are all so poetic.
And what a topic...unrequited love, in all of it's various forms. Watching this again and again makes me value my own marriage and never wish that I might have married the most beautiful women in the World. If love is real, that's all that is necessary. Unfortunately for some, (and as the story shows), you can love someone with all your might and it will mean nothing if you aren't loved in return.

TCM shows a nice print of this occasionally, but I agree, my Criterion DVD is stunning.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 4:13 pm

Okay, here's a rundown on the two movies I finally got around to watching on Friday night, plus two more that I watched the night before. (I'll post slightly expanded versions with quality ratings in the "Old Movies in HD" thread shortly.) These first two are from Criterion's six-film box set of Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project. The second two are Italian films just released to Blu-ray by Raro Video (through Kino).


THE HOUSEMAID ( 하녀 ) (1960)
Ki-young Kim’s amazing domestic thriller from Korea has been compared by some critics to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s DIABOLIQUE and Roman Polanski’s REPULSION, by others to the films of Luis Buñuel. It has a strong influence of American and Japanese film noir in its beautiful black and white cinematography, its moody soundtrack blending classic jazz and modern film score styles, not to mention its seductive femme fatale who becomes increasingly more dangerously unbalanced as the film progresses, and its typically clueless male protagonist. In many ways the basic plot is also a precursor to FATAL ATTRACTION.

The story follows a young music teacher at a women’s factory and his upwardly mobile middle-class family’s struggle to get ahead. His pregnant wife wants a larger house, but her dedication to earning extra money by sewing leaves her neither time nor energy to keep it up, so they decide to get a maid. He asks his pretty piano student (who has an unrequited crush on him) to find someone, and the seemingly dull-witted girl she brings soon makes herself right at home, catching rats with her bare hands. She also quickly grows jealous of her girlfriend’s close proximity to her boss during her piano lessons, and decides he needs to pay more attention to her, especially when the wife and kids go away to visit relatives. One dark and stormy night things start to happen, and not for the good. When the maid realizes she is pregnant, a power struggle begins between her and the music teacher’s wife that leads to a series of disturbing actions on all parts, including murders and attempted murders.

Kim’s brilliantly stylish camera compositions, often looking through rain-spattered windows at night, tracking from one room to another, following characters, and even moving through a glass window a la CITIZEN KANE, contribute to THE HOUSEMAID’s intensity and the relentless pacing of many scenes, as does the effective editing and acting. It’s a slick, impressive production that is now revered as one of the best Korean films ever made. It’s certainly a surprising discovery for anyone unfamiliar with Korean cinema. The original negative was available for most of the film, but two missing reels in the last half (5 and 8 out of 11) were restored from a lesser-quality release print.


TOUKI BOUKI (1973)
Also called THE HYENA’S JOURNEY, Djibril Diop Mabety’s free-spirited and seemingly random exploration of life in the former West African French colony of Senegal is another of the six films in Criterion’s World Cinema Project, volume 1. The simple plot follows anti-heroes Mory and Anta, a young couple obsessed with finding some way to flee Senegal for the good life in Paris. This includes plenty of sitting around dreaming about it, picking pockets, then robbing the take at a wrestling match, ripping off a wealthy friend, and scamming their way past emigration officials however they can.

The intensely vivid colors, combined with the documentary-like depiction of life in rural and urban Senegal over a layered soundtrack (blending natural noises and limited dialogue with classic French songs by Josephine Baker), are TOUKI BOUKI’s most memorable aspect. The often surrealistic style, inspired by the French New Wave, makes it very disjointed. It frequently lingers interminably on certain sequences but skips over others so fast that they are hard to process. The film is not particularly engaging as either a story or character study, but still emerges as a fascinating portrait of post-colonial African life and its love-hate attitude towards western Europe (specifically France, in this case). It’s a film more to be appreciated than to be enjoyed, and will likely gain more depth on repeated viewings.


MANY WARS AGO (UOMINI CONTRO) (1970)
It was 100 years ago this summer that the First World War began. A young middle-class Italian officer, Emilio Lussu, was originally a supporter of entering the war, but his experiences drastically changed his attitude and he wrote a memoir called “A Year on the Plateau.” In 1970, director Francesco Rosi adapted those observations into a screenplay, UOMINI CONTRO (“Men Against”), which was called MANY WARS AGO in its English-subtitled release.

MANY WARS AGO easily ranks among the best anti-war films ever made, following an Italian infantry division’s futile attempt to recapture a small mountain ridge despite overwhelming casualties. The drama develops from the gradual realization by its lower-ranking officers that the upper-ranking officers are so goal-oriented and bound by strict military regulations and harsh discipline, that they have no concept of either the realities of war or its effect on the rank and file troops on the verge of mutiny.

There are a number of similarities to Stanley Kubrick’s scathing attack on military justice, PATHS OF GLORY, but Rosi’s film seems more effective overall because he spends much more time depicting the battle experiences that lead once-loyal officers to question who their real enemy is. Part of it comes from his own father's experiences in World War I. MANY WARS AGO also contrasts the fatalism of the illiterate peasants who have been drafted to fight with the intellectual officers who try to inspire them with rationalizations, and the aristocratic commanders who merely spout patriotic slogans and discipline. The film’s timeless power comes from downplaying its often obvious political conflicts in favor of the humanity of its various characters.

The HD scan was made at the full 1.33:1 frame height and the picture looks okay that way but it looks better-composed when zoomed in to the 16x9 (1.78:1) ratio, cropping the top and bottom. Unfortunately this also cuts off the very bottom of the subtitles, making them a bit harder to read.


THE YEAR OF THE CANNIBALS (I CANNIBALI) (1969)
Liliana Cavani’s obviously heartfelt film is more problematic. On the one hand, it is quite an effective and often ingenious updating of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy “Antigone” into the political turmoil of the 1960s, dramatizing a “what-if” scenario set in the near future that may seem just as timely today. On the other hand, it pounds its radical political philosophy and social critique so hard, with such heavy-handed and often pretentious symbolism, farcical caricatures of authority figures, and obvious allusions to an idealistic hippie lifestyle, that it seems aimed only at already-radicalized activists, diluting any attempts at persuasion to an ineffectual diatribe.

As in the play, Antigone (Britt Ekland) violates the state’s decree to leave bodies of rebels where they fell, to give her dissident brother a decent burial, against the wishes of her ruling-class family. This time, however, she is helped by Tiresia (Pierre Clementi), who instead of being a blind prophet is here a mysterious young bearded foreigner who speaks some unknown language and likes to draw a fish symbol. Defying authority, the couple go on to bury other dead revolutionaries whose bodies litter the streets of Milan, leading to pursuit and persecution by the police and their ultimate execution. The film has some effective moments and remains interesting as a modern adaptation of the mythic play, but its greatest interest is as an artifact of late sixties anti-establishment propaganda. It would make appropriate programming with films like THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT, EASY RIDER, WOODSTOCK, etc.

I CANNIBALI was shot in the widescreen but grainy half-height Techniscope format, and unfortunately Raro Video’s Blu-ray uses so much digital noise-reduction to reduce the grain that there are no longer any fine details or textures visible in the image. It looks barely better than a DVD.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 7:48 pm

My thoughts on Caligari: a stunning, disconcerting look into a mind gone mad. At times it seemed as if the film itself was alive. It put me in mind of Welles' The Trial and David Lynch's Eraserhead. Essential. Thanks for spurring me to finally watch it.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 8:15 pm

DANCING MOTHERS turned out to be interesting on several levels. In spite of the print not being a very good one, I was impressed by the compositions and camerawork under Brenon's direction. I particularly noticed one early closeup scene where the family father is attempting to surreptitiously place some money into the clasp purse of his mistress's handbag, and a pirate-themed nightclub attended by him and his equally self-centered daughter, which background couldn't help but make me think of Brenon's PETER PAN. Alice Joyce is very moving as the finally fed up wife who can't put up with being deserted by husband and daughter and pretends to have an affair with the daughter's lover to show them how they are behaving, only to leave the house in the end when they still don't get it and try to simply manipulate her into staying. Clara Bow as the daughter is wonderful as usual, it's no surprise that soon after this film came out she became a mega-star. (I particularly loved her early scene on the ship playing with the dog, it reminded me of her play with the stuffed animal in IT.) I did wonder if there was a scene missing mid-film, though, where Joyce asks the lover if the spilled objects (candy?) on the floor indicate that Bow was there - I wondered if some part of that scene was lost.

There was also a charming early Charley Chase (Jimmy Jump) short, AT FIRST SIGHT, on the Grapevine disk. I would have liked a real score for it (it clearly was accompanied by a period record, complete with a brief vocal which I found distracting) but I enjoyed the film. Chase falls in love with his boss's fiancee's maid; they both pretend to be richer folks than they are, but refreshingly and unusually for this common story, they both come clean before the finale. Short, but sweet.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 9:09 pm

DANCING MOTHERS does circulate in a cut version, I think that some have more footage but I'm not certain if there's a complete print.

I thought that Conway Tearle was much better than his usual self playing the lover, especially in his scenes with Joyce - there was real tenderness between them and the shot of him silhouetted in the upstairs window was striking.

Even in her lesser films Alice Joyce is remarkable to look at.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 9:51 pm

I watched Vier Filme mit Asta Nielsen, from Edition Filmmuseum. A 2 disc set, more or less with a common theme of trying to put down independent women. Asta is a rather odd looking woman, often wearing quite unflattering dresses and unfashionable hairstyles, the age of her characters is difficult to gauge. But what an actress.

Die Suffragette

Some missing footage on this, so it's a little hard to follow. Asta in a big blonde wig, falls in love with a politician who is being blackmailed by a woman with a Latin name so you know she's a bad lot. She falls in with her mother's crowd of suffragettes, despite being torn about not being daddy's little girl any more (in a very well acted scene). She goes to prison and is force fed (though the intertitles say it failed, which is puzzling). The man she's in love with proposes an anti-suffragette bill in Parliament and the women persuade her to put a bomb in his house. SPOILER ALERT. She plants the bomb while wearing a remarkably ugly evening gown, then changes her mind when she tells her mother that they they should win votes with their hearts and not with criminal activities. She tries to warn him and they won't admit her to the gathering he's having, but luckily he exits the room where the bomb is planted before it goes off so isn't injured. She is apprehended but he says she's his fiancee, and suddenly it ends with her with 4 kids. Ick. But she's a great actress. It's very good for 1913, though, the Danes were turning out remarkably sophisticated films for that time.

Das Liebes-ABC.
She's a very bold young woman (presumably young since she wears her hair in pigtails). She goes after a young man and decides he's not enough of a man and she'll make a man of him. She teaches him to smoke and kidnaps him to Paris, where she goes out on the town with him (reminiscent of Ich wunchte kein man sein), she gets dressed up in drag and flirts with women but drinks too much. He and her father teach her a lesson when she dresses up as a waiter and gets mad at him for having dinner with a woman who turns out to be a man in drag, and it ends with him insisting on buying the tickets himself now. Somewhat confusing, but a remarkable comic performance. She has a great face.

Das Eskimobaby.
Another comic part, as the uninhibited Eskimo woman brought back by an arctic explorer. She smells everyone she meets, has terrible table manners, has a bizarre and unflattering hairstyle and can't figure out how to put on fashionable clothes (though the fur pants everyone is so concerned about look rather spiffy). And of course she rubs noses. I suppose it's really racist, but she is genuinely funny. Everyone but the explorer is very condescending but she's pretty confident and self-possessed and has a major trump card that wouldn't play well in the US at the time (i'd be curious to see if it was distributed here). This is the only one of the 4 films where someone doesn't get the better of her, which made it more satisfying to me. A fun film, even if rather a guilty pleasure.

Die Börsenkönigen
.
This is the only one of the four which i had seen, and unfortunately it isn't as interesting as you would think from the title. It does share a plot element with Smouldering Fires, the obvious film to compare it with--the businesswoman's lover is attracted to her more attractive (and probably younger) relation. But that's where the resemblance ends. There's really no social commentary, or interesting dynamics or even an interesting plot. It's not well directed. There is a great deal of clutching of one's self or others and grimacing and it's not always clear why. It's interesting, though, that there doesn't appear to be any negativity about her being a successful businesswoman, and her final line could just as well have been given to a man. But it is rather a disappointment.

So, a mixed bag, but anything with Die Asta is worth seeing.

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 10:20 pm

By the way, Mike, kudos on your "poster" for this years competition. Love the little Nosferatu head in the TV!

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 11:39 pm

My 8-yr-old son and I watched The Navigator last night. He's a huge Keaton fan, falling in love with The General when he was about three. My wife was amused at all our giggling throughout the movie, but especially during the scene with the ghostly Donald Crisp portrait. At the end of the movie, Evan says, "I'm gonna make my kids watch these comedies."

I said, "What if they say, 'Aw Dad, that stuff is for old farts'."

He said, "Then they'll be missing out, but I won't let them."


I think perhaps my mission is completed?
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 12:44 am

Before I watched "Charlie Chan at the Olympics", I was very curious how they would handle the whole Nazi/Hitler thing from the 1936 Olympics. Well, they didn't. Although they never got into that, there was a running joke where the German police captain keeps saying "things like this never happen in Berlin", which was odd, since the games were in Munich.

They had a scene where newsreel footage of Jesse Owens is shown and the characters yell his name. One of the extras among the female athletes was black. I found that surprising for 1937.

There were lots of interesting shots of mid-30s transportation. Charlie takes the Pan-Am Clipper to San Francisco, a DC-3 across the US and then the dirigible Hindenburg to Germany.

Besides the above, there really wasn't anything remarkable about it. It was an enjoyable who done it, but I knew the guilty party almost immediately. Oaland was enjoyable as always, as was Key Luke as #1 son.

One more thing. During the Hindenburg scenes, one of the characters is reading a magazine article with the very bold title, "Think Fast, Mr. Moto". A little cross promotion never hurt anyone!

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The Lambeth Walk:Lupino Lane collection still sold on eBay

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 1:03 am

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Fool’s Luck 1926 Roscoe Arbuckle director
A formerly well-off suitor's efforts to maintain a front in order to win over his girlfriend's rich father.
Stale gag titles, but this is the best paced and directed of the shorts in this collection,
with fun, subtle use of reversed film footage plus a few borrowed gags
from One Week and The Scarecrow
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Be My King 1928 Lupino Lane director
Two shipwrecked sailors- Lane and his brother, Wallace Lupino-
wind up on a cannibal island. Not so funny, but some good tumbling by Lane.
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Fandango 1928 Lupino Lane director
A Gaucho-inspired comedy, with a love rivalry –
and an abundance of whip play between Lupino and Wally.
There's too much wire work employed for gags-
- quite unnecessary with an acrobat as skilled as Lane.
(If Lane wasn't a better screen acrobat than Keaton,
he at least shows here that there were few comedians
with a better control of their legs).
Fandango was the funniest of the shorts in this set,
thanks largely to the emoting of Anita Garvin as a senorita
with an overpowering hankering for Lane.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Roaming Romeo 1928 Lupino Lane director
Ben Hur take-off, with Wallace Lupino and Lupino Lane
as Roman slave ship escapees masquerading as gladiators.
Not so funny, and Anita Garvin is under-used.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No Lady 1931 (feature film talkie) Lupino Lane director
What starts out as a sitcom- with Lane as a henpecked
W C Fields-ish father on seaside holiday with his family-
turns into a musical spy comedy -with some drag thrown into the mix.
It's somewhat along the lines of Million Dollar Legs and Diplomaniacs,
only it was made earlier....
The film benefits greatly from
1. An extensive use of exterior location work at an actual ocean front amusement park and
2. The stunts executed by Lane’s pudgier, but still nimble, body
In part, because it was a total surprise- I found this the best,
though perhaps not funniest, of the collection...
Unfortunately, an obtrusive digital timer runs at the top of the image throughout.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Deputy Drummer 1935 feature film Lupino Lane director
With Wallace Lupino and Syd Crossley
A lousy print...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Lambeth Walk 1939 Albert de Courville director
(The films on this disc seem to have come from
videotapes of TV broadcasts, but The Lambeth Walk
here is further handicapped by its having French subtitles).

The reason I bought this one-disc collection was to see the The Lambeth Walk,
the 1939 film version of Lane’s great stage musical, Me and My Gal
(a live stage performance of the show was also broadcast on British TV that same year!!)
It's a tale of a man - think a younger Alfred P. Doolittle- who unexpectedly inherits a title.
Alas, Lane, 47, is not so nimble or svelte as he was a decade earlier,
and his co-star, Sally Gray , is clearly (every one of her) 24 years younger.
Wilfrid Hyde-White, Seymour Hicks, and of course, Wallace Lupino, also are
in the cast, with the first-named in unconvincing "middle-age" make-up.
The Lambeth Walk, while providing a valuable performance record of
the stage show’s set pieces and song hits
(The Lambeth Walk and Me and My Gal),
records, as well, the condescension of not only the upper classes,
but also of the film’s makers, towards those less well-off .
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The added extras on the disc -bits taken from newsreels-
capture Lane and wife entertaining guests at their waterfront home(1945),
show Lane at the dedication of a Lambeth Walk street (1951),
and provide a (1957) color view of Lane, Alan Young, and other celebrities,
at a bar opening.
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DavidWelling

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 8:34 am

I managed to squeeze two movies in. First off was F.W. Murnau’s City Girl. I had previously seen this a few years ago from the Grapevine release. The new version, part of the Murnau Borzage Fox boxed set, is a pristine transfer, and is a beauty to watch. Mary Duncan is wonderful in the film, and it is a pity that there is not more of her work in existence for modern audiences.

I also watched Kean, part of the Flicker Alley Films Albatros set. Two things jump out from this film, the first being Ivan Mosjoukine, who commands every scene he is in. There is also a stunning example of Russian cutting during the tavern scene-according to the liner notes, director Alexandre Volkoff was influenced by Abel Gance’s La Rue, and later had a hand working with Gance on Napoleon.

Both were wonderful films and are highly recommended.
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Rob Farr

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 3:23 pm

I watched Upstream and my first reaction was, "Whatta stinking turkey egg!" Biggest problem is with Earle Foxe, playing his role with absolutely no subtlety or nuance. What could have been a wicked riff on John Barrymore just lays there because Foxe thinks characterization requires nothing more than walking around with his nose in the air and turning his profile to the camera whenever Ford told him to do a Barrymore. He did better work in the Van Bibber shorts he wrapped up just prior to this.

On the positive side there is lots of Fordian humor involving Irishmen and alcohol, so I guess a Ford scholar would see it as a Ford feature with nothing BUT the Irish humor left in.Sort of like Donovan's Reef. It has that going for it, I guess.
Rob Farr
"If it's not comedy, I fall asleep." - Harpo Marx
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 3:51 pm

Wow, a really great bunch of commentaries this year, some really nice in-depth ones but I'm enjoying the shorter perspectives too. It's very interesting to hear new folks weigh in freshly on things that might be overfamiliar to some of us (Caligari, Potemkin).

So I count 28 out of the 37 or so folks who pledged so far. I have to go to an event tonight so there's still time to get your comments up, and then I'll draw the winners in the morning. So if you watched your movie, tell us about it and you can still win.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir
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Shaynes3

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 5:56 pm

As I promised earlier, I viewed THE FOUR JUST MEN (AKA THE SECRET FOUR) (UK, 1939) in the reissue print as released by Network Video on Volume Two of its Ealing Studios Rarities Collection. The film stars Hugh Sinclair, Griffith Jones, Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Anna Lee and Alan Napier and was directed by Walter Forde.

Those of you who have seen Forde's ROME EXPRESS or SALOON BAR might expect that his direction of a tale of adventure, intrigue and murder loosely based on Edgar Wallace would result in a cracking good yarn, and you are unlikely to be disappointed. In this portrayal THE FOUR JUST MEN are devoted to foiling the plans of enemies of the British Empire and bringing them, if necessary, to their brand of summary judgment. This is a brisk little thriller which does a decent job of building some suspense.

Like many of the films in Network's series (packed in sets of two DVDs with four film per volume, with nine released so far and at least 4 for to go) this is a title likely to be unfamiliar, but definitely worth a view. These are Region 2, PAL DVDs, so you'll need a region free player to check them out.
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 7:10 pm

I should offer a quick clarification/correction upfront. I said when I chose Seven Men From Now as my film that it was produced by John Wayne, but it would be more accurate to say that it was his Batjac production company that produced the film. The script was original bought for the Duke to star in, but his involvement in The Searchers precluded that, and he recommended Randolph Scott in his place. Beyond that I don’t know how involved he was in the film’s production; in any case, his name wasn’t listed in the credits.

One negative effective of Wayne’s involvement in the film was that for several decades after the film’s release it was kept hidden from public viewing by Batjac and the Wayne family/estate. I did a quick Google search to see if I could find out why this happened, but I didn’t really find an answer. After the success of Seven Men Randolph Scott would go on to star in a series of Westerns, produced by his own Ranown production company, which shared the same writer and director (Burt Kennedy and Budd Boetticher) as Seven Men. Perhaps Batjac simply felt that a re-release of Seven Men would be free advertising for a competitor’s product?

Thankfully, about a dozen years ago the Wayne family finally relented and allowed UCLA to produce a restored version of the film. It doesn’t explicitly say so, but I’m assuming the DVD version is a transfer of that restoration. I do most of my movie watching on blu-ray these days, so I’m not sure how competent I am to judge a DVD release on its own technical merits. Certainly I didn’t notice any glaring examples of dirt, scratching, or deterioration. There were some shots in the movie that looked like they probably came from later generation prints, but there were other shots that looked equally pristine. The only thing that I found really distracting was the notable jump in quality that happened with every dissolve. None of these really distract from the movie – once the final shootouts begin you'll forget all about any technical issue!

As for the film itself, the basic plot is simple. Randolph Scott plays Ben Stride, a man hunting down and killing off a gang of men (the 7 that make up the movie’s title) who stole $20000 from Wells Fargo, and killed a clerk in the process. For the first third to a half of the movie the question of why Stride wants these men dead is left unanswered, which great adds to the suspense of the movie. (If you’ve never seen the movie before I recommend that you avoid the summary on the back of the DVD case, because it unfortunately does spoil this part of the movie.) In the opening scene of the film he meets two of the seven and promptly kills them. Since he didn’t arrest them, and doesn’t wear a badge, he seems not to be a lawman. Did Wells Fargo hire him to retrieve their money? Is he a man after vengeance for the death of the clerk? Or is he merely after the money for himself? Scott’s well known strong and silent type image only serves to heighten the mystery that surrounds the character. (As much as I like the Duke, I think Scott was the better choice for this role for this very reason.)

As Stride continues on his hunt for the remaining five men he runs into a young woman, played by the lovely Gail Russell, and her husband trying to extricate their wagon from a mudhole. (Russell does an excellent job in this movie; sadly she would only do a couple more movies before alcoholism led to a premature death in her 30s.) At first we're worried what Stride might do to this couple if they hinder his hunt, but he gives them aid and we quickly realize that an attraction is forming between him and the young wife. Again Scott's silent image is helpful here – I don't think Stride ever makes a declaration of love or interest, and for that matter neither does Russell's character. They are able to convey simply through looks and pauses. Which is well and good, because at a 78 minute runtime this movie doesn't have time for a lot of flowery love dialogue!

Stride and the young couple travel on together, and run into the final of the three main leads – Lee Marvin. His character knew Stride previously, and through him we finally learn Stride's backstory. He is in many ways Stride's opposite. He doesn't know when to shut-up, while Stride is a man of few words. Where Stride is a mystery, he is an open book – he is upfront about his past run-ins with the law and with his desire to find the stolen money for himself. He also takes an active interest in Russell's character, though perhaps less out of love and more because he recognizes Stride's interest in the woman and he enjoys teasing Stride about it and torturing the husband about it. When we meet Marvin's character we realize that he is what will be coming seven men from now.

As for what happens next, you'll just have to watch for yourself! While considered a B-picture, the excellent performances from Scott, Russell, and Marvin along with the taut script and directing from Kennedy and Boetticher help elevate Seven Men From Now to something special. I highly recommend this film!
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 9:53 pm

Rob Farr wrote:I watched Upstream and my first reaction was, "Whatta stinking turkey egg!" Biggest problem is with Earle Foxe, playing his role with absolutely no subtlety or nuance. What could have been a wicked riff on John Barrymore just lays there because Foxe thinks characterization requires nothing more than walking around with his nose in the air and turning his profile to the camera whenever Ford told him to do a Barrymore. He did better work in the Van Bibber shorts he wrapped up just prior to this.

On the positive side there is lots of Fordian humor involving Irishmen and alcohol, so I guess a Ford scholar would see it as a Ford feature with nothing BUT the Irish humor left in.Sort of like Donovan's Reef. It has that going for it, I guess.


I enjoyed it, but I won't argue. What is VERY valuable in this film is the presence of stage luminary Raymond Hitchcock- of his very few film appearances this is the only surviving part with any substance. It is also touching to see Lydia Yeamans Titus as the landlady- She'd been one of the great beauties of the late 19th C. London Music Hall. Charles Brabin pointed her out to a young Colleen Moore as an example of the importance of saving for the future- Titus had burned through a fortune, lost her looks, and was surviving as a bit player.
Eric Stott
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Agnes

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostMon Jan 27, 2014 10:10 pm

Captain January - 1924

In the past I have had some mixed feelings about the films that I dusted off for this annual event. Not this time.
Captain January was a true delight. Much of this was due to the wonderful, adoable acting of the title character, played by Baby Peggy Montgomery.

The story starts with Captain January (Baby Peggy) and Daddy Judkins (Hobart Bosworth)checking their lobster traps and just living happily at the lighthouse. When Captian January asks Daddy to tell her favorite story, he tells of the time he found her fome a shipwreck as a baby. Some folks in town feel January needs more than the old man keeping her at the lighthouse, but she is happy and wants to stay. When strangers arrive in town and turn out to be January's Aunt & Uncle, the minister convincs Daddy to give January to them. She misses Daddy and stows away on a ship (Captained by a friend/neighbor) for home. The Aunt & Uncle realize that January need Daddy, they bring both of them to live and be one big happy family.

The film runs only about an hour, and it moves well.Baby Peggy's big saucer eyes and wonderful smile makes following the story a delight.
I highly recomend this film for the whole family!

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Roseha

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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostTue Jan 28, 2014 12:49 am

I love the scene where January escapes from her rich aunt and uncle's home in a big man's coat. Peggy is great.
- Rosemary
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Re: Watch That Movie Night 2014— Win Kino Releases

PostTue Jan 28, 2014 5:52 am

I watched Upstream and my first reaction was, "Whatta stinking turkey egg!"


I only watched this picture a couple of weeks ago - and I was quite enchanted by it. Usually I get bored easily at some pictures or nod off. Not so with this, I saw it right through and loved every minute. I must say though that I am not intellectual in any way and probably don't know that much about pictures - only what entertains me and this had it in spades. Still, if we all had the same opinions, it would be a dull world wouldn't it?
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she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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