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post #1111 of 2229 Old 01-06-2014, 04:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Pygmalion (1938), directed by and Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard.

What determines a person's fate? Some say Nature: good genes, good blood. Other say Nurture: education and training and environment.

GB Shaw proposes it might be just a coat of paint: you speak and dress differently and people treat you differently, you think of yourself differently and actually become a new person.

This is one of the best British movies of the 1930s. Fast moving, funny and witty throughout with not a moment of dead air. Leslie Howard is sorely missed: his Henry Higgins in much livelier then grumpy Rex Harrison's in My Fair Lady (1964). What if he had survived the War?

Shaw wrote a postscript: Eliza, realizing the Prof is "unmarriagebale", weds Freddy instead. Colonel Pickering sets them up with that flower shop and they do quite well. Higgins visits on a more-or-less friendly basis.

As with all his plays, his characters sound just like Shaw himself, arguing different sides of a problem.

Criterion DVD. Quality is variable, as if individual scene edits were spliced from different bits of film. I hope there is a better source somewhere.



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post #1112 of 2229 Old 01-07-2014, 03:02 PM
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Glad I found this thread, great resource for Cinema, so much beauty.
I must get myself "Eyes Without a Face" right now!

Keep up the good work!
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post #1113 of 2229 Old 01-07-2014, 09:41 PM
 
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The Uninvited (1943)

This is a movie about mood and atmosphere. It is one of the first haunted house movies to take seriously the task of scaring the audience.
The main draw here is the great atmosphere and sense of time and place. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussy play a brother and sister who find a house they are attracted to with a price they can't refuse. The acting is good all around.
For me the heart of the movie is Gail Russell. She, even more than her character Stella, brings the movie into the realm of a waking dream. As she and Ray Milland stroll through the house her beauty and effusive charm is more than mere eye candy. She has a depth that seems rare. Her eyes are still and deep. It is sad to realize that she suffered from self-doubt to the extent that the alcohol habit that would eventually kill her was begun during this film as a calming device.
It is easy to see her vulnerability and the reality her open emotions gave her role.

There is a refreshing lack of gore in this film which is one the first films to be serious about being "scary".
For me one of the best movies that scared without gore came about twenty years later. Its title: "The Haunting". A really fine film and much scarier than this early attempt at making a ghost movie.

In our more modern times we go for the lowest, easiest way to revolt sensibilities. Our sickest selves are pandered to and most are buying it. And so there is no fear effect at all. It's pretty worthless when there are no boundries. JMO.

This is a charming film, but it would probably mostly induce laughter in a young audience.

By the way the Bluray looks pretty good on this criterion release. The opening shots (beautiful) of the sea seem a little fuzzier than they should be but it is a continuous pan and that could explain it.
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post #1114 of 2229 Old 01-08-2014, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Shadow of a Doubt (1943), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock invades Capra territory! This is my favorite of his 1940s pictures, and I know he was fond of it.

Random notes after a first viewing of the Blu-ray:

  • The psychic bond between Uncle Charlie and Young Charlie is covertly romantic: in parallel scenes we see them on their beds, both bored and dissatisfied
  • Bored because he has grown old in his villainy and she is just entering into her adult powers and the world is too small for her.
  • More romance: he gives her a ring and sleeps in her bed. All the other girls think he is a mysterious older boyfriend.
  • The Merry Widow murders: Uncle Charlie isn't in it for the money. He's on a mission. When were hear that he "changed" after a childhood injury, does that make us more sympathetic?
  • When the uncle and niece become adversaries, we know what he can do, but she is formidable as well. Teresa Wright has excellent physical presence, communicating so much with posture and the way she holds her shoulders and stomps down the street when on a mission.
  • It's a striking image: he watches her watching him. That little slip of a girl as his nemesis.
  • Henry Travers and superbly nerdy Hume Cronyn provide light comic ghoulishness: meek and mild characters fascinated with mystery stories and perfect murder methods.
  • The quick romance with the police detective is a unfortunate subplot. The character and actor are too bland compared to Uncle Charlie.
  • Irony: the man on a psycho-mission to rid the world of useless society women will be lauded as a community benefactor. True, he darkened a few lives but brightened many others. By strict utilitarian calculation, is that a net plus?
  • The merry widows are like moths to the flame. Note the woman in the last scenes who thinks she is running off to San Francisco with Uncle Charlie. He didn't even ask her.

In the Truffaut interviews, Hitchcock says that in America, unlike in Britain, many writers and actors didn't want to work with him because they looked down on his genre. He admired Thornton Wilder and was happy to have him writing this picture.

Dimitri Tiomkin score.

Available on Blu-ray. Contrast and black levels are good, detail fair.



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post #1115 of 2229 Old 01-08-2014, 09:56 PM
 
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Bill,

Thank you for all these insightful reviews. It inspires me to revisit so many great films.

I recently saw an old favorite and posted it here as I didn't want to start a thread. The Uninvited is a film that is perhaps too "comfortable" to be truly scary but it leaves such a pleasant feeling in me that I wanted to share it in case others might seek it out.

There are many you have reviewed that I could mention here. I am still discovering! I wish there was an index. (the search engine does suffice)

I watched "The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp" recently and it was quite good. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
But he doesn't die!
Have you seen it? (Okay - I see your review(s). Nice job. Yeah- Deborah Kerr is pretty ageless and very good in ...Blimp.)
So many other films: "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Genevieve" and...

Thanks for your contributions here.
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post #1116 of 2229 Old 01-09-2014, 04:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cyrano View Post

Bill,

Thank you for all these insightful reviews. It inspires me to revisit so many great films.

Much obliged! I don't often discuss the reviews, but I do appreciate it when people enjoy them and hope everyone is finding good titles.

Reviews and recommendations are always welcome! The Uninvited was recommended here years ago and I had never seen it until recently. I have a review a few pages back. Others on the same shelf I've reviewed might be The Innocents, The Haunting (twice!) and Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

I've thought of doing an index with links, but I spend too much time on this already. Maybe someday.
Quote:
I watched "The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp" recently and it was quite good. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
But he doesn't die!

Well....
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Blimp is dead, long live Clive Candy!

-Bill

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post #1117 of 2229 Old 01-09-2014, 06:09 AM
 
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Well....
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Blimp is dead, long live Clive Candy!

-Bill
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Perhaps I need to pay better attention. smile.gif I thought they were one in the same. Another viewing is in order.
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post #1118 of 2229 Old 01-09-2014, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Perhaps I need to pay better attention. smile.gif I thought they were one in the same. Another viewing is in order.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
"Blimp" was his elderly persona. He gives it up in the end when faced with the realities of WW2. "Blimp" passed on with an earlier age of the world.

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post #1119 of 2229 Old 01-09-2014, 06:20 AM
 
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Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
"Blimp" was his elderly persona. He gives it up in the end when faced with the realities of WW2. "Blimp" passed on with an earlier age of the world.
Ahh! Very cool. Your film thread is like an excellent college course in Cinema.

Cinema looks at culture with the eye of psychology; even if it doesn't intend to. It looks at us or reflects us.
Thanks for this thread of yours.
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post #1120 of 2229 Old 01-09-2014, 08:18 AM
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Shadow of a Doubt (1943), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Teresa Wright has excellent physical presence, communicating so much with posture and the way she holds her shoulders and stomps down the street when on a mission.

Teresa Wright was a real cutie in her early fims. Quite fond of her as an actress, also liked her performance in Pride of the Yankees which came out the year before. An often overlooked actress in spite of her awards and nominations. I lost track of her for many years and was pleasantly surprised to see her again in a small part in Somewhere in Time.

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Teresa Wright was a real cutie in her early fims. Quite fond of her as an actress, also liked her performance in Pride of the Yankees which came out the year before. An often overlooked actress in spite of her awards and nominations. I lost track of her for many years and was pleasantly surprised to see her again in a small part in Somewhere in Time.

+1
In The Best Years Of Our Lives Theresa Wright certainly won us over with her portrayal of a woman in love. Her shared look of longing with Dana Andrews during the wedding of Homer in the finale of Best Years... made the end of that great film quite beautiful.
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post #1122 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 10:47 AM
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Watched Eyes Without a Face last night.
Quite a singular movie in the Horror genre, I liked it.
Here are my brief thoughts on it:

An horror movie from 1960, Eyes Without a Face explores the fine layer between beauty and grotesque.
I found very interesting the way how this movie manages to turn beautiful into horrendous and vice-versa.
Pleasently surprised by it's apparent seriousness, it didn't fall for the mistake of comical skittishness as I'd expect from such a movie, pretty sober stuff.
It never really spooked the hell out of me and it was somewhat predictable, but I really apprecciated how it handled the goriest and spookier moments, nothing to obvious, the director was smart enough to play with subtlety, suggestion and expectation.
And yet, some viewers might be surprised with the level of gore detail present in this 1960 movie.
An horror movie it might be, but oddly, the greatest impression I came out of it was of it's aesthetical appeal and beauty... there's a certain enchantment here mostly thanks to the great sensibility of the director, camera and photography work.
This made the movie worth to me, despite the mindless script.
I say mindless script because I never felt there was a true purpose or intent behind the majority of the happenings in the movie, a simple succession of events determined by basic and cliché writing, but beautifully carved to enhance the visual appeal of it.
This movie is an interesting stylistic exercise in the horror genre.


Taking notice of Shadow of a Doubt collage, I guess this is a good starting point to get into Hitchcock Cinema.
I never managed to build much apprecciation for Hitchcock for some reason, I guess I should dive right into his best stuff and ignore the rest.
Psycho, maybe Birds and another title of which name I totally forgot (it has that brilliantly surreal scene where the main character is chased by an airplain on a cereal field or similar lol) is pretty much all I like from Hitchcock.
Another title to add to my checklist, thank you Bill.
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post #1123 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 11:11 AM
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Taking notice of Shadow of a Doubt collage, I guess this is a good starting point to get into Hitchcock Cinema.
I never managed to build much apprecciation for Hitchcock for some reason, I guess I should dive right into his best stuff and ignore the rest.
Psycho, maybe Birds and another title of which name I totally forgot (it has that brilliantly surreal scene where the main character is chased by an airplain on a cereal field or similar lol) is pretty much all I like from Hitchcock.

The Hitchcock film in which his hero (Jimmy Stewart) was being shot at from an airplane while running through a field was North by Northwest. I thought it was arguably Hitchcock's best film and one of the best films anybody has ever made.

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post #1124 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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The Hitchcock film in which his hero (Jimmy Stewart)

Check that tall guy again...

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post #1125 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 11:46 AM
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The Hitchcock film in which his hero (Jimmy Stewart) was being shot at from an airplane while running through a field was North by Northwest. I thought it was arguably Hitchcock's best film and one of the best films anybody has ever made.

North by Northwest it is, thanks. Must get this one to.
But I believe the "hero" was Cary Grant not Jimmy Stewart.
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post #1126 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 02:26 PM
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Watched Eyes Without a Face

Taking notice of Shadow of a Doubt collage, I guess this is a good starting point to get into Hitchcock Cinema.
I never managed to build much apprecciation for Hitchcock for some reason, I guess I should dive right into his best stuff and ignore the rest.
Psycho, maybe Birds and another title of which name I totally forgot (it has that brilliantly surreal scene where the main character is chased by an airplain on a cereal field or similar lol) is pretty much all I like from Hitchcock.
Another title to add to my checklist, thank you Bill.

North By Northwest, Rear Window and Frenzy are my favorites. YMMV. I never much cared for Psycho or the Birds.
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post #1127 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 02:41 PM
 
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There are some Hitchcocks that I don't like just because the subject matter is distasteful to me. I know, that is silly but it's just so. Rope is one of those, and yet Rope is a masterful movie. Frenzy is another one where the subject matter is enough of ugliness that I don't care to spend time with it. (But hey, I do think the Coen Brothers Blood Simple is a great movie, so go figure.)

For me North By Northwest, The Trouble With Harry, Saboteur, Foreign Correspondent, The Lady Vanishes, and one that isn't really even Hitchcockian: Mr and Mrs Smith are among his best. There are others I really like like Stage Fright, Shadow Of A Doubt, Rear Window, well there are more. Some of his very early movies are quite good because of the mood he establishes.
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post #1128 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 03:02 PM
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North By Northwest, Rear Window and Frenzy are my favorites. YMMV. I never much cared for Psycho or the Birds.

Oh, Rear Window seems interesting!
Will check it out, thanks.
Included Vertigo in the checklist as well, of course. I'm ashamed to admit I don't recall ever watching this movie.
I think my real problem with Hitchcock has been that the genres where his films usually lay around, psychological thrillers, crime thrilers, suspense, etc..., rarelly captivated my interest before.
So I've seen little of it. Probably because I was to young to realise what really good cinema is about.
Today I have a different awareness and I often perceive in older classic cinema a sort of quality and enchantment absent from contemporary cinema.
I'm pretty sure I'll love Hitchcock work just as I love other masters.
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post #1129 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 03:12 PM
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Check that tall guy again...

-Bill

Bill -- Thanks for putting it so gently. Although North by Northwest is, as indicted in my last post, a great film, I conflated the star of another Hitchcock masterpiece, Rear Window with the actual star of North by Northwest, Cary Grant. In my defense, both Stewart and Grant starred in so many Hitchcock films, it was an easy mistake to make. Well, maybe not that easy, but give me a break here. smile.gif

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post #1130 of 2229 Old 01-10-2014, 06:52 PM
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Bill -- Thanks for putting it so gently. Although North by Northwest is, as indicted in my last post, a great film, I conflated the star of another Hitchcock masterpiece, Rear Window with the actual star of North by Northwest, Cary Grant. In my defense, both Stewart and Grant starred in so many Hitchcock films, it was an easy mistake to make. Well, maybe not that easy, but give me a break here. smile.gif

When Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman first began story conferences on North By Northwest, they assumed it would be a Jimmy Stewart vehicle. I think there was even an early press release on their collaboration indicating it as such. But as the project took shape they realized it was a Cary Grant character instead. Rumor would have it that the less than expected box-office results for Vertigo figured into the switch, but Stewart really wasn't the slick Madison Avenue ad executive type. Would love to know how that conversation went with a star of Jimmy Stewart's level after a press release had been issued citing his participation in it. "Sorry, Jimmy, we've changed our minds. We're going with Cary on this one. Do stop by with the Missus for lunch sometime..."!
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When Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman first began story conferences on North By Northwest, they assumed it would be a Jimmy Stewart vehicle. I think there was even an early press release on their collaboration indicating it as such. But as the project took shape they realized it was a Cary Grant character instead. Rumor would have it that the less than expected box-office results for Vertigo figured into the switch, but Stewart really wasn't the slick Madison Avenue ad executive type. Would love to know how that conversation went with a star of Jimmy Stewart's level after a press release had been issued citing his participation in it. "Sorry, Jimmy, we've changed our minds. We're going with Cary on this one. Do stop by with the Missus for lunch sometime..."!

Yep, or in Hollywood-ese, "Have your girl call my girl and we'll do lunch." smile.gif I had not realized the Vertigo was a boxoffice disappointment but am not surprised to learn it. As wonderful as the film was, it was as dark and unsettling as anything Hitchcock ever made. Kim Novak wasn't much of an actress, to say the least, but I continue to be haunted by her performance in that one. Of course her being gorgeous and only 24 years old didn't hurt.

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post #1132 of 2229 Old 01-13-2014, 09:08 AM
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Watched Shadow of a Doubt.
Quite a fine movie and perfect showcase of the charm and enchantment present in Classic Cinema and lost today.
Still I only saw a 4.5 GBs 720p rip, so I'm affraid I lost some of the quality of it's atmosphere.
That pub scene, in particular, with Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie and the waitress in the middle (seen in Bill's collage) really deserved to be seen in all it's Bluray quality splendor, I wish I was there.
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post #1133 of 2229 Old 01-13-2014, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
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The Trouble with Harry (1955), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Harry's dead and several people think they may have killed him. No one is terribly distressed, but they would like to get him out of the way without too much fuss or police involvement.

The "hide the body" plot is actually background to budding romances between young people John Forsythe and (introducing) Shirley MacLaine, and geezers Edmund Gwenn and Mildred Natwick. The gimmick is the insouciant attitude everyone has about the murder.

It's a gorgeous looking picture with lovely New England autumn foliage. The landscape is practically another character in the story, which is unusual for this director.

The problem is the pacing: comedy requires certain energy and speed. This is more casual. We also have the odd insertion of the unfunny sheriff. They try to mock him but that isn't funny either.

Much quick witty dialogue:
Quote:

[Forsythe to Gwenn, about dating the spinster]: You realize you'll be the first man to... cross her threshold?
Quote:

[Forsythe, earnestly]: I'd like to paint you nude.

[MacLaine, politely]: Some other time.
Quote:

[MacLaine, describing her frustrated wedding night]: I had worked myself into a certain enthusiasm---

[...and later, on being kissed]: Lightly, Sam. I have a very short fuse.

Note the bad day-for-night shot of the large burial party returning home. Everyone squints against the glare of the supposed twilight.

Edith Head costumes. Light, lyrical Bernard Herrmann score.

Available on Blu-ray, once of the best looking Hitchcock discs I have seen so far. Excellent color and detail.



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post #1134 of 2229 Old 01-19-2014, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
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The Defiant Ones (1958), produced and directed by Stanley Kramer.

It's now a legendary, iconic setup: two prisoners, chained together, escape a prison bus crash and try to survive on the run, fighting nature, hostile civilians and each other.

It's a race-relations Message film and consequently somewhat talky, but the action and characters make up for the well-intentioned tone.

I see Sidney Poitier's character described as the prototypical Magical Negro, a spiritually profound, self-sacrificing person who exists only for the benefit of the white characters.

That seems a bit harsh in this case. His character is deeper than that, although he is undoubtedly more mature than Tony Curtis, who develops more during the course of the film.

Starkly photographed, realistic looking. Many familiar 1950s faces.

Supposed to be somewhere in the South, but obviously filmed in California.



-Bill

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post #1135 of 2229 Old 01-19-2014, 06:48 AM
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The Defiant Ones (1958), produced and directed by Stanley Kramer.

How did you watch this one?
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post #1136 of 2229 Old 01-19-2014, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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How did you watch this one?

DVD from ClassicFlix.

Discs are my life so I don't check streaming sources. I see Amazon Instant has the 1986 remake but not the original.

-Bill

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post #1137 of 2229 Old 01-20-2014, 11:24 AM
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Saw Les Diaboliques and Psycho.
Here are my impressions:

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Henri-Georges Clouzot film that inspired Hitchcock to make Psycho.
As a movie intending to play with the viewer's nerves it's a much more accomplished than Psycho and has all the merit in the way it achieves so.
Very sagacious, it never runs into the error of predictability nor does it give too many clues contrary to Psycho, I even felt a guilty pleasure from it's genially diabolical final, lol, it left me with a grin on my face.
It's cinematic style, however, is a bit dated and less fleshed out than the beautiful Psycho, so it has less aesthetic appeal.
If it had the same fleshed out aesthetics as Psycho, it would be perfect.


Psycho (1960)

It is not accomplished like Les Diabolique as an horror movie and to it's detriment is very popular already so has less power of persuasion.
But, it is a more pleasant cinematic experience because it's filmed in a trully wonderfull fashion.
Very fleshed out aesthetics, great photography, beautiful scenes, excelent music score (appart from the awfully excited parts) and all around acting.
The opening scene, for example, from a panoramic view of the city to the picking inside the lovers room through the window, culminating with Marion Crane lying in bed is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen and heard.
I get the feeling that Hitchcock knew how to take shots better than necessarily create suspense or horror... at least in the few movies I've seen from him, some are filmed like true masterpieces of classic cinema... but all this beauty could prove to be counterproductive on a horror movie, dunno...
In Psycho, Hitchcock wanted to explore the psychological aspect of crimes and I think that Anthony Perkins acting was perfect to give credibility to the movie premisse.
Acting, in general, is pretty good, but once in a while some characters seem to force a certain mood or to give clues in an unnatural way. This is congruent with my acting impressions of most Hitchcock films I've seen, sometimes it's all too much denounced and given away, in my opinion this shouldn't be desirable nor is the best way to create suspense because it just makes the film more predictable.


And here are my impressions of The Seventh Seal and The Ascent:

The Seventh Seal (1957)

I haven't seen an Ingmar Bergman movie in a long time, oh how I missed it!
I highly apprecciate the cinema produced by the swedish director, philosophical themes, poetic and human sensibility, intelligence and captivating characters - on this last point, one of the things I specially like about his cinema is the way how he seemed to give attention to women feelings and thoughts, I feel he knew how to express the feminine psyche like very few others, but I don't know for sure if any woman would agree with me.
This is not so much the case in The Seventh Seal, but one can see here the direction that Bergman wants to follow in several aspects.
I admire this work since the first time I saw it, it always gives me the funny feeling that I'm watching a theatrical play maybe because The Seventh Seal is actually based on a theatrical play written by Bergman himself), it has great poetic and human quality, the whole story is a metaphor for life and focuses on applying an existentialist scrutiny on numerous themes, Death, Faith in God, Destiny and Art itself. It culminates by proposing an optimist view on Art.
Bergman is able to essay about complex philosophical subjects through a poetic and human cinematic language, to me this is what demarks him from other directors. I mean that his flms are intelectual but not cold nor devoid of feeling, emotion or humour.
Bergman Cinema thrives with tenderness.
The Seventh Seal plays with my emotions, it's a bittersweet movie, one of the rare kind that manages to break my heart and break me up (laughing genuinelly).
The obvious technical limitations in it's production can be slightly distracting, that's the only reason why I don't rate it higher, but it doesn't matter, this work transcends the sum of it's parts... cliché statement but it's true for The Seventh Seal IMO.
Beautiful movie from one of the greatest masters of Cinéma d'auteur.


The Ascent (1977)

Second time I see this film directed by Larisa Sheptiko.
This is possibly the most singular war movie I've ever seen, mostly due to the contrast between the poetic beauty and enchantment it often displays and the cruel and harsh reality of the story.
Action is set during World War 2, a whacked and hungry group of soviet partisans wanders on a white frozen desert somewhere in Belarus. After escaping a german attack they lay down and rest on a forest. Two members of the group leave to search for food trying not to be spotted but end up captured by the germans and then taken to a small village under the enemy control for interrogation purposes and to have their fates sentenced.
This is a very brief resume of the story but this is not the most important aspect of this movie.
Larisa Sheptiko uses all the choreography of events to make her ideological message about Soviet Union come across to the viewer. Unfortunately she takes it a bit too far, up to the point where it does detract from what could had been a true masterpiece of soviet cinema.
The acting, the camera work, the Black & White cinematography and sound work are all fabulous and display the artistic merits of the director but her urge to express the ideological message results in some cheesy scenes that do no good for the cinematic experience, clear overkill, it's a pity.
The cinematography and camera work are jaw dropping, at times giving a surreal atmosphere, almost fairy tale like enchantment (reminds me some of Yuriy Norshteyn's animation work), and at times giving a very raw and dramatic display of the reality, the picture always displays great expressive momentum.
The acting is top noch and the characters have great human depth, which contributes to the emotional and intelectual power of the movie, but sometimes it can look a bit corny.
The Ascent will leave it's mark in the minds of a lot of first time viewers, it has great poetic beauty and enchantment but it depicts a cruel and heartbreaking reality.
Unforgettable dichotomy.

I just wish that Larisa Sheptiko had left the ideological aspirations out of it, or at least tried to make them more subtle or simply lend it a more suggestive nature, the film would benefit with greater reach and more integral cinematic experience.
Not that I have anything agaisnt her stance per se, it's not particularly bothering or uncomfortable to me, but it will inherently deprive the movie from a certain degree of artistic latitude and I did find some of the scenes, particularly towards the end, a bit too melodramatic as a consequence.
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post #1138 of 2229 Old 01-21-2014, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), directed by John Sturges.

In 1863 the Union is -- for some reason -- keeping Confederate prisoners at a remote fort in the southwest. Dour William Holden specializes in bringing back escapees, while the army already has its hands full with marauding Mescaleros. Fiery Eleanor Parker arrives for a wedding and makes eyes at the cavalry captain, and we begin to suspect all is not as it appears...

This is a sturdy, well-made western/civil war/romance picture with better than usual adult plot development. Union and Confederates are treated equally well, though the rebel prisoners are, of course, a bit more rebellious. Some fine camera work: Sturges was better than your average action director.

Holden is always thinking, always reserved in a manly way. Parker gets a break from her usual terrified or distraught female roles and is clever, strong and decisive.

Misc notes:

  • The carbines are single-shot breech-loaders, which may be correct, although I forget who had those in the Civil War, and in what quantity. The revolvers look like cowboy six-guns from a few years later.
  • When our characters are pinned down the Mescaleros fire massed ranging arrow volleys. A nice visual effect I don't remember seeing in a western before.
  • Who picked the site for that fort? It's surrounded by overhanging hills.
  • Are there really lush waterfalls in Death Valley?
  • One of the Death Valley locations looks just like a spot used in Zabriskie Point. That chemically corroded "badlands" look.
  • The score is lovely during the romance bits.
  • Mixed on-location and studio shots. The soundstages aren't bad, but still take us out of the story.

The DVD image is often soft, but the color rather fine. Filmed in "Anscocolor", which I don't remember seeing in credits before. Also known as "Agfacolor".



-Bill

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post #1139 of 2229 Old 01-22-2014, 09:12 AM
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Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), directed by John Sturges.

In 1863 the Union is -- for some reason -- keeping Confederate prisoners at a remote fort in the southwest. Dour William Holden specializes in bringing back escapees, while the army already has its hands full with marauding Mescaleros. Fiery Eleanor Parker arrives for a wedding and makes eyes at the cavalry captain, and we begin to suspect all is not as it appears...

-Bill

Bill, thanks for the review, I've put this movie in my Netflix queue.

AFAIK there was only one bonafide prison camp west of the Mississippi and that was Camp Ford, a Confederate prison in east Texas. So how they came up with the premise of a Union prison camp in Mescalero country is interesting.

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post #1140 of 2229 Old 01-22-2014, 10:32 AM
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Bill, thanks for the review, I've put this movie in my Netflix queue.

I went one better: The film is available on DVD as part of a 6-movie boxed set for $17 at Amazon.
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