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Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:04 am
by matrixschmatrix
Are you not a Mae West fan, knives? I find that my tolerance for the Fields team-up movies varies more with how much I like the other actor than directly with the strength of the Fields material, so I liked My Little Chickadee more than I liked You Can't Cheat an Honest Man. It's obviously not one of the high points, but I thought it was fun.

The Murderers are Among Us is a fucking monster, though, isn't it? I need to rewatch that. Weirdly, the closest counterpart for it that comes to mind is Godzilla- both feel like a totally raw expression of what life was like and what people were feeling about the war during the short-term aftermath (though the German movie has the distinction of trying to deal with Germany's own guilt.) Also, both are pretty damn gut-wrenching. I'm all prepped to go on a tear of German stuff, but my whole movie watching schedule's been thrown off the last couple weeks and I haven't been able to see hardly anything.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:28 pm
by knives
It's the only West film I've seen and I really wasn't impressed. Even the Crosby and Hope team ups were better than that. Though that probably just fits into what you're saying. As to Murderers, at the time I was just thinking of other Nazi movies from the time (The Mortal Storm has no chance now), but that Godzilla comparison seems weirdly apt. I'll have to think on that one some more.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:55 pm
by Michael Kerpan
Fumio Kamei's suppressed Tragedy of Japan apparently treated subject matter similar to that of Murderers in a documentary fashion (and on a more gloval scale). Though this important does still exist in some form, I don'rt believe there is any way one can manage to see it.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:47 am
by Max von Mayerling
I am going to join Gropius and recommend that everyone see Franju's Blood of the Beasts if you haven't already. I just watched it again for the first time in several years, and it was just as intense as the first time. A remarkable blending of horror, documentary, and surrealism - partly due to the subject matter, but also in the selection of shots and the way the film is constructed. I find it absolutely incredible that this was his first film. Several of the images are so intense that they are seared into my brain. To me it seems to precariously balance between the most bleak, devastating horror (of being a physical thing, of being a carnivore, of death) and the most elegant, beautiful poetry - and it manages to walk that line. Some excellent touches - for example, pointing out the cyst on the worker's hand (and the voiceover comments that I think evoke both horror and sympathy for these men and women who did this work). I couldn't share this film with most of the people I know because they just would not be able to take it. And as I was watching this time, I was literally groaning at times.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:52 pm
by knives
Lady of Burlesque
Near the beginning of the list Sausage said he felt that The Spiral Staircase was likely the true beginning at least in feeling of the giallo genre, but this near forgotten Wellman picture from just a few years prior deserves at least the same nod. The film is surprisingly risque for sitting in the middle of the code like this exploited it's setting to it's fullest and often times saddest implications as a murderer stalks the women of the burlesque killing them one by one. Short of actually showing the deaths on screen this is exactly what the best of giallo has presented with a twist that makes those earlier implications all the more perverse. It's truly startling and could have easily been made pre-code with just as much horror. I highly recommend this as one of Wellman's best.

The Strange Woman
Watched this after recommendations through the thread and while I agree it's not Ulmer's best it still manages to be rather daring. It's not too surprising that this was made for the same company as the above as there are many similarities in how they abuse the code, but this film has a stark old fashioned literary quality that reminds me of Madame Bovary. It's also helpful that the lead in this case is not a blank slate that her catalyst nature to the story would normally suggest. You get a full idea of who she is and what her wants are in life. Lamarr pushes her toward just enough complexity to where independent of the story I suspect she'd be a fantastic character to talk to. Definitely an other hit for a director I should see more of.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:15 pm
by Gropius
Saw two excellent melodramas by the Finnish director Teuvo Tulio, The Way You Wanted Me (1944) and Cross of Love (1946). These stand comparison with the best of their Hollywood counterparts, and are particularly notable for their impressive lead actresses (Marie-Louise Fock, Regina Linnanheimo) and the use of natural scenery (contrasted, somewhat inevitably, with the decadent glamour of the city).

If neither is guaranteed a place on my list (The Way You Wanted Me might make the lower reaches), it is because I have problems with the Victorian constraints of the genre (familiar from so much of the output of the silent era): both films concern the supposedly tragic plight of 'fallen women', and although the viewer is invited to sympathise, the sense of their fate as tragic depends upon a Christian, pre-feminist moral framework. That is, of course, not a problem of the films themselves, but of post-60s ideological shifts.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:07 pm
by lubitsch
After writing up German cinema on page 13 I drop a few words on two national cinemas users already commented on: Japan and China. Both are obviously heavily affected by the war and don't match the efforts of the previous decade.

Japan's propaganda films are still a well kept secret thanks to lacking subtitles, but The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malay is a pretty eerie experience in full spiritist mode with a fanaticism that is matched by few comparable German productions. It seems to me Japanese war cinema is more aflicted than its German counterpart and comparable to Stalin's Soviet Union. Pretty much all important directors compromised themselves more or less heavily.
Kurosawa comes off a pretty opportunistic swine using the situatio to move at the top of the profession, serving one of the most fervent fascistic directors as assistant before churning out similar pictures of which The Most Beautiful is the most despicable. In 1946 he makes a full turnaround with the unconvincing No Regrets for our Youth and drowns late in heavy moralizing in Drunken Angel or Quiet Duel. His best films are One wonderful Sunday and Stray Dog though they aren't outstanding enough to be among the best films of the decade. His time will come though the beginnings aren't all that pleasent.
Ozu compromises uneasily with two films, especially There was a Father drones on duty until it's positively nauseating. He returned to form with the very fine Record of a Tenement Gentleman finding again the magic balance of humour and seriousness just to lose it for the uneven next film Hen in the Wind a film that illustrates very well his limitations. And then there's everybody's favourite Late Spring which I completely detest, a plot dragging itself along with the daughter saying thousands of times that she doesn't want to leave her father and the father chasing her away with all tricks. There's a certain eerie serenity in this film and a feelig of wisdom being dispersed which is rather disquieting. And I still can't the stand the eternal smile of this bitch which the Americans should have put on an occupational ban for the rest of her life, few directors match her ruthless propagandistic zeal in encouraging Japanese men to die for their emperor.
Mizoguchi completely submits to official demands like Kurosawa and churns out reactionary stuff like 47 Ronin. After the war he starts on somewhat uncertain ground with Utamaro which can't focus on anything before launching a full scale attack on the evils of japanese society becoming a zealous US reeducation propgandist which doesn't necessarily result in good pictures, Women of the Night at least has a commendable raw fury.
To watch Naruse's movies is quite painful. His most propagandistic effort seems to be lost, some others like This Happy Life are rather idiotic than effective, but generally the quality of his films during and after the war is very low, theres a bit of rural comedy, of historic pageantry and of democratic reeducation but nothing indicating the great director of the 30s.
So is there anything worth watching? Yes indeed and that's the films of the recently rediscovered Hiroshi Shimizu. His Ornamental Hairpin is a very fine film and Nobuko comes across very well thanks to the charme of lead actress Mieko Takamine. But his probably best film is Utajo oboegaki/Notes of an Itinerant Performer which manages to show what Mizoguchi never really achieved, the fate and powerlessness of women in earlier times and at the same time their strength even though they themselves think of not being worthy of a good position in life and society. It's brilliantly filmed with Shimizu's trademark travellings put to great use and my japanese favorite for the decade. Children of the Beehive lacks a bit of punhc but is a very interesting neorealistic effort and Ohara Shosuke manages to rise far above a pleasent little diversion about a loafer to something far more profound. It's also notable that Shimizu's films are remarkably resilient to any propaganda until he finally bowed in 1943 for the last film he made during the war, The Sayon Bell. still he comes across as the finest character more resilient than Ozu and Naruse and certainly not soo opportunistic like Mizoguchi and Kurosawa.
Beyond the five masters there are unfortunately only very few subtitled films, a crisp crime film by Taniguchi (hint for Tommaso it's partly a mountain film) Snow Trail, a dreadful Kinoshita and finally Yoshimura's A Ball at the Anjo House which starts out a bit schematically but it grows more complex as time progresses and predates Visconti's Gattopardo in a very intriguing way, it deserves viewers more than most efforts of the big names in this decade.

As for China that's a pretty small story. With the invasion of the Japanese the Chinese film production was heavily afflicted but the animation feature Princess Iron Fan commands a bit of attention, it's not the greatest animation in the world, but not bad either and the plot is also quite engaging. With the Japanese gone Chinese filmmakers again began hoping for success of the Communist forces which is pretty ironical considering that their saviours would pretty much kill the industry that the Nationalists let flourish. There's a bit of Japan baiting with the reasonably entertaining Along the Sungari River and the ponderous The Spring river flows east which is no match for Gone with the Wind. And the usual leftist caricatures of greedy capitalists and nationalists and the little suffering people are pretty much monotonous when extended over 110 minutes in Myriad of Lights and simply boring and plodding in Crows and Sparrows. There's a lack of talented directors and technicians and there are no charismatic actors like Ruan Lingyu or Lili Li to carry us through the melodramatic plots. The supposedly best Chinese film ever according to a Hongkong critics poll, Spring in a Small Town is certainly intriguing in moving away from these tired plots and observing a triangle, but it lacks the ultimate finesse to become the great film it is claimed to be, the critics did the film no favour with this label. That this move into a more private atmosphere in films was heavily criticized hints at the bad times to come when China vanishes for three decades from the cinematographic landscape. But already the 40s are a letdown.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 9:12 pm
by Tommaso
Quite a few Lubitschian eccentricities here, though I agree completely on Notes of an Itinerant Performer and will also take your recommendation for that mountain film by Taniguchi soon, but this one makes me scratch my old Tyrolian head:
lubitsch wrote: And I still can't the stand the eternal smile of this bitch which the Americans should have put on an occupational ban for the rest of her life, few directors match her ruthless propagandistic zeal in encouraging Japanese men to die for their emperor.
I'm not sure which Setsuko Hara film you're talking about here (it can't be Late Spring surely), and mind you, I can't stand her smile either, but I'd really like to hear your take on Kristina Söderbaum with respect to that 'propagandistic zeal'...

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:44 am
by lubitsch
Tommaso wrote:Quite a few Lubitschian eccentricities here, though I agree completely on Notes of an Itinerant Performer and will also take your recommendation for that mountain film by Taniguchi soon,
It's a pretty interesting combination of mountain film, thriller and Christmas film, so it fits very well to watch it now.
Tommaso wrote:
lubitsch wrote: And I still can't the stand the eternal smile of this bitch which the Americans should have put on an occupational ban for the rest of her life, few directors match her ruthless propagandistic zeal in encouraging Japanese men to die for their emperor.
I'm not sure which Setsuko Hara film you're talking about here (it can't be Late Spring surely), and mind you, I can't stand her smile either, but I'd really like to hear your take on Kristina Söderbaum with respect to that 'propagandistic zeal'...
I don't want to focvus too much on her person because most of all I think she's a pretty mediocre actress. She always radiates this shy subservient smile whatever the situation is and that gets pretty monotonous. In doing so she also embodies the Japanese ideal of women of this time (not only Japanese I guess) and I think it isn't surprising that she was accepted as eternal virgin because she willingly threw herself into this concept. She reminds me of the early Henny Porten or the American sweethearts like Joan Leslie or of the early 50s Romy Schneider in this regard. This corresponds very well with her propagandistic zeal showing her countrywomen how to submit to the demands of the Japanese state and its men.
If you take Söderbaum you have a far more multilayered actress, partly childwoman, partly untameable amazon with deep feelings. Personally Söderbaum just moved along with Harlan whatever he did, I see no real initiative on her side. Hara's filmography on the other side looks as if she volunteered for every crap that was shot then. I see the major propagandists who devoted themselves fully to these fascist regimes as war criminals of the highest order who well deserved a bullet in their head and people like Ritter, Steinhoff, Hara or Rossellini fit this bill very well.
In something like Ball at the Anjo House she still plays essentially the good girl devoted to her father and family values and her role undermines to a certain degree the critical tendency of the script.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:50 am
by Tommaso
That Hara-Schneider comparison seems quite fitting to me (whereas even the young Henny Porten towers head and shoulders over both of them, really), which is why I also can't stand Romy in anything made before the late 50s, say "Scampolo". You could argue that Schneider broke out of her role scheme afterwards, whereas Hara simply retired. But even Hara occasionally played roles that do not fit the scheme fully, most notably in Kurosawa's "Idiot" and also in No regrets for our youth. I have the feeling that she was a much more versatile actress than is usually perceived and that her acting very much depended on the roles she was given or took. With Hara, you have to look for the small variations within the scheme. Otherwise you'd end up with something like saying that Ozu made the same film about 30 times all over again (and of course one could argue this way, but it's misleading if you want to understand Ozu's cinema).
lubitsch wrote:If you take Söderbaum you have a far more multilayered actress, partly childwoman, partly untameable amazon with deep feelings. Personally Söderbaum just moved along with Harlan whatever he did, I see no real initiative on her side.
I'm not sure whether the absence of initiative on Söderbaum's part makes it any better, especially if you 'move along' with a director/husband like Harlan. The 'untameable amazon' aspect is only the other side of the childwoman persona in my view, intimately related to it. Söderbaum always played the self-sacrificing woman who is necessarily punished by death should she momentarily try to break away from the role and demand independence. Surely the Harlan/Söderbaum films hammered in an ideal of 'German womanhood' as conceived by the nazis as much as anything that Hara ever played in (even though the concept of 'ideal womanhood' may have been somewhat different in the two countries)
lubitsch wrote: I see the major propagandists who devoted themselves fully to these fascist regimes as war criminals of the highest order who well deserved a bullet in their head and people like Ritter, Steinhoff, Hara or Rossellini fit this bill very well.
Noone really fitted that bill better than Harlan, not so much because he was a fervent propagandist in political terms (his two infamous propaganda films notwithstanding), but because his own general approach seemed to fit the official line so seamlessly. Steinhoff for instance made very different films in his career, his silents and early sound films comedies are a far cry from something like Ohm Krüger; Harlan's work on the other hand almost from the very beginning emphasized that melodramatic self-sacrificing ritual (see his very early "Maria die Magd", for instance) which came to full flowering in his great films of the early 40s. But after the fall of the regime, he continued in exactly the same vein with "Unsterbliche Geliebte" (1950) and "Hanna Amon" (1951).

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:56 pm
by lubitsch
Tommaso wrote:The 'untameable amazon' aspect is only the other side of the childwoman persona in my view, intimately related to it. Söderbaum always played the self-sacrificing woman who is necessarily punished by death should she momentarily try to break away from the role and demand independence. Surely the Harlan/Söderbaum films hammered in an ideal of 'German womanhood' as conceived by the nazis as much as anything that Hara ever played in (even though the concept of 'ideal womanhood' may have been somewhat different in the two countries) [...] Harlan's work on the other hand almost from the very beginning emphasized that melodramatic self-sacrificing ritual (see his very early "Maria die Magd", for instance) which came to full flowering in his great films of the early 40s.
I admit I never quite got the idea behind this "punishment" theory. Just because a woman is killed off at the end after being oppressed throughout the film and being sometimes rebellious, this means that the author of the film wants that we see her as bad? Obviously showing strong, self-determined women living happy is a kind of ackonowledging that women could and should live this way, but the destruction through a patriarchal system seems to me mostly to have a critical edge and not encouraging the viewers to think that women should be suppressed and if they rebel, well they deserve what they get.
Gropius mentioned above the films of Teuvo Tulio which mix the shrillest women's downfall melodrama with blatantly feminist speeches by lead actress Regina Linnaheimo who wrote the scripts. The same goes for the shinpa melodrama in Japanese theater which if I understand it correctly was a critical reaction against old japanese theater and intended as a critique of the oppressive society. The women in Mizoguchi's early films get the full tragic shinpa treatment and here also the author surely doesn't intend a restoration of morality as a censor of the Breen office would see it.
I also hesitate to make too easy connections between melodramatic sacrifices and political duty to the state, the tragic atmosphere resulting from it doesn't always fit very well the propagandistic demands and real life demands sacrifices and compromises obviously without them being immediately submissions to fascism. It seems to me that often all too easily aspects of films from this era are immediately read as signs of fascist propaganda. A call for duty in films as diverse as Ozu's There was a Father or Rühmann's Quax der Bruchpilot certainly isn't unwelcome for the fascist authorities in both countries but isn't necessarily intended as propaganda though both films suffer artistically from their droning lectures on duty.
As for Söderbaum I really don't think she fits the role of German ideal woman, she is too fragile and powerful at the same time time in Opfergang, too lustful in Das unsterbliche Herz or too susceptible and unstable in her desires in Die goldene Stadt. she isn't a stabilizing factor while Hara is exactly that grinning like an idiot in the camera when her male counterparts declare how great it is to die for the emperor. Ironically I think Ilse Werner in Wunschkonzert fits the bill of ideal German woman in war times best but she completely lacks the submissive attutude of Hara.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:21 pm
by Tommaso
lubitsch wrote: I admit I never quite got the idea behind this "punishment" theory. Just because a woman is killed off at the end after being oppressed throughout the film and being sometimes rebellious, this means that the author of the film wants that we see her as bad?
No, no, not to see her as 'bad', but to reinforce the 'more important' official values which demand self-denial for a 'higher' good. To get a little off-topic regarding this 40s thread: I've recently watched Steinhoff's "Der alte und der junge König" (1935), and this film exemplifies exactly what I think is at play in the Harlan films in a more covert way. The old king, who as played by Jannings is a basically likeable figure, given his drinking bouts and a certain granddaddy charm, nevertheless dishes out what cannot be seen as anything but sadistic punishments to his son, who is a weak, artistic and aloof character who has to be brought in line for the sake of Prussia. A modern film would probably make the son a far stronger character, but in this film, the son in the end masochistically acknowledges that his father was right, and it's this acknowledgment which leads him to his future greatness as King Frederick II. A somewhat similar psychodynamics is at play in Harlan's films most obviously in Die goldene Stadt, but also in Söderbaum's self-denial in Immensee. Opfergang is probably a more complex case, though my main fascination for that film comes mostly from its over-the-top character and its ultra-striking visuals.

lubitsch wrote:As for Söderbaum I really don't think she fits the role of German ideal woman, she is too fragile and powerful at the same time time in Opfergang, too lustful in Das unsterbliche Herz or too susceptible and unstable in her desires in Die goldene Stadt. she isn't a stabilizing factor
She is, because she is shown as being capable of unconditional love (as opposed to simple flirtatiousness), a love which is able to go through all hardships if necessary. Opfergang and Kolberg are the best examples from the 40s, but it's perhaps most apparent in "Die Reise nach Tilsit". You're the first person who I've heard describing Söderbaum as 'fragile', btw. There was more than one feminine ideal in the Third Reich era, and certainly Marika Rökk and Zarah Leander were quite different from Söderbaum, but they all share a far greater obvious 'bodily' femininity compared to ultra-slim and totally unmotherly Weimar era stars like Lilian Harvey or Dolly Haas. Agreed on Ilse Werner in Wunschkonzert, but thankfully that film is more the exception than the rule in her works of this period.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:31 pm
by domino harvey
Watching the Pied Piper to top off the 1942 Best Picture list reminded me of ol' Monty Woolley and I realized I forgot to put in a plug for my favorite Christmas movie (and, incidentally, one of the best discoveries of the Alt Oscars List Project), the Bishop's Wife, and I do hope all interested parties seek it out while there's still some semblance of holiday cheer in the air. It's a wonderfully warm and clever film, one filled with the sort of open humanism that Capra was often accused of possessing. For sheer life-affirming joy on-screen, it's hard to top.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:55 am
by knives
With just a smidge more than a month left I really should be focusing more on this. Got three to talk about all the same.

Utamaro and His Five Women
An other Mizoguchi I really like, hazzuh. It sort of falls apart in it's more generic climax, but leading up to that point it's one of his more intelligent looks at the Japanese culture and the motivations of women. Actually that's probably where a lot of my liking comes from. He never really tries to get into the mind of his female characters instead placing all of his personality in Utamaro. Instead we just watch how the women act and get an idea of why they act that way. The film unfortunately has a tendency as a result to define that action by the men in these women's lives, but he doesn't do it in a blatantly offensive way until the climax and even than he renders the side characters confused and worried enough to bandage any mistakes. On much surer ground is his take on the needs of the artist which is funny, self deprecating, and honest. From the first scene he tackles the subject in a bizarre way that's fascinating and absurd, yet it seems grounded because of those absurdities. all together a truly great flick.

I promessi sposi
Generic Italian melodrama that makes me appreciate Matarazzo's take on things all the more. It just doesn't use it's story in any compelling or unique way. What's worse is that the story has the potential to be great with it's Hugo expanse and characters. A missed opportunity all around that presents a good film where a great one could have been.

24 Hours in the Life of a Clown and Undersea Fantasy
Managed to catch these two early shorts by later greats. The Rossellini is fairly good though it's clearly influenced by Painleve and doesn't really match the best films by him. In general I'm fascinated by the weaving of 'reality' into a little narrative and the application of motivation and the like is well done and something I would love to see more. Accidentally he builds the story in a way that made me far more sympathetic to the villain, but all the same it's shocking that he managed to get some noticeable emotion out of me. As for the Melville it's interesting to see what is present and what isn't from his style. The format doesn't really permit his typical ways of shooting, but his control of actors is still the same. The facial expressions as the main clown drones on gives the film a little bit of weight even if it all rings as potential rather than being great itself.

Roxie Hart
Wowza, this might just be the best Wellman I've ever seen and certainly the best performance by Ginger Rogers. It took me awhile to get used to her stylized performance, but ultimately it proves genius in how it brings this bitter nasty satire to the fore. For such a clean and boring decade this is an amazingly messy and emotional film that has all of the grime of a '70s picture. I'll admit ignorance to the source material, but even so heavily censored the film just makes me feel dirty to be part of a society of OJ trials and celebrity culture. Actually I imagine some of the sanitizing makes the film come across even more grotesque as the people's interest being so fluid. No matter how this court of loons goes the system fails and the culture fails. for the first time in this list my number one is in danger.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:16 am
by Cold Bishop
Jesus, is this already creeping up? Alright, I'll be diving into spotlight titles: any late entries?

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:49 am
by david hare
I'm already tipsy, and not reading back, but has anyone mentioned Monsieur Verdoux?

???????

There done be more inna dis brain. (Spoken with Conchita Rivera accent.)

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:13 pm
by swo17
david hare wrote:has anyone mentioned Monsieur Verdoux?
Only here, as far as I can see.


With just under six weeks left until the deadline, I'm going to try and highlight some of my personal favorites here as I rewatch them, in case anyone might have missed/not considered them. For today:

Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann, 1948) - available in Warner's 4th Film Noir box
Such a great, tense thriller, with some probing social questions ever bubbling under the surface but never overwhelming the film's primary purpose as entertainment, as Zinnemann is sometimes wont to do. I love Cold Bishop's reading of the film, which can be found here (probably best read after seeing the film).

I Dood It (Vincente Minnelli, 1943) - Warner Archive
This could use a few more Eleanor Powell numbers, Red Skelton probably slips and falls ten times too many, one of the film's best sequences (the Lena Horne one) is completely shoehorned into the plot, and ultimately, this feels like minor Minnelli, but oh, what a fun and eminently watchable minor film it is!

Bambi (David Hand, 1942)
This movie seems to get a bad rap. After telling several people recently at a family gathering that I was going to rewatch it, their instant reaction was one of me having ruined their evening by bringing up what was apparently the driving force behind their scarred childhoods. Whatevs, I think it's beautiful, perhaps the most pure of the early classic Disney films, if that makes any sense. The animated mattework is gorgeous, and the songs heartwarming. As to the controversial, scarring thing that happens midfilm (I guess I'll put this in spoiler quotes in case any aliens are reading):
SpoilerShow
The death of Bambi's mother serves an important narrative purpose, giving heft to the warnings about the danger outside the forest and suddenly thrusting Bambi from his innocent childhood into a position of responsibility. I mean, this happening might be unsettling to some children, but it's not there solely to unsettle them, as some seem to believe.


Bad Luck Blackie (Tex Avery, 1949) - an extra on Kitty Foyle, because there's a joke referencing it
If the success of an Avery film can be measured by the ceaseless elation it brings my 3-year old daughter, then this one takes the cake hands down.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:19 pm
by Matt
swo17 wrote:one of the film's best sequences (the Lena Horne one) is completely shoehorned into the plot
Because all of Lena Horne's musical numbers had to be easily and seamlessly excisable for distribution in the South.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:23 pm
by domino harvey
Choked on my drink reading the word "plot" thrown at I Dood It, a film I kinda like but could never defend on those grounds!

Swo, what did you think of Kitty Foyle (assuming you have seen it if you're catching references)? I didn't write him up because I haven't seen all of his films from this decade yet, but Sam Wood has to be the underrated auteur of the 40s.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:24 pm
by knives
I must be watching all the wrong Sam Wood movies.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:42 pm
by swo17
Matt wrote:
swo17 wrote:one of the film's best sequences (the Lena Horne one) is completely shoehorned into the plot
Because all of Lena Horne's musical numbers had to be easily and seamlessly excisable for distribution in the South.
Huh, learned something new today. Though those audiences must have been completely lost after missing the scenes of Skelton getting into, hiding in, and then leaving that empty crate.
domino harvey wrote:Swo, what did you think of Kitty Foyle (assuming you have seen it if you're catching references)? I didn't write him up because I haven't seen all of his films from this decade yet, but Sam Wood has to be the underrated auteur of the 40s.
I actually haven't watched Kitty Foyle yet (the reference in the Avery short is only to the title) but I'll try to fit it in now before the deadline.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:13 pm
by Gropius
I've been watching a few Russian fairy tale films, which are rather how one would imagine them: openly populist and 'unsophisticated' (idealising the noble peasant), but with varying degrees of charm and visual spectacle.

The Stone Flower (Aleksandr Ptushko, 1946) was discussed by Lubitsch and Tommaso a few pages back, and I echo their sentiments: it's notable mostly for being shot in colour, with some quite luscious imagery (there's a magic mountain full of crystals), but the tale itself is presented rather earnestly, more of a rustic woodcut than a grand tableau. (Can be watched with subs on the Mosfilm YouTube channel.)

Zolushka (aka Cinderella) (Nadezhda Kosheverova & Mikhail Shapiro, 1947): In contrast to the serious tone of The Stone Flower, this rendition of the Cinderella story is light and frivolous, with costumes and scenery to match. However, while I can see how they might have appealed to post-war Soviet audiences, I found the broad comic performances (imbued with the forced jollity of pantomime) rather grating.

Kashchei the Immortal (Aleksandr Rou, 1944): This, the earliest of the three, is by far my favourite, and the only one that'll definitely make my list. It's lean (just over an hour), romping through all the expected fairy tale conventions with gusto - including a final battle with the wizened villain of the title - and laced with some not-so-subtle expressions of pro-war nationalism. What elevates it is the really excellent outdoor photography, full of sunlight and haunting silhouettes, which reminded me at times of Vláčil's The Devil's Trap and The Valley of the Bees. The only issue with Ruscico's release is the soundtrack, which sounds as if it was entirely re-recorded as part of some later restoration effort: this is okay for the music (another of the films's attractions), but has a jarring effect on the voices.

Anyway, this is the first thing I've seen by Rou, but I gather he made films in this genre from the 30s to the 70s, latterly in a more child-oriented vein: if the others are even half as good, they ought to be worth investigating.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:34 am
by knives
So Well Remembered
One of the better Dmytryk films. It lacks the power that other similar films have, but it's still a fairly interesting time capsule for one of the world's more interesting periods. It manages to have a dream like story telling method though Duvivier's version of Anna Karenina upstaged it last decade a bit.

Portrait of Jennie and The Farmer's Daughter
I'm going to feel real bad about not having more to say about these Cotten films, but they all average out to being okay if nothing memorable. It's a bit odd seeing Cotten as the handsome leading man, but he pulls it off well enough. The more enjoyable if not better of these is surprisingly the later which manages to be very smart and funny with it's premise owing to a unique personality that really allows it to stand separate of the crowd. It's by no means a great movie, but I've come to appreciate even the slightest hint of weirdness in the studio system.

Belle Starr
Irvin Cummings is one of the most boring directors I've encountered and this harmless piece of blandness is probably his best. The direction and story is a rote chasing of the Gone With the Wind dragon. The actors particularly Scott give the film some much needed personality to coast on, but in certain respects this is the perfect example of how mediocrity is worst than just being bad. Basically for Tierney/ Andrews completists only.

Adventure
There's a moment about 100 minutes in that had the film ended there it would have been a great bittersweet finish to a very good show. Unfortunately there's about forty minutes of will they won't they melodrama tacked on that significantly harms the film. In all seriousness if I could nominate that first section by itself it would make my list, but a useless last act has to be considered just as much as a great first half.

All Through the Night
I just might be the only lover of Vincent Sherman here, but even those dissatisfied with him will have to put forth some affection for this great little propaganda comedy. part of the genius is just how dead serious the film is from the noir cinematography to Bogart's over serious expressions. It's rare for actors to be in on the joke for these sort of pictures and it still comes out well, yet I get the feeling here that the actors try to be so genuine in part because they know that it will be funny. Overall the tone is just really unique for any era and sings beautifully for it.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:42 am
by matrixschmatrix
knives wrote: All Through the Night
I just might be the only lover of Vincent Sherman here, but even those dissatisfied with him will have to put forth some affection for this great little propaganda comedy. part of the genius is just how dead serious the film is from the noir cinematography to Bogart's over serious expressions. It's rare for actors to be in on the joke for these sort of pictures and it still comes out well, yet I get the feeling here that the actors try to be so genuine in part because they know that it will be funny. Overall the tone is just really unique for any era and sings beautifully for it.
That's a strange, strange movie, it's like the third string version of Bogart got a lead role instead of actually showcasing the star Bogart I'm familiar with. It's fun- definitely one of the highlights I saw randomly plumbing that giant WB Bogart box set- but the clash of Bogie, Damon Runyon, and anti-Nazi propaganda (from the period when we still had no idea of how horrific the Nazis actually were) make it so odd that I don't think I can actually judge it on its filmic merits. It's more of a beautiful curiosity to me.

Re: 1940s List Discussion and Suggestions

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:57 am
by thirtyframesasecond
It's going to be rather high up in my list. Maybe I'm just contrary with my preferences - A Woman of Paris is my favourite of his 20s movies.
david hare wrote:I'm already tipsy, and not reading back, but has anyone mentioned Monsieur Verdoux?

???????

There done be more inna dis brain. (Spoken with Conchita Rivera accent.)