Richard Fleischer

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stroszeck
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:42 pm

#1 Post by stroszeck » Sun May 21, 2006 3:56 am

WORST DIRECTOR OF ALL TIME????


So I watched Tora! Tora! Tora! for the first time and to me it was a horrible movie. Really, it was just NOT what I expected it to be. Anyways I read somewhere on the box that it was made from the same person who directed The Boston Strangler and Dr. Dolittle, both decent films I guess. But then I looked over his imdb "credits" and was shocked -- This guy is the REAL unsung hero of bad filmmaking! Nearly all of his 60 films receive like <5 out of 10 AFTER his Boston Strangler which was made in '68.

Here's a small sample of some of his work:
- CHE!
- RED SONJA
- Amityville 3-D
- THE JAZZ SINGER (The one with Neil Diamond)
- Conan the Destroyer
- TOUGH ENOUGH
- and something called "CALL FROM SPACE" is his last film.

How someone could start out with a decent career making The Vikings, Fantastic Voyage and Barabbas and then descending into pure messes-of-cinema is mindboggling...

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#2 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 21, 2006 4:16 am

Se the NARROW MARGIN. A miracle of dirt budget filmmaking with a train, some actors, the stations on location, and a street corner set and a few bucks. We're also talking about Charles McGraw (my favorite noir actor of all time), and the rampant coolness of marie Winsdor. See that film before you start klunking labels like these around. Many folks made worse films and did NOT make this & the other programmers on his -ography.

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david hare
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#3 Post by david hare » Sun May 21, 2006 4:42 am

Fleischer is a serious director with a lot more to be said. There are over a dozen movies one could start out on. Barrabas, Boston Strangler, 10 Rillington Place, Child of Divorce, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Vikings, Compulsion! (OK that's not a dozen).

There's also a distinct "falloff" to segue into our "directors who lose it" thread.

Get started kids! Schreck's made a good start on a narrow margin.

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HerrSchreck
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#4 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 21, 2006 5:05 am

Jeez Louise I have it in my bag right now-- fucking SOYLENT GREEN. How could I forget? In the to-me irresistible category of bizarro 70's post-APES post apocalyse cheeseball escapist sci-fi programmers. OMEGA MAN (love it). WESTWORLD (ditto). And Fleischer's SOYLENT GREEN.

For god's sakes man, It's made outa people!

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Sun May 21, 2006 5:27 am

Compare the Vikings to Spartacus! DARE YOU!!!!!!

And surely Soylent Green is Chuck most perfectly realized role?

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HerrSchreck
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#6 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 21, 2006 5:43 am

Sorry for being bourgoise but BEN HUR finds him in finest form I've ever seen. We have Wyler to thank for that for pushing him & pushing him towards relentless sincerity in his performance.

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Gordon
Waster of Cinema
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:03 am

#7 Post by Gordon » Sun May 21, 2006 6:30 am

Chuck's on fire in Soylent Green! I love it when he fleeces the soap and other junk from the bathroom! I still contend that Eddie Robinson's euthanasia sequence is one of the greatest moments in American Cinema. Very moving; it always catches me out while I'm grinning my way through the rest of the film. Ludwig, Grieg and deers gently see Rico beyond the barrier of sleep to the Land of Rare Cigars. Lucky bastard.

Anyway, Dick Fleischer. I saw 10 Rillington Place a few weeks ago, via the excellent UK DVD from Sony. Brilliant execution of difficult material. Dickie is pathetic and terrifying as John Reginald Christie. I had read about Christie, though not Ludovic Kennedy's book. Appallingly fascinating stuff, especially his wife. Bizarre situation. Fleischer has no personal style; he always served the story appropriately. On Rillington Place, Maurice Carter (Becket) was the art director and the great Denys Coop was the cinematographer and the aesthetic is stark and grimey and Fleischer doesn't go injecting his own eccentricities into it, which is great; so many Whopping Great Egos, sorry, arteests would have stylized the whole damn thing. Compulsion is great. Leopold & Loeb, another fascinating pair. Again, Fleischer handles it exactly right, though the use of CinemaScope is bit pointless (Christ, I sound like Halliwell) but Bill Mellor's (Make Way for Tomorrow) lighting is appropriately dark and moody. I saw Tora! Tora! Tora! for the first time last month. It's... unusual. There's something 'off' about it. I think that it's partly a case of Titanic syndrome, ie. you know what happens, but I suppose it has enough tension. The shot where the plane almost kills the stunt man is fucking nuts - you don't get that with CGI, kids! What do you do with a film about the Japanese Hawaiian raid? You reenact and film it. Hey, at least the Japanese speak their own tongue, unlike almost every other WWII film, Patton and Huston's, The Kremlin Letter (both also 1970) being other exceptions.

Fleischer, of course, re-shot, His Kind of Woman for Howard Hughes. I'm not sure what John Farrow did wrong, but Fleischer's uncredited.

The New Centurions is pretty interesting. It would be impossible not to be with George C. Scott, Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson. I like those pessimistic 70s films about policing after decades of hokey Hollywood horseshit, with no racist cops or bribes.

Nah, Fleischer was a competent journeyman craftsman who had some great moments in a long and varied career.

"It was a pleasure to work with Richard Fleischer. He is a very thoughtful, considerate and probing man."
- Tony Curtis

Oh, man - Curtis is a fag, afterall. :wink:
HerrSchreck wrote:Sorry for being bourgoise but BEN HUR finds him in finest form I've ever seen. We have Wyler to thank for that for pushing him & pushing him towards relentless sincerity in his performance.
I hate Ben Hur. It's rubbish.

I have spoken.

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HerrSchreck
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#8 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 21, 2006 6:41 am

You can hate BEN HUR but calling it rubbish is a wee bit bit teen-angsty. I think it's one of the most respectable & sincere "blockbuster" pictures of all time, deserving of every iota of praise it's received. Only issue is the far too heavy adoration given to the Wyler version chariot race, which isn't any more spectacular than the silent.

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david hare
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#9 Post by david hare » Sun May 21, 2006 7:47 am

Well, I discovered my love of a great looking man's body thru Ben Hur at the age of nine. And then found out what bastards they all are later. NYAAA!!!!

I disagree un poco with Gordon - I thought the way Fleischer's camera stays close to Tony Curtis in Boston Strangler was totally frightening, and quite unique, in fact. I think he certainly honored his screenplays, but took the movies further.

And the Vikings is extremely striking, if only for the great Kirk Douglas/Jean Simmons sex scene. (Honestly I haven't seen these movies for years but they always stayed there.)

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HerrSchreck
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#10 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 21, 2006 7:54 am

Stayed where? And no pics, please =; ...

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david hare
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#11 Post by david hare » Sun May 21, 2006 9:17 am

"have you ever seen a grown man nekked, jimmy?"

"do you like gladiator pictures, jimmy?"

Pics on request...

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tryavna
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#12 Post by tryavna » Sun May 21, 2006 10:52 am

Gordon McMurphy wrote:Compulsion is great. Leopold & Loeb, another fascinating pair. Again, Fleischer handles it exactly right, though the use of CinemaScope is bit pointless
I'm also a big fan of Compulsion and agree pretty much with everything you said -- even about the pointlessness of CinemaScope. (But then again, 20th Century Fox was forcing CinemaScope on a number of pictures that would have been more intimate -- and better -- without. Think A Man Called Peter, for example.)

I also think that this is a perfect example of what David points out as Fleischer honoring his screenplays but going much further than that. Of course, it helps that the movie sticks so close to the facts; it even retains large chunks of Clarence Darrow's real-life summation for Orson Welles' big scene near the end. (I've also heard that Welles more or less directed that scene himself, though I'm not sure how true that is.) This may very well be one of the truest-to-life courtroom dramas ever made into a feature film. And there are also uniformly nice performances, including Dean Stockwell in his first true "adult" role, which I find even better than his somewhat stilted performances in Sons and Lovers (another pointless CinemaScope picture, despite Jack Cardiff's involvement) and Long Day's Journey into Night.

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HerrSchreck
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#13 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun May 21, 2006 10:59 am

Gordon McMurphy wrote:I still contend that Eddie Robinson's euthanasia sequence is one of the greatest moments in American Cinema. :
Geez Gordo I just caught this. I mean I always thought it's a sorta nice sci-fi moment. Chucks bubble lip & chin even juggle around and it's sweet. But... ever?
Gordon McMurphy wrote:I hate Ben Hur. It's rubbish.
:-k

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Gordon
Waster of Cinema
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#14 Post by Gordon » Sun May 21, 2006 12:36 pm

Ben Hur does nothing for me. Wyler's least interesting sound film. He had an amazing run of films from Wuthering Heights thru Roman Holiday. Then things started getting dull. Ben Hur... I don't know, it just drags. His style of filmmaking just doesn't work on historical / biblical epics. Most of Hollywood's historical / biblical widescreen epics of this period are just plain bad. Long, lugubrious, overlit, long takes (ASL's are around 10-12 secs) theatrical acting, phoney sets. And what is so great about Lew Wallace's story, anyway? It doesn't say anything interesting. Hollywood was fumbling with projects like these in the 50s, much like they are now with high-concept CGI would-be epics. It all came to a head with Cleopatra, of course. TV was making the bigwigs shit themselves, so they tried to up the ante and they overextended themselves with their prestige pictures. Main gripe with Ben Hur: no magic mushrooms. What's going on? Jesus born in a manger, blah blah blah - that's not how it happened! In a cave, probably. :wink:

Soylent Green. Most death scenes in Cinema are dull; Saul's isn't - it's magnificent and delivers a pretty powerful message. I also love the montage at the begining; I think it's one of the greatest montages in a maintream movie; it does something that Harry Harrison could never have done with in his book.

David Ehrenstein
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#15 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sun May 21, 2006 2:50 pm

Leave us not forget Fleischer's superb direction of the greatest film ever made about American racism, Mandingo.

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david hare
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#16 Post by david hare » Sun May 21, 2006 5:24 pm

Where can we get our hands on it? This hasn't been around since I was a teenager (well, almost.)

David Ehrenstein
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#17 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sun May 21, 2006 5:45 pm

Wish I knew. It appears, at this juncture, to be a "lost film."

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

#18 Post by Gregory » Sun May 21, 2006 6:15 pm

There are bootleg DVDs of it on eBay. Can anyone comment on the quality of these? I've both been afraid they'll turn out to look like 3rd generation VHS and also hoping Paramount will see fit to officially release this.

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tryavna
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#19 Post by tryavna » Sun May 21, 2006 7:31 pm

If anyone is really eager to view Mandingo -- though I personally wouldn't recommend it -- Paramount did release it on VHS, and if anyone still owns a VCR, you can purchase them used and cheap at both Amazon and Amazon UK. I presume that the bootleg DVDs are taken from the VHS tapes. If so, then they are all probably pan and scan, since that's how I remember it from when I watched it on VHS several years ago.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#20 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon May 22, 2006 12:15 am

Used - Acceptable
Comments: An exrental. Box cut to fit clam shell. Name written on clam...
Sounds like a late 21st century whorehouse catalog entry for some uh interestingly tattooed young lady.



Mandingo no less. I haven't thought about that film in a long long time. Just the sound of the word conjures up loads of lost nostalgia.

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david hare
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#21 Post by david hare » Mon May 22, 2006 1:12 am

I can barely remember seeing it first release, being the smartarse kid I was, for camp value. It's actually very strong, but memories are so faded. Mason's pretty dreadful accent, some really hot sex with Ken Norton and Susan George, Perry King and the whip!

David didn't someone say the only 35mm print of this is in Paris?

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Fletch F. Fletch
Big fan of the former president
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#22 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon May 22, 2006 9:34 am

davidhare wrote:Fleischer is a serious director with a lot more to be said. There are over a dozen movies one could start out on. Barrabas, Boston Strangler, 10 Rillington Place, Child of Divorce, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
I have fond memories of watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a kid. I really dig the mood and atmosphere that Fleischer creates with this movie -- esp. once we are aboard the Nautilus. It's such a fun, old school action/adventure movie with Kirk Douglas chewing up the scenery (singing terribly cheesy songs with a seal?!) and James Mason as the ego maniac Nemo! Good times...

Mysterypez
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#23 Post by Mysterypez » Mon May 22, 2006 1:37 pm

Armored Car Robbery (1950) is another of Fleischer film worth looking at. Plays on TCM somewhat frequently. Spare, economical filmmaking. Straight ahead story telling. Gritty stuff that is a kissing cousin to film noir.

There is a bunch of Fleischer that I really like a lot. NARROW MARGIN, 20K UNDER THE SEA, VIOLENT SATURDAY (Ernest Borgnine plays Amish!), GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING (so-so cast but wonderful cinemascope framing), THE VIKINGS (gorgeous looking film… thank you Jack Cardiff), COMPLUSION (always good to see Orson Welles). But I think the one-two punch of THE BOSTON STRANGLER and 10 RILLINGTON PLACE are my favorite of his films. Both those films go to dark place without reverting gratuitous violence. Both are gutting psychological dramas that stayed with me long after I saw them. Fleischer was an excellent craftsman of many genres and he should be better remembered. His autobiography JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY is a pretty good read as well.

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tavernier
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm

#24 Post by tavernier » Mon May 22, 2006 4:49 pm

davidhare wrote:Where can we get our hands on it? This hasn't been around since I was a teenager (well, almost.)
Make your travel plans now for Brooklyn, boys and girls:

BAMCINEMATEK SPECIAL SERIES

Cinemachat with Elliott Stein, June 14
Film critic and historian Elliott Stein curates this film and discussion series.

Mandingo (1975) 127min
Jun 14 at 7:30pm*
*Cinemachat with Elliott Stein
Directed by Richard Fleischer
With James Mason
This controversial screen version of Kyle Onstott's notorious best-seller about the sins of the pre-Civil War South has been called "something like Uncle Tom's Cabin rewritten for Playboy magazine." On the other hand, critic David Pirie believed that "Fleischer utilizes the real sexuality and violence behind slavery to mount a compelling slice of American Gothic." Andy Warhol hailed it as "My favorite bad movie of the year." Whatever you think of Mandingo, you won't be bored. Cinemachat with Elliott Stein follows the screening.

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david hare
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#25 Post by david hare » Tue May 23, 2006 6:33 am

Oh FUCK Brooklyn, I'll be in goddam Paris!!!

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