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 Post subject: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:59 am 
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Jacques Tourneur (1904-1977)

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I learned everything with my father.*

I am a director, it's my profession. I believe it's
a profession that takes all your time; you can't be
producer and director and writer all at once. To be
an honest director, you have to devote all your
time and all your energy to it.



FILMOGRAPHY

Un Vieux garcon (1931)

Tout ca ne vaut pas l'amour (1931)

Pour être aimé (1933)

Toto (1933)

Les Filles de la concierge (1934)

The Jonker Diamond (short, 1936)

Harnessed Rhythm (short, 1936)

Master Will Shakespeare (short, 1936) Warner Brothers (R1) - included as extra on Romeo & Juliet (George Cukor, 1936)

Killer-Dog (short, 1936)

The Grand Bounce (short, 1937)

The Boss Didn't Say Good Morning (short, 1937)

The King Without a Crown (short, 1937)

The Rainbow Pass (short, 1937)

Romance of Radium (short, 1937) Warner Brothers (R1) -- included as extra on Mervyn Le Roy's Madame Curie

The Man in the Barn (short, 1937)

What Do You Think? (short, 1937)

What Do You Think? (Number Three) (short, 1938)

The Ship That Died (short, 1938)

The Face Behind the Mask (short, 1938)

What Do You Think?: Tupapaoo (short, 1938)

Strange Glory (short, 1938)

Think It Over (short, 1938)

Yankee Doodle Goes to Town (short, 1939)

They All Come Out (1939)

Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939)

Phantom Raiders (1940)

Doctors Don't Tell (1941)

The Incredible Stranger (short, 1942)

The Magic Alphabet (short, 1942)

Cat People (1942) Warner Brothers (R1) -- as double bill with Robert Wise's Curse of the Cat People, and as part of the Val Lewton Box Set / Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR) -- also as part of Jacques Tourneur Coffret Collector / Manga Films (R2 ES)

I Walked with a Zombie (1943) Warner Brothers (R1) -- as double feature with Robert Wise's The Body Snatcher, and as part of the Val Lewton Box Set / Manga Films (R2 ES)

The Leopard Man (1943) Warner Brothers (R1) -- as double feature with Mark Robson's The Ghost Ship, and as part of the Val Lewton Box Set / Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR) / Mondo Home Ent. (R2 IT)

Reward Unlimited (short, 1944)

Days of Glory (1944) Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR)

Experiment Perilous (1944) Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR) / Manga Films (R2 ES)

Canyon Passage (1946) Universal (R1) -- as part of Classic Western Round-Up, Vol. 1, tbr 8th May, 2007 / Suevia (R2 ES)

Out of the Past (1947) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also as part of Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 1 / Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR) / Universal (R2 UK) / Manga Films (R2 ES)

Berlin Express (1948) -- Editions Montparnasse (R2 FR) / Manga Films (R2 ES)

Easy Living (1949)

Stars in My Crown (1950)

The Flame and the Arrow (1950) Warner (R1) -- included in Burt Lancaster: The Signature Collection

Circle of Danger (1951)

Anne of the Indies (1951) Carlotta (R2 FR) / Suevia (R2 ES)

Way of a Gaucho (1952)

Appointment in Honduras (1953) VCI (R1) -- as RKO double feature with Allan Dwan's Escape to Burma

Stranger on Horseback (1955) -- coming summer '08 from VCI (R1)

Wichita (1955)

Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (TV episode "Kristi", 1956)

Great Day in the Morning (1956)

Night of the Demon (1957) Columbia (R1)

Nightfall (1957)

The Walter Winchell File (TV episode "The Steep Hill", 1957)

Northwest Passage (7 TV episodes, 1958) Alpha (R1) -- "Break Out" included on Northwest Passage, Volume 1; "The Assassin" included on Volume 2

The Fearmakers (1958)

Mission of Danger (1959)

Timbuktu (1959)

Frontier Rangers (1959)

The Alaskans (TV, 1959)

La Battaglia di Maratona (Giant of Marathon) (1959) Alpha (R1)

Aftermath (TV, 1960)

The Barbara Stanwyck Show (TV, 1960)

Bonanza (TV episode "Denver McKee", 1960) Elstree Hill Entertainment (R2 UK) -- as Double Bill with James Neilson's "The Hopefuls"

Fury River (1961)

General Electric Theater (4 TV episodes, 1955-1961)

Follow the Sun (TV episode "Sergeant Kolchak Fades Away", 1962)

Adventures in Paradise (TV episode "A Bride for the Captain", 1962)

The Comedy of Terrors (1964) MGM (R1) -- on a Midnite Movies Double Feature with Roger Corman's The Raven

The Twilight Zone (TV episode "Night Call", 1964) Image Entertainment (R1) -- included on The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition, Season 5

The City Under the Sea (aka War Gods of the Deep) (1965) MGM -- on a Midnite Movie Double Feature with At the Earth's Core

T.H.E. Cat (TV episode "The Ring of Anasis", 1966)


RECOMMENDED WEB RESOURCES

BIFI

Bright Lights Film Journal -- "High Gallows: Out of the Past" by Gary Morris (Issue 29, 2000)

Classic Film and Televison -- a detailed overview of many of Jacques Tourneur's films with emphasis on recurring elements of style and themes

Film Comment -- "Artisan of the Unseen: The Parallel Worlds of Jacques Tourneur" by Geoffrey O'Brien (July/August, 2002)

Slant Magazine


DVD

Editions Montparnasse -- includes comments on several of the label's releases of Tourneur films

Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 1 -- includes comments on Out of the Past

Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon (Tourneur, 1957)

Val Lewton Box Set


BOOKS/ARTICLES

Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall by Chris Fujiwara (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998)


* Jacques Tourneur was the son of pioneering silent film director Maurice Tourneur.


Last edited by Scharphedin2 on Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:02 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:49 pm 
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I seem to recall more discussion of Tourneur's work around this forum. Where did it all go?

Anyway, first off, the filmography is missing one of Tourneur's feature films: the anti-Commie suspenser The Fearmakers (1958).

Second, to generate a little discussion of Tourneur, I'd like to ask what people make of the second half of his career. Tourneur's work during the 1940s is largely above reproach, but I find his work after 1950 extremely uneven and frequently disappointing. There are always flashes of brilliance, like the brutal climax (involving a snowplow) in Nightfall, but the direction strikes me as much flatter and more functional. I recently caught up with Appointment in Honduras and War-Gods of the Deep -- both of which start off very promising but don't really pay off. Appointment in Honduras, for instance, actually strikes me as a chamber-Western (a la Anthony Mann) masquerading as Central American adventure, but the change in scene actually works to the film's detriment (sloppier rear-projection and special effects, condescending attitude to the Latino characters, etc.). And War-Gods of the Deep, which I just watched last night, strikes me as a disconcertingly schizophrenic movie, starting out with a compelling Cat People-like sense of atmosphere (with only fleeting glimpses of the "gill-men"), then giving in to the AIP "Poe formula" (with an obsessive Vincent Price), and finally bogging down in some pretty slow-moving underwater "action" sequences. It's a real shame that this movie doesn't live up to the promise of its its first 15-20 minutes, as this was not only Tourneur's final feature film but also has a lot in common with his Dad's work on the silent sequences of the 1929 adaptation of The Mysterious Island, which actually uses its "gill-men" to greater effect despite getting bogged down in its talkie sections.

I hate that the first post in this thread comes off as so negative. It's just that I've been focusing on the second half of his career of late and was curious what others thought.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:37 pm 
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Great of you to kick off discussion on Tourneur's films, Tryavna!

I added The Fearmakers, and did some general cleaning up of the thread.

The discussions that you are missing, could they be located in the threads linked under the DVD heading? There are threads with discussions of Out of the Past, The Lewton films, Night of the Deamon, as well as the "noir" films released by Editions Montparnasse in France.

How great a part of Tourneur's oeuvre have you seen in all, Tryavna? Looking over the filmography, I realise that I have seen probably only about ten of his films, and of those, Appointment in Honduras is basically the only one of the later films.

I agree with you that everything that I have seen from the '40s -- even the lesser known films like Days of Glory, Experiment Perilous and Berlin Express have been very good. And, I also agree that Appointment in Honduras falls short of these. However, I have seen none of his work from the '30s, and only that one film from the '50s, so I am very curious to hear assessments of Tourneur's career as a whole.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:49 pm 
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Thanks, Scharph. The list looks really good now. (I really appreciate you and the other mods of this section doing such good work on the initial posts.)

I now notice the thread links, but for some reason, I thought there was more widespread discussion of Tourneur around here. (For instance, I thought you had talked about the RKO Double Feature disc in the VCI thread, but maybe I imagined it.)

By my count, I've seen 18 of Tourneur's feature films -- the earliest being Nick Carter, Master Detective (which is fairly typical of early feature films by directors working their way up the studio ladder -- i.e., clean and entertaining, but undistinguished). Of his films from 1950 onwards, I've seen
Stars in My Crown (a masterpiece, very similar to Canyon Passage in tone and style),
The Flame and the Arrow (a fun, light swashbuckler)
Appointment in Honduras (which I talked about above)
Nightfall (which has a few great moments and is stronger than Appointment but not as stylish as, say, Berlin Express)
Night of the Demon (another masterpiece and a tribute to his Val Lewton days)
Frontier Rangers (a very poor "movie" made up of three episodes from the TV show Northwest Passage)
The Fearmakers (a fun thriller but even weaker than Nightfall)
Comedy of Terrors (a bit of an oddball, since it was obviously meant to capitalize on the success of Corman's horror-spoof The Raven but isn't quite as inventive or entertaining),
and War-Gods (which I talked about above).

I've always heard that Tourneur's decline was precipitated by his willingness to take a salary cut in order to make Stars in My Crown, which I guess led producers into not taking him seriously any more. But there may be more to it than that. I believe that Tourneur stayed at RKO longer than, say, Robert Wise and Mark Robson, who jumped ship to Fox before Howard Hughes ran RKO completely into the ground. So perhaps Tourneur was also partially victimized by Hughes...? He gradually slipped into television work, and I suppose this influenced his style: it becomes flatter and less stylized in terms of photography and even acting. His only late masterpiece is probably Night of the Demon, but it's a doozy. And you really need to buy that baby NOW!

Now that I think about it, the closest parallel I can think of is Fritz Lang, of all people. Like Lang's 1950s work, Tourneur's is similarly stripped-down and "TV-ish." But Lang used that to his advantage, making the seaminess of his worlds all the more unnerving because of the clean-scrubbed look of his films. I see Tourneur trying to something similar in Nightfall and The Fearmakers but not quite succeeding. It's a real shame that Tourneur didn't make more of a last-act career for himself at AIP. I'm not sure what happened there, but he only made two films -- both of which strike me as being too Corman-like. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see Tourneur using color in 2.35:1 widescreen. I think that, had War-Gods had a better script, it would have been an intriguing swan-song. As it is, it just makes me feel rather sad for how Tourneur's career just sort of petered out.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:12 pm 
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I'll put in a good word for Wichita which I was recently sent in a LBoxed print. I've only watched once but I think this is a major Tourneur, up there with Canyon Passage (and has anyone NOT bought that Universal Westerns set from last year!!)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:18 pm 
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tryavna wrote:
I now notice the thread links, but for some reason, I thought there was more widespread discussion of Tourneur around here. (For instance, I thought you had talked about the RKO Double Feature disc in the VCI thread, but maybe I imagined it.)

I think there are scattered comments here and there. I am sure that I enthused about finding the VCI disc with Appointment and Escape From Burma somewhere in the VCI thread, and then I briefly mentioned it again, when I viewed the film in connection with the '50s list poll.

Nice comments on the later Tourneur films, Tryavna. This is useful. I remembered reading an appraisal of Tourneur's career in Film Comment years ago, and it turns out the article is online, so I have linked to it above in the initial post. I think it is quite a good attempt to explain the strange paths that Tourneur's career took. The argument basically is that Tourneur was of the artisan variety of Hollywood directors, and that he would basically do his best with whatever material he was offered. But you can go and read it for yourself.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:39 pm 
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Ah, yes, your post in the 50s List thread was what I was remembering. I also did a quick search, and there's a quick exchange I took part in about Experiment Perilous in a totally unrelated thread. I can remember these random postings, but they'd certainly be a headache for you to provide comprehensive links to.

That article from Film Comment is interesting, but apart from claiming that Tourneur's approach to filmmaking simply couldn't survive the disintegration of the Hollywood studio system, it doesn't really explain why Tourneur's consistency went downhill. I do think that the author is bang on the money when he identifies mood and atmosphere as Tourneur's chief strengths: I also have difficulty remembering specific details about his films (as opposed to most of the great directors) even as I treasure the cumulative effect of everything he does.

David, Wichita is very high up on my list of Tourneur films I still have/want to see. The other is Circle of Danger, which a lot of other Tourneur fans rate highly. I've not seen either, so of course I can't comment on them. I'd rank Canyon Passage among my top five favorite Tourneurs (along with Stars in My Crown), so Wichita sounds right up my alley.

Another point that might be worth discussing is the existence of any points of connection between the younger and elder Tourneurs' respective works. I've only seen a handful of papa's films (all silent), but I'm always struck by just how different the two men's work really was. I've already noted the connection between War-Gods and Maurice's contributions to Mysterious Island. Beyond that, I suppose the pervading sense of good will that you find in something like 1914's Wishing Ring finds its echo in Canyon Passage and Stars in My Crown. But perhaps I just haven't seen enough M.T. to say. At any rate, they've got to be the greatest father-son pair of directors in cinema history!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:48 pm 
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Quote:
Another point that might be worth discussing is the existence of any points of connection between the younger and elder Tourneurs' respective works.... they've got to be the greatest father-son pair of directors in cinema history!

Well they're definitely on a different plane to Max and Marcel!!

(somebody slap me!!!!!!)

I agree the very little Maurice (Tourneur) Ive seen strikes me as entirely unrelated to Jacques' work. I still have (and not yet watched through) an important French wartime talkie Peches de Jeunesse (1941) but I very much doubt it will change my view.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:52 pm 
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tryavna wrote:
Now that I think about it, the closest parallel I can think of is Fritz Lang, of all people. Like Lang's 1950s work, Tourneur's is similarly stripped-down and "TV-ish."

The director that I always think of immediately, when I think of Tourneur, is Robert Siodmak. But, again, that is based on their '40s careers with both directors turning out some really quintessential "film noirs", and both of them making a few exotic adventure pictures, including Burt Lancaster swashbucklers, and then eventually both apparently tapering off into a strange melange of titles in their later years.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:26 pm 

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It's been years since I saw them (back when wtbs was WTBS Superstation 17!) but I'd like to reccommend both WICHITA and GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING as superlative efforts in the western genre. Altough neither reach the heights of CANYON PASSAGE both had stylistic flourishes a cut above the standard westerns of their respective studios (Allied Artists and Universal) despite being pan'n'scan cablecasts. I recall Joel McCrea registering strongly in what might be his last, best showcase prior his final glorious exit in RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY and Robert Stack in top extrovert form in the latter. I'd love to be able to refamiliarize myself with these two in proper widescreen presentations.

Has no one seen his two "exotics" for Fox, ANNE OF THE INDIES and WAY OF A GAUCHO. I don't recall them ever showing up on the "old" AMC despite the fact that Fox titles (along with Uni and Para) were the backbone of their schedule. I suppose they might be in rotation on Fox Movie Channel but it's not accessible to me. I suspect these two may well be the upper tier (at least budget-wise) for Tourneur's '50s work. Not having seen much past NIGHT OF THE DEMON (except the rather limp AIPs) I suspect it to be his final masterpiece.

Tryavna's cross reference with Lang has some merit, especially regarding the pared down visuals, but I think Scharphedin has hit the bulls-eye with the comparison to Siodmak. Both seem to have been eclipsed by the downsizing of the majors and reductions in budgets/resources at the indie level. That each produced an entertaining and memorable swashbuckler with Lancaster makes their linking even more apt.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:32 pm 
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tryavna wrote:
I've always heard that Tourneur's decline was precipitated by his willingness to take a salary cut in order to make Stars in My Crown, which I guess led producers into not taking him seriously any more. But there may be more to it than that.

That's Tourneur's own story which is hardly believable especially since his follow up films for Fox aren't exactly small pictures only then comes the real decline. Reading about Tourneur's serious alcohol problems during the shooting reported in Fujiwara's book, I find it quite likely that he was blacklisted by major producers as being unreliable and a money risk for productions.

tryavna wrote:
Another point that might be worth discussing is the existence of any points of connection between the younger and elder Tourneurs' respective works. I've only seen a handful of papa's films (all silent), but I'm always struck by just how different the two men's work really was.

That's also Fujiwara's point, but I think the connections are quite apparent. Both have a very European attitude to their films, very detached, cool with an eye for composition and pictorial beauty. Also both tend to let their actors underplaying massively.

Generally I think Tourneur is undoubtedly one of the major American directors like Ford or Wyler, having a very distinctive visual language and still awaiting discovery. Sure the horror films were always valued very highly, OUT OF THE PAST was rediscovered and eventually took his rightful place, but CANYON PASSAGE which is arguably the most intelligent and best photographed western was dumped by Universal in a set with some lesser pictures. ANNE OF THE INDIES qualifies as one of the extremely few examples of a pirate movies testing the boundaries of the very limited genre. And as my Prof Thomas Koebner retired from the uni, Thomas Elsaesser was one of the guests for a farewell lecture marathon and analyzed EXPERIMENT PERILOUS as a very subversive and unusually thoughtful melodrama.

I'm rather sceptical concerning Fujiwara's attempts to force with too much analytical and intellectual crossfire some of Tourneur's lesser films of the 50s in a general framework. Yes Tourneur was a director working with ellipses and gaps, but films like APPOINTMENT IN HONDURAS look very disappointing to me and Fujiwara is in heave danger of overanalyzing them. His bokk is however worth having because he makes some very good and thoughtful points.

P.S: THE FLAME AND THE ARROW is also available from Warner.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:34 am 
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review of The Leopard Man


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:12 pm 

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I read Chris Fujiwara's book not too long ago, and it really was excellent. Since then, I've been working my way through the Jacques Tourneur films that are available, which don't seem to be many. Really, the only ones readily available are the most slight films, like Appointment in Honduras and Stranger on Horseback. I actually enjoyed them both, but they obviously don't hold up to his best films.

Are there any in-print editions at all of Stars in My Crown, Anne of the Indies or Way of the Gaucho? I'm also interested in his short films, several of which are mentioned in Fujiwara's book as being among Tourneur's best. Has Warners released any as supplements to their other catalogue titles?


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:31 pm 

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TCM might be your best bet for Tourneur's work, particularly the titles you mention & also the under-rated EXPERIMENT PERILOUS that lubitsch mentioned. I think Sony's NIGHT OF THE DEMON is still in print, but with WB putting titles OOP right and left, dump bins might be the only place you'll find his Lewton titles are the two AIP titles that he finished his career with (and both, while not great, are better that you might gather from Fujiwara's book).


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:55 pm 

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I was afraid of that. I've actually seen the AIP films, and you're right, they aren't terrible (though I have no desire to own them). I should've noted in my post that I've got the Lewton box (with three of Tourneur's best films), Out of the Past, Night of the Demon, and Canyon Passage, which is so criminally underrated. I've also seen the Lancaster swashbuckler, which was very entertaining. I'm mostly interested in his other work, especially the two that Fujiwara holds in such high esteem and Stars in My Crown.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:25 pm 

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I know TCM shows STARS fairly regularly. In fact I'm pretty certain I DVDRed it.
ANNE and GUACHO show up from time to time, I believe.
They don't show EXPERIMENT PERILOUS nearly often enough (& when they do it seems to be in the wee hours of the morning or when I'm at work ...)


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Izo wrote:
Are there any in-print editions at all of Stars in My Crown, Anne of the Indies or Way of the Gaucho?

20th Century Fox has published Anne of the Indies and Way of the Gaucho in Spain, both with cover art identifying it as in the "Cinema Classics Collection" line, which is apparently now domestically defunct. They can be found on e-bay, as well as some essential titles by John M. Stahl (Holy Matrimony, The Walls of Jericho) and Mitchell Leisen (Hold Back The Dawn, To Each His Own), but they tend to go for a hefty price.

Edit: Just found these titles listed at fnac Spain (http://www.fnac.es) priced far more reasonably. Anyone know about fnac supplying/shipping to the US?


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:48 pm 
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George Im glad you got around to mentioning the Spanish discs, as I had forgotten to.

Yes fnac is petty straitforward for ordering intercontinentally, but as always be prepared for very hefty postal charges. These diminish relatively the more you order of course.

I have receieved these and Gaucho is a beaut - the print is not quite as fine as Anne of the Indies but it was just great to get this missing in actioner.A propos the other titles you mention, the two Fox Stahls are superb prints, as is the Fox (DL) Forever Amber in what looks like a pristine Technicolor print.

And the Spanish Unviersal To Each his Own is superb quality!! I would recommend a bulk buyup!


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:15 pm 
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David,
Thanks for the reply. It's good to know that the quality on these is generally high, as I'd hoped. I have Holy Matrimony on its way to me via the e-bay seller. Despite having a high per unit cost, it is actually slightly the cheaper option (by about US $1-$2); FNAC's per unit cost is low but the shipping brings it to roughly double the sticker price. It is unlikely that many of these titles, particularly the Fox titles, will see better than DVD-R editions in the US. There is hope for the Leisens, again, as mentioned, if Remember The Night did well.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:10 pm 

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It just so happens that TCM is screening Tourneur's Stars in My Crown on March 5th (6:15 pm EST). Here is the link.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:08 pm 
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Quick note to Scharphe - time to update Wichita and Way of a Gaucho as available via WBArchive and Fox Spain respectively.

George I have to tell you Way of a Gaucho is now up in my top three Tourneurs, and possibly a rival at the top of the list (with I Walked with a Zombie).

Absolutely stunning, gobsmackingly beautiful film. Where to start ? the central rebel campfire rendezvous with Rory and Gene at dusk (and be advised this is an original IB print!!!!!) He builds it up from long to close, all the while using as the groundswell Sol Kaplan's fantastically good, carnal, bass heavy score to drive the sequence; Tierney's darting rush in panic around the church while Rory is inside as the Federal troops arrive to trap them which is all shot in low angle, full screaming daylight, with magically eliding cuts of long shots which throw the architecture into an expression of lyrical terror - this is a sequence worthy of peak Lang. Rory at dusk (again) spotted by Gene after they've left "civilized" Argentina, with Rory standing bolt upright on his horse's back in profile, surveying the Pampas, all silent. So rory and Gene may not be ideal performers, or by routine standards may be seen as limited, or stiff. None of this matters in the slightest. Tourneur's orchestration of this masterpiece is a flawless exercise in great physical and emotional power, and to use the tired old word, it's irrevocably beautiful, in shot after shot after shot. And Philip Dunne's fine, elegant screenplay doesnt exactly hurt the picture.

A total KO of a picture, really one of Tourneur's very best and one of the greatest American films of the 50s. The print as I said is an IB which means you occasionally get a range of small problems, including some 3 strip fringing, and some variation in density between shots. (It was one of the last Technis shot as three strip negative.) But you also get those sumptuous firesides, magic hour day for nights, and the reds in the Gauchos' superb costumes.

Run do not walk!!


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:03 pm 

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Thanks for the Way of the Gaucho recommendation, david!

Has anyone checked out the Warner Archive (ugh) discs of Berlin Express, Experiment Perilous, or Wichita? I'm curious both about the quality of the films and picture.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:08 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:59 pm
Stars in My Crown is an absolute masterpiece, and just skyrocketed towards the top of my favorite films of Tourneur. In tone, it's similar to John Ford's most gentle westerns, like My Darling Clementine and especially Wagon Master. The style, however, is completely Tourneur's.

First off, Joel McCrea plays one in a long line of Tourneur's favorite type of passive protagonist. Just like Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, Dana Andrews in Canyon Passage, and amateur detectives of Leopard Man, and basically any other Tourneur hero, McCrea's Pastor does almost nothing, plot-wise, in the film. Everything happens to him, and he sometimes reacts and just as often opts not to. It's not unusual for long stretches of film to pass without McCrea even appearing on screen. Dean Stockwell's character, the Pastor's adopted son, is another returning character from Tourneur's films. He's functions the same as Hoagy Carmichael in Canyon Passage or the deaf boy in Out of the Past: the looker-on, always judging, usually helpless except at very specific, very key moments. These characters frequently are more "powerful" than the heroes of the story.

In Tourneur films, you frequently get oppositions of themes, and the dominance of each opposing side is frequently fluctuating and, at best, ambiguous. This film is no exception, and the question of science vs. faith comes into play time and again. It's no coincidence that prayer heals the schoolteacher - appropriately named "Faith" - during the outbreak of typhoid.. Which side wins, though? In the end, it's discovered that the school's water supply is the culprit, and it is simply closed off. As in all the Tourneur films that I've seen, it's a stalemate. Faith "cures" the schoolteacher, but it's the locating of the contaminated water that ends the outbreak.

The final scenes of the film are the most moving that I've seen in all of Tourneur, and I was genuinely affected by them. I'll not describe them so as not to ruin it, but I strongly urge anyone to see this movie whenever they can. It's truly a forgotten gem.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:46 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK
I'm intrigued by Wichita and Berlin Express. Both are available through the Warner Archive but also through dvdgo in Spain (the caps of the Warner discs look rather good, anyone know if the Spanish discs are any good?). The virtues of Wichita have already been extolled here but how do other members rate Berlin Express? The combination of Tourneur and Robert Ryan sounds enticing.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacques Tourneur
PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:39 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:35 am
BERLIN EXPRESS is a unique viewing experience, just imagine that backdrop, it virtually plays like a semi-doc!(I just viewed the Ros War Trilogy, and the German segment makes a perfect double bill.) It's eerie and highly recommended. I don't know about that Spanish disc, there is also a French one. I suspect they are quite similar in regard to PQ, based on former experience. My gut feeling says: Go for the Archive edition!


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