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 Post subject: Spoiler Alert
PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:20 am 
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I saw Wilder's Witness For the Prosecution for the first time the other day and of course those of you who've seen the film will remember that over the ending credits, an announcer politely asks the audience to not reveal the final twists of the film to those who haven't seen the film yet. Coming several years before Psycho mandated no late entries and changed the way films were seen, I wonder how much an effect this film had if any on paving the way. My question for those who know (or would like to guess/speculate): Was this the first film that actually asked audiences not to spoil the ending of the film they've just seen for others? And wouldn't this be ruined for audiences who walked in half-way thru and stayed til it rolled back to where they came in?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:32 am 
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I think Les Diaboliques came first (two years earlier). It ask to not be diabolical and tell about the end.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:00 am 
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I saw the final Gary Cooper film, "The Naked Edge", in its original release in 1961. There was definitely some gimmick about not revealing the ending and not letting anyone in once the film had started. Long time ago, his last and not his best.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:18 pm 
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I'm pretty sure William Castle did this on some of his spookfests, like Dr Sardonicus or other (which was the one where you chose the ending by pushing a button in your seat?).


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:42 pm 
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And Homicidal (though that is 1961, a few years after the Wilder film).


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:37 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
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A decade earlier than any of these is Siodmak's The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) which ends with the caption:

"In order that your friends may enjoy this picture, please do not disclose the ending."

Incidentally, I've always found this the most sexually delirious of noirs, especially in the long exchange of dialogue where repressed small-town bachelor George Sanders tells slinky city girl Ella Raines about his nine-inch telescope and how they will have to turn out the lights when Saturn rises! Almost every line is laced with double-entendre and Raines plays it very erotically - though in one shot at least you can tell both actors are struggling to stifle their giggles!

How did they get away with this? Were the censors really so dumb they couldn't see/hear what was going on!?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:19 pm 
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Is the film itself good? The rest of the film clever and colorful in this fashion? I love stuff like that..


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:03 pm 
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My favourite spoiler concerns the world's longest running play Agatha Christie's Mousetrap, which started in the early 50's and I think is running in London still.
At the end of each performance one of the cast would come on and entreat the audience not to let on the twist at the end. And for many many years people seemed to hold good. Until sometime in the 80's when some rapscallion spray painted right across the theatre facade -
[Reveal] Spoiler:
"The Copper did it"


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:42 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Somerset, England
HerrSchreck wrote:
Is the film itself good? The rest of the film clever and colorful in this fashion? I love stuff like that..

Although that's the only sequence of sustained erotic playfulness I can recall (it begins with Raines declaring it's been years since she's "seen a big, fat star"!) there's a strong sexual undercurrent through most of the film due to the tussle between Raines and Sanders' sister Geraldine Fitzgerald, who clearly has an incestuous obsession with him.

It's definitely noir in my book, but more of a perverse family melodrama on the lines of Siodmak's Christmas Holiday or The Dark Mirror than his better-known thrillers. It may be a film that appeals more to the English with our love of innuendo necessitated by our culture of extreme sexual repression!

The ending is a let-down (five different ones were shot, apparently!) but at least one writer has argued it makes the film even more perverse. Anyhow, I won't reveal it...!


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 Post subject: Re: Spoiler Alert
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:09 pm 
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Finally saw the Bad Seed from 1956 and it too ends with a credit card pleading with audiences to not reveal the unusual nature of its finale, though I'm not sure if that refers to the convenient deus ex machina change to the play or the weird scene of Patty McCormack getting merrily spanked by Nancy Kelly post cast credits. It could probably have used another card begging the audience to not reveal how broadly acted and glacially paced the film is, though


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 Post subject: Re: Spoiler Alert
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
The Bad Seed is one of those films that's fondly remembered by "civilians" (at least when I was a kid; maybe not now) but almost completely invisible to cinephiles, isn't it?


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 Post subject: Re: Spoiler Alert
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:31 am 
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I still only really think of this Explotica mash-up whenever I hear about The Bad Seed!


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 Post subject: Re: Spoiler Alert
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:10 am 
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Perkins Cobb wrote:
The Bad Seed is one of those films that's fondly remembered by "civilians" (at least when I was a kid; maybe not now) but almost completely invisible to cinephiles, isn't it?

Maybe it's like Harvey, where more people are familiar with the premise than have actually seen it? The film itself is not nearly as fun or daring as I'd assumed, mainly because it's so clearly a filmed play wherein all of the adult actors are given these endless monologues and drawn-out morality wrassling over some of the silliest psychobabble to ever come out of this era of filmmaking (and that's some feat)-- it's a good six or seven years late to the party on the psychology/psychoanalysis as mortal threat front, and while the film thinks it's being brainy or challenging, its really just neutering the only interesting aspect of the whole endeavor, one that remains almost totally unexplored: the idea that the murderous little girl is a product of the new insta-availability of goods and services in the post-war boom, her spoiled existence leading to a complete absence of the same morals society is now ever-vigilant to enforce! But this is constantly sidetracked by the far less interesting or credible attempts to explain away McCormack's guilt-free psychopathic actions and as a result acting "adult" feels more juvenile and ridiculous!


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 Post subject: Re: Spoiler Alert
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 4:36 pm 
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Just thought I'd chime in to say that The Bad Seed, in addition to (oddly enough) being my gateway into "film" when I was about 13 years old, is still one of my favorites. I think the film probably holds more value to many now as a camp classic, what with Nancy Kelly's overwrought mannerisms, and it holds a special place in gay circles, complete with re-stagings of the play with drag performers. But there's still a lot I love about it, viewing it more as an unabashed melodrama than as a psychological thriller. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Patty McCormack's blonde moppet (changed from a brunette in the novel) has been an enduring influence on other evil children in movies -- only four years later, a gaggle of blonde cutie-pies wreaked havoc in Village of the Damned. I myself don't see the movie as "so bad it's funny," but I do think there is an intentionally satiric aspect in the film's overt artificiality. This stems chiefly from the obviousness of McCormack's performance as a self-aware monster in Shirley Temple clothing. Unlike the novel's steely villain, she makes no pretense to being anything other than an insufferable brat from her first scene. She's so broad and transparent in her good girl act that it does in fact render the adult characters ridiculous for buying it. That to me is part of the satire. The affluent members of this suburban milieu are thoroughly entranced by her shiny surface. Evelyn Varden, as the doting landlady, basically gave the same performance to similar effect a year earlier in The Night of the Hunter. It's telling that the only characters outside of her mother to see through Rhoda's act are the slovenly Mrs. Daigle (Eileen Heckart brilliantly goes from hilarious to heartbreaking and back again in mere seconds) and the lowlife, pervy gardener.

As opposed to seeing the movie as a filmed play, I actually love what is done with the limited set. By not opening up the action, Mervyn LeRoy ratchets up the hysteria as the increasingly frantic mother and daughter are left to confront the skeletons in their impeccably decorated closet. Alex North's music is fantastic as well, riffing on the playful tune that Rhoda plays throughout, and then transitioning to the haunting lullaby as Nancy Kelly goes about dispatching her plan at the film's near climax. The film is so relentless in its mannered exaggerations that even its oft-maligned, censor-approved ending, which substitutes a cathartic explosion for the play and novel's chilling irony, feels only too appropriate. And to bring this post back around to the thread's topic, I'm assuming it's this changed ending that is alluded to by the closing credit card, since audiences who had already read the novel or seen the play would be in for a surprise. And come on, if the aforementioned spanking scene isn't a tip-off to the movie's true tone, I don't know what is!


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