849 His Girl Friday

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#51 Post by movielocke » Sat Apr 08, 2017 2:40 am

watched this for the first time in fifteen years. Goddamn, I remembered it moved fast but I feel exhausted now, I cannot believe how much dialog and plot they packed into 90 minutes. Tremendously fun and constantly surprising. If it hadn't been for the newsletter clue I would have completely forgotten about the mock turtle!

The david bordwell feature is outstanding, and the little bit they did with the bogdanovich interview is pretty outstanding as well. Love the split screen in the latter.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#52 Post by zedz » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:27 pm

I watched The Front Page for the first time the other night, and it's weird coming to the original after so many decades familiarity with the remake, as there are elements (such as the guy with the reprieve) that just don't seem right to me outside the context of screwball comedy. And the central relationship just doesn't crackle enough without the distaff twist. It was very enjoyable anyway, and I wasn't prepared for just how visually dynamic it was. The camera is always on the move, tracking, panning, tilting, with dozens of extremely inventive shots. There was one bravura tracking shot in particular that I just couldn't figure out.

Menjou and O'Brien walk into a bar and the camera pans with them from the door as they brush past it to sit at the bar. The camera continues to pan to catch them sitting down at the bar in the mirror, then continues the shot with a frontal two-shot of the pair talking, in the mirror. There's no trace of the camera in the mirror, and the obvious explanation is that the final composition is not a mirror shot at all, but a doubled set with the pair shot through the non-existent mirror, but that doesn't work with the first part of the shot, where they're on the other side of the 'mirror' a split-second before. The only explanation I can come up with is an impeccable travelling wipe as the camera pans from the doorway to the bar, while the actors are momentarily out of the frame. Which seems like a huge amount of work for a single shot. Does anybody have a more plausible explanation (or - can anybody see how this could be an actual mirror shot)?

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Roger Ryan
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#53 Post by Roger Ryan » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:38 am

zedz wrote:...Does anybody have a more plausible explanation (or - can anybody see how this could be an actual mirror shot)?
The camera movement and blocking are startling for a film from the early sound era. The bar shot, however, is not as complicated as it seems: the camera is tracking left and panning at the same time; by the time the mirror is in view, the camera is already past the mirror and is framing the reflection of Menjou and O'Brien at an angle (the camera comes to a rest just far enough to the left to avoid being reflected in the mirror). The degree of the angle is difficult to determine until O'Brien gets us and passes in front of the camera; the length of time between when his reflected image leaves the mirror and he passes in front of the camera reveals that the camera is further to the left than it, at first, appears.

Even more remarkable is that crazy shot where the guy travels up the (department store?) elevator to the room with the mirrored doors. Again, the elevator door and camera are positioned far enough to the left to avoid being reflected in the mirrors even though it appears the brief scene is shot straight on. It's almost like the cinematographer and director had a contest to see how complicated they could make each of the setups!

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#54 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:07 pm

Nice spotting on the camera angle, RR. I guess a part of the illusion is positioning the seated actors at a slight angle to the mirror to disguise the angle of the camera.

Other memorable shots are a late sequence in the press room which is cut together from a bunch of circular tracking shots around the central table, and that woozy montage sequence of tilting close ups.

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gcgiles1dollarbin
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:38 am

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#55 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:59 pm

zedz wrote: It was very enjoyable anyway, and I wasn't prepared for just how visually dynamic it was. The camera is always on the move, tracking, panning, tilting, with dozens of extremely inventive shots. There was one bravura tracking shot in particular that I just couldn't figure out.
This is one reason why I like Lewis Milestone's early talkie work: he really pushed the mobility of cameras at a time when you'd least expect it. Rain, for example, has that same almost eccentric dynamism, and I think it's a movie that has gone under-appreciated (perhaps because of its PD status resulting in crappy prints being too ubiquitous).

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#56 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:04 pm

gcgiles1dollarbin wrote:
zedz wrote: It was very enjoyable anyway, and I wasn't prepared for just how visually dynamic it was. The camera is always on the move, tracking, panning, tilting, with dozens of extremely inventive shots. There was one bravura tracking shot in particular that I just couldn't figure out.
This is one reason why I like Lewis Milestone's early talkie work: he really pushed the mobility of cameras at a time when you'd least expect it. Rain, for example, has that same almost eccentric dynamism, and I think it's a movie that has gone under-appreciated (perhaps because of its PD status resulting in crappy prints being too ubiquitous).
Which reminds me that a poster for Rain figures in one of those early 30s Ozu films, when he was also employing crazily kinetic camera work.

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domino harvey
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#57 Post by domino harvey » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:51 pm

For those seeking fast-paced filmmaking from the early sound years, look no further than Wyler's 1933 Counsellor at Law. It makes the Front Page (hell, even His Girl Friday) look like Cavalcade. I actually don't think any film could possibly be more fast-paced than Wyler's and still be intelligible

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Drucker
Your Future our Drucker
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: 849 His Girl Friday

#58 Post by Drucker » Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:11 pm

David Bordwell's appreciation of the Hawks film in the extras is a model extra for a film like this. I consider myself someone that didn't get the big deal about Hawks after watching my first few films of his, and this was one of them. Bordwell contextualizes his rise to critical prominence, explains how far reaching his influence is, and makes the case for HGF as a prime example of what people love about the director. Every film deserves such a clear explanation of "what is the big deal about this film?" as we get here.

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