Gary Cooper: The Signature Collection

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Jeff
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#1 Post by Jeff » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:37 am

From OnVideo:
Gary Cooper: The Signature Collection Six-disc set with new-to-DVD "Sergeant York" (two-disc Special Edition), "The Fountainhead," "Springfield Rifle," "The Wreck of Mary Deare" and "Dallas"; $49.92. "Sergeant York" is available separately for $26.99; "The Fountainhead" for $19.97. (Warner).

* Sergeant York (1941)
Commentary by Jeannine Basinger, classic cartoon "Porky's Preview," vintage short "Lions for Sale," Cooper trailer gallery, new making-of featurette "Sergeant York: Of God and Country," vintage biographical profile "Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend."

* The Fountainhead (1949)
New featurette "The Making of The Fountainhead."

* Springfield Rifle (1952)

* The Wreck of Mary Deare (1959)

* Dallas (1950)

Narshty
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#2 Post by Narshty » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:17 pm

Jeff wrote:Sergeant York (1941)
Commentary by Jeannine Basinger, classic cartoon "Porky's Preview," vintage short "Lions for Sale," Cooper trailer gallery, new making-of featurette "Sergeant York: Of God and Country," vintage biographical profile "Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend."
Glory be!

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Matt
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#3 Post by Matt » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:22 pm

At long last, Sergeant York. Glad it's available separately, because I'll be damned if I'm buying The Fountainhead or a Charlton Heston movie.

Release date is November 7, for those too lazy to click on the link in the first post.

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htdm
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#4 Post by htdm » Fri Aug 04, 2006 5:18 pm

For me, Sergeant York and The Fountainhead would be the only reasons I would buy this.

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:20 pm

And the great Springfield Rifle.

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Gigi M.
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#6 Post by Gigi M. » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:33 pm


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clutch44
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#7 Post by clutch44 » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:25 am

Matt wrote:At long last, Sergeant York. Glad it's available separately, because I'll be damned if I'm buying The Fountainhead or a Charlton Heston movie.
LOL I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks The Fountainhead is a waste of film.

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david hare
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#8 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:19 am

Well, watch it again!

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clutch44
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#9 Post by clutch44 » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:30 pm

I did actually, about a year ago just to see if my initial impression was off. I didn't make it through to the end, electing to clean out the garage instead. No chemistry between Cooper and Neal (at least not on screen), terrible dialogue, and overall very contrived. Not a fan, but on a lighter note I'm quite happy to see Sergeant York coming to DVD. Hopefully we'll see The Westerner and Ball of Fire get re released in the near future.

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david hare
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#10 Post by david hare » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:50 pm

Seems like Vidor's "baroque" phase (This, Beyond the Forest, Ruby Gentry and Man Without a Star) are out of fashion these days. Pity.

You should also enjoy Springfield Rifle.

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souvenir
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#11 Post by souvenir » Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:50 pm

It seems that the two released separately are in regular amarays while the others are in thinpaks. Undoubtedly this will lead to packaging complaints.

EDIT: Amazon changed their picture but the DVD Beaver review mentions the set comes in five slimcases.

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HerrSchreck
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#12 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:29 am

Watching THE FOUNTAINHEAD for the first time and am absolutely stunned and riveted. My guess is it either speaks to you or it doesn't-- wonderful that such a literary film is so utterly cinematic. But King Vidor knew the conceits of silent film-- and the heroics of the common man-- very well.

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david hare
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#13 Post by david hare » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:58 am

It's too late now and I have to go to bed, but one of the most incredible aspects of Fountainhead, and by inference those great three performances is the dialogue!

Vidor keeps up the Ann Rand repetitions (by repute at her insistence but surely by his own decision) and use of objective pronouns 'I know it" or "I felt it" etc, and slows down their delivery just a fraction of a beat.

It's got to be one of the greatest American talking pictures. I adore it without reservation. To say nothing of the "mere" thematics of the mob, the value of individual integrity, corruption, taste. The scene in which the sublime Patricia Neal drops the Greek aretfact down the stairwell only to be burst in on by Massey is one of my favorite moments in all movies. Still takes my breath away for its total merging of hyperreality and complete directness of expression, forty years after I first saw it.

Is the Steiner socre not to be believed - piano string glissandi repeating "deeh-- de ay ya deee...." over and over. Prefiguring Bernard Hermann in his first really great score the same year (for On Dangerous Ground.)?

And the print is a fucking KILLER!

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tryavna
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#14 Post by tryavna » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:42 am

davidhare wrote:Prefiguring Bernard Hermann in his first really great score the same year (for On Dangerous Ground.)?
Sorry to nit-pick, David. But surely Hermann's earlier scores for Citizen Kane and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir are "really great"!

As for The Fountainhead, I find it to be one of those movies where a director's intelligence and taste triumph over ludicrous material. I don't want to get into too much of a debate over the perceived merits of Rand's "me-first" psuedo-philosophy -- leave it to say that I find it deeply problematic. Nevertheless, I think even the staunchest fan of Rand has to admit that the dialogue is overly weighed-down with her "big ideas." And by all accounts, neither Cooper nor Vidor knew exactly what ideas Rand was trying to convey in Cooper's climactic courtroom speech. (Cooper certainly looks uncomfortable throughout that sequence.) At any rate, it's a movie that I can only watch again with volume off.

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david hare
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#15 Post by david hare » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:57 pm

Sorry to nit-pick, David. But surely Hermann's earlier scores for Citizen Kane and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir are "really great"!
Hermann's earlier scores are very fine but he steps up to greatness in the 50s, beginning with On Dangerous Ground. The orchestration and introduction of things like the cor anglais, a-rthythmic beat, thematic complexity. And the Steiner score for the Fountainhead is so unique for Steiner it almost doesn't sound like him (solo strings, virtually no triumphalism etc.)

Shreck is right when he says you either love or hate this movie. I know a lot of people can't cope with Ayn Rand's semi-fascist politics but Vidor transforms the novel (which is surely entirely middlebrow in fact) into an essay on mob rule and power and the failings of democracy, and the blighted worth of the individual who is trampled down by the mob in a sea of mediocrity. It's a stunning progression for him from the common man pictures of the the 20s (the Crowd the Big Parade) and a sharp development in his studies of individual worth (the Citadel) and personal passion (Duel in the Sun.) His entire 50s period (the baroque phase) is in the same vein as the Fountainhead. Almost abstractedly larger than life central figures in outrageous scenarios presented dramatically in a totally direct mise en scene.

These movies are obviously out of fashion these days but they'll come back.

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tryavna
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#16 Post by tryavna » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:44 pm

davidhare wrote:Hermann's earlier scores are very fine but he steps up to greatness in the 50s, beginning with On Dangerous Ground. The orchestration and introduction of things like the cor anglais, a-rthythmic beat, thematic complexity.
The funny thing is, David, that I perceive much of the same innovation you mention in some of his scores from the 1940s. For example, there's certainly a cor anglais in his score for Ghost and Mrs. Muir (as well as contrabass clarinet and typically Herrmann-esque use of two or more harps). Even as early as The Devil and Daniel Webster, Herrmann uses that wonderful multilayering -- which was the only conceivable way of depicting Scratch's facility with the fiddle. And of course, his score for Citizen Kane is orchestrated like no other before it. I will grant you, however, that Herrmann is less rhythmically adventurous in the 1940s, though he does explore that terrain a little in Anna and the King of Siam. I guess I've just never been totally convinced that there's as much of a break/shift in Herrmann's style c. 1950 as you (and others I know) seem to perceive. At the very least, the fact that he reused so much of the music from Ghost and Mrs. Muir in his 1951 opera Wuthering Heights suggests that Herrmann himself held that score in very high regard.

Back to Vidor: I've always felt that, after 1940-41, with the double-whammy of Northwest Passage and H.M. Pulham, Esq., Vidor was never wholly engaged with his material again. There are brilliant moments that make those later movies worth watching and taking seriously, but they never really come together in the same way that his best work from the 1920s and 1930s did. I don't think it was entirely Vidor's fault. He faced interference from Selznick on Duel in the Sun, interference from Rand on The Fountainhead, serious script problems on War and Peace, and the death of his star on Solomon and Sheba. I suppose the worst you could say is that Vidor may have been trying too hard to follow the trends of post-WWII Hollywood (the biblical and historical epics, for example). At any rate, I find that I always get more out of his "younger" works.

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david hare
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#17 Post by david hare » Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:14 pm

Very nice analysis of Hermann's 40s work. I'll definitely go back and run Ghost and Mrs Muir again - it's a favorite Mank anyway. Re the two harps - is Steiner the first movie composer to use multiple harps in King Kong (another fabulous score?) You're obviously extremely well versed in movie music.

Most amusingly I just had an email from oldest friend in NYC who LOATHES Fountainhead. I'm actually glad we can still be so polar on some (if not many) movies after all these years.

The late Vidors you've quoted are all problematic from a production point of view, although I think War and Peace is a remarkable achievement in reduction and clear story telling, given the modest dimensions of the project.

But I do recommend reviewing at least Beyond the Forest, Ruby Gentry and Man Without a Star. These all display the same intensity of characterization and violence that lurks throughout Fountainhead. Ruby in particular is a fascinating thematic afterthought to Duel, without the constant meddling from Selznick, and maybe a final great performance from Jennifer Jones (and an incredibly effective Chuck Heston.)

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tryavna
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#18 Post by tryavna » Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:21 pm

davidhare wrote:But I do recommend reviewing at least Beyond the Forest, Ruby Gentry and Man Without a Star.
Ah, I had forgotten that Beyond the Forest was a Vidor film. That is an effective little film. It's been years since I've seen Ruby Gentry, and I've never seen Man Without a Star. So you've convinced me to at least revisit those films when I get a chance. (So much to watch, though, and so little time....)

I can't answer your question about who first used multiple harps for film scoring. I can't think of any examples before Kong, at any rate. That choice of orchestration gives a highly distinctive sound, but I most associate it with Herrmann. (In fact, he goes overboard with it sometimes. I think he uses four or five harps in his score for Journey to the Center of the Earth!) I'm glad that I've spurred you to revisit Ghost and Mrs. Muir, though. It's a lovely movie, and Herrmann's score is certainly one of my all-time favorites.

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Scharphedin2
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#19 Post by Scharphedin2 » Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:44 am

Reading this insightful discussion of Bernard Hermann's work really heightened my appreciation of his contribution to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, when I sat down to see it last night. The score is very rich and detailed, and, possibly because I was primed by these posts, I kept noticing the use of cues in the film, and the playful way in which Hermann used different instruments. At times the music would underscore the emotion of a scene, but just as often the music added another layer to the story, in many instances subtlely playing against the images, and adding a comic element that would not have been clear without the music.

The film as such is a really sweet hybrid of ghost story and comedy (and, I suppose the noir element is there in the beautiful photography). It has a great cast, Tierney, Sanders, and of course Rex Harrison, and excellent dialogue. I can't resist Harrison's irreverent name calling: "perfumed parlour snake" in reference to a particularly dandyish George Sanders; "blasted mud turtle" pronounced with a very scruffy and intimidating voice to persuade a fellow train passenger with a shock of white hair and huge walruss moustache to find a seat in a different compartment (for some reason I thought of Schreck, whenever Rex had an inspired verbal outburst -- great laughter too).

Finally, a different thread was talking about transcendence in film narrative the other day. In this film we get transcendence in the way only Hollywood could deliver.

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lubitsch
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#20 Post by lubitsch » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:12 am

Seen SERGEANT YORK for the second and hopefully last time ever in my life. It's even worse than I remembered it, I loved the poor guy in the featurette who couldn't understand why Hawks fans hate it, but then they apparently had trouble to find self respecting film historians who would say anything positive about this rubbish..
I know it was a propaganda film, but all the folksiness, the religion including a lightning conversion, Cooper's simpleton character who gets told the values of America the land of freedom (except for niggers and redskins I suppose) and its history, Cooper's "cute" acting, the ridiculous way to handle the whole dilemma with Cooper sitting on a mountain, the wind blowing the right bible passage and worst of all the appaling turkey call idea. I could have killed these idiots for putting in something like that in the war scenes, but then telling the World War in terms of a heroic effort is bad enough.
Rare to encounter a film where practically everything is made in bad taste.

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david hare
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#21 Post by david hare » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:28 am

For once and perhaps not the only time, we totally agree!

It's insufferable!

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HerrSchreck
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#22 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:57 am

I uh... (fidget) actually liked it. Of course it's pure Sunday afternoon, watch it like a wide-eyed, opinion-free little kid flopped on the floor with a pillow with the resta the family on the couch kinda way. But I liked it-- I thought it was entertaining the way a Godzilla film is entertaining. That's all I ask from a film-- to sweep me away and entertain me. I can't ask a film to be washed clean of historical sin and to have piercing, laser-eyed rarest Truth-that-about-ten-or-twenty-folks-including-me-have-access-to-over-the-course-of-a-century. This is Hollywood filmmaking, in a land (America) started by sea pirates (our founding fathers), who believed in racist magic-man real-estate-deals-in-the- sky-type fairy tales (JudeoChristianity). The whole rotten kaboodle stinks to high hell.

At least Hawks knew how to shoot a narrative beautifully-- lift any one of those bluegrass scenes and stick as is into a modern film and jaws would drop at the mere photography and the winking drag ass huckleberry mise en scene. Put your brain on hold, enjoy the film, come out and say "Wow-- now THAT sure was fuckin fake.... but fun," and no worse for the wear.

It's the joy of the movies... popcorn etc

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Scharphedin2
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#23 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:01 am

How is this film so deplorable, when seen in the context of Hawks' oeuvre? The values that York is representative of in this film are largely the same that Hawks habitually espoused in his films.

Also, as Lubitsch points out, it was a film produced during the war, designed to rally the nation around the flag, and as far as I know, it was one of the most successful Hollywood films in this respect.

As for the "lightning conversion" and the Bible opening on the correct passage... is this not simply "(economic) storytelling?"

There are many ways to approach films. I like to try and live in to the place and period in which they were made, and to meet a given film on its own terms. Certainly, there are other ways to view films, and that of course is a different discussion entirely. However, as a '40s Hawks/Hollywood film, I think Sergeant York displays exactly the kind of storytelling and craftsmanship/professional movie making that is emblematic of the period.

The Sergeant York, that I saw, was an exceptionally poignant and entertaining '40s film with excellent people in front and behind the camera, delivering some of their best work of the decade.

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HerrSchreck
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#24 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:28 am

Scharphedin2 wrote:There are many ways to approach films. I like to try and live in to the place and period in which they were made, and to meet a given film on its own terms. Certainly, there are other ways to view films, and that of course is a different discussion entirely..
Amen, brother.

This is what baffles me, though not really. I was thinking of the SUNRISE thread where another viewer couldn't get with the film because she wouldn't behave as The Wife wouldn't, i e allow her husband back in so soon after contemplating violence.

Films for me are like women-- when I was in my teens and twenties I hunted (for relationships, that is) girls who shared my interests... who were interested in the things I was, were into the same music I was, were arts oriented, who would only hang out with the same kind of folks I would hang out with. Being a snotnose arrogant young bastard this led to terrible times where I felt disappointed and criticized chicks for this or that social or artistic indiscretion.. for not hanging out with those as down as I thought I was, or god forbid listening to pop music or seeing a fuckin Schwarzenegger movie.

As I got older I realized I was tormenting my relationships with an awful challenge and strain. A great weight was lifted as I grew up and sought out girls who were not like me at all (a good thing as I was a drinker, smoker, drug taker anyhow who had problems with the law)... I sought out goodie two shoes Ivory Snow girls who came from completely different worlds. Two completely different worlds coming together and making something new, cornball as that may sound it's real fucking pragmatic. And enjoyable and entertaining as hell, rather than reinforcing the same old iron monotone.

Isn't it fun to forget yourself for awhile and inhabit strange new worlds with strange new people? Isn't it interesting to drift off into a black and white world where everything has a candy gloss and good and evil are easy to define? Trust me, this here sinister world isn't going anywhere-- it'll be here with all of it's rotten facts when you get back. A single film cannot erase the sins against the "niggers" and the "redskins" :roll:

So who gets to make a patriotic war film, who had something worth fighting for? Not the Americans against Hitler? The Russians maybe? Remember that piece of shit Stalin? Is it neccessary to walk in with a laundry list of each sin committed by every potential protagonist to enjoy a simple tale? Lincoln didn't really "free" anybody, and he was a cold manipulating sonofabitch; Martin Luther King was known-- like JFK-- to be a philandering two timing bum who had his routine down in vaudeville terms. Mention Churchill or FDR and poison darts will fly. Margaret Meade? Go buy a fucking aquarium furguchrissakes.. anna dental dam while at it.

Who gets to have a movie? Aren't we all pieces of shit, somewhere somehow?

Just another example where, when we think we've nailed a film down at what it brings to us, it kicks back and tells us just as much about ourselves and what we bring to it.

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tryavna
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#25 Post by tryavna » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:22 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:Of course it's pure Sunday afternoon, watch it like a wide-eyed, opinion-free little kid flopped on the floor with a pillow with the resta the family on the couch kinda way.
I'm with Schreck on this one. When I was growing up, I remember that this was one of my mother's favorite movies. (She always was -- and still is -- a sucker for folksy humor. But there were also strong personal associations: She grew up in southern West Virginia, which isn't that different culturally or geographically from the area of Tennessee where York came from. And her father, who was also a WWI veteran, had actually met and thought highly of York.) So anyway, I remember seeing this film a number of times in my youth.

Watching the movie again several years ago, after I had come to know the work of Howard Hawks, I had a similar reaction to that of Lubitsch and David. It struck me as appallingly superficial and naive. But then I watched it again a couple of months ago -- during a rainy Sunday afternoon -- and found myself enjoying it immensely, in particular the effortless acting of Cooper and Brennan (who always made a good team). It probably helped that I was watching it simply to pass the time, rather than trying to dissect it as I sometimes do when I watch movies in the evening. At any rate, it reminded me of how entertaining the film was when I watched it with my mother years earlier.

As far as the "eye-rolling" moments in the film are concerned (like the thunderstorm conversion, the turkey-call sniping, etc.), I think the best approach is to consider it standard Hollywood bio-pic myth-making. The thunderstorm conversion has an honorable tradition dating back at least to Martin Luther, after all.

The other aspect of Sergeant York that I genuinely like is that it's one of the few films from its period that depicts Appalachian people and culture without really patronizing them. To be sure, there are still stereotypes, but the characters retain their dignity and aren't played for Ma-and-Pa-Kettle-type laughs.

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