Auteur List: Otto Preminger

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Maltic
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#26 Post by Maltic » Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:33 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 2:56 pm
It's not my favorite of his noirs either, though I do prefer it to his lauded noir masterpiece Laura. My thoughts from the 50s thread, focusing solely on Simmons' psychology:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:46 pm
What makes Angel Face so special is that the femme fatale is both the central character and not driven by greed or a solipsistic ego on fire, she’s not a sociopath or manipulator in the traditional sense. Jean Simmons is a depressant, lonely person who wants the kind of love that will allow her to escape from herself into another, a far cry from the strong-willed archetype who swallows men to escape into them. Mitchum knows what she is and yet his own fatalism is not magnetized to her helplessly, but born from apathy and Simmons provides him with something different to subtly liven up his passive existence. She is the emotional one, not him (he bails as soon as he can once he is sobered to the seriousness of the situation and can easily fight his apathy with logic), another change in the genre (despite the male leads’ toughness, even the Mitchums, they usually play the emotionally driven characters). Simmons’ psychology is indicative of an untreated personality disorder (Borderline, probably) and yet it doesn’t need to be any one thing to reflect the anxiety of simply being alive in the body of someone so uncomfortable in their own skin. Look at them during the trial. Mitchum is calm, laid back, emotionless, and inactive in his own life; while Simmons’ intensity can be misread as evil or sociopathic. She’s really afraid, nervous, constantly on alert, perpetually disturbed by herself and all stimuli around her. The actions she commits, from flirtations to crimes, are resilient. Sick, twisted, and dangerous, but rooted in a place of ‘need’ (not ‘want,’ as in most femme fatales) and from a genuine place of fear rather than an artificial trick of pretend fear. She is scary because she’s only too real. And when one is this emotional, unpredictability is run rampant, able to surprise Mitchum after he’s already awake to the crazy, or so he thought. There’s no clarity in trying to understand one who is completely divorced from logic, floating up toward the clouds and ready to leave this earth with no gravity keeping her here. She’s been ready all her life in fact, it’s her baseline, and once we see that we wonder how resilient she must have been to hold onto straws as long as she has.
I wonder if that all applies to Jane Greer in Out of the Past as well. :D (Gallagher's video made me want to re-watch that film more than Angel Face, actually).

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#27 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:04 pm

Maltic wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:33 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 2:56 pm
It's not my favorite of his noirs either, though I do prefer it to his lauded noir masterpiece Laura. My thoughts from the 50s thread, focusing solely on Simmons' psychology:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:46 pm
What makes Angel Face so special is that the femme fatale is both the central character and not driven by greed or a solipsistic ego on fire, she’s not a sociopath or manipulator in the traditional sense. Jean Simmons is a depressant, lonely person who wants the kind of love that will allow her to escape from herself into another, a far cry from the strong-willed archetype who swallows men to escape into them. Mitchum knows what she is and yet his own fatalism is not magnetized to her helplessly, but born from apathy and Simmons provides him with something different to subtly liven up his passive existence. She is the emotional one, not him (he bails as soon as he can once he is sobered to the seriousness of the situation and can easily fight his apathy with logic), another change in the genre (despite the male leads’ toughness, even the Mitchums, they usually play the emotionally driven characters). Simmons’ psychology is indicative of an untreated personality disorder (Borderline, probably) and yet it doesn’t need to be any one thing to reflect the anxiety of simply being alive in the body of someone so uncomfortable in their own skin. Look at them during the trial. Mitchum is calm, laid back, emotionless, and inactive in his own life; while Simmons’ intensity can be misread as evil or sociopathic. She’s really afraid, nervous, constantly on alert, perpetually disturbed by herself and all stimuli around her. The actions she commits, from flirtations to crimes, are resilient. Sick, twisted, and dangerous, but rooted in a place of ‘need’ (not ‘want,’ as in most femme fatales) and from a genuine place of fear rather than an artificial trick of pretend fear. She is scary because she’s only too real. And when one is this emotional, unpredictability is run rampant, able to surprise Mitchum after he’s already awake to the crazy, or so he thought. There’s no clarity in trying to understand one who is completely divorced from logic, floating up toward the clouds and ready to leave this earth with no gravity keeping her here. She’s been ready all her life in fact, it’s her baseline, and once we see that we wonder how resilient she must have been to hold onto straws as long as she has.
I wonder if that all applies to Jane Greer in Out of the Past as well. :D (Gallagher's video made me want to re-watch that film more than Angel Face, actually).
I didn't watch Gallagher's video (I will, since I love his stuff- so thanks for the link) but I don't think so. While Greer's character is certainly granted shades of brief inquisitive detail to her methods of resilience, the film doesn't seem to care and they remain hidden because complexity doesn't 'matter' in the end, only action does (especially when any such complexity is muted by the manipulations which outweigh that sensitivity with physical danger). I was actually primarily thinking of the Greer-Mitchum relationship of emotional-driven characters (that being Mitchum, despite the tough exterior) in that film to counter Angel Face. Preminger's film conversely does primarily care about Simmons and studies her for as long as possible without simplified judgment even when the accumulating symptoms infect us with unease and demand our flight. In Out of the Past, Greer's manipulations are based on calculated and self-actualized resilience, and Mitchum cannot escape the fate of his magnetism to her allure, emotion over logic. In Angel Face, Mitchum is capable of logic and exercises it, but is too emotionally apathetic to engage or disengage, and his fate is due to a lack of passion rather than Out of the Past's passion.

Simmons is full of passion though, so we are simultaneously repelled from and drawn to her as we are trained through cinema, and inherently possess the skills from lived experience, to identify with the emotionally-torn, melodrama-induced character who has yet to self-actualize. She is calculative in spurts, but Preminger gives us plenty of information in attuning to Simmons' performance (who deserves equal accolades here) to convey these as emotionally-based impulses and tragically sourced in a life of constant pain from living with untreated psychological disorder. Preminger's film cares about her psychology, in fact I think it's almost all he cares about, which separates it from other noirs and also splits the audience from their morality by using alignment techniques. It's incredibly perverse for how Preminger commits to humanism towards an archetype we've dehumanized as immoral in cinema, and to the type of person we've all met in real life and moved to distance ourselves from at all costs. We're not allowed to here, and the film transcends provocative discomfort to create genuine curiosity- part sympathy, part disgust, but total interest.


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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#29 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 09, 2021 6:50 pm

This is the one I'm most looking forward to from his late period, even though I've heard only rough feedback. Sounds like an interesting failure.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#30 Post by knives » Fri Apr 09, 2021 6:57 pm

I think I wrote it up here before, but I think it’s simultaneously the clearest example of his dementia in his films, a wonderfully empathetic look at the cruelty of the times, and a broken film held together by scotch tape. It’s definitely worth seeing even if it’s not good.
Last edited by knives on Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#31 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:17 pm

Looking forward to it with reserved expectations. Rounding out the pre-60s blind spots (plus a revisit of Daisy Kenyon due to fuzzy memory):

Centennial Summer is a folk musical following in the footsteps of Meet Me in St. Louis, but with a brooding subtext of sisterly competition, containing a potent dose of subliminal vitriol simmering under the exterior of social niceties in the era depicted. Preminger directs the hell out of it- but amusingly enough he doesn’t apply his form as much to the musical numbers as to the drama, defying spectacle-directed expectations. The medium shots are inclusive not only to the actionable parties but to the affected parties of these soft jabs within the same image, sprawling out surveillance to frame characters with the parameters of their social context. Preminger’s objectivity forces a choice of where to direct empathy rather than making the choice for us. His form also demonstrates the confines of these characters, destined to be subject to conflict and trapped with the barriers of their desires in the form of a mirrored loved one with mutual exclusivity, and so - to keep with the intentional curiosity of his camera to elicit ambiguous regard- we feel liberation and helpless containment at once.

This conflict is best exemplified by a middle setpiece where the two couples sit down together at the same dance, but since Preminger has milked his film of enough drama after a few of these interactions, he transitions into a lighter comic tone for the end (the drunk scene between Wilde and Brennan is gold), albeit one retaining some hints of solemnity. Brennan’s opening line to ignite the film is hilarious enough due to Preminger’s mastery of context, and so he signals from the get-go that his narrative will balance moods into style. This is a classic period drama, and a musical comedy, without skewing itself far in either direction. The result is a gleaming, palatable work that I prefer to the Minnelli. Even if it’s still not particularly exceptional, this is a prime example of how Preminger can transform a would-be studio-churned copycat pic into something unique and fun.

Daisy Kenyon certainly is exceptional though! A brilliant and mature piece of domestic realism, in which Preminger explores the fatal ambivalence of human psyches who have paradoxically clear aches of malaise. The shades of vulnerabilities, expressing and receiving them as forms of surrender but also as unconsciously manipulative tools, are so competently understood by everyone involved that we ourselves are deceived and recognize our own deception in the characters’ actions. However, in typical Preminger fashion, such behaviors hold an isolated sense of tragedy, an affirmed resilience that is formulated as a strength destined to be celebrated alone.

This is a film about people feeling lonely and desiring others as a need rather than a want, and all the morally relative rationalizations for engagements that orbit around the only rule that matters in emotional homeostasis, the stability everyone is seeking and that blinds all other concerns when it’s unmet. When we have a God-sized hole decaying our souls, we turn to cures in our social environments, the area we have the least control, trust, or intimate access to, but where else to turn? This is the contradiction at the heart of the melodrama, and few films have elicited its layers so easily, and humbly left them in their mess without a didactic mirage of catharsis, or false hope to dig ourselves out.

Crawford’s ambivalence may be the loudest as the centerpiece of the story, but I found Fonda and and Andrews’ respective, quieter inner turmoils to be of greater interest. We get tastes of Andrews' profundity in seemingly-trivial scenes, like when he makes firm statements of rigid morality in defiance of his father, and ekes out despondent, composed responses to Crawford’s emasculating news, which comes off as quite brave and admirable under conditions when a weaker man would scream or run to save face and retain emotional stability. These nuggets begin to shine through at the halfway mark, and serve to complicate his otherwise slick motives and delusional utopian complacency, though the latter is also subtly revealed as toxic and tragic, in opposition to the first half’s portrait of a man who is neglectful of others’ feelings and apparently content having his cake and eating it too.

Fonda acknowledges self-pity yet can’t beat it. Andrews acknowledges his fallibility yet can’t resist seeking out Crawford as a hostage to lean on anyways- following the earlier scene of tempered stoicism, and demonstrating the non-linear social-emotional rollercoaster of being a human. Self-preservation begets self-delusion in such a desolate milieu, characters spouting logical retorts when they know their roots are emotional. Only in a Preminger film a line like, “For a long time I didn’t think you were worth killing, but you are,” stated so calmly in front of one's children, following a scene of conduct that shatters social mores, would be recognized as sensitive rather than sociopathic, and treated with empathy for that emotional core rather than disdain for the visible superficial words and behaviors divorced from the invisible mass of the iceberg. We don't even need the follow-up conversation between Andrews and his child to elicit earned empathy but it definitely works to assist in giving his character even more depth. This film reminds me a bit of Broadcast News in its triangular balance of three complex characters who struggle with morality in an adult way: they are not defined by objective morals but are individually plagued by their relationship to morality in a wholly subjective sense, specifically the dissonance between their values and the outside world.

The 13th Letter is a pretty lame adaptation of Le Corbeau, in that it’s a serviceable programmer and nothing more. An unnecessary adaptation without an infusion of stylistic flair from Preminger to make it more meaningful or tonally stimulating. Porgy and Bess too is a detached adaptation, this time of the titular opera into a largely affectless framing of an exuberant musical. This has been lost to obscurity due to the lack of circulating copies but of all the titles begging to be rescued, this is not a priority. It's not necessarily bad but it's difficult to rationalize its existence. The film isn't even very compelling from an auteurist angle other than to align with Preminger as an aloof observer. The service of his objectivity is often to emulate the act of watching this opera from a balcony seat in a theatre, and although he occasionally captures the action in distanced shots with careful camera movements that might best some directors, this auteur is on autopilot.

I’m going to do more revisits from this hot period at some point, and hope to come around to some films I’m cold to.. For instance I’ve seen The Man with the Golden Arm at least twice, maybe three times, and just don’t get the fuss. Even taking into account the era’s ignorance, I think it’s a pretty thin depiction of addiction. Still, I remain open-minded.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#32 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:33 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:17 pm
For instance I’ve seen The Man with the Golden Arm at least twice, maybe three times, and just don’t get the fuss. Even taking into account the era’s ignorance, I think it’s a pretty thin depiction of addiction.
I don't get it either. It felt like an unstylish, televion-ish docudrama that's aged badly. Definitely not The Lost Weekend.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#33 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:36 pm

Exactly, as much as I prefer Preminger to Wilder (though they both hold a grey attitude to social issues), The Lost Weekend is a film way ahead of its time in tackling that subject. I don't 'love' it as a movie, but it's the perfect example of an era-specific film far less ignorant than it should be, and more universal to contemporary experience in many more respects than you'd expect.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#34 Post by bottlesofsmoke » Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:51 pm

I agree Daisy Kenyon is a remarkable movie, for all the reasons you stated. Great post. I also greatly appreciate the rare, mature way that the film approaches the effect of parental conflict and divorce on children, something you don’t see often in movies, especially of its era. Some of the scenes with Dana Andrews’ children are gut-wrenching, all the more so because neither of their parent are wholly villains or victims, yet their kids are still collateral damage at best, used as weapons to hurt at worst. That struck me as very close to my own personal experience and what I’ve seen in other similar situations.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember being bowled over when, towards the end, the freshly divorced Andrews tells Crawford his marriage is over and free to be with her, to which Crawford responds that it is never over when there are kids involved. That really stood out to me because so many movies are more than happy to shunt kids to the side, sacrificing them for love or just flat out ignoring them.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#35 Post by Nw_jahrles » Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:34 pm

David Bordwell is a Preminger fan and occasionally will analyze his films in his blog.

Laura
http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2015/ ... n-talking/

Exodus
http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2010/ ... dont-show/

Discussing Daisy Kenyon on The Cinephiliacs podcast
https://open.spotify.com/episode/7Ditok ... 14WMNUQ0RQ

Hopefully these links will help anyone looking for a place to start with these films.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#36 Post by knives » Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:22 pm

I need to revisit to go in depth, but I view the drug addiction to be more of an opening for other ideas rather than the movie’s purpose. Viewing it strictly as an addiction drama might not be helpful.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#37 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:55 pm

I think you're right that it's more about risk factors in one's social context and the systemic barriers that keep one trapped in that pool of triggers after prison, or some controlled environment of rehabilitation. I can appreciate what the film is striving for in that sense but it's never struck me as particularly effective, and if I recall correctly the melodrama is heightened in some subplots that take over the film and deviate attention away from these ideas. Sayles' swan song Go For Sisters communicates this reality much stronger, and also accomplishes that exploitation within minutes before departing into a completely different movie for the next 90% without feeling like it's cheating because the sociopolitical realism coexists in the same atmosphere. Its invisibility is still felt- and its placement in the backburner for other issues is thematically relevant to how the "deviants" of stigmatized classes are not prioritized even within intimate relationships; but I'll give The Man with the Golden Arm a third/fourth watch before I declare any uneven distribution of themes.

Anyways, I watched Exodus today and thought it was a masterful epic, historically relevant within and outside the film industry, and incredibly raw and perverse for a blockbuster. The interrogation scene where Sal Mineo talks about concentration camp life is some of the most riveting material on the subject and feels like it belongs in another movie, though to be fair almost all of Preminger and Trumbo's mature decisions here- including framing the political context in its blunt, affectless banality with confidence- are playing against expectations. A lot of detail is meditated on deliberately, yet none of it appears as fat, which would almost certainly drag down a movie made by lesser artists.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#38 Post by knives » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:25 pm

Exodus is one I’ve had to warm up to over the years, but now see as pretty genius.

Before I forget, while I haven’t seen Porgy and Bess yet Preminger’s black films undoubtedly need to be seen in the context of his relationship with Dorothy Dandridge which was even stranger than you would think a prominent interracial relationship in the ‘50s would be.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#39 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:33 pm

I'll revisit Exodus but it's in my top 4 head and shoulders above the rest (all of which are in the '58 to ''62 years) (was there another Hollywood filmmaker as hot during those years apart from Hitchcock?). I'm sure it'll make my list for the 60s as well.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#40 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:19 am

knives, what would you consider Preminger’s “black films” besides Carmen Jones?

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#41 Post by knives » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:43 am

Porgy and Bess I’d assume and I mentally filed Island in the Sun as a Preminger even though it obviously isn’t and my memory makes me ridiculous.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#42 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:35 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:33 pm
I'll revisit Exodus but it's in my top 4 head and shoulders above the rest (all of which are in the '58 to ''62 years) (was there another Hollywood filmmaker as hot during those years apart from Hitchcock?).
If we’re going to single out a five-year span of hotness, I think Preminger’s ‘49-‘53 stretch is better- though there are a couple lesser works in there. I’m really curious to read more about how significant Exodus played in historically affecting Zionistic sociopolitical loyalty in the U.S.- which appears to be far more substantial than I realized.

Also, the ending to the epic is typical Preminger greyness that I read as far more equitably validating than most films attempting to glean the same multifaceted effect:
SpoilerShow
At the funeral, Newman stresses optimism for a utopian affinity between Israel and Palestine in the future, while Mineo cannot help but emotionally reject such a statement and aggressively thrusts the shovel into the dirt to avoid catharsis of the burying ritual. His pain is so strong that he chooses it as what's right, and it's certainly what feels right spiritually for him then and there as well, especially following what seems to be a conscious effort to participate in the ritual. The objective framing of the scene is conscientious to both positions- but Preminger isn't holding idealism and realism together and appreciating both- like most humanistic-posturing directors would, but rather holding an idealistic position for some and an idealistic position for others who are traumatized and stuck in resentment, not judging or lessening the latter response by painting it as a realistic antithesis of objective idealism, which is the purest humanistic response he could convey.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#43 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:17 am

The Moon is Blue grows on me more with each return. I’m assuming this is either going to be an uphill battle to convince folks to get on the wavelength of this excellent stage play adaptation, or become a new board favorite as a result of this project, so I’ll repost my writeup from the 50s thread, which hasn’t changed except I now do find the film very “laugh-out-loud” funny. I really hope one day we get subs for Preminger’s German version from the same year, Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach, even if he was decidedly prouder of this available version.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:16 pm
The Moon is Blue: Preminger’s form couldn’t be more perfectly fitting for this play adaptation of a kind of less elitist comedy of manners. The objectivity allows all odd mannerisms, quirky personalities, and shifting dynamics to ebb and flow to unexpected rhythms, playing out in front of us like radical specimens under a microscope. Regardless of a pretty standard plot, every instant is a surprise because of such mystery and interest taken by the camera and actors resisting any spoon feeding for audiences of logical progression of character development. The social is thus rendered as absurd as it is in real life as people’s personalities clash and confuse and warm to one another through what feels like natural, wild, loose pathways and yet this is meticulously scripted and directed. How does one infuse a picture with so much expertise and control to draw a composite of fortuitous exchanges and whimsical social energy. I don’t think the material is laugh out loud funny, but the collective elements are incredibly charming and amusing and even relatable in feelings of shock for the general interpersonal experience even if the actual situations are not.
The film is above all a masterful observational comedy on the folly of human behavior in the social environment through dissonant sexual politics. The layers of psychological exposure in friction against social norms is wonderfully provoked by Maggie McNamara‘s blunt and (oxymoronically) conservative kittenish naïveté and evoked by Holden’s and Niven’s perplexed responses, facing the unpredictably relentless sobering vulnerabilities when their dominant masculine positions of safety are deflated without consent. McNamara earns her Oscar nom, but her subsequent career -and life- was tragically short. This is a star-making perf if there ever was one, uncannily comparable to a similarly-brazen Audrey Hepburn who rose to stardom the same year.

In another example of Preminger making history with his commitment to candid content, here is the first Hollywood film to be released without the Production Code approval after a lengthy battle over its risqué dialogue where any subtext bubbles up right to the surface and stays there- staring the leads, and us, down with confidence. This is just one of several mature psychological films Preminger made during this period (admirably approaching the broad subject from entirely different tones and angles- even within the same genres!) before he ventured off to other interests, and it will be securing a spot around my top five.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#44 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:13 am

Best part of the Moon is Blue remains the inexplicable bear in the trailer (which was included in the ancient VHS release of the film)

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#45 Post by brundlefly » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:17 am

It did win notice as a sitcom punching-bag.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#46 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:19 am

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:13 am
Best part of the Moon is Blue remains the inexplicable bear in the trailer (which was included in the ancient VHS release of the film)
Hopefully WA includes it if they upgrade their dvd (though it’s OOP status leaves me curious about where the rights lie)

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#47 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:48 am


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Re: The Lists Project

#48 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:56 pm

Maltic wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:04 pm
Chris Fujiwara's book The World and Its Double. Ideal combination of bio, production details and film-by-film analysis. There's some sort of overall thesis, too, as hinted in the title, but you can take or leave that one..
I've recently cracked this open and it's a terrific read so far (thanks Maltic!) While I haven't delved too far into the theory, Fujiwara's interpretation that Preminger was at once compelled towards a subject and also trying to keep a neutral distance in a push-pull conflict perfectly encapsulates his duality between being a passionate humanist and a detached observer allowing that humanism to be left unsoiled by specific didacticism. Also, to the earlier argument of style, Preminger's schooling from Max Reinhardt was to be dogmatically eclectic and adapt style to the subject without directorial intrusion, so it seems like Preminger would be the first to admit he doesn't have an obviously visible style. However (and I'm curious to read more about this tease that will surely be fleshed out more later in the book) the ethos of classicism, as described by the drive to believe and relentlessly verify through form that the world of the film is real, is certainly an attribute of Preminger's auteurist sensibilities. After revisiting The Fan last night, I'm not sure I can think of a better script- albeit an artificially acidic one- that nonetheless is captured with absolutist hypnotic involvement and actualized as truth by Preminger's dynamic camera movement capturing the action with grace. domino has compared the film's wit to Mamet, and this would be like a Mamet film shot in a manner that makes you believe his dialogue is authentic for 80 minutes.

Although Fujiwara doesn't make these explicit connections himself, it's easy to see how several of Preminger's early life experiences were instrumental in shaping his worldview, specifically his victimization by traumatic hate crimes at a young age, and perhaps most significantly, his refusal to convert to Christianity as a stipulation to accept a prestigious position. The latter nonconformist attitude that would shape his personal philosophy is reinforced because Preminger realized that if he had converted and remained in Austria, he wouldn't have come to America to work in Hollywood and would have likely been killed by Nazis for being Jewish by birth within the impending territorial invasion. Talk about a spiritual revelation that would inform one's default towards individualism and social justice!

The book also mentions Preminger's all-encompassed package of celebrating humanity through a lens that's both cynical and optimistic, which we see time and time again as his characters brush up against systems hopelessly but determined and driven by morals, as well as the dual readings of characters as tragically alone but also resilient and empowered in that loneliness; the grace that can be found when acceptance is practiced held hand in hand with its devastation, and the rush of ardor for persistence held alongside the realist restrictiveness of systems.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#49 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:08 pm

The Cardinal’s structure is like an austere playground of opportunities for Preminger to convey the challenges of engaging in personal and social progressiveness within the parameters of a rigidly defined social structure (I was reminded of Rossellini’s later-career educational history films, though this is more cinematically involving in a diverse manner representing Preminger's push-pull conflict of comprehensiveness). By using one of the most powerful and expansive institutions in the world, Preminger objectively demonstrates the value of said collectivist morality and the restrictions of the same ideological mass against novel pleas for reformed morality. It’s another great depiction of contradictions: a position of faith granting and retracting identity, intimacy, purpose, and impact on others’ lives- sometimes literally determining if one lives or dies. Though true to Preminger’s observational nature, he isn’t playing the judge when a death occurs as the result of fixed principles, letting God, and our central character, be the judge and morph in retaliation to that pain.

The detached examination of discrimination and social politics is especially interesting by both orbiting the ideals of Christ’s loving teachings and, paradoxically, the realism of compromise in the behaviorally unChristian environment of western civilization. Preminger might admire principles but he also sees the consequences and meditates on them as incomparable effects to the ethics defended, rather than artificially constructing a causal link of necessity. When an injured body is dumped on the dirt near the end of the second act, the camera refuses to blink, and similarly to Exodus’ audacious use of unflinching deliberation of pace, Preminger takes advantage of the studio’s flexibility ceded to an epic scale by focusing on these stark visions of humanity’s suffering and existential trappings with enough attention for supreme layers of affection to be unveiled through forced exposure. Yet because Preminger keeps an even hand, these sensations don’t feel thrust upon us in a repelling way, but as an invitation we can’t refuse to peer out at and absorb with empathy and self-reflection.

The KKK opposition section is by far the best part, and otherwise it's more of a palette for Preminger to stretch his versatility in interests, and attention to multifaceted perspectives, filtered through his protean methodology.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#50 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:34 pm

Revisited Angel Face last night for the nth time, a few more thoughts:
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To add to my earlier points, and to counter traditional sociopathic femme fatale diagnostics, I believe that Simmons is genuinely hospitalized, rather than feigning illness for appearances, when we see her there post-event. I also see her pleas for no counsel, admission of guilt, and affection for Mitchum in thinking of saving him and taking responsibility as a selfless default move, to be entirely honest without ulterior motive. This moment and her subsequent explanation post-trial are coming from an earnest place, despite her obviously dysregulated mental health and impulsive self-preservation of sanity in threatening responses to Mitchum’s elusiveness when she has nothing left. It’s such a complex examination on a person struggling with a personality disorder in addition to a trauma history and lots of unnamed idiosyncratic and enigmatic internal pain that Simmons doesn’t understand herself, any more than we do. Also, if there’s still doubt that Simmons is the lead character for psychological study, notice the music cues which follow her ominously when in distressed solitude and hardly ever emerge outside of meditations on her inner turmoil from a careful, but curious, distance.

Simmons tries to admit her crime again later without any apparent contractual motivation or blackmail plan, and each time is ushered away from making a moral act by her attorney, who resembles the ‘logical’ form of self-preservation and emotional detachment from guilt as a third party. It’s such an interesting contrast to normative roles in cinema, and specifically noir, where the often-celebrated vehicle of 'sense' here is seen as a moral cavity. How perverse that the respected professional keeping our systems together with order (perhaps not a civil servant but equated to such in his societally-compatible services) functions as a fatalistic pressure that stops the emotionally-minded from achieving their righteous goals!

Leon Ames is fantastic in his part, and his closing argument of the trial is so effective that we simultaneously know he’s being manipulative but also affirm his duty to defend. His statement is so convincing that it completely sells me (even with the insider knowledge of what really happened!) and is yet another example of Preminger’s admiration for the grey, and interest in manipulation- whether moral or ethical, here differentiated- within systems.

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