Timeline

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Timeline

Postby Slade » Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:56 pm

Last night, TCM had a William Holden thread. BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (How many times have I seen that film?) was followed by THE DARK PAST, a film I hadn't seen:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Past

http://www.bighousefilm.com/reviews/dark_past.htm

I assumed that Holden would be the Good Guy and Lee J. Cobb the Bad (TWELVE ANGRY MEN), so it was jarring when I found the roles refreshingly reversed.

(Wil, I assume you've seen it?)

The history of film - like the history of music and the history of novels - is a continuing timeline that we enter along the way. What has always intigued me is "How did we get here?" So after I watched THE DARK PAST, I watched the last episode - "Synchronicity" - in Season Three of WIRE IN THE BLOOD. "As a sniper randomly picks off victims, Dr. Hill must face his own mortality upon being diagnosed with a potentially fatal brain tumor."

Interesting movie history lesson. And it really drives home what the terror was like in the Beltway Sniper spree.

Also, most movies go for a classical score or try to be cool with disco or rap, which rapidly dates them. When I discovered Dario Argento in the early 70s, I was struck by the uniqueness of the score by Goblin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goblin_%28band%29

WIRE uses The Insects to unnerve us:

http://www.electricpavilion.org/dugout/ ... /index.php

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Postby Wil » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:14 pm

Slade,

I haven't seen, nor heard of, The Dark Past but now I have to watch it, given the similarities to my film and to The Desperate Hours, one of my favorite Bogart pictures. I admit that Desperate Hours (and to a lesser extent, The Petrified Forest) was on my mind when writing The Dark Hours.

There is a strange synchronization that goes on and sometimes culminates in something of a zeitgeist. (Everyone is tired of the "it's all in his head" twist, but back in 2003 it wasn't something that every horror/thriller used to wrap things up). And I'm not talking about everyone jumping on the torture-porn bandwagon, either. That is simple, let's do what made money last year thinking.

But there are the years that it seems like every movie is about the same subject. 1987 was babies (Raising Arizona, Baby Boom, She's Having a Baby, Three Men and a Baby, etc.). 1998 was asteroids crashing into earth. There is just something in the air that makes everyone gravitate to the same themes.

A while ago I was pitching a movie project based on the golem myth. Now, when is the last time you heard about golems, or saw a popular project based on the old story? I figured it would be something fresh.

There were no less than three golem projects in active development and they all came into being around the same time. Three months earlier and I would have been the leader of the pack.

Zeitgeist.

On the music:

There was a movement in the 70's towards non-traditional soundtracks. It probably started with Friedkin using Tubular Bells for the Exorcist (he only used a 20 sec. clip but it had a huge impact) and Wendy (born Walter) Carlos' soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange. Electronica soundtracks were the rage and suddenly Tangerine Dream and Vangelis found themselves in demand.

That, in turn, produced some of the cheesiest soundtracks ever recorded. Try and watch To Live and Die in LA, an otherwise brilliant movie, without gagging on the Wang Chung score.

-Wil
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Postby Mbwun » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:27 pm

Wil wrote:... A while ago I was pitching a movie project based on the golem myth. Now, when is the last time you heard about golems, or saw a popular project based on the old story? ...


The book I just finished reading yesterday, "Decipher" by Stel Pavlou, employed Golems in its climactic scenes. Coincidentally, Stel Pavlou is also a screenwriter.
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Postby Slade » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:48 pm

Wil,

I, too, had never heard of THE DARK PAST, so I looked it up in the Hound: "A crazy, escaped convict holds a psychologist and his family hostage, and the two men engage in psychological cat-and-mouse combat. An underrated thriller with off-beat casting." 3 bones.

That was enough for me. I had just watched William Holden as the quintessential American hero in KWAI: "All I want to do is get out of this mess alive"...and then it all comes down to him to put his life on the line. So I thought, "Holden as a Bad Guy. This I want to see." It's like when I was in London and Charlton Heston was playing Captain Queeg in THE CAINE MUTINY. "Heston trying to match Bogart and going mad without a safety net on stage! This I gotta see."

So, you can add THE DARK PAST to SPELLBOUND and PSYCHO on your timeline of Freudian psychology in the movies. It's like watching the original THE FLY. So that's where genetic mutation was in 1950s movies?Interesting.

As for the music, a little goes a long way. The screeching violins in PSYCHO will probably never be topped, but, in the right hands, electronic music can be creepy. The Insects are minimalists.

Then when I hit the brain tumor in WIRE, I thought, "Have I somehow wandered into Wil-Land?"

Synchronicity.

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Postby MarylandManson » Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:56 am

Slade and Wil,

For a point along the timeline between THE DARK PAST and THE DESPERATE HOURS, how about SUDDENLY?

http://www.dvdjournal.com/quickreviews/ ... ly.q.shtml

Cheers! MM
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Postby Wil » Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:17 am

Slade,

Synchronicity has to do with what is taking up real estate in your brain at any given moment. For instance, as soon as I buy a new car, I notice how many of that particular model and colour are on the road at that time. Then I think, what the hell, did everyone just go out and buy the same car?

The chances increase when you're dealing with a couple of magpies like you and me. We tend to build our nests out of so many little nuggets. It isn't surprising that those nuggets show up elsewhere.

Lately, I've been noticing how much the concept of consciousness surviving after a head has been severed comes up in shows/movies I'm watching. A year ago, it wouldn't register a blip. Now it's on my radar and I think, awwww, not again! I just watched Apocalypto and there is a shot where a sacrificial victim gets his head lopped off and the camera goes spinning for a moment. Awwww, shit. (A little nod to everyone wondering if the adaptation has THAT scene).

You can't avoid it.

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Postby Slade » Mon Aug 06, 2007 5:50 am

I thought the same thing in APOCALYPTO!!

In 1977, I saw Alec Guinness live as Hilary in Alan Bennett's play THE OLD COUNTRY at the Queen's Theatre. I was near the stage and struck by how he used his body - as well as his face and his voice - to convey the character. It's about the aftermath of Philby and the Old Boys: the reason the U.S. didn't trust British spies for decades. They couldn't keep a secret!

So this time, I watched KWAI to study Guinness's body language. Next time you see it, focus on it all...and particularly his struggle to take the walk alone when they bring him out of the Oven.

Brilliant stuff.

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Postby Slade » Mon Aug 06, 2007 6:15 am

Wil,

Also, only recently did I learn that Carl Foreman co-wrote KWAI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Foreman

In 1951, during production of the film High Noon, Carl Foreman was summoned to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He testified that he had been a member of the American Communist Party more than ten years earlier while still a young man but had become disillusioned with the Party and quit. As a result of his refusal to give the names of fellow Party members, Foreman was labeled as an "uncooperative witness" and blacklisted by all of the Hollywood studio bosses...

Unemployed, Foreman and some others who had also been blacklisted moved to England where they wrote scripts under pseudonyms that were channeled back to Hollywood. In 1956, he co-wrote the screenplay with fellow blacklisted writer, Michael Wilson for the equally acclaimed The Bridge on the River Kwai. Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle, the two were not given screen credit and as such the Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay went to Pierre Boulle, who did not speak English. This was only rectified posthumously in 1984 and his name was added to the award.

...and we think the life of a writer is tough these days!

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Postby Slade » Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:50 pm

Over the past month, I revisited two films: HIGH NOON and PATTON. If you know the history behind HIGH NOON, it's insightful to compare it to the times in which we live, from 9/11 through the marshaling of the patriotic to go to war with Iraq, followed by the KWAI realization: "My God, what have I done?"

John Wayne loathed this movie.

I grew up in the age of the Western and have seen hundreds of them. But if you say "Marshal" to me, only one image comes to mind:

http://www.filmreference.com/Films-Hi-Ik/High-Noon.html (scroll down)

Whoever dressed Cooper created an icon. The striped morning pants, the vest, the shirtsleeves, the watch chain, the tin star, and the off-beat hat, on a "long drink of water."

In this photo, study the face:

http://encarta.msn.com/media_701766344_ ... _Noon.html

The physically-pained, ravaged look etched on 51 year old Gary Cooper's gaunt face was due to actual illness (a recurring hip problem, bleeding stomach ulcers, and lower back pain), and emotional stress due to his recent breakup with actress Patricia Neal after a three-year, well-publicized affair while separated from his wife.

http://www.bighousefilm.com/high_noon.htm

http://www.filmsite.org/high.html

Knowing that KWAI was written by two Americans - one of them Carl Foreman - adds a whole new dimension to the film:

Colonel Nicholson: Queer bird... even for an American.

I love the scene where Shears (Holden) "volunteers."

Colonel Green: Good show! Jolly good show, Major!

Maj. Warden: [to Col. Green] Sir, it's most annoying. They say, in view of the time element, they don't think a few practice jumps would be worthwhile.
Major Shears: No?
Maj. Warden: No, they say if you make one jump, you've only got 50% chance of injury, two jumps, 80%, and three jumps, you're bound to catch a backache. The consensus of opinion is that the most sensible thing for Major Shears to do is to go ahead and jump, and hope for the best.
Major Shears: With or without a parachute?

And speaking of icons, PATTON contains three real-life candidates:

http://www.one35th.com/rommel/gallery0.htm

Note the sun-and-sand goggles. He found them left behind by a defeated British general and turned them into his photo battle signature. (Click through the photos.)

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Fiel ... ctures.htm

http://www.pattonuncovered.com/html/photos_19.html

With Patton, it's those ivory-handled revolvers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Mont ... ove_up.jpg

With Montgomery, it's the two-badge hat.

That three-way battle is intriguing. Rommel was the uber-general who - through his defeat - would make a career. Patton and Montgomery waged a war-long fight to see who that would be.

Guinness in KWAI must have based Nicholson on Montgomery: note the fussiness. And George C. Scott got the body language perfect for PATTON.

Next up, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. I want to see how many clues there are to where we've ended up.

Slade

P.S. Tex Ritter sang "Do Not Forsake Me" in NOON. His son: John Ritter.

Floyd Crosby filmed NOON. His son: David Crosby of The Byrds and CSNY.
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Postby Slade » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:40 pm

In some ways, Patton is a tragic figure, born out of time. At the end of the movie, Montgomery gets called in to see the King, and Patton gets shoved aside as an embarrassment.

But who got the better deal from the passing of time?

Montgomery got the title - Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of El Alamein - and the statue on Raleigh Green at the Defence Ministry:

http://worldatwar.net/article/thisislondon/monty.html

But Patton got the movie!

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Postby Wil » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:29 am

Slade,

If you’re looking for clues to where we’ve ended up, there are a couple more to add to your list:

The Battle of Algiers (1967)
In this World (2002)
Gallipoli (1981)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Hearts and Minds (1974)

And as a palate cleansing sorbet, (and yet stay on point) watch:

Some Came Running (1958)

You’ll remember why everyone fell in love with Shirley MacLaine, lo those many years ago.

-Wil
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Postby Slade » Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:16 pm

Time to put on the boxing gloves. Who's for a punch-up? I believe Mr. Ed is a fan of the Duke. Anyone else want to put up their dukes? Last night, I watched THE SEARCHERS. Hadn't seen it since I was nine years old. Too young to have been stunned by the scenery, but on widescreen, this time round it took my breath away.

HIGH NOON (1952) - a left-wing Western - was ranked as the #27 Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute in 2007. Here's the trivia behind it:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044706/trivia

THE SEARCHERS (1956) - a right-wing Western - was ranked as the #12 Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute in 2007. Here's the trivia behind it:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049730/trivia

SHANE (1953) - I'm going to rewatch it soon - was ranked as the #45 Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute in 2007. Here's the trivia behind it:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046303/trivia

QUESTION: WHAT - IN YOUR OPINION - IS THE GREATEST WESTERN OF ALL TIME?

Slade

P.S. Meanwhile, here's what I just discovered at the Library, and didn't know existed:

http://www.reel.com/movie.asp?MID=13430 ... ews&CID=18

I saw CAUSE CELEBRE on the London stage in 1977, at the same time that I saw Heston do Captain Queeg and Guinness do OLD COUNTRY. Alma was played by Glynis Johns, the matron in MARY POPPINS. CAUSE was written by Terrence Rattigan (and the Mirren film is adapted from his play):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_Rattigan

Rattenbury (the victim) - you'll recall from HANGMAN, and some of the other novels - built the great colonial buildings in British Columbia and Vancouver: the Legislature, the Empress Hotel, the Court House, etc. He met Alma here, and was run out of town by the scandal.

http://www.fairmont.com/empress/

http://encarta.msn.com/media_461568230_ ... toria.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_Art_Gallery

Connections?
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Postby SickThing » Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:51 pm

I haven't watched enough Westerns to be able to say which is the greatest. However, my favorite Westerns I've seen so far are:

Silverado
Open Range
Lonesome Dove
Blazing Saddles (yeah, but it's the greatest Western comedy I've seen)

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Postby Slade » Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:17 pm

SickThing,

You must watch SHANE, if only for two things:

Jack Palance as Wilson:

http://www.cowboysindians.com/articles/ ... /film.html

And the editing of the final shootout in the bar - chosen not so long ago by the Academy Awards as one of the best editing jobs ever done. The camera shots build up the tension to the breaking point, before the stand-off explodes into action.

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Postby PohlSE » Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:04 pm

Slade wrote:QUESTION: WHAT - IN YOUR OPINION - IS THE GREATEST WESTERN OF ALL TIME?


Being a big fan of westerns I don't want to pin myself down to just one favorite. BUT I have noticed that when I'm in the mood for a western the first title that pops in my mind is Big Jake from 1971, It's a great clash between the old west and the modern world.

After Big Jake I'd have to say Once Upon A Time In The West from 68' and then (since SickThing mentioned comedy) My Name is Nobody from 73'.

After that the field is wide open for almost any western.
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