Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Remembering the Movies, Apr. 8 - 14

Friday, April 8, 2011

Remembering the Movies, Apr. 8 - 14

Every Friday, we look back at films released 10-100 years ago this week.
Visit Remembering the Movies to further peruse the past

This week, I revised The Dancing Image. You can read about the changes here if you missed the announcement.

I haven't seen any of the films highlighted in the series this week, so I'm particularly interested in your take on them. Excalibur's a bit of a cheat, but since its UK release date is unavailable I'm using the stateside premiere. Anyway, it deserves to get its due since it has hovered around the top of my Netflix queue for years now without making it to my door - even Arthur couldn't pry it from that resting spot...

10 years ago (April 12, 2001)
"However passionate Martel is with her filmmaking, she almost seems like an unlikely director when she says things like: 'If one chooses the path of filmmaking, I don’t know if it is important to have a vast knowledge [of film].' But then she clarifies this in an actually deep way: 'Perhaps it is necessary to have a deep understanding of a few things or to have a conviction and honesty about what I want to do and how to manifest that. I don’t have any academic foundation regarding film…. I made a lot of videos when I was an adolescent and I think LA CIENAGA owes a lot to those home movies and with the storytelling of my mother. I believe there is a certain way of organizing the story that I recognize from the maternal side of my family. In the little world where I grew up there was a lot of storytelling, much conversation, many tales about cause-effect situations, and with doubtful chronology.'" - Chale Nafus, Austin Film Society



The Swamp (2001)

20 years ago (April 12, 1991)
"The Object of Beauty ...  is only about these financial problems on a surface level. What's underneath is really the ability of these people to learn to love and trust one another. The movie is too cool and witty to descend to obviously sloppy emotion, but in Jake and Tina we see two hedonistic drifters who have finally been forced to take stock of who they really are, separately and as a couple." - Roger Ebert


30 years ago (April 10, 1981 - U.S. release)

"Filming in his beloved Ireland (County Kerry and Wicklow), it’s impossible to underestimate the power of the imagery in Excalibur.  Boorman’s Britain is a Celtic hybrid where people speak in Welsh, Irish, Cornish and Scottish brogues, where pagan necromancy is disappearing in favour of Christianity and the central ethos is of harmony with nature; 'you and the land are one', Arthur is told.  The use of green, in particular, is quite astonishing, none more so than in the ethereal lighting seen throughout not only the woods but inside the castles and even reflected in the pristine shine of the armour and of Excalibur itself.  A symbolism at its most potent in one of the most beautiful, symbolic sequences ever filmed, as Arthur leads his knights from Camelot for the last time to their date with destiny, riding through a barren landscape when the flowers and trees magically transform themselves into full bloom as the rejuvenated king leads his knights through a row of budding blossom trees.  All accompanied by the greatest ever use of Carl Orff’s immortal ‘O Fortuna’ as could be offered." - Allan Fish, Wonders in the Dark (#49 in the 1980s countdown)

Excalibur (1981)

40 years ago (April 9, 1971)
"Robert Mulligan's Summer of '42 is a memory movie, written, directed and acted with such uncommon good humor that I don't think you'll be put off by its sweet soft-focus, at least until you start analyzing it afterwards. It is, perhaps, just a little too perfect, a little too symmetrical; not the way things really were, but the way they should have been (and the way they always are in recollections of tea and sympathy):

The movie is the memory of what it was like to be 15-year-old Hermie, almost 30 years ago, spending the summer with his family on an island off the New England coast, longing to be a man among women but having to make do with Oscy, who was bigger and thus could beat him up whenever he wanted to, and Benjie, who was younger and dumber, but who had access to an illustrated marriage manual.

It was a time of Unguentine, Mary Noble, Backstage Wife, Bette Davis movies, double-dip ice cream cones (for 12 cents), paddle ball, a distant war and immense frustration. There was the night, for example, when Hermie sat in the back row of the movie house, ecstatically caressing Aggie's upper arm under the wildly mistaken impression that he had somehow managed to grab hold of her breast.

Racked with guilts and exploding with mad desires, Hermie conducts himself like Jack the Ripper, a mysterious lodger in his own house and a figure of some eccentricity abroad, especially to Dorothy, a war bride and the 'older person' of 22 whom he loves from afar. 'You should be careful,' he says when she goes shopping without a grocery cart. 'You could get a hernia.'" - Vincent Canby, New York Times



Summer of '42 (1971)

50 years ago (April 13, 1961)

"Unlike the family in The Housemaid, who are the architects of their own downfall, the characters in Aimless Bullet are never given even the slightest opportunity to change their situation. Early in the film, Yong-ho visits the home of the young woman who will shortly be murdered by the poet. Her top floor apartment can only be reached via a large exterior staircase. As they race up the stairs, she says to Yong-ho -- 'Isn't it great to be up high and look down on everyone'" Though the characters in Aimless Bullet will only ever know the literal meaning of the sentence, the figurative sentiment is close to the thoughts of Tong-sik and his wife at the start of The Housemaid. Though their approaches are entirely different, both The Housemaid and Aimless Bullet can be seen as harsh social and political critiques. (In fact, Aimless Bullet was banned for several years in South Korea.)" - Filmbrain, Like Anna Karina's Sweater



60 years ago (April 11, 1951)

"Mexican ambassadors and nationalists called Los Olvidados a crime against the state and while Luis Buñuel's friend Georges Sadoul found the director's depiction of police and state officials 'too bourgeois,' surrealists and intellectuals alike had nothing but praise for the film. Buñuel loathed the film's ridiculous French subtitle Pitié pour eux (Pity on Them) yet the film's international success meant that Mexico would soon come around. That same year, Buñuel would direct Susana (The Devil and the Flesh), possibly the most unspectacular film of his career. Buñuel's perfectly routine melodrama (a remake of Alexander Korda's 1929 The Squall) begins evocatively enough inside the Reformatorio del Estado with the titular heroine (Rosita Quintana) staring at the silhouette of a cross reflected on the floor from a nearby windowsill. She prays to God for forgiveness ('Dear God! You made me the way I am!'), begs for a miracle, and receives it in the form of Herculean strength (or possibly blind luck) when the bars of her cell's windowsill miraculously come loose." - Ed Gonzalez, Slant

Susana (1951)

70 years ago (April 11, 1941)

"The story framework [by Don Hartman, Sy Bartlett] is pretty flimsy foundation for hanging the series of comedy and thrill situations concocted for the pair. It's a fluffy and inconsequential tale, with Crosby-Hope combo, doing valiant work to keep up interest.
Pair are stranded in South Africa, with Crosby the creator of freak sideshow acts for Hope to perform. With his saved passage money back to the States, Crosby buys a diamond mine, which is quickly sold by Hope for profit. Then pair start out on strange Safari with Lamour and Una Merkel, pair of Brooklyn entertainers, pursuing a millionaire hunter.

Comedy episodes generally lack sparkle and tempo, and musical numbers [staged by Le Roy Prinz] are also below par for a Crosby picture."
- Variety



80 years ago (April 12, 1931)
"Only on the IMDb can a lost film that nobody has seen get an accumulative vote of eight stars. I guess they see it in their imagination or, one suspects, it's all just a game. What I can say is that the new DVD set of Chan movies from Fox contains the Mexican version of Charlie Chan Carries On - Eran Trece - shot on the same sets with Mexican actors. It's actually quite entertaining and the print is in better shape than the other Chans in the set (apparently all the early negatives are lost)." - whitesheik, IMDb



90 years ago (April 10, 1921)
"The film is well known amongst silent film buffs for the risqué costumes displayed by lead actress Betty Blythe as evidenced by several surviving stills taken during the production. This was a rarity in mainstream Hollywood films at the time. As no print of the film survives, a final judgment of this production will most likely never be known.

The film was originally intended for Theda Bara. However Bara chose not to renew her contract and after making the ill-fated Kathleen Mavourneen all but retired from film. While making Mavourneen, construction began on sets for The Queen of Sheba. Not wanting it to go to waste, William Fox chose to put Betty Blythe in the role. The film became a hit and Blythe never matched its success with her later films.

The topless scenes filmed in this movie were seen only in European release versions of the movie."
- Wikipedia


100 years ago (April 8, 1911)

Little Nemo (1911)



3 comments:

Jaime Grijalba said...

"Excalibur" didn't get me as much other people did, it just felt long and tiring along the way, more like a short story book than a novel, if you get what I'm trying to say.
The other film I saw from this week, is the Winsor McCay short. I have some kind of love/hate relationship with this pioneer. While some of his stuff is revolutionary, his moral reasons to do them are questionable. This one, is somewhat boring due to the process of animation, pictured on film, is not that interesting and not really funny.

MovieMan0283 said...

Though I posted the video clip, I haven't actually watched it yet. I like the McKay I've seen though, and am generally a fan of pioneer stuff, particularly the experimental/animation. There's just something so fresh about that stage in movie history, when everything was new and exciting.

Jaime Grijalba said...

I just remembered, I saw quite a good chunk of Susana on a film scene class. It was weird, and I want to see it fully.