Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on October 30, 2012
The Warner Archive continues to release an enormous amount of the WB back catalog, at a rate impossible to keep up with. Here is my vain attempt to catch up, covering a group of four films made up of bad men and one very bad woman. The most famous title is Nicholas Ray’s Born to Be Bad (1950), a devious noir/woman’s picture in which Joan Fontaine uses her seductive wiles to marry the heir to a family fortune. Then there is a trio of manly ne’er do wells, with Peter Graves leading a mercenary force in the spaghetti western The Five Man Army (1969), Robert Mitchum doing the same in a priest’s habit in The Wrath of God (1972), and Rod Taylor carousing his way through Dublin in Young Cassidy (1965).
Posted by David Kalat on August 4, 2012
A boilingly hot summer day, a crush of commuters, a moment of carelessness. With these universal ingredients, Akira Kurosawa set up a film that would mix the grim obsessions of film noir with a documentarian’s observation of postwar Japanese life. Talk about universal–Stray Dog is a mashup of pulp pop and reportage, of true crime and intimate drama, of buddy cop movies and art house cinema, of East and West. There isn’t much a movie can do that Stray Dog doesn’t put on its agenda.
That being said, the international critical acclaim that greeted this film requires some dissection, because there’s something really weird going on here. Stray Dog was never a barn-burning commercial splash, and it wasn’t even distributed in the US until 1963 (almost 15 years after it was made) but it was an award-winning and highly regarded art house release that contributed substantially to Akira Kurosawa’s growing renown, and there’s something screwy about that.
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on July 31, 2012
In 1946, John Garfield’s contract with Warner Brothers expired. Instead of re-signing, or moving to another studio, Garfield signed on with the independent Enterprise Productions. Bringing together a group of artists who were communists, or communist sympathizers, Enterprise made an inflammatory group of nine films before folding, after which many of its members were blacklisted, including directors Robert Rossen and Abraham Polonsky. Two of their features, Body and Soul (1947) and Force of Evil (1948), respectively, ended up in the Republic Pictures library, and are being released today on Blu-Ray from Olive Films, in strong transfers. Garfield was eager to make a statement with Enterprise, telling PM Magazine in this period that:
Posted by David Kalat on June 23, 2012
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter? Seriously?
I took my kids to The Avengers a few weeks ago and we were assaulted by a preview for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Both kids, almost simultaneously, leaned in to me to ask in incredulous bafflement, “This is a movie? For realsies?” (That’s how 14 year-olds talk these days. For realsies). Now, just consider how far off the mean you have to have wandered to have the audience for The Avengers think your premise is too preposterous.
Well, the fact is, the definitive Abraham Lincoln action movie already exists—and has done for over 60 years. If it was a person, it could retire. Now, this fantastic action thriller may not have Lincoln in very many scenes (one, if you’re counting), but it’s about Lincoln, it’s an action thriller, and it hits it out of the friggin’ park, so…
We’re here to enjoy The Tall Target. And hoo boy is there a lot to enjoy.
Posted by David Kalat on June 16, 2012
“Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”
Before you answer, please understand: this is not a Yes or No question.
Posted by David Kalat on June 9, 2012
Having retired from the DVD business, I am realizing now that I’m sitting on 15 years’ worth of anecdotes from behind the scenes that I never felt like sharing publicly at the time, because I worried they didn’t gibe with my marketing plans, and I was also mindful of not misusing this forum for self-promotion. But I no longer have a vested interest in any of these movies, and I’m now starting to feel more willing to talk about what went on in the making of some of these DVDs. I’m posting a few stories these weeks to gauge reader interest.
This week I want to talk a bit about my triptych of DVDs with the estate of Victor Pahlen!
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on May 22, 2012
The post-WWII economic expansion exploded in 1950, as the GI Bill’s low mortgage rates stoked a housing boom and pent-up consumer demand propped up retail. Success was there for the taking, but not for all. Two early 50s films that are hitting home video in impressive transfers, Joseph Losey’s The Lawless (1950, on DVD 5/29 from Olive Films) and Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953, now out on Blu-Ray from Twilight Time), documented some of the anxieties caused by this enormous upheaval in American life, what would be the start of the greatest stretch of economic growth in U.S. history. More money meant more crime, and The Big Heat is a nightmare rendering of the American Dream, as good cop Glenn Ford loses his nuclear family and just goes nuclear. The Lawless is an earnest morality play about the plight of migrant fruit pickers in Southern California, doing the work Americans left for office gigs (by 1956 a majority of U.S. workers held white rather than blue collar jobs).
Posted by Susan Doll on May 14, 2012
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe, which has motivated me to re-view many of her movies and reread some of the bios about her. Additionally, the anniversary has pushed MM back into the pop-culture spotlight. The television show Smash with its show-within-a-show structure uses Monroe’s life as the basis for the musical play being produced by the central characters. The show’s references to Monroe’s life and career, plus the writers’ understanding of Hollywood history, are impressive in their accuracy and insight. This past week, the enormous statue of Monroe based on the skirt-blowing scene from The Seven Year Itch that has graced downtown Chicago for several months was dismantled and sent on to its next home, Palm Springs. Smash reminds us of MM’s tortured existence as a woman at the mercy of the Hollywood dream factory; the statue incarnates her status as an icon of sexuality; her films reveal her strengths as an actress and charisma as a star.
In revisiting Monroe’s life and career over the past months, some of her films have tumbled down my list of favorites, making way for new ones at the top. Tomorrow afternoon, May 15, TCM will air one of my new favorite MM movies, Niagara. Directed by studio stalwart Henry Hathaway, Niagara does not get the attention of other Monroe films, particularly those by auteurs such as Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, or John Huston. But, I admire Niagara’s taut direction, visual style, and strong performances by Monroe and costar Joseph Cotten.
Posted by Susan Doll on April 16, 2012
As promised, this week’s blog post provides the answers to last week’s film noir quiz. The quiz was prompted by the tribute to film noir at the TCM Classic Movie Festival, which ended Sunday, but good movie dialogue has been on my mind since teaching Citizen Kane in my film studies class a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing Mr. Bernstein’s bittersweet recollection about the girl he saw while on the Staten Island ferry when he was a young man. She never noticed him at all, and he never saw her again, but there wasn’t a week that went by that he didn’t think about that girl. It didn’t take long for the class to understand that the girl symbolized the personal life that Bernstein gave up to serve Charles Foster Kane. I remarked that in a good script, the dialogue may seem to be about one topic on the surface, but it is actually representative of something else.
The conversation in class made me think about the clever witticisms and banter of film noir. More than just entertaining, noir dialogue denotes aspects of the characters as well key themes. Most notably, the noir genre is famous for the banter between the hard-boiled protagonist and the femme fatale. It serves as a substitute or metaphor for flirtation, love, or even sex.
Posted by Susan Doll on April 9, 2012
Next weekend, I am attending the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, and I am more than excited. I am going as a movie fan, not as a TCM blogger, and I can’t wait to see the films, the stars, and the historic theaters. One of the programs at the festival this year is titled “Noir Style,” which includes five films that will illustrate the distinct visual style of noir: Criss Cross (1949), Cry Danger (1951), Gun Crazy (1949), Night and the City (1950), and Raw Deal (1948). Few genres can surpass noir for its visual beauty and haunting atmosphere, especially when the films are seen as prints projected onto a big screen.
In honor of TCM’s homage to film noir, I have devised my own tribute of sorts, though I have chosen to focus on another convention of this beloved genre—the snappy dialogue. Noir is acclaimed for the well-written dialogue that can be poetic, sarcastic, insulting, provocative, and rife with double meaning. To discover which of my readers are well-versed in noir dialogue, I thought a quiz might be fun. Below are several lines of dialogue from well-known and not-so-well known film noirs. Some lines I selected because of the humor; some because they are quintessentially noir; and some because I personally like the sentiment (or lack thereof) expressed.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art in Movies Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Blu-Ray Books on Film British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller TCM Classic Film Festival Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies