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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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The Petrified Forest (1930s)


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#1 kjrwe

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 12:17 AM

I think it's even a play which high school drama students could tackle, and their teacher could show them the film as well. That would be a good learning experience.


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#2 cinemaspeak59

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 11:07 AM

Good Discussion.  I think The Petrified Forest would work quite well as a stage revival on Broadway.  Several years ago, I saw the Heiress on Broadway, with Jessica Chastain, Dan Stevens (Downtown Abbey) and the great character actor David Stathairn, and I loved it.  Sarah Paulson would be a perfect choice to play the lead.


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#3 LawrenceA

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:45 PM

Well actually I didn't mean anything in that reply to the G rating.    It was a joke reply to FrankBigelow.

 

TP and you do know who that guy is, right, and his connection to the expression DOA.

 

Anyhow,  I do agree with what you say here as it relates to if TPF was released in the ERA of the rating system.

 

I have no idea who Frank Bigelow is/was. Looking it up, I see that it's the character played by Edmond O'Brien in DOA. I saw the movie once, about 30 years ago, and I don't recall character names very often, even from movies that I like a lot. 

 

I thought your remark meant that if the movie was remade now, in color and with modern actors, but every other aspect was left exactly the same as it was in '36, it would be DOA/dead on arrival/a flop. And I agree, it would. And that's no criticism of the play/film, as I'm a fan. It just wouldn't go over with most audiences now.


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#4 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:12 PM

I think James meant that the movie would be rated G if released now. I don't agree, as landing a G rating has actually become more difficult since it was introduced. Most kids animated films are rated PG anymore. I think The Petrified Forest, as released in '36, could have eked by with a PG 15 years ago or more, but now they'd rate it PG-13 for "thematic elements, adult situations and smoking", even without the aforementioned cursing, nudity and onscreen violence. 

 

Well actually I didn't mean anything in that reply to the G rating.    It was a joke reply to FrankBigelow.

 

TP and you do know who that guy is, right, and his connection to the expression DOA.

 

Anyhow,  I do agree with what you say here as it relates to if TPF was released in the ERA of the rating system.



#5 TopBilled

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 02:38 PM

I think James meant that the movie would be rated G if released now. I don't agree, as landing a G rating has actually become more difficult since it was introduced. Most kids animated films are rated PG anymore. I think The Petrified Forest, as released in '36, could have eked by with a PG 15 years ago or more, but now they'd rate it PG-13 for "thematic elements, adult situations and smoking", even without the aforementioned cursing, nudity and onscreen violence. 

 

Yes, good post. I don't think THE PETRIFIED FOREST would get a 'G' rating now either. It's not for all general audiences.

 

A mistake people sometimes make is they think everything released during the production code years is sanitized or inoffensive. Take KINGS ROW for example. Despite all the changes that were required by the Hays Office, it is still an adult story. It's a film where a sadistic doctor (Charles Coburn) butchers the leg of a young man (Ronald Reagan) and that is not going to be for all adults, and certainly not for kids.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#6 LawrenceA

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:52 PM

As I posted earlier THE PETRIFIED FOREST is not a G-rated film. It has no rating. 'G' means 'General audiences,' which means that it includes children. I sincerely doubt people were taking kids to see THE PETRIFIED FOREST, live on stage, or in a movie theater in 1935. Everyone knew this was a story intended for adults.

 

I think James meant that the movie would be rated G if released now. I don't agree, as landing a G rating has actually become more difficult since it was introduced. Most kids animated films are rated PG anymore. I think The Petrified Forest, as released in '36, could have eked by with a PG 15 years ago or more, but now they'd rate it PG-13 for "thematic elements, adult situations and smoking", even without the aforementioned cursing, nudity and onscreen violence. 



#7 TopBilled

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:23 PM

If such a 'G' rated film was made today it would DOA.   

 

As I posted earlier THE PETRIFIED FOREST is not a G-rated film. It has no rating. 'G' means 'General audiences,' which means that it includes children. I sincerely doubt people were taking kids to see THE PETRIFIED FOREST, live on stage, or in a movie theater in 1935. Everyone knew this was a story intended for adults.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#8 TopBilled

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:19 PM

While this version has violence it is mostly low key.   The most violence comes at the end from the drunken posse when they are shooting up the place but that violence did have a message;  that the posse cared more about catching their prey to gain fame than the safety of the hostages.  

 

If TPF was made today I assume there would be a lot more violence;  one thing would be a given - That we would see Duke 'get his due'.     Even in the 30s version if Bogart was a more well known actor I assume the director (Mayo), would have been asked to include such a scene.    Future films with Bogart as a hood (as a secondary actor in films starting WB stars Cagney or Robinson) always had a Bogart death scene.   Bogart even commented on this when ask if he disliked those scenes.  Instead Bogart welcomed them and felt they helped his career because they were his 'close up' in these films.

 

Not to sound too disparaging, but what we really have with this film is a talkfest that builds to a violent shoot-out. It would have to be structured different it was made today. Because you can't spend 85% of a movie talking and revealing character-- there has to be a lot more action. Even for 1935 standards, I think the film is a bit out of touch, because we'd expect this kind of transfer of stage material to film in the early days of the talkies. But by the mid-30s, it should be more than a filmed play-- it should be a lot more cinematic. 

 

Conversely I think HEAT LIGHTNING is much more opened up and cinematic-- it was made by Warners a year earlier and also had as its basis a stage play. 

 

THE PETRIFIED FOREST comes across as another in a long line of PUBLIC ENEMY type films the studio specialized in. But the formula is very repetitive and no longer fresh by '35. The performances of the leads as well as the supporting cast are what make it interesting to watch. But the story and the handling of its theme is rather clunky, and very stage bound. 

 

If it had been made as a silent film, it would have been much more visual. Not all this sitting around and talking.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#9 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 12:13 PM

Actually I think the two screenwriters (Delmer Daves & Charles Kenyon) sort of cheated, because they were taking a plot and dialogue that had already gone through rewrites on Broadway. They were starting with something that was already created for the stage.

 

So far in this discussion we've been talking about sex, profanity and special effects. But we're not talking about the absence of violence-- that's because Daves & Kenyon didn't eliminate the violence. They kept the violence in the story. Anyone can make something suspenseful without sex or profanity or special effects if you bring a gangster on camera and have him threaten to kill people. 

 

As for 'G' ratings, the 'G' rating did not come into existence until 1968. THE PETRIFIED FOREST does not have a 'G' rating. It is not rated.

 

Yes in the case of TPF the screenwriters have a wealth of source material starting with the original play and the rewrites for the Broadway version that starred both Howard and Bogart.      As I have said TPF is my favorite film and the main reason is the dialogue and how the fine actors deliver said dialogue  (especially the early scenes between Howard and Davis as they get to know each other).

 

While this version has violence it is mostly low key.   The most violence comes at the end from the drunken posse when they are shooting up the place but that violence did have a message;  that the posse cared more about catching their prey to gain fame than the safety of the hostages.  

 

If TPF was made today I assume there would be a lot more violence;  one thing would be a given - That we would see Duke 'get his due'.     Even in the 30s version if Bogart was a more well known actor I assume the director (Mayo), would have been asked to include such a scene.    Future films with Bogart as a hood (as a secondary actor in films starting WB stars Cagney or Robinson) always had a Bogart death scene.   Bogart even commented on this when ask if he disliked those scenes.  Instead Bogart welcomed them and felt they helped his career because they were his 'close up' in these films.


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#10 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 11:45 AM

I think the restrictions forced them to work harder. If someone today were told that they needed to make a movie that carried suspense and drama, I doubt seriously that they could do it and still earn a "G" rating. I suppose they could, but it would be a great deal more difficult. I'm sure today's writers and directors are equally talented, but the cuffs are off, so they have a lot more freedom.

 

If such a 'G' rated film was made today it would DOA.   ;)



#11 TopBilled

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 10:56 AM

I think the restrictions forced them to work harder. If someone today were told that they needed to make a movie that carried suspense and drama, I doubt seriously that they could do it and still earn a "G" rating. I suppose they could, but it would be a great deal more difficult. I'm sure today's writers and directors are equally talented, but the cuffs are off, so they have a lot more freedom.

 

Actually I think the two screenwriters (Delmer Daves & Charles Kenyon) sort of cheated, because they were taking a plot and dialogue that had already gone through rewrites on Broadway. They were starting with something that was already created for the stage.

 

So far in this discussion we've been talking about sex, profanity and special effects. But we're not talking about the absence of violence-- that's because Daves & Kenyon didn't eliminate the violence. They kept the violence in the story. Anyone can make something suspenseful without sex or profanity or special effects if you bring a gangster on camera and have him threaten to kill people. 

 

As for 'G' ratings, the 'G' rating did not come into existence until 1968. THE PETRIFIED FOREST does not have a 'G' rating. It is not rated.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#12 FrankBigelow

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 07:20 AM

But it could still have worked if it had been made with sex, special effects and profanity. The absence of those things does not necessarily make it better (unless the idea is that classic films should subscribe to some sort of conservative morality). Also, why imply that today's filmmakers do not work as hard as people who made films 80 years ago...?  

I think the restrictions forced them to work harder. If someone today were told that they needed to make a movie that carried suspense and drama, I doubt seriously that they could do it and still earn a "G" rating. I suppose they could, but it would be a great deal more difficult. I'm sure today's writers and directors are equally talented, but the cuffs are off, so they have a lot more freedom.



#13 kjrwe

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 02:38 AM

But it could still have worked if it had been made with sex, special effects and profanity. The absence of those things does not necessarily make it better (unless the idea is that classic films should subscribe to some sort of conservative morality). Also, why imply that today's filmmakers do not work as hard as people who made films 80 years ago...?  

 

I think that the filmmakers had to work harder back then in order to come up with interesting scripts which didn't involve sex, swearing, etc. These days, if filmmakers need a filler, they'll throw in those things just for the heck of it.



#14 TopBilled

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 07:19 PM

I watched this again the other night. I guess I have seen it a dozen times or so over the years. This is one of those films that reminds me of how restricted the writers were in the past and how they worked so hard. This movie is 81 years old. There are no special effects, no cursing, no sex, nothing. Yet, it completely works, and it works today. Of course, having one of the best casts in movie history doesn't hurt...

 

But it could still have worked if it had been made with sex, special effects and profanity. The absence of those things does not necessarily make it better (unless the idea is that classic films should subscribe to some sort of conservative morality). Also, why imply that today's filmmakers do not work as hard as people who made films 80 years ago...?  


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#15 FrankBigelow

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 06:39 PM

I watched this again the other night. I guess I have seen it a dozen times or so over the years. This is one of those films that reminds me of how restricted the writers were in the past and how they worked so hard. This movie is 81 years old. There are no special effects, no cursing, no sex, nothing. Yet, it completely works, and it works today. Of course, having one of the best casts in movie history doesn't hurt...



#16 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 01:31 PM

This is a favorite of mine.  Bogey can be menacing when called for.  The Leslie Howard character is one I can't forget.  His fatalism is quite poignant.  Here's a man living in a cold, soulless age - the 1930s - of machines who realizes he's swimming against the tide.  The portrayal is timeless, and you can see that character updated to the times we live in now. 

 

The cold,  soulless age - the 1930s!   This is why I mentioned that the film (play), could be remade in many other eras.   E.g.  Hippies felt that the 60s and 70s was a cold, soulless age and where trying to get back to nature and work with nature instead of trying to dominate it.

 

The play would also be relevant to our current soulless age of social media and how nature is 'winning' in so many areas;  failing dams,  climate change,   pollution etc.,.,   


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#17 cinemaspeak59

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Posted 10 April 2017 - 01:12 PM

Anyone else a fan of the 1930s gangster film The Petrified Forest? I've seen this film probably about 10 times or so.

This is a favorite of mine.  Bogey can be menacing when called for.  The Leslie Howard character is one I can't forget.  His fatalism is quite poignant.  Here's a man living in a cold, soulless age - the 1930s - of machines who realizes he's swimming against the tide.  The portrayal is timeless, and you can see that character updated to the times we live in now. 



#18 kjrwe

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 06:43 PM

 

 

PS:  The interaction between the two black men is also very telling and interesting as it relates to the times.  

 

I love the interaction between those two!



#19 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 01:35 PM

Thanks for the information in your second paragraph! As for the classification of this film, it's probably a gangster-drama-romance film. By the way, I like both Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. As for Bogart, he's probably one of my favorite actors.

 

Bogart is my 3rd favorite actor (Grant being 2nd).    Bogie was a little stiff in The Petrified Forest but how he held his arms in some scenes in the film was modeled after Dillinger.    Still it looks odd to me.     There are so many great scenes in this film but two that stand out are the roof top one with Howard and Davis.    That dialog fits every decades but especially the hippie era as it relates to mankind trying to control nature but nature will always 'win'.

 

The other scene is where Bogart and Howard discuss women and how much each is a snap for a gal.    While the two men come from very different places in life,  when it comes to women,,,  well,   they were so much like the rest of us!

 

PS:  The interaction between the two black men is also very telling and interesting as it relates to the times.  



#20 kjrwe

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 07:52 PM

The Petrified Forest is my favorite film.   Fantastic dialog with wonderful performances by my two favorite actors,  Leslie Howard and Bette Davis.   But I don't view the film as a gangster film.   The gangster angle is only one part of the plot which resolves around the disillusion of two men; one an intellectual and the other a criminal.   

 

Bogart owns his career to Howard, who wouldn't do the film unless Bogart was given the same role he played on Broadway.    Bogart and Bacall named their child Leslie because they understood how important that was.

 

Thanks for the information in your second paragraph! As for the classification of this film, it's probably a gangster-drama-romance film. By the way, I like both Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. As for Bogart, he's probably one of my favorite actors.






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