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  1. BingFan

    Unfilmed Noir

    It's not a novel (obviously), but has Kurosawa's Rashomon ever been adapted as a noir? When I first watched it a few weeks ago, I could imagine it being set in the late 40s or early 50s -- it just seemed like that kind of story.
  2. BingFan

    Desk Set Improvised Scene

    Desk Set is a favorite in our household -- we watch it every year during Christmas season -- and I've always thought that that scene looked improvised. Thanks for confirming! I think the improvisation shows Spencer Tracy's instinctive understanding of the Sumner character, who's shown to be all business when it comes to work, but knows how to have fun at the right time, as he does at the office party. While Sumner does wear a suit and tie at all times -- not unusual for a man in the 1950s working world -- I'd guess that a scientist like him would have a wardrobe designed to require as little thought as possible. Can't you imagine Sumner having only three or four identical suits hanging in his closet, just so he can spend time thinking about EMERAC rather than what he's going to wear? In fact, when he's later describing to Bunny how he and his fiance broke up during the war, he tells Bunny that the fiance, a model, would write to him about fashion trends. "I don't exactly look like someone who's interested in women's fashions, do I?" he says. "Not even in men's," Bunny replies. He doesn't seem like someone who worries too much about his clothes. With all of that in mind, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch for the good-humored Sumner, after a mostly relaxed dinner with Bunny, to stage a funny departure by disheveling his hat and clothes, and throwing out some funny lines. It would have been hard for Bunny and Peg not to laugh spontaneously! Desk Set doesn't seem to get mentioned as being among the best Tracy/Hepburn movies, but I think it's right up there. It's one of those movies that I'm sorry to see end every time I watch it!
  3. BingFan

    Sound Uniques

    It's funny that you compare Marvin Kaplan and Arnold Stang. As you may know, they were teamed as co-owners of a service station in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Here they are in that movie with Jonathan Winters, who, enraged, tears down their brand-new service station with his bare hands -- a hilarious sequence:
  4. BingFan

    Sound Uniques

    Percy Kilbride A few days ago, we were watching State Fair (1945), in which Mr. Kilbride (better known as Pa Kettle) plays an Iowa storekeeper with a penchant for Ralph Waldo Emerson. Listening to Percy, it struck me that his voice is not only very distinctive, but that he uses it like he's singing, varying the pitch and tone as says the lines more than most actors who aren't actually singing.
  5. I think The Big Country came out on blu-ray recently. The wide vistas would look great in higher definition, although the existing DVD isn't bad.
  6. BingFan

    New Now Playing Newsletter Email

    TCM, which does a good job in most ways, is really falling down on the job with Now Playing. The latest version -- August 2018 -- is a big disappointment. I just looked at the August "Summer Under The Stars" schedule, and it appears that someone just added a few photos to a Microsoft Word list of movies and sent it out. No formatting at all. Here's what the first page looks like: I'm sorry, but this is pathetic. First, they discontinued the hard-copy Now Playing that many of us liked and relied on. Then then refused to send out the email version of Now Playing before the first of the month, defeating those of us who want to plan our viewing ahead of time. Moreover, they still can't seem to add many people to mailing list for Now Playing. And now, the schedule for the grand and glorious "Summer Under The Stars" looks like something that someone threw together as they were rushing out the door to start their vacation. (Not that I'm against anyone taking a well-deserved vacation.) And there's no "calendar" format that summarizes the whole month -- none at all. (Even for SUTS, the calendar would be a useful way to quickly see whose day it is.) TCM, if you're going to force us to use the online version of Now Playing (and print out hard copies from it), how about making a little effort to make it look like a real program guide?? We all love TCM -- I'm not complaining about the programming. I just want a decent schedule so that I can see what's coming up; remind myself about the basic plot, cast, and director of each film; and plan the movies that I want to see. Don't you get it, TCM -- you're making it difficult for your most fervent fans to watch your channel. We want an easy-to-use program guide because we WANT to watch TCM. Why are you making it difficult??
  7. Here we go again! I hope our always-helpful moderator can clear out the spam soon.
  8. BingFan

    Movies Not for the Humor Challenged

    Although I haven't seen nearly all of the Coen Brothers' movies, I've enjoyed every one that I've seen: Lebowski, Inside Llewyn Davis, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Barton Fink, Intolerable Cruelty, and Hail Caesar! (Yes, I know there are other good ones that I should see!) A big part of what I like about their movies is the humor. I noticed that Hail Caesar! in particular seemed to baffle some viewers. When it was in theaters, I recall some co-workers talking about how un-funny they thought the movie was. I think my co-workers and probably many other viewers just didn't get the classic Hollywood-related humor or appreciate the story itself, which were most accessible to those who know something about film history. To cite one example, the film studio where some of the story took place had a Wallace Beery memorial conference room, with a large portrait of the man himself overlooking the conference table. I found that small detail absolutely hilarious, but I guarantee you that my co-workers who were lamenting the film had never heard of Beery, let alone seeing how funny it was to have a conference room named after that big old roughneck actor. I really like Beery, but he's not exactly the kind of person a film studio would probably name something after -- like MGM naming its administration building after executive producer Irving Thalberg after his untimely death.
  9. Until this past weekend, I had never seen Rashomon (1950). According to Moviecollector's excellent database, TCM has shown it twelve times. But even if it hasn't been on TCM a million times, it's a movie that I've read references to almost that many times. To make sure I'd finally watch such a renowned movie, I bought a copy during the ongoing Criterion Collection sale at Barnes & Noble and watched it that same night. I really liked it. For me, Rashomon definitely deserves its reputation as a film that raises a lot of interesting questions about the nature of truth, the reliability of film stories, and the motives of storytellers, among other issues. My wife and I spent about an hour after the movie ended just talking about it. Besides raising many interesting issues, Rashomon was just plain entertaining. Even though it focused on a very narrow set of facts, the variations in how those facts were related by the characters made the story fascinating. (I could see the same basic story as a film noir, although I don't think it's ever been made from what I could find out.) Like Rashomon, Citizen Kane is, to me, another "great" film that's just plain entertaining from start to finish. I saw Kane for the first time on the late show when I was in high school, 40 years ago. Even broken up by commercials, it drew me in effortlessly. A great viewing experience from both of these great movies, which I hope to continue enjoying for many years to come.
  10. Citizen Kane isn't a musical, that's true. But no singing or dancing? I beg to differ:
  11. BingFan


    I fully agree that Eddie Muller is a major asset for TCM and its viewers. TCM made a great decision in giving him two regular time slots. I've seen posts elsewhere complaining about other TCM hosts just reading introductions that they allegedly haven't written, supposedly showing little personal knowledge about the films they're introducing. I don't necessarily agree with those views about other hosts, but in any event, I don't think the criticism applies at all to Eddie Muller. He obviously knows a great deal about noir from what he says during his intros and outros, and when I hear him, it sounds like he's speaking his own words, not someone else's. For me, Eddie is exactly the kind of knowledgeable, engaging host that film buffs usually seem to be looking for. I often watch his intros and outros even when I don't have time to watch the movie itself because I feel like I learn something from hearing Eddie talk about the subject. He goes well beyond other intros on TCM by giving us a lot of detailed background on the films and their makers, even including pertinent film clips. I can truthfully say that I've become more of a noir fan because of what I've learned from Muller's TCM appearances (as well as from his Dark City book). (I've always liked film noir, but only recently have I made a point of learning more about it.) I know there's a lot of lively debate in the noir world about what constitutes a film noir and related issues. I don't know enough about those debates (yet) and how Eddie Muller figures in them to understand whether the underlying substantive arguments might affect how someone views Muller. That's one of the things about the noir world that seems so distinctive to me, though -- that so many fans are knowledgeable about the films and have strong opinions. I don't sense that kind of following for other film genres or styles. As for The Letter, I had seen the Bette Davis version many times without ever thinking of it as a noir. Yet, when I heard Muller's introduction, I thought, "Of course it's related to noir -- the visual style, the murder and betrayal at the heart of the story -- those are definitely noir elements." It may not be the classic crime or detective story, usually (but not always) set in a dreary mid-century American city, that everyone would agree constitutes a "classic" film noir. But I like the apparently expansive view that Muller brings to the question of what noir is. I don't think he goes too far, though -- to me, he certainly doesn't undermine the whole idea of noir by finding it where it doesn't exist. From my admittedly limited perspective, he seems to be showing us how influential the noir style/genre has been. Keep up the great work, Eddie!
  12. On The Town (1949) used significant portions of the score that Bernstein, with his close friends Betty Comden and Adolph Green, wrote for the Broadway show of the same name. MGM, however, replaced some of the original Bernstein/Comden/Green score with new songs co-written by MGM's own Roger Edens. Not the first time that a Broadway composer had original songs replaced in the movie version (see Cole Porter and The Gay Divorcee). And Hitchcock's Rear Window used a bit of Bernstein's Fancy Free ballet music.
  13. I was surprised that TCM was spending so much time on Leonard Bernstein, given that, after one night of his movie work, the second and third nights were focused on his network TV shows that were aimed at educating viewers about various aspects of music. But it was a very pleasant surprise. I found his talks on music absolutely fascinating. Bernstein was both knowledgeable and articulate, and never talked down to the audience. He covered a wide variety of music -- not just the classical music for which he's most remembered, but also musical comedies, jazz, and blues, with rock music also used as examples in at least one or two shows. (He even sang and played the then-current Association hit, "Along Comes Mary.") He always treated the non-classical musical genres with the same respect that he treated the classical examples. I'm glad that TCM took a few nights to pay tribute to one of the leading American cultural figures of the 20th Century. On those TV shows, Bernstein was trying to broaden the viewers' horizons, letting the audience know that, to quote Duke Ellington, "If it sounds good, it is good." I'm sure Bernstein would be the first to say that folks can make up their own minds about what sounds good to them -- he was no musical dictator, as his own broad musical tastes showed. When I was a kid, I was only interested in rock music. My mom tried to force-feed her beloved classical music to me, but it didn't really stick at the time. Over the decades since then, however, I've gradually come to like many more types of music because I was open to listening for appealing melodies, harmonies, and rhythms in jazz, folk, blues, old-time, country, and, yes, classical. (Although my mom didn't have immediate success, I later realized that the classical music she always had on the radio had become as familiar to me as the rock hits that I played on my own favorite stations. Thanks, mom!) I can see why the lack of movies on Saturday and Sunday nights might disappoint some folks. And I wouldn't want TCM to preempt film-related programming too often. But in this case, they got it right -- for me, anyway. Bravo, TCM!
  14. BingFan

    Mary Astor Doc

    Artist/writer Edward Sorel has written and illustrated a very entertaining book about Mary Astor, which focuses not only on her diary-based scandal, but also his life-long admiration for her work.
  15. Today (June 29), Barnes & Noble is starting its summer 50% off sale on all Criterion blu-rays and DVDs. The sale runs through Aug. 6.

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