Jlewis

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  1. Jlewis

    What is Cult?

    I have all three of Danny Peary's books on the subject published between 1981-1988, the golden age of VHS when you no longer had to pay a fortune to watch a certain title you were curious about by way of a 16mm catalogue or wait for some inner city "art house" theater to revive it. Obviously he did not invent the word, but he was the one who made it popular. All three books are excellent reads for any movie fan because he digs pretty DEEP into a lot of titles from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Wizard Of Oz and even the pornographic Beyond The Green Door. There is no cookie cutter definition for what a cult movie must be except that as many... or more... people enjoy it today than at the time of its release. Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is a perfect example since only certain critics were discussing it back in 1971 (and not too favorably) but most of the family audiences it was intended for did not warm to it until after enough showings on TV built up a fan base. Both Citizen Kane and Casablanca made the cut for this same reason, but Gone With The Wind did not because it was always a mammoth part of the cultural landscape since Day #1. Likewise Disney's Fantasia made the cut but not Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs or Bambi, although the latter could potentially be a cult film since it merely broke even initially at the box-office in 1942. Yet because Bambi is so much a part of the Disney story book franchise, it can't be a cult. A cult generally is something that needs rediscovery after being ignored for a couple years. Many would debate if John Ford's The Searchers should have been included since it was a profitable film even in 1956, just not one discussed much by Ford fans until the 1970s. Intriguingly Annie Hall also is included in one of the later books even though one would argue it is the least "cult"-like of all of Woody Allen's films, being a Best Picture winner (like Casablanca).
  2. Jlewis

    Making some "Shortie Checklists"...

    Covered the World Windows series here, under United Artists: Produced in England by E.S. Keller and F.W. Keller, this series of 16 Technicolor travelogues are fondly remembered today by the stellar work of then 22-23 year old cameraman Jack Cardiff, all a full decade before the glories of Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and The African Queen. One of his first travel films in the spectacular three-strip system was commissioned by James FitzPatrick of MGM's Traveltalks: Paris On Parade documented the Paris International Exposition in the summer of 1937. The Keller team then promptly sent him next to Italy to do The Eternal Fire covering Pompeii and later Rome and Palestine. By the spring of 1938, he was shooting in India. United Artists distributed all internationally, but only handled the first 8 in the United States. Paramount distributed the remaining titles under a different umbrella logo “Fascinating Journeys”... two years after their British releases. Competition with the Traveltalks probably curtailed their chances at that time since FitzPatrick's top cameraman Winton Hoch already covered India in the rainbow process well enough for American audiences in such 1936 titles as India On Parade. Yet Cardiff went a bit further than Hoch by not only showcasing the Taj Mahal in all of its Technicolor glory, but also covering it at night for Temples Of India. For a while, the British Film Institute had this one available on YouTube, but later removed it. Three other titles can be viewed... as of now: Road In India, Delhi and Indian Durbar. Ruins Of Palmyra And Baalbek, filmed earlier than the India reels (probably the winter of 1937-38) and released in the United States on November 1, 1938, is particularly interesting since Palmyra's ruins are pretty much gone today, thanks to the more recent war in Syria. Most of what you see documented here was destroyed by 2015. Encyclopædia Britannica had reissued this one for the 16mm market, along with other World Windows re-edited with different titles, as Ancient Baalbek And Palmyra on September 29, 1953. Read further here: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/arch-palmyra-syria-jack-cardiff-technicolor
  3. Forgot that one. Sadly it is hard to find on either DVD or online, unlike The Emperor's Nightingale. Almost as gruesome as Ray Harryhausen's hydra in Jason And The Argonauts.
  4. RASHOMON may not be the "greatest" Japanese film and certainly the director himself made other titles that would rank higher as critical darlings, but we can clearly see here that it was to Japanese cinema what the Beatles were to British pop music: the shot heard around the world. Sort of like Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse as well, this film landed in each international film festival dock with open arms. Part of its success in the U.S. (with RKO even handling distribution rights when most of the majors had prior been leaving foreign imports to United Artists and the smaller companies to handle) may be due to a brand new Art House market opening in the fifties, one that absorbed both the earlier CITIZEN KANE (resembling RASHOMON with multiple characters relaying a common experience through radically different eyes and toying with the standard movie structures), the contemporary Swedish imports from Bergman utilizing eerily similar summertime forest settings and the New Wave boom post Brigitte Bardot and the over-praised HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR.
  5. Jlewis

    Ben Mankie's HUAC Rants

    The only "sin" that Ben has committed is appearing on Young Turks videos, but he is very mild-mannered and quite neutral in his opinions there. One time he even discussed favorite movies of different candidates in the election. He was very tongue-in-cheek when mentioning that you-know-who loves Citizen Kane. He was very coy and didn't expand on the subject, so we the viewers were expected to debate for ourselves whether you-know-who loves that movie for its cinematic artistry or you-know-who loves that movie because its lead character bosses everybody around like little children and insists the only news worth reporting is the news he likes... *cough cough*. Ben slyly kept his trap shut regarding the matter. Of course, Robert was loved because he was gossipy of the subjects some viewers would rather he stay gossipy about. However very few here knew he had a long-term male partner until after he died because he himself knew fully well how opinionated some viewers were about that. He would only have to read the threads here today when somebody dares to question the, um, orientations of deceased movie stars.
  6. Jlewis

    TopBilled’s Essentials

    Oh that has happened to me too, but I think it has more to do with the person uploading the video on YouTube not wishing it to be shared on other sites. If a video is a problem to this forum, the mods just delete your post altogether. One problem I also find is that videos sometimes get deleted on YouTube, along with the accounts that upload them. Most of these are only online for a couple years and the older your posts are here, the more likely you need to re-check them over time to see what images and videos are still visible.
  7. Jlewis

    TopBilled’s Essentials

    Hopefully none of the "antiques" I post in the short film threads cause panic.
  8. Jlewis

    TopBilled’s Essentials

    You do realize that some of us are clicking on the images that look like videos first rather than the links. (Yes, I am not the brightest bulb in the box.) I think it was Audie's personality that is what sold him as a star more than his military decorations. James Cagney certainly saw star power in him, giving him his first big break. Only 45 when he died in an airplane crash not far from all-mysterious Roanoke.
  9. Jlewis

    A Very English Scandal

    I did watch the backstory documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ck9hZGV59Q We can debate whether Jeremy Thorpe purposely wanted to kill Norman Scott or just scare him, although the poor Great Dane still lost his life, but it just demonstrates the awful lengths politicians go to hide their sex lives. Sort of like the Stormy business today. What makes it all tragic is that it was less necessary to hide everything in middle 1970s than in 1960-61 because homosexuality was no longer illegal in the UK and it was not like he was some "family values" conservative. He was with the liberal party and fought for racial rights in regards to South Africa, among other social liberal causes.
  10. Jlewis

    "The Swimmer"

    Don't quit now! The fun is only getting started! You may need to make a little correction here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Lancaster#Marriages_and_relationships "Recent biographers and others" should be changed to "Recent biographers and some TCM forum members fantasizing that he is winking at them while dropping trou in The Swimmer" Charlton Heston insisted that a script girl was fawning over him in the famous trial scene in Planet of The Apes, but I suspect that was his fantasy. After all, he already did the Mel Gibson Gallipoli routine with his bro-buddies earlier in that same film. I sure hope some of you still have a sense of humor.
  11. Jlewis

    Art of Disney Animation

    All of the Disney features have characters that may be a trifle wooden. I mean... the princes with Snow White and Cinderella are hardly "wow" although Sleeping Beauty's (Aurora's) at least fights Maleficent. Simply put, I am OK with Wart. He is a nice honest and wholesome boy like Oliver Twist. Even displays tears when he shouts at his peers and even Merlin. I think both Ward Kimball specials were intended for TV with the car film running a full 50 minutes, but were cut down in running time and released theatrically to fill the bill. That is why we get so much live-action footage in both. Disney had some interesting 16mm educationals in animation at this time too, covering topics like natural family planning and VD. Regarding the Tomorrowland specials, I can watch Mars And Beyond over and over and over and over again. It is the gift that keeps on giving with each viewing.
  12. It is so hard to do these kinds of lists because there is a mountain of material I have still not watched. Also I feel many of these AFI and Sight & Sound lists are too focused on certain director "darlings" and those films with wide mass appeal. All too often silent cinema gets ignored (although it was nice of them to include Intolerance and a few others) and short films that haven't been given a second life on TV are tossed in the ash-can of history. These are 15 exclusively American produced features (running over an hour) that I have probably watched the most times... King Kong (RKO, 1933) - it has so much to answer for and you just can't be bored by it no matter how many times you watch it. So much detail incorporated into the cinematic fabric. I only recently learned that the famous Loch Ness "surgeon's photograph", later proven a fake, was allegedly inspired by the submerged brontosaurus herbivore-turn-carnivore rising out of the water. Bambi (Disney/RKO, 1942) - although all of the twitterpating annoys me as much as it does Friend Owl Sunset Blvd. (Paramount, 1950) - I love Gloria Swanson, even if she isn't as sexy here as in the much earlier Manhandled. Pity she had to shoot William Holden's Joe in the pool. Now she no longer has him or the chimp. Just Max (good ol' Erich Von Stroheim)... and he did care for her the most. Gone With The Wind (Selznick/MGM, 1939) - the soap opera of all soap operas. Only in Hollywood would the actress who plays frail and dying-in-the-end Melanie be the one who outlasts the rest of the cast in age. Everybody else exhausted themselves. (tie) The Graduate (Embassy, 1967) / Midnight Cowboy (Hellman/United Artists, 1969) - can't make up my mind between these two Dustin Hoffman flicks but there is this nice yin/yang quality about them when viewed together. In the former, he is experiencing his "first time" with Mrs. Robinson, while the latter has him aiding a down and out Jon Voight's Joe without so much as disrobing his own jacket. Also both with Dustin ending up in the back end of a bus. When Comedy Was King (Robert Youngson, 1960) - a nice crash course on the silent comedy stars. I especially love the opening shots of Charley Chase going to the movies to see himself I Am A Fugitive From The Chain Gang (Warner Bros, 1932) - this is the one you watch when you are feeling "whoa as me" depressed. At least he temporarily gets to be a high-paid engineer with a fancy suite, even though two women bring his downfall. The Incredible Shrinking Man (Universal-International, 1957) - pity Grant Williams never became a big star after this, shrinking away in his career by the seventies. But at least he exists, as he proudly announces at the end of this. Strangers On The Train (Warner Bros, 1951) - this and North By Northwest are my favorite Hitches. This one has that ever so slight edge though. My favorite scene involves Robert Walker and "mother" Marion Lorne: Mother: Well, I do hope you've forgotten about that silly little plan of yours. Bruno: Which one? Mother: About blowing up the White House. Bruno: Oh, Ma, I was only fooling. Besides, what would the President say? Mother: You're a naughty boy, Bruno. Sherlock Junior (Metro-Goldwyn, 1924) - yeah, I lean more towards Keaton than Chaplin although I have enjoyed the other's films too. I understand why The General is considered his masterpiece, but this represents to me the core of twenties comedy with all of its speeding cars, trains and movies-within-movies. The Band Wagon (MGM, 1953) - I like Singin' In The Rain equally but might as well give this one a shout-out Mr. And Mrs. Bridge (Palace/Cineplex Odeon, 1990) - I guess this is technically a British film (Merchant-Ivory) with an American cast (Newman and Woodward) but it seemed American enough to blend in with the others. I think the appeal of certain films rests on whether or not you know people who resemble the characters. Kinsey (Qwerty Films/American Zeotrope/Fox Searchlight, 2004) - Probably the best of the more recent wave of biopics, although I am sure it takes many liberties with history. I especially like the believable relationship between Liam Neeson and Laura Linney as husband and wife. Companion trio worth seeing just to demonstrate all of the trouble the real Kinsey caused: Radley Metzger's The Lickerish Quartet (1970), Score (1973) and The Opening Of Misty Beethoven (1976, arguably one of the greatest films of the seventies) Ben-Hur (MGM, 1925) - the later version with Charlton Heston sometimes puts me to sleep, but Ramon Navarro is way too lively on screen.
  13. Jlewis

    "The Swimmer"

    That is all my fault, responding to the Larry rather than John Cheever part of a post.
  14. Jlewis

    Art of Disney Animation

    I am probably in the minority, but I rather like The Sword In The Stone. It has its flaws, mostly in its attempt to be trendy-contemporary with the Camelot years. (It was previewed in September of 1963, but went into wide release after JFK's assassination, which may have hurt it all the more both critically and commercially.) You had to be around then to get the joke about Bermuda travel commercials. Then again, I also favor the animated sequences in Bedknobs And Broomsticks over Mary Poppins although I agree with the critics that the earlier film is far better overall. Many consider the sixties through eighties a lackluster "dark age", but it was really more of a hit and miss situation with most of the hits being in smaller packages. For example, Ludwig Von Drake was a rather enjoyable new character despite so much of his material being used to link recycled footage from earlier films. The Winnie the Pooh featurettes still hold up despite "Americanizing" the material (if also aware of this with the all-American gopher admitting "I'm not in the book, y'know" in The Honey Tree, then being pounded underground by the rest of the gang celebrating at the end of The Blustery Day). I also consider something as obscure as Dad, May I Borrow The Car a fascinating, if not entirely successful, follow-up experiment to It's Tough To Be A Bird. The Rescuers was definitely the best of the features post-101 Dalmatians and pre-The Great Mouse Detective (another under-rated one). Despite the enduring popularity of The Jungle Book, I still favor Soyuzmultfilm's Maugli series better because Kipling works better as serious story telling than musical comedy.
  15. Jlewis

    "The Swimmer"

    Poor Danny. Nobody considers him a hunka-hunka o' burning luv on this forum. I have a feeling he and Larry were quite a riot together. The dialogue alone would make for one great comedy sketch. Anyhoo, back to The Swimmer...

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