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Everything posted by Jlewis

  1. TopBilled’s Essentials

    I do feel that CROSSFIRE falters somewhat when Robert Young gets too preachy towards the end. Yet you have to consider the era in which it was made. Even the vintage MARCH OF TIME documentaries of the thirties and forties tended to be a trifle preachy instead of merely stating the facts. Movie goers craved sermons on screen. When they didn't go to the movies on Sunday, they went to church to hear sermons as well. Only those of us today who are jaded by sermons saturating all of TV and the internet are tired of it.
  2. TopBilled’s Essentials

    Yes, I never understood exactly why HENRY V took two years to make US theaters since Laurence Olivier was a big enough box office draw. That would been another competitor to DOUBLE INDEMNITY and GOING MY WAY.
  3. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    These two have always been favorites of mine, both satires on motion pictures. The first one, a product of Britain's top animation studio of the 20th century, is a crash history lesson on movie making from cave man “comics” through the rise of wide screens in the 1950s to combat that electrical box installed in every living room. The second one, from Russia's top animation studio of the 20th century, presents the actual making of a movie as if it is happening in the Book of Job with every conceivable frustration involved. History of the Cinema UK: John Halas & Joy Batchelor Released August 1956 The Brits always displayed a dry sense in humor in their animated cartoons, even when lecturing. Some of the funny writing comes from Nicholas Spargo (who, under his own studio, produced some of the wittiest TV ads of the sixties and seventies featuring oddball couple Joe and Petunia). Great character animation by Harold Whitaker and John Smith add to the fun, including a key scene of a movie censor guy chopping up the footage so that the patrons can't see all of this “sin”, but savoring it all for himself. Greedy little so and so... Фильм, фильм, фильм (Film Film Film) Soviet Union: Soyuzmultfilm Fyodor Khitruk Released December 1968 Fyodor Khitruk had met the great Sergei Eisenstein at least once before he died in 1948, although (according to Wikipedia) the hot-tempered director lampooned here was inspired by one of his contemporaries, Grigori Roshal. I absolutely love how this presentation is put together. We start with shots of pop art from the swinging sixties of everybody, including the late Marilyn Monroe and late Buster Keaton. Then we are thrust into all of the frustration behind the glitz, complete with uncooperative weather for cow shots and uncooperative child actors. Perhaps Khitruk's statement here is that Soviet filmmakers were increasingly jealous of what was happening in sunny capitalistic California. Over here, you don't get Oscars but a mere flower bouquet as gratitude.
  4. Figured that we needed a thread for classic theatrical cartoons already available online. Obviously the lifespan of anything on YouTube is temporary so some of these videos may need replaced later. Feel free to contribute more. I will try my best to provide as much information on these. Covered this one already here: http://forums.tcm.com/topic/36026-russian-soviet-films/?tab=comments#comment-1618034 Lev i Byk (The Lion And The Ox) Soviet Union: Soyuzmultfilm Fyodor Khitruk Released December 1983 and August 1984 (Ottawa International Film Festival) What I find most interesting is that acacia tree shown at the end resembling some sort of nuclear mushroom cloud. The lion and the ox seem to represent rival nations enjoying an uneasy peace and the jackal “trouble” instigating it. 1983 was a key year in the Cold War and the overall uneasiness on both sides was also reflected on American TV with The Day After.
  5. TopBilled’s Essentials

    When profiling award winners of the 1930s and '40s, it is really difficult to determine "what should have won" simply because both the size and the quality of the menu (pre-TV) was so much wider back then than it is today. Yes, there are a few films today that will be considered classics in the future, although it is hard to determine which ones since tastes change with the times. (For example, how many Best Picture winners of the last two decades have you seen more than once? Many have a "seen it once, time to move on" quality about them.) One problem today is that the bulk of mainstream entertainment (movies, TV and "net" entertainment) has become a "niche" market catering to specific groups, demographics and, since more money is made by Hollywood overseas than domestically, storylines in the more expensive productions have to be more simplistic than in the past so that they can translate better in different languages. Looking at both the nominees and rejects-but-still-loved American feature productions and British imports of 1947, the only issue is that most of the stars were Caucasian. Yet there was an obvious attempt to entertain as much of the broad population as possible. Therefore, not only is Crossfire a worthy opponent to Gentleman's Agreement (and Hollywood was going through its social message phase in the wake of the Nuremberg trials), but so is Black Narcissus, Boomerang, Miracle On 34th Street, Great Expectations (late '46 release in the UK, but qualified among the nominees this year), Odd Man Out, Out Of The Past, Hue And Cry, Body And Soul, It Always Rains On Sunday and, a couple notches down but still important, Monsieur Verdoux, A Double Life, The Bachelor And The Bobbysoxer, The October Man, Brute Force, The Hucksters, Nicholas Nickleby, The Bishop's Wife, Road To Rio and the guilty pleasure Bill And Coo (please don't be mad at me). Treasure Of The Sierra Madre was previewed by Variety in December but just missed the cut since it went nationwide the following year, so we can only imagine how much tougher the race would have been had it been released earlier. Equally tough had Donald Duck been allowed a nomination for his supporting "performance" in Fun And Fancy Free's "Mickey And the Beanstalk" sequence, the one thing that stands out in that Disney feature besides Charlie McCarthy's wise-cracks.
  6. TopBilled’s Essentials

    Yes, Wilder made up for it the following year with his “no, he’s not gay... he is just an alcoholic with writer’s block” melodrama. In a way, even Bing Crosby should have won something much earlier since he had kept Paramount in the green more than anybody else since Mae West. Even if his boys used his Oscar as a bath tub stopper if we believe the Jack Benny radio shows. Come to think of it, the Jack Benny parody with Ray Milland on the picture that scored Wilder a win was even better than the original.
  7. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Cavallette (Grasshoppers) Italy: Bozzetto Produzioni Bruno Bozetto Released May 1990 Insects will outlive all human kind, being unconcerned with human obsession for violence. Provided, that is, that the humans keep decomposing into green, green grass.
  8. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Het Etherschip (The Ship of the Ether/Ether Ship) Netherlands: Philips Radio George Pál Released December 1934 I have always had a soft spot for George Pal, purchasing Arnold Leibovit's The Puppetoon Movie on VHS in the late '80s, then the Image DVD in the early 2000s. There is also the excellent upgraded expanded version (with still more extras) on both BluRay and DVD: https://shop.tcm.com/the-puppetoon-movie/757347404144 TCM had a spotlight on Pal last year. After experimenting with stop motion in some German advertising films like the marching cigarettes in Mitternacht (Midnight), George Pal set up a little factory, followed by a bigger one with a bigger staff, in Eindhoven with Philips Radio backing him. One of his first color cartoons for Philips was the delightful cel-animated Radiorør-Revolusjonen (Radio Valve Revolution/Revolution Of The Bulb), but stop-motion of doll figures soon became his true love. The Ship of the Ether was the first of eight stop-motion efforts processed in still now impressive (if slightly primitive) Gasparcolor. By 1937, he was shooting in full Technicolor, with Unilver and the British based Horlicks also sponsoring him. The outbreak of war sent him to Hollywood and Paramount Pictures; his newer facilities providing work for a young Ray Harryhausen in 1940, among others. (Some of his key Dutch staff members reunited after the war with a new company called Dollywood.) After 1947, Pal's focus switched from short subjects to mostly live-action features with stop-motion special effects. Compared to his later efforts, this one is quite simple in the design of its figures (resembling Fisher Price “Little People”), but elaborate with its glass art deco settings. Like a follow-up Puppetoon released in early 1935, De Tooveratlas (The Magic Atlas), it advertises how sophisticated the Philips sound system is, both on cruise ships far from land and in broadcasting from different countries.
  9. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Znatiželja (Curiosity) Yugoslavia: Zagreb Borivoj Dovniković Released June 1967 (completed in 1966) What makes the Zagreb school of animation so timeless is how it makes comedy out of the human condition. So much other humor is topical and loses its punch with age.
  10. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    A Légy (The Fly) Hungary: Pannónia Filmstúdió Ferenc Rofusz Released May 1980 This Oscar winner is hardly accurate. If you are a house fly, you have multiple eyes and see multiple images.
  11. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Lichtspiel Opus I Germany: Ruttmann-Film Walter Ruttman Released April 1, 1921 Good abstract in tinted color, although some viewers may find it a trifle long.
  12. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Czerwone i Czarne (The Red and the Black) Poland: Studio Miniatur Filmovych Witold Giersz Released June 1964 (completed in 1963) This animator did some dazzling work for the Polish “school” with bright paint blotches taking form. Koń (The Horse) from 1967 is often considered his masterpiece, but this earlier work spoofing bull fights is quite charming. For a change of pace, the bull wins. More importantly, I wonder what Max Fleischer thought of this homage to his earlier “Out of the Inkwell” series.
  13. International films with LGBT themes

    ... he did provided more agony than ecstasy in that one. Amusingly you have to "age verify" just to watch the 1965 trailer. Is it that obscene for the tiny tots viewing YouTube without parental supervision? All Heston does is shout "I will paint man as God made him... in the glory of his nakedness!!!!"
  14. International films with LGBT themes

    I don't know what Heston would have thought. He was a model for artists himself pre-Hollywood, allegedly even posing nude a few times. He had no qualms exposing his back end in Planet Of The Apes, even with other guys in a group "bro bonding" session that was similar to Mel Gibson and his bro-buddies in Gallipoli.
  15. International films with LGBT themes

    Speaking of Finland, this is what they entered into the Oscar race even though it didn't make the top 5 cut in the Foreign Language Feature category.
  16. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Рикки тикки тави (Rikki Tikki Tavi) Soviet Union: Soyuzmultfilm Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaya Released December 1965 It is always fun to compare Russian (namely Soyuzmultfilm) and American (often, but not always, Disney) cartoons using the same source material. For example, A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh looks and acts differently in contemporary Disney and Fyodor Khitruk (Vinni Pukh) versions even if the basic plots, including Pooh posing as a rain cloud with a bright blue balloon to fool honey bees and later getting stuck in Rabbit's entrance, are essentially the same. Regarding Rudyard Kipling, a popular rumor has it that Walt Disney told his story men, after buying the rights to The Jungle Book, to simply throw it away and do it the Disney way. Yet the Maugli 20 minute featurettes directed by Roman Davydov between 1967 and 1971 only took a few liberties (like Bagheera being female). Alexandra Snezhko-Blotskaya, a major director and designer in Soviet animation from the mid thirties through the mid seventies, tackled two Kiplings for Soyuzmultfilm. Curiously U.S. audiences had limited interest in The Cat Who Walked By Himself even if Pooh voice Sterling Holloway narrated a pretty cool recording of it for Disneyland Records. Her 1968 version, Kot, Kotoryj Gulyal Sam Po Sebe, adequately ran 20 minutes. 20 years later, Ideya Garanina supervised an expanded feature length version, re-titled as “herself”, that combined stop-motion and other animation techniques, also for Soyuzmultfilm. Previously in 1965, Snezhko-Blotskaya made her version of Rikki Tikki Tavi, but unfortunately it got ignored for a time outside the country and was soon overshadowed by the enormously popular 1974 U.S. TV production by Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote fame, benefiting from Orson Welles as narrator (even if his voice ominously sounds like it was recorded in a lavatory). In some ways, this later version is a trifle better since it is slightly more faithful to the original and more adult in its characterizations. The '65 version features a younger mongoose and a bit too much cute appeal. The graphic designs in both are quite different but equally pleasing: the stylized children book design in the Soviet version echoing earlier UPA versus the “inky” Xerox-cel update contemporary of the Disney features. What I feel is the best attribute to the earlier Soviet version is the use of Indian characters in the human roles instead of British colonialists, which probably made that version more popular on TV over the years in the real India itself.
  17. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Uzel No Kapesniku (The Knotted Handkerchief) Czechoslovakia: Studio loutkového filmu Gottwaldov/Krátký Film Praha Hermína Týrlovà with Josef Pinkava & Miloš Komárek Released September 1958 Only in a cartoon could a handkerchief become human. Adding to the surreal nature of this juvenile film is the live-action boy in an environment that begins in a standard apartment room, then morphs outdoors to a very “cartoony” playground with flat vegetation and fences. Hermína Týrlovà started in animation in the middle 1920s along with her husband Karel Dodal and gained international attention post-war when this anti-Nazi puppetoon became an unexpected hit in western European and the United States theaters. Castle Films enjoyed plenty of mileage with it on 16mm and practically every baby boomer saw it on TV in the fifties at least once. Vzpoura Hraček (Revolt Of The Toys) Czechoslovakia: Krátký film Zlín/Československá filmová společnost Hermína Týrlovà & Frantisek Sadek Released May 8, 1947 (completed '46)
  18. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Phantasmagorie France: Gaumont Émile Cohl Released August 17, 1908 Some trippy toons never age...
  19. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    DEFA had a prolific animation studio located in Dresden that was operating full scale from 1955 through 1990 with roughly two thousand titles, covering a wide variety of animation techniques as well as marionette and hand puppet films made especially for a juvenile audience and live-action documentaries. Covering two in one post here: Ent- Oder Weder (Make Up Your Mind) East Germany: DEFA-Studio für Trickfilme Bruno J. Böttge Released May 20, 1966 (completed in 1964) Cut out and silhouette animation, popularized by Lotte Reiniger in Germany during the 1920s, was also popular as a German art-form during the Cold War era with Bruno Böttge. Among his early silhouette films was Der Wolf Und Die Sieben Geisslein (1953) for Studio für populärwissenschaftliche Filme, one of the precursors to Studio für Trickfilme. This short is a very dark comedy about man's relationship with very competitive canines. It gets brutal in the end! Filopat Und Patafil: Der Wettlauf (Filopat & Patafil: The Race) East Germany: DEFA-Studio für Trickfilme Günter Rätz Released January 4, 1963 I believe a total of 58 of these little Filopat and Patafil films were made between 1962 and 1967, with at least one follow-up later.
  20. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Les Trois Inventeurs (The Three Inventors) France: AAA Michel Ocelot Released May 1980 (completed '79) Don't worry about the absence of English subtitles. Just enjoy how depraved the intricate cut-outs are. No, this is not computer generated imagery.
  21. 45th Annie Awards

    I am so sorry, but some of us haven't been out and about much, watching all of these. It is such a struggle just getting to the live-action fare. Unfortunately these awards are poorly documented online. We will need of list sometime of past winners going back to 1972.
  22. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Lotte Reiniger doesn't get as much attention as she deserves in classic film circles. This documentary was made 18 years after her passing and does a nice overview of the personality behind the great silhouette cut-out films..
  23. TopBilled’s Essentials

    I have a feeling I saw this or some of it when it was broadcast, but my memory is so fuzzy. Intriguingly Karen Grassle has a role too, post Little House On The Prairie. Since Warner Brothers produced it, it certainly qualifies as a TCM broadcast if Montgomery gets any spotlight.
  24. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Une Nuit Sur Le Mont Chauve (Night On Bald Mountain) France Alexandre Alexeĩeff & Claire Parker Released January 1934 (produced '32-33) Probably needs no introduction. Those entranced by Fantasia eventually find this earlier pinscreen animation version of Mussorsky. Produced over an 18-month period and all of the obsession shows on screen.
  25. An Animated Shorts Viewing Thread

    Schody (Stairs) Poland: Studio Malych Form Filmowych Se-Ma-For Stefan Schabenbeck Released May 1969 (completed '68) Climbing and climbing will get you nowhere.

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