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About Osfan

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  1. Yes. I agree that the clip sequences are very well put together, and also that any good or even "nondescript" music would be better than most of the stuff that they have been using.
  2. Just saw the January preview reel and, to my shock, it was accompanied by a song sung by one of my favorite singers- "Cry Me A River" by Dinah Washington. I cannot remember EVER hearing a song running behind one of these clip montages that was actually time-period appropriate. These are, after all, classic films, so why not use classic tunes to entice viewing? If the use of contemporary pop/rock is an attempt to garner/keep/placate (?) a younger audience, perhaps this crowd could benefit from adding a little music "history" to their film study. Why not cultivate a taste for music that is from the same era as the films? And on that note (musical pun intended) why not have Michael Feinstein doing a regular franchise a la "Noir Alley" for music and film- a weekly version of the wonderful spotlight feature that he did in December? Michael has a vast knowledge of the composers and songwriters, and we enjoy hearing all of the back stories about their lives and work and inspiration just as we love listening to Eddie Mueller wax on about the stuff that film noir is made of. Anyway, I just felt that it is worth mentioning the use of a great jazz singer to herald the new month's programming.
  3. Osfan

    Character actors SOTM April 2017

    You are correct in stating that TCM often broadcasts films that feature Thomas Mitchell, which indicates how large a body of work he amassed. Perhaps it is true that he is not a "STAR" in the same sense as Clark Gable or Spencer Tract, et al, and yes, many actors have never been honored with SOTM, however some who are known as "Character" actors have, i.e. Walter Brennan. So if you feel that SOTM is too much time to devote to work horses like Mitchell, then perhaps an evening of programming.
  4. Osfan

    Character actors SOTM April 2017

    I find it disappointing that the GREAT Thomas Mitchell is given such short-shrift by being passed over again and again for the singular spot of SOTM! Although I could make the argument that several of these "character" actors who are included in this month's salute are so much more than... well, Character Actors, there is no question that Thomas Mitchell is a bona fide STAR!!! In the year 1939 ( the year many film scholars consider Hollywood's greatest) he appeared in five major films, three of which were nominated for Best Picture. In that same year he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Doc Boone in John Ford's iconic film, "Stagecoach". Mitchell is among a very small group (roughly less than a dozen) of actors who have won the triple crown of acting- Oscar, Tony, and Emmy. He worked in every medium and across all genres. His roles were major, and although supporting other actors he often stole the scenes in which he appeared. He handled the comedic and the dramatic with equal aplomb. Yes, he played "characters", but like Walter Brennan he never became a cliche or stereotype. His performances were very nuanced, his film work prolific. Let's give him his due- I nominate Thomas Mitchell for STAR of the Month!!!!!
  5. Osfan

    December Schedule Is Up

    This film has aired on the Fox Movie Channel several times. Russell has never been the most convincing actress, and I agree that the story plays fast and loose with details of the Mamie's real life, but the production quality is high- sets, scenery, cars and clothes are all great, cool houses and furniture, too. We can always find something of value in a film, always something to watch.
  6. Osfan

    TCM Premieres

    That's too many chiefs....
  7. Osfan

    TCM Premieres

    This statement clearly falls into the category of No S--- Sherlock!
  8. Osfan

    TCM Premieres

    Notable CHIEFLY (!) for the appearance of the Chief of C.O.N.T.R.O.L.- Edward Platt- and the Chief of U.N.C.L.E.- Leo G. Carroll- in the same film.
  9. Osfan

    TCM Premieres

    Probably for the 5:30 time slot.
  10. In this clip from "Speedy", Lloyd takes us on an outing to Coney Island. As we stroll via the camera along the boardwalk, the attractions and the people create the necessary carnival atmosphere. The sight of the bodies flying off of the "go round" is funny enough, but Lloyd has them helped along by the pincer of a crab claw- we never actually see the crab, nor do we need to. It's much funnier to see only the device and not the perpetrator. The fun continues as Lloyd and his date attempt to walk through the rotating tunnel, slipping and falling all the way, and Lloyd flops like a rag doll on the giant slide- hilarious! The eating montage, while not especially slapstick, is very funny because we suspect that the outcome will be an oversized belly ache, and sure enough it is. And of course, hitting a guy in the face on the wind-up at the pitching booth is classic slapstick. And Lloyd is rewarded for this by receiving a prize- the doll that his girl brought with them to this booth! Lloyd's character may seem more real than some of the other great film comics due to the fact that he doesn't exaggerate his movements or expressions, but acts/reacts a bit more naturally. He also wears clothing that actually fits him- no baggy pants, tight fitting coat or silly hat- only his spectacles, which I suspect were actually in fashion at the time these films were made. All of the great silent film artists implemented many similar gags/techniques, but I think that what Lloyd contributed that is somewhat his own style are the longer sequences of exciting, daredevil stunts.
  11. In this clip from "One Week" Keaton uses everything but the kitchen sink as part of a series of gags. We have the big guy/little guy, Buster's extra long shoes, his backside exiting the window first, the steps of the ladder peeling away in rapid succession... the entire set is a surreal, topsy-turvy through-the-looking glass world in which we expect strange things to happen. The big guy is able to hold up a piano with one hand, the piano can fall on buster and pin him to the ground without him sustaining an injury. the ceiling in the living room is so elastic that it snaps back like a slingshot, catapulting the paper hanger through the roof, and HE sustains no injury! Are we on LSD? While both Chaplin and Keaton were agile and athletic, and both relied at times on the absurd end of the humor spectrum, Keaton came at us with rapid fire gag after gag, each scene a series of struggles and mishaps, while Chaplin teased us with a more subtle build up of smaller laughs leading to the bigger pay off. Chaplin was graceful, conniving and clever, using his wits against his antagonists, whereas Keaton comes across as the polite victim of physical obstacles and thoughtless people. Chaplin gave us subtlety, and Keaton's contribution to slapstick is the fearless, bombastic physical gag.
  12. As I mentioned in a prior post, film was barely a toddler in 1918, and young performing artists were eager to see what they could do with this new medium. Here we are several generations later and, thanks in part to the innovations of those artists and in part to advanced technologies, contemporary film makers have new tools to work with, and new colors to paint with. Every generation desires to make their mark by doing things that haven't been done before, but quite often we end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. Just because something is "old" doesn't necessarily make it "old fashioned". Many of today's directors seem to be of the belief that the audience requires a higher level of stimulation, so naturally they employ the use of hyperbolic special effects to clobber (excuse the pun!) the senses, and while fast edits and severe close-ups were made fashionable by Sergio Leone and Bob Fosse, et al, they can be useful for dramatic effect but not always necessary for visual comedy. So I think that what I feel is missing in today's comedy is a regard for the intellect of the viewer, confidence on behalf of the film maker that we will get it- we KNOW what is funny! In the example of today's clip, Chaplin allows us to take in all of the information with his camera shot, so that we can decide what is important or interesting. He cuts away only for a brief moment so that we can see the dog licking his chops. Charlie and Syd probably performed this gag on stage at some point, but now with film we can see more intimately the raising and lowering of Syd's eyebrows, the vague and vacuous expression of the tramp, the sleight of hand as he pretends to "brush" the cake tray or catch an invisible fly. And speaking of brushing, did you notice that Syd brushed his beard with the same brush that he used to grease the links? The rhythm and the timing that we all know took hours and hours of rehearsal and preparation looks and feels so natural- something that I never feel with CGI.
  13. During the period 1912-1930 film was still a fairly new form of entertainment, and many artists were eager to embrace this new medium. During this time several significant comedic talents happened to be working and competing to make great innovations, and invented ways to expand the boundaries of what had previously been recorded on film. While I admire their contribution and do consider their work a part of a "golden age", it's not as if comedy on film was all down hill from there. In the 100 or so years since we have seen it evolve, sometimes drawing on it's own past and repeating elements that have worked before, and at other times making us laugh in completely new ways. There is always the risk when we look back, as both Agee and Youngson did, that opinions will be shaped by not only what is included in the essay/book/film, but also by what is omitted. History of every aspect of life is, unfortunately, left in the hands of those who will document it.
  14. As a former vaudevillian Keaton understood completely what to do to elicit a laugh from the audience. These clips demonstrate that he wasn't merely a performer, but an artist eager to try a new medium, one that afforded possibilities for gags and stunts that could not be carried out on stage. His vision, along with his calculated planning and fearless execution gave us many thrilling and timeless moments on film.
  15. These film clips of Chaplin's work serve to support my case that slapstick is an extremely sophisticated form of humor. Not only does the execution of the gags require careful planning, choreography and repetition, but the concepts themselves derive from a certain pathos of human nature. Charles Chaplin demonstrates a deeper understanding of the humanity of the situations that he sets up, the elements of which are universally relatable. Even in the absurd simplicity of the "slipping peel" we are reminded of our own self-defeating behaviors, and the Tramp's completely naïve reaction gives us the message that we are likely to be victims of our own sabotage again and again.

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