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Everything posted by mikat1

  1. In many ways this film stands out as pivotal in Frank's movie career. By the mid-1960's, the Rat Pack films had run their course and were played out. (Sergeants 3 anyone?). At the same time, 20th Century-Fox was looking to re-establish themselves after almost closing for good a few years earlier. So this combination of Frank doing an action film without his buddies tagging along, and Fox flexing their muscle doing the type of film that they excelled in during the post WWII era results in VRE. On the heels of The Great Escape, and based on a best selling novel by David Westheimer, this is a good, old fashioned war flick, a lot of which was shot on location in Italy. But some scenes were shot on the Fox lot, like the prison camp scenes. They could have done those cheaper overseas, but the studio wanted the rest of Hollywood to know they were back in business. Notable for being one of the first Fox films to be shot with Panavision lenses, at the insistence of Sinatra; he knew CinemaScope had major limitations, especially during close-ups. Also notable is that he was introduced on-set, by co-star John Leyton, to Mia Farrow, who was doing the Peyton Place TV series at the same time. (Maybe they'll ask Ronan Farrow to play Ryan in the remake, ha ha!). The film was a big success, partly because Sinatra thought the ending would be stronger with his character not making it, which also prevented any possibility of a sequel. Another aspect of the film that lends an air of realism is that the Nazis speak in German, with subtitles, as do some of the Italian characters who speak in their own language. Fox's war movies, especially after The Longest Day, were more realistic in this regard than WW2 movies from other studios were (Battle of the Bulge). Behind the camera were key players like cinematographer William Daniels, who also shot Frank in Some Came Running, Ocean's 11 and Assault on a Queen; composer Jerry Goldsmith went on to score other films for Sinatra like The Detective and Contract on Cherry St. Brad Dexter was a Sinatra crony until he made the fatal mistake of advising him NOT to marry Farrow; after that, Dexter was persona non grata as far as Frank was concerned. The most uncomfortable moment in the film for me is when Ryan has to do away with the Italian girl; he kind of seals his own fate by doing this, and this scene gives the movie some gravitas, some weight. Makes you reflect on the absurdity of war. All in all, VRE was the right film at the right time for Frank Sinatra.
  2. This film is unique in the history of gangster films. It's not really a noir film, but has elements of noir influence. Shot in widescreen and color by master cameraman Milton Krasner, himself an architect of early b&w noir (Scarlet Street, The Woman in the Window, The Set Up), Massacre also has a docudrama feel familiar to anyone who's a fan of the old Untouchables TV series, complete with narration (Paul Frees instead of Walter Winchell) The casting choices reflect the influences of classic Warner Bros. gangster films. Jason Robards bore no resemblence to Al Capone whatsoever, but he does look a bit like Bogart here, and George Segal's turn at a James Cagney imitation is obvious in an early scene practically lifted from Public Enemy. One thing this film does that not many other gangster films before it has done is to show how much of a business gangsterism had become by the late 1920's, a direct precursor to The Godfather, made by one-time Corman protege Francis Coppola. The link here is complete, with Alex Rocco in both films, famously playing Moe Green in the latter. There's really no one to root for in this crimefest, unlike the other neo-noir of the same year, Bonnie and Clyde. Corman's gangster masterpiece has suffered in the shadow of Arthur Penn's more widely admired film, but true gangster film fans still know a classic when they see one. I'm always hoping it will get shown on TV around Valentine's Day, like it used to back in the 70's and 80's, but I guess that kind of morbid programming choice is frowned upon these days.
  3. mikat1

    Fox westerns on the Encore Westerns Channel

    I used to get the Encore package of channels and my main problem with them was their habit of showing pan and scan versions of widescreen films. When you talk about Fox westerns, you're also talking about ones made during the CinemaScope era. Movies like Broken Lance, Garden of Evil, River of No Return, The Bravados, Warlock, etc. All those films are butchered by pan and scan when shown on Encore. I'd rather wait for those to turn up on TCM instead.
  4. mikat1

    Next Year's Festival

    {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}My recommendations for next year's festival would be movies turning 50, and aside from obvious favorites like My Fair Lady and Dr. Strangelove, which have been screened a lot here in LA, I'd love to see: {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Goldfinger {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Mary Poppins {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}The Carpetbaggers {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}The Pink Panther {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Viva Las Vegas {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}A Hard Days Night {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Father Goose {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Fall of the Roman Empire (in 70mm){font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}The Pawnbroker {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Nothing But A Man {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}The Killers (Ronald Reagan's last film) {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Marriage Italian Style {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}What A Way to Go {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Zorba The Greek {font} {font:Verdana, Arial, sans-serif}Zulu (in 70mm){font}
  5. mikat1

    Is TCM changing?

    I think TCM would have to change, to a certain extent. I don't expect them to have the same format as they did in 2001 either. Remember, when they started out, it was with titles from the old MGM, RKO, and WB libraries; they rarely showed titles from Paramount and Universal, and practically nothing from Columbia and 20th Century-Fox. Now, in more recent years they have been more inclusive of films from these other studios, and quite frankly, a lot of those titles are grade-b or worse, especially from Columbia. And I like some of those old stinkers. Also, they are the only movie channel that shows the shorts and docs that the studios cranked out back in the day. My only criticism would be to upgrade the quality of the movies shown on TCM Underground. You can only pass off bad as "kitsch" for so long. Weekends, at night, should be for more "silver age" classics from the late 60's thru early 80's. They should have a regular time slot to celebrate the "New Hollywood" of the 1970's, which is really another golden age, if you think ablut it.

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