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Jayo

"Moguls and Movie Stars"

312 posts in this topic

cinemaven, I probably shouldn't, but I'll bite...There have been several posters on this thread who have been much more critical of the series than I have been, so perhaps your comment was referring to them. Even they did not sound totally negative to me, just some aspects of the show they thought could have been better. But if, when you say, "It's so easy to put something down and some can't see the forest for the tress" you are referring to my comments about the series, I think you 're being unfair. I went out of my way to say that overall I enjoyed the series, and in fact you could make the case that my main complaint about it is that it leaves me wanting more...hardly something one would say if they disliked a production, or thought it was poorly done.

 

I think the criticisms I made were valid; just because I don't whole-heartedly embrace it doesn't mean I don't "see the forest for the trees". And this is what I said at the end of that post:

 

"I do enjoy the series and acknowledge all the work and research that must have gone into it. And, critical though I may be, I'm always happy to watch it, and I do learn from it.

 

a thousand happy faces to you, darling. :) X 1000

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> {quote:title=wouldbestar wrote:}{quote}

> Folks, this is my first anniversary of joining the Board. I had never done anything like this before and was scared to death. All I wanted was information about a favorite star; what I've gotten back is more than I could have imagined. Sharing my ideas and questions with all of you and hearing yours-even when you're calling me to task-has been a treasure. You have truly enhanced my life and II value all of you. Good night and thank you.

 

 

I just wanted to say how very sweet you are for posting this. I think we are all guilty of overstepping our bounds at one point or another, but this board is nice for the most part. Not that I'm any kind of official here (and don't post all that often) but you are very welcome here. Thanks again for saying nice things about our little community.

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wouldbestar - It's a pleasure to read your posts and discuss movies with you. You bring a fresh perspective and a lot of enthusiasm with you, which is always enjoyable to see around here. Keep up the great posts!

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Why are the brainiacs at TCM taking air time away from movies with this documentary crap?

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> {quote:title=clearskies wrote:}{quote}

> I too have wished they hadn't combined the two, moguls & stars, as they really can't give enough time to both.

 

I disagree. The first couple of installments centered more on the "moguls" because there were no stars yet, or very few.

But once movie stars came into being, they became a force...often directly conflicting & opposing the moguls. The power struggles that ensued is a pretty juicy part of the story, and important to the overall history.

I like how it comes together.

In the next few episodes, we'll see how the power of the moguls is taken away and shifts to the MS.

 

>I also was thinking about Ken Burns doing a documentary on the movie industry.

gaah.gif

Ken Burns is a cheesy documentary film maker, a one trick pony. Would you really have liked to see the same white helvetica words on a black field titling every sub-chapter? Or how about voice overs of actors reading a LB Mayer memo to a zooming still photo of him (seen twice before) at his desk? Each "guest" speaker would have the same rusty Kleig light & an old projector lit behind them in a purple spot.

Burn's "style" certainly does NOT fit this story.

ack2.gif

Those who put this together have a lot more class and obvious love of the subject matter. AND they left out the cheese, thank you.

 

>That all being said, I am enjoying the series & feel they have pretty well struck a balance, considering the time constraints.

 

The last good "film history" documentary I saw was THE BROTHERS WARNER, and that pales in comparison to the depth M&MS reaches. It is truly a marvel, both in subject, technique & finished product.

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> {quote:title=The_Destroyer wrote:}{quote}

> Why are the brainiacs at TCM taking air time away from movies with this documentary crap?

 

 

What are you talking about because of this documentary some of the best films have been scheduled during November & December (well especially the early part of November was amazing)

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"Why are the brainiacs at TCM taking air time away from movies with this documentary crap?" - < The Destroyer >

 

HA! That's the second funniest thing I've read in this thread.

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TikiSoo, regarding the Ken Burns documentaries, judging by the way you describe them, I cannot believe we've watched the same films. The "cheesy" style you speak of is totally absent in the documentaries by him that I've watched - The Civil War and Jazz series. I can't speak for the one on baseball, since I haven't seen all of it. Burns is extremely thorough in his research, and the people interviewed are either very knowledgeable or have personal experience with the topic. They are outstanding documentaries in every way, in my opinion, entertaining and very informative. I have to wonder if we've seen the same documentaries. I think Ken Burns would have done a fantastic job on a subject like "Moguls and Movie Stars". And I still think the episodes , engrossing though they are, whip through everything too fast and with too little depth.

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Thank you, I couldn't agree more, love the series and so do others I've talked to. There are many films shown year round that don't appeal to me. Rather than call them "c***' I just watch other films I've taped. TCM is doing a great job of trying to appeal to a very diverse audience without going to commercials. They are not perfect, but better than any other channel showing classic film.

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> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}

 

>

> There is a very good maker of this kind of documentary series, Ken Burns. He has made, to date, three fantastic documentary series about the Civil War, Baseball, and Jazz. He has said that he feel all three of those subjects have contributed hugely to American's identity. I think we could safely say that Movies could and should be considered an fourth ingredient to that. Burns' episodes were , I think, either an hour and a half each, or even two hours. This enabled him to cover his subjects in a lot of depth. I do wonder what Burns could have done with a series like this.

>

Burns might have done something good with it; conversely, he might have taken one specific angle and ran it into the ground (just as "Baseball" is spoiled by his obsession with the Boston Red Sox, and a similar New England-centric bias tainted "The Civil War").

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VP19 wrote of Ken Burns:

 

"...he might have taken one specific angle and ran it into the ground (just as "Baseball" is spoiled by his obsession with the Boston Red Sox, and a similar New England-centric bias tainted "The Civil War"). "

 

You think? I didn't get that from his Civil War series at all, I thought it was remarkably unbiased. However, I am not American, so perhaps am not sensitive to these matters. Of the three documentaries by Burns that I mentioned, the only one I have not seen is "Baseball", so I cannot comment on that one.

 

Tikisoo was critical of the visuals in his series, citing bad lighting and too much repetition of shots of various individuals. I have never noticed any aesthetic problem with the lighting in his interviews, which were most often of academics sitting at their desks. I had no problem with that. The use of repetition, especially for the Civil War series, was, I imagine, due to the fact that he had to make the most with what he had in terms of visual material. I believe there's some kind of caveat at the beginning of that series, acknowledging that most of the visual aspect is comprised of sepia photographs from that time, so he was probably somewhat limited in his options. I don't know, perhaps the visual aspect of his documentaries is somewhat lacking for some people, depends what you're looking for (no pun intended).

Certainly the research, the way both series (Civil War and Jazz) were organized, and most of all the use of music, were outstanding. And I still think he would have done an excellent job with a documentary on the history of movies and movie-making in the United States.

 

However, John Wilkman and Bill Haber did impressive work, and it was not my intention here to denigrate them.

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I thought it was strange that they didn't talk more about how women rose to such power - they never shut up about Pickford. Pickford this, Pickford that, yea yeah.

But there were sooo many other women in the 20's/30's/40's who made TONS of money for those studios and kept them afloat if you ask me.

Russell, Shearer, Crawford, Dietrich, that they skimmed over. They touched on Crawford in the 1940's episode which was good. Very good.

But they didn't really focus on how so many women became powerful as moneymakers.

Hum...maybe I'm just a crazy old feminist!?................

 

Edited by: SusanMadeline on Dec 2, 2010 9:24 PM

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*Certainly the research, the way both series (Civil War and Jazz) were organized, and most of all the use of music, were outstanding. And I still think he would have done an excellent job with a documentary on the history of movies and movie-making in the United States.*

 

 

MissW,

 

I don't think anyone is criticizing Ken Burns' research and music choices. Rather, it is the style that I think TikiSoo was talking about.

 

He has been doing this style now for almost twenty five years without many changes: still images with a moving camera going across or zooming, famous actors reading newspapers, letters, book passages, etc, modern exterior footage that gets more grandiose as he goes on and interview footage shot in rustic home settings that look like they could be living by candle light.

 

I love many of his early documentaries, especially the one on the Brooklyn Bridge and the one on Huey Long and I adore the *Civil War* (though more for Shelby Foote than the other historians) but Burns has settled into a style that he keeps repeating documentary after documentary and doesn't seem to show any desire to move beyond it.

 

I've always felt his brother Ric was actually the better filmmaker. Ric's documentaries, while some mirror his brother's techniques, many of them use other techniques as well to tell the story. But Ken Burns is the more successful of the two. Go figure.

 

I've never gotten the impression in all the interviews Ken Burns has given that the history of American film is something he is very interested in.

 

And while I applaud TCM for producing this series, I wish that Jon Wilkman was more passionate about the subject matter.

 

But then, Kevin Brownlow set that bar very high for that and thirty years later few have come close.

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> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

 

> I don't think anyone is criticizing Ken Burns' research and music choices. Rather, it is the style that I think TikiSoo was talking about.

 

> He has been doing this style now for almost twenty five years without many changes: still images with a moving camera going across or zooming, famous actors reading newspapers, letters, book passages, etc, modern exterior footage that gets more grandiose as he goes on and interview footage shot in rustic home settings that look like they could be living by candle light.

>

> ... Burns has settled into a style that he keeps repeating documentary after documentary and doesn't seem to show any desire to move beyond it....

 

Well, I freely admit that I am unfamiliar with these other documentaries Burns has made, and it sounds as though he did significantly lower his standards with them. I still think that the two examples of his work that I have seen, The Civil War and Jazz (quite possibly not their exact titles) are amongst the best documentary-filmmaking that I've ever seen.

 

They were both made many years ago, the one in the 80s and ( I think) the other in the 90s. So I guess I'm letting him rest on his laurels.

Anyway, I don't feel strongly enough about it to debate it further; I take yours' and TikiSoo's word for it that his later work was of a lower quality.

 

The idea of wondering what kind of results Ken Burns would have come up with for this topic was more or less something that just occurred to me while I was thinking about my overall impression of "Moguls" just after I saw the most recent segment.

 

In any case, "Moguls and Movie Stars" is undeniably fascinating, whatever criticisms I may have of it, and I'm looking forward to Episode 6. :)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Dec 2, 2010 10:36 PM

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Dec 2, 2010 10:45 PM

( lost track of which episode was next : not 5, been there, done that: 6 is up next.)

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*Anyway, I don't feel strongly enough about it to debate it further; I take yours' and TikiSoo's word for it that his later work was of a lower quality.*

 

I didn't mean to imply that any of his films are of low or lower quality. They are all very well done, especially *The Civil War* (which will likely get encore airings as we approach the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War next year.)

 

It's just that his style/techniques are the same, documentary after documentary and after awhile, you start wishing he would approach the subject matter with a new style.

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> {quote:title=lzcutter wrote:}{quote}

> He has been doing this style now for almost twenty five years without many changes: still images with a moving camera going across or zooming, famous actors reading newspapers, letters, book passages, etc, modern exterior footage that gets more grandiose as he goes on and interview footage shot in rustic home settings that look like they could be living by candle light.

>

> I love many of his early documentaries, especially the one on the Brooklyn Bridge and the one on Huey Long and I adore the *Civil War* (though more for Shelby Foote than the other historians) but Burns has settled into a style that he keeps repeating documentary after documentary and doesn't seem to show any desire to move beyond it.

>

 

Although I am a fan of Ken Burns' docs, I agree completely. As I was on the screening committee of an experimental and independent film festival for 18 years, I can attest that there are far more, and far more interesting, styles of documentary film making than you are likely to see on TV, with the rare exception shown on PBS, like on POV, or Independent Lens. I'll just add that Ken Burns is the best Ken Burns-style documentarian there is. :) He does have many imitators. I've seen them.

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You're probably right about Burns not changing his style. I guess it can get pretty stale after all these years but he's still an excellent documentarian in my book. I like his choice of background music in his films as well, very much in the scene but always unobtrusive. Perhaps it's hard to change style once it has been established & accepted, in fact, lauded. One might just as well ask why Fred Astair didn't change his style of dancing, I guess because it always worked, for him & for us...

 

Anyway, I'll watch for Burns' next film & see if there might be a fresh approach.

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After watching "Attack of the Small Screens" last night it was interesting to learn about how Marilyn Monroe was one of the 5:00 Clock girls from 20th Century Fox. Just there to "service" the producers. I had never heard this before. Wonder how many others were part of this, not knowing that the studio had no intention of ever doing anything with these girls, Marilyn being the exception.

 

Edited by: margarita_salt on Dec 7, 2010 1:07 PM

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I liked the "Attack of the Small Screens" episode of Moguls & Movie Stars. Perfect title, by the way--a big shout out for the person who thought of it. The continuity was stronger than in the 40s chapter, and it laid out very well the changes and challenges faced by the studios. One small quibble: the story returned to Howard Hughes and RKO after the studio had already been sold earlier in the episode. The choice of films to accompany "Attack of the Small Screens" was exceptionally good. Of course there are many other choices, but each film selected connects with the documentary series.

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I was glad to see MARTY scheduled as possibly the quintessential '50s film. That's probably the most respect it has gotten since it won the Oscar. Hopefully, some people got to see it who had not seen it before.

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Marty, 1955, is an example of great storyline and acting. Glamor wasn't a factor in it's commercial success. I never tire of watching this 'everyman' story, beautifully performed by Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. Shows Borgnine's great talent as an actor when he was the guy everybody hated 2 years earlier in From Here to Eternity, 1953, as Sergeant"Fatso" Judson. He deserved the Best Actor Oscar for playing the homely, stocky, sensitive good guy who has given up on ever getting married.

 

Edited by: Roberta109 on Dec 7, 2010 7:01 PM

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MARTY didn't even get much respect from its Hecht-Lancaster producers. I once saw Ernest Borgnine on The Tonight Show and he said that the producers were looking for something that might earn a few nods from critics, but which they hoped would fail at the boxoffice. It seems that the company needed a tax write-off as they were quite successful with a couple of previous releases (likely VERA CRUZ and APACHE) and were facing a hefty tax bill.

 

The company's plan backfired, but Burt's THE KENTUCKIAN did bomb as did SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, so eventually he got his wish.

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Also, in view of the tax-write-off attempt, with the wish for *Marty* to fail, perhaps we should also pay tribute to *The Producers*. (Wonder if Mel Brooks had heard that story...)

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