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About MattBarry

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  1. What I find most interesting about the film is how the comedy talent probably comes off best. Laurel and Hardy's routine is a masterful piece of slapstick, Keaton performs some incredibly graceful physical comedy, and Jack Benny is...well, Jack Benny, which is enough to insure a hilarious performance. Marion Davies' "Tommy Atkins on Parade" number is a lot of fun, as is the segment with Jack Benny and Bessie Love, which features some very impressive visual effects for 1929. Joan Crawford, unfortunately, isn't too well-served by her Charleston number. Gus Edwards sings "Lon Chaney's Gonna Get You if You Don't Watch Out", which is a fun pop culture homage to the "Man of 1000 Faces" (who doesn't actually appear in the film himself). We also get to see Cliff Edwards doing a neat, jazzy version of "Singin' in the Rain". I think my favorite part of the film is the Technicolor "Singin' in the Rain" finale, which is filled with jubilant fun.
  2. I haven't seen this one on TCM since at least 1995. I'm not sure if there are any plans to show it again anytime soon.
  3. A strong case could be made for "On Approval", an absolutely brilliant comedy written and directed by and starring Clive Brook, made in England in 1944. It is, in my opinion, the finest comedy ever made. Others that I admire greatly: Born Yesterday (George Cukor, 1950) Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932) The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) Holiday (George Cukor, 1938) Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)
  4. The source print is the culprit when dealing with these "fuzzy" images. As Fred C. Dobbs pointed out in his message, many of the Bowery Boys films, for example, were mastered from older 16mm prints. This is the case for many public domain films-the source prints aren't all that great to begin with, and that image is further degraded as a result of subpar video transfers. By the time TCM receives a broadcast master for a film like "Pot O'Gold", the image is really just a pale copy of the original. Thankfully, for many of the films acquired by Ted Turner in the early 80s, the prints themselves were generally in excellent condition, and the technology used to transfer them was state-of-the-art, and have really only now been rendered "obsolete" (although personally I think those older transfers still look excellent) because of the new HD format. I remember watching "The Thin Man" on TCM in 1995 and just being blown away by how good the film looked and sounded.
  5. "Pot O'Gold" is a public domain title, so the only available material on it is sub-par compared to what we're used to seeing on TCM. I have a copy on DVD from a PD company called Digiview, and the quality is about the same as what TCM is currently running. As far as HD goes, I'm not sure that it would be feasible at this point to do HD transfers of all the films in the TCM library. Also, considering all of the titles that are now leased from other companies, there'd be no way of assuring that those would be HD transfers either. Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the current broadcast masters of the MGM and Warner titles were part of a massive undertaking in the 80s to transfer the films from the original elements, then owned by Ted Turner, for video and television broadcast (formerly on the old TNT network). I can't imagine having to create all-new transfers. That said, I'm sure there will be certain titles that are newly-mastered HD transfers for Blu-Ray DVD release (probably stuff like "Gone with the Wind", "Casablanca", "The Maltese Falcon", etc.) which could be used. Again, though, that is only a small handful of titles. Considering how few MGM and Warner titles were issued on DVD compared to VHS, I suspect the Blu-Ray offering will be even less. However, I'm in no way an authority on this and hopefully someone with definite information will be able to confirm the likelihood of seeing TCM go "Hi-Def" at some point in the future. Finally, regarding the quality of the TCM signal, I too have problems with that, and I have Cable TV. There have been instances of people reporting the same problems simultaneously across the country with the TCM signal at certain times of the night (most often things like "digital blocking" and pixelation).
  6. Yes, it's been shown at least twice that I know of, possibly three times. I know it was shown in the summer of 1996, along with "Safety Last", as part of a double feature of the TCM silent comedy series that was hosted by mime Bill Irwin (they also did a Chaplin double feature-"The Gold Rush" and "Tillie's Punctured Romance", both from nice tinted prints from the Killiam Collection, and Keaton-"The Cameraman" and "Spite Marriage".) (TCM ran a bunch of Lloyd films later in April 1997 as part of a birthday salute to Lloyd). I believe the film would have been shown again in June 2002, when TCM ran a number of Lloyd titles that they had broadcast rights to. It was shown again in the April 2003 salute to Lloyd in a newly restored version provided by the Harold Lloyd Trust (this was the version issued on DVD in 2005). Matt Barry
  7. Both were department heads, and as such, received blanket credit on all films produced by the studio. As far as I know, for the majority of films on which they received credit, neither did much more than sign off on budget plans and sign the paychecks (although Gibbons did direct one of the "Tarzan" pictures). Gibbons had been more involved with production design in the early 20s, but as art department head at MGM, most of the production design tasks were delegated to the staff art directors like Harry Oliver, Stan Rogers, and Randall Duell. Shearer, incidentally, had no real experience in sound recording in the first place. His passion was cinematography, and he did develop some innovative camera technology. His work as a sound man, however, was generally regarded as subpar by his co-workers. Veteran sound mixer Ed Bernds recalled being astounded at Shearer's lack of technical knowledge when it came to sound recording.
  8. True, but just as television didn't become a regular fixture in most American homes until the late 40s/early 50s, radio really took off in the late 20s, especially with the success of "Amos n' Andy" which appeared in 1926. Interestingly, the impact of radio was strong enough that certain films, such as "Old Ironsides" and "Wings" featured scenes in a process called Magnoscope, which was a very primitive pre-cursor to widescreen (although it only increased the size of the projected image for certain scenes, not the actual shooting aspect ratio) in an attempt to add a gimmick to big releases.
  9. Actually, people in the 20s did think of them as "silent films", "voiceless dramas", etc. What we tend to forget is that at the same theatre, audiences could get a full vaudeville show with many of the same performers who we came to know and love in the talkies. There was no demand for talking films of all the vaudeville greats, because they would come around and perform at local theatres. Of course, some of the biggest stars (Eddie Cantor, for instance) made experimental talking shorts of their act. The simple fact is that a talking film in, say, 1922 meant a static camera, usually running in a single take for close to ten minutes, while a performer did their act that was most likely much more electrifying, funny and exciting in person. On the other hand, silent film in 1922 could offer the delightful comedies of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, memorable adventure pictures like Douglas Fairbanks in "Robin Hood", and dramas such as Valentino's "Blood and Sand". It wasn't until the crash of 1929, of course, when all the vaudeville houses started closing, and the circuits started drying up, that many of those comedians turned to making films in order to be able to continue working. While this gave us such memorable and brilliant talents as the Marx Bros. and W.C. Fields, it also eroded the unique grammar of screen comedy as it had been developed by Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd. Sadly, many great vaudeville performers were lost to time as they were unable to catch on in the recorded medium. When asking why sound didn't "catch on", you simply have to consider the vast entertainment options the average moviegoer had available at the time. This was also when radio was coming in, so people could just as easily sit in the comfort of their living room and listen to vaudeville performers do their act on the radio. Movies were still something special, and audiences liked it that way.
  10. The lack of interest in our cultural heritage (including film) is indeed sad. Programs like "The Essentials" are a good introduction to some of the best Hollywood films (and I stress "Hollywood"). That said, I do wish a more comprehensive format could be allowed. I personally would be interested in seeing a critics' round-table discussion after the film, lasting an hour or so with Robert Osborne as moderator. Andrew Sarris, Peter Bogdanovich, Molly Haskell, John Simon, Jonathan Rosenbaum and others could offer a strong, critical opinion beyond the mere trivia and production history information. I don't know how well a program like this would go over with the "general public", but for anyone serious about watching these films with a critical eye and having their own opinions on the film challenged, it would promise to be very enlightening.
  11. Just to further support the idea that this scene does indeed exist, another IMDb poster not only remembers seeing it, but claimed to have been watching the scene on VHS as they wrote their message, asking why they hadn't seen it in any other version before. Unless this is out and out false, it leads me to believe that the scene exists. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I watched my VHS copy (the 1997 edition) yesterday to check for this scene. It wasn't there, and I tried to look for any noticeable spot where it might have been cut after the courtroom scene. I didn't notice any jarring cuts from one scene to the next, however. For those who have seen and remember this scene, can you recall specifically where it occurred in the film? I know it's after the courtroom scene, but was it before or after Gwenn's conversation with O'Hara outside the courthouse, or before or after the "party" scene?
  12. Well, I just double checked my VHS edition (the 1997 50th anniversary edition in black and white) and the scene isn't there. There is no montage of Mara searching for the helmet, and no scene of his son receiving the gift. I have read an alternate account of this scene that claims Mara runs out to get in his car and finds the football helmet already on the seat of his car. As I've never seen this particular scene, I can't say which is correct. But clearly something is missing from most circulating prints of the film. To add to the confusion, there was also evidently a VHS version in circulation at one point that was missing the scene in which Alfred is giving away Christmas presents at the YMCA. Which VHS version this is, precisely, is unclear.
  13. Well, I just double checked my VHS edition (the 1997 50th anniversary edition in black and white) and the scene isn't there. There is no montage of Mara searching for the helmet, and no scene of his son receiving the gift. I have read an alternate account of this scene that claims Mara runs out to get in his car and finds the football helmet already on the seat of his car. As I've never seen this particular scene, I can't say which is correct. But clearly something is missing from most circulating prints of the film. To add to the confusion, there was also evidently a VHS version in circulation at one point that was missing the scene in which Alfred is giving away Christmas presents at the YMCA. Which VHS version this is, precisely, is unclear.
  14. I'll have to check my VHS copy to see if it's there. At the risk of sounding like I'm jumping to conclusions, I believe there are many more of these "lost scenes" than we, or even the studios now releasing these products, can imagine. The most easy-to-observe examples would be the DVDs released by MGM (just to be clear-not MGM films, released on DVD by Warner Bros., but DVDs released on the MGM label, usually consisting of films originally distributed by United Artists). There have numerous cases where people will report a "missing" scene, or alternate versions of films. These include titles such as "One, Two, Three", "Marty", "Sweet Smell of Success", and others. I certainly don't lay the blame on the DVD distributor, of course. They're releasing the best prints they've got. But even these "classic" films we know so well have undoubtedly been tampered with more than we realize over the last several decades. The scene from "Miracle on 34th Street" is one such example. I do have to wonder if current versions released on tape and disc are edited-down black and white master copies created to do the colorization on (since it was originally prepared for broadcast television in 1985, perhaps they wanted to cut the film into its timeslot *before* doing the actual colorization, as they wouldn't want to spend the extra time and money colorizing shots that would then be edited out for TV). Perhaps the best way to find out would be to find a 16mm print (or, better yet of course, an original 35mm print) created prior to the colorization and check it for missing scenes. Somewhat related to this topic are the large number of films that have had scenes censored out ("All Quiet on the Western Front", "Tarzan", "King Kong", "Baby Face") that were long thought lost and later re-inserted. This could also cause some confusion for future viewers.
  15. It depends on how you define "classic". The idea that a class need be at least 30 years old is somewhat problematic for me. I am always reminded of Bosley Crowther's book "The 50 Great Films" written in 1967. He selected, in his opinion, the 50 best films on an international level made up to that time. And on his list, he included films from as recently as 1967. If he had limited himself to the "30 years old" rule, that means he could not have included such works as CITIZEN KANE, THE BICYCLE THIEF, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, SUNSET BLVD., RASHOMON, THE SEVENTH SEAL, etc., all films that I'm sure most people would agree have "classic" status. However, it is also telling that a lot of films on his list (including his 1967 selection, ULYSSES) are all but forgotten today. The reason: as more and more great films are made, other films get "edged out" of such lists (you probably wouldn't find Garbo's CAMILLE on a list of the 50 greatest films ever made today, for instance). So, any film can be a classic regardless of its age. It's just how well it will be remembered 40, 50, 60 or more years in the future. Of course, it can also work in the opposite way-what about films that were virtually ignored in their own time that are considered masterpieces today? I agree that 30 years is probably a good amount of time to tell how well something will hold up. However, I don't think that a truly great film should be ignored merely because it isn't "old" enough. That's why I'm glad to see the high quality recent films popping up on TCM from time to time.
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