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TopBilled’s Essentials

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Question: have you ever arranged 'essentials' by star? Such as 'Essential Tony Curtis' or 'Essential Cary Grant'.

Also wondering: which star had the hottest string of successes in say, a single three-year period? Or a single five-year period? Curtis for example, (beginning with 'Sweet Smell' and lasting to 'Petticoat' had an amazing run of hits.

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8 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Question: have you ever arranged 'essentials' by star? Such as 'Essential Tony Curtis' or 'Essential Cary Grant'.

Also wondering: which star had the hottest string of successes in say, a single three-year period? Or a single five-year period? Curtis for example, (beginning with 'Sweet Smell' and lasting to 'Petticoat' had an amazing run of hits.

Early on I did a month of Joan Bennett films (four titles produced by her husband Walter Wanger). 

A bit later I did a month on Deanna Durbin musicals because TCM seldom shows them, plus it gave me a chance to cover some Universal films.

And there was a month where I looked at Gregory Peck films in the 1950s. I chose different genres-- a western he did, a war film, a romantic comedy and an adventure drama.

Last year I did a month of TV films starring Elizabeth Montgomery.

So to answer your question, I have had months that focused on a particular star. 

I've also done months on specific directors, months on specific studios, a month on animation, a month on documentaries, a month on films released in a given year (1969). You name it. I try to vary it.

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Ouff! I forgot. I saw the Peck series with my own eyes. And Woody Allen essentials too. My mistake...

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Just now, Sgt_Markoff said:

Ouff! I forgot. I saw the Peck series with my own eyes. And Woody Allen essentials too. My mistake...

Yes, the Woody Allen month was fun.

At some point I want to do a month of "B "films, since I think they merit discussion. They tend to get graded against "A" films but I feel they deserve a different set of criteria by which they should be judged. Some "B" films are very effective, in spite of their short running times and their budgetary constraints.

I also think it would be fun to do a month of random selections. Like where I open my book of Pauline Kael reviews and just randomly pick four titles that I haven't reviewed yet. Maybe I can even discuss some of what Kael says and why I agree or disagree.

Like I said, I try to vary my approach with these so it stays fresh, interesting.

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On 4/7/2019 at 7:54 AM, Jlewis said:

The "time loop" theme appears a couple of times in mass entertainment during this immediate post-war period. I can't recall which episode of The Mysterious Traveler... or was it a different radio show?... that had a character repeat a New Years day of last year and that one involved murder as well. I think the subconscious question running through these reflects the times: "could we have prevented all of the atrocities of recent years, Holocaust and the atom bomb included?"

A film with an intriguing time loop device is Berkeley Square from 1933, starring Leslie Howard and Heather Angel as lovers separated by different centuries. That film has a spiritual & uplifting conclusion. Time loops can suffer when filmmakers try to present airtight logic and excessive exposition as opposed to letting things play out simply and allowing the audience to invest in the characters.

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3 hours ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

A film with an intriguing time loop device is Berkeley Square from 1933, starring Leslie Howard and Heather Angel as lovers separated by different centuries. That film has a spiritual & uplifting conclusion. Time loops can suffer when filmmakers try to present airtight logic and excessive exposition as opposed to letting things play out simply and allowing the audience to invest in the characters.

The remake, with Tyrone Power, updates it to a modern-day postwar setting. Power's an atomic scientist who might be exposed to radiation. His "condition" and a lightning strike cause him to travel back in time. The opening and closing sequences are in b&w, and the middle section (the bulk of the story set in the 1800s with lovely Ann Blyth) is in Technicolor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'll_Never_Forget_You_(film)

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Essential: RUTHLESS (1948)

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.05.31 PM.jpeg

Perhaps Eagle-Lion's most ambitious project is this thought-provoking drama directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. It features an enormously talented cast and production values to rival the output of any major studio. This is a high class affair from the word 'go.' Most of the performers that appear in RUTHLESS have been loaned out to E-L. From Warners, we have Zachary Scott, Martha Vickers and Sydney Greenstreet; from Paramount, there's Diana Lynn; and Lucille Bremer has been borrowed from MGM. Freelance actors Louis Hayward and Raymond Burr are also included.

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Zachary Scott portrays a backstabbing scoundrel named Horace Vendig. Horace amasses a fortune at the expense and dignity of others. There's a prelude, where we see Horace as a young boy from an impoverished background. His father (Burr) doesn't want him and his mother can't afford to keep him so he's adopted by a middle class family. His new family sends him to a good college, where he studies business and sets his sights on wealthier people that he intends to emulate. He is mentored by a top business executive and learns how to get ahead through these connections, even if it means destroying the people who help him and taking what they have.

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Horace has a pal named Vic Lambdin (Hayward), who also attends the same college. They are both interested in a girl known as Martha Burnside (Lynn), only Horace ends up using her then discarding her. Martha's fate is left unresolved, but we can interpret it as her either having died or having had a nervous breakdown. Diana Lynn pops up again in the story, as a woman named Mallory Flagg who is dating Vic. 

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It's never really said if she's a different woman who resembles Martha, or if she's a second personality of Martha. The main point is she ends up with Vic, and this causes pain and regret for Horace. After Martha fell by the wayside, Horace had moved on and set his sights on Buck Mansfield (Greenstreet) and Buck's luscious wife Christa (Bremer).

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The Mansfields are an obscenely wealthy couple that take Horace under their wing. Horace intends to steal Buck's company and does so by pretending to be Buck's friend and sleeping with Christa. He convinces Christa to divorce Buck and marry him, thus giving him her shares of Buck's company. These shares, combined with shares that Horace already owns, means the company will become Horace's. Of course, after he ruins Buck and marries Christa, he's plotting his next power grab. Not surprisingly, the marriage to Christa, which was a means to an end, doesn't last.

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RUTHLESS is a litany of everything Horace Vendig has ever done to reach the top. And he does reach the top, but of course he's lonely and miserable up there. The film starts and ends with Vic and Mallory arriving at Horace's estate for some lavish party. Horace is now acting like a great philanthropist, but throwing money at charities is nothing more than attention seeking on his part. He really does want to see Vic again, to go over old times. But then he meets Mallory and decides to take her away from Vic. However, this time he is not going to get everything, and during a climactic scene along a pier, things take a violent turn. Horace ends up dead in the water.

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Ulmer's film is stylish and entertaining. It's a meditation on the vulgar excesses of one man, not too different from CITIZEN KANE. Like Charles Foster Kane, Horace Vendig is still a little boy inside that just wants to be loved. But he has alienated everyone that ever cared about him. They might have been able to applaud his audacity, but they could never applaud him as a man who had anything of any real value. At least not for long.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.00.41 PM.jpeg

RUTHLESS may currently be viewed on YouTube.

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On 4/13/2019 at 12:13 PM, TopBilled said:

Essential: RUTHLESS (1948)

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.05.31 PM.jpeg

Perhaps Eagle-Lion's most ambitious project is this thought-provoking drama directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. It features an enormously talented cast and production values to rival the output of any major studio. This is a high class affair from the word 'go.' Most of the performers that appear in RUTHLESS have been loaned out to E-L. From Warners, we have Zachary Scott, Martha Vickers and Sydney Greenstreet; from Paramount, there's Diana Lynn; and Lucille Bremer has been borrowed from MGM. Freelance actors Louis Hayward and Raymond Burr are also included.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.42.02 PM.png

Zachary Scott portrays a backstabbing scoundrel named Horace Vendig. Horace amasses a fortune at the expense and dignity of others. There's a prelude, where we see Horace as a young boy from an impoverished background. His father (Burr) doesn't want him and his mother can't afford to keep him so he's adopted by a middle class family. His new family sends him to a good college, where he studies business and sets his sights on wealthier people that he intends to emulate. He is mentored by a top business executive and learns how to get ahead through these connections, even if it means destroying the people who help him and taking what they have.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.02.02 PM.jpeg

Horace has a pal named Vic Lambdin (Hayward), who also attends the same college. They are both interested in a girl known as Martha Burnside (Lynn), only Horace ends up using her then discarding her. Martha's fate is left unresolved, but we can interpret it as her either having died or having had a nervous breakdown. Diana Lynn pops up again in the story, as a woman named Mallory Flagg who is dating Vic. 

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.04.24 PM.jpeg

It's never really said if she's a different woman who resembles Martha, or if she's a second personality of Martha. The main point is she ends up with Vic, and this causes pain and regret for Horace. After Martha fell by the wayside, Horace had moved on and set his sights on Buck Mansfield (Greenstreet) and Buck's luscious wife Christa (Bremer).

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.03.00 PM.jpeg

The Mansfields are an obscenely wealthy couple that take Horace under their wing. Horace intends to steal Buck's company and does so by pretending to be Buck's friend and sleeping with Christa. He convinces Christa to divorce Buck and marry him, thus giving him her shares of Buck's company. These shares, combined with shares that Horace already owns, means the company will become Horace's. Of course, after he ruins Buck and marries Christa, he's plotting his next power grab. Not surprisingly, the marriage to Christa, which was a means to an end, doesn't last.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.02.12 PM.jpeg

RUTHLESS is a litany of everything Horace Vendig has ever done to reach the top. And he does reach the top, but of course he's lonely and miserable up there. The film starts and ends with Vic and Mallory arriving at Horace's estate for some lavish party. Horace is now acting like a great philanthropist, but throwing money at charities is nothing more than attention seeking on his part. He really does want to see Vic again, to go over old times. But then he meets Mallory and decides to take her away from Vic. However, this time he is not going to get everything, and during a climactic scene along a pier, things take a violent turn. Horace ends up dead in the water.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.04.44 PM.jpeg

Ulmer's film is stylish and entertaining. It's a meditation on the vulgar excesses of one man, not too different from CITIZEN KANE. Like Charles Foster Kane, Horace Vendig is still a little boy inside that just wants to be loved. But he has alienated everyone that ever cared about him. They might have been able to applaud his audacity, but they could never applaud him as a man who had anything of any real value. At least not for long.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 5.00.41 PM.jpeg

RUTHLESS may currently be viewed on YouTube.

Excellent review, TB. This picture sounds intriguing, especially seeing Zachary Scott play the heavy.  I remember him in Born to Be Bad (1950), getting trampled on by Joan Fontaine. I like your description of Lucille Bremer as "luscious".  It's a mystery why she never became a bigger star.  She was strikingly beautiful, and a great dancer.  Perhaps MGM gave up on her too soon.  

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1 hour ago, cinemaspeak59 said:

Excellent review, TB. This picture sounds intriguing, especially seeing Zachary Scott play the heavy.  I remember him in Born to Be Bad (1950), getting trampled on by Joan Fontaine. I like your description of Lucille Bremer as "luscious".  It's a mystery why she never became a bigger star.  She was strikingly beautiful, and a great dancer.  Perhaps MGM gave up on her too soon.  

As I said RUTHLESS can currently be found on YouTube, though it's also been released on DVD.

Zachary Scott always seemed to excel at playing cads, and he does not disappoint. Though Sydney Greenstreet is the one who steals the picture. Greenstreet's scenes with Scott and Bremer are a real highlight. Raymond Burr also has a memorable bit at the beginning of the story.

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Essential: LET'S LIVE A LITTLE (1948)

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Occasionally Eagle-Lion produced comedies, and some of them had top stars. LET'S LIVE A LITTLE was intended for United Artists, but the deal fell through so Robert Cummings and producer Eugene Frenke brought the project to E-L. The studio agreed to finance it with a substantial budget. Frenke's wife Anna Sten was cast in one of the main roles; though the lead would be given to Hedy Lamarr. It's interesting to see Cummings do comedy with two very different European actresses. Lamarr plays her role sympathetically, while Sten injects more screwball elements as a self-absorbed vamp. Sten had a gift for comedy, and she nearly walks away with the picture.

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Cummings portrays Duke Crawford, a harried ad exec who is about to have a nervous breakdown. His boss is putting pressure on him to sign Michele Bennett (Sten) to a contract. Michele runs a perfume business, and the agency wants to handle the ads for her wildly successful fragrance. The backstory is that Duke and Michele were previously engaged, but Duke broke it off. Michele will only sign the deal if Duke agrees to propose again and make her his wife. At the same time, Lamarr turns up as Dr. Jo Loring, a well-known psychiatrist who has just written a new book. Duke's agency is also trying to get her account, so they can advertise the book.

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Duke is so befuddled when he goes to visit Jo, that she assumes he must be a new patient. Later that evening, when Duke wines and dines Michele, he bumps into Jo and another doctor who are also out having dinner. Things go wrong when Michele decides Duke's not paying enough attention to her. Instead of an engagement ring, she gets a pen and a copy of the contract to sign. Michele causes a ruckus, and this sets off a domino effect that involves several people at the restaurant. Jo's date falls over a rail and down on to another table, because Michele has angrily thrown a cocktail across the room which led to someone charging over and engaging in a fist fight. This is when Duke really starts to crack up, and his comic breakdown is quite funny.

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As a result of Duke's mental collapse, he is taken to a resort in the country by Jo and the other doctor. He's not supposed to use the phone. He's supposed to forget all about business and concentrate on getting well. Of course, he doesn't exactly follow orders. Later, Duke and Jo go out on the lake in a row boat. At this point Duke realizes he has feelings for Jo, not Michele. So he leans in for a kiss, but his impulsive behavior catches Jo off guard. She tells him he's cured and that he needs to go back to the city.

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When Duke returns to the city, he tries to resolve things with Michele. He goes to see her but doesn't tell her he's in love with someone else. She signs the contract but keeps it in her possession and says he will have it the minute they are married. He calls her all sorts of names in frustration, and she throws facial cream at him. He retaliates by throwing cream at her. The slapstick in this scene is great, especially Sten's wailing when she realizes he's ruined her makeup and clothes. Meanwhile, Jo has also returned to the city, and she is doing a radio show. She describes a recent patient while she's on the air. It's clear she's talking about Duke.

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It's also clear that Jo's developed feelings for Duke. But then she sees a newspaper headline that he agreed to marry Michele after all. At this point, Jo starts to crack up. She needs Duke in her life, and she can't let him marry Michele. But what is Jo going to do about it? Will she tell him how she feels before it's too late? Or will she remain uptight. Her life would be so much happier, if she could only relax and live a little.

Screen Shot 2019-04-18 at 5.28.55 PM.jpeg

LET'S LIVE A LITTLE may currently be viewed on YouTube.

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Essential: CANON CITY (1948)

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A wave of semi-documentary crime films hit the screen after the war. Twentieth Century Fox did quite well with this type of storytelling, a combination of gritty noir and fact-based drama. Eagle-Lion also excelled at producing these stories. The studio had succeeded with pictures like HE WALKED BY NIGHT, T-MEN and TRAPPED. But perhaps the best of these was CANON CITY, filmed in Colorado. CANON CITY does not pretend to be more sophisticated than what it is. The crime doesn't pay theme works, and so does the idea that you can run but you can't hide.

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I should point out that CANON CITY is not pronounced Cannon City. There is supposed to be a tilde over the 'N' and it is pronounced Canyon City. A prison was opened in Canon City, Colorado back in 1871 when Colorado was still a territory. Five years later, in 1876, when Colorado became a state, the territorial prison became a state prison. For years it housed dangerous criminals, many facing execution. An execution chamber was located on site until the 1990s. Today, the prison is still in operation almost 150 years after it first opened. But less dangerous inmates reside there now, and the prison has become a medium-security facility. The deputy warden's house has never been rebuilt and still looks like something out of the 1800s.

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For a century and a half the prison has provided continuous employment for residents that live in the surrounding community. There have been a few occasions when residents of Canon City have faced danger due to events at the facility. In 1929 there was a riot, and in late 1947 there was a prison break. Eagle-Lion's motion picture is a recreation of the prison break.

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Since director Crane Wilbur is utilizing a semi-documentary style, the film begins with a newsreel type tour of the prison as well as a short interview with Warden Roy Best. After the preliminary information is out of the way, we meet Carl Schwartzmiller (Jeff Corey), a lifelong hood and twelve other inmates who will escape with him. One of these men is a very reluctant guy named Jim Sherbondy (Scott Brady). Jim has been inside for almost ten years. He has petitioned the governor for release and thinks Warden Best will recommend him for parole.

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Jim's become one of the warden's most trusted inmates, and as a result, he has privileges the other men do not enjoy. For instance, he is allowed to run the darkroom, developing x-rays that are used by doctors in the infirmary. Carl and the other guys want Jim to join their group, because they can hide weapons in the darkroom. It's an ideal place. Since there is no lock on the door, guards must knock before entering in case Jim's in the middle of developing film. This provides extra time to dispose of weapons if officials catch on to a planned escape.

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During a visit with his girl, Jim mentions the pressure the others have been putting on him. Of course she does not wish for him to get out under these circumstances. But when Jim learns that his petition for parole has been denied, he becomes angry. He is now more receptive to Carl's plans. Soon Jim is helping Carl and the others escape, and he goes along with them. This occurs on the 30th of December 1947. There are some very good exterior sequences filmed on location with the men taking off in a blizzard. They separate and a few of the men find their way to farms outside Canon City.

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Much of the action is routine for prison break pictures of the era. But since this one is based on a recent real-life event and has the full cooperation of Warden Best and others who work at the Canon City facility, the filmmakers adhere more closely to the facts. There is fear among members of the local community that some of the escapees, particularly Jim, will enact revenge on the ones who had incarcerated them. It is a situation of high alert that is fraught with suspense and uncertainty. In the sequences that follow, some of the men are either killed or rounded up.

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We also see what is going on with the farm families that are taken hostage and forced to accommodate the men. One particularly good segment involves Mrs. Edith Oliver (Mabel Paige). She's a feisty old gal who seems sweet on the outside but is determined to outfox the interlopers under her roof. She attacks Carl with a frying pan AND breaks a chair over his head. What strength! She gets a special scene at the end of the movie, where her bravery is commended.

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Soon all the men except one have been caught. And that man, of course, is Jim Sherbondy. The family that Jim has taken hostage has a seven year old boy whose appendix bursts. Despite his reputation as a violent man, Jim softens and lets the family get medical help, which of course leads to his surrender. Jim has been brought to justice and his brief adventure as a fugitive is over. He is returned to the facility in Canon City where he will continue to serve out the rest of his term. Jim Sherbondy would remain in the Colorado penal system until 1969. At that point he had been working in a prison labor camp, when he escaped again. Police officers shot and killed him on a street in Denver. This is his original mug shot, taken in 1937.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 7.43.40 AM.png

CANON CITY may currently be viewed on YouTube.

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When I think of Crane Wilbur, I think of those glossy 2-reel musical and costume historical shorts in full Technicolor that he made for Warner Brothers in the mid to late 1930s. Yet most of his feature work tends to be gritty black and white material and done away from Warner, despite that studio's reputation for such material. However he did do some gritty material in screenplays for that studio, since his career involved more of that than actual direction. Apparently he also did Tomorrow's Children, one of the most notorious exploitation quickies of the thirties.

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2 hours ago, Jlewis said:

When I think of Crane Wilbur, I think of those glossy 2-reel musical and costume historical shorts in full Technicolor that he made for Warner Brothers in the mid to late 1930s. Yet most of his feature work tends to be gritty black and white material and done away from Warner, despite that studio's reputation for such material. However he did do some gritty material in screenplays for that studio, since his career involved more of that than actual direction. Apparently he also did Tomorrow's Children, one of the most notorious exploitation quickies of the thirties.

Crane Wilbur did a few other classics for Eagle-Lion: THE AMAZING MR. X (which I've already reviewed); HE WALKED BY NIGHT (which I plan to cover later under another theme); and THE ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA (a costume drama that was recently added on YouTube).

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"He Walked By Night" is a competent police procedural, but I don't particularly care for it.

Any film which casts Richard Basehart as the villain is already in trouble with me.

Richard Basehart ("Tension", "La Strada") was such an appealing actor.

 

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1 hour ago, rayban said:

"He Walked By Night" is a competent police procedural, but I don't particularly care for it.

Any film which casts Richard Basehart as the villain is already in trouble with me.

Richard Basehart ("Tension", "La Strada") was such an appealing actor.

You don't think Basehart is convincing as a villain? He plays a bad guy in THE HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL (1951), another noir. I find him very effective in those roles.

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May Focus: Postwar issues

screen-shot-2019-04-28-at-5.47.02-am.jpg

 

After the war. I will be look at one film that is set after the Civil War, two films set after WWII, and one film set after the Korean War.

SONG OF THE SOUTH (1946)
THE SEARCHING WIND (1946)
THE STRANGER (1946)
STRANGE INTRUDER (1956)

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I remember watching Song Of The South in theaters when it was reissued one last time in the early eighties. That was the second and final time that I saw it on the big screen. Previously was in the mid seventies at some kiddie matinee. Still have the Disney Golden Books that are difficult to read for any young tyke with all of that curious stereotypical "jive" wording.

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1 hour ago, Jlewis said:

I remember watching Song Of The South in theaters when it was reissued one last time in the early eighties. That was the second and final time that I saw it on the big screen. Previously was in the mid seventies at some kiddie matinee. Still have the Disney Golden Books that are difficult to read for any young tyke with all of that curious stereotypical "jive" wording.

Thanks. I've been wanting to cover SONG OF THE SOUTH as an Essential for a long time. I am aware it may not be a positive Essential for some, but that doesn't mean we should shy away from a discussion of the movie and what elements do work.

I've already written my review for it, which focuses on the film almost entirely. But I think during the days ahead I am going to add an extra paragraph or two about postwar (ex)slavery. Mainly because I think Disney's film is better understood in a historical context. Not a history of political correctness. But a post-Civil War history in the southern United States. And that is the theme I am covering in May...what is happening to certain cultures after a major war has ended.

When we get to a discussion on THE STRANGER I will likewise talk about German American culture, as I talk about African American culture in SONG OF THE SOUTH.

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The movie isn't that bad necessarily apart from presenting a too "rosey" view of the era. Everybody is too happy "in their place". This is a fault of many, many Civil War and Reconstruction Era films made by Hollywood prior to the 1960s. Disney was no better nor worse as a producer. Gone With the Wind has its faults too, since we never see how poorly treated the slaves are apart from a mild slap from Scarlet to Prissy. There was a paranoia of creating trouble with Southern owned theater owners by revealing too much, virtually all of whom were Caucasian with strong desires to keep everybody "in their place" but also wanted to look at history with more nostalgic eyes. There was, of course, some teasing like Warner Bros. They Won't Forget in regards to just how stubborn The Stubborn South can be, but caution was displayed even then.

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3 minutes ago, Jlewis said:

The movie isn't that bad necessarily apart from presenting a too "rosey" view of the era. Everybody is too happy "in their place". This is a fault of many, many Civil War and Reconstruction Era films made by Hollywood prior to the 1960s. Disney was no better nor worse as a producer. Gone With the Wind has its faults too, since we never see how poorly treated the slaves are apart from a mild slap from Scarlet to Prissy. There was a paranoia of creating trouble with Southern owned theater owners by revealing too much, virtually all of whom were Caucasian with strong desires to keep everybody "in their place" but also wanted to look at history with more nostalgic eyes. There was, of course, some teasing like Warner Bros. They Won't Forget in regards to just how stubborn The Stubborn South can be, but caution was displayed even then.

To be honest, I'm a bit afraid that covering SONG OF THE SOUTH will lead some to focus too much on slavery. I think it's a film that is much more than what's going on with (ex)slaves. But unfortunately, that's how people in a PC-era are focusing on it now. Also, I have to be careful that I don't come across as anti-black or racist when extolling the virtues of the film. I am not anti-black or racist, but I expect some people will assume so because I see good and positive things in this movie.

It's a slippery slope. It's a hard movie to discuss. But as I said, I don't think we should be censored to the point where we cannot discuss it at all. 

So going into this review, I know that it's going to bring all this extra subject matter into the fray. But I sincerely hope we don't go too far off on tangents...that we are able to approach it with a balanced perspective.

I don't want to regret writing about it. But I still want to write about it. Make sense?

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It has been discussed before. No need to panic. Kinda doubt the conversation will get too far off topic, but who knows? 

The movie has had an interesting history with both critics and audiences. In the 1940s and ‘50s, the general opinion was that the animated sequences were outstanding... and they still are... but the live action parts were “dull” since there was less story involved there. Also everybody was too “cute”.

In the 1960s, there was a gradual questioning about it but usually the Shirley Temple period pieces like The Little Colonel received much more criticism, such as by Bill Cosby in the famous 1968 CBS series covering Black America that I have referenced before. Things started to change in the middle and later 1970s when even the Our Gang comedies were beginning to get censored on a lot of syndication stations and then removed from TV altogether.

When Disney decided to reissue it one last time, it was to promote some ride at the theme parks. Those that criticized the film by then were told “it is only a kids film that meant no harm”. It was the fact that the company itself got nervous by the time VHS came in and a decision was made NOT to make it available past the 16mm format (going out of style by the mid eighties) that the movie started to become notorious. Then there was a backlash by those who love the film for what it is as a cinematic and technical achievement. 

Needless to say, Disney was also criticized for hiding some of its history in order to protect its image as family entertainment. By 2000, Disney was equally nervous about other films in its library so DVDs of Fantasia, Make Mine Music and Melody Time were censored and edited (the latter two for other reasons besides race). Time Warner got over some of their issues with warnings at the start of Looney Tunes and other collections so that parents would be aware that the product is historically backward. “To ignore such prejudices by not presenting the film unedited would be like acknowledging that they never existed.”

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20 hours ago, Jlewis said:

It has been discussed before. No need to panic. Kinda doubt the conversation will get too far off topic, but who knows? 

The movie has had an interesting history with both critics and audiences. In the 1940s and ‘50s, the general opinion was that the animated sequences were outstanding... and they still are... but the live action parts were “dull” since there was less story involved there. Also everybody was too “cute”.

In the 1960s, there was a gradual questioning about it but usually the Shirley Temple period pieces like The Little Colonel received much more criticism, such as by Bill Cosby in the famous 1968 CBS series covering Black America that I have referenced before. Things started to change in the middle and later 1970s when even the Our Gang comedies were beginning to get censored on a lot of syndication stations and then removed from TV altogether.

When Disney decided to reissue it one last time, it was to promote some ride at the theme parks. Those that criticized the film by then were told “it is only a kids film that meant no harm”. It was the fact that the company itself got nervous by the time VHS came in and a decision was made NOT to make it available past the 16mm format (going out of style by the mid eighties) that the movie started to become notorious. Then there was a backlash by those who love the film for what it is as a cinematic and technical achievement. 

Needless to say, Disney was also criticized for hiding some of its history in order to protect its image as family entertainment. By 2000, Disney was equally nervous about other films in its library so DVDs of Fantasia, Make Mine Music and Melody Time were censored and edited (the latter two for other reasons besides race). Time Warner got over some of their issues with warnings at the start of Looney Tunes and other collections so that parents would be aware that the product is historically backward. “To ignore such prejudices by not presenting the film unedited would be like acknowledging that they never existed.”

Interesting post. I just don't think we should automatically lump SONG OF THE SOUTH in with racism. But I'm afraid that's what is happening now. It may reflect some unconscious racist attitudes of the 1940s, but was it created to promote racism the way BIRTH OF A NATION was? Can that be proven? No.

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