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Otto Preminger


rayban
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Otto Preminger had to be one of the great directors of the 20th Century.

 

Yesterday, watching his 1953 film, "Angel Face", I was so impressed with his mastery.

 

The film is a wicked study in obsession - the kind of obsession that has no boundaries - the kind of obsession between a man and a woman - the kind of obsession that is so self-serving.

 

And, interestingly, it is largely one-sided - since Robert Mitchum may enjoy the delights of Jean Simmons, but also knows that she should be put back on the shelf.

 

Simmons' obsession is so real - that you do basically know that Mitchum doesn't really stand a chance.

 

But the female is deadlier than the male - and Mitchum realizes it much too late.

 

I also liked the fact that the other woman in his life - Mona Freeman, blonde and desirable - won't wait around for him, but explores another romantic possibility.

 

The film is dark, dark, dark - and leaves a devastating impact.

 

That same year, Preminger released "The Moon Is Blue", which is a film that has dated very, very badly.

 

But "Angel Face" is as fresh, as vital, as pertinent - as if it were made just yesterday.

 

(Both Jean Simmons and Mona Freeman were discoveries by Howard Hughes, who gets the film's first credit, of course.  I would love to know what strange, strange experiences they both had with the strange, strange Howard Hughes.)

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Otto Preminger is an interesting case. Of all of the frequently-cited directors of note of the classic era, he seems to be the most divisive. I've read many books and critics that say he was a no-talent hack who got by occasionally on luck and bluster. while other critics name him one of the best. I personally enjoy many of his films, although he made some really really awful ones (Skidoo springs to mind). I tend to appreciate filmmakers that take chances and push boundaries, and Preminger did both.

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I was just skimming over his IMDB resume to remind myself of what an amazing career he had: Anatomy of a MurderLauraThe Man with the Golden ArmExodusBunny Lake is MissingIn Harm's WayAdvise and ConsentBonjour TristesseThe Court-Martial of Billy MitchellCarmen JonesRiver of No ReturnWhirlpool. His adaptation of Porgy and Bess seems to be a semi-lost film; it's never aired on TCM and the only DVD copy I can find any mention of on IMDB appears to be a transfer of a 1967 TV airing.

 

It seems like whenever I read an overview of the great Hollywood directors of the studio era, you see the same names over and over - Hitchcock, Lubitsch, Ford, Hawks, Walsh, Welles, Huston, Capra, Sirk, Wilder, Minelli, Curtiz, Mankiewicz, Stevens, Wyler, Zinneman, Sturges, etc. etc. Preminger only ever seems to make these lists as an afterthought.

 

Angel Face is one I've somehow missed. Definitely want to check it out. I finally saw The Moon is Blue when it had a TCM airing and was about as nonplussed as the gang on "M*A*S*H" when they finally got to see it, but the others I listed above are all well-worth watching.

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For some reason, I tend to prefer his post-code output. He fought hard to get the code abolished, so he has this incredibly weird freedom in his later films. I don't know what it is-- maybe the irreverent way the characters act (as if they're normal)-- but I think SUCH GOOD FRIENDS is such good cinema. Nobody ever mentions it so I'm using this thread to do so!

 

Look who's in it:

 

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-12-05-38-pm.pn

 

I also like HURRY SUNDOWN and JUNIE MOON.

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And btw, sewhite...

 

 

....Angel Face is one I've somehow missed. Definitely want to check it out. 

 

Hope you're not a big fan of classic Jaguar sports cars, dude!

 

(...those who have seen this film, will get this one)  ;)

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Otto Preminger is an interesting case. Of all of the frequently-cited directors of note of the classic era, he seems to be the most divisive. I've read many books and critics that say he was a no-talent hack who got by occasionally on luck and bluster. while other critics name him one of the best. I personally enjoy many of his films, although he made some really really awful ones (Skidoo springs to mind). I tend to appreciate filmmakers that take chances and push boundaries, and Preminger did both.

 

he's very much similar to JOHN HUSTON, in that his films are either really good or really bad, only Huston's really good films are really, really good; Whereas even the best Preminger films have little imperfections.

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I was just skimming over his IMDB resume to remind myself of what an amazing career he had: Anatomy of a MurderLauraThe Man with the Golden ArmExodusBunny Lake is MissingIn Harm's WayAdvise and ConsentBonjour TristesseThe Court-Martial of Billy MitchellCarmen JonesRiver of No ReturnWhirlpool. His adaptation of Porgy and Bess seems to be a semi-lost film; it's never aired on TCM and the only DVD copy I can find any mention of on IMDB appears to be a transfer of a 1967 TV airing.

 

It seems like whenever I read an overview of the great Hollywood directors of the studio era, you see the same names over and over - Hitchcock, Lubitsch, Ford, Hawks, Walsh, Welles, Huston, Capra, Sirk, Wilder, Minelli, Curtiz, Mankiewicz, Stevens, Wyler, Zinneman, Sturges, etc. etc. Preminger only ever seems to make these lists as an afterthought.

 

Angel Face is one I've somehow missed. Definitely want to check it out. I finally saw The Moon is Blue when it had a TCM airing and was about as nonplussed as the gang on "M*A*S*H" when they finally got to see it, but the others I listed above are all well-worth watching.

'

Other Preminger films I have enjoyed are:  Fallen Angel,  a first rate noir with Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Alice Faye,  Whirlpool a crime drama with Gene Tierney,   Where the Side Walk Ends,  another noir with Andrews (who was the perfect actor for a Preminger film),   and River of No Return with Mitchum and Monroe.

 

And like Huston, Preminger did get an acting role in Stalag 17.   

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he's very much similar to JOHN HUSTON, in that his films are either really good or really bad, only Huston's really good films are really, really good; Whereas even the best Preminger films have little imperfections.

 

Hmmm?

 

So, where's the imperfection in ANATOMY OF A MURDER?

 

Having also read the novel, I found it a closely accurate adaptation.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Hmmm?

 

So, where's the imperfection in ANATOMY OF A MURDER?

 

Having also read the novel, I found it a closely accurate adaptation.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

Oh! Well in THAT one, Lee Remick's panties were actually one size too big for her, Sepia.  ;)

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Great comments, guys, I've enjoyed all of the posts.

 

Preminger was a highly talented director who later became his own producer and an active self-promotor.

 

His later public image tends to overshadow and denigrate his true talents - as a gifted director.

 

Yes, the quality of his films does vary - but the good outweighs the bad.

 

And even the so-called bad ones get better with time.

 

And, of course, the well-received ones shine with a brighter luster today.

 

(He and Gypsy Rose Lee had a son together - but, for some reason, kept quiet about it.)                                

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My favorite Preminger.film is Bunny Lake s Missing. But I also like a number of others: Anatomy, Advise and Consent, Laura..

 

What hurt Otto's rep were the films he made from the late '60s on. I don't mind Skidoo too much -- Austin Pendleton is good, and Harry Nilsson's singing end credits are fun. But the script is pretty witless, and I can't blame other people for hating it. Hurry Sundown and Junie Moon are horrifically bad. I've never seen Rosebud - some say it's his worst film of all. I shudder at the thought.

 

I've seen the cut print of Porgy floating around, and while entertaining -- Sammy Jr is very good as Sportin' Life -- it's marred by Preminger's "impersonal" directing style (few if any reaction shots). P&G is made up almost entirely of master shots waiting for closeups that never come. That style enhances some Preminger films, but it fails here.

 

I'm just old enough to have seen Preminger on some of his talk show appearances, and I actually recall one in particular from around 1973. Preminger was telling host Jerry Lewis that the industry would soon be revolutionized by cassettes people could watch in their own homes. But Lewis insisted it would never happen.

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Otto Preminger had to be one of the great directors of the 20th Century.

 

Yesterday, watching his 1953 film, "Angel Face", I was so impressed with his mastery.

 

The film is a wicked study in obsession - the kind of obsession that has no boundaries - the kind of obsession between a man and a woman - the kind of obsession that is so self-serving.

 

And, interestingly, it is largely one-sided - since Robert Mitchum may enjoy the delights of Jean Simmons, but also knows that she should be put back on the shelf.

 

Simmons' obsession is so real - that you do basically know that Mitchum doesn't really stand a chance.

 

But the female is deadlier than the male - and Mitchum realizes it much too late.

 

I also liked the fact that the other woman in his life - Mona Freeman, blonde and desirable - won't wait around for him, but explores another romantic possibility.

 

The film is dark, dark, dark - and leaves a devastating impact.

 

That same year, Preminger released "The Moon Is Blue", which is a film that has dated very, very badly.

 

But "Angel Face" is as fresh, as vital, as pertinent - as if it were made just yesterday.

 

(Both Jean Simmons and Mona Freeman were discoveries by Howard Hughes, who gets the film's first credit, of course.  I would love to know what strange, strange experiences they both had with the strange, strange Howard Hughes.)

Great writeup of a director I like very much. Just one correction: Howard Hughes did not discover Jean Simmons; she was already a star.in Britain, and even nominated here for an Oscar in 1949, before her studio, Rank, sold the remainder of her contract to HH.

 

While I admire many of Preminger's blockbuster hits of the late 50s and early 60s, I also enjoy his period while under contract at Fox, for the second time, in the 40s into the early 50s. He gave us some of the best noirs of the period, often with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. As a contract.director, he did some genre exercises that may seem unusual for him,.and despite his later views he expressed about them, he apparently enjoyed immensely making them.

 

These include a musical, CENTENNIAL SUMMER (1946), Ruritanian romances A ROYAL SCANDAL (1945) and THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948)-both incidentally, started.by Lubitsch; a historical epic, FOREVER AMBER (1947); drawing room comedy, THE FAN (1949), and women's films, DAISY KENYON (1947). Another noirish drama he made not yet mentioned is THE THIRTEENTH LETTER (1951).

 

He did well in all these fields, and gives a more accurate picture of his broad palette.

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Great writeup of a director I like very much. Just one correction: Howard Hughes did not discover Jean Simmons; she was already a star.in Britain, and even nominated here for an Oscar in 1949, before her studio, Rank, sold the remainder of her contract to HH.

 

While I admire many of Preminger's blockbuster hits of the late 50s and early 60s, I also enjoy his period while under contract at Fox, for the second time, in the 40s into the early 50s. He gave us some of the best noirs of the period, often with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. As a contract.director, he did some genre exercises that may seem unusual for him,.and despite his later views he expressed about them, he apparently enjoyed immensely making them.

 

These include a musical, CENTENNIAL SUMMER (1946), Ruritanian romances A ROYAL SCANDAL (1945) and THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948)-both incidentally, started.by Lubitsch; a historical epic, FOREVER AMBER (1947); drawing room comedy, THE FAN (1949), and women's films, DAISY KENYON (1947). Another noirish drama he made not yet mentioned is THE THIRTEENTH LETTER (1951).

 

He did well in all these fields, and gives a more accurate picture of his broad palette.

 

Since this thread pushed me to read up on Otto I was surprised about his negative comments related to Forever Amber.   

 

I do enjoy The Thirteenth Letter but the French original is better.

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Hurry Sundown and Junie Moon are horrifically bad. I've never seen Rosebud - some say it's his worst film of all. I shudder at the thought.

 

I've watched thousands of films and I can count on one hand the number of horrifically bad films I've ever seen. I don't think they exist for the most part. Usually every film has some merit to be found in it. 

 

In this case, I think some people try to deride Preminger's later work because they just really like the early stuff-- and they are expecting the later titles to be like the early ones. They can't be. Preminger as an artist had changed and was in a whole different phase of his cinematic career. I am sure that if someone were exposed to his films from the 60s & 70s first, then began to discover the stuff from the 40s & 50s, the same bias might occur, just in reverse.

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Preminger was instrumental in helping to destroy many Hollywood taboos. He pioneered films about African Americans; he hired the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo to write Exodus, and his films dealt with previously taboo subjects, such as heroin addiction and rape.

 

I'm a big fan of Kidnapped (1938) which Preminger directed (uncredited) ; and Advise and Consent.

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I've watched thousands of films and I can count on one hand the number of horrifically bad films I've ever seen. I don't think they exist for the most part. Usually every film has some merit to be found in it. 

 

In this case, I think some people try to deride Preminger's later work because they just really like the early stuff-- and they are expecting the later titles to be like the early ones. They can't be. Preminger as an artist had changed and was in a whole different phase of his cinematic career. I am sure that if someone were exposed to his films from the 60s & 70s first, then began to discover the stuff from the 40s & 50s, the same bias might occur, just in reverse.

 

Your mileage may vary. The sloppy shmaltz of Julie Moon made me want to vomit. As for Hurry Sundown, it's possible you have to be a Southerner to appreciate the absurdity of its Ah dee-clare accents and characterizations that would have been too over the top for Tobacco Road. Sundown in its way is actually funnier than Skidoo. Maybe that redeems it.

 

As for your theory, my favorite Preminger film is the later Bunny Lake. I think the studio system/production code kept Preminger's more overboard tendencies in check. Once these controlling mechanisms were gone, he was left to his own predilections, which were not always sound

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Yes, I did know that Jean Simmons was already a star in England.

 

What I meant to say is that Howard Hughes "discovered" her for American audiences.

 

But I do know that her association with Howard Hughes was not a pleasant experience for her.

 

And that she was eventually able to buy her way out of that contract.

 

The broadness of Preminger's palette is very, very impressive.

 

And that he succeeded more often than he failed.

 

According to Jean Seberg, and cast members of "Saint Joan", Preminger was extremely unpleasant to her.

 

And, yet, as of today, anyway, she does give us the best Saint Joan that has ever been committed to film.

 

And, in her next film with him, "Bonjour, Tristesse", she does a completely abrupt turn - and becomes a thoroughly selfish and thoroughly-bratty TEENAGER.

 

I saw him on-stage in a discussion of film titles at the Public Theater in downtown Manhattan.

 

Despite so many reports to the contrary, I was in the presence of a very charming man.

 

He did his best with what he was given - or sought out for himself, too.

 

And, in so many instances, that effort was more than good enough.

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As for your theory, my favorite Preminger film is the later Bunny Lake. I think the studio system/production code kept Preminger's more overboard tendencies in check. Once these controlling mechanisms were gone, he was left to his own predilections, which were not always sound

 

And I see his earlier stuff this way-- that he was kept too much in check and the stories don't quite go far enough in exploring areas that he was very adept at handling. So I tend to be more disappointed when watching Preminger's films from the 40s and 50s.

 

I commend him for his insistence at hiring Clifton Webb to play Waldo Lydecker. Very amusing. Webb was easily miscast as a man who'd kill a woman he was hungering to covet. Using Webb to play Waldo is a perverse joke that no other director topped during those years.

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ANATOMY OF A MURDER is his best acted film ...although the judge (played by an actual judge) sucks.

 

Everyone else is aces though.

 

I've always gotten the idea that because Preminger greatly admired Joseph Welch for his being a major force in bringing down Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy Hearings and thus precipitating the fall of that demagogue, and particularly by this one memorable sentence here...

 

 

...this was perhaps why Otto cast Welch in this role as the judge.

 

(...because, yes Lorna...Welch's line readings in this film are strictly amateur)

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Lorna, yes there is. Uncertain if you want me to reveal the plot so ... (Spoiler alert!)

 

Hawkeye leads the quest to obtain a print of the film for the 4077th after hearing it's been banned in Boston. At one point, they think they have it, but instead they're received the 1933 Will Rogers version of State Fair. After much typical double-dealing and chicanery, they get a hold of it ... and are disappointed. Hawkeye expresses astonishment that the film has anything in that merits banning, leading to a terrific episode-ending punchline:

 

FATHER MULCHAEY: If you noticed, she did use the word "virgin".

 

HAWKEYE: That's because everybody in this movie IS!

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Lorna, yes there is. Uncertain if you want me to reveal the plot so ... (Spoiler alert!)

 

Hawkeye leads the quest to obtain a print of the film for the 4077th after hearing it's been banned in Boston. At one point, they think they have it, but instead they're received the 1933 Will Rogers version of State Fair. After much typical double-dealing and chicanery, they get a hold of it ... and are disappointed. Hawkeye expresses astonishment that the film has anything in that merits banning, leading to a terrific episode-ending punchline:

 

FATHER MULCHAEY: If you noticed, she did use the word "virgin".

 

HAWKEYE: That's because everybody in this movie IS!

HA!

THATS GREAT.

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