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Glorious Monsters


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I just realized this is an unfortunate title for this thread in October.  So, no, this thread is not about monster movies.

 

There are movies, born of a great design, stitched together of different movie styles, like Frankenstein's Monster, meant to provide magnificence and spectacle.  Of course they fail, grandly or miserably.  Some are a wonder to watch, if only from a perverse fascination.  One I saw recently, mouth almost continually gaping in disbelief, is Lady in the Dark (1944), starring Ginger Rogers.  It's a story involving psychological and psychoanalytical themes, much in the line of Possessed (1947), and The Three Faces of Eve (1957).  Only the psychology is mangled, and the analyst should be decertified for malpractice.  I read it is based on a wildly successful and ground breaking Broadway musical, created by the likes of Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, and Kurt Weill, and starring Gertrude Lawrence.  But evidently it was largely emasculated, or misogynized, to make it producible in Hollywood.

 

Ginger Rogers plays that abomination of nature to Hollywood, a successful woman businessman.  And I do mean that last, as according to the Hollywood handbook on psycho-neuroses, to become successful in business, a woman must repress her femininity.  Thus we have Miss Rogers in severe, mannish attire, stripped of ornament--attire that today looks surprisingly stylish.  The story alternates between the real world of her as the publisher of a major fashion magazine, subject to headaches, depression, indecision, and a sexual relationship with a father-figure, and her dream-world musical interludes where her neuroses are more or less symbolically explored.  It looks like a lot of the musical material was excised, which goes a long way to explaining why the interludes have only a quasi-musical feel to them, as if the movie's goal was to have lavish production numbers, but didn't quite have the courage, or will to accomplish it.  Except for the last one, which truly is a great number, Ginger Rogers singing a song in the classic Weill tradition, and displaying a pair of legs only rivaled in movies by Greer Garson (move over, Betty Grable).

 

It's all got a que-er feeling to it, as if the moviemakers were ambivalent about what they wanted to do.  Couple this with the continual drumbeat of her character's violation of the norms of nature being the cause of her problems (even to the extent of the analyst declaring that what she really wanted was to submit to the domination of a man!--something rejected even in 1944 as glaringly offensive), and you have the makings of a movie I normally turn off in the first few minutes.  But I didn't.  I watched it all the way through, and tolerated it nicely.  This was solely due to Ginger Rogers.  I never appreciated how good an actress she was until this movie.  I don't want to take anything away from her better known triumphs, but you can't really get an appreciation of how good someone is until you see them make something absolutely awful into something worth wasting your time on.  Makes you wonder what the movie would have been with a better producer and director--or ones more friendly to the material and Ginger Rogers.  It might have been her best work, and an Oscar winner.

 

All in glorious Technicolor.

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So, what IS this thread about?

 

Movie characters that had monsterous personalities?

 

Like KIRK DOUGLAS' Jonathan Sheilds in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL?

 

Or maybe BURT LANCASTER'S J.J. Hunsecker?

 

So then how about JIMMY CAGNEY'S  Cody Jarrett?

 

Are THOSE the kind of monsters you're referring to?   ;)

 

 

Sepiatone

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So, what IS this thread about?

 

 

 

 

There are movies, born of a great design, stitched together of different movie styles, like Frankenstein's Monster, meant to provide magnificence and spectacle.  Of course they fail, grandly or miserably.

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I bet she's the feminists favorite monster. 

 

She is scary - especially in 'The Hypnotic Eye' (1960). Much scarier than the 50 foot thing (though that's scary  too).

 

She is one hard looking woman. In this trailer clip she is trying coldly to get a beautiful woman to scald herself under hypnosis.

 

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I bet she's the feminists favorite monster. :D

 

Has everyone ever said that who SAW the original film?...Seriously. 

I mean, Dreamworks's "Monsters vs. Aliens" wasn't bad, but even they fell for that old myth, after they started kissing up to their female audiences after the Shrek sequels.

 

According to the disk commentary, Ao50FW started out as an off-topic Joan Crawford-knockoff B-potboiler script Amer. Int'l couldn't sell--more in the "Glorious monster" genre Slayton wanted to talk about--one exec joked "Maybe we should put a flying saucer in it and sell it to the teens?", and...they didn't have any better ideas.

Which is why the Attack "doesn't happen until the last ten minutes of the timid soap opera", as TV Guide always put it.

 

(No, seriously:  Everywhere I see somebody making the same clueless joke about it, I can feel the hairs on the back of my B-movie-buff neck go up...People would rather be a hoot, than take the trouble and effort to rent one stupid little disk and disillusion themselves forever!)  :angry:

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There are movies, born of a great design, stitched together of different movie styles, like Frankenstein's Monster, meant to provide magnificence and spectacle.  Of course they fail, grandly or miserably.

I can't right off think of any like that, but I once entertained an idea based on a similar notion.....

 

Let's say a "biopic" of someone's life that begins in the early to mid '50's and extends into the mid '80's..........

 

The '50's era of the person's life would be filmed using the most commonly used methods( cameras, film stock, lighting etc.) of the time, changing with each progressive period of the person's life.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I must find a way to communicate when I am posting tongue-in-cheek.  I was only following in the vein of the thread.  I really think you have a cool idea.

 

But a great example of a monster was on last night as part of the Trailblazing Women spotlight.  It was Madame Satan (1930), directed by Cecil B. DeMille, and with Lilian Roth.  A pre code-enforcement kept-women's apartment sex comedy epic bacchanalian disaster movie--musical!  The only thing left for DeMille to throw in to this would have been a chariot race!

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If I'm correctly understanding your thread's premise here slayton, then might I suggest the film PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1981) as an example of such.

 

Although this film, a rather strange but beautiful cinematic mashup of dramatic social commentary with a musical, might have generally received positive reviews by the critics, it failed miserably at the box office.

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If I'm correctly understanding your thread's premise here slayton, then might I suggest the film PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1981) as an example of such.

 

Although this film, a rather strange but beautiful cinematic mashup of dramatic social commentary with a musical, might have generally received positive reviews by the critics, it failed miserably at the box office.

 

Like that Robert Downey Jr. '03 version of "The Singing Detective" that nobody saw, it was the bigscreen version of a depressingly deconstructive Dennis Potter BBC miniseries, that--coming from the late 70's--tried to "punish" old-movies and musicals for being too happy and escaping reality during a time when people should be wringing their hands.  We got a lot of those 30's-Depression parallels during the mid-late 70's, with or without the Snarky Cynical British Who Hate Everything.  (See related discussions on Ken Russell's "The Boy Friend".)

 

By the 80's, we felt better, and since nobody had heard of the original British series outside of reputation, the studio tried to promote the big-budget musical scenes in it as if it was Funny Lady, and...oh, you can smell the disaster about to happen.

It became the most famous reason why the Christmas movie season of 1981 went down in history as "The Most Depressing Christmas Movie Season In History", opening the same month as Ragtime, Reds, Ghost Story, Taps, and On Golden Pond.

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Here's one that doesn't have elements of musicals thrown in, it's Fanny and Alexander (1982), directed by Ingmar Bergman, and starring none of his familiar actors--familiar to American audiences, that is.  It's monstrous in different ways, both in the length and combination of narrative styles.  There's a TV-turned-movie version that's over five hours long!  The theatrical release is much more manageable, only three hours and some.  The style of the movietelling shifts from conventional Bergman-esque to fairytale/ghosty/magical as the scene shifts to and from a widowed actress and her two children's well-furnished house and life, to the severe prison-like environs and life of the ascetic bishop she unaccountably marries.  I should add, it's generally highly regarded, but I find the shift in storytelling and mood awkward and off-putting.

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