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MissGoddess
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Hi, Rohanaka -- In a world that seems to celebrate the "gray" in our society--where our ethics are situational and everyone should just do whatever they think is best for themselves, I think today's younger film viewers are especially fortunate to have access to older films--like here at TCM so they can discover for themselves an entirely different perspective in storytelling that is almost completly lost in our society nowdays...there really is more to the term "black and white" than just the type of film in the camera.

 

Being a film noir fan, I'm someone who loves "grey." There are a few reasons why I prefer "grey" to "black and white." The primary reason is because I believe "grey" asks you to think and decide for yourself more whereas "black and white" usually does the thinking for you. I also believe "black and white" films tend to be more predictable. We know the "white hat" is going to prevail. This isn't always the case in "grey" films.

 

I do like "black and white" films it's just that I don't find them to be as fascinating as "grey" films. I almost always take more from "grey" films and "grey" characters. I guess it's because I believe the vast majority of humanity is "grey." We all have our failings. Also, "grey" characters tend to be judged the most by the "black and white" characters, ala the "Ringo Kid" and "Dallas" in John Ford's Stagecoach. This makes me appreciate and love the "Ringo Kid" and "Dallas" even more. They may be "impure" but they are also less judgmental.

 

There are many reasons to watch and enjoy films and each of us has our wants, our needs, our reasons. Some people take more from a happy ending, mainly because they want to feel good after viewing a film. They want to know all is good in the world. I tend to like tragedies because they always make me appreciate what is good in the world all the more.

 

Ciao, Miss Happy Ending -- You have such wonderful faith in me, Sweet T. Did you think my list would be full of psychotic serial killers like "Smithy"?

 

well you know me. heehee! im always a sucker for such faithfulness in you. i excpected your list to be just as it was...unfortunately. heehee!

 

Ahhh, yes, the all too familiar refrain of disappointment.

 

I love Forty Guns! There are so many highpoints in the film and they happen so very fast. Barbara Stanwyck is terrific and I really like Barry Sullivan's coolness. Heck, I even like the song a lot. Sam Fuller!

 

i have to confess that i rather liked barry sullivan's and barbara stanwyk's performances in it. they were brilliant! but the story wasnt my type. it didnt click with me. sorry. although you got me on the song, i love it too!

 

How could you not like Forty Guns? I mean, it has a lovely wedding in it. :D

 

Mean Angela is the best. She's terrifyingly brilliant as "Mrs. Iselin." I couldn't put her in the "loud" group because she talks in a soft tone. And I couldn't put her in the "quiet" group because she's always talking and in control. She's loud in a quiet way.

 

oh no!!!!!! you just ruined angela! i hope she never reads this or you will be in deep trouble mister! what do you mean, angela is best when being mean?! honestly! mrs. potts wouldnever approve of such foolish behavior, she would help me and april spill boiling tea down your back. heehee!

 

I can't see you wanting to waste any tea, and I know your pretend doll wouldn't dare do such a thing, and I can't see a British lass doing so, either. I think I'm safe. And I bet Angela is very proud of her mean performance. It's perfectly chilling! It's almost as cold as a Manhattan blizzard. :P

 

Do you wish for me to come up with a psychos list for you?

 

now why would i wish such a thing? although i would like to see that list please...just curious. but smithy better not be on it....or else out come the long black gloves!

 

Smithy is #1! He's an escaped lunatic who fools everyone with his calm demeanor.

 

Hey! The mix of a "quiet" man and a "loud" woman usually works for me.

 

gee, its no wonder why you like the relationship between mr. and mrs. bennett. heehee!

 

Who are Mr. and Mrs. Bennet? Are those Smithy's parents? Can you believe he actually offed them both? How awful!

 

I like "Henry Drummond." He's very human. He doesn't wish to quiet anyone. He can have great respect for those who he disagrees with and he has the capability to show disdain for those he agrees with. He's not just one color, he's many. That's how I fancy myself.

 

oh yes, i see. i actually respect his character very much in that movie, although it jumps from gene kelly's character to spence's. the first time i watched it, i got confused. actually the first time i saw it was in the paramount theater on the big screen right before To Kill a Mockingbird, and i got so confused with everything that was going on between those two characters. i had to watch it a second time before i got more of it....and my opinion still jumps from character to character in that movie, although i do appreciate the views of henry drummond more so than gene kelly's character msot times.

 

You got to see Inherit the Wind AND To Kill a Mockingbird as a double-feature at the Paramount? Wow! Now that's quite a powerful twinbill. You lucky gal, you. I love Gene Kelly's performance. His "E.K. Hornbeck" is so bitey. I also like the fact that "Drummond" stands up to him when he badmouths "Matt Brady." Unlike Drummond, Hornbeck lacks humanity.

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The next time we go a-plunderin' I will put a mink coat on my list. And maybe we'll even capture Errol for you.

 

Oh that would be lovely! In fact, if you nip Errol you can forget the mink, I won't need it. ;)

 

But you know it wasn't you. These wide margins are usually caused by an oversized picture that has been posted. Pictures should be at about 400x400 in size for a good fit. You probably know this already, but if they are too large they will extend the right margin for every post that comes after.

 

lol, then it was me after all because I'm the guilty party who always posts large pix. I just

don't like small images as much though I know they are friendlier with margins.

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Hello there Frank -- "There are many reasons to watch and enjoy films and each of us has our wants, our needs, our reasons. Some people take more from a happy ending, mainly because they want to feel good after viewing a film. They want to know all is good in the world. I tend to like tragedies because they always make me appreciate what is good in the world all the more."

 

Excellent summation, as usual. I guess I'm in the "Happy Endings" category of things. It's hard to take that lump in my heart with the ending in "Casablanca" or watching the supreme sacrifice Camille makes to send Armand away when she'd be happy to settle for the crumbs of happiness she'd have in the short time she has left to live. I mean folks don't have to walk off into the sunset like Barbara Rush did in "______________" (you know, the sci-fi film where folks took rocket ships to Mars...) but I do like a hopeful feeling. Wouldn't you have liked to have seen glorious double G walking off into the fog of night or onto a bus to another town in "The Big Heat" rather than what did happen to her?

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Hi back at you Frank Grimes! I think your point about "Gray" (or is it "grey?????") is well made--especially when you are looking at certain types of films--(film noir --good example) Characters have a lot more depth in certain situations when they are a little more flawed and less "perfect" (Stage Coach is another good example) and have to struggle with their moral choices.

 

But I don't think characters have to be perfect ( or completely amoral either) to fit in a story that has more clearly defined aspects of good vs evil or (dare I say it?) right vs wrong. And they don't have to be portrayed as judgemental when holding other characters in the story accountable for their actions. I think most people struggle to balance these sorts of issues in their everyday life. The good guy doesn't always have to wear the white hat--but sometimes I like to watch a film where he "chooses" to wear one, not because he has no other choice, but rather because he knows it is right.

 

In certain films, I don't think it is asking too much (or too little) of your audience to expect a character to do the right thing. While I agree, sometimes it is interesting to watch people work out the details of their own moral choices as they struggle through certain types of conflict, there are times when it shouln't be such a tough choice to make. Adding issues of gray to what should be an easy solution can sometimes just muddy up the water. A lot of films--especially more recent ones-don't even offer the "white hat" option to the character. Gray is the color for any given situation. But if you want to have gray, I say somewhere along the color line you are also going to have black and white.

 

Going back to the article that was posted regarding the heroes (or the lack there of)

 

Where there is no hope of a better world, there can be little to distinguish heroes from villains

 

In some stories gray is good! :-) But once gray becomes the only color "allowed" then a lot of the reason for telling the story gets lost.

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Hey, CineMaven -- Excellent summation, as usual.

 

Thanks, girl.

 

I guess I'm in the "Happy Endings" category of things. It's hard to take that lump in my heart with the ending in "Casablanca" or watching the supreme sacrifice Camille makes to send Armand away when she'd be happy to settle for the crumbs of happiness she'd have in the short time she has left to live. I mean folks don't have to walk off into the sunset like Barbara Rush did in "______________" (you know, the sci-fi film where folks took rocket ships to Mars...) but I do like a hopeful feeling.

 

You are in the majority. And it's not as if I don't like "happy endings," because I certainly do. It's just that tragedies make a greater emotional impact on me. I really respond to them. They are much more powerful to me.

 

I absolutely love the end of Casablanca. I'm a sucker for sacrificial love. It's something I would personally do.

 

Wouldn't you have liked to have seen glorious double G walking off into the fog of night or onto a bus to another town in "The Big Heat" rather than what did happen to her?

 

No! I can hear Sweet T saying to me next, "then they could get married!" Nooooooooooooooo! :P

 

I definitely like the ending to The Big Heat. I love how "Debby" (Gloria Grahame) gets "Dave" (Glenn Ford) to open up and deal with his honest emotions about his wife. It's very moving to me. And Debby liked hearing his words because it's what she wished to have. It made her feel all good inside. The only "good" Debby had in her life was material items. She didn't have what Dave had, which was pure love. She realized through Dave that she'd rather have that. It's a lovely, redemptive ending to a strong film noir. I just love these kind of endings.

 

Hi, Rohanaka -- Hi back at you Frank Grimes!

 

:)

 

I think your point about "Gray" (or is it "grey?????") is well made--especially when you are looking at certain types of films--(film noir --good example) Characters have a lot more depth in certain situations when they are a little more flawed and less "perfect" (Stage Coach is another good example) and have to struggle with their moral choices.

 

"Depth." That's exactly it. "Flawed" characters fascinate me more than those who are not or who are much less so. They seem more human to me that way.

 

But I don't think characters have to be perfect ( or completely amoral either) to fit in a story that has more clearly defined aspects of good vs evil or (dare I say it?) right vs wrong. And they don't have to be portrayed as judgemental when holding other characters in the story accountable for their actions.

 

The general basis of an anti-hero is that they have a dark past and/or present but they end up finding a way to do some sort of good. Take "Ethan Edwards" (John Wayne) in The Searchers. We obliquely learn that Ethan doesn't run on the side of the law (good) at all times. He is his own man, a selfish man. We also see how loving a man he can be with his brother's family, especially Martha (Dorothy Jordan). We see his unselfish side. Ethan is both "black" and "white." You mix the two, and you've got "grey." How "black" is Ethan? Well, he tried to murder Debbie (Natalie Wood). That's pretty damn "black," if you ask me. And this is our hero.

 

Is Ethan held to account for trying to murder Debbie? No, he is not.

 

I think most people struggle to balance these sorts of issues in their everyday life.

 

I like your point about everyday life and the attempt to balance all that is thrown at us. I'm someone who believes most everyone is a lighter shade of "grey." None of us are pure "white." Many of us do good but we also have our moments of bad. Some bads are much worse than others.

 

The good guy doesn't always have to wear the white hat--but sometimes I like to watch a film where he "chooses" to wear one, not because he has no other choice, but rather because he knows it is right.

 

I do like when a person wears the "white hat" from the start. Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) in 12 Angry Men wears a "white hat" from the start, and he's one of my all-time favorite characters in film, and someone I wish to be like. Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter) in The Searchers is wearing a "white hat" from the git.

 

In certain films, I don't think it is asking too much (or too little) of your audience to expect a character to do the right thing.

 

I think most of the films I have seen feature the lead character and others doing the right thing.

 

While I agree, sometimes it is interesting to watch people work out the details of their own moral choices as they struggle through certain types of conflict, there are times when it shouln't be such a tough choice to make.

 

There are many factors that go into decisions. What seems to be very easy for one person could be very difficult for another. And it's not always because the other person is more righteous. It could be any number of things, with fear and lack of confidence being at the top of the list.

 

I know it's popular for people to say, "that's not what I would do." Well, is that character you? Do they act and behave just as you would throughout the film? Every person in the world isn't going to act the same in the exact same situation. We'd like to believe we would be courageous to do what it is "right," but that's not always the case.

 

But, you see, this is what I find interesting about film and people in general. Everyone is different and everyone has an opinion.

 

Adding issues of gray to what should be an easy solution can sometimes just muddy up the water.

 

That's what happens in life. It can be very grey. Killing another human being is wrong. But what about self-defense, protecting others, or war? Is killing wrong then? Welcome to "muddy waters." We've turned "grey."

 

A lot of films--especially more recent ones-don't even offer the "white hat" option to the character. Gray is the color for any given situation.

 

I haven't seen enough contemporary films to really know. I grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, which feature white hats. You'll have to give me some examples of the movies you are speaking of.

 

But if you want to have gray, I say somewhere along the color line you are also going to have black and white.

 

I agree. There is "black" and "white" in most every film that I watch. The thing is, the shades of "black" and "white" will be different for many.

 

In some stories gray is good! But once gray becomes the only color "allowed" then a lot of the reason for telling the story gets lost.

 

Scarlet Street is my favorite film noir. It's a film without a happy ending, but there are lessons to be learned with that dark story.

 

I'm someone who views film noir as morality tales. They quite often say, "if you do what Johnny or Joanie does, you may end up in a bad way, just as they." Again, I take more from these kind of films, both emotionally and mentally. The "all is right with the world" ending rarely moves me as much. It's too tidy, too perfect for me. Life is rarely this. Having said that, I do know that most people turn to movies to have a good time, not to think. I do this, as well. It's just that I prefer the films that make you think more. That's all.

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FrankGray and Rohanaka---this is fascinating!

 

Mr Gray you sound as if you basically think the same way as Rohanaka, only you want to

call it one thing ("gray") rather than another ("black or white").

 

Speaking for myself, I don't take issue with flawed characters---in other words, realistically

human characters, only with this presentation in film or art: that it is basically useless or unrealistic

to show them doing the right thing. Like Ro said, many characters are shown as not

even considering doing the right thing. For instance, in the remake of 3:10 to Yuma. In the

original, the Van Heflin character had mixed motives about what he was going to do, and

while these initial motives were not "bad", they could be characterized as "gray". However, he

fairly quickly realized that when circumstances changed, he had to change his thinking and

was willing to make the adjustment in his mind to do what was clearly the "right" thing to

do. In the remake, this character whines from beginning to end and never comes to a decision

about what he's after. The character is simply a victim and the vicious criminal ends up looking

like a "hero" in comparison. I say that in italics because this guy is a killer, not a good guy. He

does something quasi-decent in the end but there is nothing in the nature of the scenes to suggest

his actions are "redemptive" in any way. So you end up wondering what the heck he stuck

his neck out for. Ultimately, the action just all seemed pointless and lives sadly wasted for

nothing. In the original, a man (Heflin) found himself and his self-respect was restored to him.

It wasn't neatly done or "tied with a bow" either, it was realistic and honestly depicted.

 

Or take a character you know: Jeff Baily in Out of the Past. Clearly, he could fall into

the "gray" order of things. But only to a point. The movie does show him ultimately doing

what is right and he makes the choice to do it himself, cost what it may. Today, it is

likely his character would not be shown making that choice, and perhaps the issue would

not even be addresses. It might be more about "will Jeff and Cathy get caught?" than anything

deeper.

 

I don't know if that made any sense. Rohanaka will doubtless have a much better example

and reply. :)

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A lovely Hitch good evening to you, Miss G -- Mr Gray you sound as if you basically think the same way as Rohanaka, only you want to call it one thing ("gray") rather than another ("black or white").

 

Maybe so. I just wanted to speak up for "grey" because I'm someone who believes humanity is mostly "grey" and I enjoy films that feature it so very much. I know I'm in the minority, at least with the latter.

 

Speaking for myself, I don't take issue with flawed characters---in other words, realistically

human characters, only with this presentation in film or art: that it is basically useless or unrealistic to show them doing the right thing. Like Ro said, many characters are shown as not

even considering doing the right thing.

 

I'm trying to think of a film that I have seen that features a lead character like this.

 

For instance, in the remake of 3:10 to Yuma. In the original, the Van Heflin character had mixed motives about what he was going to do, and while these initial motives were not "bad", they could be characterized as "gray". However, he fairly quickly realized that when circumstances changed, he had to change his thinking and was willing to make the adjustment in his mind to do what was clearly the "right" thing to do. In the remake, this character whines from beginning to end and never comes to a decision about what he's after. The character is simply a victim and the vicious criminal ends up looking like a "hero" in comparison. I say that in italics because this guy is a killer, not a good guy. He does something quasi-decent in the end but there is nothing in the nature of the scenes to suggest his actions are "redemptive" in any way. So you end up wondering what the heck he stuck his neck out for. Ultimately, the action just all seemed pointless and lives sadly wasted for nothing. In the original, a man (Heflin) found himself and his self-respect was restored to him. It wasn't neatly done or "tied with a bow" either, it was realistic and honestly depicted.

 

I haven't seen either version of 3:10 to Yuma, but my brother is interested in seeing both, so maybe I'll mention watching them, coming up.

 

SPOILER ALERT

 

One of my favorite films noir is Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street. The film is about a pickpocket artist, Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark), who mistakenly lifts microfilm from a prostitute (Jean Peters). This places him smack dab in the middle of an espionage battle between the Russians and Americans. Skip doesn't give a flip about patriotism, he only cares about himself. Or does he? Well, he eventually does right. Is it because he becomes a patriotic hero? No. He goes after the Russians because they beat up the prostitute, who he had fallen in love with. He ends up doing right, but he does so for his own reasons.

 

Even when someone is being unselfish, threads of selfishness can be found.

 

Or take a character you know: Jeff Baily in Out of the Past. Clearly, he could fall into

the "gray" order of things. But only to a point. The movie does show him ultimately doing

what is right and he makes the choice to do it himself, cost what it may. Today, it is

likely his character would not be shown making that choice, and perhaps the issue would

not even be addresses. It might be more about "will Jeff and Cathy get caught?" than anything

deeper.

 

SPOILER ALERT

 

So did "Jeff" do what was "right"? His decision was murder-suicide. He chose to take the life of another. That was his call. I think Jeff chose to decide his own fate versus having "Kathie" (Jane Greer) do it for him. He just wasn't strong enough to escape her spell. She owned him, despite his being in love with "Ann" (Virginia Huston). He just couldn't find a way to live peacefully with Ann with Kathie still out there, "calling" for him. Thankfully for Jeff, "The Kid (Dickie Moore) helped save Ann from a lifetime of heartache.

 

I don't know if that made any sense. Rohanaka will doubtless have a much better example

and reply.

 

Oh, stop it. You write wonderfully.

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FrankGrimes--This is almost comical for me because I see the potential to go on and on (and on) here. (And supper is not even planned yet tonight, let alone on the stove!!) :-)

 

I appreciate your thoughts on this issue. I know that it is not always easy to mix entertainment with personal values and end up pleasing everyone. I think at times people get upset when someone brings a "black or white" statement into conversations and I am glad we are not going there. I kinda got myself into an unintentional mess on another thread and I certainly do not want to expose you kind folks here to that sort of ranting and raving under any circumstance.

 

But I think that we can get to the root of our issue here if we think for a minute...you see, we are both examples of what we are talking about You come from a perspective that most of life is gray. I am from the point of view that very little of it is gray. And so we are each making our ponts of view from our own perspective! And therefore we sound reasonable (at least to ourselves) :-)

 

Since I would prefer to keep the focus on films rather than on real life issues--to avoid someone jumping in and trying to heat this up in an unfriendly fashion, I don't want to dig too deep to answer your question about killing and war and death:

 

Killing another human being is wrong. But what about self-defense, protecting others, or war? Is killing wrong then? Welcome to "muddy waters." We've turned "grey."

 

I will say that while MURDER is wrong--even negligent homicide is wrong---there are times when killing is not wrong. I would not consider this a gray issue. Just an issue that requires a more accurate definition than the single word "killing" allows.

 

As far as examples of movies that don't offer the "choice of a white hat"--the first one that comes to mind for me has to be movies like The Godfather--or numerous other gangster type films--(whether urban or mafia, etc.) The first time I saw the Godfather (I and II) I watched the first and was so angry at Al Pacino's character (I held out hope for as long as possible that he was going to walk away and not become what everyone else was) that I then watched the second one just hoping someone would stand up to all these criminals in a way that would not allow them to continue to perpetuate their crimes...and it never happened--not even close. (I did not see the third movie so I can't comment on it...I didn't think I could stand it--I might have thrown something at the tv) Now maybe the whole point behind this sort of movie is to tell the story from the gangster point of view, but if that is the case--then even that has gotten lost because now most of these stories center on who's getting over on whom and how many women can they pass back and forth between each other before it's all said and done.

 

When I watch movies like this, I want to see someone who will stand up to these thugs in an effective way and put an end to their crime. In my black and white mind, gangsters are all Al Capone, so from my perspective they all need to go to prison--not get away with their crimes by being worse than their competitors.

 

Perhaps a less violent example of this same mindset would be movies like The Bridges of Madison County. Now I will confess I have never seen this film and am only working off of impressions I have based on what I have read, seen, or heard others talk about it. But I don't think a movie that wants you to admire and even feel sorry for a woman who commits adultery and then has to "suffer" by going back to her "average boring life" is something that appeals to me. (Sorry if I have the wrong impression of this film--since I haven't actually watched it) I think films that involve characters who are tempted with infidelity would be much better stories if the character repents from what they have done and works to deal with the consequences thereby improving their life--or better yet--become even a more impressive character to me by not giving into the temptation in the first place. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a movie where married characters have strayed and either been found out or gotten away with it and all I could do was sit there and think how much stronger the story would have been if the characters resisted the temptation. ( I was cheering my socks off the other night when I watched Jubal for the first time--THAT is what I am talking about here). (Sorry if that is a spoiler for anybody)

 

Anyway--without getting so high up on my soap box that I may get a nosebleed, I should just say that I too enjoy films that make you think, but it is rare for me to find a movie that actually influences how I think. Again because I watch them from my mostly black and white perspective.

 

So I guess I should get back to the issue at hand--(before my poor husband just has to eat cold cereal for supper tonight.) Is better for a movie to be gray or black and white? Of course that depends on the movie. Is there a need for more black and white themes in our films today? Again--I can only speak from my own perspective. I would have to say without question that the answer is yes.

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Bon soir Monsieur Gris:

 

One of my favorite films noir is Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street. The film is about a pickpocket artist, Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark), who mistakenly lifts microfilm from a prostitute (Jean Peters). This places him smack dab in the middle of an espionage battle between the Russians and Americans. Skip doesn't give a flip about patriotism, he only cares about himself. Or does he? Well, he eventually does right. Is it because he becomes a patriotic hero? No. He goes after the Russians because they beat up the prostitute, who he had fallen in love with. He ends up doing right, but he does so for his own reasons.

 

Even when someone is being unselfish, threads of selfishness can be found.

 

But he still does what's right. Pick up on South Street is a Pollyanna movie compared

to the remake of 3:10 to Yuma or American Gangster. In the latter film, they did everything

possible to glorify the gangster and minimize the cop. Not even the inherint "rightness" of

the policeman's pursuit (grungy and despicable as he was) managed to make itself felt in

all the aggrandizement of Denzel Washington's hoodlum "prince".

 

So did "Jeff" do what was "right"? His decision was murder-suicide. He chose to take the life of another. That was his call. I think Jeff chose to decide his own fate versus having "Kathie" (Jane Greer) do it for him. He just wasn't strong enough to escape her spell. She owned him, despite his being in love with "Ann" (Virginia Huston). He just couldn't find a way to live peacefully with Ann with Kathie still out there, "calling" for him. Thankfully for Jeff, "The Kid (Dickie Moore) helped save Ann from a lifetime of heartache.

 

That is a personal call, I don't see it that way. Nobody "owns" anybody. He did the right thing

regardless of what we might interpret as his motives. In the remake of 3:10 to Yuma the "hero"

does NOT do anything, he is shown as an ineffectual victim and the criminal is depicted as

effectual, competent and decisive. That's what I find objectionable from an artistic standpoint.

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Rohanaka will doubtless have a much better example and reply.

 

Miss G--Rohanaka was busily typing away her reply while you were posting yours!! Have more faith in your point of view because even though I haven't seen the two films you used as an example, I think you did a good job of expressing it! (And PS--I usually have an opinion on almost anything--but I tend to get a little long winded--so you will have to excuse me---when most people read my posts, I am sure they start rolling their eyes and thinking--oh no, she's at it again.) Now... off to make the supper--no really--this time I mean it!! :-)

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I guess I must enjoy "long windedness" Ha! everytime we watch the Ten Commandments and the old Pharaoh says "The old windbag" (I think in reference to one of his servants who is recounting the pharaoh's greatness as he lays dying)--my husband gets this ornery look on his face as if to say--"Hey--he's talking about you again!" :-)

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Bonsoir, Mlle Divaguer -- One of my favorite films noir is Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street. The film is about a pickpocket artist, Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark), who mistakenly lifts microfilm from a prostitute (Jean Peters). This places him smack dab in the middle of an espionage battle between the Russians and Americans. Skip doesn't give a flip about patriotism, he only cares about himself. Or does he? Well, he eventually does right. Is it because he becomes a patriotic hero? No. He goes after the Russians because they beat up the prostitute, who he had fallen in love with. He ends up doing right, but he does so for his own reasons.

 

Even when someone is being unselfish, threads of selfishness can be found.

 

But he still does what's right.

 

Yes, but it was his motivations that pushed him to do right. He didn't just do the "right" thing. Scoundrels can actually be heroes, even by doing things for their own reasons. This Gun for Hire is a film where our hero is an assassin. We actually see "Raven" (Alan Ladd) kill two people, and he even thinks about killing a little girl. That's pretty tough.

 

Pick up on South Street is a Pollyanna movie compared to the remake of 3:10 to Yuma or American Gangster. In the latter film, they did everything possible to glorify the gangster and minimize the cop. Not even the inherint "rightness" of the policeman's pursuit (grungy and despicable as he was) managed to make itself felt in all the aggrandizement of Denzel Washington's hoodlum "prince".

 

Fuller is Pollyana? I wonder what he'd say about that. But I don't doubt your words. (End of world). American Gangster doesn't appeal to me. My brother has been watching James Mangold films, and this is why he's interested in seeing 3:10 to Yuma.

 

So did "Jeff" do what was "right"? His decision was murder-suicide. He chose to take the life of another. That was his call. I think Jeff chose to decide his own fate versus having "Kathie" (Jane Greer) do it for him. He just wasn't strong enough to escape her spell. She owned him, despite his being in love with "Ann" (Virginia Huston). He just couldn't find a way to live peacefully with Ann with Kathie still out there, "calling" for him. Thankfully for Jeff, "The Kid (Dickie Moore) helped save Ann from a lifetime of heartache.

 

That is a personal call, I don't see it that way. Nobody "owns" anybody. He did the right thing

regardless of what we might interpret as his motives.

 

I think "Kathie" had "Jeff" by the...

 

He did what he thought was the right thing. Was it truly the "right" thing?

 

In the remake of 3:10 to Yuma the "hero" does NOT do anything, he is shown as an ineffectual victim and the criminal is depicted as effectual, competent and decisive. That's what I find objectionable from an artistic standpoint.

 

Some criminals are more effectual, competent, and decisive than the law. That's just the truth. Not everyone who is good is competent and not everyone who is bad is incompetent.

 

A very wonderful evening to you, Rohanaka -- This is almost comical for me because I see the potential to go on and on (and on) here. (And supper is not even planned yet tonight, let alone on the stove!!)

 

:D Wonderful! Even though you are new to the board, I can tell you are one who likes a good ol' fashioned conversation.

 

I appreciate your thoughts on this issue.

 

Thanks. The sentiment is most definitely mutual.

 

I know that it is not always easy to mix entertainment with personal values and end up pleasing everyone.

 

I actually don't look for my personal values in film. I find all kinds of characters and stories to be entertaining. I'm very open to all kinds of films.

 

I think at times people get upset when someone brings a "black or white" statement into conversations and I am glad we are not going there. I kinda got myself into an unintentional mess on another thread and I certainly do not want to expose you kind folks here to that sort of ranting and raving under any circumstance.

 

I read your Sergeant York thread and I was going to post on it. What was I going to say? Well, I was going to tell you that you didn't have to apologize for saying a darn thing. I thought your original post and subsequent ones were very friendly and kind. I thought you just wanted to share your love of a favorite film of yours and the reasons why you loved it with anyone who was interested in hearing about your love. Bravo! I enjoyed reading it.

 

But I think that we can get to the root of our issue here if we think for a minute...you see, we are both examples of what we are talking about You come from a perspective that most of life is gray. I am from the point of view that very little of it is gray. And so we are each making our ponts of view from our own perspective! And therefore we sound reasonable (at least to ourselves) :)

 

You got it! That was beautifully said and wonderfully accurate. And, for the record, I find your point of view to be very reasonable. You see, just because I have a different point of view than yours it doesn't mean that I'm reasonable or that you are unreasonable. I don't believe I am necessarily "right." Far from it. In fact, I don't need to be right. If I needed to be right, I would end up clashing with too many people, and I'm not about that. Not at all. I'd rather embrace and respect the differences of others instead of shun them. I feel it would be to my great detriment to turn away those who are different than me because, truly, they are the same.

 

Since I would prefer to keep the focus on films rather than on real life issues--to avoid someone jumping in and trying to heat this up in an unfriendly fashion, I don't want to dig too deep to answer your question about killing and war and death:

 

Killing another human being is wrong. But what about self-defense, protecting others, or war? Is killing wrong then? Welcome to "muddy waters." We've turned "grey."

 

I will say that while MURDER is wrong--even negligent homicide is wrong---there are times when killing is not wrong. I would not consider this a gray issue. Just an issue that requires a more accurate definition than the single word "killing" allows.

 

Fair enough. Your words shall stand.

 

As far as examples of movies that don't offer the "choice of a white hat"--the first one that comes to mind for me has to be movies like The Godfather--or numerous other gangster type films--(whether urban or mafia, etc.) The first time I saw the Godfather (I and II) I watched the first and was so angry at Al Pacino's character (I held out hope for as long as possible that he was going to walk away and not become what everyone else was) that I then watched the second one just hoping someone would stand up to all these criminals in a way that would not allow them to continue to perpetuate their crimes...and it never happened--not even close. (I did not see the third movie so I can't comment on it...I didn't think I could stand it--I might have thrown something at the tv) Now maybe the whole point behind this sort of movie is to tell the story from the gangster point of view, but if that is the case--then even that has gotten lost because now most of these stories center on who's getting over on whom and how many women can they pass back and forth between each other before it's all said and done.

 

Excellent choice! I believe that's a great example. And, believe it or not, I have never seen The Godfather in its entirety. I'm not really drawn to gangster movies. I'll eventually get there, but "there" has not arrived.

 

I have a feeling that I'd view The Godfather as a brutal, depressing world to which I'd never like to live in. So, in that way, it would have a positive effect on me.

 

When I watch movies like this, I want to see someone who will stand up to these thugs in an effective way and put an end to their crime. In my black and white mind, gangsters are all Al Capone, so from my perspective they all need to go to prison--not get away with their crimes by being worse than their competitors.

 

Whenever I watch a film like The Godfather, I play the role of law enforcement in my mind. I don't need to see the criminals get busted to know they are bad and doing horrible things. I know what's right and what's wrong in my mind and my gut. I don't need it to be reinforced on the big screen. I'm already comfortable with what's inside of me. I don't need validation.

 

Perhaps a less violent example of this same mindset would be movies like The Bridges of Madison County. Now I will confess I have never seen this film and am only working off of impressions I have based on what I have read, seen, or heard others talk about it. But I don't think a movie that wants you to admire and even feel sorry for a woman who commits adultery and then has to "suffer" by going back to her "average boring life" is something that appeals to me. (Sorry if I have the wrong impression of this film--since I haven't actually watched it) I think films that involve characters who are tempted with infidelity would be much better stories if the character repents from what they have done and works to deal with the consequences thereby improving their life--or better yet--become even a more impressive character to me by not giving into the temptation in the first place. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a movie where married characters have strayed and either been found out or gotten away with it and all I could do was sit there and think how much stronger the story would have been if the characters resisted the temptation. ( I was cheering my socks off the other night when I watched Jubal for the first time--THAT is what I am talking about here). (Sorry if that is a spoiler for anybody)

 

I have only seen pieces of The Bridges of Madison County. I hear what you are saying, and I believe just as you do. I'm a loyalist who dislikes adultery. However, I enjoy watching fictional characters go through all sorts of scenarios in the name of drama. Just because I or anyone else finds dark characters and dark stories to be interesting doesn't mean I or they wish to be them or live them. Far from it. I can separate the real from the fictional.

 

And, the truth is, many women in history have strayed for many different reasons. Many have felt guilty while others have not. Some have gotten away with it while others have not. It runs the entire gamut.

 

Anyway--without getting so high up on my soap box that I may get a nosebleed, I should just say that I too enjoy films that make you think, but it is rare for me to find a movie that actually influences how I think. Again because I watch them from my mostly black and white perspective.

 

For me, it's about situations and how I would feel if placed in such a situation. I think most everyone has felt weak, possibly helpless, sometimes tempted, and many times challenged at points in their lives. Will we look to rob a bank to solve our financial crunch? No. But we may feel the desperation that the character is feeling in such a situation. That's how films make me think and feel.

 

Oh, and I like soap boxes. :)

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find the tough spots fictional characters find themselves in, be it by choosing or not, to be very thought-provoking and sometimes quite relevant to situations in my life or those I know. Instead of me saying, "ohh, I'd never do that," I say, "what if I were... " This is my version of "escapist fare."

 

So I guess I should get back to the issue at hand--(before my poor husband just has to eat cold cereal for supper tonight.)

 

I really like how you can inject humor amongst the serious. You're quite nimble.

 

Is better for a movie to be gray or black and white? Of course that depends on the movie. Is there a need for more black and white themes in our films today? Again--I can only speak from my own perspective. I would have to say without question that the answer is yes.

 

I happen to agree with you. I do believe there should be more wholesome entertainment than there is at current. I haven't seen enough contemporary films to say for sure, but I still believe the majority of them feature a hero who ultimately does right.

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Well Frank (may I call you Frank?) I think we have chased this fox around the tree about as far as I can run. :-)

 

I will only add that it appears we have some things in common--we both know what we like about the things we like in movies. One apparent misconception I want to clear up is that just because I like characters and story lines that have a more clearly defined sense of the "black and white" doesn't mean I expect all the stories to be happy or the endings to make me smile. I know the real world doesn't work that way and it would be pretty boring to watch only movies that show this in an unreal and artificial way. I'm always up for a good cry--and while I have to confess that the Godfather movies made me angry--I still found myself watching, if only to keep hoping for a redeeming quality in someone somewhere. (plus I really like that trumpet solo in the theme song--just before the mandolins start playing) :-). So I certainly have room in my movie-going life for a wider range of films than just the happy-ending sort of stories.

 

I just believe that so much gray in movies may be a reflection on a culture that I neither want to discuss nor debate at length on a forum like this and it would be refreshing ( at least to me) to see a change in that cultural mindset ( even if only for a while)

 

And PS--thanks for your kind words about the Sgt York thread. I am still sad about how that turned out, but I am glad to see some folks at least kept trying. You know-even the opposing point of view was welcome--it was just not something I thought was appropriate for me to continue pressing forward. And also--thanks for the comment about me being nimble--I don't think anyone has described me that way since I was a toddler--which was a whole lotta years and about a gazillion pounds ago! :-)

 

Message was edited by: rohanaka

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Just my humble opinion, but some food for thought.

 

 

I need to butt in here about The Godfather movies. I know it appears on the surface that there isn't a redeeming story here (and maybe redeeming is not a good word.) However, there is a great cautionary tale amidst all the unsavoriness of the action. Michael had everything he needed at the beginning--a college education, a silver star in the Marines and a lovely girl who he loves and loves him. But misguided family loyalty led him down the wrong path, and while on the surface it appears that he has it all, deep down he knows he's losing everything that matters to him and he suffers--boy, does he suffer. Of course, he makes others suffer along the way but there's no one who gets it that doesn't deserve it except a poor prostitute. They are all sleazy, not just the Corleone family. While I'm not Al Pacino's greatest fan, his Michael Corleone is the greatest acting I've ever seen, bar none. And I've seen a lot of movies in my day. His transformation as the character is remarkable. The only "good" character is Diane Keaton's Kay and she almost waits too late to get out because of the love she has for the Michael she fell in love with. Michael realizes too late that she was right all along but is too entrenched in the life to do anything about it.

 

No, it's not a happily ever after ending. Just a good story, well told.

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Helenbaby--even though the Godfather films were just not my cup of tea--I couldn't agree with you more about Pacino--in fact I have to say there are a lot of great perfomances in these films. Some very fine actors, and excellent writing--extremely well done. Just not a story I can reconcile myself to watch again--I know a little about the third from some things I have heard. But still don't think I can bring myself to see it.

 

Message was edited by: rohanaka

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He did what he thought was the right thing. Was it truly the "right" thing?

 

And there you have it, Mr Gray---the point being he did what he thought was right.

If he didn't think at all and come to a decision, he'd have gone on and on just the

way things were, which is what I've been saying I don't like in a film. And this,

by the way, is as 'gray" as I can stand for my characters to be. "Raven" isn't

really posited as a "hero" either, yet he ends up doing the right thing at last. The point

isn't really about what the character did before nor was he at all glorified as he would be

today, it's how the character's personal story culminates---just as with Ethan Edwards,

if he never changed at that last minute toward Debbie, we simply would not have a good

movie called The Searchers. Not only would Ethan have failed, the film would have

failed. In every example you have given, the character, though 'gray' as you describe

him (I call it human), still makes a decision to do what is right because they think

it's right, not because they're going to jail or anything so simplistic like that.

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I haven't seen enough contemporary films to say for sure, but I still believe the majority

of them feature a hero who ultimately does right.

 

I have seen many contemporary films, and like the article I posted said, they are

predominantly showing "cartoonish" "heroes", not the kind of people anyone can relate

to. These impressions aren't made up or imaginary nor are they overstated. The

fact that this same refrain has been talked and written about for the last 30 or 40 years

should tell us that it's a genuine concern. I also am familiar with the folks who are

making decisions regarding what films get made and what films do not and I can assure

you this issue isn't a big concern for them.

 

I believe the article even discussed your heartwarming favorite, No Country for Old Men. :P

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Cava, Mon Pirate Prefere?

 

Here is my "fussbudgets" list, as promised:

 

Donald Meek in The Thin Man Goes Home and You Can't Take it With You

Josephine Hull in Harvey and Arsenic and Old Lace

Franklin Pangborn in My Man Godfrey and Now, Voyager

Alice Brady in My Man Godfrey and When Ladies Meet (1933)

Hume Cronyn in Shadow of a Doubt and People Will Talk

Jessie Ralph in After the Thin Man

Charles Lane in It's A Wonderful Life

Jessica Tandy in The Birds

Edna Best in The Ghost and Mrs Muir

Clifton Webb in Mr Belvedere

Laura Hope Crewes in GWTW

Herbert Heyes in Miracle on 34th Street

Paul Lynde in Send Me No Flowers

Frank Morgan in The Shop Around the Corner

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I also am familiar with the folks who are making decisions regarding what films get made and what films do not and I can assure you this issue isn't a big concern for them.

 

Miss Goddess--usually the only other person I sit around and talk movies with is my husband. And we have had many a conversation about how most film makers don't seem to have any real sense of accountability to their audience anymore. They aren't turning out films for the audience so much as they are just turning out films (Another topic where you can find this same sort of attitude has to do with language and other adult content that is placed in a movie only because it can be. It doesn't really add to the film or improve the story in any way, but it just gets thrown in there because it can be "thrown in there".)

 

We used to go to the movies maybe twice a month or so depending on what was coming out and whether or not we were interested. But we have only seen a handful of new releases in the last 5 years and it is primarily due to the fact that there just hasn't been much out there we wanted to invest out time or money in seeing. In fact, I have seen three new films in the last 2 months, and that is more than I've probably seen in the last 3 years (We've watched a few new releases on DVD's after they were done at the theater-but not very many) I am sure no one in the movie industry has missed our little contribution to their bank account. But the only way things will ever change is for the audience to become more demanding. I think film makers have all gotten the idea that "if we make it they will come". Once in a while, they get proven wrong. Wish it would happen more often.

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Hi Ro!

 

I recently read an interview with John Milius, a screenwriter (Apocalypse Now, Rome miniseries) and director who was quoted as saying he thinks the Hollywood studios are

basically dead (not the old studio system but today's studios) and that indie films,

even YouTube shorts and other media are taking the place of traditional movie going. I thought it

was an extreme statement but the output by the majors certainly does seem to shrink year by

year, with the concentration being primarily on block busters. Movies like these and much of the

unwatchable stuff on television reflects how their creators think and speak. You don't run across many

script writers with polish, culture and sophistication---they're kids mostly who don't even know

who Preston Sturges was. And scripts aren't even written by just a screenwriter or even a

team of screenwriters but by boards, bean counters and other studio "executives". Everyone

has a say and input into the final product. The studios have never been too easy for writers to

negotiate, but compared to now the old system was heaven.

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Movies like these and much of the unwatchable stuff on television reflects how their creators think and speak. You don't run across many script writers with polish, culture and sophistication

 

Well said. I think much or what you see in the entertainment industry is a direct reflection on their creators, writers, producers, directors, etc.--but sadly also on our own society and culture. Yet another conversation for another forum perhaps, but it weighs heavily on my heart sometimes.

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True that, you sound like my film professor in class. He is a huge Preston fan, well said, Goddess, I could not agree with you more. After class, we were discussing Woody Allen as a writer/director vs. my personal favorite, Billy Wilder. I was struck by there being so few risk taking writers/directors except for independents now. My prof admires that Allen puts out a movie every year, sometimes two. That is exceptional in output, with the quality of the comedic writing rare, along with him being a fine filmmaker. I think the Cohen brothers are another exception among recent directors/writers, fine writers, risk takers in films such as Fargo.

 

A few Allen films I love: Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters and Radio Days, but experimental ones,Zelig, don't do much for me. Sunset Blvd. is one of my all time favorite films. The first to criticize Hollywood head on. Poor Norma Desmond and Max, faded stars and the poor wannabe bees, tragic writer Holden plays. Wilder is unique in his range of subject matter and depth of writing especially for a non native speaker.

 

Another film that criticizes Hollywood is The Bad and the Beautiful, good performances by Kirk Douglas, Dick Powell and Lana Turner on TCM sometimes, one of the better films by Douglas, a departure from his typical heroic parts. Turner is gorgeous in this movie, just stunning.

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