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Madame Du Barry (1934) v. Marie Antoinette (1939)


slaytonf
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Or  Warner Brothers v. MGM.  Or Jack Warner v. Louis B. Mayer.

Earlier today we were treated to Dolores del Rio and Reginald Owen bringing to life Madam Du Barry and Louis XV.  Respectively, that is.  It's my favorite of Ms. Rio's roles.  She plays it effervescent, irreverent, and unrepentant.  What strikes me about the movie is its worldliness and cynicism.  Totally in agreement with WB's gritty realism, it must have beat it under the executioner's axe of the production code.  Louis' "after me, the deluge" line would never have made it into a movie then.  One can't help wondering if this movie's tone was purely the expression of WB's controlling ethos, or as an answer to, and skewering of, MGM's typical extolling and sentimentalizing of monarchy and the nobility in their costume dramas.  Maybe both.  

The two movies exemplify the difference between the studios.  MGM, Mayer rather, the Cadillac of studios.  All movies high production values.  All emotions exalted, refined, burnished.  The paradox of an Eastern European Jew up from dirt poverty, sentimentalizing, slobbering over, and promoting the white Northern European Christian American dream--what? as a way of gaining acceptance from a system that despised him for his origins?  And WB, or Jack Warner, up from the same dirt poverty.  The iconoclast, the cynic, hard-headed, unvarnished.  For what?  To break up a system and build a new one to replace it where he would find acceptance?  Did he care?

So the iconoclasts beat out the sentimentalists.  Or did they?  Maybe it's a battle that will never be won.  There will always be parties committed to exploitation and theft.  They cultivate a mystique of the elite to create compliance and admiration in the populations they steal from.  Sometimes the parasites gain ground, sometimes the parasited gain.  Anyway, my sentiments are certain: Down the aristocracy! Up the people!

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59 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Sorry I missed this! :( Who's day is it today?

Anita Louise's day.

10 hours ago, slaytonf said:

MGM, Mayer rather, the Cadillac of studios.  All movies high production values. 

I can't stand this expression. I've heard it before. I think it gives MGM way too much credit. All the other studios turned out highly polished products too. In fact Paramount had all those lavish Cecil B. DeMille spectacles, pictures MGM couldn't touch. 

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At Paramount, the operative word was irreverence in many of their films.  Even with DeMile, there was some of it in Cleopatra, which cannot really be taken seriously. In many ways silly. The  Plainsman, is hardly historical. NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE was funny in it awfulness.

There was CITY STREETS 1931 (Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sydney), which is hardly glossy or sentimental. Paramount was a mixed bag of films. Their comedies are among the best of the studios output.

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7 hours ago, arpirose said:

At Paramount, the operative word was irreverence in many of their films.  Even with DeMile, there was some of it in Cleopatra, which cannot really be taken seriously. In many ways silly. The  Plainsman, is hardly historical. NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE was funny in it awfulness.

There was CITY STREETS 1931 (Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sydney), which is hardly glossy or sentimental. Paramount was a mixed bag of films. Their comedies are among the best of the studios output.

What does irreverence have to do with polished production values? Plus I am sure MGM's historical dramas were hardly 100% accurate.

MGM as the Cadillac of studios is just such a ridiculous expression. Makes it seem like the rest of Hollywood was operating a jalopy.

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Heh, I used to work at Cadillac.  Like my Dad before me( who got me in) and my Grandfather AND Grandmother too( the "rosie" of the family  ;)  ), and we ALL can attest that while we enjoyed the rep and the business  and steady work the rep brought with it, we knew we weren't the ONLY well built( for the time) luxury car in town.

MGM might have been the "Cadillac" of hollywood movie studios, but there too, had to be a "Lincoln" and an "Imperial" of studios too.  ;)

Sepiatone

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What does irreverence have to do with polished production values?

Well, at Paramount it was everything, especially in their comedy output,  Their comedies were in a league of their own.  That is why I enjoy their comedies more than other studios output.  Take the ROAD PICTURES, Bob and Bing were having the time of their lives pulling jokes and situations that were outside the norm of output from other studio.  Such as the ending of THE ROAD TO UTOPIA, where the writers make a sneaky wink, wink about infidelity. I do not know how they got away with it.  

Finally, the Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and even Mitchell Leisen's comedies were not Hollywood standard fare.  

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1 hour ago, arpirose said:

What does irreverence have to do with polished production values?

Well, at Paramount it was everything, especially in their comedy output,  Their comedies were in a league of their own.  That is why I enjoy their comedies more than other studios output.  Take the ROAD PICTURES, Bob and Bing were having the time of their lives pulling jokes and situations that were outside the norm of output from other studio.  Such as the ending of THE ROAD TO UTOPIA, where the writers make a sneaky wink, wink about infidelity. I do not know how they got away with it.  

Finally, the Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and even Mitchell Leisen's comedies were not Hollywood standard fare.  

Sorry but Paramount's comedies were more than road pictures, Mitchell Leisen, Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. Why aren't you mentioning Ernst Lubitsch, Hal Walker, Sidney Lanfield and Claude Binyon too? And the studio's B films that were comedies? I don't think you have a full understanding of Paramount.

Going off on a tangent about comedies still does not lend itself to a discussion about production values. You could also go off on a tangent about Paramount's adventure films starring Alan Ladd but that wouldn't necessarily explain the studio's production values either.

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5 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Heh, I used to work at Cadillac.  Like my Dad before me( who got me in) and my Grandfather AND Grandmother too( the "rosie" of the family  ;)  ), and we ALL can attest that while we enjoyed the rep and the business  and steady work the rep brought with it, we knew we weren't the ONLY well built( for the time) luxury car in town.

MGM might have been the "Cadillac" of hollywood movie studios, but there too, had to be a "Lincoln" and an "Imperial" of studios too.  ;)

Sepiatone

Yeah! And in THIS regard, say what ya want about that cheapskate Harry Cohn over at Columbia, but at least HE always put his money where HIS mouth was, anyway!

(...word was the penny-pinching SOB drove a base model Ford to and from work every day) ;)

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Hooboyyyy!  People here will snag on the smallest detail and spiral off into the wildest tangents.  I guess I should be used to that by now.  I was hoping to provoke an energetic discussion on socio-culturo-economic themes.  But I'm expecting now people to start matching up studios with their respective car manufacturers.  If the Cadillac reference is just intolerable, use a different image.  The point I was making when people zoomed away was about MGM's express policy of aiming for a high tone in its product, and Louis B. Mayer's sappy sentimentalism.  Whether other studios matched its production values or excelled them is immaterial.  It was this goal and sentimentalism that was responsible for MGM's validating of the aristocracy and royalty in its movies.  Now if you scour the filmography (as I know somebody will) I'm sure you can find a movie that has a critical slant on the nobility.  I'm talking about the tone in general.  Just as I'm sure you can find a WB movie, despite its iconoclasm, gritty realism, and express  policy of making movies "ripped from the headlines," that has a positive slant on the nobility.  

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18 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

Hooboyyyy!  People here will snag on the smallest detail and spiral off into the wildest tangents.  I guess I should be used to that by now.  I was hoping to provoke an energetic discussion on socio-culturo-economic themes.  But I'm expecting now people to start matching up studios with their respective car manufacturers.  If the Cadillac reference is just intolerable, use a different image.  The point I was making when people zoomed away was about MGM's express policy of aiming for a high tone in its product, and Louis B. Mayer's sappy sentimentalism.  Whether other studios matched its production values or excelled them is immaterial.  It was this goal and sentimentalism that was responsible for MGM's validating of the aristocracy and royalty in its movies.  Now if you scour the filmography (as I know somebody will) I'm sure you can find a movie that has a critical slant on the nobility.  I'm talking about the tone in general.  Just as I'm sure you can find a WB movie, despite its iconoclasm, gritty realism, and express  policy of making movies "ripped from the headlines," that has a positive slant on the nobility.  

OH yeah! Louis B. Mayer.

Word was HE drove a PACKARD...and ironically for sentimental reasons.

His father owned one when he was a kid.

(...sorry slayton...just couldn't resist...I'll be good now) ;)

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8 hours ago, Dargo said:

OH yeah! Louis B. Mayer.

Word was HE drove a PACKARD...and ironically for sentimental reasons.

His father owned one when he was a kid.

(...sorry slayton...just couldn't resist...I'll be good now) ;)

And more family TMI;

My OTHER Grandfather might have helped BUILD that Packard!  :D  He worked there until they "stepped out".  ;)

Sepiatone

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