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Films that seem too long


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A Variety review for THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966) says it's "generally amusing (often wildly so), but overlong." The Billy Wilder picture is 125 minutes. But I agree, it does drag on in spots...and probably could have been told in 100 minutes.

Some movies are meant to take a lot of time to play out on screen, in order to convey epic greatness. But I feel the appropriately titled THE LONGEST DAY is way too long.

What movies do you feel this way about?

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Rio Bravo (1959)

While I like all the stars, there is more talk than action (actually my favorite scene is the duet between Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson). The simple story of holding an outlaw in a jail cell before his gang tries to spring him did not need to be 2 hours and 20 minutes long.

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Brazil (1985), which I had the misfortune to see in London, before it was cut for the American market. A tedious pile of overrated trash that might have been bearable had it been cut to about 15 minutes. But maybe even that would have been too long.

 

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I watched 1958's The Young Lions on TCM on Memorial Day.  All 164 minutes.  I've never cared much for this movie, but Leonard Maltin gives it such a grand review, I thought maybe another look would change my mind.  It didn't.  I suppose screenwriter Edward Anhalt wanted to stay fairly faithful to Irwin Shaw's novel, but I think he should have taken some creative liberties.  The first hour really drags and, in my opinion, could have been cut by a good 15 minutes.  The last half of the film, during the battle scenes, is very entertaining, but then it ends too abruptly.  Brando, as the confused Nazi officer, is at his best, Clift (this was after his horrible car accident) as the U.S. soldier is compelling, but I've always had a problem with Dean Martin in dramatic roles.  I kept expecting Jerry Lewis to pop up with a comedy routine.  Martin was type-cast as a singer who was drafted before he was to open in a Broadway musical.  He doesn't seem to have much to do, other than woo Barbara Rush, until the end of the movie.  Then his actions left me scratching my head.  The final scene with Clift and Hope Lange seems to have been tacked on as an after thought for a happy ending.

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5 minutes ago, filmnoirguy said:

I watched 1958's The Young Lions on TCM on Memorial Day.  All 164 minutes.  I've never cared much for this movie, but Leonard Maltin gives it such a grand review, I thought maybe another look would change my mind.  It didn't.  I suppose screenwriter Edward Anhalt wanted to stay fairly faithful to Irwin Shaw's novel, but I think he should have taken some creative liberties.  The first hour really drags and, in my opinion, could have been cut by a good 15 minutes.  The last half of the film, during the battle scenes, is very entertaining, but then it ends too abruptly.  Brando, as the confused Nazi officer, is at his best, Clift (this was after his horrible car accident) as the U.S. soldier is compelling, but I've always had a problem with Dean Martin in dramatic roles.  I kept expecting Jerry Lewis to pop up with a comedy routine.  Martin was type-cast as a singer who was drafted before he was to open in a Broadway musical.  He doesn't seem to have much to do, other than woo Barbara Rush, until the end of the movie.  Then his actions left me scratching my head.  The final scene with Clift and Hope Lange seems to have been tacked on as an after thought for a happy ending.

Maybe Dean Martin was cast to increase the film's chances at the box office. Out of the three leads, he was probably the most popular mainstream star. 

I agree that THE YOUNG LIONS is too long. They're trying too hard to be "epic" with this one.

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1 hour ago, filmnoirguy said:

I watched 1958's The Young Lions on TCM on Memorial Day.  All 164 minutes.  I've never cared much for this movie, but Leonard Maltin gives it such a grand review, I thought maybe another look would change my mind.  It didn't.  I suppose screenwriter Edward Anhalt wanted to stay fairly faithful to Irwin Shaw's novel, but I think he should have taken some creative liberties.  The first hour really drags and, in my opinion, could have been cut by a good 15 minutes.  The last half of the film, during the battle scenes, is very entertaining, but then it ends too abruptly.  Brando, as the confused Nazi officer, is at his best, Clift (this was after his horrible car accident) as the U.S. soldier is compelling, but I've always had a problem with Dean Martin in dramatic roles.  I kept expecting Jerry Lewis to pop up with a comedy routine.  Martin was type-cast as a singer who was drafted before he was to open in a Broadway musical.  He doesn't seem to have much to do, other than woo Barbara Rush, until the end of the movie.  Then his actions left me scratching my head.  The final scene with Clift and Hope Lange seems to have been tacked on as an after thought for a happy ending.

it takes the whole film for brando to realize he made a mistake becoming a Nazi.

only thing I like is the opening music by hugo friedhofer

got a nice monotonous drumbeat.

 

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Heavens to Betsy, but wasn't Heaven's Gate excruciatingly long!

I remember once trying to get through the original four hour long version on my TV, and within 30 minutes into it I almost started yelling at the screen, "Hey Cimino! Here's yet another scene you've dragged out twice as long as you needed to in order to make the plot point you're attempting to make with it here!"

(...sure, beautiful cinematography, but GEESH, use the damn visuals to tell the damn story here)

 

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17 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Heavens to Betsy, but wasn't Heaven's Gate excruciatingly long!

I remember once trying to get through the original four hour long version on my TV, and within 30 minutes into it I almost started yelling at the screen, "Hey Cimino! Here's yet another scene you've dragged out twice as long as you needed to in order to make the plot point you're attempting to make with it here!"

(...sure, beautiful cinematography, but GEESH, use the damn visuals to tell the damn story here)

Right. Overly self-indulgent filmmaking. He lost sight of how to tell a story effectively. You don't keep an audience that way.

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3 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

At 167 minutes, this one's a real chore to sit through:

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 9.26.26 AM.jpg

Good performances but it's nearly interminable.

Yeah, this one also not only gets the history of this famed WWII battle wrong on so many levels, but this film's location shoot (Spain) wasn't even close visually-wise to where it all took place, either.

(...in fact, then ex-President and the former Supreme Allied Commander of WWII, Dwight Eisenhower, so disliked this movie that he came out of retirement to denounce it publicly)

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50 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Heavens to Betsy, but wasn't Heaven's Gate excruciatingly long!

I remember once trying to get through the original four hour long version on my TV, and within 30 minutes into it I almost started yelling at the screen, "Hey Cimino! Here's yet another scene you've dragged out twice as long as you needed to in order to make the plot point you're attempting to make with it here!"

(...sure, beautiful cinematography, but GEESH, use the damn visuals to tell the damn story here)

 

Talk about long, talk about indulgence, holy s**t, an f-ing full twenty minutes spent at Harvard W*T*F was he (Cimino) thinking???????.  The march down the street, the sequence in the lecture hall, the friggin dance sequence, the climbing of the tree,  then the other indulgence of the stream of immigrants along the road with their two wheeled carts and if that wasn't enough the indulgence at the "Heavens Gate" roller rink, and there you get a twofer too, the rollerskating and another dance sequence.  He was out of control.

The final battle at the end took forever too, and then the capper to all this was... more than one ending fer christsakes....
 

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David Selznick thought he had another Margaret Mitchell story on his hands. This 172-minute home front "extravaganza" could easily have been told in two hours. The subplot with Nazimova could have been cut. And the stuff with Woolley and the dog, cute as it was, could have been shortened; it didn't need to be a separate subplot.

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SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944)

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I'm going to add a very recent example. Avengers: Endgame is probably going to be the biggest-grossing movie of all time, and I quite enjoyed parts of it, but right at three hours, its third act drags on interminably, and the final battle scene goes on forever.

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4 hours ago, TopBilled said:

 

A Variety review for THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966) says it's "generally amusing (often wildly so), but overlong." The Billy Wilder picture is 125 minutes. But I agree, it does drag on in spots...and probably could have been told in 100 minutes.

Some movies are meant to take a lot of time to play out on screen, in order to convey epic greatness. But I feel the appropriately titled THE LONGEST DAY is way too long.

What movies do you feel this way about?

 

2 hours ago, filmnoirguy said:

I watched 1958's The Young Lions on TCM on Memorial Day.  All 164 minutes.  I've never cared much for this movie, but Leonard Maltin gives it such a grand review, I thought maybe another look would change my mind.  It didn't.  I suppose screenwriter Edward Anhalt wanted to stay fairly faithful to Irwin Shaw's novel, but I think he should have taken some creative liberties.  The first hour really drags and, in my opinion, could have been cut by a good 15 minutes.  The last half of the film, during the battle scenes, is very entertaining, but then it ends too abruptly.  Brando, as the confused Nazi officer, is at his best, Clift (this was after his horrible car accident) as the U.S. soldier is compelling, but I've always had a problem with Dean Martin in dramatic roles.  I kept expecting Jerry Lewis to pop up with a comedy routine.  Martin was type-cast as a singer who was drafted before he was to open in a Broadway musical.  He doesn't seem to have much to do, other than woo Barbara Rush, until the end of the movie.  Then his actions left me scratching my head.  The final scene with Clift and Hope Lange seems to have been tacked on as an after thought for a happy ending.

I started to watch The Young Lions as I had not seen it in many years as I recalled.  After watching about 15 minutes of it, I remembered why.  It is way, way, way too long.

One of the things I like about a lot of the movies from late 30's through mid-50's is that they were about 60-80 minutes long.   On the other hand, I think any movie over 120 minutes is probably too long.  My wife and I saw  A Bridge Too Far at the theater.  Afterwards, she has always referred to it as A Movie Too Long.  And it is.  

Length is one reason why I have DVD's of many of the "epics"  and really enjoyed them, but not more than one or two times.  Now when I look for something to watch and I run my eyes over them, I think -  Nah, too long.  I think one reason is that once you have seen it once or twice or maybe three times, you pretty well know what is going to happen but the scenes, build ups, narratives, etc. just stretch out for too long.

I also have similar thoughts about books.  I seldom purchase books over about 350 pages anymore.  Especially novels.  If the author can't present it in about 350 pages, they aren't good writers.

 

 

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Some films seem too short.

This 1949 Sam Goldwyn production clocks in at 100 minutes. But it spends more time on the romance of the lead characters and ignores a lot of the feuding between the families which gets backgrounded. 

A film like this could easily expand to two hours, because unlike traditional war films that focus on one large battle, these clans had a series of battles and in a way their interconnected history is quite epic.

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