Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Recommended Posts

I seldom have a disagreement with anything concerning "TCM" . However I have often wondered why the movie "Fountainhead" starring Gary Cooper and Patrica Neal has never been shown as a Essential. Then I see this coming Saturday The Essential movie is "Cat People" a B movie and while I have a certain place in my heart for "B" movies. To say this movie is one of the Essentials and obviously "the great movie "Fountainhead" is not.

 

Well I'll keep it nice, but someone had better do some rethinking on their selection process for Essential movies!

 

Maurice Covert

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well Moe I'd venture to guess that what one person thinks is an "essential" film another person may not.

My definition of an "essential" film is one where the writing, acting, directing, photography & art direction are all above average. It's also important the film have a theme or story that most people will appreciate.

There will always be the "war" film or "soaper" that might not get as much enthusiasm from one group as another. But a film like SINGIN' IN THE RAIN would appeal to men, women, children, seniors and other cultures (besides US) equally well.

"Essentials" are films that should be seen by anyone with an interest in film, as representing the cream of the crop.

 

It's difficult to choose 52 "essentials" to broadcast every year, some will miss the mark in one way or another.

 

In my opinion THE FOUNTAINHEAD while a good film is not a great candidate for an Essential. It has limited appeal because the subject matter is rather obtuse, not to mention Coop's less than stellar performance, often discussed here.

 

THE CAT PEOPLE, on the other hand has a story line easily understandable by most people. The suspense & pace are enough to capture most watching, even kids, giving it broader appeal. You can't judge a film by the budget spent, look at PSYCHO, really a B movie too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

People often conflate big budget with high quality. This is a correlation which is not reliable. I'm sure many can come up with numerous examples of films with big budgets, big stars, big everything, that are wretched. The opposite is true for low-budget, or B-pictures, Casablanca being perhaps the most well known example. Most film noirs were B-pictures. Regardless of what you may think of his pictures, Val Lewton's work, especially his collaborations with Jacques Tourneur, and among those especially "Cat People," had a great influence on many other filmmakers and filmmaking, especially in the suspense/horror/supernatural genres. The eerie, unsettling, threatening atmosphere of his films has always been emulated, but to my mind never re-created. Jacques Tourneur is one of the great under-appreciated directors. The composition, framing and use of light in his images are the equal of any of the better recognized directors. Nothing similar can be said of "The Fountainhead," or films like it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=slaytonf wrote:}{quote}

> Nothing similar can be said of "The Fountainhead," or films like it.

 

Of course there can, and The Fountainhead obviously isn't conventional big-budget Hollywood fare.

 

I like both.

Link to post
Share on other sites

*"Then I see this coming Saturday The Essential movie is "Cat People" a B movie and while I have a certain place in my heart for "B" movies. To say this movie is one of the Essentials and obviously "the great movie "Fountainhead" is not."* - BuccaneerMoe

 

Comparing two specific movies is like comparing a Rembrandt to a Van Gogh and asking which is best. Can't be done. But to learn what TCM thinks is Essential about *Cat People* you can go here -

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/355267%7C363101/Cat-People.html?mview=exp

 

Kyle In Hollywood

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, then, do so. Say how "The Fountainhead" has influenced films and filmmakers. Say how anything in its use of camera angles, its framing, the composition of the pictures, its use of sound, or lighting, or art direction, or editing, or anything else has affected the way any films have been made. Or identify any filmmaker who has referred to it as an inspiration. I don't think it is possible, because, far from being innovative, the movie is distinctly derivative. It uses well-worn and trite conventions to communicate its story and themes in a clumsy, heavy-handed, and pretentious manner (Ayn Rand can claim a certain amount of credit--or blame--for that). I will agree that it is not conventional big-budget Hollywood fare. It is decidedly below that low standard.

 

 

B-movie does not mean Bad movie. Low-budget does not mean low quality. The restriction of resources often results in innovation and creativity that would not occur had there been money to pay for conventional techniques and practices.

 

Edited by: slaytonf on May 20, 2011 11:35 PM

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=slaytonf wrote:}{quote}

> Well, then, do so. Say how "The Fountainhead" has influenced films and filmmakers.

 

Influence is a juvenile focus, a poor way to measure the quality of anything. It doesn't matter if a film has actually deeply changed filmmaking, it only matters if it is artistically true to itself, that it uses the right tools to express itself. But if you want an example - Martin Scorsese loves the film and The Aviator is a clear descendant of King Vidor's The Fountainhead.

 

When was the last time you actually saw a new Lewton-esque picture?

 

> Say how anything in its use of camera angles, its framing, the composition of the pictures, its use of sound, or lighting, or art direction, or editing, or anything else has affected the way any films have been made.

 

You can't see all of the charged eroticism (the famous jackhammer and the elevator ending), the very apparent architectural and material obsessions, the deliberateness of Gary Cooper's performance?

 

> Or identify any filmmaker who has referred to it as an inspiration.

 

Martin Scorsese but it didn't have to influence anyone. It isn't surprising that anyone would like The Fountainhead, it has been popular with cinephiles for a long time.

 

> I don't think it is possible, because, far from being innovative, the movie is distinctly derivative. It uses well-worn and trite conventions to communicate its story and themes in a clumsy, heavy-handed, and pretentious manner (Ayn Rand can claim a certain amount of credit--or blame--for that).

 

How is this derivative? What are these well worn and trite conventions? I'd be willing to bet that you like a ton of films with "well worn and trite conventions." The images are heavy handed and often ridiculous or "pretentious" because that's what The Fountainhead is. As a visual extension of the ideas it is superb.

 

The problem with The Fountainhead is that people can't separate what the film is about with what the film itself is. Everything Vidor does is true to the book. It is a visual explication of the ideas in the book. You can take it or leave it but it is as cinematic as anything out there. It perfectly depicts what Rand's vision of power is (particularly masculine power, an ideal she held.) Vidor had depicted similar expressions of individual power before in entirely different ways so he clearly has a grasp of what is required for different kinds of material. To do The Fountainhead any other way would have been dishonest.

 

> B-movie does not mean Bad movie. Low-budget does not mean low quality. The restriction of resources often results in innovation and creativity that would not occur had there been money to pay for conventional techniques and practices.

 

What does this have to do with my post?

Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, there are two qualities that make a film an "essential." These are innovation, and influence on the world of cinema, or culture in general. I'm sure there are many great, innovative, but totally obscure films. I'd love to have them brought to light for all to see. But, no matter how good they are, they aren't currently essential to understanding modern film, or culture.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish I knew how to do that trick quote-in-a-white-rectangle thing. Well, I will have to struggle the best I can.

 

"It doesn't matter if a film has actually deeply changed filmmaking, it only matters if it is artistically true to itself. . ."

 

I agree it is not sufficient to discount any creative effort based on its lack of influence, but it certainly is necessary. My point was that the lack of its influence was the result of its poor quality, not evidence of it.

 

"When was the last time you actually saw a new Lewton-esque picture?"

 

I can truthfully say never. As I said before, Lewton's look and atmosphere were emulated, but never successfully. His method of flattening perspective, posing the characters full-on, or in absolute profile, making them appear almost as cutouts against the background; the shots of the characters in spare settings to emphasize the sense of loneliness, isolation, and vulnerability; the deliberate measured cutting between shots to build tension excruciatingly; the lack of music and reliance on ambient sound (wind, footsteps on concrete) to intensify the effect; the combination of these and other elements have never been re-created. Directors have appreciated them and attempted them, however, including Wise and--hey!--Martin Scorsese himself (in Shadow Island, though I have not seen the film, so I cannot say how well it was accomplished). The best film I can cite to attain the Lewton look, if not the precise eerie, unsettling atmosphere, is Laughton's Night of the Hunter.

 

The main achievement of Lewton was to inject into filmmaking the psychological aspect of horror and suspense, and the use of the spectator's own demons to achieve the effect. Previously danger arose from the physical threats posed by an enemy or monster. Lewton also had monsters, but now added was an accompanying premeditated ontological attack on the victim's identity by a malevolent force. The intent was not only to injure or kill, but to destroy or eradicate. This, I believe is the source of the effect of his films. He was not the only one to do this, but he was a major agent.

 

Note also the lighting in his films, early examples of what what was to typify the lighting in film noirs. Not surprisingly, as the cinematographers and directors that worked with Lewton went on to make them, some of them the best.

 

"You can't see all of the charged eroticism (the famous jackhammer and the elevator ending), the very apparent architectural and material obsessions, the deliberateness of Gary Cooper's performance?"

 

But how has this influenced subsequent filmmaking? Well, regardless. I can recognize the charged eroticism. That does not mean I don't consider it obvious and silly. But if the point is that this was the first time that such obvious erotic associations were made with objects, at least since the early 30's, I'll agree with that; unless it be the elevator patter between Lana Turner and Jimmy Stewart in Zeigfeld Girl, but that was definitely less blatant.

 

"The images are heavy handed and often ridiculous or "pretentious" because that's what The Fountainhead is. As a visual extension of the ideas it is superb. "

 

I don't consider heavy handedness and pretentiousness as positive qualities. Nor do I consider a director's faithful translation of the faults of a source work as evidence of superior filmmaking. A Tale of Two Cities is a great novel (one of my favorites), but there is a lot of terrible writing in it, especially in the dialogue. Should a film adaptation be hampered by the faults in an otherwise masterful source simply from fidelity to it?

 

"What does this have to do with my post?"

 

The tenor of this thread, at least in my interpretation, was essentially, "what is a B-movie doing in the Essentials?" It was the object of my comments to demonstrate why I considered it essential that Cat People be included as an Essential.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> I wish I knew how to do that trick quote-in-a-white-rectangle thing. Well, I will have to struggle the best I can.

 

 

Just begin the line with >

 

Good observations about Lewton and *Cat People*. I should have specifically stated in my previous post that I quite agree with you, about it being an "Essential." That was the point of my definition of what is an essential film, but I neglected to make it clear I meant to back you up. Sorry.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, let's try it--

 

>Good observations about Lewton and Cat People. I should have specifically stated in my previous post that I quite agree with you, about it being an "Essential." That was the point of my definition of what is an essential film, but I neglected to make it clear I meant to back you up. Sorry.

 

No need to apologize, I understood your intent.

Link to post
Share on other sites

To "quote" a previous poster's writing, click "reply" then you'll see 6 icons to the right of "message". (between your text box and "subject" above) The 5th icon is " (quote) before ABCcheck (spellcheck) Click that and the previous post will magically appear in your textbox!

 

Just want to add I love how Alec Baldwin ribs Robert Osborne about the '66 version of Mutiny On the Bounty! I hate that version too, especially since I dislike Brando. It's great they can disagree and be lighthearted about it. Wish these boards could do the same.

Link to post
Share on other sites

How dare you dislike Brando! :P

 

Hope that was lighthearted enough...

 

I'd like to see *MotB* with Charles Laughton as Bligh, and Brando as Fletcher Christian. Perhaps a computer generated version, some day... :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe *Cat People* (1942) is to be considered an Essential because it was the first B horror movie which was taken seriously by several critics. Its innovation in story-telling technique was seminal to a sub-genre of horror movies: a blending of psychological horror and slash-and-gore horror.

 

I believe it is also Essential because it vividly portrays the blatent discrimination of the era. People readily believed she was insane and persecuted her rather than accept her fears as real solely because her beliefs contradicted their Judeo-Christian ethos. It was very much an era of missionary positions and virgin brides. They had to repress at all costs the very idea that sex could turn a woman into a wild beast. In this respect it is the *To Kill a Mockingbird* of horror films.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=SansFin wrote:}{quote}

> I believe it is also Essential because it vividly portrays the blatent discrimination of the era. People readily believed she was insane and persecuted her rather than accept her fears as real solely because her beliefs contradicted their Judeo-Christian ethos.

 

Hey, when the dame got mad she turned into a black panther cat and murdered people. Judeos and Christians don't do that. The movie is great because it is scary and spooky.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=SansFin wrote:}{quote}

> It was very much an era of missionary positions and virgin brides. They had to repress at all costs the very idea that sex could turn a woman into a wild beast.

 

Oh, man, where did you learn your history from?? "Virgin brides" was the official position... uh, I mean the official concept, the ideal, but it often didn't work out that way. That's what parents told their daughters, but their sons often talked other parents' daughters into doing it before marriage. Marriage was often the result of an unexpected pregnancy, thus the term "shotgun wedding", which kept the boy from backing out of the deal.

 

Anyway, the girl in the movie got mad, turned into a black panther, and killed the doctor because he tried to rape her. So the moral lesson of the film was "better be careful and not make a woman mad".

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> So the moral lesson of the film was "better be careful and not make a woman mad".

 

That is a lesson all men are sure to learn at some point in their life. Learning it from a movie is far less painful than many other ways.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...