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What's your favorite portmanteau film?


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Wikipedia includes GRAND HOTEL, but I disagree. An anthology may have common themes, even characters. But the stories are separate. GH, along with some impressive counterparts, is very similar to this. Unrelated episodes connected by place, plan or circumstance. But all the people inhabit the same story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DINNER AT EIGHT is one of these. Everybody is invited to the party. They all come together in the end. Even STAGECOACH shares this trait. The difference is they're thrown together early in the story. SEPARATE TABLES brilliantly places everybody in the same place at the same time, and disparate though they are, their lives do eventually mesh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The O'Henry film, the Maugham collection, the adorable DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS; these are clearly anthologies. I, also, had never heard the other word applied, nor do I know how to pronounce it.

 

Edited by: redriver on Jun 16, 2011 7:02 PM

 

Edited by: redriver on Jun 16, 2011 7:04 PM

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*Another one I just remembered is MGM's IT'S A GREAT COUNTRY* - TB

 

That's a favorite of mine, but it's called *It's a Big Country* . :-) And there is a segment in the movie highlighting prominent African-Americans.

 

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Thanks for the correction. :)

 

I think the historical segment on influential black Americans was a compromise. They had intended to do a dramatic sequence involving African Americans. In fact, the entire project was originally conceived as something much more ambitious. It was watered down considerably and the final version we have is the result of a series of artistic compromises. Still, like you say, it's a great BIG COUNTRY.

 

Incidentally, this is a film that I think could and should be remade today. It may not be too commercial but wouldn't it be great to see an array of celebrities doing cameos in a patriotic picture, regardless of political persuasion? And producers could push the envelope a bit with an emphasis on influential middle-eastern Americans.

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Which is the horror portmanteau film that includes a story about a cat named Balthazar that eats people's brains? Some guy supplies Balthazar with the humans, and the grateful cat rewards him with a stash of old gold coins.

 

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With regard to Shirley MacLaine, she also starred in What a Way to Go, which chronicled her character's marriages, wherein her husbands all achieved spectacular success, and all ended in disaster and death. Naturally, it was a comedy.

 

Edited by: slaytonf on Jun 16, 2011 9:47 PM

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"Wikipedia includes GRAND HOTEL, but I disagree."

 

So do I...and what's on Wikipedia is contributed by individuals the same way that info on IMDB is contributed...and often by people who have no idea what they're writing about.

 

Movies like Grand Hotel and Dinner At Eight are NOT the same thing because even though there are separate stories which come together at the end, they go back and forth between the stories throughout the movie. That's not the way a portmanteau/ominibus/anthology (fill in the blank) movie works....which is each story plays out individually and then goes to the next story, not back and forth. They may be linked together by a framing story (such as in Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Tales From The Crypt, etc...), but they don't switch between each one throughout.

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In Our Time (1982) - Nothing earth shatteringly great here but it's an enjoyable set of four films about Taiwan's development from the 50s to the early 80s. A children's short, a coming of age film, a college story, and a comedy about city life. It's most notable today as the inaugural piece of Taiwan's New Wave and for featuring Edward Yang's first film (segment #2, the most sophisticated of the four.)

 

On the same token, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Three Times (2005) - I particularly like the second part, a genuine modern silent film, not a "tribute" or a pastiche.

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The one on Taiwan reminds me of Orson Welles' unfinished collection of stories about life in South America, called IT'S ALL TRUE. For many years, footage was thought missing but much of it turned up decades later and the project was eventually released to audiences in the 1990s. Three of the four proposed stories were completed, and they show the diversity of Latin American life.

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The Story of Three Loves is pretty much a dog-so much so even Leslie Caron isn't able to lend it any charm-save for the shining presence of Moira Shearer, who manages to communicate beauty and ecstasy, in spite of all the superfluous embellishments Mr. Minnelli dresses up the segment with.

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Glad you mentioned THE STORY OF THREE LOVES. I happen to like it very much. However, the framing device does not work for me. Why does it all have to be recounted aboard a ship? The cruise ship has nothing to do with the individual stories. I guess it's where they all intersect in the present day, but nothing happens on the ship to trigger these various memories. They could all just as easily be patients in a hospital flashing back over their lives. There seems to be a disconnect between the present goings-on and the flashbacks.

 

Otherwise, it is a very well-made movie with excellent MGM production values. I like all three sequences equally. In Mademoiselle, we have Ricky Nelson, Farley Granger and Leslie Caron, with a bewitching Ethel Barrymore. Then, we have Kirk Douglas on a trapeze with Pier Angeli in Equilibrium. Finally, there's the ballet piece, The Jealous Lover, starring Moira Shearer and James Mason with a little help from Agnes Moorhead.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Three_Loves|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Three_Loves#Cast

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I like NIGHT ON EARTH, as well as MYSTERY TRAIN. Interesting that BROKEN FLOWERS, which abandons the format, is not as good.

 

Edited by: redriver on Jun 17, 2011 6:58 PM

 

Edited by: redriver on Jun 17, 2011 6:59 PM

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I haven't seen KWAIDAN. However, I have seen WE'RE NOT MARRIED and yes, that is a portmanteau.

 

WE'RE NOT MARRIED is the only time Marilyn Monroe played a mother on screen. Every time I watch those scenes with her and David Wayne and their kid, I feel sad that she did not have the chance to experience that in real life. I think she would've been a natural.

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Zanuck liked to hire tried-and-true performers to lend credibility to films that often functioned as vehicles for the ingenues he was promoting. He had his usual roster of contract players, then he would hire these freelancers like Fred Allen for two pictures at a time. Zanuck probably put Allen into two anthologies because at this point, he did not have enough star power to play the lead and sustain audience interest for a full 90 or 120 minutes. However, he and Ginger Rogers do get top billing in WE'RE NOT MARRIED. They are the 'lead' couple, if you will, and probably have the meatiest segment.

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WE'RE NOT MARRIED actually belongs in a thread/discussion about subverting the production code. Basically, we have all these couples that have had sexual relations without the benefit of marriage and they are not punished for it. One couple (Wayne & Monroe) technically has an illegitimate child. It's a very clever script when you think about it.

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Several of my favorites have already been mentioned, including *Kwaidan*, *Dead of Night*, and *La Ronde*. But one has not - *Spirits of the Dead*, with segments directed by Fellini, Louis Malle, and Roger Vadim.

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*Spirits of the Dead* (1968) is very good.

 

I also like very much where an object is passed from hand to hand and the movie shows the variety of people who possess it and how it affects them. *Tales of Manhatten* (1942), *Istoria mias kalpikis liras* (1955) and *The Yellow Rolls-Royce* (1964) are the only ones I remember now.

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