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What's with THE SHANGHAI GESTURE?


clore
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Is it my set? When you see characters in motion, they appear to have a ray shining on them, sort of like a lens flare effect. It's worse than the old days of ghosting when we relied on rabbit ears.

 

Is this part of the "remastering" process done by Hypercube - a company that I associate with hyperbole when it comes to claims of restoration.

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Not in close scenes, but it's happening in medium shots. It was especially annoying in the beginning, but less bothersome now. I switched to the SD feed, so that may have lessened the effect.

 

I suspect it's the result of some over-application of edge enhancement.

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here i was thinking the thread would be more along the lines of "what's with The Shanghai Gesture ?": it's disjointed, Gene Tierney is awful, Victor Mature is awful (not as much of a surprise as Gene being awful, but...), Walter Huston's barely in the damn thing, Ona Munson looks like Rupaul and sounds like she's still playing Belle Wattling (what an entrance though!), what's with that ending? What's with the meaningless, indistinguishable (aside from their accents) supporting actors? What was with the interesting character of Dixie, who's brought on to ostensibly be the "witness" to the whole sad scene but, like everyone else, has no real role in the end? What was with that dress Dixie's wearing in the end, could you show that much cleavage on screen in 1941? Was that Maria Ouspenskaya at the end?

 

The word I would come up with for the whole venture would be "unfocused"- but more in the metaphorical sense. I get that the picture quality wasn't pristine, but I've kind of come to expect that with some of these somewhat obscure titles who were independently released and have existed for the last six or seven decades as red-headed stepchildren of a sort.

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HARDLY! I think I made it pretty clear in the sentence: Gene and Victor are both awful, but Victor's being awful is not as much of a surprise, ergo Gene is usually not awful and Victor is usually waiting for someone to call "cut!" so he can hit nine holes at the Bel Air Country Club.

 

Of course, Gene has *such* a crummy, thankless, rotten role it would be hard for any actress to pull it off. She does however look *fabulous* throughout, which was (I imagine) rather easy for Gene at that stage in the game.

 

> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}Are you suggesting that Mature is in general a better actor than Tierney? I humbly disagree, and I believe that so would Mature. Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Mar 1, 2012 10:05 AM

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> {quote:title=Sprocket_Man wrote:}{quote}It was a hallmark of director Josef von Sternberg's films that they were photographed with copious amounts of diffusion, whiich probably accounts for a lot of the appearance you're describing.

 

I suppose that's a possibility, but having seen several other of his films in the last year on the same equipment, I don't recall any similar effect happening. The film is to air again in about a week or so and if anyone wishes to check out the beginning to offer any further comment, I'll all ears, or should I say eyes.

 

Thanks for your suggestion.

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While I agree with you that Gene's acting is very weak in the picture I don't think it was because the role was a "crummy, thankless, rotten role", but we do agree it was a very difficult one.

 

I believe the reason Gene is bad is just because she was inexperienced and the role was a very difficult one to pull off, especially in the later scenes when she was an addict (yea to gambling but we really know what Poppy was on). Pulling off that type of transition isn't easy and it takes a lot of experience and Gene just wasn't ready for that type of role. This is the type of role that can make an actress, but Gene just wasn't ready.

 

Take the scene where she is outside Omar's place and pretends to hurt her ankle. This is an acting within acting scene. One wants to look like they are faking it (since they are), BUT in a subtle way. There was nothing subtle about her performance in that scene. It was bad and it shows, but again, that type of scene isn't easy.

 

But hey, she looked like a million dollars! Yea, that was the easy part for her. She is in my Top 10 looking great in a film category for this one; e.g. Liz in A Place In the Sun, Ava for The Killers, Rita for Gilda, etc...

 

 

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>here i was thinking the thread would be more along the lines of "what's with The Shanghai Gesture ?": it's disjointed, Gene Tierney is awful, Victor Mature is awful (not as much of a surprise as Gene being awful, but...), Walter Huston's barely in the damn thing, Ona Munson looks like Rupaul and sounds like she's still playing Belle Wattling (what an entrance though!), what's with that ending?

 

Judging by what Mr. Osborne said in his introduction, this film was based on a famous salacious play. In the play, the casino was a brothel, and the alcohol addition was opium addition, and there were other widespread stories in the general media (books and movies) about Shanghai being a city filled with vice.

 

I never cared much for this film. There are no good people or heroes in it. Everyone is bad. I learn nothing from it, it's not fun, and it's actually boring and doesn't make much sense.

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Tierney is neck-and-neck with Liz Taylor as the most beautiful star of all time.

 

Sadly: unlike Liz, she never really got a role that showed the sheer electric power of which she was capable. (Yeah, she's great in Leave Her to Heaven, but I feel that the role and the director didn't tap the full force of her strengths; ditto Laura, Heaven Can Wait, and Mrs. Muir.) She's also good in Dragonwyck but that film is SUCH a potboiling mess, and she's good in Whirlpool, but that film is just a mess period.

 

Switching gears: I'm starting to wonder if VonSternberg, for all his talents, had issues working with women.

 

 

Yes, Dietrich is magnifique in The Blue Angel, Shanghai Express and Morocco, but I think that's more due to her enigmatic persona. She's as bad as Tierney is in Gesture in The Devil is a Woman ("don't you touch me, or I scweam!") and The Scarlet Empress, for all its strengths, has such a weak depiction of Catherine the Great that it's a detriment to the overall achievement of the film

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Mar 1, 2012 5:41 PM

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Maybe I'm missing something, but I've never found Tierney to be that great an actress (so far). Beautiful, yes. I've seen most of her "big" movies. She always came across to me a bit on the wooden side.

 

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I never thought Tierney was much of an actress either. I think her best performances in Leave Her to Heaven and The Razor's Edge are due to her beauty and a certain natural coolness in her personality. She's perfect for Laura because it's all about looking at that beautiful face, but we never really learn much about the woman behind it, which gives the character that mystery.

 

Watch her in Belle Starr -- she's gorgeous and just awful, kind of a bad Scarlett O'Hara clone. She's also pretty terrible in Dragonwyck. I love watching her for purely aesthetic reasons -- her bone structure and coloring are exquisite.

 

I think Victor Mature is better than folks give him credit for. He's excellent in My Darling Clementine and very funny in After the Fox with Peter Sellers.

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> {quote:title=clore wrote:}{quote} Is this part of the "remastering" process done by Hypercube - a company that I associate with hyperbole when it comes to claims of restoration.

It looks to me like Hypercube used a third generation "dupe" 16mm print to make their digital master copy. Basically that means that the print they used was a copy of a copy of a copy of an original print. Each time it gets copied the quality gets worse.

 

I think some people don't understand that the term "digitally remastered" simply means that the original source material is transferred to a digital media and future copies are made from that. It does not mean the film has been "restored". While there may be some technical improvement, it really isn't doing anything to improve the quality of the print used. As the old saying goes "garbage in, garbage out".

 

In cases like this, I always feel it's better to see a poor copy of a film than no copy, but I do hope TCM didn't pay much for it. ;)

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}Maybe I'm missing something, but I've never found Tierney to be that great an actress (so far). She always came across to me a bit on the wooden side.

I get it, like I said- I think that had she gotten the right role, she'd have really aced it. You can't have as much drama in your personal life as she did and not learn and grow from it- I have no doubt she could have channelled some of her personal pain into an Oscar-worthy turn, the cards just didn't fall that way for Gene and she never got that Bad and the Beautiful/ Casino/ LA Confidential kind of role to show what she could do.

 

(Maybe I just have a soft spot for glamour girls gone legit.)

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Oh, and if this means anything to you (or anyone else): a little while ago (one of last season's The Essentials p'raps?) Robert Osborne came out with the fact that *"out of all the great, classic stars, all of them, Gene Tierney is my favorite."*

 

No small praise from no minor source, that is.

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