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what's more important, direction or acting?


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I was thinking about movies that seem to have everything going for them: great story, great actors, great characters.... specifically "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" comes to mind. ALL of the actors seem to fit the parts perfectly. Is the perfection of this movie due to the actors, the director, the story, all of the above, or something else? I'm interested in hearing others' opinions.

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Everything starts with a great script- no matter how good the cast or the director are they can not make a good movie with out a solid screenplay.

 

Edited by: joefilmone on Jun 20, 2013 9:32 PM

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I believe that there is no one element which can overcome bad elements.

 

A great actor will founder under bad direction and a great director can not make a bad actor seem more than passable.

 

I have even seen good actors and a good director with a good script fail miserably because the sets were so very hideous.

 

It is a rare thing for all of the elements to be of high quality and to come together in harmony. It is those precious few movies which we savor and which delight generations.

 

I should in all fairness note also that I like some movies which are so very bad that they are enjoyable because they are bad. :)

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Can you give me an example of a movie where all the other elements are good, but the direction/director ruined the movie? I think I don't really understand how direction works.

 

 

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I can give you one right as it comes to me; Les Miserables, directed very badly by Tom Hooper.

 

A story of scope and magnificence, reduced to close ups of tonsils exposed, spitting out words in angst, shaky camera work when it served no artistic purpose, and a very bland-to-downright unpleasant setting. Yea, times were tough in Paris, but it wasn't that ugly everywhere.

 

I have always loved this story and the musical. Hooper just addled through it.

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>Joefilmone wrote: Everything starts with a great script- no matter how good the cast or the director are they can not make a good movie with out a solid screenplay.

 

Hear, hear! The story is the basis of all that follows.

 

A great director can take a great but simple story and give it eloquence.

But poor direction can ruin it.

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I think you use a tough example, as like you, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (my home town), is an example of perfection. It is hard to say, as every actor was right for the part, etc. However, I have also thought, that any actor who ever worked for Elia Kazan, never did better work again. As much as I would love to say "it is the actor" my heart says "it is a gifted director who understands the material over the actor who may think he understands the material".

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>A great director can take a great but simple story and give it eloquence

 

When I read that line, I thought of CAT PEOPLE and THE LEOPARD MAN. Very simple basic stories directed with brilliance by Jacques Tourneur. Just the idea of showing only shadows in most of CAT PEOPLE, instead of the actual cat, was one of the best ideas in film history.

 

This is one of the simplest scenes in film history, but one of the best and most effective:

 

cat-people.jpg

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

> Can you give me an example of a movie where all the other elements are good, but the direction/director ruined the movie? I think I don't really understand how direction works.

 

I am sorry to say I can give no example quickly because my mind does not work in that way. I might be thinking while watching a movie: "this movie could be great if it had a better director" but after it is over all that I remember is that it was a poor movie and I tag it in memory to not watch again.

 

The director sets the tone and pace of the movie.

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This is like the question in sports, are the players more important than the coach (manager)? I don't believe any director can make up for bad performance by the actors. But good actors can overcome a bad director, to a degree. As long as the director is at least smart enough to let his actors have some freedom in their work. Obviously when everyone involved does their share the end results should be good. As in a film like *A Tree Grows In Brooklyn* , the result is a very, very good film.

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Thank goodness....a real "general discussion"!

 

I am reminded of a time I was on a job with 2 young accomplished documentary filmmakers from Canada. We were in our hotel having pizza when "The Quiet Man" came on TCM, one of my favorites. Neither had seen it before so we all watched it together.

 

They were in stitches laughing over the director's choices of close/medium/long shots, something I've never noticed since I was so mesmerized by the fantastic performances of the actors.

 

Once the movie was over, they couldn't believe John Ford was such a beloved director, they thought he was the worst!

Since then I have tried very hard to watch John Ford films without noticing this major flaw in his direction, although some are more pronounced than others.

Doesn't ruin the film, just his films could have had even more impact if more conventional shots were chosen.

 

I also have seen talent misdirected by Ford, such as Ava Gardner in Mogambo. She can be great but in that movie seems cartoonish. I can only assume she was "directed" to act that way by Ford.

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Let me throw another wrench in the works and bring up the EDITOR.

 

 

A film can have everything else going for it. Great acting by the cast. Great story by the screen writers. Excellent direction. Beautiful sets and marvelous score. But an incompetent editor can make a hash of it all if they're not experienced at what they do. THEN there's the producer, who usually has final say on the final cut.

 

 

Luckily, as far as most films go, we've been lucky to see the finished product when ALL goes well. But not always. Fortunately, these films are short lived, and don't have any impact for good or bad on the film indusrty.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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Interesting example, Tiki, but there is a wide gulf between the fiction film director and the documentary film maker. Totally different approaches. John Ford is a visual artist whose medium happens to be film. Most documentary filmmakers (there are exceptions) might as well be shooting newsreels. My answer to the question posed is, with a few exceptions, director, director, director.

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Great observations and comments, everyone. Thanks! I'm not a "technical" movie person, just know what I like. But many times Robert Osborne will discuss elements of a movie that makes me pay attention when I watch, and it gets me thinking. I love The Quiet Man too, but never noticed bad angles or anything like that.

Another great movie I love and could watch over and over is To Kill a Mockingbird. Last time I noticed how prevalent the use of a hand or hands is in the movie. From the beginning when you just see hands inspecting the contents of the cigar box, to the end when Scout is holding Boo's hand as she walks him back home, to shadows of hands... even an important point of defense in the story (that Tom Robinson couldn't use his left hand). Anyone else ever noticed that?

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>They were in stitches laughing over the director's choices of close/medium/long shots, something I've never noticed since I was so mesmerized by the fantastic performances of the actors. Once the movie was over, they couldn't believe John Ford was such a beloved director, they thought he was the worst!

 

Well then Tiki, those two Canucks must in fallin' off their chairs while they're watchin' a Sergio Leone Western then!

 

goodbaduglyeyes-725x311.jpg

 

(...ah-AH-ah-AH-ah..wah WAH wah!)

 

LOL

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

> Let me throw another wrench in the works and bring up the EDITOR.

 

I have seen a Director's Cut of a movie which was so far superior to the original release that I can understand why the director chose to invest the time, money and effort to do it properly.

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