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If you were a guest on TCM name the ONE movie you'd show your audience...


JeanneCrain
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Look, I was a documentary maker all my life. That is why I see the "documentary" in the film and NOT the "politics". As Leni said, the "politics" would have been Russian if she had been born in Russia. It would have been American if she had been born in America. It would have been Chinese if she had been born in China.

 

Same with me... I was born in America and I started using some of Leni's technics when I was 14 years old in 1955, when I got my first 8 mm camera.

 

I had grown up seeing clips from TRIUMPH OF THE WILL in American newsreels, without knowing the source of the film or the producer/director. I noticed when I was about 10 years old that German newsreels had telephoto moving follow-focus scenes in them, while American films did not.

 

That's why I bought a $500 Bolex (with through-the-lens focusing) when I was 16 years old and I was so good by then I had my first news film on CBS Network when I was 18 years old, narrated by Douglas Edwards, who came BEFORE Walter Cronkite. At age 16 I could follow-focus with a 400 mm telephoto lens on my Bolex, just like Leni did with her German reflex cameras in 1934.

 

I didn't pay any attention to the Nazis.... I watched the film techniques and I copied them. 30 years later I found out they were directed by a woman, Leni! Dang! And I finally realized that all that documentary creativity was hers, and my own camera style was created by her as early as 1934.

Fred,

 

I assume this means you're not ever going to let Jane Pauley interview you..!

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Nazi salute to the Olympics flame bearer, as shown in the 1937 20th Century Fox movie, CHARLIE CHAN AT THE OLYMPICS, aka Charlie Chan bei den Olympischen Spielen

                                                   

American movie, American studio, showing the Nazi salute to audiences in 1937, with Charlie Chan cooperating with the Berlin Police and his own son competing in the Berlin Olympics.

 

This is from a German newsreel. I don't know if this is a Leni film clip or not:

 

 

 

Maybe I'm not following you,  but are you saying you have an issue with the Chan movie showing the Nazi salute?   The 1936 Olympics was held in Berlin.    The movies is about Chan at these Olympics. 

 

It was my understanding you want movies to reflect actual history (as much as possible).    Should Fox have moved the 1936 Olympics to, say, NYC,   just to avoid having to show Nazis?

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Maybe I'm not following you,  but are you saying you have an issue with the Chan movie showing the Nazi salute?  

 

 

No.

 

My point is that Jane Pauley wasted a lot of time talking about Nazis when Leni was on the show to talk about her documentary.

 

I wanted to hear about the documentary and how she made it. Plus, I can't stand news reporters demanding that news interview subjects agree with them (the reporters) politically, and that is ALL Pauley was interested in... in getting Leni down on her knees licking Pauley's feet, saying she agreed 100% with Pauley. But Leni wasn't on the show to talk about Pauley's bliefs or the Nazis. She was on the show to talk about the documentary.

 

Having been in the news business for 35 years I'm well aware of how news anchors and reporters trick people into being interviewed. Pauley NEVER HAD ANY INTENTION of talking about the documentary. She only wanted to embarrass Leni and get her to condenm the Nazis and beg forgiveness and to say that her documentary was an awful mistake and a sin. blah, blah, blah. I'm glad NBC finally fired Pauley.

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It doesn't take much to sidetrack a topic... do it?

 

I don't think the topic is sidetracked. I think there is just some discussion about the film I would suggest TCM show. I see it as a very good film documentary, while others see it as purely political. But I was a documentary cameraman and can see things in the film that non-cameramen don't notice, such as that follow-focus business and how it is done, and the cameras on top of moving fire truck ladders, and the extreme telephoto shots, like with all those waving flags.... one of the best scenes ever to be in any documentary.

 

Who over here in the US was making great documentary films back in those days?

 

American newsreels and feature films have been stealing scenes from Leni's TRIUMPH for the past 81 years, and without giving her any credit for the original film. Chinese film makers copy some of her style.....

 

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Re, Triumph of the Will.  It is a film worthy of study for a myriad of reasons.  People should not be afraid to watch it though you could say it is one of the most frightening horror movies ever made!

I studied it in History class in High School where the discussion naturally centred on Germany and the rise of Nazism.  And I also studied it in, dare I say it?, .. film school as part of a Documentary course.

We also studied Olympiad.  And I can tell you we were looking at Leni's filmic techniques as Fred has been pointing out.   As film fans some of us may still find that of interest.

As far as labels go it is definitely a Propaganda piece.  To our dismay, probably one of the best ever made.  You might even call it an Industrial Documentary as it was made to glorify its client.   

 

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I don't think the topic is sidetracked. I think there is just some discussion about the film I would suggest TCM show...

 

Who over here in the US was making great documentary films back in those days?

 

But you have to ask yourself, would TCM be receptive to letting you show TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, if it were possible...? I have a feeling it might be a tough sell.

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But you have to ask yourself, would TCM be receptive to letting you show TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, if it were possible...? I have a feeling it might be a tough sell.

Very tough.  Though as I said, I saw it in high school.  I would think it would have to be framed with plenty of discussion.  But maybe too hot a potato.  I can't really see it.  But we are living in dreamland here anyway.

If it had been a real cheesy see-through Propaganda piece maybe it would be a safer sell.  Her big crime was she made it too well.

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As far as labels go it is definitely a Propaganda piece.  To our dismay, probably one of the best ever made.  You might even call it an Industrial Documentary as it was made to glorify its client.   

 

 

That reminds me. All my life I read good things about Flaherty’s LOUISIANA STORY documentary, but when I finally saw it on TCM for the first time, I discovered that it was a commercial propaganda film, sponsored by an oil company, and designed to make the Louisiana public not be afraid of off-shore oil well drilling.

 

It wasn’t a documentary at all. It was a drama filmed on location and with local people who were non-actors.

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Can anyone think of any classic American documentary films made in the 1930s, 40s, or 50s that are both great and famous?

 

Even if we compare our best film makers' documentaries to Leni's, such as Frank Capra and his war-time documentaries, and John Ford’s war documentaries, they are all dull when compared to Leni’s documentaries.

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I studied it in History class in High School where the discussion naturally centred on Germany and the rise of Nazism.  And I also studied it in, dare I say it?, .. film school as part of a Documentary course.

 

 

Bogie,

 

Here, watch this and look for:

 

 

The high shot. The camera was in the monolith basket that Leni invented and had constructed.

 

At :27 seconds into the video you can see the basket going up along the edge of the center monolith. This invention was brilliant and it gave the film some incredible boom shots that went from very low to very high.

 

At :46 seconds you can see the basket coming down. Scenes shot from the basket were inserted into the overall film at various places.

 

At 1:17 into the film is the fantastic “sea of flags” scene.

 

At 1:45, we are in the basket going up.

 

Notice that the basket stops at the top and the camera pans to the right. And next the camera is looking left. Here, one camera seems to be several cameras shooting different scenes.

 

Be sure to boo the film in the appropriate places.

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Can anyone think of any classic American documentary films made in the 1930s, 40s, or 50s that are both great and famous?

 

Even if we compare our best film makers' documentaries to Leni's, such as Frank Capra and his war-time documentaries, and John Ford’s war documentaries, they are all dull when compared to Leni’s documentaries.

I think you may have to go way way back to Flaherty, Merian C. Cooper and co. in the silent era when they were making documentaries about the exotic unseen far reaches of the planet to find anything worthwhile coming from the States prior to the 1950's.  

My favourite American documentary is probably Harlan County U.S.A. which is more the investigative approach that Dargo was referring to in what makes a documentary.  Of course, that Babara Kopple film was 1976.  The documentary format really took off in the States in the 1970's.  I'm not an expert on the subject though.

Reifenstahl's subjects in both Triumph and Olympiad were pageants and she took the newsreel format and turned it on its ear.  If she had just made a few News of the World type reports I'm sure there would have been no fuss when the war was over.

Not that this is exonerate Leni time, but I don't think she directed any wartime propaganda films for the Nazis.  I saw The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Reifenstahl but I can't recall what they said she was up to during that period.

There are all sorts of types of docs and as we have both pointed out all too many of them are sponsored.  And almost all of them are dreadful.  How about those Soviet tractor films!  Can't get enough of those.

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They aired it already, about 17 years ago.

I wasn't aware of that.

 

Fred, you may want to start a thread about TRIUMPH OF THE WILL in the Documentaries sub-forum. There are some good discussions going on there, but I don't see anything about Leni Riefenstahl's work posted yet.

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.  The documentary format really took off in the States in the 1970's.  I'm not an expert on the subject though.

 

 

What changed documentary film making in the 60s and 70s was the 16mm Auricon sound camera, converted to take 400 film magazines. That was good for about 10 minutes of filming. 30-volt battery lights helped too. In the early years the cameras cost about $2,000. I bought mine around 1962 when I was about 18, and I paid for it with the money I got from network TV news and documentary assignments.

 

This type of camera allowed cameramen to walk around recording "what happened", with both image and sound, so the camera became like a person in the audience. Bob Dylan's "Don't Look Back" was shot that way.

 

The French adopted the style for some scripted feature films, using actors, and they called it Cinéma vérité (pronounced ver-a-tay), and they pretended it was a French invention. Actually, it was a CBS/NBC News invention for shooting news film in the late 50s and early 60s.

 

Bob-Dylan-with-D.A.-Penne-002.jpg

 

 

dan-keever.jpg

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Bogie,

 

The early American documentaries were basically of two kinds, the “newsreel” and the “home movie” or “vacation film” style. Even the American newsreels were like “home movies” of big events happening in front of the camera.

 

What Leni did was merge the feature-film movie-studio styles with the newsreel techniques, and combine the two into high quality and brilliantly filmed documentaries, such as with her cameraman in the elevator basket. That imitated a movie studio boom shot, like the crane shot in GONE WITH THE WIND where the big crane slowly raises the camera above the railroad tracks at the hospital to show the very wide shot of all the wounded men lying among the tracks.

 

In one way of thinking, she was the “Orson Welles” of documentary film making, as far as unusual filming techniques were concerned.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, many of the techniques she invented for the two Olympia films are still being used today when the Olympics appear on television, such as the little camera on a rail that runs alongside the runners as they run down the field track during a race.

 

And of course her famous close-ups of Jesse Owens getting ready to start his race, shot with a long telephoto lens and a reflex film camera, which the US did not have at that time in 1936. I started seeing her Jesse Owens film when I was just a kid maybe 6 or 7 years old, and I saw it all my life, and it still turns up on TV from time to time, thanks to Leni Riefenstahl.

 

leni.gif

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXE6wtvT4sY

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What changed documentary film making in the 60s and 70s was the 16mm Auricon sound camera, converted to take 400 film magazines. That was good for about 10 minutes of filming. 30-volt battery lights helped too. In the early years the cameras cost about $2,000. I bought mine around 1962 when I was about 18, and I paid for it with the money I got from network TV news and documentary assignments.

 

This type of camera allowed cameramen to walk around recording "what happened", with both image and sound, so the camera became like a person in the audience. Bob Dylan's "Don't Look Back" was shot that way.

 

 

 

 

I shot news camera for the CBC for a few days only.  An equipment rental lady got me the job.  Her take was $100 a day and mine was $20!  It was an Airiflex double system camera so as you say, I was responsible for both picture and sound.  Mag striped reversal film which was then edited and went straight to air.  The camera was heavy as hell.  And in my instance the battery belt kept shorting out.  And I had to have a light kit, tripod, shoulder brace, change bag, car and you name it.  Very stressful and I quickly found another job.

My hat goes off to you.  Not an easy job by any means.

For my first spot the news editor shouted at me ... "Quick, get down to King and Bay.  There's an Indian with a tomahawk!" 

Apologies for the semi-private conversation.

- the global village idiot

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It's more of a "promo" in broadcast terms.

 

Yeah dark, "promo"..."commercial"...whatever.

 

In other words, Leni's film is pretty much the same kind'a thing they start endlessly running on TV about a year before each major election and which almost always without exception shows some politico who after slinging mud and bad-mouthing his opponent is THEN so "artistically" presented walking down some beach with his wife and kids and their golden retriever in efforts to show us what "a wonderful guy" the freakin' idiot is and so we should vote for him! 

 

(...uh-huh...SEE how "influential" little Leni's groundbreaking film turned out to be?!)

 

LOL 

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Earlier I wanted to suggest TCM show SONG OF THE SOUTH, but I know Disney won't release it. Of all the channels on TV, TCM would be the perfect one to show this movie without getting Disney into trouble with controversy. However, then the film could be recorded and Disney would be faced with thousands of bootleg copies circulating and being sold.

 

Does anyone here think we should start a project of trying to get Disney to release SONG OF THE SOUTH to TCM for 1 prime time showing??

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Earlier I wanted to suggest TCM show SONG OF THE SOUTH, but I know Disney won't release it. Of all the channels on TV, TCM would be the perfect one to show this movie without getting Disney into trouble with controversy. However, then the film could be recorded and Disney would be faced with thousands of bootleg copies circulating and being sold.

 

Does anyone here think we should start a project of trying to get Disney to release SONG OF THE SOUTH to TCM for 1 prime time showing??

I have a feeling that if TCM continues with Maltin presenting some Disney classics, they may eventually get to it. TCM does show BIRTH OF A NATION, which to me is even more controversial...so with the proper wraparounds (disclaimers), I don't see why Maltin and TCM can't work with Disney to present this classic film that blends animation and live action so well.

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Another idea I thought of suggesting is that TCM should air French and Italian and other foreign films with 2 SOUND TRACKS.

 

The main track could be in the native language and with English subtitles, and a new English-dubbed track should be on the SAP sound channel. That way, everyone can enjoy these foreign films, especially millions of people who have trouble watching the films while trying to read the sub-titles, which is just about impossible for me.

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I reckon there's already plenty of bootlegs of SONG OF THE SOUTH for sale on eBay.  "Song Of The South" was released in England on VHS and there was no shortage of PAL-to-NTSC conversions for sale on eBay when I would look.  Having said that, maybe eBay has cracked down on selling these converted copies, but who knows . . .

 

    

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I reckon there's already plenty of bootlegs of SONG OF THE SOUTH for sale on eBay.  "Song Of The South" was released in England on VHS and there was no shortage of PAL-to-NTSC conversions for sale on eBay when I would look.  Having said that, maybe eBay has cracked down on selling these converted copies, but who knows . . .

Though eBay may have cracked down, other websites have not, unfortunately. There are still plenty of ways online to buy pirated copies of this film and many other classic films.

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Though eBay may have cracked down, other websites have not, unfortunately. There are still plenty of ways online to buy pirated copies of this film and many other classic films.

 

There was a very good copy I saw on the internet, shown by some video outlet in a foreign country. A note said that copy was recorded off the BBC some years back, so it was not a pirated Disney DVD. Anyway, the quality was great and the color was great.

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