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A beautiful, overlooked (and maligned) film


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Anyone ever feel this way? When you like, love, a film that critics and many other viewers do not enjoy. 

 

Last night, Retroplex aired MGM's 1960 remake of CIMARRON. I love this version. I know it's not perfect, but I wish they still made western epics like this today. 

 

Big budget production values. The soundtrack is perfect. Cinematography couldn't be better. And what a great cast of supporting players. 

 

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Feel how?  sad?  Vindicated, at last?   History will ultimately decide how films are seen.  For example,here's just  2 films I Loved 15 years ago and others ignored  that have now been reevaluated & are seen at least as good or worthy of viewing films, instead of the disasters contemporary critics thought them to be.

 

"The Unforgiven"--(1960)--Audrey Hepburns' only western, it was roasted by 1960 critics and is now seen as a good western with an exceptional cast & director (Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Lillian Gish, Audie Murphy, etc.), directed by John Huston.  Flawed by an/a preachy script & cliched handling of Indian characters, film nonethless takes a definite stand against prejudice.

 

"Yolanda and the Thief"--(1945)--Based on a Portuguese tale, baroque musical was a financial disaster for MGM, killed Lucille Bremer's career as a musical star, and helped Fred Astaire's decision to briefly retire from the screen.  Film is definitely flawed, but is worth seeing.  Too cutesy premise (Guardian Angel is literally on earth and watching over Bremer), a dud of a script is saved by some good dances and songs.  Maltin says you'll love or hate this film.  For once, I agree totally--with one addition; if you can get past the 1st half hour, film only improves.

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Feel how?  sad?  Vindicated, at last?   History will ultimately decide how films are seen.  For example,here's just  2 films I Loved 15 years ago and others ignored  that have now been reevaluated & are seen at least as good or worthy of viewing films, instead of the disasters contemporary critics thought them to be.

 

"The Unforgiven"--(1960)--Audrey Hepburns' only western, it was roasted by 1960 critics and is now seen as a good western with an exceptional cast & director (Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Lillian Gish, Audie Murphy, etc.), directed by John Huston.  Flawed by an/a preachy script & cliched handling of Indian characters, film nonethless takes a definite stand against prejudice.

 

"Yolanda and the Thief"--(1945)--Based on a Portuguese tale, baroque musical was a financial disaster for MGM, killed Lucille Bremer's career as a musical star, and helped Fred Astaire's decision to briefly retire from the screen.  Film is definitely flawed, but is worth seeing.  Too cutesy premise (Guardian Angel is literally on earth and watching over Bremer), a dud of a script is saved by some good dances and songs.  Maltin says you'll love or hate this film.  For once, I agree totally--with one addition; if you can get past the 1st half hour, film only improves.

I enjoy both films you mentioned. Poor Lucille Bremer. MGM didn't know what to do with her after YOLANDA, so they sent her on loan-outs to Eagle-Lion to finish out her contract. Lucky for her, during the filming of one of those E-L productions, she met and fell in love with the son of a Mexican president. She soon married and retired from movies. She didn't even do television. She was completely done.

 

Another film that I feel was unjustly maligned, but it is slowing gaining traction in the respect department, is Cimino's flop HEAVEN'S GATE. The restored director's cut version of this film deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Fortunately, it has been airing on cable intermittently the last year or two.

 

I agree that some films increase in value/prestige when they are reviewed and reassessed by newer critics and audiences.

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Re Heaven's Gate--I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you here.  I was one of the few unfortunates who saw it after its disastrous premiere/recutting/subsequent re-release round the country.  I thought it endless at 100 minutes.  Also it was  the most pictorially ugly film I've ever seen, smoke and dust clouds everywhere obscuring  a great view.  Gladiator is the 2nd most ugly.  If I remember rightly, the director's cut ran close to four hours.  I couldn't put myself through that.

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Re Heaven's Gate--I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you here.  I was one of the few unfortunates who saw it after its disastrous premiere/recutting/subsequent re-release round the country.  I thought it endless at 100 minutes.  Also it was  the most pictorially ugly film I've ever seen, smoke and dust clouds everywhere obscuring  a great view.  Gladiator is the 2nd most ugly.  If I remember rightly, the director's cut ran close to four hours.  I couldn't put myself through that.

Maybe you should give HEAVEN'S GATE a chance. Don't watch it all in one sitting. I find it most absorbing. 

 

I rewatched the end of CIMARRON today. I think Maria Schell is every bit as good as Irene Dunne was in the original. Some have said the ending of the remake seems a bit rushed, but I don't agree. I think it's very melancholy and contemplative. It ends on just the right note-- not at all rushed or forced.

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I don't think ACE IN THE HOLE was a hit or popular with critics when it came out but it's one of my favorite Billy Wilder movies and I think Kirk Douglas knocks it out of the park, so to speak.  It's grown in stature since it was orignally released.  I like the cynical Billy Wilder.  Also love THE THING (John Carpenter remake version) which was not a hit when it was released but has become a cult classic since.  When it was originally released it was the same time as E.T. and most audiences wanted their aliens to be cute and loveable, not scary.  Not me - I wanted to be scared; I saw THE THING twice in the theater.  David Cronenberg's CRASH (not the one that won the Oscar) was too weird for audiences and many critics but I like it - it's so original.  There isn't another movie like it although I can certainly understand why some people wouldn't care for it one bit.  I love the interplay between Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS which is another movie considered by many to be a "flop" when it came out but I've always liked it.  I think It has become more appreciated over time.  You've got to hand it to Burt - he could/would play a bad guy (e.g. SEVEN DAYS IN MAY), like Kirk Douglas, and he didn't always have to be the hero, unlike somebody like Gary Cooper. 

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I don't think ACE IN THE HOLE was a hit or popular with critics when it came out but it's one of my favorite Billy Wilder movies and I think Kirk Douglas knocks it out of the park, so to speak.  It's grown in stature since it was orignally released.  I like the cynical Billy Wilder.  Also love THE THING (John Carpenter remake version) which was not a hit when it was released but has become a cult classic since.  When it was originally released it was the same time as E.T. and most audiences wanted their aliens to be cute and loveable, not scary.  Not me - I wanted to be scared; I saw THE THING twice in the theater.  David Cronenberg's CRASH (not the one that won the Oscar) was too weird for audiences and many critics but I like it - it's so original.  There isn't another movie like it although I can certainly understand why some people wouldn't care for it one bit.  I love the interplay between Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS which is another movie considered by many to be a "flop" when it came out but I've always liked it.  I think It has become more appreciated over time.  You've got to hand it to Burt - he could/would play a bad guy (e.g. SEVEN DAYS IN MAY), like Kirk Douglas, and he didn't always have to be the hero, unlike somebody like Gary Cooper. 

Great examples, Christine. I've seen them all, except Cronenberg's film. 

 

ACE IN THE HOLE is one of those that seems to get a bit more appreciation, but then it falls back into obscurity again. Not sure why. Maybe because every time there is a Kirk Douglas tribute or retrospective, it is not selected or shown. But yes indeed, it's a truly great picture and one of Wilder's best. It ranks as high as any of the director's most heralded films, including the much-ballyhooed SUNSET BOULEVARD.

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Great examples, Christine. I've seen them all, except Cronenberg's film. 

 

ACE IN THE HOLE is one of those that seems to get a bit more appreciation, but then it falls back into obscurity again. Not sure why. Maybe because every time there is a Kirk Douglas tribute or retrospective, it is not selected or shown. But yes indeed, it's a truly great picture and one of Wilder's best. It ranks as high as any of the director's most heralded films, including the much-ballyhooed SUNSET BOULEVARD.

Thanks, TopBilled.  Totally agree with your ACE IN THE HOLE comments and I love SUNSET BLVD, one of my all-time faves, yet ACE IN THE HOLE really gets to me.  We're lucky ACE has been on TCM a number of times.  I also should have included, and I think many would agree, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.  I love the cinematography on it and the performances, too.  Certainly under-appreciated when released but many consider it a classic now.

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Thanks, TopBilled.  Totally agree with your ACE IN THE HOLE comments and I love SUNSET BLVD, one of my all-time faves, yet ACE IN THE HOLE really gets to me.  We're lucky ACE has been on TCM a number of times.  I also should have included, and I think many would agree, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.  I love the cinematography on it and the performances, too.  Certainly under-appreciated when released but many consider it a classic now.

You're welcome. Good point about NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. Certainly is appreciated now.

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