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"The Power of The Movies"


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"The Power of Movies"


A very engrossing book being published today is "The Power of Movies: How Screen and Mind Interact" by Colin McGinn (Pantheon Books). This intriguing, one-of-a-kind read is anything but

your standard film reference book. Instead, McGinn offers a meditative exploration of what (hopefully) happens to us when we intellectually and emotionally engage with a film.


McGinn (who is a philosophy professor at Rutgers University) writes very eloquently

about the sensory process of being moved by moving images. The chapters include headings

like "The Metaphysics of The Movie Image," "Reviewing The Dream Theaory" and "Cinema and Human Nature."

If all of this sounds rather high brow, sample McGinn on David Lean's "Brief Encounter"...


"What we see on the screen is intended to engage our emotions directly. This is the sensory manipulation of emotion...

The clasp of Trevor Howard's hand on Celia Johnson's shoulder at the the end of "Brief Encounter," and the images of

her facial expression, along with her blithely chattering companion, seem to condense an ocean of feeling into a single

sensory moment. That vision will haunt the viewer, precisely because it packs such an emotional wallop...The kind of

seeing we experience in the cinema is emotional seeing - the seeing of emotions with emotions. Eye and heart are

locked inextricably together, just as they are in dreams."


A Sidenote: I seem to remember reading (or hearing) that in the 1930's and even into the 40's, it was a common

practice for MGM (and possibly other major studios) to film Broadway theatrical productions (either in whole or in part) that

they had an interest in adapting for the movies. My question is...What happened to that footage? Was it kept?

If it still exists, wouldn't it be considered virtually priceless as countless historically important stage shows

were never filmed or altered so radically in their celluloid incarnations that they were rendered virtually unrecognizable.

For example, when Metro was prepping "Private Lives" for Norma Shearer, I believe they filmed Noel Coward's

play. Where is that material today? Long gone? In somebody's flooded basement? Buried under LaBrea?

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I suspect that the filming of Broadway plays is one of those great urban myths. Rick McKay (the director/creator) of "The Golden Age of Broadway" tracked down a number of rare filmed B'way clips from unlikely sources for his great documentary and don't recall him saying anything about finding a treasure trove like the one you describe.


Of course, it is possible that MGM did in fact film Broadway plays and in the great "estate" sale of the late 1960s when the studio was divesting itself of wonderful items it may have ended up in the large pile that ultimately became landfill for the 5 freeway on and off ramps for Santa Clarita. (a mere 45 miles north of Los Angeles).


Perhaps Mongo knows for sure??????


lynn in sherman oaks (whose heart breaks at remembering even some of the items that were put into that pile)

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