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I Never Noticed THAT Before.


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We all have films we love to watch any chance we can get. I know I do. And it is funny how I find something new to appreciate or that I didn't notice in the previous viewings. They may be trivial but are often a deliberate detail that enhances the film in some way. Here are two that really blew me away when I first made notice of them.

 

First is in Citizen Kane. During the opening sequence, there is a series of dissolves drawing the viewer closer Xanadu. And in each of the dissolves, the lit window stays in exactly the same position in the frame. (This starts with the scene with the monkeys in the foreground.) It even remains in the same spot in the scene where the window is reflected in the water! This window does get larger as one gets closer to the building until, finally, the window fills the entire screen. The kicker for me is the subsequent fade to black (I think) and a fade up and suddenly one is on the other side of the window and in the bedroom. But the window - being symmetrical - is still in the exact same position. I first saw Citizen Kane in some really dark and murky copies and often watched the opening sequencve trying desperately to make out what some of the foreground shapes and locations were. But, even after seeing a restored version, it wasn't something I noticed right away. I was taking in all the details of the image that I missed before. What a masterful piece of film work. And now I understood what was going on with that fade-out that before had me confused.

 

The second is something a co-worker filled me in on after I gave him a copy of "Requiem For A Heavyweight". The opening includes a dolly down a bar full of patrons all looking up at a television set showing the "Clay/Rivera" fight. My co-worker came back to me after watching the movie and said he was blown away by the film - being a former amatuer fighter himself as was his father. Then told me that all the patrons at the bar are well-known fighters from the fifties and sixties! The only name I can recall now is "Popp" but he named at least half a dozen fighters in that bar scene. Now that may be more trivial than technical in detail but it added to my admiration of the film.

 

Anyone else have revelation in a repeated viewing of a favorite film?

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Could that name have been "Pep" instead of "Popp?" I'm no authority on boxing, but I think I recall an old boxer from the 40's or 50's named Willy Pep. Of course, I thought Richard Kiel was dead and was wrong on that, so I could be totally out in left field on this one, too. Wait a minute... left field... baseball... no, that was Wally Pipp. :)

 

CharlieT

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CharlieT -

I will bet you are right - "Willie" and all. This conversation with the co-worker took place months ago so I was not too sure of the names today. I was thinking it was "Wally Popp" but "Willie Pep" sounds much more familiar now that you mention it.

 

Thanks for helping clear that up. I still think it is a wonderful detail to an already powerful film.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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"First is in Citizen Kane. During the opening sequence, there is a series of dissolves drawing the viewer closer Xanadu. And in each of the dissolves, the lit window stays in exactly the same position in the frame. (This starts with the scene with the monkeys in the foreground.) It even remains in the same spot in the scene where the window is reflected in the water! This window does get larger as one gets closer to the building until, finally, the window fills the entire screen. The kicker for me is the subsequent fade to black (I think) and a fade up and suddenly one is on the other side of the window and in the bedroom. But the window - being symmetrical - is still in the exact same position. I first saw Citizen Kane in some really dark and murky copies and often watched the opening sequencve trying desperately to make out what some of the foreground shapes and locations were. But, even after seeing a restored version, it wasn't something I noticed right away. I was taking in all the details of the image that I missed before. What a masterful piece of film work. And now I understood what was going on with that fade-out that before had me confused."

 

How spooky, Mr. K: I could've written the above myself. I love this movie and haven't lost my fascination for it yet. A couple of weeks I go I decided to write an ode to Bernard Herrmann in the Film Composer thread of this Films and Filmakers forum. While writing it I decided to play Citizen Kane to get the score into my head. It's impossible for me to have the opening play passively in the background -- I have to sit down and watch it; transfixed to the haunting images on the screen. And even though I've seen this movie countless times, this was the first time that I notice the dissolve that takes us from the exterior of Xanadu to the interior of Kane's bedroom. I was knocked out by this revelation and studied just this dissolve three more times before letting it play. I watch this and sit in wonder that this movie is always listed as "over-rated" in other TCM threads. I still find it thrilling and fascinating. How funny that we'd both find this new aspect at the same time. I hope you'll keep us posted with more newly discovered details...

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JackBurley wrote -

(With that haunting Bernard Herrmann score playing in the background, no doubt.)

"How spooky, Mr. K..."

 

Thanks for confiming for me that I am not the only one "late to the party" on this scene. I was wrong in describing a fade to black as the transition between being outside the window to being inside the bedroom (just popped "Kane" in the VCR). It is a tradtional dissolve and remarkable in its precision. The fade to black and fade up comes after the the bedding is raised over Kane's head. I don't know what to make of that transition.

 

There are still other things in "Citizen Kane" that I have yet to wrestle meaning from. I am perplexed by images/close-ups that I can't explain - the broad-smiling musician or the screeching cockatoo for example - but, like in the line in the movie, "it may turn out to be a very simple thing." But I somehow doubt simple is ever the right term when writing about the visuals in this film.

 

Whatever it may be, it must be one of the reasons I have heard other filmmakers, when speaking of the film, say "Orson Welles made "Citizen Kane" and we have been stealing from it ever since." (I honestly wish more filmmakers would steal from this picture. Contemporary cinema might be more interesting.)

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Could that name have been "Pep" instead of "Popp?" I'm no authority on boxing, but I think I recall an old boxer from the 40's or 50's named Willy Pep. Of course, I thought Richard Kiel was dead and was wrong on that, so I could be totally out in left field on this one, too. Wait a minute... left field... baseball... no, that was Wally Pipp.

 

Except that Wally Pipp played first base (his "one-game" replacement on the Yankees was a rookie called...let's see...oh, yeah, Lou Gehrig, who was, from then on, immovable for the next fourteen years).

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