Ida Lupino – Supplemental

This includes, in no particular order, a selection of material I didn’t have room for in my previous post on Ida Lupino.

_______________________________________________________

The Man I Love (1947) was the fourth feature directed by Raoul Walsh that Lupino appeared in, following Artists and Models (1937), They Drive by Night (1940), and High Sierra (1941). See Lupino and Walsh in the photo below.

The plot, per Wikipedia, is this: “Homesick for her family in Los Angeles, lounge singer Petey Brown (Ida Lupino) decides to leave New York City to spend some time visiting her two sisters and brother on the West Coast. Shortly she lands a job at the nightclub of small-time-hood Nicky Toresca (Robert Alda) where her sister Sally (Andrea King) is employed. While evading the sleazy Toresca’s heavy-handed passes, Petey falls in love with down-and-out ex-jazz pianist, legendary San Thomas (Bruce Bennett), who never recovered from an old divorce. Variously solving the problems of her sisters, brother and their next-door neighbor, the no-nonsense Petey must wait as San decides whether to start a new life with her or sign back on with a merchant steamer.”

The part is perfect for Lupino. Petey (great name) is not about to be pushed around, especially by a cheap hood like Toresca. The scene below is a good example. Lupino brings a toughness and also vulnerability to this character, as she does in many of her films. She isn’t movie-star glamorous, but has a sexy presence that has more to with her attitude than her measurements. And she can throw a mean slap.

There’s also a lot of great jazz and blues music in this film. For the title song, Lupino’s voice is dubbed by Peg LaCentra, though she’d do her own singing the following year in Road House.

Martin Scorsese has said The Man I Love was the main inspiration for his New York, New York (1977).

______________________________________________________

Another clip from High Sierra, in which Robert Ryan and Ward Bond first meet Ida Lupino in their search for a killer, unaware that Lupino’s character is blind.

_________________________________________________________

The Peckinpah Connection

Director Sam Peckinpah (credited as David Peckinpah) was the “dialogue director” for Private Hell 36 (1954), in which Lupino acted, co-wrote and co-produced.

Peckinpah was a writer on the Ida Lupino/Howard Duff television series Mr. Adams and Eve (1957-1958). According to one source, Lupino hired Peckinpah to work on the series after she found him living in a shack behind her property. I don’t know if this is true, but it’s an interesting story. In any event, he did write for the show.

Years later, Peckinpah cast Lupino to play Steve McQueen’s mother in his rodeo film Junior Bonner (1972). She was great.

________________________________________________

Here is an episode of Mr. Adams and Eve, Camel cigarette commercials included.

__________________________________________________

Ida Lupino was the subject (for real) of the television program This Is Your Life on March 3, 1958. Here’s the video.

_________________________________________________

Ida Lupino was married three times. The first to actor Louis Hayward in 1938; they separated in 1944 and divorced in 1945. Her second husband was producer/writer Collier Young, who she married in 1948. They divorced in 1951, but continued their creative relationship in their production company, The Filmakers, for some years after. Her longest lasting marriage was to actor Howard Duff, from 1951 to 1983. See Duff and Lupino in the photo below.

The Bigamist (1953) was directed by Lupino, written and produced by Collier Young. It starred Young’s first wife, Lupino, Edmund O’Brien, and Joan Fontaine, who had become Young’s second wife. This must have made for some interesting lunch breaks.

Ida Lupino became an American citizen in 1948. She was a dedicated Democrat.

_________________________________________________

A recent Film Comment podcast discussing the films for Ida Lupino can be accessed here.

__________________________________________________

Here is a documentary, Ida Lupino: Through the Lens.

__________________________________________________

One of the best films directed by Lupino was Outrage (1950). The complete film can be seen here in HD.

___________________________________________________

And on a more serious note, Ida Lupino Paper Dolls, illustrated by Jim Howard. This was published in 2010, 15 years after her death.

For those interested, this can be purchased from Amazon. Here’s the link.

__________________________________________________

Below, Lupino directs Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy in arguably her greatest achievement, The Hitch-Hiker (1953).

____________________________________________________

That’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. Ida Lupino lives on.   — Ted Hicks

Posted in Documentaries, Feature films, Film posters, Home Video, Streaming, TV & Cable | 2 Comments

Ida Lupino – Filmmaker

In commemoration of Ida Lupino’s 100th birthday this year, Film Forum in New York recently ran a two-week retrospective of her films. She’s probably better known as an actor, but it’s her career as a director, writer, and producer in feature films and television that deserves more attention. I knew she had directed some features, most notably The Hitch-Hiker (1953), but was basically unaware of the scope of her work as a filmmaker. As I saw Ida Lupino’s films in this series and found out more about her, I was overwhelmed by the extent of it. This post will be far from complete, but I’ll try to give some sense of who she was, what she did, and how special she was, both on screen and behind it.

Earlier this year I’d seen Outrage (1950) at the Museum of Modern Art. Directed and co-written by Lupino, the film is about a young woman, Ann Walton (Mala Powers), who is raped on a deserted street while walking home alone from work one night, and the aftermath of that. I’d never heard of this film, but I immediately knew it was something different. This was pretty edgy stuff for 1950. The word “rape” couldn’t be said in films at that time. “Viciously attacked” was used instead. Outrage is tough, direct, and unsentimental. This is an apt description of Lupino’s acting and filmmaking.

In the shot below, note the surreal imagery of the deserted street that engulfs Ann as she fearfully tries to get home.

_____________________________________________________

Ida Lupino was born in England on February 4, 1918. She died on August 3, 1995 in Los Angeles at age 77. Here is some of what she did in the meantime.

According to her Wikipedia entry, “Lupino wrote her first play at age seven and toured with a traveling theater company as a child. By the age of ten, Lupino had memorized the leading female roles in each of Shakespeare’s plays.” True or not, this makes a good story. She made her film debut in an uncredited role in 1931 at age 13. The following year she appeared in Her First Affaire, directed by Allan Dwan. In 1933 she had leading roles in no less than five films, so her career was picking up speed. Per Wikipedia, “Dubbed ‘the English Jean Harlow,’ she was discovered by Paramount in the 1933 film Money for Speed, playing a good girl/bad girl dual role. Lupino claimed the talent scouts saw her play only the good girl in the film and not the part of the prostitute, so she was asked to try out for the lead role in Alice in Wonderland (1933). When she arrived in Hollywood, the Paramount producers did not know what to make of their sultry potential leading lady, but she did get a five-year contract.”

_________________________________________________________

In 1939 she appeared with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a film probably more familiar now to American audiences than the 24 previous films she was in during the 1930s.

__________________________________________________________

In 1940 and 1941 Lupino appeared in two films directed by Raoul Walsh. The first was They Drive by Night, with George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, and Ann Sheridan. The second was High Sierra, with Bogart in one of his iconic roles, gangster Roy Earle. Though Lupino acted in a wide variety of films, I think of her as more strongly linked to noirish films such as these. This is true as well for the films she later directed, wrote and produced.

_________________________________________________________

Below are two clips from The Drive by Night with Lupino as the duplicitous Lana Carlson. In the first she murders her boorish husband. In the second she freaks out on the witness stand after attempting to frame George Raft, who had earlier spurned her advances. This one is a little over the top, but I like it. Following that is a selection of scenes from High Sierra.

_______________________________________________________

In 1942, Lupino was in Moontide with Jean Gabin, who was a huge star in France. This was his first American film, with a screenplay by John O’Hara and direction by Fritz Lang. Lang started the film, but was replaced by Archie Mayo. Moontide isn’t a great film, but it has a drifting, dreamy quality. Lupino and Gabin are very appealing together.

_____________________________________________________

In 1948 Lupino starred with Cornel Wilde, Celest Holm, and Richard Widmark in another film noir, Road House, directed by Jean Negulesco. Jefty Robbins (Widmark) owns a road house in Upstate New York, near the Canadian border. Pete Morgan (Wilde), ostensibly Jefty’s best friend, manages the business. Lily Stevens (Lupino) is a nightclub singer brought in by Jefty to sing at the road house. His plans to marry Lily fall through when she falls in love with Pete. This sets Widmark on a campaign of terror against the two. Widmark uncorks the same giggling psychotic laugh he used in Kiss of Death, his debut film of the previous year.

A point of interest in this film is that Lupino does her own singing, which was not usually the practice. In the following clip, Lupino sings “One for My Baby.” Her voice is very distinctive, husky, “smoky,” and a little rough. She sounds great.

_________________________________________________________

In a 1945 fan magazine interview, Ida Lupino said the following, which would prove to be prescient: “I see myself, in the years ahead, directing or producing or both. I see myself developing new talent, which would be furiously interesting for me. For I love talent. Love to watch it. Love to help it. Am more genuinely interested in the talents of others than I am in my own.”

But Lupino later downplayed her directorial ambitions as being the result of “being bored to tears standing around the set while someone else seemed to do all the interesting work.”

In a 1995, after her death, Martin Scorsese paid tribute to Ida Lupino in the New York Times, calling her “a woman of extraordinary talents, and one of those talents was directing. Her tough, glowingly emotional work as an actress is well remembered, but her considerable accomplishments as a filmmaker are largely forgotten and they shouldn’t be. The five films she directed between 1949 and 1953 are remarkable chamber pieces that deal with challenging subjects in a clear, almost documentary fashion, and they represent a singular achievement in American cinema.”

Ida Lupino was the second woman, after Dorothy Arzner, to be admitted to the Directors Guild of America.

The book Film Noir – The Directors (edited by Alain Silver and James Ursini, Limelight Editions 2012), contains chapters on 28 directors. Lupino is the only woman included in this collection.

______________________________________________________

Lupino and her second husband, writer/producer Collier Young, formed their own company, The Filmakers (yes, that’s how they spelled it), “to produce, direct, and write low-budget, issue-oriented films.” Christian Huber in Cinema Scope magazine writes that “The Filmakers’ goal was to tell ‘how America lives’ through independent B pictures shot in two weeks for less than $200,000…a combination of ‘social significance’ and entertainment.”

Per Wikipedia: “Her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when director Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish Not Wanted, a film Lupino co-produced and co-wrote. Lupino stepped in to finish the film, but did not take directorial credit out of respect for Clifton. Although the film’s subject of out-of-wedlock pregnancy was controversial, it received a vast amount of publicity, and she was invited to discuss the film with Eleanor Roosevelt on a national radio program.”

Just as “rape” couldn’t be said in her film Outrage a year later, “pregnancy” couldn’t be said in Not Wanted. The young woman who becomes pregnant is told she’s “going to have a baby.” Those were different times.

Lupino’s first official credit as director was for Never Fear (1949), which she also co-wrote and co-produced with Collier Young. The film concerns a young woman who has polio and how she deals with it. Lupino contracted polio briefly in 1934, so she had a personal connection to this material. This film, along with Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951), are the two films directed by Lupino that I missed in the retrospective (before I realized that I should have seen everything).

_______________________________________________________

Lupino’s interest in subject matter the studios weren’t touching continued with The Bigamist (1953), written and produced by Collier Young. Edmund O’Brien stars as man with two wives, one in San Francisco, played by Joan Fontaine and one in Los Angeles, played by Lupino. It’s shot in an almost documentary style.

____________________________________________________

Before I got into the rest of this, The Hitch-Hiker (1953) was only film directed by Lupino that I’d been aware of. I first saw it two years ago at Film Forum and again last month. It’s highly regarded and justly so. Two average guys (Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a fishing trip unwittingly pick up a psycho hitch-hiker (William Talman) who forces them to drive him to Mexico so he can escape all the cops on his trail. It’s as tense as tense gets. Talman, who I knew as the DA on the Perry Mason TV show, is very scary here. He has one eye that won’t close, which is also scary, given the context. This is an extremely uncomfortable film to see. As Christopher Huber wrote in an article in Cinema Scope magazine, “In a sense, all Lupino’s films are prison pictures: the protagonists are trapped by their weaknesses and fears as well as social pressures, often signified by what is repressed.” The Hitch-Hiker is Lupino’s most overtly noir film. It was co-written by Lupino and Collier Young, and produced by Young. A bit of trivia is that the associate producer was Christian Nyby, who directed The Thing from Another World in 1951, though many say that Howard Hawks was the real director of that film.

________________________________________________________

Private Hell 36 (1954) was one of the last films made by The Filmakers before they ceased production in 1955. Though it was written by Lupino and Collier Young, and produced by Young, it was directed by Don Siegel, who was just two years away from directing Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Lupino stars with Steve Cochran and Howard Duff.

Per Wikipedia, the plot is this: “L.A. police detectives Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff) get in over their heads when they decide to split up thousands of dollars they found on a recently killed counterfeiter. To make matters worse, they are assigned by their police captain to look for the missing cash. Things get even worse when one cop gets romantically involved with Lili Marlowe (Ida Lupino), a money-hungry nightclub singer. Farnham decides to turn honest and hand the money over to his superiors, but the other cop decides to take it all.”

Private Hell 36 is another bleak and brutal vision on the film noir landscape. It’s great.

____________________________________________________

Ida Lupino had been appearing in other films all this time. One of the best was On Dangerous Ground (1951), directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Lupino, Robert Ryan, and Ward Bond. This is a favorite of mine. Ryan is a New York City cop who has become brutal and sadistic. After beating up one too many suspects, he’s’ sent on a case upstate in the country to help with the search for a killer. There he meets blind Ida Lupino and through her regains some humanity. It’s tough and tender, with a lot of feeling. The following clip conveys some of that. On Dangerous Ground was written by A. I. Bezzerides, produced by John Houseman, with music by Bernard Herrmann.

_________________________________________________________

The last feature film directed by Ida Lupino was The Trouble with Angels (1966) with Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills, set in a Catholic boarding school for girls. One could say this is a change of pace from her earlier work.

__________________________________________________

The scope of her work in television was a revelation to me. Four Star Playhouse, was a half-hour anthology series created by Lupino, Charles Boyer, David Niven, and Dick Powell. They would alternate starring in each weekly drama. It aired from 1952 to 1956. Lupino appeared in 19 of the 129 episodes produced. Blake Edwards made his directing debut on the show and also wrote a number of episodes.

Something I remember from growing up in the 1950s is Mr. Adams and Eve, the sitcom Lupino starred in with her then-husband, Howard Duff. They played married movie stars Howard Adams and Eve Drake. I don’t remember the episodes, but I know we watched the show. Mr. Adams and Eve was broadcast from January 1957 to July 1958.

Ida Lupino directed more than 100 episodes from 1959 to 1966 of television series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Have Gun – Will Travel, Thriller, The Untouchables, The Fugitive, The Donna Reed Show, Gilligan’s Island, The Rifleman, 77 Sunset Strip, and Bewitched. This is just a partial listing. I’m rather astounded by this.

____________________________________________________________

Lupino continued to act in films and TV until 1978. I fondly remember her in Sam Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner (1972). She and Robert Preston play Elvira and Ace Bonner, the estranged parents of Steve McQueen’s Junior Bonner, a rodeo rider. Lupino and Preston have a great scene together on an outdoor wooden staircase. This is a laid-back, easy-going film, a departure for Peckinpah.

___________________________________________________________

I have far more material on Ida Lupino than I can reasonably fit into this post. I’ll do a follow-up in a couple of days, because she deserves more space. In the meantime, here’s the availability of some of the films referenced in this post.

Amazon Prime: Not Wanted, The Bigamist, The Hitch-Hiker, On Dangerous Ground

You-Tube: Outrage

Home Video for Purchase: Hard, Fast and Beautiful; Private Hell 36; Road House; Moontide

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more on Ida Lupino. — Ted Hicks

Posted in Feature films, Home Video, Music, Streaming, TV & Cable | 7 Comments

NYFF56 – What I Saw the First Three Days

The 56th New York Film Festival kicked off this past Friday and continues until Sunday, October 14th. It’s my big film event of the year. There are 30 features in the Main Slate section this year, and dozens more in the various sidebar programs. When I started attending this festival in 1977, the opening and closing night films were shown at Avery Fisher Hall. The rest were shown at Alice Tully Hall, which remains the main venue for Main Slate selections. Back then it was possible to see every film on the schedule if you wanted to. The addition of screens at the Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film center down the block has created venues for inceased programming during the festival. Even if someone was crazy enough to want to see everything, you just couldn’t do it. An embarrassment of riches, as the saying goes. I’m seeing 24 films this year. That’s probably enough.

Here are the six I saw this past weekend. I want to get this in before the end of the day (at midnight my computer turns into a pumpkin), so these brief impressions will be my immediate reactions to the films. (As is now obvious, I did not succeed in finishing this last night, pumpkin or not.)

_____________________________________________________

Friday, September 28

The Favourite  (Yorgos Lanthimos, writer/director)  This was the opening night film and I loved it. The following description on IMDb is from Fox Searchlight Pictures: “Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.”

The film is quite nasty, and very funny as well. The performances are exceptional. There’s a hilarious dance scene that a friend of mine said “seemed to be a sort of Monty Python spoof of the era’s courtly dances.” The Favourite also reminds me a bit of Richard Lester’s wonderful Three Musketeers films. I’ve had mixed feelings about the previous Yorgos Lanthimos films I’d seen. The Lobster (2015) was off the wall, but I liked its bizarre premise. I had an aggressively negative reaction to The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), so I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Favourite. But like I said, I loved it. It’s steeped in period detail. I don’t know if that detail is totally accurate, but everything looks amazing. You can overdose on the production design, which made me think of Barry Lyndon (1975). Lanthimos also makes extensive use of extreme wide-angle, fisheye lenses. These shots have a surreal, panoramic quality suggestive of dioramas in museums.

Here’s a trailer that gives a good sense of the tone and sensibility of The Favourite. The film opens on November 23rd.

____________________________________________________

Saturday, September 29

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead  (Morgan Neville, director) This is a documentary about the making (and unmaking) of Orson Welles’ legendary unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind. Welles began production in 1970, which continued in fits and starts until 1976, after which it was lost in a limbo of legalities and speculation. Efforts to complete it in some fashion over the years invariably stalled out, until things were somehow sorted out, with Netflix providing funds to make it possible. I didn’t like this documentary very much. I found it very chaotic, though I suppose you could say that reflects the chaos of Welles’ film itself. Also, the editing — using many clips from Welles’ films — is too clever by half. Still, it’s interesting to see archival footage of Welles in various interview situations. He’s always fascinating.

The Other Side of the Wind  (Orson Welles, director/co-writer) As I said, Welles is always fascinating. I have deep affection for him and love his films, especially Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil. Which makes it all the more disappointing and distressing that when I finally saw The Other Side of the Wind on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t like it at all. It seemed completely chaotic to me, and not in a good way. But in retrospect I have to admit that the style and structure of the film — telling the story via an assemblage of footage shot from many sources in black & white and color and different aspect ratios — was way ahead of the game in predicting the glut of “found-footage” films that followed in the wake of The Blair Witch Project (1999). I’m kind of working this out as I’m writing. There’s no way of knowing what The Other Side of the Wind would be like had Welles been able to actually finish it himself down to the last edit, instead of others trying to second guess what he would have done.

The audience reaction for They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead and The Other Side of the Wind was very enthusiastic on Saturday, which made me question my response to the films. I had to rush to see my next film and couldn’t stay for the Q&A. I regret missing this, because I’m sure it would have given me more to work with, especially since it included Frank Marshall, Peter Bogdanovich, Morgan Neville, and Martin Scorsese. Hopefully it will be eventually online and I can see what I missed. Both films will be released by Netflix for streaming on November 2nd. Then you can see for yourself. I probably should take another look as well.

________________________________________________

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (William Wyler, director) and The Cold Blue  (Erik Nelson, director)  In 1943, William Wyler, filming in 16mm, flew with the crews of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on combat missions over Germany. He used the footage to tell the story of the 25th and final mission of The Memphis Belle and its crew. Wyler’s film was released in 1944, and is considered to be one of the best WWII documentaries. For years it existed in poor quality prints and videos, but has received a splendid 4K digital restoration. The Cold Blue is a new film by Erik Nelson, who drew from the over 15 hours of footage shot by Wyler. It details the making of The Memphis Belle, and is supplemented by interviews with surviving veterans who talk of their experiences as very young men who flew during the war. I have a particular interest in this subject. My dad was a navigator on a B-17G in 1944 and ’45. I was born while he was stationed in England flying bombing missions. Seeing both films resonated strongly with me.

There were Q&As following the screenings, both of which included Wyler’s daughter, Catherine. The second Q&A was moderated by Mark Harris, author of Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. This excellent book is about five major directors — John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, Frank Capra, William Wyler — and the documentaries they made to promote the war effort.

The Cold Blue will be shown on HBO sometime next year. Release plans for The Memphis Belle have yet to be announced.

_______________________________________________________

Sunday, September 30

Her Smell  (Alex Ross Perry, director & writer)  Elizabeth Moss stars as Becky Something, the leader of an alt-rock/punk/grunge band called Something She. Becky is destructively out of control, making life impossible for everyone around her, which includes the three women in her band. She made me think of Courtney Love, though in a Q&A after the film, the director and Moss said they’d modeled her on a number of people. The opening act, a sequence lasting 25 minutes, drops us in Becky’s in-your-face world right from the start. The cinematography by Sean Price Williams is frantic and reflects the deliberate chaos of Becky’s life. It’s hard to watch and she’s hard to take, but I couldn’t look away. In a subsequent section, with Becky recovering in a house in the country, the camerawork is completely different, very stable, locked down for long takes. Elizabeth Moss gives a totally committed, kick-out-the-jams performance. I first saw her in Mad Men where her character’s amazing evolution was the spine of the show. This is the third Alex Ross Perry film she’s been in, following Listen Up Philip (2014) and Queen of the Earth (2015).

There was a brief Q&A with Alex Ross Perry and Elizabeth Moss after the screening moderated by Dennis Lim. I wish it had been longer.

There’s a lot to absorb in this film. I saw it only yesterday, but I think I need to see it again in order to see it better.

_________________________________________________

I’ve got 18 films to see before NYFF56 ends next Sunday. I’m particularly looking forward to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate (with Willem Dafoe as Van Gogh and Oscar Isaac as Gauguin), a restoration of Edgar Ulmer’s Detour, and Watergate, a 4-hour documentary by Charles Ferguson. I’m also hoping to score a ticket for Frederick Wiseman’s Monrovia, Indiana, the latest documentary from this 88-year-old master.

That’s all for now. See you at the movies. — Ted Hicks

Posted in Documentaries, Feature films, Streaming | 4 Comments

Movie Poster Potpourri – Take 2

As with last year’s “Movie Poster Potpourri,” there’s no particular theme or category for this collection of film posters, other than they’re dynamic and dramatic. They all got my attention in one way or another. These are for films both well-known and obscure. It’s easy to see why vintage posters have become so collectable. Many of the ones in this post are artistic, often beautiful, or just in your face in ways today’s film posters don’t begin to touch. This is a bit of a grab bag, but I think they’re all pretty cool.

I’ve also included a few slides that used to be shown in theaters during the silent movie era, plus an incredible Clara Bow cover for the magazine “Motion Picture Classic” (don’t know the year), and the cover of the first issue of “The Edison Kinetogram,” published in London in 1910.

_____________________________________________________

I got a kick out of the one above. What else would you applaud with? Your feet?

_______________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

m__________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

____________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

___________________________________________________

Here we have two decidedly different approaches to the same Western movie, followed by a very nice poster for The Oregon Trail.

___________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

Title and year for films are listed below in the order they appear above (countries for foreign posters are also indicated):

The Fighting Streak (1922), Deadwood Pass (1933), Cimarron (1931), The Walking Dead (1936), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), Somewhere in the Night (1946), Side Street (1950), The Wild Party (1929), Red Hair (1928), Red Headed Woman (1932), Psycho (1960), Quality Street (1937), Rebecca (1940), A Farewell to Arms (1932), Anna Karenina (Germany, 1920), The Atomic Man (1955), Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938), Spies (1928), Riddle Gawne (1918), Renegades (1930), 3 Bad Men (1926), The First Kiss (1928), Love Letters (1945), Invisible Stripes (Sweden, 1939), Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), Sirocco (France, 1951), King Kong (1933), The Invisible Man (1933), Dracula (tinted lobby card, 1931), The Black Cat (1934), Beggars of Life (1928), The Kid (1921), Zaza (1923), Fanny (France, 1932), Fighting for Justice (1932), The Oregon Trail (1936), The Phantom of the Opera (Sweden, 1925), Phantom of the Opera (U.S. 1925), Them (1954).

This post is a follow-up to three previous posts, “Movie Poster Art: Foreign Versions” (6/30/14),  “Movie Poster Art for Art’s Sake” (12/30/16), and “Movie Poster Potpourri” (8/31/17) .

That’s all for now. — Ted Hicks

_______________________________________________________

Hang on, here’s one more.

Posted in Art, Feature films, Film, Film posters | 3 Comments

Seen Anything Good Lately?

Well, actually, I have. The following are some of the best films I’ve seen so far this year. This is by no means comprehensive, but these quickly came to mind. After I initially compiled the list I noticed that all of the films had been either written or co-written by the director. I don’t think that’s an accident.

______________________________________________________

Custody (Xavier Legrand, director & writer)  This French film, a prize-winner at last year’s Venice International Film Festival, is a tense domestic thriller with an 11-year-old boy as the prize in a custody fight between divorced parents. Miriam Besson (Léa Drucker) wants to keep her son Julien (Thomas Gioria) as far away from her ex-husband Antoine (Denis Ménochet) as possible. Julien is clearly terrified of him. Antoine is a glowering, short-fused presence, though for a long time we’re not sure if he’s as bad as he seems. Custody is wound very tight. There’s always a threat of violence that could erupt at any moment.

_______________________________________________________

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham, director & writer)  Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is in her final week of middle school. She constantly posts videos about self-confidence and image on YouTube, but feels like an absolute klutz in her real life. For Kayla, every moment she has to be with other people has the potential for humiliation. Her doubts and fears are something we can all relate to; I know I certainly can. The writing and performances feel completely natural.

_______________________________________________________

First Reformed (Paul Schrader, director & writer)  Throughout his career as a director and screenwriter, Paul Schrader has been concerned with protagonists — often anguished and doubting — who have been boxed in by their struggles to find meaning in their lives and beliefs. They frequently find expression through violence, as with Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, or, as with Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, by being crucified. In First Reformed, the Reverend Ernst Toller, strongly played by Ethan Hawke in a claustrophobically contained performance, continues Schrader’s exploration of this kind of character. Even his first name, Ernst, makes a tight and constricted sound when you say it, as opposed to Ernest, which is what I initially thought the name was. Toller is the minister of the First Reformed, a small church with a shrinking congregation in upstate New York. The church is an historical landmark, significant for being a stop on the Underground Railroad. Toller gives tours of the church to handfuls of people, which end at the gift shop. He’s also involved in preparing for the 250th anniversary of First Reformed, a celebration to be attended by the mayor, governor, and other dignitaries. Then there’s the parishioner (played by Amanda Seyfried), concerned for her husband, a fanatical environmentalist, who has a suicide vest in the house. First Reformed is a rigorous film, and deadly serious. There aren’t many laughs. None, actually, and no easy answers. At a Q&A at the Walter Reade Theater in May, Schrader explained the absence of a music score by saying he didn’t want music cues to tell the audience how to feel. He said, rather poetically, “You can’t hold the hand of the viewer when you’re asking them to walk into the mystery.” First Reformed is very rewarding. It gives you a lot to think about, and I liked it a lot.

_______________________________________________________

The Guardians (Xavier Beauvois, director & writer)  I really loved this film. I saw it twice and it was just as strong the second time. The Guardians is set in a farming community in France during World War I. Most of the men are away fighting, so it’s left to the women to do the farming. There are frequent scenes of farm work — plowing, planting, harvesting, etc. These are lengthy and mostly wordless. Having grown up on a farm in Iowa, I appreciated the time and respect the filmmaker gave to this activity. Husbands and sons return on leave, then go back to the front again. During church services, the priest reads he names of those who’ve been killed. Seasons pass and life goes on. It’s a great movie.

Here is the French-language trailer, which I think adds to the one above and is worth seeing.

______________________________________________________

The Guilty (Gustav Möller, director & co-writer)  In this riveting Danish film, police officer Asger Holm (played by Jakob Cedergren) has been assigned to an emergency call center. The entire film takes place inside this center. We hear the voices of the callers, but we never see them. The focus is tightly on Asger as he handles each call. The film kicks into gear when he gets a call from a woman who may have been kidnapped by her ex-husband. In a series of calls, Asger attempts to help the woman without alerting her kidnapper. By the end of the film, things have flipped a couple of times as Asger (and the audience) learns more. The Guilty is terrific. It’s a thriller that never leaves Asger, a cop on the phone at a desk. It reminds me of another film I like a lot, Locke (2013), which takes place entirely inside a car with Tom Hardy as he drives through the night, constantly calling people and taking calls. That was a thriller, too. The Guilty will be released in the U.S. on October 19 of this year.

________________________________________________________

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley, director & co-writer)  This is another film I love. It is, as the poster proclaims, a “feel good” movie, but it earns it. Frank Fisher (wonderfully played by Nick Offerman) owns a vinyl record store in Brooklyn. His daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemmons) is about to leave for California and pre-med study at UCLA. Frank had been in a band when he was younger. He and Sam are talented musicians; they write songs and jam together. In a great sequence, we see them as they record a song that goes viral after Frank puts it on Spotify, unbeknownst to Sam. Frank feels he and Sam are now a band (which he calls We’re Not a Band) and wishes she would delay college to work on this with him. The cast includes the always great Ted Danson as a bar owner and Frank’s friend, Sasha Lane as Sam’s girlfriend, Toni Collette as Frank’s record shop landlord, and Blythe Danner as Frank’s mother. There’s not a lot of big drama, and things don’t work out the way they might in a more conventional film with this premise. It feels very natural. This is a really, really good movie.

______________________________________________________

Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, director & writer)  It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years since the first Incredibles movie. That’s an unusually long amount of time to wait for a sequel, but I have to say, it was worth it. I loved the first one, and this is even better. It’s one of those infrequent cases where a sequel surpasses the original, as did The Godfather: Part II (1974), Aliens (1986), and Terminator 2 (1991). Advances in animation technology since 2004 raised the quality of Incredibles 2 to a very high level. Plus it’s impossible not to get swept up by the momentum of the storytelling. Brad Bird‘s work is exceptional. He directed The Iron Giant in 1999, an animated film with a lot of heart  that transported me back to my childhood. I like retro robots, and this has one of the best. His live-action feature debut, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), is the best of that seemingly inexhaustible series.

________________________________________________________

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, director & co-writer)  This is a very strong, deeply affecting film that doubles down on the promise of Debra Granik’s previous feature, Winter’s Bone (2010). Just as that film provided a breakout role for Jennifer Lawrence, Leave No Trace does the same for Thomasin McKenzie. She’s excellent as Ben Foster’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Tom. Foster plays Will, a former soldier with PTSD. They’ve been living off the grid deep in the forest on public land in Oregon. Their struggle to maintain this way of life forms the crux of the film. Leave No Trace is very understated, free of the more conventional drama you might expect. The film respects all of the characters; there are no villains per se. Foster is excellent as Tom’s father. But he’s almost always excellent, as his work in The Messenger (2009), Hostiles (2017), and especially Hell or High Water (2017) will attest. Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz has described him as “one of those actors who make even a bad film worth seeing.”

_________________________________________________________

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Mouly Surya, director & co-writer) and Revenge (Coralie Fargeat, director & writer) are two distinctly different examples of rape-revenge dramas. It’s worth noting that both of these films were written and directed by women. Marlina, from Indonesia, takes an understated approach, which might sound ironic considering that Marlina carries the severed head of one of her attackers with her for most of the film.

In both films, the women take decisive action against their perpetrators. Revenge, a French film, is anything but understated. The violence is graphic and extreme. Jennifer (played by Matilda Lutz) becomes almost a superhero given the level of damage she sustains at the outset and more than survives. Revenge definitely takes an in-your-face approach that’s not for everyone. At times I was afraid of what I as going to see next.  Marlina is more artful and thoughtful, and probably the better film. Though there’s something undeniably satisfying on a visceral level about watching Jennifer lay waste to her attackers in Revenge. What I’m unsure of is why that is. Regardless, I liked them both.

_________________________________________________________

The Rider (Chloé Zhao, director & writer)  For me, this is the best film of the year so far. I responded more strongly to The Rider than anything else I’ve seen to date. It concerns a promising young rodeo rider, Brady Blackburn, who suffered a near-fatal injury when a bull stepped on his head before the film begins. He’s told he can never ride or rodeo again. The Rider shows how he struggles to deal with this. Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker who was born in Beijing, attended boarding school in London, finished high school in Los Angeles, and studied filmmaking at NYU in New York City. Like her first feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), The Rider was shot on and around the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It has a documentary aspect that reinforces the reality that’s created here. All of the characters are convincingly played by non-actors. Brady is played by Brady Jandreau; his father by his real father; his sister by his real sister. Brady had the same injury as his character has in the film. His friends in the film are his friends in real life. One doesn’t need to know this to appreciate the film, but it adds to the authenticity you feel.

In the scene below, Brady, who is a horse trainer as well as a rodeo rider, tames a horse. There’s something beautiful about it.

As with several of the films on this list, The Rider doesn’t go the way you’d think it might, given its premise. It’s truer than that. It’s also, as has been pointed out by others, visually stunning and deeply moving.

________________________________________________________

Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, director & writer)  Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) takes a job with a telemarketing company in Oakland, California where he’s encouraged to use his “white voice” to increase his sales. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This film is insane. The white voices are dubbed by actual white voices. You could say the film is social satire, but that doesn’t begin to convey the anger that runs through it. It’s also a comedy, a farce, a horror film, and probably a thousand other things. Plus it’s great. Something is revealed in the latter half of the film that will have your jaw on the floor. I don’t dare say anything else about that, though I’d like to. I can only hope that in the wake of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, we’ll see more films that are this full-throttle.

_________________________________________________________

Under the Tree (Hafstein Gunnar Siguròsson, director & writer)  Black comedy from Iceland. I liked it a lot. The very large tree in the yard of an older couple casts an equally large shadow over the yard of their next-door neighbors, who insist that the tree be either trimmed or cut down so the wife can resume her sunbathing uninterrupted. This becomes a war of nerves, a feud in which the stakes are constantly raised. The Coen Brothers would love this. There Will Be Blood would also be an apt title. It’s very nasty.

________________________________________________________

Supplemental

Here is a sampling of interviews and one music video.

________________________________________________________

Eighth GradeBo Burnham & Elsie Fisher interview

________________________________________________________

First Reformed Paul Schrader interview

— Ethan Hawke interview

_______________________________________________________

The Guardians — Xavier Beauvois interview

_______________________________________________________

Hearts Beat Loud Music video of the title song intercut with scenes from the film

— Brett Haley & Nick Offerman interview

_____________________________________________________

Leave No Trace Sundance interview with Ben Foster & Debra Granik

________________________________________________________

The Rider Brady Jandreau interview (don’t mind the French subtitles, the interview is in English)

________________________________________________________

Many of these films are still in theaters. The others should be available soon for rental or streaming. That’s all for now. — Ted Hicks

Posted in Feature films, Film, Film posters, Streaming, TV & Cable | 3 Comments

Kubrick Postscript: “Killer’s Kiss” – 1955

After putting up my third post on Stanley Kubrick last Thursday, I was still in the mood, so I decided to watch his second feature, Killer’s Kiss. I didn’t plan to write about Kubrick again so soon, but I really liked the film and thought there were some things worth sharing. So here we are again.

Killer’s Kiss isn’t a great film, but it’s very interesting and unusual in a number of ways. Much of what stands out about it is that it was shot on location rather than in studio sets. As film critic Geoffrey O’Brien says, “…shooting on location in New York introduces an element of chance and feeling for actual locations.” He refers to the “…general run-down feeling of all these locations, of these interiors,” and “…the absence of glamour.” He goes on to say “…the presence of New York City in Killer’s Kiss is overwhelming. The city spills into the movie and makes it more than it would otherwise have been.” It’s also important in the development of Kubrick’s career. Killer’s Kiss is a significant advance from his first feature, Fear and Desire (1953), which seems more like a student film now. His next feature, The Killing (1956), is an even greater advance. It’s as though he really knew who he was and what he wanted to do. (My previous post on The Killing can be accessed here.)

The importance of shooting in actual locations can’t be over-estimated. New York location filming was also used to great effect in The Naked City (Jules Dassin – 1948), Side Street (Anthony Mann – 1950), and the opening scenes of Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway – 1947). O’Brien points out that images of the city are not being used as backdrop; they are the foreground, it’s the story that’s the backdrop.

That story is fairly simple. Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith) is a prize fighter on the way down who becomes involved with Gloria Price (Irene Kane), who lives in his building. Vincent Rapallo (Frank Silvera) is a small-time gangster who runs the Pleasure Land dance hall where Gloria works. He wants to possess her, body and soul. Davey wants to defend her. All three are lonely people. Davey is a typical film noir protagonist; he’s in over his head and his plans to get out are undone by random chance. As Rapallo says near the end, “I didn’t want murder. It’s all gone wrong.” That’s noir in a nutshell.

An interesting detail is that Gloria’s sister, Iris, seen performing an interpretive dance in flashback, was played by Ruth Sobotka, who was Kubrick’s wife at the time. She later was the art director for his next film, The Killing.

Killer’s Kiss is included on the Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray release of The Killing. The high definition transfer is stunning. I was struck by the clarity and razor sharpness of the black & white images. The look of the film in general reminded me of the photos Kubrick took for Look magazine in the late 1940s. Compare the photo below from Look with a scene from Killer’s Kiss below that.

An immense amount of detail crowds the frame in scenes shot on Broadway near Times Square. In the frame above, note the signs for Childs restaurant, Pepsi Cola, Admiral Television Appliances, and the theater marquee in the background advertising Tony Curtis in Beachhead. There’s much more. All of this actually existed at the time, and it lends a powerful sense of reality to the film. The scenes in Killer’s Kiss appear to have been shot in natural light, especially the exteriors, without any “Hollywood” lighting. If Kubrick wanted a documentary feel, he got it. In his book Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist’s Maze ,(Indiana University Press, 2000) author Thomas Allen Nelson, in reference to Killer’s Kiss, points out “…its street locations and neorealist flair for random detail (objects and faces in subways, and on the street and in shop windows of Times Square)… used to create a chaotic public backdrop at odds with private worlds.”

The streets we see are grey and dirty, and mostly empty, except for the scenes shot on Broadway, which are teeming with actual life. Davey’s apartment is stark and mostly empty of decor, except for a few snapshots of his Uncle George’s horse ranch near Seattle, and the odd detail of a machete mounted on the wall. Davey and Gloria’s apartments face each other across an air shaft. We watch Davey watching Gloria through her open window. This voyeuristic aspect is continued in a later scene with Davey, watching from Gloria’s apartment as two policemen enter his apartment looking for him after his boxing manager has been found beaten to death. In an earlier scene, on the morning of his important prize fight, we see Davey peering closely at his face in the mirror, much as fighter Walter Cartier did in Kubrick’s short documentary, Day of the Fight (1951). As Thomas Allen Nelson wrote, “The best moments of Killer’s Kiss combine a voyeuristic and narcissistic definition of character.”

As a fighter, Davey has seen better days. The announcer at that night’s fight describes his boxing career as “…one long promise without fulfillment.” You can see the fight in the following clip, which intercuts the match with shots of a gleeful Rapallo and a reluctant Gloria watching the fight on television in his office at the dance hall. I was especially taken with a moment early in the fight when Davey is knocked down to a sitting position against the ropes, looking stunned as he struggles to get back on his feet. This felt different to me from what usually see in boxing movies.

After losing the fight, Davey is back home on his bed and has a nightmare in which we’re rushing down a deserted city street, buildings on either side pressing in. This is seen in negative image, and is very reminiscent of parts of the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Davey is startled awake from his dream by Gloria’s screams. Davey rushes to the window to see Gloria struggling with Rapallo.

_______________________________________________________

Davey’s Uncle George has been asking him to visit them in Seattle. Davey has fallen in love with Gloria. They make plans to go to Seattle together. Rapallo means to stop them. Killer’s Kiss is definitely a film noir in style and content. The framing and lighting and the silhouetted figures in the shot below are a prime example.

In this scene, two of Rapallo’s henchmen have cornered Davey’s fight manager, mistaking him for Davey, due to another bit of random chance that Kubrick likes so much.

Another example is the shot below of Gloria climbing the long staircase to the Pleasure Land dance hall. The angle, the light, and her reflection on the walls are just great. Kubrick says the “WATCH YOUR STEP” sign was actually there at the location, a kind of gift, as it were. It’s perfect for a noir narrative.

______________________________________________________

Film noirs frequently use flashbacks. The transitions to the flashbacks, signified by the cliché of a shimmering optical effect, are the one really clumsy thing about Killer’s Kiss. But it was only his second feature, so this can be forgiven.

______________________________________________________

An extended rooftop chase sequence precedes the final showdown. Kubrick filmed it in extreme long shot, with Davey a tiny figure in the distance. Subsequent shots bring him and his pursuers a little closer, but not much. We are almost clinically removed from the characters and the action. There’s no music, only some insistent percussion, and the sounds of fog horns from the harbor, and the early morning light. Was this an aesthetic choice for Kubrick, or the most practical way to shoot the scene given a low budget? Whatever the reason, the result is great.

_________________________________________________________

By far the most startling scene in the film, and the one I remembered from seeing Killer’s Kiss years ago, is described by Thomas Allen Nelson as “The film’s most memorable episode, a fight to the death between Davey and Rapallo in a storeroom filled with mannequins, which illustrates Kubrick’s fondness for mixing realist and surrealistic imagery.” The struggle is messy and clumsy, with the two men grabbing anything loose and throwing or swinging it. It feels like the way an actual fight would be. The bizarre setting adds a nightmarish quality.

_______________________________________________________

Of all the locations used in this film, I think the most distinctive was the original Penn Station. It was torn down in 1963, so most of us never had the chance to actually see it. Killer’s Kiss is framed by scenes shot there. The film begins with Davey waiting with his suitcase in the station. In voice-0ver, he begins to tell the story in a series of flashbacks within flashbacks. We return to Davey and Penn Station for the ending. The shot below, under the main title, gives a sense of what that space was like, which also seems to enlarge the scope of the film.

______________________________________________________

Stanley Kubrick on the set of Killer’s Kiss.

_____________________________________________________

Killer’s Kiss is available for streaming from Amazon, but only in standard definition. I highly recommend the high definition transfer that’s included with The Killing on the Criterion Collection’s DVD and Blu-ray discs.

______________________________________________________

This ends my Stanley Kubrick series, for the time being, anyway. I didn’t intend to do four parts, but it took on a life of its own. Thanks for going on the ride with me. — Ted Hicks

 

Posted in Books, Fiction, Film, Home Video, photography, TV & Cable | 2 Comments

Still More Kubrick!

The subject of Stanley Kubrick is a very deep well. After completing my two previous posts, I still had a lot of material left over and thought of putting together another installment. Since then, I’ve come across even more. There’s really no end to it. For the time being, I have to stop looking and start writing, otherwise I’ll never get it done. Following is a random selection of interviews, clips, photographs,  quotes and reminiscences that I think will help illuminate Stanley Kubrick more fully as an artist and as a person. Or at least give some sense of his thinking, how he saw things, how he worked, and his effect on the people around him.

______________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

Kubrick interviewed by Tim Cahill in Rolling Stone, August 27, 1987.

Q. Well, you don’t make it easy on viewers or critics. You’ve said you want an audience to react emotionally. You create strong feelings but you won’t give us any easy answers.

A. That’s because I don’t have any easy answers.

_________________________________________________________

Michael Herr, author of one of the greatest books on the Vietnam war, Dispatches (1977), was a friend and collaborator of Kubrick’s for twenty years. He was co-writer of Full Metal Jacket (1987). Shortly after Stanley died in 1999, Herr wrote a short book, Kubrick (2000), about their relationship. Here are some quotes from that book.

** Re Stanley in his late teens: ……trying to see every movie ever made. There was definitely such a thing as a bad movie, but there was no movie not worth seeing. (page 25)

** He once told me (Herr) that if he hadn’t become a director he might have liked being a conductor. ” They get to play the whole orchestra, and they get plenty of exercise,” he said, waving his arms a bit, “and most of them live to be really old.” (page 65)

** He’d never talk about his movies while he was making them, and he didn’t like talking about them afterwards very much, even to friends, except maybe to mention the grosses. Most of all he didn’t want to talk about their “meaning,” because he believed so completely in their meaning that to try and talk about it could only spoil it for him. He might tell you how he did it, but never why… Somebody asked him how he ever thought of the ending of 2001. “I don’t know,’ he said, ‘How does anybody ever think of anything?” (page 71)

** Stanley didn’t live in England because he disliked America, God knows; America was all he ever talked about. It was always on his mind and in his blood. …although he hadn’t been there since 1968. In the days before satellite TV, had relatives and friends send him tapes of American television – NFL games, The Johnny Carson Show, news broadcasts and commercials, which he thought were, in their way, the most interesting films being made. He was crazy about The Simpsons and Seinfeld, and he loved Roseanne because it was funny and, he believed, the most authentic view of the country you could get without actually living there. (page 46-47)

** Kubrick thought a particular role for a film he wanted to make would “be perfect for Steve Martin. He’d loved The Jerk.” (page 8)

** Some Americans move to London and in three weeks they’re talking like Denholm Elliott. Stanley picked up the odd English locution, but it didn’t take Henry Higgins to place him as pure, almost stainless Bronx. Stanley’s voice was very fluent, melodious even. In spite of the Bronx nasal-caustic, perhaps the shadow of some adenoidal trauma long ago, it was as close to the condition of music as speech can get and still be speech, like a very well-read jazz musician talking, with a pleasing and graceful Groucho-like rushing and ebbing of inflection for emphasis, suggested quotation marks and even inverted commas to convey amused disdain, over-enunciating phrases that struck him as fabulously banal, with lots of innuendo, and lots of latent sarcasm, and some not so latent, lively tempi, brilliant timing, eloquent silences; and always, masterful, seamless segues, “Lemme change the subject for just a minute,” or, “What were we into before we got into this?” I never heard him try to do other voices, or dialects, even when he was telling Jewish jokes. Stanley quoted other people all the time, people in “the industry” whom he’d spoken to that afternoon (Steven and Mike, Warren and Jack, Tom and Nicole), or people who died a thousand years ago, but it was always Stanley speaking. (page 5)

** Re Full Metal Jacket: There was a break in the shooting of almost five months after Lee Ermey smashed up his car late one night and broke all his ribs on one side. Some of the cast had other jobs lined up and had to juggle… Vincent D’Onofrio had gained forty to fifty pounds to play Leonard, and he had to keep it on through all those idle months. (page 59)

________________________________________________________

Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket, was interviewed in 2017 about being in the film. This is quite wonderful. D’Onofrio is really expressive. (Note that it starts over at approximately 21 minutes and repeats the first 8 minutes.)

_______________________________________________________

Some behind-the-scenes footage from Full Metal Jacket. It’s interesting to watch Kubrick dealing with the crew.

______________________________________________________

Two videos from the Stanley Kubrick Archive Oral History

_______________________________________________________

Stanley’s cats.

Kubrick loved cats. Of course he did. He had dogs and many cats as pets in England. He would leave 15 pages of instructions for whomever was caring for the cats when he was away. You can read about that here, which includes a short video of his daughter Katharina talking about these instructions.

_____________________________________________________

Stanley’s quest for “just perfect” cardboard boxes.

____________________________________________________

“What They Say About Stanley Kubrick” by Peter Bogdanovich appeared in the New York Times Magazine on July 4, 1999, several months after Kubrick’s death the previous March. It’s a collection of comments by those who’d known and worked with him, including his wife Christiane. I’ve selected some of the comments for this post. Then entire piece can be accessed here.

** Arliss Howard (actor, Full Metal Jacket): I remember his saying, “The hardest thing in making a movie is to to keep in front of your consciousness your original response to the material. Because that’s going to be the thing that will make the movie. And the loss of that will break the movie.”

** Gerald Fried (childhood friend and composer of Kubrick’s short film, The Day of the Fight, and his first four features): By the time we got to Paths of Glory, he was already “Stanley Kubrick” and then it was a struggle – I had to rationalize every note. It was fun and stimulating, but he was already sure he knew it all… As I remember, he also heard every single machine-gun sound effect before it went into the picture.

** Richard Anderson (actor, Paths of Glory): Stanley is very psychological to get what he wants. One time he had done about 40 takes and Jimmy Harris (producer) comes and says, “Stanley, it’s now 1 o’clock and we’re in terrible trouble and we gotta break this up.” That was the only time I saw Stanley go nuts. He shouted, “It isn’t right – and I’m going to keep doing it until it is right!” He shot 84 takes. I think he wanted everybody to hear that – he wanted it to get around.

** Adam Baldwin (actor, Full Metal Jacket): One of the things we did to kill time was play chess, play hearts, smoke cigarettes. We would lay out the board and he would kind of waddle over and wipe you out in 15 moves. One time I actually got him to blunder and I won the game – big deal, 1 out of 50. But I said, “Hah, I got ya. You have to resign now.” And he said to me, “The only reason you won, Adam, is because I have so little respect for your game that I made a blunder. Now get back to work.” He had that little wry grin of his and walked away.

** John Milius (director, screenwriter, phone relationship with Kubrick from early ’80s): Stanley had no regard for time. He’d call you in the middle of the night, whenever he felt like calling. I’d say, “Stanley, it’s the middle of the night.” He’d say, “You’re awake, aren’t you?” He’d never talk for less than an hour.

** Arliss Howard: He could come in a room and say, “We’re two stops off in this light.” They’d say, “No, we just checked the camera.” He’d say, “We’re two stops off,” and they’d be two stops off.

** Keir Dullea (actor, 2001): I was always aware that he knew exactly what he wanted. He would invite Gary Lockwood and myself to have dinner at his beautiful home. And he would invite a lot of other people from all walks of life and different disciplines – art historians, authors and intellectuals. And he was as informed as anybody about their disciplines. He was like an onion – every layer you peeled off there were two new ones to be exposed.

** Ken Adam (production designer, Dr. Strangelove & Barry Lyndon): I don’t think I ever had such a close relationship with a director. There was a certain naiveté and charm about him, but you very quickly found out that there was an enormous brain functioning. I think the most difficult part was his questioning, almost computer-like mind. He knew most of the technicians’ work better than the technicians themselves. The only think he didn’t know was design. So, obviously, he was fascinated by it, but I also found myself having to justify practically every line I drew, which wasn’t always easy… He very often changed his mind. After two days of shooting, for example, he wasn’t happy with Peter Sellers playing the B-52 bomber-captain (in addition to his other roles) and he cast Slim Pickens instead and then decided to have him ride the atomic bomb bronco-fashion into the Russian missile complex.

_____________________________________________________

Ken Adam talks about working with Kubrick in the video below.

_______________________________________________________

** Christiane Kubrick (wife): He thought it was boring away from home. He liked all his stuff around him, all his telephones and televisions and fax machines. Also, we have a zoo. We have a lot of animals and he liked those and he liked the children and later the grandchildren. He liked being at home. But not like a hermit – he had lots of friends – they just weren’t in the film business. He talked to everybody – he just didn’t talk to the press.

** Sydney Pollack (director, phone relationship with Kubrick since early ‘70s, actor in Eyes Wide Shut): I always think of Stanley literally on the edge of a smile. His eyes always had mischief in them. He always had this sense of the devil in him while he was very calmly asking questions. He read everything, and knew absolutely all aspects of the business, including literally what the box-office receipts of every theater in the world were of the past few years.

** Gerald Fried: I hope his last hour was cool. I played on a ball club called the Barracudas, in the Bronx, and I remember Stanley – he was about 18, 19 – he wanted to get into a game and he wasn’t a good athlete and the guys didn’t want him and I said, “Come on, give him a chance.” We let him play, and his face lit up.

** Christiane Kubrick: Even the most ordinary things, he would give them such extra insight that they became interesting. He talked all the time, and so now I never have this rain of words. I’m very sad now but I was personally very lucky that I always felt very loved and many people can’t say that.

_____________________________________________________

Actor Sterling Hayden talking about Kubrick, The Killing (1956) and Dr. Strangelove (1964). Hayden is a little odd, but this is interesting.

________________________________________________________

Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Intersteller, Dunkirk) talks about Kubrick and 2001.

_____________________________________________________

David Simon (creator of The Wire) talks about Paths of Glory.

_______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________

I’d forgotten about S Is for Stanley, a documentary about Emilio D’Alessandro, Kubrick’s driver since 1971. I saw it in January of last year and quite liked it. Here’s the trailer, which is narrated by the film’s director, Alex Infascelli.

_________________________________________________________

I recently remembered that somewhere in my randomly stored archives I ought to have a souvenir program booklet for 2001: A Space Odyssey. So I went into the hall closet and was amazed to find it in the first box I opened. I must have gotten this when I saw 2001 for the first time at a Cinerama theater in Sacramento in 1968, when the film opened. It’s one of the artifacts I’ve kept through the years. And here it is!

____________________________________________________

Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke on the moon shuttle set for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

_________________________________________________________

A pie fight in the war room was originally supposed to be the climax of Dr. Strangelove. It was filmed, but obviously didn’t make the final cut. Here’s Stanley with one of the pies, followed by a shot of him demonstrating how to throw them. It would be nice to see that footage.

_______________________________________________________

As previously noted, Kubrick was loathe to talk about his films or “explain” them, but I found an exception to that. Space Odyssey, Michael Benson’s excellent book about the making of 2001, references a quote from Kubrick in a column by Abe Weiler for the New York Times in late April, 1968. 2001 had just been released to fairly hostile critical response. He probably felt some pressure to say something specific. Here’s the quote:

“What happens at the end must tap the subconscious for its power. To do this, one must bypass words and move into the world of dreams and mythology. This is why the literal clarity one has become used to is not there. Here is what we used for planning. In Jupiter orbit, Keir Dullea is swept into a Star Gate. Hurled through fragmented regions of time and space, he enters into another dimension where the laws of nature as we know them no longer apply. In the unseen presences of godlike entities – beings of pure energy who have evolved beyond matter – he finds himself in what might be described as a human zoo, created from his own dreams and memories…His entire life passes in what appears to him a matter of moments. He dies and is reborn – transfigured. An enhanced being, a Star Child. The ascent from ape to angel is complete.”

Actually, “from ape to angel” is a pretty succinct description of what the film is about. I love it.

____________________________________________________

One more thing before I wrap this up. Two weeks ago we were on line to see a film at the Walter Reade Theater. I was reading the Michael Benson’s Space Odyssey when a man in front of me asked how I was liking it. He said he used to work for MGM and that he’d known Kubrick at the time. He said they used to talk on the phone a lot. In what I’ve been reading about Kubrick recently, a lot of people mention all the calls they used to get from him at all hours, very long calls. So I got a kick when this guy, whose name was Jim, started talking about phone calls with Stanley. He said that whatever they started off talking about, the calls sooner or later became about gossip. Stanley Kubrick liked to gossip! After reading and writing about Kubrick these past few weeks and having him in my head, I thought it was pretty great that I’d have a chance encounter with someone who’d actually known him.

_____________________________________________________

Kubrick Remembered, a feature documentary narrated in part by his wife, Christiane.

_______________________________________________________

There’s more, but I think it’s time to take a break. Besides, Stanley Kubrick isn’t going anywhere. — Ted Hicks

Posted in Books, Comics, Documentaries, Film, Film posters, Home Video, Music, Streaming, TV & Cable | 2 Comments