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 Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure 
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In the spring of 1959, a young theatrical critic named Robert Brustein wrote a short essay entitled The New Hollywood: Myth and Anti-Myth. In it, he points out the radical changes to be seen occurring upon a shifting Hollywood landscape: a shunning of the brighter and the bigger in favour of something more modest, something more real. Daniel Mann's The Rose Tattoo is one of the titles that Brustein highlights, along with the likes of Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront and Fred Zinnemann's A Hatful of Rain, as those at the very heart of this change. Fitting, then, given that it is a film based on a play that was written, by Tennessee Williams, specifically for one of Italian Neorealism's greatest figures in Anna Magnani. Unlike Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire, and echoing the playwright's admiration of the actress, Mann dwells on Magnani in a way that convention might have dissuaded at the time. Shots are lengthened and dialogue is repeated at volume, all in the name of developing her character of Serafina Delle Rose. Explosive, yet reclusive; as thorny and as fragile as the flower after which she is named and with which she is so hopelessly obsessed. Serafina is a relic of the old world, a world left far behind. God-fearing, yet often crass and unreasonable. Intent on keeping up appearances, yet also paralyzed by a wariness of society and its various ills. A flawed, hateful figure on the page that only Magnani could transform into something so vital and vibrant.
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Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:50 am
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The Desperate Hours | Wyler | 1955

This was really really good and I have you (Jedi) to thank for making me watch it. The frames within frames, the use of stairways and the multilevel home to split the frame horizontally, the way he stages tense phone conversations with a ton of people gathered separately in different parts of the frame (which in turn reminded me of Kurosawa's High and Low), that early shot with the bicycle in the front yard that sets the whole thing up so brilliantly... so much great stuff here. And I really like that you chose this to start off this thread because Wyler uses the frame so carefully and calculatedly.
The story itself wasn't particularly compelling to me so my emotional involvement was admittedly not v high but the filmmaking is so good and there's so much tension throughout that it didn't really matter. Also, I love how comedic some of the frames are in the midst of all this suspense and paranoia (like when Robert Middleton is rubbing his belly at the dinner table).

JediMoonShyne wrote:
Despite being an idyllic picture of the white-picket-fence family, they do possess a gun. Don't you think this seems to contradict the way Wyler expects us to perceive his family? Are they expecting the worst?

I wonder if this is just cultural and/or generational difference though. I am clueless wrt the attitude towards guns in 50s America. But it didn't really bother me a whole lot at all. I never got the sense that the family expected to use the gun. And Bogart seems reasonably certain about there being a gun in the house.. implying that was the norm?

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Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:23 am
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charulata wrote:
This was really really good and I have you (Jedi) to thank for making me watch it. The frames within frames, the use of stairways and the multilevel home to split the frame horizontally, the way he stages tense phone conversations with a ton of people gathered separately in different parts of the frame (which in turn reminded me of Kurosawa's High and Low), that early shot with the bicycle in the front yard that sets the whole thing up so brilliantly... so much great stuff here. And I really like that you chose this to start off this thread because Wyler uses the frame so carefully and calculatedly.
The story itself wasn't particularly compelling to me so my emotional involvement was admittedly not v high but the filmmaking is so good and there's so much tension throughout that it didn't really matter. Also, I love how comedic some of the frames are in the midst of all this suspense and paranoia (like when Robert Middleton is rubbing his belly at the dinner table).

:heart:

Frames within frames, yes! And despite what I posted previously about wishing it all took place within the confines of the house, I did like that scene where they watch things unfold from the safety of that curious attic window (?) Ultimately, these scenes simply end up raising the level of tension, since cutting to different places seems to encourage some kind of momentum and you begin to become acutely aware that things are progressing elsewhere without your involvement. We spend so much time in the house and get to know it so intimately, that with the simple act of transporting us to the comparatively loud setting of the police station, Wilder can disorient his audience further. But yes, other than the man vs. man, brawn vs. brains thing, there's really not a whole lot to find compelling about the story itself.

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Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:43 pm
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Also Char, I found a HDTV copy of Artists and Models:

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Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:31 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
And despite what I posted previously about wishing it all took place within the confines of the house, I did like that scene where they watch things unfold from the safety of that curious attic window (?)

Also that fade from the kid lying in between the wheels of the truck to Bogie engulfed in shadows, sitting wearily by the window peeking out the curtains. Truly alone even if he doesn't know it yet.

Re: that framing with the stairs and the phone conversations, this was also used so well to highlight shifting power relations, or at least in regards to Bogie. In the earlier scenes he's in control, next to the phone and person speaking, in the foreground and commanding the scene and the attention. In the latter, he's tucked away in the background, listening in, no longer the center of attention or control.

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Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:19 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Also Char, I found a HDTV copy of Artists and Models:

Ooh nice! is it just a public torrent? pm me info pls <3

Btw, I love that fade out that Kurz is referring to but for the most part, I felt much like you did (earlier at least). I would've preferred all the action to be restricted to the house and the immediate exteriors. Any time we cut away to the police station or the golf course etc., I just found it distracting and it removed the claustrophobia / trapped feeling we feel so palpably in the scenes within the house.

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Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:49 pm
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
Also that fade from the kid lying in between the wheels of the truck to Bogie engulfed in shadows, sitting wearily by the window peeking out the curtains. Truly alone even if he doesn't know it yet.

I do like that Bogie tends to look more weary as the film goes on, gaining more and more stubble until the end - when there's the confrontation - he looks a broken man even before the closing scenes. And the curtains! There are a bunch of really innovative shots that appear throughout the film, as is usual of Wyler. I loved the one I posted previously, shot in first-person looking through the gap in the curtains. Also, that cut from Bogie's face to the light bulb during the final sequence, practically filling the screen with white. Lots of symbolism there. The idea of being in the spotlight, which appears to be something that attracts Bogie's character, but also him being almost like a deer caught in the headlights.

Colonel Kurz wrote:
Re: that framing with the stairs and the phone conversations, this was also used so well to highlight shifting power relations, or at least in regards to Bogie. In the earlier scenes he's in control, next to the phone and person speaking, in the foreground and commanding the scene and the attention. In the latter, he's tucked away in the background, listening in, no longer the center of attention or control.

An excellent catch, this is. The shifting power dynamic is a central theme here, especially the one shared between Bogart and March. I noticed that Wyler would often frame one standing over the other, ending with March dominating Bogart when he ultimately "wins". I didn't consider the various levels of the house, but it makes perfect sense now. To further the idea, notice how the policemen are perched high above it all in the image Char posted: at that point, it is the police who are in the position of absolute power.

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Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:50 am
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charulata wrote:
Ooh nice! is it just a public torrent? pm me info pls <3

Yeah, I didn't see it on KG/PTP so had no idea.

Just PMed you a link.

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Sat Apr 12, 2014 5:07 am
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I love that the logo always looks slightly different, almost as though it's hand-recreated each time.

Quick, someone suggest what to watch next! http://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc? ... k9FTGYwVmc

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Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:43 pm
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How about The Spanish Gardener?

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Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:24 pm
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I just looked into The Spanish Gardener. It seems that it was cropped from 1.85:1 to 1.33:1 early on for TV use, and the available DVD maintains that cropped ratio.

They actually re-released it on DVD recently in the original 1.85:1 format, but simply took that early 1.33:1 TV transfer and cropped it even further! :(

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Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:50 am
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Booo :( Never mind then.

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Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:56 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I just looked into The Spanish Gardener. It seems that it was cropped from 1.85:1 to 1.33:1 early on for TV use, and the available DVD maintains that cropped ratio.

They actually re-released it on DVD recently in the original 1.85:1 format, but simply took that early 1.33:1 TV transfer and cropped it even further! :(
haha, genius!

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Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:42 am
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I know, right?

Speaking of cropping genius...


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Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:49 am
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Is Technirama next?

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Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:58 pm
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Will leave that one up to you!

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Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:04 pm
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The advent of VistaVision coincided with the twilight years of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's partnership as The Archers. Ill Met by Moonlight would be their last film before later reuniting, but preceding this was The Battle of River Plate - known in America as Pursuit of the Graf Spee - often considered the duo's last real success. Visible here are the (albeit rather faint) vestiges of the contrary ideas that would help to define some of Powell and Pressburger's most celebrated work. Notably, there is a measured attempt from the very beginning of River Plate to humanise rather than demonise the German villains of the piece. Unlike many other titles from the period - Guy Hamilton's The Colditz Story from 1955 springs to mind - there is a begrudging admiration shown here by the film's high-ranking, stiff-upper-lip protagonists towards their Nazi adversaries who, given the film's nautical narrative framing, could just as easily have been portrayed as mere faceless incarnations of evil. Unsurprisingly, besides the occasionally disorientating but nonetheless satisfyingly drawn-out naval battles, the most pleasurable aspect of River Plate is the colour palette itself. There are the flat greys of mass-produced iron and white-tipped blues of aquatic expanse, but also a plethora of brighter colours that surprise and delight. The sunset scenes alone leave an impression that the very sky must be burning: deep, Tanzanite blues and purples that transform into shades of auburn and copper and eventually turquoise, reflecting the sea itself.
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WCoF I II IIIL'EtàL'Eau한국88ShadowsBerlin thırd ISOLATIONVistaVision


Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:42 am
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From Joe McElhaney's essay on Nicholas Ray, The Breadth of Modern Gesture:

Nevertheless, the desire for order and "normality," most strongly articulated through the formation of the couple, the family, and through homeownership, is a perpetual thread in Ray. It is a desire articulated with a full poetic force even as the films simultaneously demonstrate the impossibility of just such a desire. The failure of the violent Dix (Humphrey Bogart) in In a Lonely Place to understand the logic of a grapefruit knife, straightening its curved form and holding the knife in his hand in a fist like, stabbing gesture as he attempts to section the grapefruit, lays the seal of doom on his marriage proposal to Laural (Gloria Grahame) even before the proposal itself is uttered. In both Run for Cover and Party Girl, women reach for something on the stove (coffee in the former film, cocoa in the latter) and burn their hands ... the world of domestic interior spaces is marked by a constant fragility where the characters often literally lose their balance and must hold onto whatever is most immediately at hand.

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Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:14 pm
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Witnesses of Lewis Allen's Another Time, Another Place might have been forgiven, back when the film was first released, for considering narratives other than the one presented here: an adaption of screenwriter Lenore Coffee's only novel. Leading actress Lana Turner's often violent relationship with lover and gangster-affiliated Johnny Stompanato was the subject of much media gossip at the time. A mere month before the film was due to be released, things came to a head when, after the couple had argued in her Beverley Hills home, Stompanato was stabbed to death by Turner's 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl. This is perhaps all that most people remember of the actress these days - and certainly of the film. Yet, there remains a an intrigue around its premise. The idea of a young adulteress who seeks out and befriends, eventually moving in with the unwitting wife of her late lover. One feels that it could have led to something much more memorable, had it been treated differently - and, dare I say, by other hands than those of director Allen, who spent the majority of his career in television. Indeed, as Christopher Bray exclaims: "What a study in perversity a Hitchcock or a Chabrol might have made of it!" There are a handful of superficial similarities between Another Time, Another Place and Joseph Mankiewicz's vastly superior The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, but ultimately it's little more than an empty melodrama that might have disappeared into obscurity altogether were it not for the surrounding fervour accompanying its release.
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WCoF I II IIIL'EtàL'Eau한국88ShadowsBerlin thırd ISOLATIONVistaVision


Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:23 pm
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this is an amazing thread just lettin ya know


Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:31 pm
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wichares wrote:
Need to see the original of High Society, but Grace Kelly by the pool is reason enough for it existing.

Lovely thread, btw.
mystery meat wrote:
this is an amazing thread just lettin ya know

Thank you both!

Now, if I can only convince you to invest in an avatar...

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Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:26 am
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i never should've gotten an avatar


Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:33 am
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Your avatar just needs more cute Asian girls, that's all.

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Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:36 am
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White Christmas | Curtiz | 1954


Jedi sweetie, this just underwhelmed me mostly ... am sorry :( I really liked Danny Kaye here. Such a revelation even if he feels a bit like Donald O'Connor lite. And there's a real sweetness to the plot and the romances etc. But it's all really terribly predictable and Bing Crosby while a fine singer isn't nearly as good an actor / screen presence. So it all fell a bit flat for me. That duet between Ellen & Kaye might be the best thing about the film. And while the BD transfer does look really incredible on my TV, I am hardpressed to find anything to say about the way Curtiz uses the Vistavision technology here. So any additional info is really welcome.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:34 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
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The advent of VistaVision coincided with the twilight years of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's partnership as The Archers. Ill Met by Moonlight would be their last film before later reuniting, but preceding this was The Battle of River Plate - known in America as Pursuit of the Graf Spee - often considered the duo's last real success. Visible here are the (albeit rather faint) vestiges of the contrary ideas that would help to define some of Powell and Pressburger's most celebrated work. Notably, there is a measured attempt from the very beginning of River Plate to humanise rather than demonise the German villains of the piece. Unlike many other titles from the period - Guy Hamilton's The Colditz Story from 1955 springs to mind - there is a begrudging admiration shown here by the film's high-ranking, stiff-upper-lip protagonists towards their Nazi adversaries who, given the film's nautical narrative framing, could just as easily have been portrayed as mere faceless incarnations of evil. Unsurprisingly, besides the occasionally disorientating but nonetheless satisfyingly drawn-out naval battles, the most pleasurable aspect of River Plate is the colour palette itself. There are the flat greys of mass-produced iron and white-tipped blues of aquatic expanse, but also a plethora of brighter colours that surprise and delight. The sunset scenes alone leave an impression that the very sky must be burning: deep, Tanzanite blues and purples that transform into shades of auburn and copper and eventually turquoise, reflecting the sea itself.
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That map reminds me of this great Office of Strategic Services (now CIA) theater map from World War II, which not only has a brilliant projection, but also shows the scale of mapping and topological sophistication before the age of computers and satellites.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:48 pm
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charulata wrote:
Jedi sweetie, this just underwhelmed me mostly ... am sorry :( I really liked Danny Kaye here. Such a revelation even if he feels a bit like Donald O'Connor lite. And there's a real sweetness to the plot and the romances etc. But it's all really terribly predictable and Bing Crosby while a fine singer isn't nearly as good an actor / screen presence. So it all fell a bit flat for me. That duet between Ellen & Kaye might be the best thing about the film. And while the BD transfer does look really incredible on my TV, I am hardpressed to find anything to say about the way Curtiz uses the Vistavision technology here. So any additional info is really welcome.

Completely get where your coming from; it does all feel very predictable and contrived, but I guess that's to be expected from a "flagship film", or "release title", or whatever you'd call it. I read that a bunch of other films, including the Ray mentioned previously, had to be shelved while they waited for White Christmas to be completed.

By duet, do you mean the part where they're dancing by the water? Because that's my favourite part, too! :D

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:59 am
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The apple-red lips of a woman's mouth, parted slightly in an emotion that might be shock, surprise, or perhaps something closer to mirth. All we see are these lips, freshly-painted and still glossy, reflecting in their hue a curious midday lustre, and home to a row of immaculate pearly teeth. But the picture becomes bigger as the lips become smaller, and are joined by a pair of shiny cheeks, wavy blonde hair, and the downtown billboard of an inventive cigarette brand. François Truffaut once wrote of Frank Tashlin that "since he cannot delude us or fascinate us, [he] intrigues us", and truly, this is a world of intrigue that Tashlin has created. But Artists and Models is much more than that; it is much more even than Martin and Lewis, who became something of a VistaVision fixture before the partnership's ultimate demise. As Chris Fujiwara notes in his recent book on the career of Lewis, this and Hollywood or Bust are two films that "clearly belong more to Tashlin's thematic and stylistic universe" than to that of his actor. It is Tashlin's experience in the world of animation that makes Artists and Models what it is: as our dear charulata put it, like cinematic cotton candy, created in the gaudiest colours and under the brightest lights of the most infectious fairground. And nothing is more cartoonic than the memorable massage scene, where Tashlin bends the elastic limbs of Lewis into shapes and forms that are clearly beyond the realm of normal corporeal possibilities.
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Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:26 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:

By duet, do you mean the part where they're dancing by the water? Because that's my favourite part, too! :D

yep,.. best scene : )
And that massage scene in Artists and Models is sooooo good. Now I'm gonna end up watching clips from that movie all evening :D

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:51 am
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Did you see Hollywood or Bust, though?

We were talking about a film contrived for the VistaVision brand...

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:34 am
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I haven't buuut am grabbing it now and will watch it tonight/tomorrow and report back!

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:36 am
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It's not as good, but it's really fun.


Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:06 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

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greatest tashlin-lewis


Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:38 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

haha, that opening sequence!

i want to be the french moviegoer, but i'm truly the american moviegoer.


Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:45 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

Multiple Lewises in a movie watching a movie, when in real life Lewis has never actually watched that movie. So many levels.


Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:06 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

Is that The Geisha Boy?

Yeah, that one worries me. Perhaps it's just the cover, though...

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:00 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

No, that's part of the opening sequence for Bust.

Geisha Boy is all about the formalism. Gorgeous film, but no Tashlin boob jokes.


Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:09 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

Yes, but does it have Malone/MacLaine?

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:20 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

God, those two are so great.

And then, as always with Martin-Lewis.
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always with the oil


Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:13 pm
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

roujin wrote:
haha, that opening sequence!

i want to be the french moviegoer, but i'm truly the american moviegoer.

Watching the film now, and this part was hilarious. There are no butlers in British cinemas, however. :x

Apparently, the French loved Tashlin, and specifically his films with Martin and Lewis. Artists and Models is cited as the inspiration behind Céline and Julie.

A cute little tangent in Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons -

Image

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:29 pm
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

rosenbaum's such a nerd


Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:38 pm
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

More on Artists and Models, from Susan Felleman:

This spectacular equivocation in which women are elevated as material muses and also reduced to mere material is powerfully suggestive. In Artists and Models, through the use of comedy, travesty, and pop cultural forms—elements of the ‘‘bricolage’’ Paul Willemen says is most characteristic of Tashlin’s method of ‘‘assembly and disassembly (dismantling)’’—various aspects of the relationship between cinema and other visual media are vividly exemplified, embodied, and, along with other cultural problems, satirized. As some of the complexities of this relationship—generally more obscure or subtle, indeed often repressed in movies—are the subject of my study, perhaps this unsubtle film can be used to expose and introduce the problem of figures and themes relating to art and art-ists in the classical narrative film and the always gendered scenarios in which these are framed.

More here (Page 21): http://documenta_pdf.jmir.dyndns.org/Ci ... n_2006.pdf

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:27 pm
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

haha, that rosenbaum anecdote is adorabs :D

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Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:14 pm
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

That's because Rosenbaum is adorabs. An adorable nerd, I mean.

And I still haven't seen that Skolimowski...

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:08 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

i believe the correct abbreviation is "adorbs," e.g. "that Jonathan Rosenbaum is totes adorbs"

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:27 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

That's not the Corrie way.

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:54 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

Can we all blame ribbon yet?

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:03 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

I thought we moved past that years ago.

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:06 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

flieger wrote:
God, those two are so great.

And then, as always with Martin-Lewis.
Image
always with the oil

Why not?

IT MAKES EVERYTHING SHINIER

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:03 am
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

So, of the (Martin &) Lewis films on VistaVision, I've seen three.

Is that enough? I feel like that should be enough.

3 Ring Circus
You're Never Too Young
Artists and Models
Pardners
Hollywood or Bust

The Delicate Delinquent
The Sad Sack
Rock-a-Bye Baby
The Geisha Boy
Li'l Abner

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WCoF I II IIIL'EtàL'Eau한국88ShadowsBerlin thırd ISOLATIONVistaVision


Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:51 pm
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Post Re: Fidelitous Highs: A VistaVision Adventure

Three's enough. Especially the VistaVision ones.

Of the others, Rock-a-Bye Baby is essential.

Geisha Boy has
Image

and Delicate Delinquent, if you're game
Image


Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:08 pm
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