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Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
(1955)

Director: Henry King
Writers: John Patrick(screenplay), Han Suyin(novel)
Cast: William Holden, Jennifer Jones, Torin Thatcher
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance


About
: Set during the last days of the Chinese communist revolution of the 1950s...A beautiful Eurasian woman (Jennifer Jones) who's recently widowed, works as a doctor in the Hong Kong hospital. Hers is an uneventful life until she meets and fall in love with an American newspaper correspondent (William Holden).

Review: The 1950's were the time of big budget, Hollywood soap-opera dramas like Peyton Place, Some Came Running and of course all those wonderful Douglas Sirk films...But don't mistake Love Is a Many Splendored Thing for a soapy style drama, it's not. It's a straight forward telling of a difficult (at the time) interracial relationship between a white American male and a woman of Chinese and European parents, a Euroasian. The film focuses on the two people and their growing love for each other, as well as the problems society and their families create for them.

Beautiful set in Hong Kong, the film is a thing of beauty. We're treated to many first hand scenes set in the crowded streets of Hong Kong...and that harbor! Oh my, it's alone worth watching.


Jennifer Jones reads a letter from her lover William Holden who's been sent to cover the war in Korea.

Both Jennifer Jones and William Holden have believable screen chemistry. What I like here, is that we, the audience also fall in love as the two leads do. Jennifer Jones brings to the movie a reserved, self disciplined, yet spiritual and hopeful character in Han Suyin.

William Holden might very well be at his finest here. We're use to seeing him play the confident, swaggering maverick. Here we see a more sincere and compassionate side. His character Mark Elliott is forthright with his emotions and shows tenderness towards his love interest. Which is a testimony to his acting as reportedly Jennifer Jones and William Holden didn't get along at all! She went as far as eating garlic before their big romantic kiss, yuk. Holden should have won an Oscar just for kissing the pungent tasting girl.











Paths of Glory
(Stanley Kubrick, 1957)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Kirk Douglas, R
alph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
Genre: Drama, War

About: After a French soldier refuses to attack an enemy position, a pompous general accuses the soldier of cowardice. Leaving the soldiers commanding officer to defend him

Review
: I was totally impressed with Kubrick's amazing cinematography. It reminded me of Orson Welles' work in Citizen Kane. The next time you watch a 'run of a mill' movie, pay attention to how often close ups are used. They're used a lot, which means the cinematographer is using a telephoto lens with a narrow angle of view. They do this because it cuts out much of the background scene allowing for a cheaper made set. If you can't see much of the walls of an interior shot then they don't have to be made or dressed for the movie. Kubrick awards us with beautiful wide angle shots. Even on close ups he goes with a wide angle lens with a small aperture for great depth of field in the background (in focus).



In the still shot above, Kubrick has used a wide angle lens with a low mount-upwards angle, this shows beautifully the rich detail of the Schleissheim Castle in Germany. The camera angle gives an imposing feel with the soldiers looming larger than life. This is a nice shot with lots of visual impact.




I was also impressed with the film noir/German expression style of lighting and shadows that was used in this beautifully framed shot. Both the foreground and background subjects are set at the photographers 'rule of 3rds', with the overall composition looking balanced. Nicely done.

One more shot that was stunning, towards the end of the film inside the castle we have the two generals talking at the bottom of a long stair case...way in the distance, on top of the stairs are two small figures. Then the camera goes to them and we hear their discussion. Look for that scene it's impressive!

The last scene I want to talk about is the battle field. In the trench scene there's this very long dolly shot traveling down the length of the trench. The camera just keeps going and going showing us the war weary men. We see the sides of the trenches lined with 100s of men. In most war movies they don't have that many extras in the shot as they cost money. The trench and no man's land scenes look real.

I thought Kirk Douglas was good, as always. I also liked Ralph Meeker, George Macready, and Adolphe Menjou. I didn't like Wayne Morris (Lt. Roget). He usually plays a dumb muscle in crime movies and here seemed a bit off.

Despite the dramatic events in the story, I found the film somewhat austere. I never had a personal connection to it, it felt emotionally distant. But...that's not a negative comment. I get the feeling that Kubrick was working on the visual impact of the film. The French military is shown as inflexible and regimented, so the austere feel of the story matched that perfectly. I can only concluded that Kubrick planned it that way and is a genius.

+



I always enjoyed the confrontational climax between Douglas and Menjou.
And always cry at the end... (you think something really nasty is going to happen with the German girl, but when all the soldiers start singing with her and crying...*sniff*)



It's not a film that makes a person stop and think about it. But I still liked it. I bet you gave it a
or probably a
I gave it
and commented that I may have loved it if I could've bought into a couple things a little more. I can't remember what those things were.




Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959)

Director: Otto Preminger
Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery


Otto Preminger knows how to make a movie! Who else could make a 2 hour 40 minute movie about a murder investigation with a long trial and yet make it interesting? Without using over dramatization, Preminger tells a straight forward story as he takes a frank look at the inner workings of the judicial system.

Preminger masterfully controlled the story keeping it focused. Many other directors would have thrown in a car chase or a gun battle or two. Another director would have been tempted to create a romantic sub plot around Lee Remick and James Stewart. But this is a tight film, it has focus, it knows what it wants to be and it delivers.

Preminger's cinematography is polished. The camera glides effortlessly. I loved how the film opens with a Duke Ellington jazz score that tells us James Stewart's character marches to a different drummer. The score tells us he's a bit roguish but likable. Equally impressive was how the score changed when we get to the trial portion of the film, then it was all business. Preminger has all the elements of film making in harmonization.

James Stewart is always amazing. What's amazing here is he plays his character more subdued than he usually does. He's not as quirky, not as colorful...and that matches the feel of the movie. Same goes for George C Scott, amazing always. Here he's powerful but not uber powerful as he often is. He's metered, also matching the style of the film. Artur O'Connelly and Eve Arden were good choices to lighten the film some.


Lee Remick was OK but didn't quite fit the role. Oh sure she's all dolled up and looks the part, but she didn't have the personality of a man crazy, party girl floozy.

I liked Ben Gazzara's performance he seemed capable of committing a violent act of passion.

Anatomy of a Murder is rich in detail and nuances. I found the realistic study of how defense and prosecuting attorneys operate in a court of law fascinating.

+




The Gold Rush (1925)
Director: Charles Chaplin
Writer: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Type: Silent Film

About: Charlie Chaplin's little trap heads to the Klondike in the frozen north, in search of gold and finds love.

Review: There's something joyous about looking back in time to an era so long gone. Silent films are a different form of artistry, the acting style is unique and so are the stories. Charles Chaplin once said that The Gold Rush was the one film that he wanted to be remembered for. I feel like it's important not to forget him or any of these great artist that were once so important to the world.

So much has already been lost, 75% of all silent films are gone...erased from history. The moments, the people, the images vanished into the ether. Occasional a lost film is found, but it's extremely rare. Of the remaining silent films, many are in storage and deteriorating. Sad.

At least we have this gem. I really loved watching The Gold Rush. All one has to do is watch Chaplin's face as he does the dancing rolls to know you're watching a very special artist.

Charlie Chaplin revised this film in 1942. The revision which was done by Chaplin himself. You can call it a Director's Cut.

For the 1942 version, Chaplin wrote the narrative and spoke the lines, giving a dramatic reading of them. In some ways it enhances the story, but it also takes away some of the subtleties of a silent film.

Chaplin also composed a beautiful music score for the 1942 version. Which really enhanced the movie over the 1925 version with the bouncy organ music (added to the DVD at a latter date of course.)

He cut two scenes from the 1925 version:

The scene where Georgia writes a love letter to the Tramp. The scene takes the focus off the Tramp, as it's mainly a close up of the letter being written by Georgia. When the camera pans up to the second floor of the dance hall, it shakes badly. Chaplin was a perfectest often doing many takes of a scene and I can image he was unhappy with it.

The second scene was the ending, which I won't spoil by talking about. I'll just say where the film was edited in the 1942 version is a better choice. The 1925 gives a brief comic epilogue but diminishes the emotional impact of the 1942 cut.

Regardless of what version you watch, The Gold Rush is a real treat.







Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978)
Director: Hal Ashby
Cast: Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Bruce Dern
Genre: Drama, Romance, War

The wife of a Vietnam solider falls in love with a paralyzed veteran when she signs up to help at a Army hospital.


Damn...this is excellent story telling. I loved this film...it's moving, it's powerful, it's a beautifully told story that covers the emotions and aftermath of the Vietnam war.

This movie feels personal to me and I connected to it very easily, something I often don't do. Some of that comes from the cinematography/direction but mostly it comes from the superbly written & acted, character driven story. These people seem real. I'm still thinking about them a day after watching it.

The soundtrack is brilliant. It's composed of 1960's rock songs. But it's so much more than just cool songs. The songs tell us about the main emotion of the scene.



Jon Voight won an Academy Award for best actor. He embodies his role and allows us a gateway into the movie. His speech to the high school students worked beautifully to deliver the message of the film. He did this with subtle power and humanity.

Jane Fonda won an Academy Award for best actress. Jane's character is not a liberated, outspoken woman as Jane Fonda is in real life. Her character is the dutiful, stay at home, married 'little woman'. She plays her character accordingly. At first she's reserved in her emotions, latter she emotionally grows and we can see this change in her performance.






Just saw this one recently for the first time...enjoyed it as much as you did.
I seen your reviewed on it, we had similar thoughts, I think?

Oh and have you seen Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)?



Lee Remick was OK but didn't quite fit the role. Oh sure she's all dolled up and looks the part, but she didn't have the personality of a man crazy, party girl floozy.

I liked Ben Gazzara's performance he seemed capable of committing a violent act of passion.

Anatomy of a Murder is rich in detail and nuances. I found the realistic study of how defense and prosecuting attorneys operate in a court of law fascinating.
So pleased to see you liked this movie as much as I do...for my money, it's the best film of 1959. I agree with just about everything you've said here. Funny what you said about Lee Remick because she wasn't originally cast in the role. Your gal Lana Turner was originally cast in the role, but she had issues with the costume and makeup people and walked from the project.



I seen your reviewed on it, we had similar thoughts, I think?

Oh and have you seen Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)?
I have not...I'm a little reluctant about approaching another Jennifer Jones project, but I will add it to my watchlist.




Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
Director: Satyajit Ray
Writers: Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay(novel), Satyajit Ray(screenplay)
Cast: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Subir Banerjee
Genre: Drama
Country: India

Synopsis: A poor priest strives to make a better life for his family who verily have enough food to eat. He leaves his remote village to search work in Bengal. Leaving his family to endure hardships.

About: Pather Panchali is constantly rated as one of the most important films made! That's saying a lot as supposedly the director and his cinematographer had never made a film until this one!

The first of the Apu trilogy films all directed by Satyajit Ray: Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959).

Review: I found myself being drawn into the film from the very start. And I found myself really caring about this family. I especially connected to the mother, daughter relationship...The older sister, younger brother relationship was touching with it's simply, yet telling moments.

These people, even though removed from us by 60 years in time and living in a remote region, seemed so much realer than many families depicted in movies today. The director brought out their shades of humanity. I feel like I've meet these people.

I noticed a very important name during the title credits...Ravi Shankar. Beatle fans will recognize him. I loved his music and the way the soundtrack was used in the film..powerful when needed, subtle when required and absent when quietness told the story. Cinematography was done very well too.





Splash (1984)
[size=2]Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Enjoyed your review of this movie, Citizen, can't believe it took you this long to see it...Ron Howard really began to show his chops as a director here...I love that close-up shot of Hanks on the beach looking for Madison and way, way, way way back in the background you see her tail come quietly out of the water and splash back in.



Enjoyed your review of this movie, Citizen, can't believe it took you this long to see it...
I've missed out on a lot of 80s films. I just seen Adventure in Babysitting for the first time. And a year ago was the first time I seen St Elmos Fire. I really need to watch more of these fine 80s films.



Love The Gold Rush, possibly my favourite silent Chaplin and one of my favourite silent films altogether, as you say, a real treat. Good to see you enjoying so many films recently.



I've missed out on a lot of 80s films. I just seen Adventure in Babysitting for the first time. And a year ago was the first time I seen St Elmos Fire. I really need to watch more of these fine 80s films.
St. Elmo's Fire is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.