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Roundtable Discussion (Part 3): Screening Films from Hollywood's Golden Age

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Initial post: Oct 19, 2012, 6:03:10 PM PDT
ronzo says:
I reread the posts dealing with the thread title. Made me think, it would be a little sad if we lost the tradition aspect.

So, here we are!! On with the show....

Posted on Oct 19, 2012, 6:13:00 PM PDT
Grant says:
Roundtable Part 3: The Reckoning

Posted on Oct 19, 2012, 6:18:00 PM PDT
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Posted on Oct 19, 2012, 6:18:27 PM PDT
Grant says:

Regarding that Frankenstein thing, you might want to call one of the bigger theater chains in your area or contact Fathom directly because I know they get them in Peterborough, Ontario. I think what it is is that they're put out by another distributor but I can't remember what they're called.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 19, 2012, 6:41:11 PM PDT
ronzo says:
I'm glad you mentioned that Grant, because it looks like it might be possible for me to see a DRACULA/FRANKENSTEIN double feature, soon. I'll let you know if that materializes. : )

Posted on Oct 20, 2012, 8:21:00 PM PDT

Did you see "23 PACES FROM BAKER ST" that TCM aired recently? I was so impressed with this film and even Van Johnson's performance that I have watched the film twice. Did you see it? Like I told my good friends from "Talk of the Tome," Van Johnson almost never holds my attention, but this story is so good that even Van's performance is compelling. It's a great synthesis of "Rear Window" ´and "Dial M for Murder."

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2012, 10:41:21 AM PDT
Grant says:

I did see that. It was pretty good. I'm not a Van Johnson fan as a rule but it had some clever moments. Johnson being tricked into the condemned house was my favorite part. I like how TCM is doing films about people with disabilities hosted by that guy who's a expert on the portrayal of the disabled in cinema. My only problem with it was that my enjoyment of the mystery element was undermined by some of the overblown melodrama as delivered by Johnson and Vera Mills (afraid I don't find either actor all that compelling). But I did enjoy the story over all.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2012, 5:33:16 PM PDT
ronzo says:

I liked LUCKY STAR. 3.5 stars. (OH, NO! That was Maltin's rating!!!! agghhh!!! lol.)

But I love that film 'look' so much. My favourite shot was the one where Farrell falls while trying to work his crutches, for the first time. The wheelchair is just to the right. The balance of the composition is just right, and the darkness very effective, IMO. But it definitely wasn't a film of startling images, as you say. The ending worked a bit more for me, perhaps, because I was seeing the film as a 'Borzage copying Murnau's SUNRISE film'; and Farrells approach over the ridge was just stellar, in that regard: mimicing (sp.?) in a fashion, the odd gait of the hero of Murnau's film. I join you in finding Farrell's recovery less than credable.
Another thing I appreciated was the symmetry in the whole film. Every scene seems to have its corresponding 'like' scene. Wonderful.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2012, 5:38:37 PM PDT
ronzo says:
A million thanks, Grant ... for mentioning FRANKENSTEIN on the big screen. I saw it and DRACULA today, and it was one of my best days of film ever; perhaps, THE best.

Keep a look out for the FRANKENSTEIN scenes where they use a foggy, outdoor background. The digital image clearly shows it as a curtain, if you are looking for it ... say, in the grave digging scene, and the showdown between Frankenstein and the Monster on the cliff. So, I can't be there with you watching it, but you can think of me, as if I was, when you see that. The least I can do. LOL!!

Again, MANY THANKS!!! The third roundtable is sure off to a running start!!!

p.s. I meant to write ... I think Peterborough may be the home of Karloff (or his dad ... I can't remember); maybe that is why they get the Frankie 2-fer...?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2012, 5:46:32 PM PDT

Right you are about the acting in spots. But, actually, I did find Van better in this role because his acting sort of irritates me and in this role as the irritating blind man, he was frustrated enough for both of us! Vera doesn't bother me as much but I just don't see her in many good movies.

My favorite parts involved Cecil Parker as the manservant who provided some comic relief. In general, I thought it a nice mix of action and living room discussions.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2012, 6:06:17 PM PDT
ronzo says:

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is being shown in theatres in November. I betcha it is that new print they prepared for Blu-ray. I betcha....

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2012, 6:53:49 PM PDT
ronzo says:

I very much enjoyed THE UNKNOWN (1927). I too give it 3 stars. Crawford was just gorgeous. Ah, the 'pre-Cookie Monster eye-brow' years.... It is amazing to see how she and Chaney make the 'love interest' seem so ... flat! lol.

Chaney reminds me of the gaucho that has the fake club-foot in THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1939). I join you in appreciating the lengths he must have gone to to be so dextrous with his feet. Obviously studied those in that situation.

Interesting too, to think Tod Browning would go on and make FREAKS in 1932. For me, both shows have a certain commonality. If only it were chickens instead of horses in THE UNKNOWN finale.... : )

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 1:56:43 AM PDT
Grant says:

Awesome! Glad they had something going on in your area. I'm going to be seeing Frankenstein and Bride tonight and I can't wait. Thanks for the heads up on that scene.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 1:58:19 AM PDT
Grant says:

I saw Lawrence in the theaters twice when the first Directors cut came out and it was life changing. It just blew me away. If they show it on the big screen in my area I will definitely check it out.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 2:00:42 AM PDT
Grant says:

I was a bit disappointed in the finale in Unknown. That projected backround thing really took me out of the pic it was so bad. But yeah, silent era Crawford was looking good. A far cry from Johnny Guitar, LOL!

Posted on Oct 24, 2012, 2:35:53 AM PDT
Grant says:
So TCM showed an amazing documentary on the creation of Cinerama in a documentary called CINERAMA ADVENTURE. The doc goes into wonderful detail about the making of the curved screen, three camera/three projector process. Originally created with 5 cameras, the process was originally used as a training simulator in WW2 for the gunners in the airplanes. But then Mike Todd, Merian Cooper and the man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous...Lowell Thomas intervened and promoted and helped finance the process that effectively saved the industry for at least another decade or so. The joy is in the details. How the Cinerama camera lenses were the same size as the human eye, how the curve of the screen was purposely made at the same curvature of the human retina. How there was an actual sound mixer at the theater who mixed the pioneering surround stereo sound on site. How the Russians tried to prevent a Cinerama film from being shown at the Worlds Fair because it was pulling traffic from their own display. It talks about the amazing stunt piloting involved in getting the incredible shots and how one harrowing plane ride where the engines cut out while they were dangerously close to an active volcano. The screw ups during the screenings when the three projectors would get out of sync.

I also didn't know that there were only two actual movies filmed with the Cinerama camera, How the West Was Won and Brothers Grimm. All the other films shown on the cinerama screen were just wide screen films, usually 70mm. Right after the documentary they showed the first Cinerama film THIS IS CINERAMA. The film is basically a travelogue that takes us over manhattan, on a new york rollercoaster, to a water skiing show in Florida, inside the Grand Canyon and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The film has a wonderfully retro introduction by Lowell Thomas who gives us a bit of film history and narrates throughout. Also interesting was how the films were formated using what is called "SmileBox" format. This is basically letterbox with the top and bottom of the screen curved to represent the curve of the cinerama screen. This really creates a impressive visual for the cinerama films. A while back I watched How the West Was Won and complained about the cinerama "warpage" of the picture. But with the smilebox format, it actually looks pretty cool. THIS IS CINERAMA has been restored and it looks great. As does How The West Was Won. Due to age, there are moments when one image is clearly faded more than the other two and we do get a few scenes where the image gets a bit warped as the camera pans from left to right. Still, this was just a fascinating bit of film history to watch. Just the notion of Thomas, Cooper and Todd, three men who had fairly incredible lives, working together is something that would make for a 15 hour documentary all by itself.

One of the interesting things about the making of How The West Was Won was how John Ford absolutely hated the process. This was a process that was heavy on the technical side. So the camera operators had to tell Ford where the actors needed to stand and where they had to look in order to compensate for how it would look on screen. The camera men effectively became the directors and Ford chaffed at that loss of absolute control. Co director Hathaway was said to have had more fun with the process, studied it and worked with the technology to make more visually effective scenes.

Anyways, this was just pure movie fun and it's definitely worth checking out CINERAMA ADVENTURE, THIS IS CINERAMA and the newly restored "SmileBox" version of HOW THE WEST WAS WON. I'd give the documentary 4 stars. This is Cinerama 3.5 stars and 3 stars for How The West Was Won.

Here is a trailer for THIS IS CINERAMA....

and a trailer for the documentary CINERAMA ADVENTURE...

Posted on Oct 24, 2012, 4:49:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012, 3:16:31 PM PDT
Steelers fan says:
Chaney was known for his grotesques, but he was a brilliant actor, period. I wish a print of his breakthrough "The Miracle Man" would surface somewhere. TCM deserves credit for airing his surviving pictures, of which there are many.

The Penalty (grim, frightening)
Mr. Wu
London After Midnight (stills only)
The Ace Of Hearts
Laugh, Clown, Laugh
Tell It To The Marines
East Is East
The Unholy Three (remake)--his only talkie
and of course

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
The Phantom Of The Opera

Posted on Oct 24, 2012, 4:51:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 24, 2012, 3:15:46 PM PDT
Steelers fan says:
I've always wondered why conservative, family-oriented L. B. Mayer (his own favorite was the Andy Hardy series) allowed "Freaks", the most atypical MGM film the studio ever released, to be made.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 5:42:28 PM PDT
ronzo says:
Ah, the sounds of someone enjoying FRANKENSTEIN.... ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 5:44:15 PM PDT
ronzo says:

Re: "If they show it on the big screen in my area I will definitely check it out."

Check the Cineplex chain for LOA. TCM is showing TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD around that time. LOA should be a mind-blower again, as they'll be screening the new HD print. : )

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 5:46:01 PM PDT
ronzo says:

I was interested in all those shots the cinematographer was using a filter on: kind of 'Late Pueblo Weave' motif.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 5:53:57 PM PDT
ronzo says:

THIS IS CINERAMA actually came out on DVD recently too. I read an amazon review on that product page that was written by an usher (I think it was) who was working at that time. A fun read, if you have the time.

Interestingly too ... 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY lists Cinerama and Super Panavision 70. Did they mention 2001 in the documentaries? It would be interesting to know if 2001 counts as a straight cinerama process film, IMO.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012, 5:57:20 PM PDT
ronzo says:
Steelers fan,

There is sure a lot of Lon Chaney out there! Kino, TCM, and Warner Archive....

I just noticed WEST OF ZANZIBAR is out now too. : )

Posted on Oct 24, 2012, 8:50:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 25, 2012, 7:50:20 PM PDT
Steelers fan says:
He was one of the new MGM's top stars.

I don't know if the sound remake of "The Unholy Three" has been cleaned up and reissued. I do own a low-grade copy of the film. Chaney was ill; his voice is rough and hoarse. But it's still enjoyable.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2012, 1:26:16 AM PDT
Grant says:

They mentioned all the 70mm films that were shown on the Cinerama screen, including 2001, but 2001 wasn't a "real" cinerama film. It wasn't filmed with the three camera process.
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Initial post:  Oct 19, 2012
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