Marlene w/o Sternberg

This week in the New York Times, a review of a pre-code double feature from the TCM/Universal MOD series consisting of Rouben Mamoulian’s kitsch fest “The Song of Songs,” starring a visibly disgruntled Marlene (“Where are you, Joe?”) Dietrich, and Frank Tuttle’s breezy “This Is the Night,” a likeable attempt to capture the lilt of a Rene Clair comedy on sets left over from “Trouble in Paradise.”

Things degenerate quickly, however, into grousing on the part of your humble correspondent on the usual odd choices coming out of Universal: I mean, “The Song of Songs” when the Sternberg masterpiece “Shanghai Express” still hasn’t been released on DVD in the US?

141 comments to Marlene w/o Sternberg

  • Gregg Rickman

    Tom, thanks for pointing out that the Hitchcock-Bergman influences may have run both ways. Somewhere in the reading I discerned that the open ending of THE BIRDS was inspired/influenced by the open ending of L’AVVENTURA.

  • “Sternberg did have a reputation as a sourball on the set.”

    When John Wayne was asked what it was like to work with Sternberg, he answered “I was scared sh–less of him.” He wasn’t joking either.

    Having identified Curtis Harrington as an early cinephile/filmmaker, it’s interesting to note that he interviewed Sternberg on the set of “Jet Pilot” in 1949 when he was researching his monograph, possibly the earliest piece of American auteurist writing.

  • tom brueggemann

    Herman G. Weinberg did plenty of auteurist pieces on American directors going back to the 1930s.

    Some of his writings compiled in Saint Cinema:

    My First Memories of Chaplin (1931)
    Erich von Stoheim (1937)
    Von Sternberg Films the Anatahan Story (1953)

    as well as articles in the years in between on Renoir, Pabst, Flaherty and others.

    James Agee (particularly in regard to John Huston), Otis Ferguson and Manny Farber all discussed directors and their bodies of work in at times an auteurist context.

  • Shawn Stone

    Didn’t William Powell and Gary Cooper have “no Sternberg” clauses written into their contracts?

    Alex,

    The best American movie about a political machine might be THE GREAT MCGINTY. It lays out the means and methods nicely. I’m also fond of Altman’s KANSAS CITY, but that’s definitely a minority view.

  • nicolas saada

    Hey folks, what a wonderful thread. I share most of what you say about education as an “accidental” experience. but I had the chance to grow in an environment where such accidents wre made more possible. Because of a political and sociological context. France had only three tv channels and they would play black and white films or LE CHAGRIN ET LA PITIE on prime time. A lot of the people who know choose the content of tv programs turned their back on the two next following generations. No more “old films” on prime time tv, and with the exception of cable (which still is not affordable to everyone) and ARTE, most of the films we talk about, even the noir are shown at midinght or 1am.
    With films culture, it’s another problem. People who like films have now turned into gangs, the same way people divided on thier musical tastes back in the seventies or eighties: I have very few friends who embrace Johnnie To and Alain Cavalier.
    I do think it’s a political decision, I do believe that cutting the people (the idiots say “the mass”) from culture is a crime. I do believe that looking and hearing and reading makes you a better self awared individual.
    Tom, I would immerse myself as a kid in a lot of things but I don’t think that time distance was the sole explanation. Of course there are still a lot of film and art lovers out there, but I am concerned for the OTHERS. Their chances of meeting art is strangely less than favorable in an “all media” time like ours.
    I would say that the context is that we have fast cars all around us, and any accident would kill us right away.
    With access to blogs and self expression, scholars and teachers and historians are labeled as old timers. But if I could sum up my feelings better I would take the Kirk Douglas and Ann Sothern segment of A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, which is a marvelous development on what we talk here. The film was shot in 48 which also explains that what we talk about has been going on for long.
    Regarding teaching, I’ve always believed that there are in the midst of “contemporary pop culture” enough decent tools for us to make the past acceptable to younger people. It’s a matter of choosing the right material. Teach on “noir” ? Start with very good contemporary films like ZODIAC and from there extract themes images and ideas from it to even go back in the thirties. I once said to a very young and unread film buff “you should watch KISS ME DEADLY, because it’s cooler then PULP FICTION.” I met him a few weeks later and he was completely overwhelmed by it. There are tools that can open people’s minds to art forms. Vivaldi is the best way I could invite someone to listen to Rameau. And so on. After all the Joker in Batman was inspired by a Victor Hugo novel.
    Thay say that lack of film history allow directors to be more innovative, less dependant on references. is it really true ?
    I witness the way standards in the film taste, the film industry just keep lowering down. I watched FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF with my daughter yesterday. I remember passing on that film in the 80′s as I was already a complete “old” film fanatic at 20. But watching it today, in comparison to the craft I see in films by Apatow or others, I thought it was crisp, witty, moving and incredibly imaginative. I could use that film to shift to Wes Anderson, then Preston Sturges, and even Harry Langdon.

  • I think the phenomenon of film directors with a true sense of film history goes at least back to the 1920s. Like Mike said Hitchcock studied the classics in London in the 1920s, and at the same time the film society phenomenon flourished in Paris with many top directors actively involved. In Moscow at the VGIK, founded in 1919, they studied the classics from the beginning. Even in Finland in the 1920s future directors like Vaala, Tulio, and af Hällström were seriously aware of what had been done before. A top film history connoisseur was Ingmar Bergman who had a cinema at home where he screened 35 mm prints of classics (he loved silents, too) and new releases all the time. He saw every single Swedish film, some of them many times.

  • nicolas saada

    Dave, by the way, MADO by Claude Sautet has finally been released on DVD in the US. He is the :ost underrated french filmmaker in America as his work is not often available. MADO is his best film, and one of the best frnech films of the seventies. Hope you’ll do a thread here !!

  • Alex

    Shawn Stone,

    THE GREAT MCGINTY is overshadowed in my mind by the nexr seven Sturgis comedies, but, add it to THE GLASS KEY and one’d have a great Brian Donleavy, machine-politics double bill.

    Any signs of Hitch’s influence in BLOWUP or THE PASSENGER, the only Antonioni films with touches of the thriller?

  • jbryant

    nicolas: Great news about MADO! I love Sautet’s films, most of which I’ve been able to see on VHS and laser over the years (I even managed to see NELLY ET MONSIEUR ARNAUD on the big screen when I was living in L.A.), but MADO has been elusive.

    Antti: Speaking of Bergman, his second most famous DP, Gunnar Fischer, has passed away at the age of 100. RIP

  • Johan Andreasson

    Fischer also wrote and directed films, including the short film ”The Devil’s Instrument” (1965):

    http://www.filmarkivet.se/sv/Film/?movieid=314&returnurl=http://www.filmarkivet.se/sv/Sok/?q%3D%2B%26filtercat%3DFiktionsfilm%26j%3Dj

    And he wrote and illustrated children’s books.

  • So Gunnar Fischer, the DP of The Seventh Seal, has finished his game of chess.

  • Sternberg was definitely a filmmaker of great compositional strength. So were Ford, and many other classical directors.

    Pictorial beauty is found today in the films of Claire Denis, Carlos Diegues, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Shohei Imamura, Boris Khlebnikov and Alexei Popogrebsky, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Alexander Sokurov, Béla Tarr, Tran Anh Hung, Angès Varda, Wong Kar-wai and Zhang Yimou.

    I also love the experimental qualities of Alain Berliner, Christoffer Boe, Julie Dash, Kazuyoshi Okuyama, Christian Lara, Guy Maddin, Stuart Main and Peter Wells, Carlos Saura, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Lou Ye, not to mention such great veterans as Jean-Luc Godard, Dusan Makavejev and Alain Resnais. All of these directors are superb at creating mise-en-scène.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘there are still a lot of film and art lovers out there, but I am concerned for the OTHERS. Their chances of meeting art is strangely less than favorable in an “all media” time like ours.’

    Situation is not exactly like that in Japan yet. Art is receiving most support from amateur club. Is there amateur club for art in France? I know for movies there must be university film society, and in America too.

    I know that art does not have high value in America from reading statistic for 2009 charity donation. Religion was top receiver (33%)and art was almost last(4%).

    Government in Japan is supporting art for preserving Japanese culture, it is not pure motive, because government sees propaganda value to promote Japanese culture, reminding me of nationalism from fascist imperialist period. But it is better than not supporting.

  • Barry Putterman

    Nicolas, you bring up quite a number of interesting ideas in your very thoughtful post.

    In terms of American television, I would say that the turning point was in the early 60s when the networks began showing studio movies in prime time. It began on NBC with the Fox 50s films as “Saturday Night at the Movies,” and within a few years, all three networks had at least one prime time movie per week and it became, in the words of the Smothers Brothers parodies, “Night After Night At the Movies” The more movies that the networks showed, the smaller the window between theater release and network showing became. Pretty soon it was culturally encoded that recent color movies were big-time network and older black and white movies were small-time local station.

    Unfortunately, I think that the dividing up into mutually exclusive gangs is something that is as much a human nature constant in film and music as it is in politics and religion. After all, what exactly is the point of those auteurist categories beyond distinguishing “Us” from “them?”

    But I would also say that the tools for teaching are also a constant regardless of the era. For enthusiastic self-starters, it is the process of finding something you love and then using it as a launching pad to seek out similar, related items. A good teacher will be able to look past a constricting philosophy and narrow play list to see what inspires a student and help guide him or her in that discovery path

    Of course, it is necessary for the student to want to continually expand his or her understanding. This is true for me in terms of films (and a few other things). But all I really want to know about my computer is a few basic operations for my limited objectives. So, for tech people, I am part of “the masses.” But as Connie Francis so wisely told us, “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool.”

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    I completely missed this highly interesting thread, and part of the reason is, ironically, that I have been busy writing about the thirties and, among other things, von Sternberg and his films. The reason is that we’re planning with Tavernier to write a new edition of 50 ANS (we’ve been doing that every twenty years since 1960!)and I’ve always felt that we should cover the thirties (one section of the book is a year-by-year chronology, but it always started in 1940, which was quite arbitrary — part of the reason being that our knowledge of thirties American cinema was limited in the fifties). The American thirties are tremendously interesting in so many ways (not just movie-wise)! So if French moviegoers think that the seventies are “old cinema” as Nicolas tells us, what in the world will they think of a book that goes back to the thirties, when all films were in black and white and women wore such weird clothes?
    Anyway, part of the chronology is a list of each year’s most interesting films with a capsule commentary for each, and well, Sternberg had one great film almost every year, so I’ve had a lot to write about, often allowing the capsules to balloon into short essays

    Nicolas, I love your notion of selling KISS ME DEADLY as being cooler than PULP FICTION. Of course it’s cooler because it doesn’t try to be cool whereas PULP keeps trying so hard to.

    Great that MADO is at last available in the US. Sautet is indeed underrated here, although there was a time when he was quite appreciated. In France, the Cahiers crowd was notoriously anti-Sautet, by the way.

    While I can understand people not wanting to watch silent movies (you have to learn how to do it, unless you lived and watched films in the twenties, and very few people are that old these days)I find the rejection of black and white very difficult to make any sense out of. But then even current movies will seem unwatchable old stuff 20 years from now unless they’re in three dimension or whatever technical novelty that has come around by then.

    On Sternberg, one film I like a lot that has not been mentioned (I think) is DISHONORED.

  • D. K. Holm

    Jean-Pierre, please make it known on this forum when your book is available (and I hope this edition also receives an English translation).

  • Alex

    Mike Grost,

    I personally recall von Sternberg’s compositions –at least in Anatahan and his films with Marlene — as a league above those of Ford and most other competitors in the subtle beauty and atmospheric expressiveness of his compositions and lighting.

    On the other hand, Von Sternberg so centrally relied on a kind of “painting with light” for psychological portraiture and atmospheric and thematic nuance conveyed though subtle cinematographic effects that comparison to other visually gifted director directors like Ford who had more varied directorial goals and focal stylistic concerns — of pace and dramatic expression and character development — that comparison –especially on beauty and atmospheric expressiveness — is probably quite unfair.

    On another angle on von Sternberg, he has only two films among those mentioned in the 2002 BFI/S&S poll. This, for me startling fact, may indicate that I have an inflated view of von Sternberg, or that he’s a highly specialized (even cultish) taste or that that earlier talk about ignorance of 1930s films (as well as prejudice against B&W) is relevant here and more so for von Sternberg than most 1930s directors for some reason (including perhaps the vicissitudes of TV and art house screening and VHS and DVD availability).

  • Stephen Bowie

    We know what Hitchcock was watching from the late 50s on because the Motion Picture Academy library has his daily appointment calendars. An invaluable (and unique?) tool for correlating a filmmaker’s potential influences with his work, although I’m not which of the gazillion books on Hitchcock makes the most use of it.

    Has anyone here actually seen the new DVD of MADO? I’m curious about the film but it’s from Pathfinder, which usually issues things in unwatchable transfers, although this one at least purports to be 16:9 enhanced.

  • “THE GREAT MCGINTY is overshadowed in my mind by the nexr seven Sturgis comedies, but, add it to THE GLASS KEY and one’d have a great Brian Donleavy, machine-politics double bill.”

    Alex, if it’s ever available, you must Tuttle’s version of “The Glass Key” with Edward Arnold in the Brian Donleavy role and George Raft as Beaumont. It’s a better picture than Heisler’s version (and not to put him down completely, Heisler’s “Among the Living” is outstanding.)

    The critical vocabulary of the young leftists at RevLeft.com is by and large limited to “It was awesome,” “It was f–king awesome” and “It sucked.” There are thoughtful exceptions however.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Alex, what are the two Sternberg films listed in the 2002 BFI poll? I shudder at the thought that one might be THE BLUE ANGEL.

  • Barry Putterman

    The Tuttle GLASS KEY is probably better than the Heisler. THE GREAT MCGINTY is greater than both of those. But AFRAID TO TALK is far out in front of them all. Let’s all go to France and catch it in the series Robert Garrick links us to. “It’s f—ing awesome!”

  • Bill Krohn has a terrific article Le dieu des cinephiles (Cahiers N. 489) where he discusses the programming in the 1950s on late-night network television of horror, supernatural, fantastic and sci-fi films (Fisher, Arnold, Hammer films) as the main inspiration of the cinephiles/filmmakers of his generation, which he derived as a consensus through a questionnaire he organized after a screening. The emphasis was on the seeking-out and discovery of these disreputable films through a format, television, new to their generation. In the article Krohn asks, if cinephilia is like a religion, then who are its gods? Answering the question, “If our [American’s] cinephilia is a religion, it’s of sublime terror and of alien worlds.” It’s a theory that makes sense as you realize that the filmmakers that he highlights (Dante,Craven, Romero, Hooper, Landis, Coppola, Friedkin, Hellman, Kubrick, Lucas, Spielberg) all started out by making these kinds of films. You can see the continuation of this assertion in some of the films and filmmakers he continues to champion whether it be Shyamalan’s ‘Lady in the Water’, Romero’s ‘Diary of the Dead’ or Jonze’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.

  • Alex

    jean-pierre coursodon,

    The two BFI/s&s von Sternberg “picks” are SCARLET EMPRESS and ANATAHAN.

  • Alex

    x359594 and Barry Putterman,

    Thanks for the cues Re Tuttles’ THE GLASS KEY — I didn’t initially realize i’d seen Heisler’s instead of Tuttles— and Cohen’s AFRAID TO TALK.

  • Robert Garrick

    David D’s point about TV horror in the ’50s (and for me, the ’60s) hits the bullseye. The kids in my elementary school started talking about the weekend horror films around third grade, and one Saturday afternoon I checked out “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” on KTLA Channel 5′s “Weird Weird World.” (That film opens with an amazing tracking shot, by the way.)

    That got me kick-started, and in the next year or two I exhausted the offerings of all four Saturday afternoon and evening horror shows in Los Angeles. From there, of course, I moved on to other things. But I still remember (and love) those films, and I still talk about the titles–some of them quite obscure by now–with my friends from the era. “Four-Sided Triangle,” anyone? Back then I had no idea who Edgar G. Ulmer was, but I know that the atmospheric “Daughter of Dr. Jekyll” scared me, and I also picked up on the calm, almost Lewtonesque quality in “The Man From Planet X.”

    I don’t believe Dave Kehr started like this. But it seems like most of my film-obsessed friends started exactly like this–watching black-and-white horror films on TV, in the ’60s.

    Joe Dante will appreciate that I have good-quality copies of the first thirty issues of “Famous Monsters of Filmland” archivally stored in a room upstairs. After watching his print of “Masque of the Red Death” recently, I pulled out that issue and read the pun-laden Forrest J. Ackerman plot summary.

    And of course, it’s almost a religious experience to watch “Matinee.”

  • Robert Garrick

    Alex’s mention of the 2002 Sight & Sound poll, in which Sternberg gets only three mentions (“Anatahan” once, by Ken Mogg and “Scarlett Empress” twice, by Todd McCarthy and Jean-Louis Leutrat–out of hundreds of films voted for) got me thinking: Sternberg is not too popular anymore.

    It’s not necessarily that his films are old. Chaplin, Keaton, Dreyer, Griffith, and others still get lots of votes in these polls. But these directors have become brand names; many other worthy silent films are never mentioned in the big polls anymore.

    Sternberg is utterly absent from the “dumb” polls, of course. It’s no surprise that The American Film Institute’s Top 100 list, which came out in 1998, was Sternberg free. “The Graduate” was the seventh greatest American film, according to the AFI, and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” made the list, but there was no room for “Shanghai Express.”

    Jonathan Rosenbaum responded to the AFI list with an outstanding list of his own, and it included “Docks of New York” and “The Scarlett Empress.” There were quite a few horror films on the list–was little Jonathan watching them on TV back in Alabama in the ’50s? (The horror entries were Ulmer’s “The Black Cat,” “Bride of Frankenstein,” Tourneur’s “The Cat People,” and the Lewton/Robson “Seventh Victim.”) And Rosenbaum included “Kiss Me Deadly,” which has been much discussed here lately, and “Track of the Cat,” which came up in our recent Wellman discussion, and oh yes “The Great Garrick.”

    But: I then took a look at the Village Voice’s compilation of “The Best Films of the Century,” which the Voice critics put together in 1999. The Voice certainly deserves respect: It was the home of Andrew Sarris for years, and Jim Hoberman has been holding court there since Sarris left. It’s an auteurist stronghold.

    The Voice lists 250 films, and there’s not a Sternberg to be found. There are plenty of old films, and the top choices are pretty standard (“Kane,” “Rules of the Game,” “Vertigo,” and “Searchers” are the top four). Many of the big auteur names (Fuller, Hawks, Ray, Ford, Sirk, Sturges, Hitchcock, among others) are well represented.

    There are some frisky choices, too, like “Porky in Wackyland” and “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” But no Sternberg. Near the end of the list, “Trog” gets some votes. Did Sternberg never make a film as good as “Trog”?

  • Rick K.

    Robert … a note of optimism re: Sternberg. DVD Beaver’s poll for the best DVD release last year gave the Criterion Sternberg box set its top spot.

    I think “Sternberg awareness” subsided significantly after Dietrich passed away … she, being his on-screen identification through those fruitful years. Along with Garbo, Hepburn, their iconic status seems to fade with the passing years (harking back to the notorious 30’s poll which labeled this trio as box office poison), while Davis and Monroe seem much more durable. Could it be that “mystique” (Garbo, Dietrich) has fallen out of favor, and the liberated woman that Hepburn so strikingly represented personally and professionally is no longer necessary?

    Arthur Lennig once wrote of Sternberg, “one senses in him the wish to please himself first, his critics second, his audience third, and the box office last.” It seems hard to argue with that, so perhaps Sternberg’s ultimate fate is to be favored only by those among us who appreciate the artistry of “pure cinema” which other directors, like Ford, who were populists as well, manage to transcend beyond Sternberg’s “elitist” perimeters.

    In addition to TV’s “Shock Theater” packages prevalent during the late 50’s/60’s (along with Uncle Forry), credit Bogey and the Marx Bros. for nourishing young minds with our cinematic legacies. Watching those films with such amazement as a young lad led to getting a first grasp of the Warner house style (onward to Cagney, Flynn and Robinson … and who is this guy Curtiz?), while, stepping back a bit more, the whole concept of a maestro BEHIND the camera was almost certainly the result of SEEING those weekly introductions by Hitchcock on TV.

  • Nathan

    Jean-Pierre, I cannot begin to tell you how happy the news of 70 ans de cinéma américain (is that what it is going to be called? Or rather 80, since you’re now including the 30s?) makes me. I remember reading (I must have been about sixteen) a comment you made in 50 ans, something like “it’ll be for next time in 2010″. My first thought was, “are they really going to be up for it?”, and my second thought was “that’s at least five years from now, much too long to wait!”
    May I ask when it’s due to come out?

  • Robert Garrick wrote “It’s no surprise that The American Film Institute’s Top 100 list, which came out in 1998, was Sternberg free.”

    The last thing in the world I would want to do is defend the AFI list – but voters were only permitted to vote for 100 of only 400 eligible titles. Not sure how they got those 400. Anyway, SCARLET EMPRESS was the only von Sternberg on the list of 400 eligible to receive votes in the poll. Better than, say, Frank Borzage or Sam Fuller who, I believe, had no eligible titles. Fritz Lang, Nicholas Ray and Anthony Mann only had one eligible title each. Of course they had to save three spots in the 400 for those most American of films that make up The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    Edit: Now looking at the criteria given to those AFI voters (see below) – I wonder if applied rigorously one could even vote for many of their favorites:

    CRITERIA
    FEATURE-LENGTH FICTION FILM
    Narrative format, typically over 60 minutes in length.
    AMERICAN FILM
    Motion picture with significant creative and/or production elements from
    the United States.
    CRITICAL RECOGNITION
    Formal commendation in print, television and digital media.
    MAJOR AWARD WINNER
    Recognition from competitive events including awards from peer groups,
    critics, guilds and major film festivals.
    POPULARITY OVER TIME
    Including success at the box office, television and cable airings, and
    DVD/VHS sales and rentals.
    HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
    A film’s mark on the history of the moving image through visionary
    narrative devices, technical innovation, or other groundbreaking
    achievements.
    CULTURAL IMPACT
    A film’s mark on American society in matters of style and substance

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘Sternberg is not too popular anymore.’

    In Japan still popular with cinephile and serious critic.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Same thing in Sweden, at least the Sternberg/Dietrich films. They were among the first I saw at the Cinematheque when I moved to Stockholm in the early 80s, and there was another retrospective just a couple of weeks ago.

  • jbryant

    skelly: Wasn’t the AFI list also designed in part to have a big home video promo tie-in? Or was that after the fact?

  • jbryant – yes I think you are right – plus the TV show with the results (which must have been a success for them to do it again so quickly). Still can’t believe a stated criteria for consideration was “success at the box office, television and cable airings, and DVD/VHS sales and rentals”.

    A question for our Scandanavian friends (or others) what lead to the end of the Bergman – Gunnar Fischer collaborations (presumably in favor of Sven Nykvist)? Pulled my copy of The Magic Lantern off the shelf but Bergman was not too generous with those kind of details.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Skelly, even though my favorite Bergman is TINSEL AND SAWDUST (with Nykvist as DP), I’m the kind of a stick in the mud guy who prefers Fischer.

    Fredrik, please feel free to correct me here, but as far as I can tell the permanent change from 1960 (THE VIRGIN SPRNG) on to Sven Nykvist seems to be guided by a change in “world cinema” all around at that time. Bergman wants to break free of an earlier softer French poetic realism style and move towards a harsher visual language.

  • Alex

    Prepping for Sarris in primary school: Films fondly recalled from 1950s NYC TV (mostly WOR and Dumont and one of the big-3 network’s “Picture for a Sunday Afternoon”):

    Pantheon: lots of Chaplin –and some Keaton– short films; Orson Welles’ “Macbeth”; Ford’s “The Informer.”
    Far Side of Paradise: Fuller’s “I Shot Jesse James. “
    Expressive Esoterica: Ulmer’s “The Black Cat.”
    Fringe Benefits; Rene Clair’s “I Married a Witch.”
    Less than Meets the Eye: Carol Reed’s “Outcast of the Islands.”
    Lightly Likable: Curtiz’s Flynn Westerns; Goulding’s “Dawn Patrol”; Zoltan Korda’s 3-4 Sabu films and “The Four Feathers”; Le Roy’s “I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang” and James Whale’s “Frankenstein.”
    Subjects for Further Research: “Henry King’s “Twelve O’Clock High.”
    Make Way for the Clowns: Some Harold Lloyd, as I recall.
    Miscellany: William Dieterle’s “Juarez.”

    Dang! Sarris snubbed Cooper and Schoedsack, certainly part of the true Pantheon along with Chaplin, Curtiz and Z. Korda, plus (despite limited sampling) Keaton, Fuller, Reed and Welles.

  • nicolas saada

    Just had dinner with Bertrand Tavernier, Eddie Muller (co curator of that awesome noir series with philippe garnier) and their lovely wives. The dinner could have made at least ten threads in Dave’s blog. Just to let you all know that sometimes it’s nice to stay connected and share this experience with you on this blog, wherever you are.
    Horror films double bill were a big deal on BBC2 in England: Iused to spend a lot of holidays there as a teen and we were alwyas looking for these films. I watched MAN WITH X RAY EYES, THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH, but also Floreys MURDER IN THE RUE MORGUE. I was terrified and fascinated.
    Gunnar Fischer made some incredible camerawork: the train scene in THIRST, the final shot of MONIKA, the Paris flashback in L’ATTENTE DES FEMMES (don’t know the english title).
    Luckily most Sternberg are available in France on DVD with the exception of the titles released on Criterion. How illogical…

  • D. K. Holm

    Horror – cinephilia connection In the documentary For the Love of Movies, almost all the reviewers interviewed mention horror films as their most vivid early memories of cinema.

  • Alex

    Horror? Horror!!

    (Actually, I did like Rowland V. Lee’s SON OF FRANKENSTEIN a lot, along with Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a Million Dollar Movie showing– if THAT’s horror.)

    Westerns? Stagecoach robberies were a big favorite — but at four and five.

    No, for me the exotica of Cooper and Schoedsack, Zoltan Korda and OUTCAST OF THE ISLAND –and the serials of Ford Beebe nad E. Reeves Eason and company (e.g., Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Tim Tyler’s Luck), though PHANTOM EMPIRE and the Beebe-Eason’S LAST OF THE MOHICANS, The Galloping Ghost, The Vanishing Legion were A-OK!)

  • Alex

    Ah, the maximum first-grade great for my first-grade class of boomers: Miestone’s A WALK IN THE SON, a primer in war games and in simple ironies.

  • I’ve been away and missed all the interesting comments made here!

    Johan and skelly: I honestly don’t know exactly what was the cause of the split between Bergman and Fischer. Rumours have it that it was because Fischer was contracted for another film when Bergman needed him, or that they were fighting over a woman, or that Bergman was looking for a new style, but no, I don’t know.

    THE DEVIL’S EYE though wasn’t really the last film they did together. Fischer is credited as title designer for THE TOUCH (1971) and Fischer was also DP on THE PLEASURE GARDEN (1961) which Bergman wrote with Erland Josephson but was (more or less) directed by Alf Kjellin.

    SAWDUST AND TINSEL was photographed by Hilding Bladh as well as Nykvist. Bladh did the exteriors, including the surreal opening sequence, and Nykvist did the interiors.

    I wrote a short obituary about Fischer on my blog: http://fredrikonfilm.blogspot.com/2011/06/rip-gunnar-fischer.html

  • Patrick Henry

    In SON OF FRANKENSTEIN when Basil Rathbone and Josephine Hutchinson are in the train compartment, if you study the “blasted heath” landscape process-screened behind them, you can detect the same bent-branch tree going by twice. (The same footage is used under the credits of the Universal serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS.) Another similar error: in Hathaway’s JOHNNY APOLLO, in a scene of Tyrone Power and Dorothy Lamour having a conversation in a taxi, the same distinctive-looking truck can be seen going by twice in the background.