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End of Summer Sale

Some odds and ends as the summer season draws to a close: a fine new Blu-ray edition of Sergei Eisenstein’s first feature, “Strike,” from Kino International; Eugene Lourie’s stately, somber 1958 science-fiction film “The Colossus of New York” (a monster movie as the Comedie Francaise might have produced it); and from VCI Entertainment, a whole lot of films by Ralph Thomas, one of the British cinema’s most commercially successful directors, that document Dirk Bogarde’s years as a matinee idol. Reviews here in the New York Times.

162 comments to End of Summer Sale

  • jbryant

    Of course, it’s also highly possible that Reynolds was instructed to tuck her skirt at that moment. It’s not like they didn’t rehearse the number many times before shooting. Donen, Kelly, Freed or some set-visiting censor type may have said, “If you want to be sure this scene stays in the picture, she’ll need to keep that skirt down.”

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Off topic, both George Kuchar and Cliff Robertson have died.

  • In keeping with upcoming Netflix and Netflix Instant developments, some mixed news on the ’60s-’70s genre front.

    I noticed a few films were added recently (or maybe I only just now noticed them) that are must-see titles. However, the presentation is often lacking.

    CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 (Monte Hellman, 1978) – avoid; pan & scan print of an auteurist essential that should be seen in ‘Scope

    THE DEADLY COMPANIONS (Sam Peckinpah, 1961) – Peckinpah’s first feature, not only a pan & scan print but it looks terrible, too – inexcusable

    CONVOY (Sam Peckinpah, 1978) – same again, sadly

    VIGILANTE FORCE (George Armitage, 1976) – happily, it appears not only to be the correct AR (1.85) but it’s an HD presentation – results will vary based on your home set-up. Armitageans rejoice!

    One thing I find annoying with Netflix Instant is that, while they try to give you a one-week warning, there are times when titles will simply become unavailable (they get moved to your Saved section). Perhaps I wasn’t in a great hurry to revisit THE LADY VANISHES, given that I’ve seen it a number of times already and it isn’t exactly a rare title, but if they’d given me that one-week warning, I would have taken the time to sit down with it. In fact, with a to-see list a mile long, that’s just the motivation I need.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Let’s not forget that Truffaut had a fetish for women’s legs, which explains why a little gesture that I never noticed after countless viewing of the film until he mentioned it happened to be so important and meaningful to him. Reynolds’s pull of her skirt is so automatic (and barely noticeable), a gesture I’ve made countless women make over the years when most did it barely being aware of doing it. And the skirt is barely above Debbie’s knee for Heaven’s sake, why would she have to be instructed to pull it down even in the fifties? Truffaut’s moment is just about the least of countless great moments of the movie, although it’s interesting that he focussed on it (by the way I remember watching SINGIN IN THE RAIN once sitting behind Truffaut at the Studio Parnasse before he had made an actual movie, but I had heard that he was shooting a short film, which, to sound “au courant” I guess, I told my friend — not beeing aware that Truffaut was sitting just before us; my friend whispered “He’s right there”. I was quite embarrassed. Maybe that was the night he became fascinated by that famous skirt pulling.)

  • jbryant

    j-p: I made my comment without revisiting the skirt-tucking scene, so I defer to you about the length and propriety of the garment in question.

    Tom: Jordan Belson has died, too.

  • Jordan Belson was a major filmmaker.
    Everyone should get his DVD, of “Five Essential Films”. This includes Samadhi, Allures, Light, Fountain of Dreams, Epilogue. These are highly creative works, made up of patterns of light and color.
    Belson also made special effects for The Right Stuff. These astronomical scenes, full of light and color, are instantly recognizable as his work.

    Belson’s works are often classified under the broad term “experimental films”. I don’t strongly object to this. But think that “color music films” or “abstract films”, such as Belson’s, should be considered as their own special category. These are films made up of purely abstract patterns of light and form. They are like abstract paintings or abstract photographs in motion.

    My favorite abstract films:

    Rhythmus 21 (Hans Richter, 1921) Vormittagsspuk / Ghosts Before Breakfast

    Symphonie Diagonale (Viking Eggeling, 1924)

    Light Rhythms (Francis Bruguière, Oswell Blakeston, 1930)

    Lichtspiel: Schwartz-Weiß-Grau (László Moholy-Nagy, 1930)

    A Colour Box (Len Lye, 1935) Rainbow Dance, Trade Tattoo, Colour Flight, Swinging the Lambeth Walk, Free Radicals

    Tarantella (Mary Ellen Bute, 1940)

    Composition 1 (Themis) (Dwinell Grant, 1940) Contrathemis

    An American March (Oskar Fischinger, 1941) Circles, Komposition in Blau / Composition in Blue, Allegretto / Radio Dynamics, Motion Painting No. 1

    1941 (Francis Lee, 1941)

    Early Abstractions (Harry Smith, 1946-1957)

    Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart, 1949)

    Come Closer (Hy Hirsch, 1952)

    Catalog (John Whitney, 1961) Celery Stalks at Midnight, Arabesque

    Lapis (James Whitney, 1963-1966) Yantra

    Midweekend (Caroline Avery, 1985)

    Untitled (For Marilyn) (Stan Brakhage, 1992) Night Music, The Dante Quartet, Rage Net, Glaze of Cathexis, Stellar, Study in Color and Black and White, The Dark Tower, Water for Maya, Lovesong

    Zwerk (Bart Vegter, 2004)

    Many short films (Kyle Canterbury)

  • Brian Dauth

    The autumn film season is looking up:

    The Complete Vincente Minnelli at BAM

  • I visited George Kuchar with my brother in law at the San Francisco hospice where he was staying on August 26. His handshake was firm and he was in good spirits, with a pile of DVDs to watch given him by well wishers and a biography of Glenn Ford that he was close to finishing. He gave every indication of being at peace with his fate, and saw friends just about every day.

    “O nobly born” begins the instructions on the book on the liberation through. That certainly describes George.

  • OK, so that’s what Truffaut was talking about. Then calling it “privileged moment” sounds more appropriate. Would that also include scenes when you can see the shadow of the boom? Or even see the boom itself? But personally I think that what we were discussing, the fleeting moments, are more fun…

    Jaime, CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 is on some levels a terrible film, but at the same time it is rather amazing. Maybe I love it against my better judgement.

  • Brian Dauth

    My question would be: why were these moments so important to Truffaut and Rohmer? What made them privilege them? Nowadays, people might consider such moments as “gotchas.” I am not advocating this as the better approach, but I am curious as to why/how these moments resonate for a spectator. In Mankiewicz, I can think of the moment in ALL ABOUT EVE where Addison DeWitt’s cigarette unintentionally falls from his holder (in the Cub Room sequence), and Sanders realizes it and keeps on with the scene as he figures out something to do with his hands. Maybe not as compelling as a skirt adjustment, but interesting nonetheless.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Fredrik, just because Truffaut’s original use of the term “privileged moment” seems limited to more or less happy accidents, doesn’t mean that the concept isnt useful as it has evolved, and used by many people (Fujiwara et al) including posters here.

    After all Americans like Sarris, Bogdanovich and Eugene Archer changed in the 1960s, what Truffaut has originated in his polemic of the 1950s, into what evolved into “our” auteurism.

  • (spoiler for an old film below)

    Coming in way late to the privileged moment conversation, but one of my favorites is at the end of LUSTY MEN, as Mitchum is hauled up on the bed, clearly dying from his terrible fall. Nick Ray cuts to a close up of the young girl, Rusty, a fairly minor character up that point whose relationship with Mitchum is otherwise not given much weight, mouthing the words “I Love You.” That really knocked me for a loop the last time I saw it.