New DVDs: Sleeping Beauty

This week in the New York Times, a review of Disney’s new edition of “Sleeping Beauty.” No jazz, no beatniks, but it has one hell of an aspect ratio: 2.55:1.

313 comments to New DVDs: Sleeping Beauty

  • Kent Jones

    Stephen, I think our opinions of Kazan as an artist are in rough alignment. I just happen to believe that most autobiographers are unreliable narrators. His particular unreliable narration has been brought under more scrutiny than is customary, because of his testimony.

  • Kent Jones

    To return to a much earlier part of this thread, I went back to take another look at DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD. Blake is absolutely right about Mickey Rooney – a genuinely great performance. It’s an unusual movie, very sensitive to shifts in emotion and behavior. The setting (Kevin McCarthy’s house on the beach), the cheerful and highly believable banter between the villains, the quiet ellipses. Nothing generic, everyone and everything feels specific. Quite a movie.

  • Agreed. Rooney came to specialize in those narcissistically self-deprecating performances around that time. He’s great. PUSHOVER is arguably a little compromised by its self-conscious resemblance to DOUBLE INDEMNITY, but it has some of the same elements of specificity — I’m thinking of the climax outside that neon-lit malt shop on Sunset & Fountain, which is as distinctive a location as the beach house in ROAD.

  • Brian Dauth

    Kent: What I appreciated was your understanding of THE ARRANGEMENT as being within the tradition of confessional art.

    Kazan is a strange case in my cinephilic life: starting out he was one of my favorite directors, but as time passed, he fell further in my estimation than any director save one. His hysterical male emotionalism became more and more insufferable despite the formal control and elegance he displayed. All Kazan’s artistry seemed devoted to crafting male melodramas demanding pity and validation for its protagonists who suffered at the hands of a system of their own devising. TYCOON and WILD River seem to me to be the films where he got over himself and allowed the wider vision he was capable of to be expressed.

  • Kent Jones

    Brian, I’ve been immersed in a Kazan project for a couple of years now, and he’s been on my mind. I think he was always working toward what you call that “wider vision.” I myself find ON THE WATERFRONT and EAST OF EDEN to be imperfect but immensely powerful films. What’s good in both, what I admire about them, is the way they set emotional forces in play. The limitations of both movies are connected to the women, who are there to guide the men in crisis and help them find their way. Eva Marie Saint and Julie Harris are both very touching, but their roles are just that: roles. Like most good artists, Kazan kept hacking away, going deeper. Natalie Wood and Lee Remick (in WILD RIVER) are very different. And I think he was always looking for that kind of calm and serenity you point to – that’s why he loved the last section of SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS so much. He was a great artist.

    Stephen, where exactly is that beach house? And where was STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET shot?

  • In STRANGERS, the house under construction is up in the hills of Bel Air somewhere, and most of the suburban locations are scattered around the west side (Beverly Hills or Brentwood) — Quine captures some fairly dull parts of L.A. a bit more expressively than most. The restaurant where Douglas & Novak meet is in Malibu. When I’m in L.A. one of my friends & I will sometimes geek out over locations & swing by the Alto Nido apts. (SUNSET BLVD) or the tall building on Hightower where Elliot Gould lives in THE LONG GOODBYE (no topless pot-dealing hippie chicks there now, alas) … and my friend is also a fan of STRANGERS, so I’m surprised we’ve never made a project of tracking down that house. Knowing the gossip behind that location (see the Philippe Garnier/LA Weekly link I posted above) makes it especially fascinating. Maybe next time….

    I don’t know about the beach house in DRIVE but it almost has to be in Malibu — I can’t remember now how much surrounding geography you see, the first scene of Rooney & Dianne Foster meeting at the beach is definitely on the Pacific Coast Hwy. Random bit of trivia: Rock Hudson’s Malibu beach pad in SECONDS was actually Frankenheimer’s own.

  • Brian Dauth

    Kent: I look forward to reading/watching the result of your work on Kazan.

    I agree that he was working toward a more serene vision and first reached it with WILD RIVER (which is why the huge leap backward of THE ARRANGEMENT mystifies me). I think where we disagree is with regard to the emotional power of his films: as a teenager I felt that power and responded positively to it. But as I came out, the heterocentric nature of that power became increasingly problematic for me (as you point out, the pivot of his films are het males and their discontents).

    As a queer man, Kazan’s admiring sympathy for destructive het male behavior is a complicated/complicating aspect of his work. The emotional power you speak of provides two options: the viewer can give herself over to it or resist. Kazan does not provide a third option in his early work. With WILD RIVER, however, new options arise: Lee Remick’s character is complex in new ways and Montgomery Clift is a wondrous ruin of gay masculinity that causes Kazan to develop new aesthetic strategies (much as I see Pinter’s script for THE LAST TYCOON also demanding that Kazan work in new ways).

    There is room for queer spectatorship in WILD RIVER and TYCOON that does not exist in Kazan’s earlier work. I love the ending of TYCOON where Stahr repeats the story about movie-making while it “plays” out on screen, and then Kazan replays the ending of WATERFRONT with an actor (DeNiro) reprising another (Brando) whom he had just successfully reprised in another film (THE GODFATHER PART II). Instead of the emotional, take-it-or-leave binary of WATERFRONT’s ending, TYCOON provides plural ways to enter, go along with, resist, play with, re-arrange its ending — a conclusion so capacious and serene that it is both pleasurable and inviting of re-engagement at a later date. Kazan’s earlier hysterical emotionalism offered no such variety of options: either a viewer went along with it or not.

  • Kent Jones

    Brian, this is very interesting, but wasn’t it Scorsese who had De Niro reprise Brando in ON THE WATERFRONT at the end of RAGING BULL?

  • Brian Dauth

    Kent: Yes, it happens in RAGING BULL too. In TYCOON, Stahr’s final walk into the darkened soundstage is a variation on Terry Malloy’s trudge to the warehouse at the end of WATERFRONT. But this time there is no Bernstein bombast, no eager, appreciative, swelling crowd — just Stahr alone (and I believe no musical accompaniment, but I will have to check and verify). Kazan is in dialectic with himself here, revising his own work even as he evokes its powerful memory in the viewer. But this time, the options afforded the spectator are immense. I have responded to Stahr’s walk so many ways — often during the same viewing. Malloy’s trudge is one of those Kazanian love-it-or-leave moments that elude me.

    I wonder if Scorsese was thinking of both WATERFRONT and TYCOON when he had DeNiro once more “do” Brando at the end of a movie. My struggles with Scorsese are similar to those with Kazan: I just cannot work up the interest/fascination with his het male protagonists that he does. However, when Scorsese channels his Mankiewiczean side, he produces his best work for me: CASINO, THE KING OF COMEDY, and THE AVIATOR (in part).

  • Kent Jones

    Brian, that’s interesting, but I don’t really see the end of THE LAST TYCOON as a reprise of the ending of ON THE WATERFRONT. In any case, I think that the whole “standing up to the bad guys” part of the latter movie is what’s least successful about it. I do kind of like the end of THE LAST TYCOON.

  • Brian Dauth

    Kent: Really? Wow. For me, that was the first thing that struck me when I saw TYCOON ages ago at the Thalia on a double bill with BABY DOLL (would have been around 1979/80 or so).

    The lone man walking, the large space enveloping him seem to me to invoke WATERFRONT, albeit without the singular focus being the problematical “standing up to the bad guys” part. I always felt TYCOON’s ending was Kazan’s way of saying “Upon further review . . .” and then leaving the completion of the thought up to the audience.

    He made one last film set in the 1930′s (an era that inspired him), complicated it by employing film techniques from the 1940′s/50′s (when he began his career and reached a peak), and used the best talent available in the 1970′s to realize his vision. I think his disdain for it is much like John Ford’s disdain for TWO RODE TOGETHER — both are films where the director revealed more of himself and his vision than he had intended/realized and hoped to deflect attention away by declaring the work a failure.

  • Kent Jones

    Sometimes he declared it a failure (in his autobiography), sometimes not (on the radio with Lenny Lopate).

  • Jonah

    This is probably far too late to get a response, but halfway through this thread dm494 mentions a book by Carol Zukcer that discusses Ulu Grosbard’s work and his connections to Kazan, Lumet, and Penn.

    I can’t seem to track this down. Could anyone give me a pointer?