On the Beach

It seems like Eastman House has been working on their restoration of Paul Fejos’s magnificent “Lonesome” forever, but now the effort has paid off in a stunningly beautiful disc from the Criterion Collection. Based on a print from the Cinematheque Francaise, the new edition presents excellent grain and contrast (certainly in the Blu-ray version), much cleaner sound for the talking sequences, and a vivid rendition of the hand-colored Coney Island night scenes. The disc includes the best reconstruction of the blighted 1929 “Broadway” to date, marrying a complete English soundtrack to a Hungarian print of the silent version (complete with the last reel in two-strip Technicolor), as well as the relatively minor “The Last Peformance,” with Conrad Veidt as a standard-issue mad magician.

If you already know Fejos, this disc is a must-have. If you don’t, it’s even more so. A review here, in the New York Times.

57 comments to On the Beach

  • avz

    Robert Garrick,

    I think Greg Mottola is most known for having directed SUPERBAD. He also directed THE DAYTRIPPERS, an indie hit in its day. I agree ADVENTURELAND is underrated.

  • Robert Garrick

    Alex, according to a couple of websites, the “Zoltar Machine” scenes in “Big” were indeed shot at Rye Playland’s boardwalk.

    http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=3255

  • Robert Garrick

    X, the history of the Ocean Park Pier is a little confusing. It was adjacent to the Lick Pier, but they were distinct places. The Ocean Park Pier opened (with that name) in 1926. You can see signs identifying both it and the Lick Pier in the first picture at this site:

    http://www.westland.net/venicehistory/articles/oceanparkpier.htm

    There were many attractions on the two piers, including several ballrooms, two roller coasters, a municipal auditorium, a couple of funhouses and a whip ride. Much of this can be seen in “Man in the Dark.” The Aragon Ballroom (later the Cheetah) was indeed on the Lick Pier side of things.

    It’s all underwater now.

    The Strawberry Alarm Clock (which emerged in part from my high school in Los Angeles) will live forever, thanks to “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (1970). The Village Voice rated it one of the hundred greatest films ever made, and I can’t argue with that.

  • Alex Hicks

    Robert Garrick,

    Know of any connection between the origins of the San Fran area Playland and the Rye one — for example whether one was a close model for the other? (The Fun Houses at Rye and in “Lady from Shangha”i are very similar, although I necver heard of any abductions or gunfire at Rye’s.)

  • “the history of the Ocean Park Pier is a little confusing. It was adjacent to the Lick Pier, but they were distinct places.”

    Thanks for clearing that up Robert. I’m going by my 44 year old memory of my last visit there.

    The Strawberry Alarm Clock also performs in “Psych Out” (I saw it at the World Theater in Hollywood.)

    Curtis Harrington’s terrific “Night Tide” used two or three different L.A. County piers as locations, and it has some good footage of pre-gentrified Marina del Rey and Venice with the scenes of Cameron who gives the movie a connection to the L.A. art scene of the early 1960s. Cameron also appears in in Kenneth Anger’s “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.”

  • Blake Lucas

    Not an amusement park in sight but I really liked “The Pretty Song from Psych Out” sung by the Strawberry Alarm Clock in “Psych Out” and retain a very strong impression of this 1968 movie directed by Richard Rush (his best I believe, even if he had more prestigious movies later). It is definitely the finest evocation of the flower child scene of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco where I lived for a time in the 60s, and an expressive dramatic work grounded in AIP exploitation but of course not in the least constrained by this. It hit a perfect balance between what is to be celebrated in that counter culture and the dark side of it, even allowing that duality into the way drug use is perceived. Especially telling is the idea, a motif of the movie, “Everyone has to do their own thing” (a line especially well delivered when given to Jack Nicholson) because no matter how much one might agree with that idea, it’s plain that doing one’s own thing can so easily be destructive to someone else.

  • “It is definitely the finest evocation of the flower child scene of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco where I lived for a time in the 60s, and an expressive dramatic work grounded in AIP exploitation but of course not in the least constrained by this. It hit a perfect balance between what is to be celebrated in that counter culture and the dark side of it”

    I’m glad that someone else has fond memories of “Psych Out.” I remember the pre-credit sequence being a vivid multi-screen montage. I don’t know who was responsible for that brief sequence, but it was very effective at setting the tone for the rest of the movie. And what a terrific cast of young 60s actors too!