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Posts Tagged ‘film

“In many of the films now being made, there is very little cinema”*…

 

METROPOLIS (1927) Shot by Karl Freund, Günther Rittau, & Walter Ruttmann | Director: Fritz Lang

 

Honoring cinema’s past, frame by frame: from @TheGeoffTodd, a Twitter feed that delivers “One Perfect Shot” again and again…

* Alfred Hitchcock

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As we contemplate composition, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that Stagecoach was released…

Stagecoach was a major shifting point both in terms of the careers of its creators and of cinema as a whole. Ford had long failed to get his adaptation of Ernest Haycock’s short story “The Stage to Lordsburg” off the ground because the studios felt that Westerns were purely B-movie fare, the sort of thing best left to Poverty Row. And while Ford’s name is now synonymous with the genre like no other director, he had in fact not made a Western since 1926. Stagecoach finally got made with the help of independent producer Walter Wanger, who suggested Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper for the leads. However, he ultimately bowed to Ford’s preference for Claire Trevor and a relative unknown (and friend of Ford’s) by the name of John Wayne. All the film’s elements – a smart script by Ben Hecht and Dudley Nichols, the striking setting of Monument Valley, a great supporting cast, the exciting action sequences, Ford’s skilled direction, Wayne’s potent presence – combined to make it a hit not only with critics but audiences two. The film grossed $1 million in its first year, and was up for seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. From that point on, the Western became an important and respected element of American filmmaking, while Ford and Wayne would reteam many times to solidify their position as its seminal director and star. Stagecoach was also apparently used by Orson Welles as the blueprint of a “perfect movie” while making Citizen Kane, and it rightly remains a classic to this day.

Focus Features

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Written by LW

February 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I _am_ big. It’s the _pictures_ that got small”*…

 

Apple paid $10 billion to developers in calendar 2014– thus, iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the U.S.  Of course, Hollywood studios make money in foreign theaters, in cable, in home video, and in digital.  But, as Horace Dedieu observes…

Apple’s App Store billings is not the complete App revenue picture either. The Apps economy includes Android and ads and service businesses and custom development.  Including all revenues, apps are still likely to be bigger than Hollywood.

But there’s more to the story. It’s also likely that the App industry is healthier. On an individual level, some App developers earn more than Hollywood stars, and I would guess that the median income of app developers is higher than the median income of actors [a large majority of whom earn less than $1,000 a year from acting jobs]. The app economy sustains more jobs (627,000 iOS jobs in the US vs. 374,000 in Hollywood) and is easier to enter and has wider reach. As the graph [above] shows, it’s also growing far more rapidly…

Grab some popcorn and read the rest at “Bigger Than Hollywood.”

* “Norma Desmond” (Gloria Swanson) in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard

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As we disable in-app purchases, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that City Lights premiered.  Written and directed by its star, Charlie Chaplin, the film follows Chaplin’s “Tramp” character as he falls in love with a blind woman (Virginia Cherrill).  Though sound films– “talkies”– were the rage at the time, Chaplin produced City Lights as a scored silent– for which he composed the music himself.  It was a huge success on its release, grossing over $5 million ($730 million in 2015 dollars).  And it has grown in critical stature ever since:  In 1992, the Library of Congress selected City Lights for preservation in the United States National Film Registry; then in 2007, the American Film Institute‘s 100 Years… 100 Movies ranked City Lights as the 11th greatest American film of all time.  The critic James Agee referred to the final scene in the film as the “greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid.”

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Written by LW

January 30, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?”*…

 

John Cleese playing an arrogant newsreader being beastly about a French trade union leader on screen. Unrelated Victorian erotica in the background and a booming voice-over self-importantly announcing the name of the show. It’s pure Monty Python — except it isn’t. This surreal scenario, in which the “French” Marty Feldman comes out of the screen to interact with a now surreally masked Cleese, is from the final episode of At Last the 1948 Show. Brits loved this satirical half-hour of sketches that preceded Monty Python’s Flying Circus by a year, and were largely written by the legendary duo — Cleese and his college mate Graham Chapman — who would go on to be one of the principal writing partnerships behind the Pythons.

What’s special about this last-ever episode is that, like the very first, it’s been lost for nearly 40 years…

Read the whole of this happy tale– and see both of the newly-recovered episodes– at “The Early Days of Monty Python.”

* Eric Idle, in the third Monty Python’s Flying Circus episode, “How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away”

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As we agree that “it’s funny, isn’t it? How your best friend can just blow up like that?”, we might send birthday greetings to two Tommys– Tommy Kirk and Tommy Rettig– whose young lives were spent with dogs; both were born on this date in 1941.

Having appeared as one of the Hardy Boys in a serial that ran on the (original) Mickey Mouse Club, Tommy Kirk got his big break when he was cast in the juvenile lead in Old Yellar.  He went on to star in a number of successful Disney pictures (e,g,, The Shaggy Dog and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones), and then in a number of “beach party” flicks. By the mid-70s, Kirk had developed, then beaten a drug problem, and dropped out of acting.  While he occasionally appears on screen (Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold. 2006), he has primarily been engaged in building and running a carpet-cleaning business in the San Fernando Valley.

Though he had previously appeared in 18 films (including your correspondent’s beloved The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, written by Dr. Seuss), Tommy Rettig is surely best remembered as “Jeff Miller”– Lassie‘s boy.  Rettig too had a brush with drugs, but pulled out of it to become a very successful software engineer/database programmer (he was an early employee of Ashton-Tate).

Tommy Kirk and Yellar

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Tommy Rettig and Lassie

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Written by LW

December 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Yes, and imagine a world where there were no hypothetical situations”*…

 

From Les Maîtres du Temps (1982)

If the Universe came to an end every time there was some uncertainty about what had happened in it, it would never have got beyond the first picosecond. And many of course don’t. It’s like a human body, you see. A few cuts and bruises here and there don’t hurt it. Not even major surgery if it’s done properly. Paradoxes are just the scar tissue. Time and space heal themselves up around them and people simply remember a version of events which makes as much sense as they require it to make.
― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Interstellar has made quite a stir, and occasioned hosannas for its originality.  But as the British Film Institute reminds us, it comes on the heels of a long line of time-travel films…

…from the arthouse masterpieces (La Jetée, 1962), the slacker comedies (Bill &Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989), the canny satires (Groundhog Day, 1993), the conundrums (Donnie Darko, 2001), the nostalgic fantasies (Midnight in Paris, 2011), and the high-concept thrillers (Looper, 2012) [to] the comic-book escapades (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 2014)…

Find a more complete (and completely fascinating) history, and a list of worthy, but under-appreciated options at “10 great lesser-known time-travel films.”

* Jasper Fforde, First Among Sequels

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As we check our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884 that Levant M. Richardson was awarded the first U.S.patent for the use of steel ball bearings in roller skate wheels– which reduced friction, creating wheels that allowed skaters to achieve previously unreachable speeds.  Indeed, in 1898 Richardson started the Richardson Ball Bearing and Skate Company, which provided skates to most professional skate racers of the time.

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Written by LW

December 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

“‘Evil Dead 1′ was never supposed to have a sequel”*…

 

The powers that be in Hollywood have been working overtime and turning the crank on the sequel machine for decades. Sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical about a part two when many movie follow-ups are made simply for the money. But what about a sequel that fans actually want? Enter iam8bit’s latest exhibition, Sequel — part tribute to the cult movies we love, part commentary on Hollywood’s obsession with sequels…

The West Coast gallery invited more than 40 artists to imagine movie sequels that never were. If you’ve had your fingers crossed for another Goonies, Blade Runner, or Labyrinth, then this is your happy place…

The show is open in Los Angeles now, and prints of the one-sheets are available.  More at “Exciting Posters for Cult Movie Sequels That Never Happened.”

* Bruce Campbell

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As we meet at the multiplex, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Frank Drebin (first) foiled an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II: The Naked Gun premiered.  The father of two sequels, the film was itself a sequel– its full title was The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!– a feature-length riff on writer-directors Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker’s earlier– and (too-)short-lived– television series.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8064/8232986495_6cef8561f8_o.jpg source

Written by LW

December 2, 2014 at 1:01 am

“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life”*…

 

From The Great Train Robbery, 1903

In 1888, Thomas Edison wrote that “I am experimenting upon an instrument which does for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear, which is the recording and reproduction of things in motion.” The system was comprised of the Kinetograph, a motion picture camera, and a Kinetoscope, a motion picture viewer, and was mostly created by Edison’s assistant, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson. (The system was likely inspired by the zoopraxiscope created by photographer—and murderer!—Eadweard Muybridge to show off his motion photographs.) Early films from the Edison Manufacturing Co. showed off “actualities”: celebrities, news, disasters, and expositions. But later, the company switched to creating narrative films more in line with what we watch at the movies today…

These earliest films, often a minute or two in length,  could be purchased for $6.60 (about $169 in today’s currency).  But readers can see a selection of Edison’s early essays, streamed for free, at “10 Early Films Made by Edison’s Movie Company.”

* Federico Fellini

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As search for the concession stand, we might recall that it was on this date in 1732 that Louis Timothee (sometimes rendered “Lewis Timothy”) became the first salaried librarian in the American Colonies. A printer and protégé of Benjamin Franklin’s, Timothee served as the part-time librarian for the Library Company of Philadelphia, one of Franklin’s first philanthropic projects, from its founding on July 1, 1731.  As the project took hold, Timothee’s position was elevated to a full-time, paid position.

The Library Company of Phildelphia

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Written by LW

November 14, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you happy to see me?”*…

 

Dirty Harry is the 1971 crime film that introduced the character of “Dirty Harry” Callahan to movie audiences. Clint Eastwood stars as SFPD Inspector Callahan, who is assigned to head up the investigation to catch a serial killer who calls himself “Scorpio” and who threatens to kill a citizen of the city each day until his ransom demands are met. Dirty Harry was the first in the film franchise and introduced the now iconic .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29.

More on Harry’s hardware– and guns in hundreds of other films– at IMFDb, The Internet Movie Firearm Database.

* Mae West

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As we take cover, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was released.  Written by Wiliam Goldman, directed by George Roy Hill, and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the titular outlaws, the film was a commercial and a critical success: it was the top-grossing film of the year (with a box-office of over $100 million) and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, of which it won four.

The film prominently featured the Colt Single Action Army, the Winchester Model 1873, the Winchester Model 1895, and the Winchester Model 1894.

 

 

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