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Posts Tagged ‘film

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”*…

Ducklings everywhere: the names of Donald Duck’s three nephews across Europe, from Mapologies (where one will also find the other names of Donald himself and of the Flintstones).

* Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

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As we dunk on Uncle Donald, we might recall that it was on thus date in 1921 that Newman Laugh-O-Gram studio released it’s first (more or less) four animated films as a kind of demo reel. The first three were live shots of young director Walt Disney drawing a single fame; the fourth, “Kansas City’s Spring Clean-up,” was actually animated.

Laugh-O-Gram only lasted two years, but it was long enough for Disney to recruit several pioneers of animation: Ub IwerksHugh HarmanFriz Freleng, and Carman Maxwell— and, with Iwerks, to create Mickey Mouse.

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Written by LW

March 20, 2021 at 1:01 am

“The most beautiful sight in a movie theater is to walk down to the front, turn around, and look at the light from the screen reflected on the upturned faces of the members of the audience”*…

Back in the early 1990s, movie theaters weren’t that great. The auditoriums were cramped and narrow, and the screen was dim. But in 1995, the AMC Grand 24 in Dallas changed everything. It was the very first movie megaplex in the United States. This is the gigantic, neon, big-box store of moviegoing that we’re all used to  today, and it’s easy to dismiss as a tacky ‘90s invention. But the megaplex—specifically this first megaplex in Dallas—upended the entire theater business and changed the kinds of movies that got made in ways you might not imagine…

A plethora of choice, stadium seating, a surge of independent films, the move to 3-D and IMAX– how the rise of the multi-cinema shaped movie-going and movies: “The Megaplex!” from the ever-fascinating 99% Invisible.

* François Truffaut, as quoted by Gene Siskel

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As we salt our popcorn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 that The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was released in the U.S., roughly a year after it’s release (as Das Kabinett des Doktor Calagari in its native Germany. Directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, it is considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema… and was hailed by Roger Ebert as arguably “the first true horror film” and by Danny Peary as cinema’s first cult film and a precursor for arthouse films.

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“Each lovely Grace by certain Marks he taught /And ev’ry Step in lasting Volumes wrote”*

Musical score and dance notation of a portion of the saraband, in Kellom Tomlinson’s The Art of Dancing Explained (1735), book 1, plate 6. Note the mirrored notation for leading with the left foot or the right foot.

The late seventeenth century gave rise to a powerful innovation in Western European social and theatrical dance, the art of dance notation. The new representational technology ofdance notation provided a means to broadcast fashionable dances emerging from the French court as well as new compositions from dancing masters operating in London and elsewhere. In the first three decades of the eighteenth century, dance notation quickly reached faddish heights, with published dance manuals in high demand among upper levels of English society. One publication from the era, Kellom Tomlinson’s The Art of Dancing Explained by Reading and Figures, provides a window onto the descriptive tool of dance notation, its function in society, and its eventual decline. While providing a previously unimagined communicational technology, the completeness and specificity of the dominant form of dance notationultimately spelled its demise…

The fascinating story (with more nifty illustrations and diagrams) of a 1735 attempt to capture the ineffable: “From the Page to the Floor:Baroque Dance Notation and Kellom Tomlinson’s The Art of Dancing Explained.” [TotH to Ben Evans]

* Soame Jenyns in his 1729 poem “The Art of Dancing” (in part an ode to Kellom Tomlinson’s work)

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As we capture choreography, we might recall that it was on this date in 2005 that Halle Berry accepted the Razzie as Worst Actress for her role in Catwoman. Holding the Razzie in one hand and her Oscar (for Monster’s Ball) in the other, she gave a parody of her emotional Oscar acceptance speech, beginning “First of all I want to thank Warner Bros. Thank you for putting me in a piece of s***, god-awful movie!”

Watch her acceptance speech here.

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Written by LW

February 26, 2021 at 1:01 am

“A Dictator? Why, he makes love to beautiful women, drinks champagne, enjoys life and never works. He makes speeches to the people promising them plenty, gives them nothing and takes everything. *That’s* a Dictator.”*…

“Larry Pebble,” “Moe Hailstone,” “Miss Pfiffernuss” (Florine Dickson), “Curly Gallstone” in You Nazty Spy!

Hollywood’s relationship to the Third Reich before Pearl Harbor was a complex one. Film producers – particularly Jewish ones – had ample reason to dislike Nazis, but the US was not yet at war with them, and it wasn’t necessarily good for business to lampoon the government of a large foreign market. So, with some exceptions, Hollywood tended to tread carefully in the late 1930s.

Charles Chaplin famously lampooned the Third Reich leader in The Great Dictator, which was released in October 1940. The Three Stooges got the jump on Chaplin by nine months, however, releasing their own quickie Third Reich parody in January that year, although Chaplin’s film had started production first.

In January 1940, the Stooges released a two-reel short called You Nazty Spy! in which they play dimwitted wallpaper hangers who are installed as dictators of the country of Moronica; the businessmen who elevate them think they are stupid enough to be easily controlled.

Moe plays the Hitler-like leader, while Curly plays Field Marshal Gallstone (a mashup of Goering and Mussolini), and Larry is Propaganda Minister Pebble (a spoof of Goebbels). Various comic hijinks ensue, culminating in the dictatorial trio getting deposed and eaten by lions. In 1941, a sequel came out called I’ll Never Heil Again

The first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler: a Three Stooges two-reeler called You Nazty Spy!

See You Nazty Spy! here. More on Chaplin’s rather better-known The Great Dictator here.

* “Mr. Ixnay” (Richard Fiske) in You Nazty Spy!

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As we ridicule the ridiculous, we might recall that it was on this date in 1976 that Sesame Street aired episode #847, featuring Margaret Hamilton reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.  It scared children so badly that the episode has never been re-aired. (This, after she had appeared as herself in three episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, between 1975 and 1976– because Fred Rogers wanted his young viewers to recognize the Wicked Witch was just a character and not something to fear.)

220px-Sesame_Street_Margaret_Hamilton_Oscar_The_Grouch_1976

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“I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque”*…

Looney Tunes without Looney Tunes: “Looney Tunes Backgrounds.”

[TotH to This Isn’t Happiness]

* Bugs Bunny

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As we contemplate context, we might send uncertain birthday greetings to Werner Karl Heisenberg; he was born on this date in 1901.  A theoretical physicist, he made important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, superconductivity, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles.  But he is most widely remembered as a pioneer of quantum mechanics and author of what’s become known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics.”

During World War II, Heisenberg was part of the team attempting to create an atomic bomb for Germany– for which he was arrested and detained by the Allies at the end of the conflict.  He was returned to Germany, where he became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which soon thereafter was renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics. He later served as president of the German Research Council, chairman of the Commission for Atomic Physics, chairman of the Nuclear Physics Working Group, and president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Some things are so serious that one can only joke about them

Werner Heisenberg

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