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Thread: A Cinema Canon for the Ages

  1. #151
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    "GONE WITH THE WIND" is not on the list but...

    I watch it a lot because some of it is great, not surprisingly, it turns out, a lot of these aches were the ones shot by George Cukor, who had a long history of collaboration with producer David O. Selznick, before Victor Fleming became involved. The best scenes are also the ones featuring Clark Gable, here at his very best (I love every single scene involving Gable and Vivien Leigh.) The scene that introduces Rhett Butler utilizes the same kind of camera movement used by John Ford to introcudce the John Wayne in "Stagecoach": a crane shot with the camera inching closer to the figure until he is framed from the chest up. It's an emphatic gesture of the camera of pointing a protagonist.

    Of course, the most alluring shots in GWTW are instances when the crane (and the camera on it, jeje) moves away from the figures to widen the shot and show an ever larger expanse. You can see in your mind's eye that shot of a Confederate soldiers dead and convalescing on the red floor of a large plaza, and how the viewer needs to adjust his of her sense of the scope of the carnage as the camera recedes and reveals more and more injury and death. My favorite shot is the two-shot of Leigh and her father, who predicates about the Irish love of the land, as the camera recess to encompass a huge tree with twisted braces that frames them. The backlighting technique used here creates silhouettes so that they lose their specificity and become more mythic and emblematic of a certain time, and type of relationship between parent and offspring, and between people and land.

    Some of the most beautiful and beautifully uncanny images in "Gone With the Wind" combine two or more shots, usually one live action shot in the foreground of the image and one or two painted "backdrops" like the ones used for centuries in the theater. The level of artistry of the process is extremely high here at the end of the 1930s. The right combination of lenses, lighting, painting, performance, and art direction render the most spectacular images. The use of color is most self-aware and purposeful. The film is obviously "designed" by a fruitful collaboration of highly specialized creative people who've honed their skills in film after film during this golden age of Hollywood just before WWII.

    *The movie is not on the list because there are also scenes that I don't enjoy watching at all. Some of these feature a horribly miscast British actor Leslie Howard. Other scenes romanticize Southern plantation life in general and slavery in particular in ways that are offensive to many, or would be. It's the case of a movie that I alternatively love and hate.

  2. #152
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    More john ford

    Of course, my canon includes the John Ford western that exemplifies the rebirth of the genre (STAGECOACH in that fabled year of 1939), the genre at its most complex, philosophical and mature (THE SEARCHERS), and the genre at the end of its most fecund period (THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE). There's a couple other Fords in my canon so I've been reluctant to add more. Ford doesn't need more recognition. Hitchcock is the only director who's inspired more interest and study. Ford has been in my mind lately, more often than the usual, because of the pertinence of his themes, especially political themes. Is there a more profound film about racism and miscegenation than "The Searchers" or a more complex, multifaceted view of the relationship between fact and rhetoric than "Liberty Valence"? These two films are quite capable of representing the genius of post-War Ford. And yet, I think that at least two other Ford films deserve to be included: FORT APACHE (1948) and WAGONMASTER (1950). The first is a member of the Cavalry trilogy that concerns a contrast between the leadership styles of a man played by John Wayne and another played by Henry Fonda (cast against type, with Wayne playing the more liberal and humane character). "Wagonmaster" is Ford's most populist film about the creation of a new and diverse community.

  3. #153
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    John Ford is featured this July on TCM.
    I'm seeing Fort Apache, the Searchers and Stagecoch this Friday.
    (Actually I may see 7 Ford films that day)
    Last edited by Johann; 06-29-2020 at 02:14 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  4. #154
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    That's great. I can't think of a better way to spend one's time. I cannot get enough of golden age Hollywood. I enjoy the average movie made in Hollywood then much more than today's output, that's for sure.

  5. #155
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    I agree.
    Old Hollywood has a class to it, a standard that can't be beat.
    July 4th is a day I'm looking forward to on TCM- John Paul Jones is playing, and it's a film I anticipate way more than any film today from a major studio.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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