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ecarle (11105)


Cry Macho: Some Food for Thought. SPOILERS Hitchcock, Psycho, and the International Film Market Billing and Pay: Stewart, Wayne, Ford Something Elemental and Great in Liberty Valance Hitchcock's Most Cruel and Brilliant Trick: The Five Lost Hitchcocks A Great Effect: Bane's Voice I Just Love a Movie with a Long Two-Word Descriptive Title with "The" In It I Just Love a Movie With a Long Two-Word Descriptive Title with "The" In It I Love a Movie with a Long Two-Word Descriptive Title with "The" In It 1955 Original versus the 2004 Remake: The Importance Casting of the Old Lady View all posts >


ELEVEN: How about this? When Clint Eastwood made Unforgiven, he was considered an "old man" and Dirty Harry had been made 21 years before. (ONLY 21 years before.) Now comes Cry Macho -- 29 years after Unforgiven! Why, Clint was just a kid when he made Unforgiven(which helps those of us in that age bracket now.) TWELVE: Eastwood is also the director of Cry Macho and frankly, though he's been directing for years (often in movies he DOESN'T act in), a lot of them aren't that good or weren't seen by that many people -- J Edgar, The Changeling, Invictus, Here After, Jersey Boys(?!) the one about the terrorist on the train, the WWII movies..Clint just kept cranking them out(usually with pretty big stars) but there aren't any classics in THAT bunch. Cry Macho fits right in. Trying to make "too big a deal" about Cry Macho is to ignore how fairly blah Eastwood's career has been for the past 20 years (with the great big whopping almost accidental exception of American Sniper.) THIRTEEN: So cut "Cry Macho" some slack. First and foremost the movie is about: "Clint Eastwood is 91, and with any luck someday you will be too." Its no worse than a lot of his films, better than some. I found the story very slight, very episodic and -- surprisingly moving once the "reveal" kicks in at the end(The 91 year old man gets a new life at a very old age -- and, crucially does not DIE. That would defeat the purpose of the film.) A good, not great, movie. Rather middle of the road par for Eastwood as actor and director. And one of the most moving and historic film projects in movie history. A very nice homage to a woman who is on the short list of longest lived Hitchcock heroines. May she make it to 100! At least. Nice: the connection made between Saint, her July 4th birthday and her most famous scene (Mount Rushmore.) In the context of North by Northwest itself, Grant alone gets the drunk drive and crop duster set-pieces earlier in the film. But it is great that Eve Kendall as played by Miss Saint joins Grant for the spectacular Rushmore cliffhanger -- she finally gets to be "in the action," as it were, and their survival of this ordeal of course guarantees that Eve will be the third -- and likely final -- wife for Roger Thornhill. No other woman can beat hanging from Roger's hand on Rushmore! North by Northwest Charade To Catch a Thief Notorious Arsenic and Old Lace The Godfather -- what a comeback! ("Tattaglia's a pimp!") On the Waterfront -- ("I could have been contender, instead of a bum which is what I am, let's face it.") Bedtime Story -- (Hey, he's playing the STEVE MARTIN role from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Mr. Comedy.) The Missouri Breaks -- (Weirdly, he takes the movie away from the Great Nicholson by doing an easy Irish accent that any of us could do...but its entertaining to watch him say his lines with veiled contempt for them and Nicholson practically disappears when Brando is on screen. That's an achievement..) I read an old interview with John Frankenheimer recently where he said of his DP "the cinematographer doesn't choose the lenses; I do -- he mainly does lighting." But I think SOME directors let the DP do EVERYTHING technically. Billy Wilder and Joseph Manekewicz for two, of whom I've read. Interesting to me: Hitchocck's fifties movies all seemed to have great lens use -- they were "3-D without 3-D"(Dial M excepted.) I put that all to the talent of DP Robert Burks, who did everything from Strangers through Marnie EXCEPT for Psycho. BUT: Psycho has that 3-D effect, too, with DP John Russell, a mainly TV guy hired by Hitchcock on the cheap. So if John Russell's Hitchcock movie looks a lot like a Robert Burks Hitchcock movies -- the difference must be: Hitchcock. HITCHCOCK's selection of lenses and camera angles and composition gives Hitch movies their Hitchcock look. And this: Hitchcock had a top DP on Frenzy in Gil Taylor(A Hard Day's Night, Strangelove, Star Wars.) Word is that Taylor was rather the "shadow director" of Frenzy -- even moreso than the assistant director whom Hitchcock allowed(forced?) to direct some scenes. Taylor knew from lenses and lighting and composition. Frenzy DOES look like a Hitchcock movie much of the time, but has a contrast of "gleam and grit" that reflects both 1972 and Taylor's talent. But, wow, what a difference Gordon Willis's eye makes! The gorgeous shots and camera-always-in-the-right-place somehow puts one in the right mood to allow Allen's jokes and whimsy and broad characters (that will all sink movies later on) to land in a big way here. And after a lumpy beginning Midsummer gets more and more charming as it goes along, becoming a solid second-tier film with a touch of magic by the end. Willis shot all of Allen's films from Annie Hall (1977) to Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). Looking back, he was Allen's key collaborator, one who forced Allen to think visually and seriously. Allen never got as good again, and Willis puts a kind of floor of goodness and beauty under everything, lifiting up even a relatively dashed off confection such as Midsummer.. -- A "guilty secret" of Hollywood is how many cinematographers were the "real" auteurs behind many directors. Oliver Stone, for instance, got a lot of mileage out of Robert Richardson's distinctive camera work. RR now works more with QT. I remember "A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy" as creating a lush and verdant "dream world of the forest" that was nice for Woody after all those years making flat-looking indiefilms(see: Bananas.) By keeping Gordon Willis on board, Woody got the "polish" for his movies that he alone could not have chosen. CONT Thus were his famous "early funny ones" born(Bananas, Everything You Wan and it all comes to a halt of sorts with Annie Hall. Woody may have rejected the Best Picture, Director and Screenplay Oscars , but he ACCEPTED the newfound respect for his work. And his movies were never really the same after that. He moved quickly to make the "serious" Bergman homage "Interiors" and critics took Manhattan very seriously. I find that Woody's career has -- oddly enough -- mimicked that of Clint Eastwood. Both started in the 60s and were dominating movie stars of the 70's(Woody's stature as a MOVIE STAR in the 70's was as big as his writer-director rep.) Both "hung on" through the 80's(Woody more than Clint, with Hannah and her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors as biggies) and rather lost their stardom by the end. Both "came back" in the 90s and now they make movies at the rate of one a year that(in Woody's case especially) aren't always seen by anybody. (Oh, there are exceptions -- American Sniper for Clint, that time travel thing for Woody). But they keep working. I envy your "keeping up" with Woody movies, swanstep, because somewhere in the 2000s, I just sort of dropped him. CONT This has made it easy for at least the last 15 years or so to regularly set myself little projects and complete them. E.g., recently I've been watching a lot of reputedly second/third-tier Woody Allen films for the sake of completeness. I can report: Scoop (2006). Disastrous. Embarrassing for all involved. September (1987). Better than Scoop, but not by much. Schematic, superficial drama w/ a couple of nice performances. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982). Some of the characterization and dialogue is a bit lazy and definitely anachronistic. But, wow, what a difference Gordon Willis's eye makes! The gorgeous shots and camera-always-in-the-right-place somehow puts one in the right mood to allow Allen's jokes and whimsy and broad characters (that will all sink movies later on) to land in a big way here. And after a lumpy beginning Midsummer gets more and more charming as it goes along, becoming a solid second-tier film with a touch of magic by the end. --- Woody Allen. What a fascinating career -- even if one leaves the personal life out of it. He was sort of a "treat" in movies like What's New Pussycat and Casino Royale in the 60's -- these were rather lowbrow sex comedies with handsome men(Peter O'Toole, David Niven) and gorgeous women -- and Woody hanging around the edges with a great comic persona and his hand-crafted one liners (about working in a strip club: "Its a hard job -- soon I won't be able to pay them to work there anymore.") By 1969, with "Take the Money and Run," Woody became the Comedy Guy for the 70's and did it with a sort of indiefilm/art film sensibility -- only "Play It Again Sam" for Paramount felt like a true studio movie to me. CONT I have lots and lots of gaps I assure you! -- A lot fewer than I a power of ten. Maybe so... I guess that I do supplement my official subscription packages - the equivalent of HBO-Max, Netflix, and Amazon Prime - with the full spectrum of internet resources for films worldwide. --- I don't think my internet sources are as good as yours. I haven't gotten rid of HBO Max yet -- despite its infuriating tendency to disconnect in the middle of a movie -- because when it works, it works and it has a lot of classic foreign films. I've been working through those very, very, slowly. I watched Yhe Wages of Fear(its a thriller that became Sorcerer in the US; Hitchocck tried to buy the book before Clouzot did.) I watched The Battle of Algiers(interesting and evidently very influential on filmmakers, AND military men AND politicians.) . I watched Belle de Jour(ooh la la! a the beautiful Hitchcock blonde who wasn't, Catherine Deneuve, plus Michel "Topaz" Piccoli). I'll get to the others as I can. I wish to try Ikiru. CONT For another example, reading Grapes of Wrath is one thing, but reading it once you've seen Ken Burns' Dust Bowl documentary is quite another. Indeed, when I read Grapes in high school I'm pretty sure I had no real grasp of FDR and The New Deal and how all of that fitted with the 'roaring '20s before it and the rise of Fascism in Europe later. I was really into Busby Berkeley musicals in high school too but I somehow never fitted that stuff together with Grapes either. Grapes is *so* different when you have something close to the background that was second nature to its first readers at the time. --- Yes, The Grapes of Wrath takes in all of those things. The NEED for Busby Berkeley musicals in a time of such great nationwide poverty becomes more clear now -- those folks weren't going to want to watch I Was a Prisoner on a Chain Gang. Though I suppose some did. There is a movie from the 50's called "O Henry's Full House" in which five O Henry stories are done as small "mini-films." The movie is entertaining enough on its own terms, but of some fascination is the "on screen host" for the stories: John Steinbeck himself. It is interesting to see such a famous author "in the flesh" on the big screen. Recall that Hitchcock worked with Steinbeck on the script and used his name to sell "Lifeboat" -- which certainly has some gritty class issues to discuss along with the WWII thrills. View all replies >