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#41 Izo

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 08:52 PM

I think I liked the picture a good deal more than you did, Clyde.

I've only seen Laura among his Preminger films, but his work with those three (and apparently The Best Years of Our Lives) represents the entirety of his major output as an actor, doesn't it? I certainly am not familiar with any of the other pictures in his filmography.

#42 Izo

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 05:48 PM

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was also very good, though I see it as a clear step down from While the City Sleeps, mostly because the reporter Dana Andrews plays in this film isn't half as interesting to me as the frequently drunk, nocturnal reporter he played in While the City Sleeps.

The films really do feel like a matched pair, though.

#43 clydefro

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 08:13 PM

I love pretty much every Fritz Lang film, particularly his American ones. It's very tough to split hairs on which are better than others aside from The Big Heat and Scarlet Street being, in my eyes, his best from the Hollywood period. While the City Sleeps has a more cohesive and developed feel to it, with a terrific ensemble cast. (It's more than just Andrews, I think, and Ida Lupino is as good here as she probably ever was.) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, on the other hand, is tighter, with a crackerjack central premise on which the film depends almost entirely. It's also Andrews' picture, with the rest of the cast largely disappearing into the background. I think I like his performance in this one more even than in While the City Sleeps. The character itself isn't as rich but Andrews is allowed to explore both sides of the coin. There's a lot of artifice at play in terms of who the guy is or isn't.

There is indeed more to Andrews than just his pictures with those three directors listed above. I just watched Edge of Doom, a noirish drama also starring Farley Granger in which Andrews is very reserved as a priest. He had a lot of interesting supporting parts prior to Laura in things like The Ox-Bow Incident, Ball of Fire (playing Barbara Stanwyck's gangster boyfriend), and Renoir's Swamp Water. He was also the lead in Boomerang!, which I didn't really like. That's about the extent of my own Andrews watching but there are a few other films he did that sound interesting.

#44 Izo

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 08:45 PM

I'll keep an eye out for those films - Swamp Water was just released by Twilight Time I think.

You know, I do agree that Andrews character in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is more three dimensional, but I still find his character in While the City Sleeps to be more rich. Having said that, I also agree that the entire premise of the film was top notch. The scene towards the end
Spoiler
was the twist that I found too predictable and convenient, though the revelation at the end of the film was handled flawlessly and there's an undeniable horror to the way Lang and Andrews reveal it. I liked the picture a lot, I just didn't love it as much as While the City Sleeps.

I, too, think I prefer his American films, though I still find a lot to love in his German productions. In his Hollywood pictures, Lang was brilliant at smuggling his pet themes into routine scripts, something that all my favorite classical directors were great at.

#45 clydefro

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 12:04 AM

It's really a fool's errand trying to figure which Lang films are underrated considering I find at least three-fourths of his movies to be great or nearly so and only semi-obscure list compilers like TSPDT seem to recognize that greatness. He had a Hitchcock-like batting average. Still, seeing You Only Live Once again just confirms Lang's mastery in making the kind of cinema that interested him. This is my preference of his pre-Scarlet Street work in Hollywood and I'd also hesitantly say I prefer it to all of the lovers on the lam pictures which would follow (though it's not really one of those anyway). Henry Fonda is far from an obvious choice for the male lead here yet he's excellent and his relationship with Sylvia Sidney is devastating as one of the better depictions of steadfast love outside of the typical romance genre. And how great is Leon Shamroy's work on this? From the bank truck heist to the way Fonda is filmed against the prison bars to his fog-filled escape, this is a deeply striking film from a visual standpoint. Part of why I don't buy into Stranger on the Third Floor being the true first example of film noir is a film like this, where there's no reason at all to separate it from the noir style aside from when it was made.

With Fury, I think Lang was making some nice, salient points but his follow-up is easily the better, more cohesive and fully-formed picture. As with his best work, You Only Live Once is a kind of representation of everything Lang was obsessed with showing in his movies. And it's actually romantic, like Metropolis, which isn't a quality we normally associate with him.

It's silly to think about because there's no reason to pass up any Lang film, but if forced to come up with the essential Lang films to provide a basic understanding of his themes and interests then I think you'd have to include Metropolis, M, You Only Live Once, Scarlet Street and The Big Heat.

#46 Izo

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 09:34 PM

Is the Image DVD of You Only Live Once alright or is there a better alternative? It's a film I've been wanting to see for some time.

Have you read any books on Lang, Clyde?

#47 clydefro

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 07:14 AM

^ Don't bother with the Image disc. It's watchable but of poor quality. There's actually a Blu-ray out in Italy, but the new StudioCanal UK DVD I just watched is good and a marked improvement over the Image one.

So many books on Lang but I haven't read any of them.

#48 Izo

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 11:30 AM

I read the Gunning book on Lang, and it was very good though I felt Gunning slighted Lang's Hollywood career through his clear affinity for his German silent work.

#49 clydefro

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 10:21 PM

I don't think I'll explore the Gunning book then since I'm probably more interested in the Hollywood output.

There's a very long audio interview/Q&A with Lang, taken from a 1962 appearance at the National Film Theatre in London, found on the new You Only Live Once disc. It might've been available somewhere else before, I'm not sure. The whole thing is kind of interesting simply because you're hearing Lang's own, generally candid words but what stuck with me the most was his dismissal of L'avventura and Antonioni. He didn't use this term but it seemed like he felt it was uncinematic. I almost laughed when he said that he didn't like not knowing whether the main characters stay together. On the other hand, he had nothing but praise for La Dolce Vita. (And said he'd never seen The Rules of the Game.)

#50 Izo

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 07:46 AM

This is slightly off-topic, but I am always fascinated by what films directors I admire like/dislike.

#51 clydefro

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:25 PM

To contradict my earlier self, I'm not sure I love House by the River. I almost felt like I was watching an extended episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Between the ineffective, rather anonymous leads and the unwillingness to explore much of the psychology behind most anything, I thought it was pretty dull for a Lang film. No snap at all and the only real thing of interest I took away was the author's capitalizing on the attention from the disappearance of his maid. That was a neat, decidedly cynical touch.

#52 Izo

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 03:18 PM

Speaking of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Woman in the Window has a plot that wouldn't feel out of place in an episode. Aside from a compromised ending which was clearly meant to bypass production code restrictions, the film is really terrific. It features wonderful performances from Edward G. Robinson and Dan Duryea, with Joan Bennett providing a perfect example of the definition of femme fatale. The picture really took me by surprise with it's primary theme of male aging. Edward G. Robinson's character is clearly going through some sort of mid-life crisis, and his creepy infatuation with Joan Bennett is the apex of this.

I still think I prefer the later Dana Andrews films, but this one was really worthwhile. I need to get around to Scarlet Street soon, since it features the same trio of actors and I'd imagine has a nice sense of symmetry with this film. It'll be interesting to compare this duo with the later While the City Sleeps/Beyond a Reasonable Doubt matched pair.

#53 clydefro

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:10 PM

Human Desire and The Big Heat too.

Scarlet Street destroys me. It's just remarkably dark and sad.

#54 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 12:46 PM

I love pretty much every Fritz Lang film, particularly his American ones. ...

 

Did you watch The Return of Frank James?  I found it decent, though not quite a good as the first film Jesse James (1939: Henry King).  The characters are too basic: Frank James good guy, Bob Ford bad guy.  It is also quite a fictional version of the events as well (so was the first.) 

 

It is funny that according to today's law, even though Frank James did not kill the person in the robbery he was still responsible for his death and would have been sentenced accordingly.  An interesting aspect that is there is no love interest between Henry Fonda's character and Gene Tierney.  Apparently this was because there might have been a possible lawsuit from the estate of Frank James.


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#55 clydefro

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 09:10 PM

 

Did you watch The Return of Frank James?  

 

Not yet. After going through Nick Ray's film, the recent Brad Pitt one, Walter Hill's The Long Riders, the Fuller version, and The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid all in a relatively close time span I had to swear off Jesse James movies indefinitely.

 

From M onward there are half a dozen Lang films I've not seen - Liliom, You and Me, The Return of Frank James, Man Hunt, American Guerrilla in the Philippines and Cloak and Dagger.  The latter I recently got on Blu so I expect to watch it soon. 



#56 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 03:52 PM

 

Not yet. After going through Nick Ray's film, the recent Brad Pitt one, Walter Hill's The Long Riders, the Fuller version, and The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid all in a relatively close time span I had to swear off Jesse James movies indefinitely.

...

 

And then there is the fact that there is a earlier film Jesse James for The Return of Jesse James (if you always like to watch earlier films before their sequels).  So it is easy to put off for awhile.

 

I had seen The Blue Gardenia over the weekend.  Definitely not the best two films of Langs that I have seen lately.  This film feels too standard for a Lang directed movie.  There are certainly touches of cinematography I like.  Raymond Burr is another "bad guy" creation for him.  He is almost too much of a creep, where you can't see anyone going for the rotund painter.  I was hoping for more Nat King Cole. I had trouble getting into the leads because of their performances and delivery of dialogue.  Overall not a bad film, but compared to Lang's better films this leaves you wanting for more.

 

The "twist" ending seems to move the film away from film noir or at least to an easy Hays Code conclusion.


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#57 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 07 October 2015 - 05:35 PM

The Woman in the Window (1944: Fritz Lang)
 
Fritz Lang directed two in a row with Edward G. Robinson with this being the first.  They are two solid film noirs with the second Scarlet Street being the better of the two, though this is the more fun.  Both films skirt the Hays Code (something Lang could do quite often like Alfred Hitchcock, in fact a big chunk of this film feels Hitchcockian), especially with the endings (which I cannot discuss without spoilers.) 
 
Robinson stars as a semi-famous doctor who gets involved with the subject of an oil painting when she invites him back to her place (after she found him starring at her picture) to see more of drawings of her.  All is well until a jealous patron of her picture comes to kill the professor and instead gets himself stabbed with scissors over and over again (much like the demise in Dial M for Murder.)  They make the decision to cover-up this murder which might make things much worse for them.

I do wonder if the ending here negates too much of the movie and/or just makes it easier to take.  I am sure this type of ending predates film, though right now I can only think of at least one major film before this that used a similar ending.
 
Lang is an excellent director and auteur with such films as Metropolis, M, and The Big Heat (often considered his best noir.)  He came from Germany at the time of the rise of the Nazi’s who basically destroyed their film industry which once rivaled America.  Lang stated he fled after being offered a high position in their political film cabinet, but there is some conflicting information on what actually occurred.  He would end his career in Germany though.
 
Since it is near Halloween M is a good watch for this month.


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Previous Editions: 2,
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#58 Duke Togo

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 04:33 PM

The Woman in the Window (1944: Fritz Lang)
 
Fritz Lang directed two in a row with Edward G. Robinson with this being the first.  They are two solid film noirs with the second Scarlet Street being the better of the two, though this is the more fun.  Both films skirt the Hays Code (something Lang could do quite often like Alfred Hitchcock, in fact a big chunk of this film feels Hitchcockian), especially with the endings (which I cannot discuss without spoilers.) 
 
Robinson stars as a semi-famous doctor who gets involved with the subject of an oil painting when she invites him back to her place (after she found him starring at her picture) to see more of drawings of her.  All is well until a jealous patron of her picture comes to kill the professor and instead gets himself stabbed with scissors over and over again (much like the demise in Dial M for Murder.)  They make the decision to cover-up this murder which might make things much worse for them.

I do wonder if the ending here negates too much of the movie and/or just makes it easier to take.  I am sure this type of ending predates film, though right now I can only think of at least one major film before this that used a similar ending.
 
Lang is an excellent director and auteur with such films as Metropolis, M, and The Big Heat (often considered his best noir.)  He came from Germany at the time of the rise of the Nazi’s who basically destroyed their film industry which once rivaled America.  Lang stated he fled after being offered a high position in their political film cabinet, but there is some conflicting information on what actually occurred.  He would end his career in Germany though.
 
Since it is near Halloween M is a good watch for this month.


Weren't scissors used in Scarlet Street as well?

 

Spoilers follow: I'm ok with this ending because while Robinson's character is relived that the situation has no consequence, I do believe we are meant to consider how shaken he is by his behavior in his dream. It works as a reflection of human desperation to have him ponder how corruptible he really is, and seems a proper Lang focus to me.



#59 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 04:11 PM

Weren't scissors used in Scarlet Street as well?

 

Spoilers follow: I'm ok with this ending because while Robinson's character is relived that the situation has no consequence, I do believe we are meant to consider how shaken he is by his behavior in his dream. It works as a reflection of human desperation to have him ponder how corruptible he really is, and seems a proper Lang focus to me.

 

Crap.  I do not remember right now.  I cannot find anything about scissors with that film.

 

Good point on the ending as it pushes a Freudian context to the forefront, especially given his profession.  He should be really shaken.  Or else will be careful of what he eats and/or drinks too close to nappy time.
 


Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

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My Amazon Reviews

#60 Duke Togo

Duke Togo

    Evil mind, evil sword.

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 05:43 PM

 

Crap.  I do not remember right now.  I cannot find anything about scissors with that film.
 

 

I looked it up, it was an ice pick. I'm sure I was just remembering The Woman in the Window with the scissors thing.






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