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 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 5:00 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

CinemaScope:

"Your opinions are...fact" is actually a paradox!! An opinion is what I have, based on decades of reading. If you want to find out more about the 'quota' system of the 30's in British cinema read the excellent biography of Hitchcock by Patrick McGilligan, "Alfred Hitchcock: A life in Darkness and Light". You can also read about the inferior sound system used in British film, inter alia, in Kevin Brownlow's excellent biography of David Lean. There are lots of other books where you can learn more about this.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 5:10 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

DavidRayner47, yes I would include all those films in the top 12 or 14 very good British films. I did say, "up to 1970".

I think "Oliver" was a pretty reasonable musical film, but I wouldn't put it into the category of "outstanding". The subject of British musicals is sure to be controversial, and I have very strong opinions about these too.

Somebody mentioned the opulent production in "Cleopatra". That scene where she enters Rome and that stunning music by Alex North is, IMO, one of those unforgettable cinema moments.

And I agree - the US made rubbish films; quite a lot of them, in fact. But the good ones were generally far superior to the British. Sad to say, but there it is. One of the problems, for me, with British films is what I call their 'identity crisis'. They didn't know if they were 'toffs' or 'working class' - in many respects their films 'talk' to those two completely separate 'countries' within a country and I guess I look more for a 'middle ground', if you can get what I'm driving at.

(This probably isn't the place to talk about this, but I disliked Altman's "Gosford Park". To me it was same old same old. And British costume dramas on television? The bitter end.)

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 5:28 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

CinemaScope:

"Your opinions are...fact" is actually a paradox!! An opinion is what I have, based on decades of reading. If you want to find out more about the 'quota' system of the 30's in British cinema read the excellent biography of Hitchcock by Patrick McGilligan, "Alfred Hitchcock: A life in Darkness and Light". You can also read about the inferior sound system used in British film, inter alia, in Kevin Brownlow's excellent biography of David Lean. There are lots of other books where you can learn more about this.


Dammit, & there's me been wasting my time watching the films! In the UK in the late 50's & early 60's it was all 30's 40's & 50's movies on the telly, so many great British films never seen now, & someone who's done a film course now rubbishing them! I have read a LOT of books about the cinema, & have every book that Kevin Brownlow has published, & got through re-reading his David Lean biog. about six months ago (& he was kind enough to autograph his first book "How It Happened Here" for me when I was running a film for him about 20 years ago). While we're recommending books how about, Hollywood England by Alexander Walker all about the British film industry in the 60's...oh wait, that's pre-seventies, strike that!

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 6:02 AM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

Dirk B was an outstanding actor and I saw him in a very good film, early 1950's, about a man who was homosexual at a time when it wasn't safe to be one. (That's one of the good films, btw!!)

That film was Victim, from 1961. So you see, Regie, even someone with encyclopedic knowledge and vast qualifications (with which I'm sure we're all very impressed) can occasionally be wrong, even about facts. When it comes to opinions, of course, no qualifications can prevent a person from occasionally (or even frequently) talking out the wrong end.

Of course, this observation wouldn't apply to you. wink

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 6:53 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

I was wondering where he'd got that accent from, no one else in the film had it!

Surprising that they didn't just dub for him. That was not uncommon in U.S. "runaway" productions of the time. E.g, the centurion in BEN-HUR ("No water for him!"); the girl at the well in EL CID; and several players in KING OF KINGS.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 7:00 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

As for Burton, I recall John leCarre's commentary on SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. He didn't particularly like the casting. Thought Burton "too much the thesp" for that particular role. Burton started badly and quarreled with director Martin Ritt. Liz and the growing entourage on the set didn't help. Eventually Ritt got Burton to tone it down and do a fine job. He later prophetically told the actor, "You've just given your last good performance."

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 7:08 AM   
 By:   MikeyKW   (Member)

CLEO is a fascinating, often glorious mess of a film. Considering the nightmarish production I'm surprised the film holds together as well as it does. I also prefer it to LAWRENCE, which I find tedious. Alex's North's intelligent score is also vastly superior to Jarre's juvenile and tuneless effort.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 7:25 AM   
 By:   DavidRayner1947   (Member)

I remember seeing a BBC filmed interview with Richard Burton transmitted around 1968-69 done between takes on "Where Eagles Dare", probably at MGM Boreham Wood studios and the interviewer was discussing Burton's relationship with his father, who was a bit of a drunk and who showed himself to be completely disinterested in the fact that his son had become a famous actor and film star earning a fortune and, to illustrate his point, Burton told the interviewer "I took my family, including my father, to the premiere of "The Robe" and in the middle of the film, I took a drink...a film drink...and my father took one look at this and said that was enough for him and up he got and went off to the pub!" Every son would want his father to be proud of him if he'd made a success of his life, but Burton's father showed no interest in what his son had achieved. With that kind of attitude from his father, no wonder Burton had emotional problems and sought solace in drink.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 7:25 AM   
 By:   DavidRayner1947   (Member)

Dual post.

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 7:27 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Alex's North's intelligent score is also vastly superior to Jarre's juvenile and tuneless effort.

Tune-less? Could it be that you're "tune-deaf"? wink

LAWRENCE may be overlong, but artistically it's on an entirely different level compared to the not even momentarily compelling CLEO. Mess is right!

Director Mankiewicz, who had hired North on the basis of his sons' admiration for the Spartacus score, was privately disappointed with the CLEO music (source: sons in monography on Mankiewicz), though it's not explained how and why. Personally, I find little fault with the North score, although Spartacus, again, is far more compelling.

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 7:59 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

As for Burton, I recall John leCarre's commentary on SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. He didn't particularly like the casting. Thought Burton "too much the thesp" for that particular role. Burton started badly and quarreled with director Martin Ritt. Liz and the growing entourage on the set didn't help. Eventually Ritt got Burton to tone it down and do a fine job. He later prophetically told the actor, "You've just given your last good performance."

If STAIRCASE (1969) is a sample of his later work, prophetic is the word. Some might say the same for Rex Harrison in the same film...

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 9:49 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Dirk B was an outstanding actor and I saw him in a very good film, early 1950's, about a man who was homosexual at a time when it wasn't safe to be one. (That's one of the good films, btw!!)

That film was Victim, from 1961. So you see, Regie, even someone with encyclopedic knowledge and vast qualifications (with which I'm sure we're all very impressed) can occasionally be wrong, even about facts. When it comes to opinions, of course, no qualifications can prevent a person from occasionally (or even frequently) talking out the wrong end.

Of course, this observation wouldn't apply to you. wink


No more than it does to you.

I didn't say 'encyclopedic' knowledge - that was your call. I implied I had enough knowledge to make an educated opinion. Perhaps I should use language like "talking out the wrong end". That's pretty authoritative. Academic too.

It seems very important to you to know I got the date wrong on "Victim". Do you suppose you're using this to disprove the validity of my opinions? That would be more playground antics, would it?

As somebody has suggested elsewhere, I've "done a film course". As opposed to....being a record-sleeve reader, probably.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 10:05 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Disagree that Burton was a great actor in "Who's afraid of...". He was merely being himself - they both were. Total narcissists caught up in a mutually destructive relationship - they merely suited Albee's material, that's all.

Gotta chime in with pp312 on this one. I do think WAOVW was brilliantly acted by all concerned, and this was the finest performances by both Burton and Taylor (though I also thought Liz was terrific in GIANT several years earlier). Burton was capable of greatness but too often "phoned in" his performances because he could throw on that Shakespearian schtick and get away with it. Unfortunately he was more interested in drinking and screwing than acting, and it frequently showed. Elizabeth Taylor was cursed with a grating voice and had limited range as an actor. She was particularly dreadful in SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, a particularly dreadful film all around. And then there was ASH WEDNESDAY...


Agree Liz was very good in "Giant". She was never better, in fact. I also agree with your other comments about Burton's behaviour and schtick (I found this just embarrassing, to be honest). I stick (schtick?) by what I said about WAOVW, thinking it probably just a re-run of the Burton/Taylor domestic dynamic. Something similar with Tracey and Hepburn - I always feel their films represent THEMSELVES, particularly "Adam's Rib" (minus Tracey's alcoholism, of course). That easy affability between people who love each other and which easily translates into on-screen chemistry - big time.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 10:14 AM   
 By:   MikeyKW   (Member)

Tune deaf? No...I just have a strong dislike of Jarre (and most French composers); he was rarely able to come up with a memorable theme, and when he did, had no clue what to do with it. His music also seemed inappropriate for the films unfortunate enough to be burdened with it.




Alex's North's intelligent score is also vastly superior to Jarre's juvenile and tuneless effort.

Tune-less? Could it be that you're "tune-deaf"? wink

LAWRENCE may be overlong, but artistically it's on an entirely different level compared to the not even momentarily compelling CLEO. Mess is right!

Director Mankiewicz, who had hired North on the basis of his sons' admiration for the Spartacus score, was privately disappointed with the CLEO music (source: sons in monography on Mankiewicz), though it's not explained how and why. Personally, I find little fault with the North score, although Spartacus, again, is far more compelling.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 10:27 AM   
 By:   MikeyKW   (Member)

Taylor and Burton were capable of giving very good performances (which they did in Virginia Woolf), but when the material or director were weak (Boom!) they could be shockingly poor, to the point of self-parody.



Disagree that Burton was a great actor in "Who's afraid of...". He was merely being himself - they both were. Total narcissists caught up in a mutually destructive relationship - they merely suited Albee's material, that's all.

Gotta chime in with pp312 on this one. I do think WAOVW was brilliantly acted by all concerned, and this was the finest performances by both Burton and Taylor (though I also thought Liz was terrific in GIANT several years earlier). Burton was capable of greatness but too often "phoned in" his performances because he could throw on that Shakespearian schtick and get away with it. Unfortunately he was more interested in drinking and screwing than acting, and it frequently showed. Elizabeth Taylor was cursed with a grating voice and had limited range as an actor. She was particularly dreadful in SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, a particularly dreadful film all around. And then there was ASH WEDNESDAY...


Agree Liz was very good in "Giant". She was never better, in fact. I also agree with your other comments about Burton's behaviour and schtick (I found this just embarrassing, to be honest). I stick (schtick?) by what I said about WAOVW, thinking it probably just a re-run of the Burton/Taylor domestic dynamic. Something similar with Tracey and Hepburn - I always feel their films represent THEMSELVES, particularly "Adam's Rib" (minus Tracey's alcoholism, of course). That easy affability between people who love each other and which easily translates into on-screen chemistry - big time.

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 10:30 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Tune deaf? No...I just have a strong dislike of Jarre (and most French composers); he was rarely able to come up with a memorable theme, and when he did, had no clue what to do with it. His music also seemed inappropriate for the films unfortunate enough to be burdened with it.

It's never too late to learn something about music. So, please do.

Jarre's scores always have a strong melodic interest, i.e. if you're willing to accept themes a wee bit more complicated and rhythmically charged than "Michael row the boat ashore". Of course, only then you'll also be capable to fully understand e.g. Jerry Goldsmith's themes.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 10:43 AM   
 By:   MikeyKW   (Member)

I appreciated Goldsmith from an early age (I picked up Poltergeist on LP at the tender age of 14). Jarres efforts seemed incredibly amateurish in comparison; chloroform in musical form.





Tune deaf? No...I just have a strong dislike of Jarre (and most French composers); he was rarely able to come up with a memorable theme, and when he did, had no clue what to do with it. His music also seemed inappropriate for the films unfortunate enough to be burdened with it.

It's never too late to learn something about music. So, please do.

Jarre's scores always have a strong melodic interest, i.e. if you're willing to accept themes a wee bit more complicated and rhythmically charged than "Michael row the boat ashore". Of course, only then you'll also be capable to fully understand e.g. Jerry Goldsmith's themes.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 10:48 AM   
 By:   Ralph   (Member)

Don’t know if this site has been mentioned previously, but here’s the address to get more info on what Mankiewicz had in mind.

http://www.taylortribute.com/Elizabeth%20Taylor%20-%20Restored%20Cleopatra%20Main%20Page.html

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 11:07 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Director Mankiewicz, who had hired North on the basis of his sons' admiration for the Spartacus score, was privately disappointed with the CLEO music (source: sons in monography on Mankiewicz), though it's not explained how and why.

If so, he did an extraordinarily good job of camouflaging his disappointment in his liner notes for the ST album. Other directors (notably Spielberg) have been effusive about their composers in a paragraph or two, but Mankiewicz was virtually unique in providing a glowing track-by-track commentary.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2013 - 11:10 AM   
 By:   Eugene Iemola   (Member)

BAKERS DOZEN - 13 Great British Films Before 1970:

I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING - 1945
THE THIRD MAN - 1949
KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS - 1949
RICHARD III - 1955
THE DAMN BUSTERS - 1955
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI - 1957

ROOM AT THE TOP - 1958
PEEPING TOM - 1960
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - 1962
THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER - 1962
TOM JONES - 1963
GOLDFINGER - 1964

PERFORMANCE - 1968 (released in 1970)

 
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