Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nominees For Best Director Of 1931-32

And don't forget to vote in the new poll!

René Clair (À Nous La Liberté)

Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel) (here on the set with Wallace Beery and Joan Crawford)

Howard Hawks (Scarface) (on the set of 1959's Rio Bravo with Angie Dickinson)

Rouben Mamoulian (Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde)

James Whale (Frankenstein)


Uncle Tom said...

I vote Howard Hawks for no other reason than Angie Dickinson is in the picture - "Big Bad Mama" indeed

works for me

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Howard looks like he's been stunned by invisible bazooka rays and, dazed and confused, is just now beginning to list to port.

Wow, that first photo with Joan Crawford? If anyone forgot to click to enlarge as they say, worth going back to do so to get the great detail and full effect of how well Joan holds up to the intensely interested gaze of seven count 'em seven guys.

mister muleboy said...

where went "No Mercy"?

[ word verification? sphingle

Mythical Monkey said...

where went "No Mercy"?

I posted it, changed my mind and deleted it. First time I've ever deleted a post. Second time I've changed my mind. Ever.

The text of "No Mercy" in its entirety:

I tried to be nice, keeping my posts on Lionel Barrymore and Miriam Hopkins to under 1600 words a piece—and what did that get us but a discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty working class. At least I've been feeling discontented and lazy which, I am quite sure, has nothing to do with the seemingly endless amount of snow we've been getting here in the mid-Atlantic and everything to do with leaving a stray thought on the table when I no doubt could have shoehorned it into one essay or another.

Well, I've learned my lesson. No mercy. From now on it's bludgeon the topic to death and if it twitches, hit it again. I'm going medieval on your ass, if by medieval we mean "prone to write five thousand words when five hundred will do."

Case in point: I'm now working on my post for best director of 1931-32 and am already up to 900 words—without any idea who's actually going to win. And if I can write 900 words about nothing, surely I can write 9000 about something. So I'm not stopping until I'm through, come hell or high water and Katie bar the door.

In the meantime, I'm going to be a bit busy over the next ten days to two weeks, so I'll be posting only intermittently.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

And there was a picture of Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter looking very grumpy and a picture of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta from Pulp Fiction looking very grumpy.

But ultimately I think it's bad form for a writer to share his technical problems with his readers. The smoke and fire is much more convincing if the man behind the curtain doesn't come out and kvetch mid-performance.

Mythical Monkey said...

The smoke and fire is much more convincing if the man behind the curtain doesn't come out and kvetch mid-performance.

Basically, I should stop reading my own writing. I happened to scroll ahead through my blog notes to the movies of the 1990s, which as we all know, I'll have to live to ninety to actually turn into essays. It was this sequence of notes that gave me a sour turn:

Dianne Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway)
"Don't speak" is not only a terrible thing to say to a writer -- just castrate him and be done with it -- she's also copying a line and gesture Greta Garbo used in Mata Hari -- she's a ham actor playacting even at love (especially at love)

A Little Princess
ostensibly about ... but it's really a lyric poem to the power of storytelling itself, ... stories transport us, buoy us up, renewing listener and teller alike ...

... through words, images and music ...

[dancing in the snow/"Kindle My Heart" sequence] []

... a scene of such beauty ... stands outside the linear narrative to speak directly to the heart ... To label the moment "pure cinema" is to reduce joy to an academic cliche, but that's what it is, cinema at its very best, speaking to us in a way that only a movie can speak to us, not simply as artistic noodling ala Josef von Sternberg but as a means of shedding the surly bonds of clumsy rationalism to tap directly into the eternal ...

(If quantum physics and objective experience teach us anything, it's that life is very nearly random, 99 and 44/100 % pure. Logic and rationalism are useful tools; so is a hammer; but not when you need a screwdriver. You can learn the techniques Alfonso Cuarón used to create the sequence, but you can't teach the talent that allowed him to make the intuitive leap ...)

bombed at the box office exposing the transparent lie that audiences hunger for simple family pleasures ... mostly we're adrenaline junkies who want to consume the comfort food of a thrice-told tale while strapped into a creaky, two-bit carnival ride ...

The Matrix
not just metaphysical, The Matrix is metaphorical, for most of us live our entire lives as cogs in a machine we don't understand, made to serve the purposes of others, not for our benefit but for theirs, discarded at last without even a gold watch to mark the occasion. They carve your name on a stone after they lay you in the ground but not even that is permanent, as the wind and the rain and the decades wash away the letters, the memories and all traces of you until nothing is left but a tangle of worms feeding in the dirt and the clay.

Just stick to Howard Hawks and Scarface essays, son ...