Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Classic takeaways

I drew these thoughts while watching several classic movies lately…. Luis Buñuel’s L'Age d'Or (The Golden Age) - screenplay by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí – is a subversive comeuppance of the French aristocracy. But employing the Surreal and Dadaist values of that period, so exemplified by Dali, the film’s absurdist humour is anything but didactic. Instead it’s amusingly comic, as when cows casually wander through a formal cocktail party, and a cook gets blown out of a kitchen and the cocktail-swilling swells pay no attention…...In The Lodger (John Brahm, 1944), the story of Jack the Ripper starring Merle Oberon and Laird Cregar (as the Ripper), dance hall scenes set in 1880's London made me think that this is one of the few ways we can access the past. We don’t have time machines but we can live vicariously by being present in an earlier era through movies of another age…..In Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1954), we catch Aubrey Hepburn again in all her glory. She is often thought of as the elegant fashion icon in her unintentionally patented little black dress. But Hepburn, in this and other films, also exudes a kind of bohemian flair. For example, in a key scene, she shows up at industrialist Linus Larrabee’s (Humphrey Bogart) downtown office building, wearing top coat and underneath, perhaps odd for the times, not heels and dress but ballet flats and leotard……In Vincente Minnelli’s 1956 Lust for Life, the story of Vincent van Gogh (played by Kirk Douglas) and based of course on the Irving Stone novel, the movie is filmed in the softest of colours, Metrocolor (the trade name used by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for films processed in its lab; virtually all films were shot on Kodak Eastmancolor – Wikipedia), with each frame itself like a lush colourful work of art……The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950) (photo above)  is a satisfyingly complete film, in that all the planning, execution, sub plots, and conclusion, come together in great clarity and effortlessly. The classic story is about a jewel heist and stars some of the biggest names of the era – Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore and Sam Jaffe, and in a minor and one of her first roles, Marilyn Monroe.

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