Late this afternoon Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, Boxoffice.com’s Phil Contrino and I discussed The Dark Knight Rises, the slaughter in Aurora, the temporary shelving of box-office reporting, the venality of the NRA and a few other things. Here’s a stand-alone mp3 link.
The Lawrence of Arabia “balcony scene,” in which Jack Hawkins (Gen. Alllenby) emotionally manipulates Major Lawrence (Peter O’Toole), will be included as an extra on the forthcoming Lawrence Bluray. I’ve pasted the scene’s pages, taken from Robert Bolt‘s screenplay, after the jump. The following excerpt from a 2000 interview with original Lawrence restoration director Robert Harris, conducted by Geoff McNeal, offers some background:
Harris: “When we were completing the cut, we attempted to put together a balcony scene in reel 11B, in which Allenby works to get Lawrence to go back to Arabia. The scene had been hacked in the shorter version. David [Lean] wanted it in. [Screenwriter Robert] Bolt felt it was the finest scene he had ever written, which is saying a great deal. David directed the looping of dialogue in London with Peter and, lending his voice to the Jack Hawkins character, Charles Gray. We had requested that the studio check the voices on a few actors and select the best for the roll. They simply took the first on the list, which was Gray — a fine actor [who] sounded nothing like Hawkins.*
“When we put together the scene, it was obvious that Gray’s voice didn’t work. At precisely this time, David had to leave for the Cannes Film Festival, [and Columbia chief] Dawn Steel wanted to see the film before he left and we went about recutting the scene once again for a special screening. It was a horrific decision and something that I should have fought at the time, but didn’t. David wanted the Allenby lines revoiced and put back at some time in the future. [But] the cutting room was shut down and it never happened. I’ve been trying to get the extended scene reinstated ever since. It adds layers to the film which are unbelievably rich. Their feeling, and one cannot find ultimate fault with their position, is that David allowed the film to be screened in 1989 without the additional footage, thereby accepting it as ‘his’ cut.”
…and you all know the rest. Hawkins/Allenby says “that’s a feeble thing to say” and so on.
“I suggest that all moviesgoers join in a class action suit against the National Rifle Association. The 100 million moviegoers should be entitled to at least $20 each for the harm caused to them by this incident. The National Rifle Association should be sued for at least $2 billion for enabling the Colorado movie massacre.
“The NRA has fought consistently to prevent gun control laws that could have averted this tragedy. The facts are clear and overwhelming that gun control works. One has only to look at the countries that have strong gun control laws to see that they have much lower violent death rates and no massacres. The link between gun control and lower violent death rates is as scientifically proven as the link between smoking and cancer. Any reasonable jury when presented with the facts would understand this and see the connection.” — Notes to Aphrodite‘s Jay Raskin, posted a day or two ago.
I love the back-and-forth energy between Al Pacino and Charles Durning in this scene from Dog Day Afternoon. Although I suspect, knowing Pacino, that it was at least somewhat improvised, credit for most of the dialogue, I’m presuming, has to go to Frank Pierson, who won an Oscar for the DDA screenplay, and who died today at age 87. He was working right up to the end — his last credit was for Mad Men. Good fellow.
Pierson was a director-writer, but his best work was on the page. I’d like to be generous but the two best films he directed — A Star Is Born and King of the Gypsies — weren’t all that good. His best scripts were for Cat Ballou (’65), Cool Hand Luke (’67), The Looking-Glass War (’69), Dog Day Afternoon (’75) and Presumed Innocent (’90).
We’re less than two weeks away from the 50th anniversary of the 8.5.62 death of Marilyn Monroe, and I’m in possession of an 8.6.62 copy of the N.Y. Daily News that headlines her death. The whole thing, 48 pages worth. With a story about JFK urging tough drug laws and the N.Y. Yankees losing to the White Sox in the 13th inning and everything else that was considered news that day.
The paper it’s printed on feels like it could disintegrate in your hands, like something lifted out of an Egyptian tomb. It’s not even amber or yellowish any more — it’s brown.
I’ll never sell it but I wonder what it’s worth to serious Marilyn fans? A couple of hundred? More?
You can just smell the contempt in Dave Kehr‘s N.Y. Times review of Olive Films’ recently released Bluray of Fred Zinneman‘s High Noon. And who woulda thunk that Kehr, a brainy, tweedly-deedly Manhattan critic who knows from scholastic film culture like no one’s business, would side with Howard Hawks and John Wayne on the matter of Marshall Will Kane’s pleas for help from the citizens of Hadleyville?
Hawks and Wayne are famed for having expressed disgust that Kane would ask for special deputies to help him fight the Frank Miller gang after the noon train arrives. They thought this was unmanly and contemptible, and their eventual response was Rio Bravo, a 1959 western that was roughly about the same situation (i.e., bad guys coming to town to shoot it out) but was basically about homies sticking together and looking out for each other.
“Whatever message it was meant to convey, High Noon was always a sort of meta-western, conceived by a group of filmmakers who had little or no previous experience with the genre,” Kehr writes. Let me explain to Kehr what High Noon is meant to convey. It’s meant to convey that fair-weather friends are a dime a dozen, that most people are cowards or at the very least don’t mean what they say, and that when the chips are down there’s only person you can really count on — yourself. Got it?
Gary Cooper, who won an Oscar for his performance as Kane, “never seems quite right for the role,” says Kehr, particularly “as he goes door to door begging the terrified citizens to help him stand up to the vengeful outlaw (Ian MacDonald) returning on the noon train. At one point he even puts his head down on his desk and seems to cry.”
Are you feeling that Wayne attitude? Are you sensing that Hawks snarly-tude? This, apparently, is what your hardcore Rio Bravo fan thinks like, deep down. Real men are real men, and not only do they they not reveal that they’re scared, they just plum flat-out never feel scared, period.
“With Marlon Brando or Montgomery Clift, Kane’s vulnerability might have registered with some dramatic and thematic force,” Kehr writes, “[but] Cooper retreats into a rigid self-consciousness.” Bullshit — he’s obviously sweating and fretting his way through this ordeal, holding on and manning up as best he can.
I agree with Kehr that High Noon‘s “vague critique of western machismo remains one of the film’s few identifiably liberal elements (one other being the Katy Jurado character, a Mexican woman who has suffered from discrimination). Foreman’s portrait of the townspeople as trembling cowards hardly seems designed to exalt the masses.
But Kehr is all wet when he tries to draw a link between High Noon and the Korean War and the threat of atomic annihilation, to wit: “What convinces in High Noon is the film’s sense of social malaise, of a community drained of coherence and conviction in the face of overwhelming fear — certainly a plausible portrait of a country in which, according to a Gallup poll in September 1951, about half the respondents believed that the Korean conflict represented the beginning of an atomically charged World War III.”
The straight-to-DVD-or-Netflix movie is one thing, but what do you call a film that’s apparently so dead it doesn’t even rate the video bin? How can a film be so bad that its producers don’t want to even earn at least some lunch and subway-pass money from this or that video platform? I understand write-offs but what’s the point of throwing a movie into a ten-foot-deep hole and covering it up with dirt?
Sienna Miller during filming of Beeban Kidron’s Hippie Hippie Shake
Case in point: Beeban Kidron‘s Hippie Hippie Shake, a piece-of-shit adaptation of Richard Neville‘s memoir about running Oz, the famed London counter-culture weekly, in the late ’60s. Shot in late ’07 and then gradually and sluggishly abandoned by distributors (including Universal), it’s not purchasable or rentable anywhere. I tried to watch it on Yidio.com and Lovefilm.com…nothing happened.
Don’t those nude scenes of Sienna Miller matter to anyone?
I think it’s because ’60s hippie movies always put out some kind of impossible-to-stomach, go-away-and-stay-away atmosphere. Four and a half years ago I wrote that “I’d love to see this Tim Bevan-Eric Fellner production do it right, but haven’t hippie films always been a problem? Isn’t there some kind of curse upon any film trying to reenact or reconstitute that old love beads-slash-Bhagavad Gita-slash-Moody Blues vibe? Isn’t there something immensely difficult if not impossible in trying to make that incense-and-peppermints chemistry seem palatable by the standards of 21st Century culture?”
Three years ago I wrote that “the rep of this poor misbegotten film has gone from intriguing to worrisome to there-must-be-something-wrong to massive fartbomb.”
Roughly 18 months ago Sydney Morning Herald reporters Gary Maddox and Steve Meacham wrote that “more than three years after the film was shot in England, rumours that Hippie Hippie Shake has turned out dismally have proved to be accurate. After a promised release failed to eventuate last year, the British production company, Working Title, has confirmed it will not reach cinemas. A distribution source said: ”There are cases where movies just come out really…badly.”
Benjamin Wallace‘s chatty, sometimes brazenly phrased Vulture piece about the dissolution of TomKat (“An Inquiry Into The Very Public Private Marriage of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise“) comes to the conclusion that apart from the venal Scientology element, the possibly-straight Cruise isn’t as much to blame for the breakup as much as Holmes’ feelings of being “trapped in someone else’s movie.
Illustrations by New York‘s Kagan McLeod.
“Promised above-the-title billing, [Holmes] never managed to move beyond a supporting role,” Wallace writes. “Where at 26 she found Cruise’s monster life ‘exciting,’ at 33 it just made her feel smaller. And it doesn’t require any overt or conscious cynicism on Holmes’s part, or mean she wasn’t genuinely smitten with Cruise when they wed, for her also to have expected the union to be a boon to her career.
“Marrying Cruise had done wonders for Nicole Kidman, who not only became massively more famous but whose acting career took off while she and Cruise were still together. And Holmes, who already had a hit TV series to her name and a $1 million role in Batman Begins at the time of her wedding, was starting ahead of where Kidman had. Indeed, marrying Cruise did make Holmes a lot more famous — there she was on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, styled by Victoria Beckham — but it also, because of Cruise’s bizarreries, drove her Q rating downward. When her character was reprised in the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight, Holmes was passed over for Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“She got parts in mostly small movies, but they bombed at the box office. The Times called Holmes the ‘weakest link’ in Mad Money, and for her work in the Adam Sandler comedy Jack & Jill, she was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress at the 2011 Golden Raspberry Awards (her second nomination; she had received the first for Batman Begins).
“At the same time, unfavorable comparisons between her and fellow Dawson’s Creek alumna Michelle Williams became painfully inescapable. As Williams became a figure of sympathy because of her husband (the late Heath Ledger), Holmes became a joke because of hers. Holmes is said (scout’s honor!) to have been enraged by Williams’s success. While Holmes was playing Jackie O. in a mini-series that ended up airing on Reelz — that’s Channel 238 in the Time Warner NY cable system, if you’re wondering — Williams was playing JFK’s sometime-mistress Marilyn Monroe, in a feature film, en route to a third Oscar nomination.
“But Scientology, or rather its terrible reputation, offered a way out. Holmes, unable to get the kinds of roles she wanted, realized she could cast herself in the part of a lifetime. Like Truman in The Truman Show, she finally grasped her ontological status as a character in a fiction, and that self-awareness propelled her out of the story and crashing through the fourth wall. She knew a good third-act twist when she saw one.
“‘It’s not like she ever had a huge career to begin with. She was a rising star. Now she will have a huge career,’ says an editor at a leading celebrity magazine. Holmes, emerging from a seven-year, one-on-one apprenticeship with the world’s most famous action hero, simply rewrote the script.”
“Or maybe she didn’t. But what a story.”