Happy New Years to you and yours!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Happy New Years to you and yours!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Imagine a young prince, very young, still fresh with youthful ideals and not yet tainted by the burden of royal duty. Then comes a long a beautiful young girl, a commoner only in status, but marvellous in all other respects. The young prince meets the young girl and they fall in love. All seems right until the royal burden puts a damper on their romance. They have arrived at a crossroads in their romance and their fate depends upon the prince making a major decision about his future.
This story has appeared in the history of mythology, literature and film in many forms and variations (Cinderella anyone?). Personally, I have very little information about its history, but I feel that I've come across it so many times that I have a somewhat good understanding of it. I didn't make much of this story until I read about The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1928) and after much waiting, got the chance to watch it when TCM aired it a couple of months ago. Norma Shearer plays Kathi, a maid at a beergarten who falls for the young prince Karl Heinrich, played by the very handsome Ramon Novarro, who happens to be lodging at the beergarten as a temporary escape from the palace. When the king dies, and young prince Karl takes over the throne, he has a very important decision to make. Whether to follow his heart and marry young Kathi or to honor his father's memory by fulfilling his royal obligations and marrying Princess Raquel (yes, Raquel, I did a double-take when I saw her name written on the marriage contract!).
So I thought about all the other places this story has appeared in film. With its name "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg" it was released in 1919, 1928 and 1954. The most recent incarnation of this story is Prince & Me (2004) with Julia Stiles. In that variation, the girl doesn't know that the guy she is falling for is in fact a prince. There have been subsequent sequels of that film, sans-Julia Stiles. If you are a Marilyn Monroe fan like I am, you may also recognize the story in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Its also appeared as a sub-story with minor characters in other films, such as Black Narcissus (1947). Since monarchy is an ever-dying establishment, today we seek this same story in other types of authority figures. Like the unrealistic romantic scenarios involving single presidents or prime ministers. Take for example, Michael Douglas in The American President (1995) or Hugh Grant as prime minister in Love, Actually (2003).
So why is this story so important? I don't really know. Is it a way for us to sympathize with royalty? Or does its sole purpose serve to give little girls the hope that they one day may become a princess, regardless of their current status? I'm interested enough to keep exploring the mythology of this story in film and in literature, to see how its become our ultimate story.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Me: "Wow! Eso fue una buena pelicula!!!" (Wow! That was a great movie!)
Mom: "Raquel! Yo ni me dormi!!!" (Raquel! I didn't even fall asleep!)
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
1) Kirk Douglas hallucinating by the pool with a bunch of grapes which he dangles over the water's surface. In his imagination, the mythic Faye Dunaway emerges from the water to take a bite.
2) Kirk Douglas, again hallucinating, but this time flying an airplane over the city. The scene to which my mother reacted by saying "Ay yay yay! El loco va en un avion!" (Ay yay yay! The crazy guy is flying an airplane!)
3) After Deborah Kerr, tears up the naughty pictures she finds of Douglas and Dunaway at the beach, a neat camera trick shows live action in the scraps of the pictures left behind.
4) Kirk Douglas, hallucinating, (does he do anything else?). But this time its Kirk Douglas dressed as an ad executive, in bed with Kirk Douglas, in the buff as they both smoke cigars!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Check out my slideshow to your right. It contains an album of all the pieces of my project.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Broken Code: Rape should never be more than suggested.
Mostly, this film is a being unto itself, not afraid to say what it needs to say and not afraid with how people will react or how they will interpret it. The storyline and its climax go against the very nature of the Code. The concept that a defense lawyer in his right mind can defend someone who’s intent was ambigiously justifiable, is probably a concept radical for its day. The normal chain effect of crime equals punishment does not necessarily apply here. The boundary between good and evil is blurred by the uncertainty of intention when brief insanity comes to play. Sexual tension is the root of the drama with all the film’s central character. Sex here has been used for not only just violence but also a method of manipulation for personal gain. Both Laura and Frederick Manion realize that Laura’s sexuality is what got them into this mess, so that is exactly what will be used to get them out. And the final outcome, is a film that has to be one of the greatest courtroom dramas in film history.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The History of the Hays Production Code
After being rocked by many sex, murder and drug scandals in the 20’s, the movie industry took steps to clean up its image. William H. Hays, President Warren G. Harding’s campaign manager, wrote a set of strict guideliness for movies to follow in 1927. He spent the next several years trying to get it enforced. The newly formed Motion Picture Associate of America (MPAA) adopted the Hays Code in 1930. The Code was also backed up by the newly formed Catholic Legion of Decency which felt there was a moral obligation to the members of their church. In June of 1934, a Production Code Administration was created and the Code began to be enforced. Filmmakers had to preview their films to the administration, the result of which was either a certificate of approval that allowed for public viewing of said film or the call to the filmmaker to reshoot or edit their films for content.
The details of the codes were specific, denouncing many particulars of violence, sex and morality that would forbidden to be shown on screen. It functioned off of three basic principles. The first was the prevention of lowering the moral standards of any potential audience members. The second was to have films show "correct" standards of living in good light. The third was that law and authority were not to be ridiculed and thus encourage law-breaking of any sort.
In the late ‘50s, Hollywood filmmakers were under increasing competition from television and foreign movies for their audiences. Televisions were convenient and foreign movies were not under the Production Code’s regulations and the government could not prevent these films from being shown in American theaters. Because of this filmmakers, felt the pressure to give their films an edge, which often meant exploring subject matter that was controversial. In 1952, a US Supreme Court ruling under Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson overruled the 1915 decision that claimed motion pictures were not viable under First Amendment protection. This weakened the now dying power of the Code. The most outspoken director of them all was Otto Preminger, whose films such as The Moon is Blue (1953), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959) seemed to give the middle finger to the Code.
At the turn of the decade, from the ‘50s to the ‘60s, films started to release even without the Code’s certificate of approval, weakening its authority. By the ‘60s, filmmakers started blatantly ignoring the code and exploring all sorts of themes including sex, race, culture, gender and violence. The reign of the code ended with the seminal film Blowup in 1967. It was released by MGM, who had been abiding by the Code for many years, without a certificate. After that, enforcement became impossible and the MPAA abandoned the Code in favor of the tiered rating system we have today (i.e. G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, etc).
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
1) Boxed Set slipcase
2) 12-16 page Booklet
3) 5 Promotional Postcards
4) Web Advertising Banner
The Three Faces of Eve (1957) - Orange
Baby Doll (1956) - Purple
The Night of the Hunter (1955) -Red
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) - Green
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) - Blue
Friday, December 7, 2007
Broken Code: Ministers of religion in their character as ministers of religion should be used as comic characters or as villains.
The only film the legendary actor Charles Laughton ever directed, The Night of the Hunter is an allegorical tale of good versus evil with a creepy twist. Robert Mitchum plays Reverend Powell, an antinomian and religious fanatic who is a growling evil monster that feigns to hear commands of violence and crime from the voice of God. He’s hell-bent on recovering the money his prisonmate had hidden before being arrested for robbery. His history of manipulation and corruption make him a force to be reckoned with but he is no match for innocence in its purest form: children. Its the only thing that stands in his way and he finds himself outmatched when angelic Lilian Gish as Rachel Cooper comes to the children’s rescue. Beautifully directed and stylized, the film’s creepiness stems from its characters, night time settings, tall vertical and wide horizontal shots, sharp shadows, eery silences and religious singing. The film is best known for its main character who sports the letters "L-O-V-E" and "H-A-T-E" tattooed on his knuckles. Spike Lee fans will recognize a reference to this in his film Do the Right Thing (1989).
Highly underestimated at the time of its release, this film is a classic example of allegory told and shown throw realism. This film also demonstrates the growing need for realism in film. Audiences were being wooed away from movie theatres by TV and Hollywood was in direct competition of European cinema. Filmmakers needed an edge to survive and the Hays Code seemed like a needless obstacle in their way. The Night of the Hunter approaches gritty realism in two significant ways. The first is how its not afraid to show the hideous side of death. Refusing to follow the path of many bloodless death shots of previous films, The Night of the Hunter has a truly grotesque underwater shot of a corpse that is only preceded by the a similar, but much less horrifying in Sunset Bld (1950). However, the second and arguably most defiant way it approaches realism is through its focus of the use and abuse of religion. The Reverend Powell uses his own spirtuality to do evil and in his mania believes his actions are sanctioned by God. The idea of religious authority using faith for evildoing is revolutionary for film history.
1) Robert Mitchum once said this was his favorite film to make and Laughton was his favorite director.
2) Director Charles Laughton had a difficult time with children and was helped by Mitchum to direct the child actors.
3) Director Charles Laughton was horrified by the poor reception of the film to the point where he never directed a film again.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
1) Controversial figure throughout most of his life, many people refused to stand or applaud when he received his Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 1999 Academy Awards.
2) He revealed the name of 8 known Communists to the HUAC. 3 of which were friends of his and who gave him permission to name them.
3) He was part of the Communist party for 2 years but left as he didn't like the secrecy or the propaganda involved.
4) Marlon Brando was reluctant to work with him after the HUAC controversy.
5) As a director, Elia Kazan was known for filming on location instead of in a studio, for very long takes, encouraging actors to use props, exploring intimacy and emotional distance between characters, and helping actors from the Actor's Studio get their start in films (Andy Griffith, Carroll Baker, etc).
6) Modeled the father character in East of Eden (1955) more after his own father than John Steinbeck's version in the original novel.
7) He shared Marilyn Monroe as a girlfriend with Arthur Miller, who went on to be Monroe's last husband (tee hee!).
8) Did not work well with established film stars Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on the set of Sea of Grass. They clashed artistically.
9) He was influenced by filmmaker Orson Welles.
10) Nicknamed "Gadget" or "Gadge", a name he would resent throughout his life.
11) Watch A Face in the Crowd (1957) . On pain of death. (Just kidding!)
(Just a Baby Doll (1956) shot I liked. Enjoy!)