Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cat People (1942) ~ Script Review

For my screenwriting class I'm taking in graduate school, I have to read 2 scripts a week and write a one-page response for each. This week I chose to do sort of a script-double-feature and read the scripts for Cat People (1942) and it's sequel The Curse of the Cat People (1944).

Here is my response to Cat People. This is my original extended version which was later cut down for class purposes.

Val Lewton is one of my favorite producers. RKO gave him horrible concept titles and he worked with screenwriters to come up with stories based on them. With only the title and a very low-budget, he and writers like DeWitt Bodeen would come up with these amazing stories that turned out to be cult classics. For having such little money to work with and trying to make this story a "horror" movie, it was needed to set up a sense of ambiance thus the script is highly descriptive. It served its purpose, showing readers (whom were probably film executives) that this film had substance enough to entertain audiences. Also, the writing is very sensual and there is a lot of chemistry written between characters. Maybe this subtle sexuality is lost on screen to contemporary viewers because of all the sex we are bombarded with in today’s media. But reading the script, rather than watching the film, this sensuality and underlying eroticism becomes apparent. One of my favorite examples in the writing is when Oliver enters his love interest Irena's apartment for the first time, notices the perfume as smelling like something "warm and living".

Even though this story is different from what you would expect, there are no actors dressed in cheap-looking cat costumes, the writer never lets go of the "Cat" element. It's the theme that intertwines the story together. Pretty much every scene has a cat or cat-like element in it. But you don't feel overwhelmed by cats though, like you've just entered a woman's apartment and 30 cats swarm around you. There are a lot of hints thrown at the audience to give them a heads up that there is something suspicious about Irena, the main character. It's intensified by the fact that Oliver, Irena’s love interest, is oblivious to the signs which are omens of potential evil. The most famous scene is the one when Irena's jealousy overcomes her and she prepares to pounce on Alice as she swims alone in a hotel pool. Lots of writing here to set the mood, build up the tension. I noticed a heavy amount of text in order to make sure the important scenes convey what they need to.

What's really scary here? The fact that this nubile, delicate young woman can entice an everyday, normal, nice guy into marriage when her true evil, which she has tried very hard to surpress, bubbles to the surface. And the idea of being cursed and living your curse without ever having a hope to be able to break it, forever being trapped by extenuating circumstances. The idea that a basic human emotion, like jealousy, could transform oneself into a monster!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume II ~ It's so Pretty!

It's so pretty! And it's mine, all mine! It comes with 5, count 'em 5 films plus a documentary. What a great deal and what a beautiful package. My picture doesn't do it justice. Go out and get one and support Pre-Codes!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Questionnaire ~ Movie Awareness

I took Shelf Awareness' regular questionnaire that they ask authors and made it relevant to movies. See my responses below. Feel free to comment back with your own responses to these questions! I'd love to here what other people have to say!

Last movie you saw:

Do Not Disturb (1965) with Doris Day. Bleh. The only funny part was when one of the executives fed a male waiter a banana instead of one of his lovely secretaries.

Favorite movie when you were a child:

Little Mermaid (1989). There was no way I wouldn't cry when I watched it.

Your top five movies:

Out of the Past (1947), Pillow Talk (1959), You've Got Mail (1998), Emma (1996) and The Women (1939).

Movie you've faked watching:

The Graduate (1967). I know enough about it, and have seen the most famous scenes. Do I really need to watch it? Besides. After watching the horrible movie Rumor Has It... (2005), I'm kind of over it all.

Movie you are an evangelist for:

I'm an evangelist for several types of movies, but not one in particular. I love encouraging people to watch pre-codes, '60s sex comedies, scandalous '50s movies, Robert Mitchum films, Bobby Darin films, Blonde-Bette Davis films and Norma Shearer films.

Movie you've watched for no apparent reason:

Fat Girl/A Ma Souer (2001). I still don't know why. And the last scene I think scarred me for life. No I take that back. The whole movie scarred me for life.

Movie that changed your life:

You've Got Mail (1998). Put me in the book industry.

Favorite line from a movie:

Quel Nightmare! - You've Got Mail (1998)

Movie you most want to re-watch:

D.O.A. (1950). Just because I think it's awesome.

Movie you most want to watch again for the first time:

Heavenly Creatures (1994) - So I can experience the shock and wonderment of my very first viewing.

God Speed Richard Widmark (1914-2008)

It's just not fair! I even forgave him for The Tunnel of Love (1958)! Goodbye Richard Widmark. You shall be missed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 2

So on Friday I broke down and went ahead and purchased the TCM Archives Boxed Set "The Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 2". I was going to buy it eventually but had just been renting it. Since I have a unique passion for Pre-Codes, I should be supporting the ones that are being put out on DVD. Especially ones that I'm interested in, like The Divorcee (1930), A Free Soul (1931) and Night Nurse (1931), all of which I had been waiting a substantial amount of time to view and all of which I had missed or only seen part of when aired on TCM.

So I forked over the $40 (hey I finished paying for school, so it's not so bad right?) and my set should be coming in a few days. I did happen to catch the Thou Shalt Not documentary, before I returned my second DVD to Netflix. I was very impressed by it. I wrote a lot of film names down, all of which, to my dismay, are not available on DVD, grrr. The documentary is very informative and chic, in that TCM style. There was one comment at the end that switched on the proverbial light bulb above my head. One of the interviewees said that although the Hays Code did a lot to stifle films in the late 30s to early 50s with its strict censorship, it was also a blessing to the film industry. It forced filmmakers to be more creative about conveying things in their stories in such a way that it would squeak by the censors. And thus we get some of the most well-written stories in the history of film. If you ever watch Family Guy, you'll know young Chris always does a funny "whhhhhhaaaaatt?" when he finds out something truly shocking. I had that kind of a moment. Here I was thinking that the films from that 20+ year span were being held back and I always wondered what they could be without so many restrictions. But now I realize that they may not have been as clever without the Hays Code restrictions. What would Out of the Past (1947) be with all its witty dialogue? So in the end, this documentary made me appreciate something that I had been taking for granted all this time!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

60's Movie Night

I have been out of commission for a while. I caught whatever bug is going around (although I could have sworn I had some form of pneumonia).

I wanted to make sure I posted about the movie night I hosted 2 Saturdays ago. With a '60s theme, I showed Pillow Talk (1959) and Come September (1961) and some parts of If a Man Answers (1962). I tricked out my pad with designs, cooked and baked and even dressed up. I had themes galore.

Films - '60s Sex Comedies
Raquel's Perception of '60s Style - Dots and Stripes and weird shapes.
Homemade Take-Out - Because aren't people always ordering take-out or eating out in '60s films? The Apartment (1960), With Six You Get Eggroll (1968). In fact, I had 6 people over and we did have eggroll!
Chocolates and Cherries - Because it's sexy and fun. Just like the '60s!
'60s Clothes - I offered up to people the opportunity to dress up in '60s style, open to interpretation.

I put a lot more effort into this one than I did my last one, and I think it came out pretty well. Although some people did not participate in the pillow tossing portion! You know who you are!

(Spoiler alert!) The highlight of the evening was provided by my good friend Kevin. He pointed out something I had never noticed before. In Pillow Talk, when Doris Day's character Jan discovers that Rock Hudson's Rex is really the other annoying half of her party line, Brad Allen, she storms out of a cozy Connecticut cabin. Leaving Rock behind, with an armful of firewood. He was left with wood. Literally and metaphorically! I love it! I would have never noticed it unless he had pointed it out.

I'm a firm believer in the communal film watching experience. Good friends and good flicks. A perfect combination.

~ Kevin and Alicia dressed with '60s flare~

Friday, March 7, 2008

Classic Film Bloggers: Some of my Favorites Part I

I like to think that 9 months into this blogging venture, that I am now part of the classic film blogger community. We all offer something different but we are the same in that we provide new and fresh perspectives on classic movies. In this way, we are keeping film history alive.

Here are some of my favorites classic film bloggers, what I like about them and what they have posted recently that is of particular interest to me. Enjoy!

Allure ~

What I like: A biographical sketch and beautiful vintage photographs on starlets from the 20s and 30s. Not only beautiful to look at, but its great to be introduced to lesser-known actresses and maybe get a good film recommendation while you are at it.

Recent post I enjoyed: A sketch and pictures of the tragic Peggy Shannon.

Classic Montgomery ~

What I like: Not only do I love the idea of being a "fangirl", but I also love this chic blog whose focus is primarily the great film actor, Robert Montgomery. Photos, articles, video clips, TCM schedules and general posts about related actors.

Recent post I enjoyed: Picture post of images from Montgomery's film The Big House (1930), which I have never heard of but now am dying to see.

Greenbriar Picture Shows ~

What I like: Lots of photos and film posters accompany an in-depth article which focuses on one particular film. Never boring, the language is jazzy and the content is genuinely interesting.

Recent post I enjoyed: Post on D.O.A. one of my favorite film noirs. Did you know that stomach abuse was popular is postwar noir? Right in the belly!

Relative Esoterica ~

What I like: The writing is absolutely supberb. I feel more intelligent just after reading one post. A mix of film as well as music, this blog is something I can really sink my teeth into.

Recent post I enjoyed: An exploration of dog stories in film and literature, with a focus on Jack London.

These are only a few of many. I'll post about my other favorites in another installment.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol 2 on TCM Monday night

Madly preoccupied with homework, it completely slipped my mind that the Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume 2 is out on DVD this week Yay! It features 2 Norma Shearer classics, a Blonde Bette Davis film as well as an early Stanwyck. Pretty much everything to make a Pre-code fan like me jump with glee.

If you simply cannot wait for the DVD to be out on the 4th, TCM is featuring all the films including the added documentary Monday night!

The Divorcee (1930) ~ 8:00 pm (EST)
Night Nurse (1931) ~10:45 pm (EST)
Three on a Match (1932) ~ 12:00 am (EST
A Free Soul (1931) ~ 3:45 am (EST)

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