Each was a weird combination of virile and paralysis—and each was gorgeous, with much to prove, like so many actors. But their self-consciousness, which registered as self-effacement, was made legendary because of the era in which they blossomed as stars. This is why we’ll never have another Marlon Brando (the hunter) or Montgomery Clift (the haunted) or Gene Kelly (the haughty)—what they did onscreen was the result of social forces and constraints, not just manner. Broadly speaking this is more … Read More
Tag Archives: Here & Now & Then
I’m not convinced William Katt’s hair places Carrie unavoidably in 1976. But it does provide an obsessively orchestrated film with a lovable sore thumb. Katt’s hair “dates” Carrie to such a degree that it threatens to become both a minor (detail) and major (tonal) issue, impossible to ignore amidst all the clockwork-precise machinations that continue to make Carrie blissfully tense viewing even if you know every single beat. And it wasn’t the only meticulously constructed, visually fussy horror movie in … Read More
As with Babes in Arms and They Shall Have Music, Eternally Yours never stood the chance to stand the seemingly all-important test of time. Its virtues need not transcend the year in which it was made. The point of highlighting these largely forgotten films is not to banally assert the presence of mediocrity alongside masterpieces, it’s to celebrate Hollywood for the system that it was.
In terms of faithfulness to source material and oversimplification of plot and theme, kids’ movies based on books tend to get a free pass. Historically, they have been taken from fairy tales or novels that were themselves written for juveniles. This is why Disney’s 1996 adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame was and remains so strikingly odd, based on a novel from 1831 that was not written with tots in mind.
Bad taste—or least what constitutes it—is a matter of, well, taste. Way earlier in 1964, Kiss Me, Stupid’s possible savior Peter Sellers provided the glue that held together the disparate strands of Kubrick’s precarious Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. And though that film poked callous fun at, and cannily exploited, the Cold War fears of the American populace, its slapstick vision of total human annihilation wasn’t met with the same ire as … Read More
Regardless of the drastic decline in the quality of Shyamalan’s films, his downfall is also reflective of a general fickleness in public taste. One way of emotionally and aesthetically gauging a given year in American cinema is to look at its star players who have since fallen out of favor. In the year 2000, Shyamalan was on top of the world; the title of his new release, Unbreakable, seemed like it might be describing him as much as the movie … Read More
The next year we’d have that first trickle of American films that willfully catered to a younger, increasingly rebellious audience ready to toss out old Hollywood with delight. But in 1966, we seem to have a perfect example of that middling middle ground between the bloated behemoths and international coproductions that had finally subsumed the American movie scene, keeping audiences away in droves, and the aggressively youth-minded, politically oriented films on the horizon.
In The Good Earth, Luise Rainer is heavily altered, in appearance and manner, but one can’t say she disappears into the role. As in the various examples of stunt casting that exist to this day (though now it’s usually about “uglying up,” like Charlize Theron in Monster, as opposed to trying on ethnicities like different colored hats), you’re always aware of the actor beneath the makeup. However, 1937 offered another wholly transformed actress, and this one really did vanish into … Read More