Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cinema Styles Presents Frames of Reference

Here it is, Frames of Reference. If you missed the Tuesday post on the film here's one last overview: No sound from the films themselves, all done to one piece of music instead of the usual multiple snatches of music in montages (the music being Complex City, composed and conducted by Oliver Nelson, a piece so extraordinary with so many different tempos and breaks it cries out for film use) and with the idea being no chronological order, no genre order or preference, simply the language of film referencing itself. The opening section is purposely slow and methodical as is the music. Then it builds until at the 5:40 mark everything ramps up for the minute long finale. Enjoy.

P.S. If you have good speakers and are in a place where you can turn it up please do to get the full effect. *** Also you might want to let it fully load before playing it so it doesn't keep stopping.


**** UPDATE ****

Frames of Reference has now been uploaded to YouTube for those having problems viewing it through Blogger. To view it on YouTube or embed it go here. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Waxing and Waning: Jeanette MacDonald and Glenda Farrell

Jeanette MacDonald in between takes filming a scene for I Married an Angel (1942), one of her operettas with Nelson Eddy. In his book Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance (from where this pic was scanned) John Kobal lays the blame on the popularity of the Nelson Eddy musicals for halting Jeanette's progress as a comedienne. Remarking that she was no longer given "the opportunities... to display her comic talents," he then quotes Ernst Lubitsch as saying, "In sophisticated comedy today, she has few equals."

I decided to put this pic up after getting involved in a great discussion of actors one dislikes over at the Siren's place. Jeanette is on her list and as with any list of dislikes there is both support and dissent. In the discussion in the comments section there are also names of actors that are widely liked but have no popularity beyond their own time, such as Glenda Farrell (brought up by me and happily finding support) who is enjoyable and fun to watch in everything she ever did and yet she is virtually unknown today. Her low-grade, lighter than air, B-Movie extraordinaire Torchy Blane series of movies are pure entertainment. She exudes charm, charisma and yes, I'll say it, sass throughout.

Probably my favorite Glenda Farrell movie is 1933's Mystery of the Wax Museum. The stars listed on the poster include Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray but Farrell outshines them both. It's almost a test run for the Torchy series as she plays the same type (smart, sassy, snappy reporter), this time going up against a diabolical murderer, played sufficiently over the top by Lionel Atwill. Directed by Michael Curtiz, he of the constantly moving camera, and using a two-strip technicolor process it's a movie that despite its production date, feels like it could have been made in the sixties. It's a lot of fun and a good introduction to Farrell for those unfamiliar with her work. And it's never too late to be introduced to Farrell.