Thanks for the recommendation! I was (mostly) enjoying the GoT books, but finally just threw up my hands and put it down in the middle of Book 3. Every time you turn around a woman is getting tortured, or raped, or killed, or all of the above. Ugh.
Thanks for the recommendation! I was (mostly) enjoying the GoT books, but finally just threw up my hands and put it down in the middle of Book 3. Every time you turn around a woman is getting tortured, or raped, or killed, or all of the above. Ugh.
Original Drewssentials Air Date: May 18, 2013
Description from TimeWarner and TiVo: Baron Frankenstein creates a hissing, frizzy-haired female for this other monster.
Robert: This is one of your favorite films, isn’t it?
Drew: I. LOVE. This movie.
Robert: Why do you love it so much?
Drew: It just … it speaks to me, I enjoy it. I think, um, … You know, I was having a thought, actually, this morning before we came into work and I thought, you know, I tend to really enjoy films that entertain you with stimulating your mind about what the messages are in the movie, um, and I think this movie does that brilliantly. As well as I just think it also looks amazing the way that they cut the sequence when they’re creating her with all the angles and the editing and the shadows and lights. It’s just unbelievable for that time. And I think the ‘look’ of The Bride is very cool and innovative for 1935. I was, like, who came up with that hair, because that is so cool, and so iconic.
Robert: Did you know that, uh, you know, instead of Esla Lanchester playing The Bride of Frankenstein(1), they wanted, uh, Louise Brooks, you know, who has such a different look. I mean, it would have been a totally different kind of thing. But, that the jerky moments, and movements they got was from Brigitte Helm, who was the woman in METROPOLIS, remember when she, the mechanical woman, that comes to life. (Drew: Yes.) So, it’s just interesting how they pieced all that together, too. Had you seen FRANKENSTEIN before?
Drew: I’ve seen FRANKENSTEIN, and I also read the book, so I was really excited also, um, when they used the mechanism of the beginning of the film is Mary Shelley (Robert: And have a prologue) is sitting around with Lord Byron, and they’re, you know, discussing where her writing is going. (Robert: Right) So I love when you play with sort of the literary figures that this is all stemmed from. Um, and I loved the book of “Frankenstein”, so, you know, I always love seeing which way people sort of weave in and out of a story that has been attempted so many different times, so many different ways.
Robert: Right. And we should say this was, uh, a sequel four years later from the original FRANKENSTEIN (Drew: Right) which James Whale had directed with Karloff, Boris Karloff in the movie.
Drew: Yes. Who’s just “Karloff” in the title sequence.
Robert: Yeah. He also wanted Bela Legosi, who’d been so successful as DRACULA, to also play FRANKENSTEIN, and he really didn’t want to do it because he, uh, didn’t want to do a part that he doesn’t really talk in, that he just kind of grunts. Yet, Boris Karloff really didn’t want to do the sequel, and was never happy with the sequel, because he did talk. I was surprised when I saw it expecting another FRANKENSTEIN, that it is less of a horror film and more a story about…he’s a very sympathetic character in this movie (Drew: very), becomes very sympathetic, and nobody understands him. I mean, he kills a few people along the way, but that’s, that’s the nature of it.
Drew: Hey, that’s the business!
Robert: (laughing) Yeah, that’s show business! But, ah, but it’s, it, you really feel sorry for the monster in this movie, it’s a very tender story in a way. And also the rhythm of this movie is great, because they’ve got Una O’Connor, wonderful character actor, she’s screaming in this all the time,(2) and she adds humor to it just when you kind of need a little lightness in there.
Drew: Yes. It really does have amazing pace, this film. (Robert: yeah) It flies by, it’s amazing, it’s beautiful to look at, it’s entertaining, and uh, and it is super cool.
Robert: Uh huh. Well, we’re going to see it right now.
Robert: Super cool. Here’s a must-see for any fright-film fan, certainly. From director James Whale, released by Universal Pictures in 1935, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.
(1) Titular line: DRINK!
(2) Massive understatement.
Robert: Do you have a big, favorite scene in this movie?
Drew: Um, I, I definitely think my favorite cinematic scene is when they’re creating The Bride of Frankenstein (1) with the electricity and all the shots and angles, you know, are going on. Um, but I think one of the scenes that also delighted me so much in the movie is when he reveals, um, the miniature people he’s created: the Ballerina, and the Mermaid, and the little King and Queen. I’m just like this is such a great ride, (Robert: yeah) this is such a beautiful little film; so great.
Robert: One interesting thing is one of the little people he created is, uh, Henry the Eighth, and yet Henry the Eighth was, you know, the character that won Charles Laughton the Oscar, Charles Laughton married to Elsa Lanchester. I think that was not by accident.
Drew: No, I…, I don’t imagine it was.
Robert: Yeah. And I also love, uh, Ernest Thesiger, who played Doctor Pretorius. He’s got one of those faces that you can’t forget, (Drew: no!) and you know you’re in a horror film if he is there.
Robert: Yeah, I looked it up, he was 57 at the time. He looks like he’s a hundred and twenty nine, easy.
Drew: You wouldn’t want to meet him in a back alley.
Robert: No. And the way that you have the shadows, and the way he talks, and everything.
Drew: And his nose.
Robert: Yeah, he looks mad as a hatter!
Drew: And I love the things that, you know, like the man in the cap, and that he …
Robert: That’s the one problem I had with this movie, if you’ve ever …
Drew: Oh, really? I love it, Robert hates it!
Robert: No, no, no, no, I don’t hate it! That, if you’ve ever seen YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and where Mel Brooks does as parody of that sequence, it’s very hard to see it as it was meant to be seen, where you … ‘cause it’s a very sweet scene, and very tender scene, and everything kind of gets crossed-up, which Mel Brooks satirized so wonderfully in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. But, having laughed at it, it’s very hard for me now to see it without getting a chuckle out in that.
Drew: Well, that’s, I, I love that, and again, if I ever get this job again, we have to do YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. (Robert: Yes.) It might’ve even been on my list this year, I don’t remember, I, but I, I, we have to talk about YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, (Robert: yeah) because that’s, you know, one of the most brilliant incarnations of Frankenstein ever.
Robert: Yes, we have some good stories about that, too.
Drew: Oh, good! Oh, please…!
Robert: Yes, indeed. Good. Now have a look at our Essential selection for next week.
(1) Titular line: DRINK!
Robert and Drew name-check YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN 4 times.
From TimeWarner and TiVo: A songwriter’s big check puts chorus girls to work but incurs his brother’s wrath.
Original Drewssentials air date: May 4, 2013.
Drew: Well, I want to thank you because you brought THE BAND WAGON to the table last year, and this year you brought GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, and I loved it!
Robert: Isn’t it great?
Robert: I mean, it’s so whacky, it’s so wild. Not only the Busby Berkeley numbers that are so incredible, but when you really think about…I mean, this is insane that a musical about The Depression days with songs about “My Forgotten Man”, and about how guys that fought in the 1st World War 15 years later are now standing in bread lines, nobody feeding them, and, that’s a musical? And opens with Ginger Rogers all dressed with coins and stuff (Drew: “We’re in the Money”) singing “We’re in the Money.” I mean, it’s so bizarre that you think anybody could get away with that, but that was the kind of thing that, you know, helped people in The Depression days.
Drew: Well, you talked about this, um, when we were speaking about another film. And, and I think it was when we were talking about the balance of comedy and drama in THE BIG CHILL. And, you know, this film really sort of hits home, um, from all the producers of these plays that they keep saying: “We’re gonna make The Depression funny. And we’re gonna make them, you know, we’re gonna make them laugh about The Depression.”(1) And, um, that, that humor was their way of not only dealing with it, but their way of helping people that came into the theatre escape (Robert: right) the depression of The Depression.
Robert: Right. ‘Cause there’re so many movies, actually, musicals in the 40’s during the 2nd World War that totally ignored the war altogether. I mean, you’d never know there was a war on. The thinking then being that people that were going through the war, they wanted to get away from that when they went to the movies. (Drew: yep) So, this takes the total opposite approach. (Drew: exactly) They’re not ignoring The Depression going on outside, but they’re kind of capitalizing on it. (Drew: exactly) But, they do it so in a merry way, and you’ve got this wonderful cast. You’ve got a lot of the old timers in the, uh, supporting roles. But then you’ve got all these fresh faces: Ginger Rogers, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, singing. (Drew: Joan Blondell) You’ve got these, Joan Blondell. I mean, these were just terrific people.
Drew: Yeah. Some of the movies when we watch them, you know, seem anachronistic.(2) They, they were really set in their, you know, time capsule. Um, there were parts of this movie, especially with the, the women. The men seemed a little the way they talked, you know, the way they dressed, you know, the cadence and the clothes, obviously, sort of keep them in a time capsule. But, the women really reminded me of modern women. They are, you know, working women, they’re, you know, they call them “Gold Diggers”, but a lot of the film is about them just passionately wanting a job.(3) (Robert: right) It had a freshness and a relevance that (Robert: right) just seem so true today.
Robert: And they were smarter than the guys.
Drew: Yeah. Well, they were playing the guys. (Robert: yes) And then, you know, the games are afoot (Robert: right) in this movie.
Robert: Yes. And great fun.
Robert: Yeah. Joyful and great music score, Harry Warren and Al Dubin(4), some wonderfully, uh, inventive songs, and wonderful songs. And then of course those Busby Berkeley designs. I mean, they’re like, insane. (Drew: I never can get enough) They could never go on in the theatre. (Drew: I know!) But they’re so, such a treat to the eye. And kind of fun also, because it was just before they really put teeth into the Hollywood Production Code, so they could get away with a lot of skin (Drew: absolutely) that’s because a few years later you couldn’t get away with that at all in movies. For years!
Drew: No. It became very conservative.
Robert: Yeah. Yeah, very whitewashed. So, anyway, I’m glad you liked it.
Drew: I really enjoyed myself watching this movie, and I also felt that it was incredibly relevant for today.
Robert: Great. Well, let’s have a look at it. Here, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, great example of the brilliance of Busby Berkeley. From Warner Brothers: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933.
(1) What…what is she talking about? What “plays”? Is she talking about the musicals in the movie? About movies of the 30’s themselves? I’M CONFOOZED, DREW!
(2) Gonna go ahead and nominate this for an Inigo Montoya Moment.
(3) The difference being that these women passionately wanted a job in 1933 not because they necessarily wanted a ‘career’, but because they wanted to eat.
(4) Harry Warren wrote the music, Al Dubin wrote the lyrics.
Robert: I’ve never seen, I don’t think, a more unusual end to a, to a merry musical than that one.
Drew: Well, do you think that they were trying to carry you through The Depression with a sort of optimism and a sense of humor but at the end (Robert: Well, I … ) they didn’t want to say, “we don’t acknowledge … the reality…”
Robert: Right. I think they’re saying this is what we’re leaving you with. You know. That, think about this. (Drew: yeah) You know, they didn’t want anything else mucking it up at the end. (Drew: Well, I …) And I think it was a very daring decision to do that.
Drew: I agree.
Robert: This was an enormously popular picture. But, wow, that, uh, that’s a stinging, uh, stinging statement to make at the end of a musical….yeah.
Drew: I really respect the choice immensely.
Robert: So it’s also not something that they’re looking back, you know, at a earlier era. That’s was going on at that moment in this country.
Drew: Well, everything they were talking about in the movie was so current to what was happening right then and there. So, and it’s current today.
Robert: Yeah. Do you have a favorite line in the movie?
Drew: Um, I love when he says, you know, “I didn’t, I don’t mean to call you ‘cheap and vulgar’,” and she says “every time you say ‘cheap and vulgar’ I’m going to kiss you.”(1) It’s like, hmmm! Mmm-hmm. Love it. (Robert: Yeah) It’s just great, and delicious, and they, you know, that they, there was just a flair for dialog then that was, you know, sort of controversial and yet made delicious. And, and I love that. (Robert: yeah) I love that about those times. I love that, you know, when we were discussing, you see people going to the theatre in the movie and they’re just dressed up to the nine’s.
Robert: Oh, there was a time they all wore tuxedos to opening nights in New York.
Drew: And sequined gowns!
Robert: People looked so good.
Drew: So good!
Robert: They made the scenery look so good!
Drew: At the height of The Depression people made that effort, and I hope we never lose sight of that completely.
Robert: So, so when you become President and/or Empress of the World, will you make that one of your first orders of business, that people have to dress up for the theatre?
Drew: Every Monday night!
Robert: And I will vote for you!
Drew: Every Monday night you have to dress up.
Robert: Ok. All right.
Drew: Every Sunday night have Chinese food.
Robert: Ok, you got my vote.(2) Ok, we’re gonna move on. Here’s a sneak preview of the film we have for you next time on The Essentials.
(1) Drew’s pitch-perfect memory strikes again. The conversation actually happened the other way around:
Lawrence: I love you Polly.
Carol: My name’s not Polly!
Lawrence: Whatever your name is, I love you.
Carol: Carol, that’s my name. Cheap and vulgar Carol. Daughter of Brooklyn saloon keeper and a woman who took in washing. Carol, torch singer at Coney Island. Cheap and vulgar!
Lawrence: Every time you say ‘cheap and vulgar’ I’m going to kiss you!
Carol: Cheap and vulgar! (kiss) Cheap and vulgar! (kiss) Cheap and vulgar! (kiss)
(2) You don’t actually get to vote for “Empress”. Also, this entire exchange made me sad because it’s just so tone-deaf it hurts. The people who ‘made an effort’ to dress up in the middle of The Depression were the ones who could afford to. The ones who couldn’t were either performing on the stage or selling apples out front or working for the people inside.
From TiVo and TimeWarner: A cattleman and his spoiled wife watch an upstart oilman try to take over Texas.
Original Drewssentials air date: April 27, 2013
Drew: This is such an interesting film to discuss because it’s such a high-caliber, important film. Um, I mean, this is sort of, you know, Film Study 101: you must watch GIANT.
Robert: Right. You got George Stevens, if for no other reason one should see this because of George Stevens, all the wonderful movies he made, and this is certainly part, an important part, of his catalog. And he won the Academy Award for it.
Drew: And only one who won an Academy Award, out of how many nominations?
Robert: Yes, ten nominations (Drew: yeah) and this was the only, uh, actual, his was the only win among them. But, he was the one in charge of the whole thing. It’s such an epic story, it’s uh, uh, based on a book by Edna Ferber, who wrote CIMARRON and SHOW BOAT, and, you know, DINNER AT EIGHT, and a lot of great things. But, I think it’s one of those epics that is very imposing in all ways. (Drew: yeah) They shot it on location, but it feels big. And, it’s about a big state, and it’s about big people. I mean, it’s just big all the way through. I have one objection to it, and that’s I think it’s too long. It, it was in that era when …
Drew: Three-and-a-half hours.
Robert: Three-and-a-half hours. And it’s in that one of that eras when, when movies were all being, uh, shown on road show, so they wanted to give customers who were paying more money to see it more movie, and, uh, it’s a long sit. But it’s got beautiful people in it, and it’s got very good actors in it: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, and then wonderful people like Mercedes McCambridge, Carroll Baker, …
Drew: Dennis Hopper…
Robert: Dennis Hopper,
Drew: Sal Mineo.
Robert: Sal Mineo. I mean it’s really loaded with talented people.
Drew: You’re right, everything is big scale: Texas, and oil, and, you know, the whole span of this family’s, uh, story, and yet it has the intimacy of a play in the fact that it takes place in so few locations, and, in, you know, in such a, so much in the house as well.
Robert: And it has poignancy to it, too, from the standpoint that James Dean, this was the last film he made, because it was like 2 weeks after they finished filming that he was killed in the car accident. And, uh, Rock Hudson, you know, who died much too young, this was like the most important film he did, and it shows what a really impressive leading man he could be when he had good material. He’s got a strong role, everybody wanted to play it, but he’s big like the title, and, uh, he’s very good in it.
Drew: Yes! And I also admire Elizabeth Taylor for not letting on that James Dean was the most cool, beautiful man on the planet.(1) (Robert: yeah) You know, she seems, uh, so wonderfully loyal and determined, you know, to make her marriage work, and to figure out the ups and downs of marriage, that the sign of the times with the way that men and women had their dynamics in the household, and there’s James Dean. I personally would have been falling all over myself (2), but I, I just thought it was amazing how they didn’t sort of, like, overplay their chemistry. Um, that you felt like this was the unit, her and Rock Hudson (Robert: right), where they’re trying to, you know, find their way.
Robert: Well, after the movie, I also want to talk a little about Elizabeth Taylor; I don’t want to talk about this before the movie, but just see what you think about something. Uh, I have an idea about this.
Robert: Ok, is that alright?
Drew: I’m looking forward to it.
Robert: Ok, we’ll do…well, let’s watch the movie right now. Here it is, a sprawling drama based on the novel by Edna Ferber, from Warner Brothers in 1956: GIANT.
(1) Part of me always wonders if James Dean would have the same reputation today if he’d lived. The fact that he died young, in a car accident, and after only three movies, has (IMO) led him to be lionized in a way that I’m not so sure would have happened if his career had stretched over a few decades. Maybe he would still be a legend, and maybe his vices (of which there were allegedly many) would have ended up destroying him, as they did to so many others. (Montgomery Clift is the first example that comes to mind.)
(2) Drew, how many times do we have to go over this, it’s called ACTING. The ‘impressive’ thing is not the fact that Elizabeth Taylor managed to keep her panties on while she was around James Dean, it’s her performance, because, you know: ACTING.
Original Drewssentials air date: April 27, 2013.
Note: This one is a perfect example of one of biggest difficulties involved with transcribing “The Essentials”: parenthetical statements. Click this text for a definition. (In short: a thought within a thought.) Robert’s soliloquy about Grace Kelly vs Elizabeth Taylor is problematic on a couple of levels. One: I am not a grammarian, in ANY sense of the word, so I put punctuation in places that make sense to me and/or help to imitate the cadence the speaker had while speaking those words. Second: Robert tends to insert a lot of parenthetical statements into his speech, especially when he’s trying to impart a lot of facts in a limited amount of time. Because of that, it’s often difficult to figure out where one thought (or sentence) ends and the next begins, and it becomes a bit of a guessing game. (Drew’s frequent inability to string together a coherent sentence presents challenges of its own.) At the end of the day, these transcriptions are as word perfect as is humanly possible, punctuation be damned!
Drew: Ok, so tell me what you were going to tell me about Elizabeth Taylor.
Robert: Oh, uh, about Elizabeth Taylor, and I, I still feel this way after having just seen it again (1). You know it was, it was … George Stevens originally kinda wanted Grace Kelly for this part (Drew: yes) and Grace Kelly very much wanted to do it. I do think, as good as Elizabeth Taylor is in the movie, and I think Elizabeth Taylor was a wonderful actress, in addition to the beauty (2), but I think it would have been better with Grace Kelly because I tell you why: there’s something very sturdy about Elizabeth Taylor, even as young as she was in this, there’s something about her, kind of a tomboy quality, that she can adapt to, or you have the feeling she could adapt to, you know, any lifestyle. And Grace Kelly was so kind of pristine (3), so, so, uh, “Boston”, so “Philadelphia,” actually, Main Line in Philadelphia, that I think that to have Grace Kelly with her fragileness in that situation with Mercedes McCambridge, this tough (4) sister of Rock Hudson (Drew: oh my gosh) in this kind of situation, to make it perfect, in my opinion, Grace Kelly might have been more effective in it. (5)
Robert: That was just a thing that I had.
Drew: I think, um, one of the things that really affected me about this movie, too, was, to me, I, I would want to use this film as one of the highest examples of scope. Um, and the cinematographer, William Mellor, um, I was surprised because he had won other Academy Awards with George Stevens, but wasn’t even nominated for this film, (Robert: GIANT, yeah) and I kept comparing this with all the other films that we were going to watch this year, even THE SEARCHERS, and, you know, other films that were really giving scope as, as a huge part of the film, and I thought this film was the, sort of, highest example. (6) The lenses felt so big, the cranes felt so high, um, it, it really had this sweeping, epic nature, and again, for a film that’s stuck, you know, in one location and predominantly a house, I couldn’t get over how big, um, and powerful this movie felt, and I really credit George Stevens and the cinematographer for pulling that off, and I would always be looking to this movie from now on as like, how exactly did they pull off making me feel that way. But, masterfully done.
Robert: Said by a filmmaker! (7)
Drew: I’m, I’m studying what they did ‘cause it’s just beyond impressive.
Robert: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we’re gonna move on!
Robert: Ok. I hope you’ll join us next week for another edition of “The Essentials.” Here’s a preview.
1 Are they really trying to get us to believe that they actually watch the movie between taping the Intro and Outro? Oh, TCM, that’s adorable.
2 STAHP IT. You’re allowed to talk about a woman without mentioning her looks. Really. It’s ok.
3 Pristine means “clean and fresh as if new; unspoiled.” Is Bob trying to say “virginal” without actually saying it?
4 Pre-code term for “lesbian”. (I’ve co-opted the term “Pre-code” when talking about the “Celluloid Closet“-type issues.)
5 Interesting that Robert didn’t mention that George Stevens gave Rock Hudson the choice of Elizabeth Taylor or Grace Kelly as his costar. Rock chose Liz.
6 (cough) LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (cough)
7 She has directed ONE MOVIE, Robert! ONE!
Robert: Well, this is one really strange movie. FREAKS. I mean, the title says it all.
Drew: It does.
Robert: It is a bizarre movie. You like it.
Drew: I really loved it.
Robert: Yeah, what did you love about it?
Drew: Well, I think one of the things that really surprised me about this movie was that it in so many ways goes against the title in the fact that it is a movie about people who are constantly talking about relationships. Um, you know, “I wanna marry him,” or “he’s broken my heart”, or, you know, this, uh, you know, amazing sort of plotting and scheming that goes on (Robert: right) in this movie, and , you know, ultimately, you know, these people want to take advantage, you know, of another character, but, you know, his former fiancé is still in love with him, and sort of how it has a really strong story (Robert: right) in the backdrop of this, you know, roustabout world. (Robert: right) So, I, I like that it was, that it sort of could have been lazy and relied on just, you know, the gimmick of these “Freaks” or, you know, it could of become a real movie and it, and it did, and I loved that juxtaposition.*
Robert: The thing that fascinates me as a film historian about it is the fact that it would be made by MGM Studios, ‘cause this is a studio that’s, you know, Norma Shearer, and Garbo, and, you know, these high-toned movies, glamour, and all that kind of stuff. And to have a movie about people that are so-called “Freaks”, and in a carnival show. And of course, MGM later also disowned the film, they sold it off to another company for a limited time, and changed the title that, they didn’t want to have anything to do with it. But then, you know, after all, it triumphed, because people started relooking at it, rediscovering it, and MGM was very proud of it.
Drew: It’s so, like, you know, typical cliché of a cult classic that gets, you know, appreciated …
Robert: Totally ignored, and then fully appreciated.
Drew: And then Todd Browning had this really promising career. Um, he had done DRACULA and worked with Bela Lugosi, and rumor had it that he was supposed to maybe do ARSNE LUPIN with my grandfather (Robert: right) and he turned that down, uh, to con-, you know, continue to develop FREAKS. Um, and then after the film it seemed like people didn’t really want to work with him, they …
Robert: Well, because it was a disaster; it didn’t make any money. I mean, it was such a hot number in Hollywood because of DRACULA and it made so much money. It was why Irving Thalberg wanted him to come from Universal Studios where he did DRACULA and made all that money for them, to come toMGM and make a lot of money for them. And when that movie didn’t make any money, but actually lost money, then the industry turned their back on him.
Drew: And people really, I mean, I remember, you know, when I was a kid, it was like you were kind of crazy if you hadn’t seen or loved FREAKS. It would made such a resurgence in like the 70’s and 80’s, um, that I always felt kind of stupid, like I was the crazy one who hadn’t seen it. Um, and then, you know, finally bucking down and watching it, and, it was, um, it was really so different than what I had built up in my imagination for the film to be.
Robert: And it’s not really a ‘horror’ film; there’s a horrific sequence in it, and a horrific, uh, destiny for one of the characters, but it’s not really a horror film. It’s about, it’s about life just being lived at a different level with a different kind of people.
Drew: It’s, it’s great!
Robert: Yes. Well, let’s see the movie.
Robert: Here it is, by far the most controversial film that MGM Studios ever released, certainly. From 1932, FREAKS.
*That word does not mean what you think it means, Drew.
“You know” Count: Robert, 3, Drew; 15. (FIFTEEN!)
Original Drewssentials Air Date: April 20, 2013
Robert: The people are so effective in this movie that aren’t really actors, they were from freak shows. And you also wonder how they were, how they felt when they were so kind of rejected at the studio commissary and everything because they were different than Norma Shearer sitting at that table, or Joan Crawford at that table.
Drew: Yeah. So interesting when we were making E.T., um, we worked with this gentleman, his name was Pat Bilon, and he was known as the “World’s Smallest Man”, he was 18 inches tall*, um, and, ah, and we just, we loved him as kids, he was our friends. And, um, and two of the, um, kids who worked in the E.T. suits, um, a boy and a girl**, both, um, you know, only had, they they were missing their legs*** and they walked on their hands, um, and we would all be in the commissary with them, um, and as kids and they were, you know, treated the exact opposite of that in 1982, it was…
Robert: So, they were treated well.
Drew: Absolutely. It was a completely different set of circumstances at that time.
Robert: The, uh, cinematography by, I think, Merrit Gerstad, I believe his name was, a not familiar name to me, but I think that was pretty terrific because it added such atmosphere to this movie. Uh, the shadows and the light. And, particularly interesting because it’s not the kind of movie that MGM ever made. You know, they weren’t famous for film noir or, uh, or mysteries and all of that. They made an occasional one, but movies like GASLIGHT and DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, you know, certainly stood out from the crowd. They, they were all for glamour, and everything like that. And to, to be able to create a movie like that, with that kind of atmosphere, I think it’s kind of amazing.
Robert: Something’s to be said about those people that dare to do something different, ‘cause that’s what pushes the envelopes.
Drew: Take…risks! Yeah, exactly.
Robert: Yeah. Well, let’s move on. Take a look right now at the Essential we have coming up next week.
* He was 2’10”, which means he was 34 inches tall. By comparison, Harry Earles (Hans in FREAKS) was 3’3”, a full 5 inches taller than “Little Pat.”
** Tamara De Treaux was 23 and Matthew De Meritt was 12. So, she was half-right.(“kids”)
*** Only Matthew was missing his legs and walked on his hands. He did the ‘stunts’, like falling down and walking into the cabinet during the ‘drunk’ scene. Tamara was a 31” tall little person who had all of her limbs. So, again, Drew’s memory is half right.
“You know” count: Robert 2, Drew 2 (it’s a tie!)
Bonus! Drew’s “um” count: 8
Original Drewssentials Air Date: April 13, 2013.
From TimeWarner and TiVo: “A young English widow goes to 1862 Siam with her son to tutor the King’s harem and 62 children.
Here is the transcription of what is said during the opening credits:
Drew: ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM feels current and relevant today.
Robert: Irene Dunn was one of the most versatile and beautiful actresses that we ever had in Hollywood.
Drew: I love the journey of what Anna and the King bring to each other’s lives.
Robert: This is the movie that really introduced Rex Harrison to movie-goers around the world.
Robert: This is a particular favorite of mine, ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM. You know, I think when you’re, uh, a big movie like I am, love movies, there’s maybe one studio more than any other that you respond to, and certainly the movies of the, I’d say the 40’s, particularly, into the 50’s, I love the films of 20th Century Fox. Something about the music, and the way they photographed movies and lit them, just loved the look of the movie besides everything else that goes with it. And this was certainly a great Fox film from the 40’s, this is 1946. Irene Dunn, Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell (Drew: yeah), wonderful sets, all built on the 20th Century Fox lot or on California acreage somewhere, they didn’t go on location in those days. And, uh, Arthur Miller; not that Arthur Miller, but the other Arthur Miller, the cinematographer …
Drew: (with Robert) … the cinematographer.
Robert: … won the Academy Award for this; well deserved. It also won an Academy Award for its Art Direction. But, it’s just a, a beautifully made movie.
Drew. Yeah. I have to admit I hadn’t seen this version, um, before this year. And, I, I did appreciate the sets and the cinematography, um, but what really took me, um, about this movie, was, uh, also its, its relevance today, um, in that you have this, uh, King who has these long, long, long lines of traditions from the men in his family, from the generations, and how a woman can come in and really open up his mind, and, uh, begin to change what might be also the future of this country. [Clip plays] By the end of this film I felt like it didn’t matter whether I was in an interior of a set, I felt like my whole world had sort of really expanded, and I just loved the movie so much.
Robert: Because it was actually his world that you were in (Drew: yes) and his world wasn’t much bigger than the palace walls. Yeah.
Drew: No. And things that you disagree with at the beginning of the movie, like, him having 67 children, and that all women must bow to him when he walks in a room, and …
Robert: And not have their head higher than his.
Drew: Exactly. And how that starts to shift when him and Irene Dunn, you know, are finding themselves at the same level and it takes on not so much of a chauvinistic, you know, time capsule, but more of these two people who are, you know, their flowers are opening up to each other intellectually and spiritually.
Robert: We have to say that it is the same story that’s told in THE KING AND I, and I think it’s wonderful to see the two together, or, you know, be aware of one to the other, because I think that, that they’re so outstanding in their own way. I think THE KING AND I’s one of the great musicals ever. But, because of those additions of the music and everything you have to leave out a lot of story, and this has, you know, such complete story, back-story of some of the wives. And there’s a thing about her son that travels with her that’s a whole story unto itself that is about her evolution and change (Drew: yes) that is not in the other. So, uh, it’s just allowed to tell more story than in THE KING AND I.
Robert: Yeah. Well, let’s have a look.
Robert: Here a wonderful movie base on a biography by Margaret Landon. From 20th Century Fox in 1946, ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM.
BONUS! Opening movie scroll:
In the Victorian era of the early 1960’s, a young Englishwoman, faced with the then difficult problem of earning her own living, had accepted a post teaching English to the children of the King of Siam. Her arrival in Bangkok marked the beginning of the necessary but almost terrifying adventure into that strange and still half-barbaric country.
I can’t even with this edition of “The Essentials.” No mention of Rex Harrison’s (or Yul Brynner’s, for that matter) “yellow face.” No mention of how the film plays into the “White People = Evolved. Brown People = barbaric savages” trope. Just look at the opening scrolls: “still half-barbaric country.” By whose standards? Why, the “civilized” (and White) Westerners’ view, of course! Gah.