Posts tagged the essentials
Posts tagged the essentials
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.
Original Drewssentials Air Date: April 13, 2013
Note: Ya’ll, this movie. Seriously. This frackin’ movie. @Kinetograph and I spent the entire 2 hours pointing out the veritable plethora of historical inaccuracies (and, to be honest, outright lies) that lay therein and yet Robert and Drew blithely discussed the movie as if nothing were amiss. I thought this tweet summed it up nicely:
If you want to enjoy a movie filled with historical inaccuracies on its own merits (see: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA), fine. But in this day and age, with so many internet sources available to you, and with a (supposedly) greater awareness of past cultural biases, there’s no reason (and frankly no excuse) why these inaccuracies can’t at least be acknowledged, even if not fully dealt with during the extremely limited discussion time. End of rant.
Robert: Now we can talk about some of the things in this movie that weren’t in THE KING AND I. For instance, uh, Linda Darnell’s character of Tuptim, you know, and seeing her burned at the stake is, uh, so important, I think, to the story, and about the King, you know, what his life was like and what he believed in, and what he had to turn from then when Anna came into his life. And also the thing about the son, you know, the story about the son; (Drew: yes) he doesn’t die in THE KING AND I, and uh, that’s a very poignant part of Anna, and her life.
Drew: Well, my, I think my favorite scene in the film is when she, uh, goes, and the mother of the future King, um, who she’s had a relationship with throughout the movie, says “I thought that you were going to take care and love and teach my son, but you didn’t ” right when you sort of expect her to have empathy for the fact that Irene Dunn has just lost her son. And there’s this incredible transference of, she’s lost her son, but now she, um, it, it is brought to her attention that now is the time to transfer love and focus onto the future King. And when you see at the end of the movie him say: “I don’t want you to bow to me. I wanna, you know, start a new generation of behavior and, and tradition, um, under my rule,” and you see her standing there proud. And, you think of where you started out in this movie, it’s such an incredible victory. Um, again, I just, I really loved what it said historically, and I thought how important … (DVR OUTAGE*) … still stands today. So, for it, you know, being a movie of 1946, it felt, you know, very current in, in it’s messages.
Robert: Yes. Well, let’s move on! (Drew: ok!) Here’s a sneak peak of the film we have coming up next week on “The Essentials.”
* TCM once again messed up on the timing of “The Essentials.” The DVD said it ended at 10:15; it actually ended at 10:17 or so. Thanks to the limitations of the TiVo, you can’t just “add 5 minutes” on the fly, so I’m missing a couple of sentences where it says DVR outage. When the movie re-airs in August I’ll fill in the blanks, so to speak.
From TimeWarner and TiVo: Controversial British officer T.E. Lawrence learns the culture of Arabs and unites their tribes against the Turks.
Drewssentials original air date: April 6, 2013.
Drew: I was fortunate enough to see this film at the ArcLight theater three years ago on the big screen, and, uh, it made a huge difference to see it, you know, in that type of scope. It was in the biggest theatre they had and it was just glorious.
Robert: Yes, I, this is one that I hope everybody sometime in their life can see it on a big screen. But we’re seeing it, you know, on TCM, television-sized, (Drew: yes) still very impressive, very awesome that it was put together, all together. You got these great talents all working together. You got Freddie Young, cinematographer, and some of the most fabulous cinematography you’ll ever see. You’ve got direction by David Lean, none better. You’ve got a wonderful music score by Maurice Jarre, this great script by Robert Bolt.* I mean, these are really geniuses at work here.
Drew: And they all won Academy Awards.
Robert: Well, most of them did.** Many of them did. It won seven Academy Awards (Drew: yep). And Best Picture. The one who didn’t win an Academy Award was Peter O’Toole. (Drew: Peter O’Toole ) And you say, how can that happen? In a film like that, how could he not win the Academy Award? But that was also the year of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD with Gregory Peck. So, it’d kinda be like you could also could say that, if he had won, how could you not give Gregory Peck an Academy Award for that? So it’s one of those years the competition was really tough.
Drew: Yes. You know, this, I think you said it best: this is a movie that you must see in your lifetime.*** Um, it’s one of those that’s almost difficult to speak about, I, I felt a little silly, sort of, I was like, I don’t, how am I going to hear myself speaking about LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, um, because it’s sort of an untouchable film because it is so epic and important. Um, on the other hand, it’s the way you said it, it’s a film that, you know, you have to see in your lifetime.*** It’s unbelievably extraordinary. If there isn’t a bigger group of misfits out there in this movie, I don’t know where they would be. It’s such an extraordinary cast.
Robert: Right. You’ve got Alec Guinness, you’ve got Anthony Quinn (Drew: Anthony Quinn), you got José Ferrer, Claude Rains…
Drew: Omar Sharif.
Robert: But I’m, yeah, Omar Sharif in a big part, though, he’s wonderful in it.
Drew: Yeah. And you just love watching them and love being in their world. And not only on-screen as the characters they’re playing, but, I definitely would have fantasies about what it was like on that set or once shooting ended. I mean, what did those guys do hanging out together. (Robert: right) It really is an extraordinary group of misfits.****
Robert: Yes, indeed.
Drew: And, and, David Lean, um, who I was taught about when I was very young, about what an important film maker he was, and I would love watching LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DR. ZHIVAGO, and I told you I loved those two VHS tape things. I was like, if it’s got an intermission, it’s for me! I don’t know why I was that kind of kid, but I, I loved these movies. And, and, and I was taught to appreciate David Lean early, and, uh, I’m so glad that I was.
Robert: So, let’s have a look. Here’s the big winner at the Academy Awards for 1962, collecting seven Oscars including the top prize, Best Picture of the Year. Here’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.
* And Michael Wilson, whose screenwriting credit was restored in 1978 by the WGA. Yay, unions!
** Preparation is not a 4-letter word, honey.
*** Close, but not quite. He said he hoped that everybody could see it on the big screen at least once in their life.
**** This seems like sloppy editing by TCM. She mentions the cast and crew being a ‘group of misfits’, not once, but twice. However, what is this in reference to? How were they misfits? Either this was a complete non-sequitor or the TCM Editing Monkeys are losing their grip having to edit Drew’s ramblings into a semblance of a coherent conversation.
Robert: This is very exciting having one movie, uh, kind of introduce us all not only to Peter O’Toole but Omar Sharif (Drew: yes), who were so good in the movie, you know, and they were totally unknown, basically, to the world. Peter O’Toole though, very well known in the theatre in England at that time. He was only like 27 but already, uh, you know, a very established star in England on the stage, but nobody knew him in films.
Drew: I was, um, obsessed with him as a kid early on, (Robert: yes) there was this movie that he also made way later than LAWRENCE OF ARABIA called MY FAVORITE YEAR. (Robert: yes) And, uh, the character that he played in that movie, Alan Swann, was supposedly modeled after my grandfather as well. Um, and I think he was an amalgam of, you know, Errol Flynn, and several sort of like, you know, um, notorious cads …
Robert: “bigger than life”
Drew: Yes, exactly. Tumultuous, uh, large, …
Drew: Yes, exactly. Um, and, ah, so I would watch that movie obsessively when I was a kid, and then I started watching all of his other movies. Um, and I, I was the biggest Peter O’Toole fan. I thought he was the greatest, funniest, most, you know, this tall, amazing presence. I thought he had incredible grace, and sort of a delicate nature. You know, I mean, the way he moves is just like no other. I LOVE PETER O’TOOLE. And then when you read anything that he said, like, his quotes, they’re sooo whimsical, and humorous, and vivacious. But, he doesn’t like to do interviews, right?
Robert: No, he does not like to do interviews at all. But, we had the great success and luck in having him agree to do an interview with me for TCM that we filmed at our film festival a couple years ago.
Drew: How was that?
Robert: And, uh, it was awesome. It was nerve-wracking, because I knew he didn’t like to do interviews, and he’s so bright, you know. And you’re kind of terrified to be stuck with somebody so bright, ‘cause he’s going to be bored with doing an interview, he’s going to be way beyond you and your thought processes, and everything.* He couldn’t have been nicer. He was easy, he was pleasant, witty, funny; I think that’s what you don’t expect, that he would be that funny. But, he’s, he was so with-it, and interesting, told interesting stories. And you go away then, you know, even more impressed than you were before.
Drew: I, I could not be more in love with him. I think he was, like, …
Robert: It’s well-placed, let me just say that. Your love for him is well placed.
Drew: I think he was like my big crush growing up, slash, I just admired him, slash, he just made me so happy.
Robert: Well, we’re going to move on right now. Here’s the movie we have coming up next time on “The Essentials.”
* Insert your own joke here about Robert not finding it nerve-wracking to interview Drew; I’m too tired.