The turkey is stuffed and in the oven. Apple pie is cooling on a rack. The wine is opened and breathing. The delicious mix of culinary aromas wafting up from the kitchen is overpowering. Since I'm no fan of televised sports I gotta find something to do until all is ready for today's feast of thanksgiving. There's not enough time to catch a flick. What to do? I know, I'll blog ten things I experienced in cinema this year that I'm thankful for. And to make it more fun I'll try to choose ten films I didn't write about on the blog. Yeah, ten moments captured on films of the past that I'm grateful to have experienced because of the creativity, hard work and determination of those involved in the productions at the time and those who have since preserved these motion pictures and made them available to us across the years...
1. Crossing a mist shrouded lake teeming with danger and mystery just beyond our range of vision in Ugestu (1953).
2. Gloria Swanson carefully enunciating each word of dialogue as though sync-sound has just been invented in Sunset Blvd (1950). (I know, I already blew one of the rules)
3. The following lines of dialogue in Les Enfants du paradis (The Children of Paradise 1946):
"He dreams of the impossible."
Baptiste: "Why is it impossible if I can dream it?"
It sounds even better in the original French.
4. Thinking of French cinema, I recall literally sweating my way through the extended high-tension sequences of Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear 1953).
5. Rita Hayworth's scorching "Put the Blame on Maime" number in the middle of Gilda (1946) which I watched about six times in a row (love that quick replay feature). Thanks Rita! And somehow Hayworth, Charles Vidor, and Rudolph Maté make red hair look red on monochromatic film. Hubba Hubba :P
6. Ok, I'm man enough to admit it: I was blubbering about thirty seconds after the end of Da Sica's other masterpiece of neorealism, Umberto D (1953). I couldn't help it; that lil' pup, Flike, really got to me, man!
7. The playfulness of Münchhausen (1943), maybe the most unexpected film produced in Germany during the dark days of World War II.
8. The jarring wonder of Maya Deren climbing from the ocean to land on a table in At Land (1944).
9. The grandiose set pieces and overarching artifice enveloping Nargis and Raj Kapoor in the spectacular musical sequence at the climax of Awara (1951).
10. The beauty of India from an outsider's perspective captured in gloriously rich color by Renoir in The River (1951).
Well, that's ten from me. Anyone else care share their favorite moments experienced through cinema this year? Please post 'em in the comments section below.
A very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the blogosphere.
BLOODY AFTERMATH OF VERDICT IN SEX MURDER TRIAL ---------------
Woman Found Innocent of Murder Shoots Attorney Dead --------------- FUTURE CONVICTION ALL BUT CERTAIN --------------- Shocking Events Rumored to Become Animated Film --------------- By T. Ryan Court Reporter
Central Court — Moments after the Frankie Baker jury returned a verdict of "not guilty" in the Johnny Britt murder trial shots rang out with a "rooty toot toot" leaving defense attorney Jonathan Bailey dead. The assailant: Bailey's own client, the briefly exonerated Frankie herself. The trial started and ended swiftly today. The defendant was accused of having murdered her sweetheart, pianist Johnny Britt, with three gunshots to the back after chancing upon him and one Nellie Bly in flagrante in the backroom of the Sordid Bar.
The Sordid Bar, scene of the alleged homicide of the house musician Johnny.
Testimony by the bartender, a fellow obviously well-known to everyone in the courtroom, placed Johnny, Nellie, and Frankie at the scene of the crime. Nellie, who claims to be a singer by profession, testified that allegations of a secret liason between herself and Johnny were groundless. "I was in the backroom there with John-boy," she told the jury. "But only to rehearse." In Nellie's twist on the events, Frankie shot a terrified Johnny through a hardwood door as he attempted to hide from her unreasonable jealous rage.
Leaving the witness stand, Nellie Bly catches the eye of attorney Bailey.
Defense attorney Bailey, mentioned in some circles with the unlucky epithet "Honest Jon the Crook," delivered a fantastic defense of Frankie. Playing up to the jury in a ballet-like performance, he extolled the virtues of the "sweet and demure" defendant and suggested that it was, in fact, Johnny who attempted to shoot Frankie when she spurned his overtures of love and then took his own life. The jury took Bailey's story hook, line, and sinker. They deliberated so swiftly that they barely had time to leave the courtroom. They unanimously found the defendant innocent of the crime.
Courtroom Celebration Interrupted by Slaying
After the verdict was rendered, the courtroom unexpectedly exploded into raucous celebration; the judge, jury, and spectators reveled with glee as the state prosecutor looked on in open-mouthed disbelief. But the festivities were cut short when attorney Bailey prepared to leave the courtroom to personally celebrate his victory in the company of Nellie Bly. Seeing the couple together, Frankie suddenly leapt to her feet, grabbed the alleged murder weapon (marked "Exhibit A" and somehow still loaded), and shot him three times. Fittingly, Bailey's final words were, "I rest my case."
Bailey, moments after being shot by his own client in the courtroom.
In the aftermath of the brutal slaying, the bailiff escorted Frankie from the chamber in chains. The prosecutor was happy to see her off, no doubt certain of a conviction this time. Though Johnny's alleged homicide remains an unsolved mystery, it is Frankie's murderous act today that leaves this reporter scratching his head. Bailey's defense had set her free, and she was seen only moments earlier expressing her gratitude for his successful efforts with a big, wet kiss. Why then should she kill him?
Following the shooting, an unrepentant Frankie is led off to jail.
According to some witnesses, there were signs during the trial that the relationship between lawyer and client wasn't all business. Others put it more simply, "he was a man who done wrong." Whatever the truth, this case has all the cache of a traditional ballad re-imagined through the modern mind.
Motion Picture Rumors
Over the course of the trial, this reporter overheard frequent rumors concerning plans by the United Productions of America (UPA) to turn the trial and its scandalous conclusion into an animated film to be titled, Rooty Toot Toot (1952). Those who had the pleasure to view UPA's Ragtime Bear (1949) or the exceptional Academy Award-winning cartoon for Columbia, Gerald McBoing Boing (1951) will remember the company's unique approach to theatrical cartoons.
Gerald's parents and doctor examine him in hopes of discovering a physical cause for his unique way of expressing himself solely through sound effects in UPA's Gerald McBoing Boing.
UPA embraces modern art, cubism, fauvism, expressionism, surrealism, more mature themes and satire, original music, and offbeat content. They strive to use colors, textured patterns, and abstract backgrounds to establish mood and setting rather than paint realistic backdrops. In animation, to paraphrase one of their talents, they create drawings that move rather than draw life-like movement a la the rigid standards of the Walt Disney studio, the leading American animation studio for over two decades. With their individualistic, modern style, the UPA cartoons mark the pictorial realism and storybook cuteness of Disney and the endless slapstick gags of Warner Bros.'s Looney Tunes as belonging to the past. It seems fitting then that this up and coming company should create an animated version of the outlandish events we've seen here today. For if Disney or Bugs n' the gang should tell this tale it would be altered drastically, made accessible to children, and feature funny animal characters. No doubt plenty of "hurt gags" would be thrown in for good measure. But in UPA's thoroughly modern style this courtroom tragedy of love, betrayal, and murder can be successfully told. Ezra Pound once encouraged the modern movement to "Make it new." UPA will make it Now.
Rooty Toot Toot (1952)
Directed by John Hubley
8 min.; U.S.A.; Color: Mono This post written by Thom Ryan
Copyright 2008 Thom Ryan Some rights reserved