8/22/16

D.O.A. FILM FESTIVAL RISES AGAIN



Above is an informative little ten-minute made-for-youtube doc concerning ten high-profile movies that never got released. It's a subject I find fascinating for some reason (Schaudenfreude perhaps? Am I really that low?) and as a result I've decided to revive my D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival) Film Festival, which I introduced in November of last year and promptly abandoned. The rules are quite simple: the film must have begun shooting (and not have been abandoned in prep) and needs to have a real budget and well-known actors. The above movies were actually finished and then locked away in embarrassment, which is a slightly different thing than our festival generally deals with but I'm thinking of expanding things along these lines. The difference between unfinished films and unreleased films is an important one--it's a disaster to close a movie down during production but there is the chance of an insurance recoupment assuming the producers had the good fortune of having one of the actors die after too much footage had been shot. But paying for the whole thing and then, upon viewing it, deciding to torch it is at best a dead loss. Either way it's a filmmakers worst nightmare. As always, the winner of the D.O.A. Palme D'Or will take home the 'Orson Welles Trophy for Best Incomplete Work.' Watch for more abandoned works over the coming weeks...if I don't decided to abandon the festival of abandonment, that is.

 Subscribe in a reader

8/19/16

"LOOK AT LIFE" PRESENTS "GOODBYE PICCADILLY": A RANK JOINT (LITERALLY)



"Look At Life" was a series of ten-minute infotainment films produced by the J. Arthur Rank organization for showing in their theaters before the main feature, beginning in the late 1950s and continuing well into the following decade. (Television had usurped the need for newsreels, you see). Above is a very cool episode titled 'Goodbye Piccadilly'. It features wonderful mid-sixites views of the area and appears to have been intended as something of a nostalgic farewell as a massive new building project was about to decimate the square--a project that seems never to have taken place. The period is just on the cusp of the soon to be swinging London--a mite on the side of the previous era--with well-dressed young and middle-aged working folks predominating the landscape (although the occasional pre-mod swankster can be spotted). There are nice views of the underground (including the sub-subway--the guts of the system) and occasional marquees reference the hits of the day i.e. "Oliver", "Doctor Zhivago" etc. One of the Youtube posters makes a curious reference to the lack of obese people visible in the film and I have to say I see his/her point. Everyone seems quite fit and slender. It must be a combination of the then abominable English food, perhaps with a hangover habit of the previous decades need for rationing. Add to that the pints of Ale and packs of 'fags' and perhaps we've developed the newest and least healthy diet fad: the 'Piccadilly Diet'.

 Subscribe in a reader

8/17/16

GONE WITH THE WIND: SCREEN TESTS AD INFINITUM, AD NAUSEUM



Here's a fascinating ten-minute reel of a handful of the ridiculous amount of screen tests that David O. Selznick ordered while casting 'Gone With The Wind'. The ballyhoo for the 'search for Scarlett O'Hara' was a masterstroke of publicity, designed to keep interest in the project alive during the very extended (almost two years) preparation process before filming finally got underway. As a result, there are a lot of actresses testing for Scarlett and Melanie who are clearly nowheresville, though all give it a gamey try. But really: Lynda Watkins? Francis Fuller? Mary Kent? The young Lana Turner gives Scarlett a try and bricks heavily. Her partner is Melvyn Douglas (playing Ashley Wilkes) and I dare say he makes a less silly/prissy Ashley than Leslie Howard, though ultimately he would've looked too much like Gable for it to have worked. Most stunning of all, though, is Paulette Goddard who apparently had a real shot at Scarlett. She's mesmerizingly beautiful and fetching, 'naughty' in a very period come-hither way. She would have been a more seductive Scarlett than Vivien Leigh (whose screen test comes near the end of the reel) but minus the neurotic, spoiled-bitch element that Leigh heaped upon the role. Also tested was a young woman with the schoolmarm-from-the-midwest name of Edith Marriner. Later she became Susan Hayward...

 Subscribe in a reader

8/16/16

'GONE WITH THE WIND'; A DAY AT BUSCH GARDENS



Above is rare behind the scenes color footage of the picnic scene in 'Gone With The Wind', which was shot at Busch Gardens (all of the film was shot in LA--not a location shot in the whole damn thang). There are nice shots of the director Victor Fleming, of Clark Gable smoking a cigarette and of Olivia De Havilland's stand-in, who the ditz female anchor of the show on which the footage is being displayed, refuses to believe isn't Olivia herself.

 Subscribe in a reader

8/12/16

A WEEKEND WITH HITCHCOCK




In the early 1940s, Alfred Hitchcock--newly arrived in America and missing the countryside of his previous home in England--purchased a 200 acre weekend 'getaway' estate in the Northern California town of Santa Cruz. Above, take the drive that Hitch (and wife Alma and daughter Pat) would have taken on the way to their country crash pad--the footage was shot in 1938 and comes complete with inappropriate 1920s music. Below, see what became of the Hitchcock spread. It's now a winery and a rather impressive one at that.




 Subscribe in a reader