- I've long been an admirer of the features of Paul Wendkos, or at least
some of them. His first, "The Burglar," has a stunning Kane-related
opening, and is really quite good visually, as is "Angel Baby." His
best films are I think "Johnny Tiger" and "The Mephisto Waltz," whose
stunningly baroque imagery would seem overly mannered if it didn't
work so well, whatever that means ("works" is a lazy critic's word, I
Some that aren't so great are the three Gidget films and the late
"Special Delivery," an example of a director who after he did get
better (leading up to "The Mephisto Waltz") then got worse.
But also, Wendkos started directing made for TV movies around 1970,
and a few of the early ones, "Fear No Evil" and "The Brotherhood of
the Bell" were terrific. "Fear No Evil" is actually about a mirror.
"Bell" is about the secret society that the Bushes and the other
"rulers" of the world presumably belong to. Some of the other made for
TV movies were very good, and I was busy trying to see all of them for
a while, but they started to get worse and worse, more and more banal,
and I stopped in about 1987.
So, if anyone has seen some late Wendkoses, let us know how they are.
And yes, while the message here is sincere, the choice of a
far-more-obscure-than-Edwards-or-Preminger director was definitely a
- --- In email@example.com, "Fred Camper" <gdelatour@i...> wrote
a timely message, since "The Burglar" is playing at MoMA/Gramercy tomorrow (preceded by a Brakhage program and followed by Melies and Ulmer).
> I've long been an admirer of the features of Paul Wendkos, or atHow do you feel about TARAWA BEACHHEAD? I have that, as well as
> least some of them. His first, "The Burglar," has a stunning Kane-
> related opening, and is really quite good visually, as is "Angel
> Baby." His best films are I think "Johnny Tiger" and "The Mephisto
> Waltz," whose stunningly baroque imagery would seem overly mannered
> if it didn't work so well, whatever that means ("works" is a lazy
> critic's word, I know).
MEPHISTO WALTZ, on video (quite possibly in the original aspect ratio
at least). I think most of us are familiar with your stance on
video, Fred, which I bet we all keep respectfully in mind when
discussing films with you which we've seen or are likely to see only
on video formats, by the way.
As far as obscure directors, what about one Charles Marquis Warren,
whose nice small film TENSION AT TABLE ROCK I had the pleasure of
watching several weeks ago. Manny Farber listed Warren's LITTLE BIG
HORN first in his "Best Films" of 1951 article, and many of the
virtues he cites there are transferable to TABLE ROCK.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Zach Campbell" <rashomon82@y...> wrote:
> How do you feel about TARAWA BEACHHEAD?Zach, I hope in this friendlier group I won't have to rant on and on
about video. I appreciate your acknowledgment of my views here, and
I'll try not to become a broken record. Others needn't apologize to me
every time that they've seen something on tape, but if we get into a
discussion about it then it might be relevant to mention the way we've
seen it, just as I would have to say while I've seen Hawks's "Trent's
Last Case" in 35mm, it was only on a Steenbeck, arguably no better
I saw "Tarawa Beachhead" in a movie theater more than 30 years ago,
only once. I have only a vague memory of it as a not too memorable war
movie with some interesting Wendkosian imagery that wasn't eneough to
elevate to a, um, "major Wendkos."
And let me stipulate for the record here that while everything I've
said in my two posts I believe, the phraseology is meant to outrage a
few of the people who were specifically outraged at Peter's late
auteurist queries on Cinemasters -- not that I actually want to
outrage them, just that I'm having fun with the weird margins of
auteurism. I mean, if you're interested in something that most peopole
think is ridiculous, you might as well have some fun with that rather
than crawling back under the bed.
Thanks for the tip about Warren, who I don't know.
Coming soon: late Gerd Oswald?
> just as I would have to say while I've seen Hawks's "Trent'sThat's interesting. Why do you think this? Is it because the image
> Last Case" in 35mm, it was only on a Steenbeck, arguably no better
> than video.
is smaller? Really, if you sit close to the flatbed, the image
subtends about the same angle in your field of vision as if you sat in
the back of a big theater. In my experience, you get good image
quality, unless a bulb is dying.
TRENT'S LAST CASE is one of the least interesting Hawks films, I'd say.
I saw VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW for the first time on a Steenbeck.... - Dan
- Dan Sallitt, citing my claim that the Steenbeck is "arguably no better
than video," wrote:
> That's interesting. Why do you think this? Is it because the imageNo, and I guess I think it is somewhat better, But the Steenbeck
> is smaller?
renders the image very differently than film. It's even more
"interlaced" than video. It's almost impossible to look at a single
frame; you're usually seeing several superimposed, becasue of its
rotating prism. The result is that there's no flicker, which I suppose
they thought was a good thing, but this makes it very unfilmic, in my
I agree with you about TRENT'S LAST CASE. Actually I think it's
worthless, and has nothing of Hawks in it. I don't think there's
another Hawks film I can say that about.
> As far as obscure directors, what about one Charles Marquis Warren,I too know nothing about Warren, but I remember Sarris putting his
> whose nice small film TENSION AT TABLE ROCK I had the pleasure of
> watching several weeks ago. Manny Farber listed Warren's LITTLE BIG
> HORN first in his "Best Films" of 1951 article, and many of the
> virtues he cites there are transferable to TABLE ROCK.
HELLGATE on his list of worthwhile 1952 films in THE AMERICAN CINEMA.
> So, if anyone has seen some late Wendkoses, let us know how they are.I'm a little more mixed on Wendkos than you are. The only two
semi-late Wendkoses I've seen that you haven't mentioned are 1970's
CANNON FOR CORDOBA and the 1977 TV movie SECRETS. I really didn't
like the latter (though I can't remember why) and wasn't knocked out
by the former.
Lots of good directors are now working in TV movies, and I've been
pretty much out of touch with that world since 1990. Many good
directors - Lamont Johnson, Daniel Petrie, Joseph Sargent, John Korty,
William Hale - have done most or all of their good work on TV. Wish I
was still following those guys. - Dan
> I'm a little more mixed on Wendkos than you are. The only twoActually, these are both pretty weak. I struggled to see the Wendkos
> semi-late Wendkoses I've seen that you haven't mentioned are 1970's
> CANNON FOR CORDOBA and the 1977 TV movie SECRETS. I really didn't
> like the latter (though I can't remember why) and wasn't knocked out
> by the former.
in "Cannon for Cordoba" and remember liking some brief sequences, but
it was a stretch. "Secrets" I hardly remember, except that I remember
it as a kind of turning point where I started to think he was just
cranking out those TV movies.
What's great about the good ones is a kind of almost solipsistic
intensity to the style, as if the image was breaking up into fragments
(more true of the later ones), or was blocking itself out into
opposing areas (the earlier ones). Neither of these things could I see
in "Gidget Goes to Rome," though....