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Late Wendkos?

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  • Fred Camper
    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
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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      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
      know).
      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
      conscious one.

      -Fred
    • jess_l_amortell
      ... a timely message, since The Burglar is playing at MoMA/Gramercy tomorrow (preceded by a Brakhage program and followed by Melies and Ulmer).
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.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).
      • Zach Campbell
        ... How do you feel about TARAWA BEACHHEAD? I have that, as well as MEPHISTO WALTZ, on video (quite possibly in the original aspect ratio at least). I think
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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          Fred:
          > 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 know).

          How do you feel about TARAWA BEACHHEAD? I have that, as well as
          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.

          --Zach
        • Fred Camper
          ... 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
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "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
            than video.

            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?

            -Fred
          • Dan Sallitt
            ... That s interesting. Why do you think this? Is it because the image is smaller? Really, if you sit close to the flatbed, the image subtends about the
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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              > 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
              > than video.

              That's interesting. Why do you think this? Is it because the image
              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
            • Fred Camper
              Dan Sallitt, citing my claim that the Steenbeck is arguably no better ... No, and I guess I think it is somewhat better, But the Steenbeck renders the image
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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                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 image
                > is smaller?

                No, and I guess I think it is somewhat better, But the Steenbeck
                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
                view.

                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.
              • Dan Sallitt
                ... I too know nothing about Warren, but I remember Sarris putting his HELLGATE on his list of worthwhile 1952 films in THE AMERICAN CINEMA. - Dan
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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                  > 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.

                  I too know nothing about Warren, but I remember Sarris putting his
                  HELLGATE on his list of worthwhile 1952 films in THE AMERICAN CINEMA.
                  - Dan
                • Dan Sallitt
                  ... 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
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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                    > 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
                  • Fred Camper
                    ... Actually, these are both pretty weak. I struggled to see the Wendkos in Cannon for Cordoba and remember liking some brief sequences, but it was a
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 13, 2003
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                      Dan:

                      > 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.

                      Actually, these are both pretty weak. I struggled to see the Wendkos
                      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....
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