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klammer


Watching Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (for maybe the 50th time), and there’s something that has always stood out for me. For those who haven’t seen it (and if you haven’t, go now! It’s on Netflix Instant!), Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Chicago and have to go on the run…. disguised as two women in an all-girl band.
That concept obviously has plenty of potential (and in 1959, was quite risqué; the success of the film marked the beginning of the end for the Hays Production Code), but the moment in the film that really shows what a master Wilder was is one not of over-the-top hilarity but immense restraint.
In the top frame, Curtis is calling into the talent agency, using his best female voice, saying that he and Lemmon are the “two female musicians” they’re looking for. So we’re in! It’s coming, we’re going to see Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressed as women! It’s going to be hilarious!
What Wilder does next is what few directors in this day and age would dare: he simply crossfades to the punchline. A crossfade to their legs from behind, then a simple cut to their faces in full drag. No big reveal, no delay to play with the audience’s feelings and anticipation. He says it’s coming, and then he delivers it.
Because the story is bigger than this reveal. It’s not “look at them as women” but “how are they going to keep this up”? And that’s more than them in drag. Wilder knew that he didn’t need to build it up. It’s funny as is, and doesn’t need camera and editorial tricks to make it more so. This simple reveal is a promise: we’re not going to exploit our crazy concept, we’re going to use it smartly.
In fact, that’s not just directorial restraint. That’s pure confidence.

Watching Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (for maybe the 50th time), and there’s something that has always stood out for me. For those who haven’t seen it (and if you haven’t, go now! It’s on Netflix Instant!), Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Chicago and have to go on the run…. disguised as two women in an all-girl band.

That concept obviously has plenty of potential (and in 1959, was quite risqué; the success of the film marked the beginning of the end for the Hays Production Code), but the moment in the film that really shows what a master Wilder was is one not of over-the-top hilarity but immense restraint.

In the top frame, Curtis is calling into the talent agency, using his best female voice, saying that he and Lemmon are the “two female musicians” they’re looking for. So we’re in! It’s coming, we’re going to see Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressed as women! It’s going to be hilarious!

What Wilder does next is what few directors in this day and age would dare: he simply crossfades to the punchline. A crossfade to their legs from behind, then a simple cut to their faces in full drag. No big reveal, no delay to play with the audience’s feelings and anticipation. He says it’s coming, and then he delivers it.

Because the story is bigger than this reveal. It’s not “look at them as women” but “how are they going to keep this up”? And that’s more than them in drag. Wilder knew that he didn’t need to build it up. It’s funny as is, and doesn’t need camera and editorial tricks to make it more so. This simple reveal is a promise: we’re not going to exploit our crazy concept, we’re going to use it smartly.

In fact, that’s not just directorial restraint. That’s pure confidence.

04:28 pm, by frants4 notes Comments

Yes, this version of the Happy video without any music is pretty darn funny.

But it also shows you just how damned important good sound design and foley effects can be.

02:18 pm, by frants1 note Comments

In what amounts to a tremendous resource and amazing way to lose countless hours to history, the British newsreel service Pathé has uploaded over 85,000 newsreels from its archive, from 1896 to 1976. They’ve even created playlists like A Day That Shook The World and Weird Newsreels

Personally, I love the access to all the newsreels from both World Wars (including the above, one of the many about the London Blitz, a subject I’m fascinated by).

Their YouTube page is here.

01:17 pm, by frants Comments



If you happen to be wandering around the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, you may notice Stage 16 seems a bit different. It has these buttresses around the entire base, and it’s taller than all the other stages. Why this is is one of my favorite Old Hollywood stories.
In 1936, Warners was developing a starring vehicle for Marion Davies called Cain and Mabel, with Clark Gable to co-star. Hollywood was known for big, showy sets and musical numbers in those days, but Marion’s then-boyfriend wanted her to have the biggest, most grandest of them all.
Also, Marion’s boyfriend was a gentleman named William Randolph Hearst, the uber-rich newspaper man (also, let’s replace “boyfriend” with “sugar daddy”). So he paid to have Stage 16 raised 30 feet, making it one of the tallest soundstages in the world. And raise it they did….. from the bottom. They literally removed the lower walls, and jacked up the foundation, a little at a time, adding bricks when there was enough room. Sounds iffy in regards to workplace safety, but hey, it was the Depression.
Cain and Mabel was a flop, and Davies only made one more picture. But still today, Stage 16 stands tall above all the rest at Warner Brothers. Since then, countless films have taken advantage of the giant set. The pirate ship from The Goonies was in there, as were parts of Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, Inception, The Big Sleep, and The Music Man.

If you happen to be wandering around the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, you may notice Stage 16 seems a bit different. It has these buttresses around the entire base, and it’s taller than all the other stages. Why this is is one of my favorite Old Hollywood stories.

In 1936, Warners was developing a starring vehicle for Marion Davies called Cain and Mabel, with Clark Gable to co-star. Hollywood was known for big, showy sets and musical numbers in those days, but Marion’s then-boyfriend wanted her to have the biggest, most grandest of them all.

Also, Marion’s boyfriend was a gentleman named William Randolph Hearst, the uber-rich newspaper man (also, let’s replace “boyfriend” with “sugar daddy”). So he paid to have Stage 16 raised 30 feet, making it one of the tallest soundstages in the world. And raise it they did….. from the bottom. They literally removed the lower walls, and jacked up the foundation, a little at a time, adding bricks when there was enough room. Sounds iffy in regards to workplace safety, but hey, it was the Depression.

Cain and Mabel was a flop, and Davies only made one more picture. But still today, Stage 16 stands tall above all the rest at Warner Brothers. Since then, countless films have taken advantage of the giant set. The pirate ship from The Goonies was in there, as were parts of Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, Inception, The Big Sleep, and The Music Man.

03:32 pm, by frants3 notes Comments

In honor of the great man announcing his retirement, here’s the time I was on Letterman.

Yes, it was planned.

12:10 pm, by frants1 note Comments

A great little animated short featuring a ghost who really wants to tap dance to Moses Supposes.

10:43 am, by frants Comments



What a fantastic idea. This Disney boxed set NINE OLD MEN contains flipbooks, each of which pays tribute to the studios nine original animators.

What a fantastic idea. This Disney boxed set NINE OLD MEN contains flipbooks, each of which pays tribute to the studios nine original animators.

06:29 pm, by frants Comments

9filmframes:

Song & Dance & Color & Love

Singin’ in the Rain


That first big flash mob, a T-Mobile ad from about 10 years ago, still gets me. You may not realize that, in my humble opinion, the secret of life lies within:

Just f*&king make someone smile, just a little, when they least expect it. Do this every day.

Give them a happy story to tell. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.

11:46 pm, by frants1 note Comments



criterioncast:


A taste of the new Hoop Dreams restoration, from Kartemquin.

“Left: Hoop Dreams, 2014 restoration. Right: Hoop Dreams, original 1994 release.”

criterioncast:

A taste of the new Hoop Dreams restoration, from Kartemquin.

“Left: Hoop Dreams, 2014 restoration. Right: Hoop Dreams, original 1994 release.”


You may have heard some science-y stuff on the tubes this week about gravitational waves and the ‘smoking gun’ proving the Big Bang happened. Maybe that makes sense to you, maybe it doesn’t.

But watching the moment when the scientist, whose life’s work is this very subject, is informed that he was right is magical.

More from kottke.

12:26 pm, by frants Comments

barbarastanwyck:

Studio Era Meme (dramas 3/5)

Baby Face (1933)

Probably my favorite Pre-Code film. 


Rest in Peace, Dr. Spengler.

Rest in Peace, Dr. Spengler.

12:56 pm, by frants Comments

Sweet Child O’ Mine + Prohibition Era jazz = yes please.

08:33 pm, by frants Comments

I love these posters of film interiors by artist Frederico Babina. These and more are available for sale.

03:30 pm, by frants Comments