The Roundup: April 9th

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Remaking Metropolis by David Kalat at Movie Morlocks

Once again, David Kalat blows me away with one of his wide-ranging and highly informative posts. This time, he approaches the Complete Metropolis with some trepidation – not because the restored version of the film isn’t amazing (it is, and he agrees), but because the push to market it as the full version of what we’d only known in part before downgrades the earlier cuts unfairly. After all, that shorter cut is what most people have known and fallen in love with for the past 75 years. On his way to this argument, though, he also details the production and troubled distribution of the film, discussing in detail how the cuts got made in the first place and why, and the seemingly subtle but actually quite significant changes to the story that resulted from them. Probably the best post I read all week.

A Meditation on Mad Men by The Lady Eve at The Lady Eve’s Reel Life

The Lady Eve has been hosting a whole series of excellent posts about Mad Men on her blog (most of which seem to be relatively spoiler-free, discussing the overall aesthetics and appeal of the show rather than specific plot details – which is good for me, since I’m still back in S3 somewhere), and this collection of thoughts from the Lady Eve herself captures a lot of the major themes of the show – the sense of nostalgia that calls us to a show about the ’60s even as Don Draper uses it to hearken to an even earlier time in his ad campaigns, the search for identity that haunts Don and his family and to some degree the ’60s as a whole, and of course, the exquisite detail of the production design and scripts that seem to bring not just the look of the ’60s, but the hopes and fears of that era into startling reality.

The Psychology of Betty Draper Francis by Terry Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts

Yes, another Mad Men-related post. What are you gonna do about it? Just please don’t take this opportunity to spoil me on what was apparently a brilliant episode last night, because I am a season and a half behind. This post pulls some stuff from season 4, I think, but not enough to bother me. Betty is pretty much a shoo-in for least-liked character on the show, and Canote certainly doesn’t whitewash any of her frankly horrible behavior throughout the show, but he does take the opportunity to psychoanalyze her a little bit, in terms of her family background, life with Don, and the social atmosphere of the ’60s. I don’t always agree with psychoanalytical approaches, but this one manages to discuss an awful lot about the show in general, and the way the writers have set Betty up to be the person she is.

Memories of Midnight Movies by Will McKinley at The Cinementals

A simply delightful post, relating Will’s experience with midnight movies on Long Island in the ’70s and ’80s. He discusses the midnight movie phenomenon in general, even though he was too young at the time to really be a part of it, and the first time his dad took him to a midnight movie – not Rocky Horror Picture Show or Eraserhead, though those were two of the films to popularize the concept in the late ’70s – but a midnight screening of classic Three Stooges movies. I guess we know why Will’s a Cinemental!

Pioneers of the Corman Film School by Alex Withrow at And So It Begins

Alex reminds us that without Roger Corman, we’d be unlikely to have the many of the most talented directors of the past few decades, and New Hollywood itself probably would’ve been a very different time. Known for his low budget, quickly shot B movies, Corman used his studio AIP to give young directors a shot at making films the same way he did – quick and dirty. But by giving them the freedom they needed, he ended up launching careers for people like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and more. Alex runs through a bunch of these directors, talking a bit about the films they made for AIP and what they went on to do later. Thank you, Mr. Corman, for your contribution to American cinema.

Playing by Different Rules: Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray by Marilyn Ferdinand at Ferdy on Films

Classic Hollywood loved to pair the same actors together over and over again, with many costarring teams becoming almost inextricably linked – Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Marilyn Ferdinand points out that Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray costarred no fewer than three times together (not quite as often as those other teams, granted, but still a decent amount), and yet all their films are so decidedly different that it’s tough to consider them a “team” in the same way as some of the others. She takes a look at these three films and at Stanwyck and MacMurray’s performances in them.

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Noteworthy News

  • Nicole Kidman will play Grace Kelly in an upcoming film from Olivier Dahan (La vie en rose) – if you don’t believe that’s great casting, just watch her in The Others and get back to me
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt won’t be in Django Unchained after all; he has a scheduling conflict due to his directorial debut. That’s a good reason, I think, but still.
  • Apparently Greta Gerwig is a director now, with a surprise film headed for festivals this fall
  • David Michôd’s debut Animal Kingdom turned a lot of heads, including in Hollywood, but he’s following it up with another small Australian film – good for him, and I’ll be there to watch it
  • Vincenzo Natali is set to follow the underrated Splice with backwards ghost story Haunters, with Abigail Breslin in the lead