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Directed by Erich von Stroheim Foolish Wives is a silent film also written by him.
Plot

The silent drama is set in and around Monaco where Villa Amorosa is leased out for the season. The three Russians who occupy the villa are frauds and they are there to make a killing and move on before the season ends. Count Wladislaw Sergius Karamzin (von Stroheim) is a cad of the deepest hue whose forte is in compromising rich heiresses and milking them while his cousins run a private casino to bilk the unwary who are taken in by their pretensions to nobility. Naturally passing around counterfeit notes is part of their trade.
Of these three the role of Stroheim looms larger,- and he is almost in every scene, but his riveting performance as an actor and as an auteur make this film a great experience. The character that he assays here is typical of other roles he has handled, and indeed he is the man you love to hate. But what a character! Before we see him mixing with the high society and holding his own with cold aloofness of a Count we are given a clue to his baseness.

Von Stroheim shows a world that lies to itself, where swindlers and rich people mix, and where the heroine reads a book called Foolish Wives . The writer-director deals with false appearances: the titles of Count Wladislas Sergius Karamzin and his two princess cousins are fake (von Stroheim himself was not an Austrian aristocrat as he would have us believe during his lifetime, but the son of a Jewish hat-maker), the money is counterfeit, and the sentiments are fraudulent; Karamzin playing at love to seduce his maid, the ambassador’s wife, and an idiotic 14-year-old girl are all put on and fake, like impasto on the canvas of high society as the royal pretensions of Grimaldi might strike the House of Windsor or of Hohenzollern. This hypocrisy of the social game is set in the context of World War I, which had just ended: an armless veteran, a nurse pushing a soldier in a wheelchair, a little girl on crutches, a boy playing with a military helmet are all daubs that add to the overall effect.
As the film progresses depth of his villainy is indeed mind-boggling. He shall not spare even the servant maid’s life savings if he could lay hands on it and his comeuppance of course would come from that quarter, and before the film comes to an end we see of what his panache and sense of honor amount to in a critical moment.
The bulk of the film is taken up how the three cousins lay traps to compromise the honor of Helen Hughes (Miss Dupont) the young wife of the American envoy and its unraveling with unexpected consequences to the three.
Production:
Before release there were both censorship and length problems. In the wake of Fatty Arbuckle’s scandal the company decided to delete the most provocative shots; after screening a rough cut of six and half hours, it took the film from von Stroheim’s hands and asked Arthur Ripley to reduce it from 30 reels to 14. Ultimately it ran only ten reels.
The film began director von Stroheim’s reputation as a “manic perfectionist,” a huge money spender, and as a director that needed to be brought under control.
Started on 12 July 1920, the shooting ended almost one year later on 15 June 1921. The costs were soaring as von Stroheim insisted on the veracity of every detail. The main facades of the casino, the Hotel de France, and the Cafe de Paris were built by Richard Day (his first assignment) on the backlot of Universal. During filming, the costs for the film soared. While the budget was slated at $250,000, according to von Stroheim, it ended at $750,000. At the end, Universal Studio, estimated the costs at $1,225,000. During the production, Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal, appointed 20-year-old Irving Thalberg as head of the studio. Right away the new studio chief started clashing with von Stroheim, whom he considered a spendthrift.
Actor Rudolph Christians died on February 7, 1921 from pneumonia during production, and his part was taken over by Robert Edeson. Edeson only showed his back to the camera so as not to clash with shot footage of Christians that was still to be used in the completed film.
Original prints reportedly had hand coloring of certain scenes by artist Gustav Brock.

In Retro:

Even with all the difficulties the film is one of the most stunning of the silent era. It also exercised a major influence on future directors, including Renoir, Buñuel, and Vigo.

In Foolish Wives von Stroheim also gives the final—and most brilliant—touch to his portrait of the cynical seducer, equally eager for money and sex. His physical appearance is as recognizable as Chaplin’s, with his military cap, his whip, and his monocle.
Even as we look back at the silent era with rose-tinted glass and smile tolerantly at its naïveté, this film stands out as a shocker. Its originality and boldness ran against the grain of films that were to come out of the MGM studios several years later. I cite this studio because the boy genius, who headed the studio was to thwart the artistic independence Stroheim demanded and Stroheim had to pay the price for his artistic integrity.
“If you live in France, for instance, and you have written one good book, or painted one good picture, or directed one outstanding film fifty years ago and nothing else since, you are still recognized and honored accordingly. People take their hats off to you and call you “maître”. They do not forget. In Hollywood—in Hollywood, you’re as good as your last picture. If you didn’t have one in production within the last three months, you’re forgotten, no matter what you have achieved ere this.”
Stroheim’s unwillingness or inability to modify his artistic principles for the commercial cinema, his extreme attention to detail, his insistence on near-total artistic freedom and the resulting costs of his films led to fights with the studios. As time went on he received fewer directing opportunities.
He is perhaps best known as an actor for his role as von Rauffenstein in Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937) and as Max von Mayerling in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950).

For the latter film, which co-starred Gloria Swanson, Stroheim was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Excerpts from Queen Kelly were used in the film. The Mayerling character states that he used to be one of the three great directors of the silent era, along with D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille; many film critics agree that Stroheim was indeed one of the great early directors. Stroheim’s character in Sunset Boulevard thus had an autobiographical basis that reflected the humiliations suffered through his career.
‘De Mille as early as 1919 brought to the American screens a mixture of spice and sex but within strict moral limits. Von Stroheim, however, through his unsparing vision of human psychology, his probing of hidden motives, and his harsh realism made the American cinema (particularly with Foolish Wives ) enter the 20th century, away from the Victorian and romantic sensibility of Griffith. Chaplin would soon follow with A Woman of Paris (1923) and Lubitsch with The Marriage Circle (1924). “Lubitsch shows you first the king on the throne, then as he is in the bedroom. I show you the king in the bedroom so you’ll know just what he is when you see him on his throne.”
Foolish Wives anticipates two subversive works that open and close the 1930s: Buñuel’s L’age d’or and Renoir’s La règle du jeu .
In 2008, Foolish Wives was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Ack:michel Ciment/film reference,wikipedia-foolish wives,Stroheim)

(also see cinebuff.wordpress.com)
benny

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In my time it was Peyton Place that lay lurking behind the peaceful exterior of small town Americana. For Gwadsake, this is 1986. Welcome to Lumberton!
It’s a sunny, woodsy day in Lumberton, so get those chain saws out. This is the mighty W-O-O-D. At the sound of the falling tree, it’s 9:30. There’s a whole lot of wood out there, so let’s get goin’.
While the radio jingle refers to felling woods there are those who are rarin’ to go with their freaky sexual fantasies. One such is the loathsome, nitrous-oxide sniffing kidnapper (Dennis Hopper). Frank holds a man Don, and Donny his son hostage, and makes the mother of Donny his sexual slave.
On the receiving end is the nightclub singer Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) the abused/brutalized mother.
Dorothy: Hello baby.
Frank: (reprimanding) Shut up. It’s Daddy you s–t-head. Where’s my bourbon?
(She goes into the kitchen and gets Frank his drink, handing it to him.)
Can’t you f–kin’ remember anything? (Dorothy turns out the main light in the living room and lights one small candle.) Now it’s dark. (Wearing her blue velvet robe, Dorothy sits on a chair in the middle of the living room. Frank sits down on the sofa.) Spread your legs. Wider. Show it to me. (She slowly opens her legs wider and adjusts her robe, while Frank stares at her crotch and drinks his bourbon.) Don’t you f–kin’ look at me!

Into such unstable equation who stumbles in but a college student Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan). The kid Galahad discovers a severed ear, and then finds himself embroiled on the goings on the dark side of town. (It is a fact of life that a picket fence however well painted white when casts shadow is less than what appears.)
He witnesses, first as a voyeur and then must be goaded by what he has seen so in a way no longer he is that same old innocent knight in shining armor. The disease of the villain has passed on to him as well the helpless woman. She has been brutalized so thoroughly she is not above asking the student to abuse her. While she is onto a masochistic bend the one who breaks and enters into her apartment is not spared either. He steals duplicate spare apartment key hanging in the kitchen in order to spy on her. Their kinks are so disgusting let me say the viewer need to carry an extra cast-iron lining to stomach what goes on there.
Jeffrey and Frank represent the two dichotomous sides of life (e.g., light/dark, normalcy/aberration, attraction/repulsion, innocence/experience, perversion/love, virtue/base desires, etc.) These represent also two side of the coin. In whichever way they fight for dominance the fact remains evil is still out there. Female leads Dorothy and Sandy are also two opposites.
Sandy who has a regular boyfriend also sees and acts as a decoy for Jeffrey.

Sandy: I don’t know if you’re a detective or a pervert.
Jeffrey: Well, that’s for me to know and you to find out.

Out of a slender plot line the essay in violence, aberrant sexual behavior David Lynch created a cult film. Although highly ridiculed and disdained when released as an extreme, dark, vulgar and disgusting film, it also won critical praise – Best Film of 1986, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Dennis Hopper) and Best Achievement in Cinematography (Frederick Elmes) by the National Society of Film Critics. It also received a sole nomination for Best Director from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The film’s credits (viewed with fluid, scripted type-lettering) play above a slow undulating blue velvet, fabric backdrop as Angelo Badalamenti’s sensual string score floridly plays. The film dissolves into an unnaturally brilliant, visually lush, boldly colorful opening with patriotic hues (bright red, white, and blue) and a nostalgic, dream-like view of a clean, conforming, pastoral America a la Norman Rockwell. Don’t you believe it.
At the outset we see a man falling down with a heart seizure. He is the proud owner of a house with a garden enclosed by white picket fence. And it is what often lurks behind the American dream (represented by spanking white picket fence) is interesting. Mr. Beaumont the father like a typical American would wish to keep the garden as green as you ever saw. But must account for the heart that is congested as well. Don’t you believe what you see is all there is.
But here we also see a deft directorial insight to move the camera for a closer view of a terrifying, diseased underworld: it is teeming with a swarm of hungry, ugly black bugs – a metaphor for the perverse, horrible evil that lurks beneath the idyllic surface of picture-perfect life.
Sandy: I don’t know. I had a dream. In fact, it was the night I met you. In the dream, there was our world and the world was dark because there weren’t any robins, and the robins represented love. And for the longest time, there was just this darkness. And all of a sudden, thousands of robins were set free, and they flew down and brought this Blinding Light of Love. And it seemed like that love would be the only thing that would make any difference. And it did. So I guess it means there is trouble ’til the robins come.
Jeffrey: You’re a neat girl.
Sandy: So are you. (laughs)

Directed by David Lynch
Produced by Fred C. Caruso
Written by David Lynch
Starring Kyle MacLachlan
Isabella Rossellini
Dennis Hopper
Laura Dern
Dean Stockwell
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Cinematography Frederick Elmes
Background:
‘After the commercial and critical failure of Lynch’s Dune (1984), he made attempts at developing a more “personal story”, somewhat characteristic of his surreal style he displayed in his debut Eraserhead (1977). The screenplay of Blue Velvet had been passed around multiple times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with many major studios declining it because of its strong sexual and violent content.[3] The independent studio De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which was owned at the time by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis, agreed to finance and produce the film. Since its initial theatrical release, Blue Velvet has achieved cult status, significant academic attention and is widely regarded as one of Lynch’s finest works, alongside Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive (2001)’.
Genre: neo-noir
Motifs: The bug motif is recurrent throughout the film. Nitrous oxide mask that Frank wears and Jeffrey’s excuse as an insect exterminator. One of Frank’s sinister accomplice
(Fred Pickler) is identified by his yellow jacket, possibly reminiscent of the name of a type of wasp.
Finally, a robin eating a bug on a fence in the last scene of the film refers to Sandy’s dream and represents love conquering evil.
The severed ear that Jeffrey discovers is also a key symbolic element.
There are a number of allusions to the Wizard of Oz for instance name of the woman degraded by Frank is Dorothy and her ruby studded shoes etc.,
Run time:120 min
(ack: wikipedia, filmsite.org-Tim Dirks)

benny

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The Studio Years by Gerald Mast

(notes taken from the essay as titled above.b)

The System came up along the slow evolution of cinema as an art. In 1916 Adolph Zukor( Famous Players-Lasky company) assumed control over Paramount distributing company. In 1924 Marcus Loew set up MGM studio with Louis B.Mayer as head of Production. By 1925 the Warner Brothers Company,the Columbia Pictures Corporation,Universal Pictures and the Fox company had been set up.

Like the production of Ford motor cars out of Detroit the heads of the Production planned an entertainment factory from which a large number of goods(films) of consistent and dependent quality were to roll out without any snarl. Like any factory, guiding principle of a studio was division of labor, by which each department contributed to the whole. Writers, actors,technicians and mechanics were all part of it. Studio publicity was another that pitched the finished product to the public. Time saving devices were more welcome than inspiration a human quality that made writers or stars at time excel themselves from their usual. There was a front office that planned the year’s production,managed all the budgets and kept the assembly line smoothly running.

Introduction of sound system meant a bigger financial out lay that only big studios could afford. Conversely it made the studio more rigorous with their production costs. The informality of early silent films was gone and in the complicated technically savvy world of dream factory nothing was left to chance or human tantrums. The stars emoted come what may according to detailed shooting scripts that went dead against the intent of the author and script writers who still nursed certain literary integrity. Their principles and feelings had been bought by the studio when they signed the carefully worded contracts prepared by their lawyers. The studios had also battery of legal firms that helped them to control the production all along the line.

From 1930 to 1945 the Studio system reigned supreme.

When films found their feet among masses the need was to produce more while the demand was very strong. With the crash of 1929 and lives of men growing desperate, films as an escape from everyday circumstances were real. Those who produced them knew they had to account for every cent they spent. They knew the commercial need for large quantities could only be justified when these were of good quality and technically competent and also were entertaining. After the World War II the studio system died when television came into vogue. It brought entertainment right into homes of Everyman. There was no more need for such quantity as the studio system planned for a year.

2.

The Hollywood Studio system was uneven. Take two giants as MGM and Paramount studios. In the former Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg had much more control than the other . Paramount was a studio of directors and writers-Ernest Lubitsch, Joseph von Sternberg,Cecil B. DeMille and Billy Wilder. This also had such names as WC Fields and Mae West. MGM was the studio of stars- Greta Garbo Jean Harlow Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. MGM inherited the Marx brothers and made their zany chaotic routine fit with their intricate production numbers and trite plot and the result was lacklustre. Similarly Buster Keaton was flattened out when MGM took control. In the 1930s the MGM policy seemed wiser of the two. Audiences treated MGM films as the most impressive and artistic of their day and Paramount’s chaotic individuality ran the studio into severe financial difficulties and imposed restructuring of the studio in 1935 . Paramount lost in the process WC Fields Marx Brothers to name a few. Today the MGM films look flat and dead besides the exuberant vitality of Paramount’s.

The studios also differed in the genres they handled. RKO was remarkable for the smooth comedies with Cary Grant,and both the adventure films and comedies directed by Howard Hawks.Warner Brothers was most remarkable for its gangster,musicals and biographies. 20th Century Fox excelled in historical and adventure films directed by John Ford,Tyrone Power,Henryhathaway,Henry King. Universal excelled in the horror films-Frankenstein,Dracula,WolfMan, and the comedies of WC Fields.

Most directors were staff directors-competent,proficient and unimaginative technicians who took every script the received ,shot it and then passed the footage along to the editing department for shaping into its final form. There were exceptions to these those who were to individualistic that they like great stars could do films for other studios other than the ones thy had signed their contract. Walt Disney and Charley Chaplin worked for themselves. Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir and Clair made films for the studios and were imported from abroad. Maurice Stiller, Orson Welles( destroyed by the studio) couldn’t work within the system. Then there are directors like Lubitsch, von Sternberg, Hawks,Ford,and Capra who were products of the system and could work within it. In order to do their own Ford and Hawks had to make a number of mediocre films. These great directors avoided the Hollywood clichés and infused so much life about them to give the cliches a fresh cast and color.

Ernest Lubitsch for example could avoid formulas of what to say and how to say it. He even enjoyed playing with them. Central Lubitsch subject was sex, something that the studio system accepted as a necessary evil. In 1933 the formal code was to eliminate sex from the movies. In the studio years a woman was pure or fallen and a gentleman either faithful or a rake. Lubitsch could show that even faithful husbands have their rakish streak and women were not statues but women with powerful drives of their own. In an era of plaster-cast idealism of American male his cynicism was not as grotesque or bitter as of Erich von Stroheim.

On the whole studio system helped great many directors hone their skills and learn the craft. It was a liberating experience for them to make some good films if not the films that we treat as classic films. Mervyn LeRoy din’t direct a film as The Graduate of Mike Nichols. LeRoy made more films between 1930 and 1933 than Mike Nichols will make in a lifetime.

About the system there are two opposite critical opinions. The system created a very clear tension between art and commerce. Art defies mass production and assembly lines.The system bred popular entertainment, a myth as people who lapped up everything that flashed in front of their eyes. They were in awe of the stars, the glamor and the glossy perfection of a system that made the problems of life go away at least for a short while. The system played upon the wishes and dreams of the masses : the poetic justice worked too well and the crime paid in the end. Optimism of the good despite of every bad thing that visited them and reward of suffering the greed of crooked bankers, politicians gave them a false sense of American idealism as distinct from the way things worked in Europe. In a sense the system played too safe to displease public opinion and the powerful lobbies.(in the way the Motion Picture industry handled the Hollywood Ten during the Red Scare of 1947 one cannot miss fear of commerce than morals among the studio heads. They created a blacklist of their own.) The system stoked the gullibility of the masses and made them participants of a communal experience and a religious affirmation of the society. Such optimism which we see now by hindsight was based on misplaced naivete. Most films produced under the system are more interesting sociologically than aesthetically. The system ironed out what it considered as

too individualistic and no wonder MGM could not stomach WC Fields who,ripped up the sentimental cliches of propriety,Protestant ethics, or Marx Brothers who ridiculed high finance,higher education democracies and everything that the studio bosses held in mortal awe.

benny

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( Note: This post first appeared in cinebuff.wordpress.com. b)
The kernel of the film is same as what Machiavelli in his book The Prince seems to say. The book was meant for Lorenzo de Medici, the Magnificent. Of course the Medicis of another age and clime hold parallel to the Corleone family in as far as that they could acquire power and maintain it. As Medicis before them the Corleone family embody the American Dream and in it they didn’t have such taste or luck as the Medicis had. Michaelangelo under the aegis of the Corleone family surely would have churned out kitsch by dozens. The film has no pretensions to art and culture but is a crime drama. In order to ensure success what a bloody trail the Corleones leave in their wake? The Machiavellian methods dictated a course that is violent and amoral. After all given the stakes involved, the warring parties cannot then as now afford to let their objectives clouded by fine sensibilities. In this context the film quote “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer,” has the directness of a thrust from a stilleto or a spray of bullets from a machine gun. The second part of the Godfather is the saga of Vito Corleone from his childhood in Sicily (1901) to his founding of the criminal Corleone Family in New York City while still a young man (1917–1925) and like the Prince is a modern treatise for any one who would want to maintain his position acquired by fair means or foul.
The plot includes two parallel storylines. One involves Mafia chief Michael Corleone following the events of the first movie from 1958 to 1959 and the other his father is a series of flashbacks. In the present, Michael Corleone attempt to steer the family business towards respectability but at great cost to his own relationships. Even his own brother, Freddie (John Cazale) is sacrificed to Michael’s grim and ultimately pointless determination. The Godfather Part II became the first sequel ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and garnered and even bigger Oscar haul than The Godfather. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo the film stars Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, and Talia Shire. New cast members include Robert De Niro( who won the Best Supporting Actor) , Michael V. Gazzo and Lee Strasberg.
Trivia: Paramount was initially opposed to name the movie The Godfather Part II. According to Coppola, the studio’s objection stemmed from the belief that audiences would be reluctant to see a film with such a title. The success of The Godfather Part II began the Hollywood tradition of numbered sequels.
Cast
Al Pacino as Don Michael Corleone
* Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen
* Robert De Niro as Young Vito Corleone
* Diane Keaton as Kay Corleone
* John Cazale as Fredo Corleone
* Talia Shire as Connie Corleone
* Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth
* Michael V. Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli
* Morgana King as Mama Carmella Corleone
* G.D. Spradlin as Senator Pat Geary
* Richard Bright as Al Neri
* Marianna Hill as Deanna Corleone
* Gastone Moschin as Don Fanucci
* Troy Donahue as Merle Johnson

The Godfather Part II ranks among the most critically and artistically successful film sequels in movie history, and is the most honored. Many critics praise it as equal, or even superior, to the original film.
…a sumptuous flamboyant entertainment – not a work of art perhaps but a rich, enjoyable wallow of a movie.

~ Barry Norman, 100 Best Films of the Century

benny

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Raging Bull is a 1980 biopic on Jack La Motta and directed by Martin Scorsese. Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin wrote the script from the memoir Raging Bull: My Story.
The ageing boxer in the beginning sequence alludes to the “I shouda have been a contender” scene from On The Waterfront complaining that his brother should have been there for him. Terry Malloy also suffered the indignity of taking a dive as he did but Terry exuded a nobility that transcended his circumstances. Jack La Motto was paranoiac, foul mouthed and with a taste for underage girls. Then Terry was pure make-believe while the boxer was large as life. Mardik Martin wrote the script in a conventional manner closer in spirit to the biography. Paul Schrader made several changes to the script, one of which was to make the role of Joey La Motta, Jake’s brother, the second most prominent character. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro also had a hand in rewriting the script until they had the film as they wanted. Opening sequence has La Motta (Robert De Niro) practicing his 1960s night-club act, and over the hill and in girth( Reportedly the production was shut down so that De Niro could gain 50-plus pounds) Then the film flashes back to 1940s New York, when Jake’s career was on the rise.
The film stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta who won deservedly Oscar for his acting. Jack is shown as a temperamental and paranoid but tenacious boxer (a lifesaver considering all those pent up  bile and stress) alienates himself from his friends and family. Also featured in the film are Joe Pesci as Joey, La Motta’s brother and manager, and Cathy Moriarty as his abused wife. The film features supporting roles from Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, and Frank Vincent, who has starred in many films directed by Martin Scorsese. After receiving mixed initial reviews, it went on to garner a high critical reputation and is now widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, along with the pair’s other famed collaboration from that era, Taxi Driver (1976).
Awards
The film won eight Oscar nominations but won only two: Robert De Niro (acting) and Thelma Schoonmaker(editing).  Award for Best Picture went in favor of Robert Redford and Ordinary People. Raging Bull has often been cited as the best American film of the 1980s.
Directed by     Martin Scorsese
Produced by     Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written by     Paul Schrader
Mardik Martin
Starring     Robert De Niro
Joe Pesci
Cathy Moriarty
Cinematography     Michael Chapman
Editing by     Thelma Schoonmaker
Distributed by     United Artists
Release date(s)     14 November 1980 (US)
19 February 1981 (UK)
Running time     129 minutes
Country     United States
Language     English
Budget     $18,000,000 (est.)
(Wikipedia)
Similar Movies
Champion  (1949, Mark Robson)
Requiem for a Heavyweight  (1956, Alvin Rakoff)
The Set-Up  (1949, Robert Wise)
Requiem for a Heavyweight  (1962, Ralph Nelson)
Pugili  (1995, Lino Capolicchio)
Cobb  (1994, Ron Shelton)
Dempsey  (1983, Gus Trikonis)
The Prizefighter and the Lady  (1933, W.S. Van Dyke)
Rocky V  (1990, John G. Avildsen)
Somebody Up There Likes Me  (1956, Robert Wise)
Movies with the Same Personnel
New York, New York  (1977, Martin Scorsese)
Mean Streets  (1973, Martin Scorsese)
The King of Comedy  (1983, Martin Scorsese)
GoodFellas  (1990, Martin Scorsese)
‘Round Midnight  (1986, Bertrand Tavernier)
Who’s That Knocking at My Door?  (1968, Martin Scorsese)
New York Stories  (1989, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese)
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies  (1995, Martin Scorsese, Michael Henry Wilson)
Other Related Movies
is featured in:      A Decade Under the Influence  (2003, Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese)
is related to:      Taxi Driver  (1976, Martin Scorsese)
Body and Soul  (1947, Robert Rossen)
Fat City  (1972, John Huston)
The Great White Hope  (1970, Martin Ritt)
The Harder They Fall  (1956, Mark Robson)
Mean Streets  (1973, Martin Scorsese)
On the Waterfront  (1954, Elia Kazan)
Cape Fear  (1991, Martin Scorsese)
Confessions of Tom Harris  (1969, John Derek, David Nelson)
The King of Comedy  (1983, Martin Scorsese)
New York, New York  (1977, Martin Scorsese)
Night and the City  (1992, Irwin Winkler)
The Great John L.  (1945, Frank Tuttle)
On the Ropes  (1999, Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen)
( wikipedia, Allmovie.com)
Trivia
* Robert De Niro read the autobiography of Jake LaMotta while filming The Godfather: Part II (1974) in 1974 and immediately saw the potential for a film to make with his collaborator, Martin Scorsese. It took over four years for De Niro to convince everyone, including Scorsese, to get on board for this film.

* Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are really punching each other in the famous “hit me” scene.

* To achieve the feeling of brotherhood between the two lead actors, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci actually lived and trained with each other for some time before filming began. Ever since then, the two have been very close friends.

* Sound effects for punches landing were made by squashing melons and tomatoes. Sound effects for camera flashes going off were sounds of gunshots. The original tapes were deliberately destroyed by the sound technicians, to prevent then being used again.

* The scene by the chain link fence where Jake meets his girlfriend was ad-libbed.

* Robert De Niro accidentally broke Joe Pesci’s rib in a sparring scene. This shot appears in the film: De Niro hits Pesci in the side, Pesci groans, and there is a quick cut to another angle. See also Casino (1995).

* Jake (Robert De Niro) asks Joey (Joe Pesci) “Did you f*** my wife?”. Director Martin Scorsese didn’t think that Pesci’s reaction was strong enough, so he asked De Niro to say “Did you f*** your mother?”. Scorsese also did not tell Pesci that the script called for him to be attacked.

* To visually achieve Jake’s growing desperation and diminishing stature, Martin Scorsese shot the later boxing scenes in a larger ring.

* Robert De Niro gained a record 60 pounds to play the older ‘Jake La Motta’, and Joe Pesci lost weight for the same scene (De Niro’s movie weight-gain record was subsequently broken by ‘Vincent D’Onofrio (I)’, who gained 70 pounds for his role as Pvt. Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket (1987)).

* Director Cameo: [Martin Scorsese] asking Jake to go on stage.

* In preparation for his role, Robert De Niro went through extensive physical training, then entered in three genuine Brooklyn boxing matches and won two of them.

* To show up better on black-and-white film, Hershey’s chocolate was used for blood.

* The original script was vetoed by producer Stephen Bach after he told Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro that Jake LaMotta was “a cockroach”. De Niro and Scorsese took a few weeks in Italy to do an uncredited rewrite of the script, during which time the two found some sympathetic aspects of La Motta, which eventually satisfied the producers.

* According to Martin Scorsese, the script took only two weeks to write on the island of St Martin in the Caribbean.

* Was voted the third greatest sports movie of all time after Rocky (1976) and Bull Durham (1988) by ESPN.

* Although only a few minutes of boxing appear in the movie, they were so precisely choreographed that they took six weeks to film.

* Joe Pesci, at the time a frustrated, struggling actor, had to be persuaded to make the film rather than return to the musical act he shared with fellow actor Frank Vincent.

* Martin Scorsese’s father Charles Scorsese is one of the mob wiseguys crowding the LaMotta brothers at a Copa nightclub table.

* While preparing to play Jake LaMotta, Robert De Niro actually met with La Motta and became very well acquainted with him. They spent the entire shoot together so De Niro could portray his character accurately. La Motta said that De Niro has the ability to be a contender, and that he would have been happy to be his manager and trainer.

* Actor John Turturro makes his film debut as the man at table at Webster Hall. Both Turturro and Robert De Niro have played characters named Billy Sunday. De Niro as Master Chief Leslie W. ‘Billy’ Sunday in Men of Honor (2000), and Turturro as Coach Billy Sunday in He Got Game (1998).

* Beverly D’Angelo auditioned for the role of Jake’s wife, Vicki LaMotta. She also auditioned for the role of Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) at around the same time. Martin Scorsese chose Cathy Moriarty (whom the producers saw before D’Angelo), freeing D’Angelo to appear in “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.

* The role of Jake’s wife was the last to be cast.

* Sharon Stone also auditioned for the role of Vicki LaMotta.

* Martin Scorsese claims that nothing should be read into his using the On the Waterfront (1954) quote. Jake LaMotta, in his declining years, used to appear on stage reciting dialogue from television plays and even reading William Shakespeare. According to Scorsese, he’d planned to use something from “Richard III” (because in the corresponding real-life event LaMotta used it), but director Michael Powell suggested that “Richard III” wouldn’t work in the context of the film because the film in general and LaMotta in particular are inherently American. Scorsese picked the lines from “On the Waterfront”.

* Some scenes and phrases are from On the Waterfront (1954) because Jake LaMotta admired Marlon Brando’s character and used to quote the movie in real life.

* Martin Scorsese was worried about the On the Waterfront (1954) recitation because he knew he’d be inviting critical comparison between the scene in this film and the original film’s scene. Robert De Niro read it in various ways. Scorsese chose the take in which the recitation is extremely flat specifically to mute the comparison, and to suggest that it is simply a recitation and not indicative of how Jake LaMotta felt about his brother.

* No original music was composed for the film. All of the music was taken from the works of an Italian composer named Pietro Mascagni. Martin Scorsese selected it because it had a quality of sadness to it that he felt fit the mood of the film.

* The biblical quote at the end of the film (“All that I know is that I was blind, and now I can see”) was a reference to Martin Scorsese’s film professor, to whom the film was dedicated. The man died just before the film was released. Scorsese credits his teacher with helping him “to see”.

* The home movie sequences were in color to make them stand out from the rest of the film. Another reason was the feeling of reality, because at the particular time represented by the home movies, 8mm color home movie cameras were very popular.

* The rooftop wedding scene was directed by Martin Scorsese’s father after he fell ill while filming.

* In 1978, when Martin Scorsese was at an all-time low due to a near overdose resulting from an addiction to cocaine, Robert De Niro visited him at the hospital and told him that he had to clean himself up and make this movie about a boxer. At first, Scorsese refused (he didn’t like sports movies anyway), but due to De Niro’s persistence, he eventually gave in. Many claim (including Scorsese) that De Niro saved Scorsese’s life by getting him back into work.

* Was voted the 5th Greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

* When the real Jake LaMotta saw the movie, he said it made him realize for the first time what a terrible person he had been. He asked the real Vicki “Was I really like that?”. Vicki replied “You were worse.”

* Martin Scorsese had trouble figuring out how he would cut together the scene when La Motta last fights Robinson (in particular when he is up against the ropes getting beaten). He used the original shot-list from the shower sequence in Psycho (1960) to help him figure it out. Scorsese later commented that it helped most in that the scene was the most horrific to him.

* According to Martin Scorsese in the “Raging Bull” DVD, this was going to be one of eight boxing movies to come out in 1980.

* Martin Scorsese shunned the idea of filming the boxing scenes with multiple cameras. Instead, he planned months of carefully choreographed movements with one camera. He wanted the single camera to be like “a third fighter”.

* Robert De Niro’s performance as Jake LaMotta is ranked #10 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).

* Neither Director of Photography Michael Chapman nor Martin Scorsese could get the right look for the amateur LaMotta home movies that comprise the only color sequences in “Raging Bull”. Both men gave in to their natural instincts for camera placement and framing, which was the antithesis of what they wanted to achieve. They solved the problem by asking Teamsters working on the set to handle the camera in order to give the 16mm film the appropriate feel of amateur home movies.

* Jake LaMotta’s autobiography, co-written with friend ‘Peter Savage’, omitted mention of his brother, as did Mardik Martin’s original screenplay. Unhappy with the result, the producers hired Paul Schrader to restructure it, and in the course of doing research on La Motta, the writer came across an article on the relationship between Jake and his brother Joey LaMotta. Schrader incorporated the relationship into the revised screenplay, co-opting the Savage character and creating a composite of the two men in the person of Joey La Motta. That relationship became the central plot theme in the revised screenplay and one of the primary reasons for the film’s success.

* Frank Vincent also plays a character named Batts in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990).

* According to Martin Scorsese on the DVD, when first screening some test 8mm footage of Robert De Niro sparring in a ring, he felt that something was off about the image. Michael Powell, who at that time had become something of a mentor and good friend to Scorsese, suggested that it was the color of the gloves that was throwing them off. Realizing this was true, Scorsese then decided the movie had to be filmed in black and white.

* The f-word  is used 114 times in this film.

* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #4 Greatest Movie of All Time.

* Ranked #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Sports” in June 2008.

* Was voted the 4th best film of all time in AFI’s 10th anniversary of the 100 Years… 100 Movies series.

* ‘Nicholas Colasonto”s character, Tommy Como, is based on the real-life mobster Frankie Carbo, who basically ran all boxing in New York City during the 1940s and ’50s. He eventually was sent to prison for conspiracy and extortion after being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy.

* Cathy Moriarty’s film debut.(imdb)

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This film was based on the 1948 short story The Sentinel, by English science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke.
Any film that could express in a running time of little more than two hours, a cyclical evolution from ape to man to spaceman to angel-starchild-superman without sounding boring is nothing short of a marvel. Stanley Kubrick has just done that. It owes to his visual storytelling in part and to the futuristic vision of Arthur C. Clarke that is based squarely on thorough understanding of Science. The film is a textbook example of different approach that could be told to advantage over the written word. In cinematic terms Stanley Kubrick has made any comparison with the book as irrelevant.
Director Stanley Kubrick’s astounding work owes its power from his non-verbal images that add to our visual experience. The first spoken word is almost a half hour into the film, and there’s less than 40 minutes of dialogue in the entire film. All scenes in the film have either dialogue or music (or silence), but never both together. Much of the film is in dead silence, and it is what it means to travel in space. A spaceship traveling in that vast ocean of silence is a mystic experience and Kubrick didn’t need any passage from the book to make us understand that.
Plot: The film can be broken into 4 sections.
1. The Dawn of Man
The title sequence begins with an image of the Earth rising over the Moon, while the Sun rises over the Earth all in alignment to the opening chords of Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”
A primeval ape man makes a breakthrough – becoming endowed with intelligence after experiencing a mysterious black monolith.

2.      The Lunar Journey in the Year 2000
Eons later, a similar monolith is discovered on the lunar surface in the 21st century, sending its signals to Jupiter.

3.      Jupiter Mission, 18 Months Later in 2001
A futuristic, 18-month journey to Jupiter.

4.      Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite
A mystical experience in another time and dimension.

This happy amalgam of art and science from two creative minds shows also how trivial are Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and many other sci-fi films in comparison. These above cited films also dealt with space exploration and extra terrestrial lives in other planets. But 2001: Space Odyssey almost sounds plausible. Leaving aside my personal reservations with regards to the premise of ubermensch or optimism as hinted in the movie, I think the film is still a landmark science fiction classic.
Reception:
The film was ahead of its times. it was criticized for being boring and lacking in imagination. 19 minutes were cut from the film after premieres in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. It was re-released in a slightly shorter version (141 minutes) in 1972.
With time hostile or indifferent critical reviews gave way to rave notices partly due to its cult status among the anti-establishment groups.
Kubrick’s masterpiece was not nominated for Best Picture, but received four Academy Award nominations, including Best Director, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Story and Screenplay. It won one Oscar, for Best Visual Effects. The film was snubbed by the Academy that instead voted its top accolades to the odd musical Oliver! (1968) based upon the Charles Dickens tale.
2001: A Space Odyssey is today recognized by many critics and audiences as one of the greatest films ever made; the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of critics ranked it among the top ten films of all time.  It was nominated for four Academy Awards, and received one for visual effects. In 1991, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.

Music:
The film is enriched by stunning, pioneering technical effects, and featured orchestral music, presented in movements like in a symphony, from:

* Richard Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra
The opening trinitarian chords [C, G, and again C] of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra accompany and welcome this striking shot of orbital and visual alignment. The credits then follow.
Choice of Strauss happily reinforces the superman idea of Friedrich Nietzsche.
Ligeti’s Atmospheres,opens up the film signifying perhaps a pre-creation era,and it ends with The Blue Danube Waltz
* György Ligeti, Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna, and Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs and Orchestra
* Aram Khatchaturian, Gayane Ballet Suite
A sequel was made years later: director Peter Hyams’ 2010 (1984) (from a 1982 published adaptation titled 2010: odyssey two by Clarke). Other Clarke writings are potential film installments: 2061: odyssey three and 3001: final odyssey.
Cast

* Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman
* Gary Lockwood as Dr. Frank Poole
* William Sylvester as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd
* Daniel Richter as Moon-Watcher
* Leonard Rossiter as Dr. Andrei Smyslov
* Margaret Tyzack as Elena
* Robert Beatty as Dr. Ralph Halvorsen
* Sean Sullivan as Dr. Bill Michaels
* Douglas Rain as HAL 9000 (voice)
* Frank A. Miller as Mission controller (voice)
* Bill Weston as Astronaut
* Ed Bishop as Lunar shuttle captain (as Edward Bishop)
* Vivian Kubrick as Floyd’s daughter
* Glenn Beck as Astronaut
* Alan Gifford as Poole’s father
* Ann Gillis as Poole’s mother
Future Projection:
The film shows an imagined version of the year 2001. Some of what is seen in the film has come to pass:

* Flat-screen computer monitors (simulated by rear projection in the film)
* Glass cockpits in spacecraft
* The proliferation of TV stations, the BBC’s channels numbering at least 12. (They currently have 9 UK TV stations (6 in 2001), 4 of which are numbered, plus various international channels)
* Telephone numbers with more digits than in the 1960s (to permit direct national and international dialing)
* The endurance of corporations like IBM, Aeroflot, Howard Johnson’s, and Hilton Hotels
* The use of credit cards with data stripes (the card Heywood Floyd inserts into the telephone is American Express; a close-up photo of the prop shows that it has a barcode rather than a magnetic strip, as some present-day ID cards have PDF417 barcodes)
* Biometric identification (voice-print identification on arrival at the space station)
* The shape of the Pan Am Orbital Clipper was echoed in the X-34, a prototype craft that underwent towed flight tests from 1999 to 2001
* Electronic darkening of a normally transparent surface (Bowman uses a helmet control to darken his visor during an EVA)
* A computer that can defeat a human being at chess
* Personal in-flight entertainment displays on the backs of seats in commercial aircraft
* Voice recognition / voice controlled computing (although not as powerful as HAL) are seen today in things as simple as telephone systems and video games.
* Tanning beds

(ack:filmsite,wikipedia)

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Sunrise is the first feature film directed by F.W Murnau for Fox Film Corporation. It was released with synchronized sound-on-film using the Fox Movietone system. It was a big budget production. But the ‘first talkie’ The Jazz Singer (1927) from Warner Brothers which, came after a few days cut into its profits. The film fared badly at the box-office.
Also known as A Song of Two Humans is a fable portraying rural life versus urban life. The story could have been set anytime and anywhere. A rural couple’s enduring love overcomes the hostile, destructive forces of the Jazz Age city. Within this we have love seduction, attempted murder, forgiveness and reconciliation the whole gamut of human emotions to qualify this as a melodrama but in its treatment and development the story acquires a lyrical quality: it is poetic work of art with roots in the German Expressionist movement (from 1914 to 1924).
Austrian Carl Mayer wrote the screenplay, adapting the story/novella A Trip to Tilsit (“Die Reise Nach Tilsit“) by novelist/playwright Hermann Sudermann.
Plot:
A farmer falls prey to a seductress from the city. She suggests him to do away with his wife.
Woman: Tell me. You are all mine? (He nods and kisses her again. She strokes his hair.) Sell your farm…come with me to the City.
Man: …and my wife?
Woman: (laughing and holding close to his neck) Couldn’t she get drowned?
[The word drowned fades into view.]

He plots to murder her during a boat trip to City of Bright Lights. During this trip, the conscience of the farmer is pricked and he relents( reminiscent of a similar situation in the George Steven’s film, A Place In The Sun). In the city the couple fall in love again. On their return trip, a tempestuous storm appears to drown the wife, but she is eventually found and the family is reunited and reconciled.
Their tearful reconciliation is completed by a view of a church across the street where a wedding is taking place. It seems to bring to the farmer his own wedding and what it means to love. Overcome by emotion in a close-up, he sobs in his wife’s lap and recites along with bridegroom the vows. He now understands its significance of love even as the minister asks the bridegroom: “Wilt thou LOVE her?”
The minister continues:
God is giving you, in the holy bonds of matrimony, a trust. She is young…and inexperienced. Guide her and love her…keep and protect her from all harm.

Production Values:

Charles Rosher and Karl Struss won the first Academy Award for Cinematography (the first with panchromatic stock), for their skillful use of superimposition, effective employment of imagery and symbolism, and lyrical quality. Breakthrough camera tracking movements gave the film its fluidity and it wonderful atmospherics owe to the manner the camera could move through  space (the marsh, the trolley ride to town, boats, dance halls, trolley cars, and city traffic), creating an unusual illusion of depth and vastness. The moving camera was to influence future films, including John Ford’s The Informer (1935) and Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). All the sets (both exterior and interior) were constructed to recede slightly in the distance, to produce further illusions of depth. Other techniques included placing larger physical objects in the foreground of shots, and having midgets as figures in the city backgrounds.
The contrast between rural ‘country’ life and urban ‘city’ life are emphasized through sun-lit and studio-lit exterior and interior shots and this sets the mood and interest. The moonlight, the swampy marshes, and the surface of the lake all capture the astonishing play of the light.
Memorable Quotes:
The Man: [pleading to his wife] Don’t be afraid of me!
—-
[opening title cards]
Title Card: This song of the Man and his Wife is of no place and every place; you might hear it anywhere, at any time.
—-
Title Card: For wherever the sun rises and sets, in the city’s turmoil or under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same; sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet.

Trivia:
*  The original negatives of the film were destroyed in a fire in 1937.

* Fox studio’s first ever feature film with a recorded score.

* Was the first and only film to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) ‘Best Picture’ award in the category of “Artistic Quality of Production” (or “Unique and Artistic Picture”). This was the only year that this award was ever given out.

* The scenes in the city were not filmed on location. They were filmed on a vast and expensive set, built especially for the movie.

* Many of the superimpositions throughout the film were created “in the camera”. The camera would shoot one image at the side of the frame, blacking out the rest of the shot, then expose the film. They would put the exposed film back into the camera and shoot again, blocking out the area that already had an image on it.

Director F.W. Murnau wanted Camilla Horn (with whom he had worked in Germany on _Faust (1926)_) for the part of “The Wife”, but she was under contract to the German studio UFA at the time and they refused to loan her out, so the part went to Janet Gaynor.
* Although well-received critically, this film did not do well at the box office, which led to the studio “reining in” F.W. Murnau creatively for his next several films.

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #82 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.(imdb)
* Much of the exterior shooting was done at Lake Arrowhead in California.
* Murnau makes extensive use of forced perspective throughout the film. Of special note is a shot of the City where you see normal-sized people and sets in the foreground and little people in the background along with much smaller sets. (wikipedia)

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Directed by     F. W. Murnau
Produced by     William Fox
Written by     Carl Mayer
Story:
Hermann Sudermann
Starring     Janet Gaynor
George O’Brien
Margaret Livingston
Cinematography     Charles Rosher
Karl Struss
musical score by Hugo Riesenfeld
Editing by     Harold D. Schuster
Distributed by     Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s)     Sept. 23, 1927
Running time     95 minutes
Silent film
English intertitles
Similar Movies
Variété  (1925, Ewald André Dupont)
Lonesome  (1928, Paul Fejos)
Broken Blossoms  (1919, D.W. Griffith)
A Day in the Country  (1936, Jean Renoir)
Fièvre  (1921, Louis Delluc)
Menilmontant  (1925, Dimitri Kirsanoff)
An American Tragedy  (1931, Josef von Sternberg)
East Is East  (1916, Henry Edwards)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Tabu  (1931, Robert Flaherty, F.W. Murnau)
The Johnstown Flood Narrated  (1926, Irving Cummings)
A Star Is Born  (1937, Jack Conway, William Wellman)
No Man of Her Own  (1932, Wesley Ruggles)
The Farmer Takes a Wife  (1935, Victor Fleming)
I Loved a Woman  (1933, Alfred E. Green)
The Iron Horse  (1924, John Ford)
Romance in Manhattan  (1934, Pandro S. Berman, Stephen R. Roberts)
Other Related Movies
is featured in:      Interview With the Vampire  (1994, Neil Jordan)
(wikipedia, filmsite.org http://www.allmovie.com)

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