Sunday, July 26, 2009

The SLIFR Quiz


Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule is one of the best film bloggers around--unpredictable, fearless, funny, and an incredibly warm, nice guy who runs a lively comment section free of bickering. The Siren missed his last quiz but she's answering this one in all its epic glory and posting her answers here. The Siren is dying to see answers from her regulars and would love to see lurkers de-lurk, but bear two things in mind:

1. You can post the answers at his place and post a link here, or you can post them here--but if you post them here or at your own Internet hangout, please be sure to go to Dennis's place, read all the other answers (that's the fun part, trust me) and link back in his comments section to wherever you have posted your responses. Please do that even if you only pick and choose a few questions to answer. Dennis loves to see these things, and so do I.

2. According to Dennis, Blogger has some new anti-spam thingamabobber that prevents comment posts of over about 4600 characters. Clearly most comments aren't going to be affected, but this quiz is long enough to trigger the Blogger defenses. (I am not sure what happens if it's too long. I was hoping for a rubber chicken pop-up window but I think it just rejects the comment.) Anyway, it is easiest and safest to post the answers in two parts.

Here we go!

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
Barry Lyndon. (Favorite is Paths of Glory--always has been and always will be.)

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
Cuisinart editing. I hate it. I start to get interested in a shot and bang! they cut away.

3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?
Bronco Billy. (Sorry, Yojimboen!)

4) Best Film of 1949.
White Heat. (It's actually The Third Man but this one deserves more love--bless you, Sheila. Also the year of Caught, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Orpheus, On the Town and They Live by Night, lest we forget.)

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
Tura by a nose. (Sorry, Jack.)

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?
YES. Put the camera on something stationary every once in a while for god's sake. Or get a dolly. Try for Ophuls rather than Pontecorvo, just for variety's sake.



7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
On a big screen (at the old Bleecker Street Cinema), Les Enfants du Paradis. An excellent intro, oui?

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?
Mr. Moto--I agree with Robert Fiore at Dennis's place that these movies have fewer stereotypes of all kinds than the Chan films. And I love Lorre, although I get a pang thinking of Dan Callahan's Lorre anecdote. Someone asked Lorre how he got through the Moto films and Lorre replied, "I took drugs."

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
So hard, but the first one that comes to mind is Attack!

10) Favorite animal movie star.
Lassie. A childhood thing. The scene from the 1943 movie where she limps up the street...(pause to mop eyes).

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.
I hate seeing nuclear bombs detonated with minimal consequences in movies, as in True Lies and the execrable Broken Arrow. It makes something casually entertaining that should never even be thinkable.

12) Best Film of 1969.
Army of Shadows. What happened to 1959, huh? Best there was The 400 Blows, by the way, out of a very heavyweight field.

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
Theatrically, Cheri. On DVD, Ossessione.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.
The Player. (Favorite is McCabe and Mrs. Miller.)

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?
My blogroll. No, I can't pick, really.

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji? (Thanks, Peter!)
*Blank stare*

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?
Mona Lisa. She had me the second she stepped out of the car and said "I bet this place has lousy Chinese food."



18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
Nightmare Alley.

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.
*whistles, looks at her cuticles*

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
Imitation of Life (1959).

21) Best Film of 1979.
Manhattan.

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.
Shadow of a Doubt.

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).
Bruce the shark.

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.
The Godfather. (Part II is my favorite.)

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.
I wouldn't have complained if Charade had spawned a mini-Thin Man-esque series.



26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.
The museum in Dressed to Kill.

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.
Ask me to pick a kid next time! (Edited to add: Well, I have to admit--Dorothy emerging into Oz for the first time marked me forever.)

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film. (Thanks, Peter!)
Je ne connait pas cet auteur.

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?
Crash.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.
Husbands and Wives.

31) Best Film of 1999.
Summer of Sam. (But comparing that year to 1949 is awfully depressing. Or 1959. Go on, take a look. I dare you.)

32) Favorite movie tag line.
"Don't ever tell anyone what Mildred Pierce did!"

33) Favorite B-movie western.
Hmm, I love Westerns, but true B Westerns--Republic, Monogram, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy--generally aren't my thing. If we mean just a low-budget Western I'll plump for Angel and the Badman (made at Republic but I wouldn't call it a B).

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.
James M. Cain. Three great films, one masterpiece. I'd say that's a pretty good run. Fannie Hurst also comes to mind.

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?
Irene Bullock. I used it as a screen name once in a forum and they all called me "Irene" assuming the name was too drab to be a pseudonym.***

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.
Nat King Cole in The Blue Gardenia.

37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?
If I had to take a guess from what little I have seen, I'd say intended as the former but in danger of sashaying down a slippery slope toward the latter.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet. (Thanks, Rick!)
I would go for the raconteurs: Orson Welles, King Vidor, Martin Scorsese, Jean Renoir, Peter Ustinov. I would have picked Max Ophuls but according to Ustinov he wasn't much of a conversationalist. I also thought about Luis Bunuel but he might decide to turn the encounter into a huge joke at my expense.

***Speaking of pseudonyms. The Siren is, to whatever extent possible, jettisoning the Campaspe nom de blog in favor of just the Siren. It's simpler, and nobody can spell or pronounce the old one anyway. Campaspe will remain the name on her Facebook account (because it's a pain to change) and she will still answer to Campaspe, as indeed she will answer to most polite forms of address short of "hey you."

Have a beautiful Sunday!

68 comments:

gmoke said...

When I was four or five, my family took me on a vacation to Mexico. For a time, we stayed at a spa hotel in San Jose Purua. One day, I remember a man in a white suit and panama hat climbing up out of the terraced orchards and handing me a fresh lemon.

Years later, reading Bunuel's autobiography, I came across the fact that he retired to San Jose Purua to write scripts during his Mexican period. The time frame fits and I have decided that it was Luis Bunuel who gave me that fresh lemon. Perhaps this is some of that lemonade.

The Siren said...

Gmoke, that is altogether too fabulous for words. Does your memory of his face look like Bunuel?

Meredith said...

Remember the days when editing was actually motivated instead of another way to cater to the increasingly short attention spans of american audiences? why, back in my day, they used to wait several minutes before making a cut. now get off my lawn you pesky kids!

Personally I have a special place in my heart for Asta, though really any human being or dog that can do flips is pretty cool in my book.

And I agree that scene in dressed to kill is amazing, I love when the camera wanders from room to room as she searches for the man.

(this is my attempt at coming out of lurking as a recent follower and relatively new blogger who loves what I have read!)

DavidEhrenstein said...

Just posted over there.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

My dear, by whatever nom de plume, seeing answers like yours are the main motivation for massaging my sieve-like brain to come up with yet another quiz. You honor me with your participation.

And thanks for the extra alert on that annoying new Blogger character cutoff point. That problem is encouraging more people to just post their answers on their own spaces, and so I really appreciate your call to those who might not otherwise to leave a note at my place with a link to their answers, and especially to come by and read the ones everyone else leaves. It's a big project, but when it comes time to gather the best of the best in a couple of months I want to be sure I've seen 'em all. (And I just like reading 'em myself!)

Gmoke: When I was about 11 (in 1971) there was a short period during the summer when I was convinced I saw John Wayne, Tom Laughlin and Dolores Taylor (the Billy Jack auteurs) and Peter Fonda all roll through my small Oregon hometown. I remember Fonda on a motorcycle, of course. I can't be sure any of them were actual sightings, but it sure brightened things up around the homestead to believe it was the case. And none of them offered me a lemon or anything else. I will choose to believe you got your citrus from Bunuel too.

And thanks, David!

Flickhead said...

I swear I'm gonna steal that shot of Colleen Gray and use it as a banner! I swear I will!! Just watch me!!

The Siren said...

Flickhead, please be my guest, even if your "Golden Age of Hollywood" answer just about broke my heart. *blows nose into lace hanky*

Meredith, thanks so much for de-lurking. Asta is fun but somehow never stole my heart, perhaps I dealt with a real-life fox terrier who was a terror and a half.

David, I have seen Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train and I liked it very much. But the camera work in that one is very organic in a way that shaky-cam often isn't to me.

Dennis, your quiz did a great job of waking up my brain so thank you very much, sir.

Vanwall said...

Posted over in the Infield. Sparingly worded. I re-read it after, and immediately wished I'd changed some things, but then felt I'd live with it as-is. Shouldn't be over-thinking. Will comment here in a nonce, or at most, two nonces.

The Siren said...

P.S. Why did I think The Reckless Moment was '48? I am a dope. I am with Flickhead, the only way I can do those year questions is to start Googling...I have a few years in my brain but not all that many.

gmoke said...

I remember his face as Bunuel's now but, as you may know, memory is malleable.

If it were really Bunuel, I would have peeled the lemon to find a geode stuffed with propolis and honey (hat tip to Philip Whalen).

Brian said...

Lurker coming out of the woodwork here. I posted my answers on my blog: http://strictlyfromhunger.blogspot.com/2009/07/quiz-kid.html

Operator_99 said...

just posted to Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Probably put on the blog as well so maybe other will join in.

Iris said...

All right, I just finished watching Barry Lyndon not five minutes before seeing this post, so I'm taking that screenshot as a sign that it's time to de-lurk... But I'm just going to pick and choose some questions.

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
I loved Barry Lyndon but need more time to process it, so I'm not sure where it belongs on my list. For now, I'll pick The Shining, and Dr. Strangelove is my favorite. But I still need to see Paths of Glory!

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
I watch very few new movies, but I will say that the "torture porn" trend has made me avoid almost all new/recent horror films. I know they don't ALL fit that category, of course, but even the better ones are usually too gory for me. I'll stick with Val Lewton, thanks...

4) Best Film of 1949.
I have to go with The Third Man, but White Heat would be my second choice.

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
So hard to choose! Oscar Jaffe, I guess.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
No idea, but the first one that was really important to me was The Earrings of Madame de..., which remains one of my favorite films and was one of the main reasons I took a serious interest in French film / foreign film / classic film in general... (So I guess I can blame Ophuls for the fact that a good chunk of my income goes straight to the Criterion Collection?)

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
It's a tie between The Bridge on the River Kwai and Army of Shadows.

10) Favorite animal movie star.
Asta!

12) Best Film of 1969.
Definitely Army of Shadows.

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
Theatrically: Kiju Yoshida's The Affair at Akitsu. On DVD: Barry Lyndon (and I really wish this one could have been my answer for "theatrically" instead of "on DVD").

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.
Nashville, after McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
I think I must be forgetting a lot of movies, but I'll go with The Devil Is a Woman.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for Westerns, and The Long Goodbye for film noir.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.
I would love to see more of Walter and Hildy from His Girl Friday. (But would they have to keep divorcing between sequels? Maybe this wouldn't work...) Or it would be great if Bogart had done some other Chandler and Hammett stories.

31) Best Film of 1999.
Either Magnolia or All About My Mother -- I haven't seen them in years so I can't decide.

33) Favorite B-movie western.
Ride Lonesome.

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.
Raymond Chandler.

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?
Another tough one! Susan Vance.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet.
Orson Welles, Sam Fuller, Myrna Loy, George Sanders, Charles Boyer.

Ben Alpers said...

Some answers....

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
The Shining (Losing to Barry Lyndon for favorite, narrowly beating out Paths of Glory for second place)

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
Not exactly a trend in movies, but the rise of extraordinarily high quality TV drama will, I think, transform movies, though it’s too soon to say for good or for ill.

4) Best Film of 1949.
The Small Back Room. (I agree with the Siren that it’s actually The Third Man, but The Small Back Room is so very, very good and does not get the recognition it deserves, perhaps because it's smaller and less flashy than the Archers' technicolor wonders that preceded and followed it.)

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?
Yes. This is a question?

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
I’m honestly not sure. Possibly Fantastic Planet.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
Patton

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle for its deep misogyny and racism unusual even by often low Hollywood standards

12) Best Film of 1969.
Andrei Rublev

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
Theatrically, Drag Me to Hell. On DVD, The Gits.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.
The Long Goodbye. (Favorite is The Player)

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?
Hard to choose just one, but I'll go with Senses of Cinema.

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?
Mona Lisa Vito

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
Sunrise

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
So many to choose from (I love films that do this), so I’ll pick the first thing that comes to mind: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

21) Best Film of 1979.
All That Jazz.

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.
This one’s tough, but I’m going with The Last Picture Show.

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).
George Romero’s zombies

to be continued....

Ben Alpers said...

and more answers....

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.
The Conversation.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.
Return to Oz, although a semi-sequel to The Wizard of Oz, could have spawned many more dark explorations of the L. Frank Baum books (and perhaps even some more films directed by Walter Murch).

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.
I basically detest De Palma, so I’ll choose a sequence that most perfectly encapsulates what aggravates me about him: the motel sequence at the end of Raising Cain, in which De Palma yet again riffs off of the Potemkin steps, this time using an elevator. Self-consciously clever and much less interesting than it thinks it is.

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?
Crash Davis.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.
Match Point.

31) Best Film of 1999.
Magnolia. And I think the Siren is too harsh on 1999. Other excellent films from 1999 included: Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, Election, Fight Club, and Audition…as well as the Siren’s choice, Summer of Sam. All in all a pretty good year for movies!

32) Favorite movie tag line.
"In space no one can hear you scream.”

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.
Shakespeare. Some terrible films, of course, but many, many classics.

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?
Irene Bullock. No contest.

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.
The Charlie Kane song from Citizen Kane

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet.

I'm glad it's not the five I'd most want to meet; that would be much more difficult. The first five that come to mind: Orson Welles, Michael Powell, Frank Borzage, Martin Scorsese, Fritz Lang, Val Lewton.

Ben Alpers said...

Whoops! I just realized that the first five people who came to mind for question 38 were actually six. If I had to drop one, it would probably be Lang.

Feta said...

Oh wow, I thought I was the only person in the world who liked Summer of Sam. I guess not!

Vanwall said...

I totally agree, Sam, about Return to Oz - I thought about it too.

Yojimboen said...

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
His first feature, Fear and Desire. I recently came into possession of a decent copy; it is so thrillingly bad I can’t stop watching it.

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
The CGI explosion which has effectively killed suspension of disbelief and all the mystery.

3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?
Dead heat – they were equally awful.

4) Best Film of 1949.
A tie: The Third Man and Battleground

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
Joseph Tura.

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?
It doesn’t deserve the name ‘style’.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
Manon (1949)

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?
I’d have go with the much-underrated Oland.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
Battle Cry

10) Favorite animal movie star.
Thumper.

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.
Anytime an animal is used for comic effect, whether it’s the tired old dog out the window bit or the cat hissing at camera, somebody is tormenting an unwilling animal and I edge closer to going postal.
(And I will one day – you have all been warned.)

12) Best Film of 1969.
Z.

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
Theater: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - I’ve sort of liked all the previous ones, or at least found something to like in them. This one, nothing; not a sausage.
DVD: Peter Lorre’s Der Verlorene (1951).
Blu-Ray: Black Narcissus in memory of Jack Cardiff.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Jim Bouton’s best role.

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?
Self-Styled Siren (you had to ask?)

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji? (Thanks, Peter!)
Meiko, in a chop-socky minute.

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?
Mona the bod.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
Gorilla at Large (1954) in 3D yet!

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
All the monitors in the control center set were 1500 line resolution – the first-ever use of Hi-Def TV in a movie.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
No contest: Singing in the Rain

Continued…

Yojimboen said...

Continued…

21) Best Film of 1979.
Manhattan

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.
A tie: Peyton Place and Some Came Running.

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).
No contest: The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.
The Conversation (1974)

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.
Darker Than Amber (1970) (Travis McGee)

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.
Contradiction in terms.

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.
“Yonda lies the castle of my faddah.”

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film. (Thanks, Peter!)
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997)

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?
Morris, hands down for cuddlability.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.
Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

31) Best Film of 1999.
Topsy-Turvy

32) Favorite movie tag line.
“In space no one can hear you scream”.

33) Favorite B-movie western.
The Phantom Empire (1935) Gene Autry
Robots!

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.
Jane Austen.

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?
Irene Bullock.
[Best last line: “Stand still, Godfrey, it’ll all be over in a minute.”]

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.
Allan Jones in Night at the Opera

37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?
Please.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet. (Thanks, Rick!)
Danielle Darrieux; Ava Gardner; Thelma Todd; Stan Laurel and Louella Parsons (to learn what really happened on Hearst’s yacht.)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I like your selections on this fun survey, and I love the phrase "Cuisinart editing."

Exiled in NJ said...

You sent me to SLIFR and I found a link to a baseball quiz that kept me enthralled all evening.

A few select thoughts here:

Carnival: the fun house in Strangers on a Train.

1949: If Third Man is out, The Heiress will do.

1969: The Wild Bunch, if only to see Ryan and hear Holden.

1979: Being There

1999: Three Kings

2nd Favorite Kubrick: Lolita

2nd Altman: Thieves Like Us, a/k/a The Coca Cola Hour

2nd Coppola: The Conversation

Best Adaptions: Cain. Sometimes I think he wrote with Hollywood in mind.

Mona over Olive by far; but Nora Charles over both Susan and Irene....she carries her money better.

Morris over Crash. I like Mr. Monotone, Costner, like others like dePalma.

Tagline: Pray for Rosemary's Baby....anyone else remember when the ads started popping up in the papers and on subway platforms before it came out?

Small town life: Night of the Hunter or Last Picture Show.

WW II: Patton, but does anyone still remember that method acting convention called The Young Lions? Even Mad Magazine did a send up of it.

Beethoven for animals just so I can watch Charles Grodin.

Singing in the Rain is best genre.

Tony Dayoub said...

Hey Siren,

Here is a link to my response.

I particularly like the near universality I have found among cinephiles to many of the questions... for instance, the 1949 question, many of us being caught between The Third Man and White Heat (which was my second choice).

Exiled in NJ said...

How could I forget Dooley Wilson in the music question? Another great musical cameo is Duke Ellington in Anatomy of a Murder.

Anatomy is another slice of small town life.

As for trends in modern film, I detest the elimination of overhead light. So many rooms are illuminated by desk lamps, wooden blinds and the like, with sunlight glinting through the slats. McTiernan, Fincher, and DeNiro when he made The Good Shepherd, seem to believe that people work in near darkness.

Anagramsci said...

great stuff!

I'm actually gonna go back to mine and add Attack! as the WW2 movie answer (I couldn't think of one before)

Dave

The Siren said...

Awesome, so much here! Brian and Iris, thanks so much for de-lurking. Iris, I wrote a whole post a while back about not wanting to see Hostel and its ilk so I hear you. I just can't take it. It's so far from entertaining to me as to be in the realm of eating canned tuna fish or something else I hate. I am very glad to see someone else naming McCabe & Mrs. Miller as a favorite Altman.

Ben Alpers, good to see you posting too. Thank you for reminding me of other good 1999 movies; Three Kings is excellent and might have been my choice if I had thought of it. I do like Summer of Sam very much though. I also liked Bringing Out the Dead which feels kind of lonely. I always tell myself time is on my side with certain movies.

Yojimboen, what an excellent idea, inviting Louella. I am not sure I trust her veracity even from the afterlife, however. Do YOU really think Hearst offed Ince? To me he was too ambitious and calculating a type for murder, but who knows.

Exiled, several people have mentioned The Last Picture Show for small-town movie and it's an excellent choice too. I had a feeling you might name Cain. I like his writing but his books come to real, vivid life on screen. And you hit on something with the light--the lack of light in Se7en drove me bananas. How could a policeman work? One of the things that worked so well in Chinatown was its ability to show how sinister bright sunlight can be.

Ben Alpers said...

I had totally forgotten about Bringing Out the Dead, Siren. An unusually underrated Scorsese film. Among other things, I'll always remember it for its brilliant use of the Cellos' "Rang Tang Ding Dong (I Am the Japanese Sandman)" It certainly belongs up there with the other movies I mentioned from '99. I'm happy that nobody has mentioned American Beauty which was one of my great cinematic disappointments of the last decade or so. Totally overhyped and ultimately mediocre, IMO.

The Siren said...

Feta, welcome, and thanks very much for the Summer of Same backup. I really like a lot of Spike Lee; he has a bravura visual sense and storytelling ability that are both rooted in classical film. But he combines that with a willingness to go after the audience's pieties, whether they're conservative or liberal.

The Siren said...

For those of you who named Z and All That Jazz: you have an excellent point in both cases.

Vanwall, Woolrich was very well served indeed by film. As I recall I tend to like the movies better than the books.

Operator_99, you know Strangers on a Train scared the hell out of me too. That merry-go-round -- I never looked at them quite the same way. It's funny what will scare a kid, it's never predictable. The Jungle Book unexpectedly made little Alida shriek in fear when Baloo found Shere Khan.

Brian and Tony, y'all have a completely valid point about shaky-cam. It is a style like any other and for me to say it's automatically a cliche isn't accurate, it's just me losing patience with the times I have seen it abused. If I detested in-your-face style I wouldn't worship the Freed unit. But I do think it has become a cheap way to grab for unearned verite points.

The Siren said...

Oh hooray, another Bringing Out the Dead fan! Thanks, Brian. :)

clementine said...

#35 reminds me of one of my all time favourite film quotes, care of Bullock senior - '...all you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people'

clementine said...

#35 reminds me of one of my all time favourite film quotes, care of Bullock senior - '...all you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people'

The Siren said...

Clementine, that is one of my all-time favorites as well. The My Man Godfrey script is brilliant and Eugene Palette is quite possibly my favorite thing in it. Just his delivery of a simple line like "How do you think *I* feel?"

elephant rob said...

Also delurking for the first time in at least a year of very appreciative reading!

Sigh: these quizzes always make me realize that as much as I love film, I’ll never become a truly accomplished cinephile. I consider Kubrick a personal favorite and I still haven’t seen Barry Lyndon or Paths of Glory. Favorite animal movie star? Never even considered this before; though now I’m remembering two: the horse in The Lady Eve and that tiny dog in The Third Man—not exactly Lassie levels of fame of course, but they add something particular to their scenes.

Oh well, my actual point was simply to ask if the Siren has seen Altman’s weirdly bewitching 3 Women? I saw it for the first time recently, and it might just have bumped McCabe out of the top slot (though there’s nothing in it quite like McCabe’s final sequence).

The Siren said...

Elephant Rob, thanks so much for delurking--I am tickled to death to see so many new names. Has made my week. Yes, I saw Three Women on Fox last year and "weirdly bewitching" is the perfect phrase for it. I don't think I would rank it near the top, as I prefer Altman when he's less elliptical, but as I do like Altman very much that isn't a big diss.

clementine said...

After musing over #38, I guess it'd have to be 2 parties of five for separate dinners - the first party: Peter Lorre, Myrna Loy, Orson Welles, James Mason and Ava Gardner. Why? Because just once I'd like to dress for dinner and go to a proper dinner party. The second party - well, make it the party that crashes after the dinner: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Oliver Reed and Ian McShane (all mentioned in their hell-raising years. And you know Liz would be one of the boys). Possibly for the obvious reasons, and ignoring the PC and health after-effects of Hollywood style excess and indulgence, I will admit to being more than curious how a party like that would go down. And I think the parties of the first part would probably get right in the spirit of things.

clementine said...

Out of curiosity, does anyone know if Rancho Notorious was considered a B western? I love that movie. The scene where Mel Ferrer not wanting to leave town until he breaks the window of the store to grab Dietrich a bottle of perfume is pretty terrific (and pretty darned romantic, in that desperado kind of way).

The Siren said...

Clementine, I am seeing an awful lot of stuff described as B that in my opinion was just lower budget. Admittedly there is ambiguity in the definition; sometimes a B movie became a big enough hit to play like an A, like Hitler's Chidlren. But I think of a B as a programmer that fills the lower half of a bill. I just wouldn't call Johnny Guitar a B, for example, not with Miss Crawford at that stage of her career, McCambridge coming off her Oscar and Herbert Yates allowing them to film in color. Just because it has elements of camp doesn't make it a B. And I think Fritz Lang and Marlene Dietrich would haunt us both if we called Rancho Notorious a B. Without seeing budget and release it's hard to tell, but to me, a B Western is something like "The Terror of Tiny Town," not Boetticher. But were the Boettichers treated like programmers (she wondered)?

It's times like this I wish John McElwee would show up. If anyone wants to jump in and argue the point, bombs away!

wwolfe said...

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.

The portrayal of heroes as Christ figures, especially in the various comic book movies. (The “Jesus in Latex’ movies, as I call them.) I think it says a lot about how much of the public sees America’s place in the world.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?

The Grand Illusion.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).

In Harm’s Way.

10) Favorite animal movie star.

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.

I very much dislike the moment when Stallone asks Richard Crenna, “Do we get to win this time?” in the first Rambo movie. As if “not ‘getting’ to win” was the real problem in Vietnam.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.

Either Gosford Park or McCabe and Mrs. Miller. (The Long Goodbye is first.)

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.

Show People (1928).

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.

Ruggles of Red Gap. (1935)

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).

Forrest Gump.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.

Devil in a Blue Dress. I think that was the hope, but it didn’t do well enough at the box office.

27.) I'm not sure if Leave Her to Heaven is three-strip Technicolor. I so, then the first shot of Lake Tahoe - the most amazing blue I've ever seen on-screen.

32) Favorite movie tag line.

”Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders... And Another One In A Dish On His Desk.” – Re-Animator (1985)

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.

You could make case for Dashiell Hammett: The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, and the many versions of Red Harvest.

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.

“Puttin’ On the Ritz,” from Young Frankenstein.

The Siren said...

Wwolfe, amen to your #11. And LMAO at #23.

Tony Dayoub said...

Ah, I knew that my Johnny Guitar as B-movie selection would rankle someone. But I didn't think it would be you, Siren.

To be fair, I was a bit on the fence on this one, but here was my thinking. Double-bills were gasping for their last breath by the time I started going to movies, so I've never even thought of a B in its literal sense. For me, a B has become more of a genre sleeper with fading or ascending stars that somehow subverts the genre uexpectedly. Camp is a plus. However, I definitely don't mean it to denigrate the film.

Now, you know that period of history better than I do, but from where I'm sitting, it looked like Crawford, McCambridge, and Hayden were all in a slight lull in their careers. Johnny Guitar definitely seemed to be aspiring to be an A, but something doesn't seem quite right about calling it that. I stand corrected if I'm wrong.

The Siren said...

Tony, I think that for Republic, Johnny Guitar was an A production. It doesn't even look low-budget by that studio's standards. I doubt very much it played lower halves of bills and an A cast on an off year is still an A cast (with the exception of Hayden, but he did make things like The Asphalt Jungle). But you're far from the only one answering that question with Johnny Guitar. Maybe, but I think Joan's authentic B days were still a ways off.

I knew the Boettichers were low budget but it seems they did play as B pictures too, from my Googling today. So some people figure if it's camp, it's a B, and apparently my prejudgement goes the other way--if I like it as much as Seven Men from Now it must be an A. :D

Vanwall said...

For the film critter on question No. 10, I was thinking about choosing Rex Shepherd for "You Never Can Tell", then I remembered he's played by Dick Powell; come to think of it, he would prolly pass muster, as he flat out-dogged a real dog for dogginess in that one - the kibble he kept reaching casually for in his coat pocket for a snack sealed it for me.

There's an invisible line right over there that devides 'A' from 'B' films....oh, wait, that's the film noir line; lemme see, the 'B' western line is much more inclusive, depending on year, and say, some years it seems all westerns are 'B' westerns. A western with Crawford is by definition an 'A' - ask her; same with Dietrich - oaters were spawning from the studios like crazed weasels on amphetamines, but Mar and Joanie weren't just another face in a pillow, fresh off the bus, brother. Nor were they skating downhill into early Disney live-action oblivion, or monster-movie hell, (at least at the time!) or a permanent fixture lassoed in down by the water troughs of the H'wood Potemkin Western-villes. The actors and actresses on the other side of that equation, the Lashs, and Tims, and Genes, and the gals in the cardboard barrooms, and the Freds and the Randolphs on the long, horse-killing rides into trivia, those were the 'B' habitues. I'm just sayin'.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Well Siren, the whole point of any technique is to make it organic. Hand-held is for the most part best for cinema-verite adepts like Rouch and the Maysles Brothers. But Chereau and his great DP Eric Gautier (who was also camera operator) make it something special.

Rancho Notorious was definitely NOT a "B." Howevere westerns didn't have as much "prestige" as other Hollywood genres. The Searchers and The Big Country were efforts to change that.

mndean said...

It's not always easy to tell a B picture - some genres of film (like the series film) lent themselves to B status, yet even they weren't all B films. Westerns (little as I watch them) also lent themselves to B status due to the repetitiveness of their storylines. When I was a kid watching the films I noticed that many were much like the TV Westerns.

The Siren said...

David - absolutely, and that's why certain movies don't cut it with the hand-held run-and-gun style. With some other films, the "verite" technique is just grafted on, not truthful at all.

Vanwall, thanks for sticking up for Joan and Mar. And there were fellas who surely would have bristled at the B label. A while back a blogger whom I will not name described Comrade X as a programmer. I ask you, Clark Gable in a programmer? The year after Gone with the Wind? Maybe the movie wasn't all that good but that doesn't make it a B.

Rancho Notorious was not a B, I agree. But it had a lower budget than either Marlene or Lang were used to and I suspect that was due at least in part to the general Western status that David notes, although big, "epic" Westerns had always had some prestige; how else do we explain Cimarron? It was the smaller plot-driven ones that got little respect, brilliant though they often were.

The Siren said...

Okay, this helps, and goes along with the Siren's understanding. From The Great Movie Stars - The Golden Years, by David Shipman:

"In this book all B-features...can be taken to mean films of low-budget, with a running time of about one hour and destined for the lower half of the programme. The expression 'programmer'-- or programme-filler-- refers to those films without pretence to art or huge grosses made merely to keep cinemas busy, and a 'dualler' was the same thing, only in this case it was not considered strong enough to play with a B-picture but needed another film like itself. Few duallers were made as such--they just turned out that way."

The Siren said...

Back to the quiz: 1969 was a good year too. Thanks guys for reminding me of Z. And for 1979, All That Jazz was thisclose to being my choice and maybe it should have been.

mndean said...

Siren,
Now the other question is - when did B pictures become widespread? If you look in the early '30s, many films topped out at ~70 minutes, and they weren't B's. This is one of those categories that seem to be a little nebulous. I always looked at a B as having second-rank stars and a constrained budget. Running time is more indicative of the B later in the '30s and in the '40s.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I'm glad to know you are calling yourself by the name I've been using whenever I refer to you.

I'm going to be more prudent about contributing questions to Dennis. But I did like the way Ms. O'Malley answered with that poster of Deadly China Doll. As for everyone else, don't think you know Nikkatsu films if you're only watching the forthcoming Eclipse set.

As for myself, I just read a book that was issued as part of the 10th Udine Far East Film Festival, so I feel even more justified in mostly writing about Asian films, although I feel like I've just scratched the surface. I also scored the Udine book on Asian musicals!

The Siren said...

M., I cut out the first part of Shipman's graf, where he discusses the rise of the B in the 1930s:

B-pictures "in the early 30s supplanted the shorts and two-reelers which had preceded the feature movie--though by the end of the decade shorts, newsreels and cartoons were filling in time between features."

My guess is that the Bs got longer at the same rate features did.

Peter Nellhaus said...

It's been decades since I saw Nightmare Alley. Looking at Ms. Gray's costume, I have to wonder if someone found a way to give Darryl Zanuck the finger.

The Siren said...

Peter, the costume in that shot totally looks like the tacky Rolling Stone etc. covers where a woman's breasts are covered only with a man's hands ... I think Heidi Fleiss posed like that, and Janet Jackson? Anyway it must be intentional but obviously escaped the censors.

Vanwall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanwall said...

A strange and funny "Nightmare Alley" moment:

I was at the Juxtapoz retrospective art show at the Laguna Art Museum, and there was a huge Todd Schorr painting with a King Kong motif, a favorite of Schorr's:

http://www.toddschorr.com/Paintings/_images/large/L
_tschorr_apeworship.jpg

In the middle right, there was this scantily clad girl and a magician, (another motif of Schorr's), and I kinda thought she looked familiar. I looked closer, and it hit me as I saw the faces at the same time - Colleen Gray and Tyrone Power! In a Nightmare Alley mode! Awesome! I was prolly the only person there that day who figured that out.

X. Trapnel said...

1. Kubrick. The Killing has the virtue of perfection, so it's Paths of Glory, a richer film whose clashing acting styles that diminishe the sense of reality. Thus the great finale doesn't quite bring tears the way Dita Parlo's "Lotte hatte blauen Augen" does in La Grand Illusion.
3. White Heat
4. Oscar Jaffee. I've never been able to accept the idea of Jack Benny as any kind of Shakespearean actor. Fredric March should have played the part.
5. Jules and Jim. They showed this on tv when I was a kid and it made me very uneasy; fearfully grown up. I think they showed Knife in the Water around the same time; TERRIFYING!
6. Never saw Chan or Moto, but a friend who has has remarked on the respect and deference shown by "white" people to CC, so perhaps not quite as racist as one might assume.
7. From Here to Eternity.
8. Animal star. I always look forward to the appearence of the Hamletic fish (to bite or not to bite) in Lifeboat, but I'll go with Asta's moonlighting performance in The Awful Truth.
9. most irresponsible movie moment. This is easy: Gone with the Friggin' Wind, when the carpetbagger and his black companion refuse help to the Our Poor Confederate Heroes. I'm not taking a smug political shot here. This scene is truly revolting and probably didn't need to be there.
10. Most recent film seen theatrically. I only see about one movie a year, most recent was Atonement (a handsome bore); discounting my weekly/weakly indulged addiction to The Rage of Paris, most recent dvd was So Ends Our Night--not quite Borzage quality but "pretty near" as Mr. Kralik would say.
13. Yojimboen has invoked the spirit of Thumper so I will not take the elephant gun down from the wall a blow away the false idol that is Robert Altman, leaving only a pair of Ozymandian clay feet in a desert of pretentiouness, incoherence, and tedium. Others will disagree with my joyous loathing of the late Altman. Fine. I wish them the directors cut of Health featuring the rumored Dick Cavett/Carol Burnett sex scene.
14. Film writing venues apart from books. This site and this site only. I won't say the competition is morons, but can't believe our hostess has any equals.
15. Carnival scenes. Do fairgrounds count? Strangers on a Train, Some Came Running.
16. Small town life: Best Years of Our Lives. Just look at the gate between the Parrish and Cameron houses. I KNOW that gate. High hopes for Come Next Spring.
17. Best dePalma moment: Obsession: Cliff Robertson first seeing Genevieve Bujold in San Miniato al Monte to piercingly beautiful music by San Bernardo Herrmanno.
18. Best Technicolor: Adventures of Robin Hood, archery tournement.
19. Favorite movie tag: actually my favorite is the most helpless and hapless (for Citizen Kane): "It's Terrific!" Indeed.
20. Best served author. JM Cain is a good choice; My own would be Graham Greene.
21. Susan Vance. This is a tough call, but it's Hepburn's best performance and, I think, best film as with Alice Adams and Stage Door, it it shows what she could do when challenged out of her theatrical, Cukor-abetted comfort zone.
22. Musical cameo: Danielle Darrieux singing "Une Charade" in Battement de Coeur to an adorable doggy (rather than the oily leading man). Thank god Billy Wilder left France after Mauvaise Graine; otherwise Danielle would have been singing to a cockroach.
I also like the mandolin lady in Casablanca but she's drowned out by the Henried/Qualen Resistance banter.
23. I think whatever damage Bruno Anthony has done regarding gay stereotypes is minimal.
24. I would choose film people who I think (on evidence) it would be possible to have a real conversation with: Truffaut, Ophuls (I have no faith whatever in the word of P. Ustinov), Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann, Danielle Darrieux. Ideally the conversation would range beyond film, but circle back again after making wide orbits (DD studied the cello and i'd have BH wite her a concerto based on themes from Five Fingers)

Buttermilk Sky said...

Re No. 8: I read somewhere that Lorre was the happiest man in California when Pearl Harbor was bombed, because he knew it meant the end of Mr. Moto (wildly popular in Japan, by the way).

rudyfan1926 said...

Okay, harder than I imagined, but fun!

http://strictly-vintage-hollywood.blogspot.com/2009/07/sergio-leone-and-infield-fly-rule-quiz.html

Charles Noland said...

One example of the "B" Western occurred to me as I popped Decision at Sundown into the DVD player - all of those Budd Boetticher westerns he made with Randolph Scott. Typically on the shorter side, less than 80 minutes, a cast of mostly second tier actors, and to my eye a smallish budget.

I have no opinion on most of those questions, just to be semi-topical - Second Favorite Kubrick movie - Spartacus, allegedly a movie he didn't like, but I thought I read that later in his life he decided it was pretty good. (Yup, I did read that, over at The Distracted Globe

(BTW, any movie fans who are also sports fans should head over to ESPN and read Bill Simmons's two part tribute, of sorts, to Almost Famous.)

maurinsky said...

De-lurking to link to my answers, although they will reveal that I am no cinephile.

DavidEhrenstein said...

THE NEW RIVETTE IS 86 MINUTES LONG!!!!!!

Flickhead said...

Flickhead, please be my guest, even if your "Golden Age of Hollywood" answer just about broke my heart. *blows nose into lace hanky*

To make amends, I just moved The Redhead from Wyoming to the top of my Netflix Q! (Maureen in Technicolor!)

Juanita's Journal said...

Cuisinart editing. I hate it. I start to get interested in a shot and bang! they cut away.


Thank you! I hate this. I blame the film editor for THE BOURNE SUPREMACY for this.

Yojimboen said...

Type The End to an era.

X. Trapnel said...

The producer, Walter Wanger, told him a second writer would be assigned to help him knock out the script.

“I wasn’t too happy about it,” Mr. Schulberg remembered. “I said, ‘Who’s the writer?’ He said, ‘F. Scott Fitzgerald.’

“I thought it was just a joke, like saying ‘Leo Tolstoy,’ ” Mr. Schulberg recalled. “And I said, ‘Scott Fitzgerald — isn’t he dead?’ And he said, ‘No, he’s not dead, he’s right in the next room reading your script.’ ”

Such an era...

snarkout said...

Far too late to be commenting, but in addition to the good 1999 movies already listed (I think I'd choose both Election and Audition over Topsy Turvy, Summer of Sam, or Three Kings), there was Iron Giant, the best non-Miyazaki animated film of the '90s.

The Siren said...

Snarkout, better late than never. The Iron Giant is a lovely movie and I like Election very much too. Audition I have not seen due to my aversion to graphic horror films, which I occasionally try to snap out of, but without much success.

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