a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Bernard Herrman’

I Always liked “Vertigo”Best! Now Named #1 Film, beating “Citizen Kane!”

I always liked “Vertigo”. I always liked it better than “Citizen Kane.” I never liked “Citizen Kane” THAT much. I saw it first in London at the National Film Theater around 1970, or so. I had stayed on in England, trying to get into the Drama Schools there, and become a British Actor, which is what I always thought was the best kind of actor you could possibly be.

And I was rejected by every single one.

Although I did get a call-back to the  Bristol Old Vic, and spent a lovely weekend, or at least an over-night in Bristol…and then was rejected by them, too.

I was always unimpressed, unmoved by “Citizen Kane.” It was named, at that time “The #1 Film of All Time” and I thought I was really going to see something when I saw it at the National Film Theater. But it left me sort of cold.

I loved and related to the Susan Alexander character, his second wife, who he tries to turn into an Opera Singer. But Kane? No. A bully. A blusterer. A millionaire. Who cared? Orson Welles was good. But when you’re supposed to care about him when Susan Alexander walks out on him, and he tears up her room, I just didn’t care ~ that much.

I was glad she left him.

And “Rosebud”? I thought that was always a very contrived device. One word to sum up a whole man’s life? Nonsense!

And Orson Welles. Well, there was “Citizen Kane” and that was about it.

Whereas Alfred Hitchcock was always my main movie idol, in terms of a filmmaker, whom I constantly revere, engage with, and watch and re-watch, on an almost daily basis.

I always thought “Vertigo” was very, very good. And it was grown in my estimation of it, as I have seen and re-seen it over the years. And “Citizen Kane” no matter how many times I have tried to watch it, and tried to love it, as “The Greatest Film of All Time,” I still can’t really warm to it.

I admire Gregg Toland’s amazing camera work. And the Bernard Herrman score. He wrote the “Vertigo” score, too. The one thing the two films now battling it out at the top of the Sight and Sound Best of All Time List, have in common. I have always loved Dorothy Cummingore’s bitter drunken Susan Alexander.

And as I became familiar with Orson Welles’ back-story, you can’t help but feel for him. And the talent stopped and wasted by his ostracism from the Hollywood community.

Whereas Alfred Hitchcock who made “Vertigo” so beautifully, made many, many, many films. In many eras spanning the silent films all the way up to the 1970s.

He was the ultimate craftsman. And I have mused for years on how someone so obsessed with the technique side of films could have made so many movies that have moved me so deeply, and not just scared me to death. His characters are really quite unforgettable, too.

I mean, Norman Bates in “Psycho”? An iconic name, too. And the Bates motel? That has passed from being a movie set into common parlance. Janet Leigh’s performance as Marion Crane earned her her only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress(She didn’t win)

And no matter what, Alfred Hitchcock kept making and making movie after movie after movie. He was NOT outside the studio system. Never. Like Welles became so quickly after William Randolph Hearst’s powerful press machine, the mightiest, it was said, at the time, decided to virtually halt his career in America…

Hitchcock never did anything like that. He NEVER challenged the studio heads. He worked with them, and bent them to his will.

And it’s so strange to me that “Vertigo” was never until rather recently considered the great film that it is now acknowledged to be.

That LONNNNNNG car driving scene through the streets and up and down the hills of 1950s San Francisco, with the Bernard Herrman score pulsing underneath it as James Stewart  wordlessly follows Kim Novak’s car, the essence of “pure cinema” as Hitchcock himself would call it.

And since this “Vertigo” annointment, I’ve gone back to You Tube to search for just what people thought of it then. Interviewers like Tom Snyder never mentioned it. Never asked about it. Dick Cavett at least lists it…

What can you attribute the rise of “Vertigo” to? Well, for one thing, Francois Truffaut, and the Cahiers du Cinema, who recognized it and touted it long before others did.

More about this endlessly fascinating topic of Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, who I just called The Master soon.

And you know, he never won an Oscar?

Oscar Smear Campaigns ALWAYS backfire!

Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, S.T.Vanairsdale over at www.movieline.com has done it again on his Oscar Index, which just dropped tonight. Weekly, S.T. or Stu, is Dorothy Parker-witty and, of course, apt. Called this week “They Shoot Horses….Don’t They?” I was ROTFLMAO! As they say on the Internet.

And I think one  reason all this Oscar Talk has grown and grown in recent years, to something nearing a fever pitch, a fever that lasts all Oscar season, and right now is on the very verge of the Broadcast Film Critics(tonight) and the Golden Globes (Sunday), its’ noise is deafening.

As well it should be, really…

I think it’s GREAT that so many people and Oscar bloggers, like myself, can generate so much interest in the year’s best movies that they TALK ABOUT IT ALL DAY EVERY DAY!

And Stu is noting the demise of “War Horse”. Who isn’t? And he posits that AN ENEMY of “The Artist”s front-runner status PUT KIM NOVAK up to placing that Full Page “I was raped” Ad in Variety yesterday. Which is what I immediately thought, as I posted here. Where does she, a recluse, who hasn’t made a movie since 1991, get the money for that? Stu points a direct finger. Go to www.movieline.com and see who he thinks is the culprit.

I think, as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone www.awardsdaily.com has posited, in a different context, that when these SMEAR CAMPAIGNS, which is what Roger Friedman calls it, happen, they actual strengthen the Academy’s feelings for the victim of the smear. And no, NOT Kim Novak. “The Artist.”

Similar tactics have been used in the past against the film “A Beautiful Mind”. It won anyway. And also recently against “The Hurt Locker” which also won Best Picture…

These things always backfire.

It’s going to make me look at “Vertigo” the next time I see it with new eyes. Yes, she IS really nuts in that movie, her character…The Ghost of Carlotta Valdez rises yet again.

Meanwhile, Stu V. also FINALLY notes another conclusion that I had reached WEEKS ago on this blog, but of course, doesn’t credit me. That Octavia Spenser’s front runner status is gonna run out with Jessica Chastain’s probable Supporting nod, also for “The Help.” Two actresses from one film cancel each other out. Usually.

And the winner is – Berenice Bejo! Something I’ve been saying for AGES! She, from “The Artist.” Unless SUDDENLY Vanessa Redgrave gets nominated and blows the whole category out of the water! THAT could happen!

And Corey Stoll has been everywhere, EVERYWHERE, this past week. Don’t rule him out for popping up in the Supporting Actor category. “Midnight in Paris” is gaining in strength every day.

Talking about ties. Stu has Meryl and Viola Davis TIED for First Place for Best Actress on his Oscar Index, which is hilarious! And you know what happens to ties? They’re broken. Allowing Michelle Williams to win for “My Week with Marilyn.”

Tom O’Neill of www.goldderby.com has been with me on this Michelle watch since we both fell in love with that movie. And he thinks, as I have been saying for a lonnnnng time, that Michelle will win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, and will KNOCK IT OUT OF THE BALL PARK with a memorable acceptance speech, just like she just did at the Palm Springs Film Festival this week, wowing the AMPAS-packed crowd. At least, we sincerely HOPE she will.

Jamie Fox did that a couple of years back with his acceptance speech at the Globes for “Ray” and he’s never hit the emotional height that he hit that night ever since. But boy did he nail it to the floor that night! And that was the speech that won him his Oscar. The speech he gave at the Globes.

Stu still has “The Artist” on top of Best Picture Index and Michel H. for Best Director and Jean Dujardin for Best Actor. And Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor.

He has a LOT of compelling and amusing things to say this week too. He doesn’t disappoint with his Oscar Index. Unlike so many of the late breaking films have this year!

And now it’s on to the Broadcast Film Critics! And let’s see who wins there!

Kim Novak – Raped by ‘The Artist’! Ad claim ~ Idiotic!

Kim Novak, a big star once upon time, was always classified as a “dumb blonde,” and now we can see why. Reported more fully by Nikki Finke & crew  at www.deadlinehollywood.com Kim took out a full-page ad in one of the trade papers, saying, provocatively, “I want to report a rape.” And now that she’s got the readers’ attention, she goes on to explain why. There was music from her Best Film (and her first) “Vertigo” used at the end of “The Artist.”

And Novak claims this constituted a “violation of her body(of work).” I beg to differ. Somebody supporting one of the “Artist”s rivals for the Oscar, where it is STILL, miraculously, the front-runner, may have put Ms. Novak up to this. Those ads in the trade papers are VERY expensive. Does she at this late stage of her life have the money for something as pricey as AN AD?!? Makes you wonder.

It’s ridiculous. Many quotes from famous movie scores are used all the time. And of course, in this semi-recent one, well, er, 1958, there are licensing fees involved being paid to the late composer Bernard Herrman’s estate for its’ use. And they are probably hefty.

Kim Novak didn’t WRITE the music. She didn’t DIRECT the movie. That was Alfred Hitchcock, who must be rolling over in his grave, with laughter, at this.

And “Artist” director Michel Hazanaviscius, who just won a nomination from the prestigious Directors’ Guild, today issued a very dignified response. And you can read this in either Deadline Hollywood, or www.hollywoodreporter.com or www.movieline.com

Over at www.awardsdaily.com, Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, has chosen to ignore this tempest in a teacup. At least last time I looked. Sasha is more excited, TRULY excited by her favorite director David Fincher’s getting the surprise nomination from the DGA. Add to this his CINEMATOGRAPHER getting recognized by the ASC nominators this morning, Sasha must be having a VERY good day.

And yes, the cinematography of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was sumptuous, in its’ own frozen ice-scape way.

And the Broadcast Film Critics’ Awards are TOMORROW night. Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, it’s the beginning of the end. Of awards season. Last year, the BFCA were very predictive of the Actors’ races, but I think not so much with Best Picture.

And I’ll also add kudos to Sasha for her trumpeting of “Dragon Tattoo.” I think she really did help Fincher get that out-of-the-blue nomination from the DGA. Replacing Steven Spielberg. And now the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers), ignored “War Horse” AGAIN! “Dragon Tattoo” seems to be effectively replacing it.

And some people,myself included, thought the cinematography of “War Horse” was one of its’ strongest suits.

Guess not.

But also don’t forget the Guilds aren’t THE ACADEMY. The largish, younger DGA is not at all like the super-small, very elite, mostly male and VERY old and somewhat conservative director’s branch of the Academy, who may turn around and put Spielberg right back in the race.

Last year’s BFCA started the four-strong lock step to the Oscars that mirrored the Golden Globes acting winners and the eventual Oscar winners exactly. They got the Best Picture wrong last year. And the year before Meryl Streep TIED with Sandra Bullock, lest not forget. For “Julie and Julia” and “The Blind Side” respectively. And the year before that didn’t the same Ms. Streep tie with Anne Hathaway for “Rachel Getting Married”? Is it wrong to not predict MS might tie AGAIN this year with a younger competitor like Michelle Williams? Since the BFCA does historically seem to be all tied up with its’ Best Actresses?

This year all the categories, except Best Supporting Actor, Christopher Plummer, are up in the air. Which is going to make for a VERY interesting evening!

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