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  1. #141
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    In the supplement to The Mail on Sunday, 10 War films you should own. Top of the list Mr. Crookes favourite(I know Steve, it is more than a war film!!!) also on the radio they were talking about the forthcoming big screen showing of this film and the influence it has had on filmakers and musicians and video's)
    I'll have to root through the bins and see if I can find a copy

    Unless someone has one that they can scan in.



    That's one of the many odd things about all of Powell & Pressburger's "war films" - the films made during the war, there's very little war actually shown in any of them. They're "war films" that aren't about the war



    I've just asked the P&P email group how many would be interested in a trip to the NFT (BFI Southbank) to see it, and when would be a good day to do it on. If anyone here is interested in going along as well, when would be good for you? It'd be good to get a few people to meet up and do a joint PaPAS / Britmovie event.



    Thu 25 Sep 20:45 NFT1

    Fri 26 Sep 14:30 NFT3

    Fri 26 Sep 18:30 NFT1

    Fri 26 Sep 20:45 NFT1

    Sat 27 Sep 15:50 NFT1

    Sat 27 Sep 18:10 NFT1

    Sat 27 Sep 20:30 NFT1

    Sun 28 Sep 15:50 NFT1

    Sun 28 Sep 18:10 NFT1

    Sun 28 Sep 20:30 NFT1

    Mon 29 Sep 20:40 NFT2

    Tue 30 Sep 18:30 NFT1

    Tue 30 Sep 20:45 NFT1

    Wed 1 Oct 20:30 NFT3

    Thu 2 Oct 18:10 NFT3

    Thu 2 Oct 20:30 NFT3

    Fri 3 Oct 18:10 NFT3

    Sat 4 Oct 15:45 NFT3

    Sat 4 Oct 20:30 NFT3

    Sun 5 Oct 15:50 NFT3

    Sun 5 Oct 18:00 NFT3

    Sun 5 Oct 20:30 NFT3

    Mon 6 Oct 20:30 NFT3

    Tue 7 Oct 20:30 NFT3

    Wed 8 Oct 20:45 NFT1

    Thu 9 Oct 18:00 NFT1

    Thu 9 Oct 20:45 NFT1

    Fri 10 Oct 18:30 NFT1

    Fri 10 Oct 20:45 NFT1

    Sat 11 Oct 15:30 NFT1

    Sat 11 Oct 18:30 NFT1

    Sat 11 Oct 20:45 NFT1

    Sun 12 Oct 15:50 NFT3

    Sun 12 Oct 18:10 NFT3

    Sun 12 Oct 20:50 NFT3

    Mon 13 Oct 18:10 NFT3

    Mon 13 Oct 20:40 NFT3

    Tue 14 Oct 14:00* NFT3

    Tue 14 Oct 18:10 NFT3

    Tue 14 Oct 20:20 NFT3

    Wed 15 Oct 18:10 NFT3

    Wed 15 Oct 20:30 NFT3



    * 'Seniors' matinee, with introduction and discussion

    I've asked who's doing the introduction and leading the discussion on the 14:00 screening on Tue 14 Oct. And how old you have to be to count as a 'senior'. But they haven't told me yet.



    NFT3 is their "bijou" screen. It seats just 134 people

    NFT1 is their main screen which seats 450

    NFT2 is their intermediate screen which seats 162 people



    Steve

  2. #142
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Apologies if this has been asked before, but I read recently that after America had released AMOLAD as 'Stairway To Heaven' Michael Powell said that they had 'missed the point'. What was this point that Powell was referring to?

  3. #143
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Apologies if this has been asked before, but I read recently that after America had released AMOLAD as 'Stairway To Heaven' Michael Powell said that they had 'missed the point'. What was this point that Powell was referring to?
    From the second volume of his autobiography, Million Dollar Movie (p 418):

    I realized that the whole idea of a trial in heaven had to have a solid base in reality, medical reality and that the appearance and disappearance of the heavenly messenger would have to be matter-of-fact and realistic if we were to get away with such fantasies at the end of a great war to end all wars. It was the firm acceptance by all the principals of the solid medical reason for the operation on the pilot's brain that made the rest of the plot so satisfying to the audience. When the Americans wanted to rename our film "Stairway to Heaven" we knew at once that they hadn't understood at all what we had succeeded in doing. They saw it all as a fairy tale. I saw it as a surgical operation.



    The American distributors saw it as a fantasy or fairy tale. They concentrated on the heavenly and angelic parts in their promotional material and press books. Powell and Pressburger, particularly Powell, saw it as being a straightforward story, grounded in fact, medical fact, at every step of the way. OK, it's an unusual story, and it has strong romantic elements. But it's certainly not fantasy, and it's not even religious. The only mention of Heaven in the film is by the young pilot played by Dickie Attenborough, and he uses it as an adjective more than a noun.



    The American distributors decided that they couldn't release a film with the word "Death" in the title. Not so soon after so many people had been killed in the war. Of course there are other films released at the same time which do have "death" in the title but we don't look for consistency with distributors, especially the American distributors of the time



    Steve

  4. #144
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    Recently, RTE1 Irelands BBC1 showed AMOLAD. Fergus McCormack wrote a piece about it. I thought you would like to read it:



    It's a delightfully fantastic tale that examines various British and American stereotypes while also managing to be a moving love story along the way. The chemistry between the two leads, David Niven and Kim Hunter, is excellent and the supporting cast, with the exception of a over-hammy Raymond Massey, is convincing, particularly P&P regular Roger Livesey. Probably the most striking aspect of the film is Alfred Junge's production design, notably the staircase which leads from technicolour Earth to near-monochrome Heaven. The beauty of the photography is there for all to see in this restored version of the film, which was set in train by Martin Scorsese, a longtime Michael Powell fan who used the skills of Powell's widow, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, to great effect in many of his own films." He gives the film a Five star's must not be missed.



    All of which I agree with though I think he was to Raymond Massey the complete HAM. I would have posted this in the P&P pages but I didn't want it lost in all the crud. Cheers.
    Hi Jack,

    This was a fine piece of film making.

    I first saw it when i was off ill from School [about 1977] it was on in the afternoon. i had a really bad case of chicken pox @ aged 14 and was delerious with it. So watching THIS film was even more surreal than it might have been! A remarkable experience. I can only think to relive it now would be to get a class A drug and watch a re-run!

  5. #145
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I have seen this now many times on the new DVD and it is a sheer pleasure to watch. Until now I had only watched it on a tape made fifteen years ago when it was shown on TCM. The color on the new DVD is clear, bright and crisp: it is like watching it for the first time.



    Also - as I mentioned on another thread, Ian Christie's commentary is superb and worth the price of the DVD. Martin Scorcese's comments were somewhat disappointing because of their brevity and lack of detail. He he has done so much to promote and celebrate Powell and Pressburger: I would like to have heard more from him. Although I would like him to slow the tempo of his staccato Manhattan-cabbie voice.



    I would use the word "magnanimous" to describe this film. There is an open, humorous, generous and romantic spirit throughout.



    There are flaws: I can still do without Raymond Massey's overcooked ham in some scenes. His close-ups show every waggling eyebrow and rolling eyeball as he plays to the gallery. I would have liked to see Orson Welles or Walter Huston in the role. And the actors playing the American doctors are either poor actors or just have poor lines; no professional speaks that way. The medical details about Peter's brain injury clash at times with the romantic legend that is at the heart of the film. And there isn't enough of Kim Hunter.



    But those are quibbles. I love it.



    Question for Steve Crook and anyone else who has seen the new DVD - What is your opinion of it? I am curious.

  6. #146
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    There are flaws: I can still do without Raymond Massey's overcooked ham in some scenes. His close-ups show every waggling eyebrow and rolling eyeball as he plays to the gallery.
    I have a friend who fairly successful as a barrister and I wouldn't say that Abraham is all that over egged.



    I'll admit Mr. Massey could chew the scenery a bit, but on the whole I never minded it in many of his roles.

  7. #147
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I have a friend who fairly successful as a barrister and I wouldn't say that Abraham is all that over egged.




    I'll admit Mr. Massey could chew the scenery a bit, but on the whole I never minded it in many of his roles.
    He's a likeable and skillful actor - and he has the larger-than-life presence, the intensity and the sense of humor that are exactly right for the role. But I think he worked primarily on the stage and at times the stage responses and the timing seem over-the-top on film.



    But it is a minor quibble.



    I will add that he was a marvelous Lincoln. Anyone else who plays that great man will have to live up to his performance.

  8. #148
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    The only scene that jars a bit is the sequence in heaven, Livesay's defence, where the propaganda leanings of the script are barely disguised.

  9. #149
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    The only scene that jars a bit is the sequence in heaven, Livesay's defence, where the propaganda leanings of the script are barely disguised.
    Yes - everything is spelled out very clearly in capital letters. But in historical context I can understand why it was done. Christie's commentary is very helpful and clear here.

  10. #150
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Re: Ray Massey:
    I will add that he was a marvelous Lincoln. Anyone else who plays that great man will have to live up to his performance.
    It was the role he was born to play. His face is the perfect Lincoln, ready to be carved in stone or upon some currency.



    He played Lincoln quite a few times, on film and on stage - even though he was still a Canadian for most of the times when he did so



    Steve

  11. #151
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I have seen this now many times on the new DVD and it is a sheer pleasure to watch. Until now I had only watched it on a tape made fifteen years ago when it was shown on TCM. The color on the new DVD is clear, bright and crisp: it is like watching it for the first time.



    Also - as I mentioned on another thread, Ian Christie's commentary is superb and worth the price of the DVD. Martin Scorcese's comments were somewhat disappointing because of their brevity and lack of detail. He he has done so much to promote and celebrate Powell and Pressburger: I would like to have heard more from him. Although I would like him to slow the tempo of his staccato Manhattan-cabbie voice.



    I would use the word "magnanimous" to describe this film. There is an open, humorous, generous and romantic spirit throughout.



    There are flaws: I can still do without Raymond Massey's overcooked ham in some scenes. His close-ups show every waggling eyebrow and rolling eyeball as he plays to the gallery. I would have liked to see Orson Welles or Walter Huston in the role. And the actors playing the American doctors are either poor actors or just have poor lines; no professional speaks that way. The medical details about Peter's brain injury clash at times with the romantic legend that is at the heart of the film. And there isn't enough of Kim Hunter.



    But those are quibbles. I love it.



    Question for Steve Crook and anyone else who has seen the new DVD - What is your opinion of it? I am curious.
    I love the new DVD, of course



    Marty does talk very quickly in staccato bursts - but that's Marty. It is a shame that he couldn't do a longer interview for this DVD but he is/was very busy. They were just starting work on Shutter Island while this DVD was being prepared. And he did do a lot of work behind the scenes to get it made so I'm very grateful to him. There was talk of him doing the full commentary for a while but he just couldn't find enough time in his busy schedule. He wanted to do a proper job on it, not just make it up as he went along. And that does take a lot of time to prepare.



    But Ian Christie's commentary is very good, even though he had to step in at short notice and couldn't do as full a commentary as he does on the Criterion releases.



    The film itself is wonderfully clear, sharp and well balanced. And I don't think anyone else has noticed the mistake



    Even the people at Sony denied it was possible at first, until I got them to compare it against the 35mm print. It is a very small mistake.





    As for Ray, yes he does chew the scenery a bit. But his character is just a schoolteacher who has been given an important job to do with an international (and cross-temporal) audience. He does have his brooding hatred of the British who killed him and that leads him to bluster a bit and he falls into a few traps laid by Doc Reeves. But Farlan comes around in the end and when he realises the Peter & June do love each other he wants to help them to prove it but he's afraid that the proof might lead to them being split up.





    I wish there could have been more about AMOLAD on the DVD. But you Americans have been waiting so long for this release that I'm glad that we got what we got. It was first announced by Sony back in April 2003. Other companies like Criterion have been begging to do it but Sony wouldn't release their rights to it.





    And of course it's very odd to see it in combination with Age of Consent. But that's very well done as well. It's a beautiful print with the original score restored and has some lovely little documentaries and interviews to go with it



    Steve

  12. #152
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    He's a likeable and skillful actor - and he has the larger-than-life presence, the intensity and the sense of humor that are exactly right for the role. But I think he worked primarily on the stage and at times the stage responses and the timing seem over-the-top on film.

    But it is a minor quibble.



    I will add that he was a marvelous Lincoln. Anyone else who plays that great man will have to live up to his performance.
    In AMOLAD I always assume that while it seems Ray is playing to the galleries, in fact he's playing Farlan, and it's Farlan playing to the galleries....



    Actually, despite AMOLAD, and his various Lincolns, my favourite Raymond Massey role is in the Boris Karloff role as the mad criminal brother in Arsenic and Old Lace...

  13. #153
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I love the new DVD, of course

    Marty does talk very quickly in staccato bursts - but that's Marty. It is a shame that he couldn't do a longer interview for this DVD but he is/was very busy. They were just starting work on Shutter Island while this DVD was being prepared. And he did do a lot of work behind the scenes to get it made so I'm very grateful to him. There was talk of him doing the full commentary for a while but he just couldn't find enough time in his busy schedule. He wanted to do a proper job on it, not just make it up as he went along. And that does take a lot of time to prepare.



    But Ian Christie's commentary is very good, even though he had to step in at short notice and couldn't do as full a commentary as he does on the Criterion releases.
    It would have been very nice to have more of Scorcese. But I would not want to do without the Christie commentary.



    I have learned a great deal from his English perspective and his observations about the Anglo-American relationship. No American can provide that. I have turned off the film a few times just to think over some of his comments.



    The film itself is wonderfully clear, sharp and well balanced. And I don't think anyone else has noticed the mistake



    Even the people at Sony denied it was possible at first, until I got them to compare it against the 35mm print. It is a very small mistake.
    Interesting. What mistake is that?



    As for Ray, yes he does chew the scenery a bit. But his character is just a schoolteacher who has been given an important job to do with an international (and cross-temporal) audience. He does have his brooding hatred of the British who killed him and that leads him to bluster a bit and he falls into a few traps laid by Doc Reeves. But Farlan comes around in the end and when he realises the Peter & June do love each other he wants to help them to prove it but he's afraid that the proof might lead to them being split up.
    Yes, I suppose....although it would have been nice to see a genuine New Englander in the role, or someone who might have captured the tone and attitude. Kim Hunter is not from there but she is certainly believable. Massey is too broad and loud for a Boston schoolteacher in the late 18th century.



    I suppose that's not a very fair critique. Maybe I'm going too far. I have been thinking too much about it.





    I wish there could have been more about AMOLAD on the DVD. But you Americans have been waiting so long for this release that I'm glad that we got what we got. It was first announced by Sony back in April 2003. Other companies like Criterion have been begging to do it but Sony wouldn't release their rights to it.
    A Criterion release would obviously have been the ideal - at least from my perspective - but as you say we have been waiting a long time and I am happy with the result.

  14. #154
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook'
    The film itself is wonderfully clear, sharp and well balanced. And I don't think anyone else has noticed the mistake



    Even the people at Sony denied it was possible at first, until I got them to compare it against the 35mm print. It is a very small mistake.
    Interesting. What mistake is that?
    Just after Frank dies and appears before the Chief Recorder. He subpoenas Bob and the scene should end with Bob changing from B&W to colour before we move to the operating table. But in this DVD, Bob remains in B&W. Compare it to any other versions you have and you'll see that Bob should be flooded with colour as he stands there.



    It's only people like me who know every frame who notice such things



    Steve

  15. #155
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    In AMOLAD I always assume that while it seems Ray is playing to the galleries, in fact he's playing Farlan, and it's Farlan playing to the galleries....



    Actually, despite AMOLAD, and his various Lincolns, my favourite Raymond Massey role is in the Boris Karloff role as the mad criminal brother in Arsenic and Old Lace...
    There is always a quality of humor in his acting which allowed him to play comedy as well as drama. Arsenic and Old Lace was one of my grandfather's favorite films. I know every scene.



    You make essentially the same point as Steve C. regarding Massey playng the character of Farlan as a bit of a scenery-chewer. I do see that. Certainly Massey had the ability to play a more reserved, contained character.



    In fact - he played a reserved nineteenth century New England patriarch in Mourning Becomes Electra and did a very fine job.

  16. #156
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    Just after Frank dies and appears before the Chief Recorder. He subpoenas Bob and the scene should end with Bob changing from B&W to colour before we move to the operating table. But in this DVD, Bob remains in B&W. Compare it to any other versions you have and you'll see that Bob should be flooded with colour as he stands there.



    It's only people like me who know every frame who notice such things



    Steve
    Ah! You do have a good eye. Are there any other mistakes/glitches?

  17. #157
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    It's night over Europe ... The night of 2nd May.

    Although it's no longer 1945. Things have moved on a bit since then



    Whatever happened to Sqd Ldr Peter D. Carter?



    Steve

  18. #158
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    I hope heaven IS like how it is portrayed!

  19. #159
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphod
    I hope heaven IS like how it is portrayed!
    Interesting question.



    The use of the stairway as a symbol between time and eternity is powerful and effective. It may well be effective because it captures the transcendent reality in a way we can grasp on a more mundane level.



    I know that Powell and Pressburger would very likely disgaree with my assessment, as they went to great lengths to make it clear that it was all a hallucination in the film. I still find the extremely detailed medical information to be somewhat our of place. But it still works well as a legend.



    Here it is in Blake's Jacob's Ladder:







    Another symbol that conveys the same idea is the tunnel. Here is Bosch - Ascent to the Empyrean:







    I love this - the Dore illustration for the vision of Paradise.



    There are many examples of this sort symbol of the journey to eternity in Dore's illustrations for Dante. I have wondered at times if P&P had any interest in this:




  20. #160
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimR
    I have wondered at times if P&P had any interest in this:
    Undoubtedly they had an interest in it. Powell especially was very interested in representations of religious ideas by different cultures. The holy man in Black Narcissus is another interesting aspect of this.



    The stairway idea goes back to Jacob's ladder and also appears in Pilgrim's Progress. Remember that Bunyan is the conductor who brings Doc Reeves to the civilian reception area. But it's a lovely idea to update it from a simple staircase to an escalator



    I missed zaphod's original comment or I would have pointed out that there is no representation of heaven in AMOLAD. There's a representation of the reception area but would you judge a city by its airport?



    When the American bomber crew land and pick up their wings they then go through a doorway and we don't see what they see. We only have that wonderful line where the brash city boy says "Boy oh boy, home was never like this" and the farm boy drawls "Mine was"



    Steve

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