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Messages - dave jenkins

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Duck, You Sucker / Re: Special Edition DVD
« on: February 18, 2005, 09:43:04 PM »
I believe the R1 DVD is on its way. Due this summer, I think (the R2 version comes out sooner).

General Discussion / Re: Leone's League
« on: February 18, 2005, 09:40:01 PM »
But Kurosawa's best weren't made in cinemascope at all... in fact, they were made in what some nowadays would refer to as 'Full Screen'.
Well, there is room for disagreement here. My personal feeling is that Kurosawa's best films *were* made in 'scope, and that the use of the wider aspect ratio is one (though by no means the only) reason why.

Even if you disagree, though, it still makes sense to limit comparisons of Leone's Westerns to Kurosawa's Tohoscope films (or to other director's films shot in scope). Why? I contend that a scope film is as different from a full-frame film as an apple is from an orange, or as a novel is from a short story.

It would be worth little to contend, for example, that Hemmingway's short stories are better than Fitzgerald's novels (although I prefer the former to the latter), but there is profit in comparing, say, _A Farewell to Arms_ with _The Great Gatsby_. The fact that they are both novels means that they were composed under similar if not identical rules; "leagues" are only possible when members are held to the same standards.

Duck, You Sucker / Re: Special Edition DVD
« on: February 18, 2005, 12:11:24 AM »
I too would like to get the DVD.  I also a TV version where Juan implicates John in the Revolution, but this was not in the original screen release in 1971 under Duck You Sucker.  I would like to get the complete movie or uncut version of this thing.  Can anyone help?
Are you guys talking about the scene where Juan forces Sean to detonate early, killing the mine owner Sean is working for? That was not in the original North American prints but was put back as part of the 1996 restoration effort (I think a total of 20 minutes were restored to the whole movie). Anway, as I read that scene, Juan wasn't necessarily trying to get Sean into the revolution, it just worked out that way. Then later, to get back at Juan, Sean tricked him into freeing the prisoners in the bank, thus ensuring that Juan would become a "grand, glorious hero of the revolution." These guys were playing tit-for-tat (not unlike Monco and Mortimer with the hat shooting scene in FAFDM) and incidently establishing their revolutionary reps in the process. No doubt this is SL's wry comment on the making of legends......

General Discussion / Re: Leone's League
« on: February 17, 2005, 09:07:39 PM » has info and lists on Cinemascope and other comparable formats.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly / Re: Tuco's confessions
« on: February 16, 2005, 09:42:11 PM »
Whenever I hear the word "confession" in a movie I always assume it has been manufactured by the authorities and may have nothing to do with what a character has actually done. But I like the idea that Tuco might be beating the bulls at their own game......

Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: hidden feature on dvd
« on: February 16, 2005, 09:37:38 PM »
Largo, welcome to the board. And kudos to you and Mr. Goddard and everyone else associated with the OUATITW SE DVD. An amazing release (and at $9.99 in some outlets, the greatest value for money in DVD-dom).

General Discussion / Re: Leone's League
« on: February 15, 2005, 09:41:47 PM »
I'm kind of disappointed to see that this thread has become little more than Lists of Directors Beside Leone I Happen to Like.

In an attempt to make matters more interesting, I propose that we follow more closely Grandpa's original idea. He used the term "league" which means more than the fact that all members are of comparable abilities; it also implies that all members are playing by the same rules.  And the limiting parameter that needs to be applied to the set is, IMHO, the use of Cinemascope, or the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

This necessarily excludes many many many good directors from consideration (including my personal fave, Hitchcock) but so be it. Rather than compare apples with oranges, let's instead speak of the relative merits of Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, Fujis..... In other words, who are, with Leone, the Poets of 'Scope? My list includes (but may not be limited to):


Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: 30 Westerns in Once
« on: February 14, 2005, 10:29:59 PM »
Just watched My Darling Clementine again and noticed a couple things that SL may have taken for use in OUATITW. First, the scene when Wyatt Earp (Fonda) first meets Doc Holiday (Victor Mature). They do a bit of verbal sparring while standing at a saloon bar, and when it looks like things are going to get deadly serious a gun is quickly slid down the bar to the unarmed Wyatt. Wyatt is able to defuse the situation without violence.

Even more significant is Ford's use of music, or lack thereof, especially when we get to the big scene at the OK Corral.   Scott Eyman, in his book _John Ford: The Searcher 1894-1973_, makes this comment: "in a particular masterstroke, the climactic gunfight is played without blaring music, but with only natural sounds--wind; boots scuffling for purchase in the sand. The silence is haunting."

Huh. Put anybody in mind of another scene in another Western?

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: De Niro Last Smile
« on: February 14, 2005, 10:01:49 PM »
It works with the '33 Noodles as well. Leone is using the scene as *commentary* on the end-state of his character (he may be using the scene for other reasons as well). The fact that Noodles got buzzed in an opium den Once Upon a Time isn't exactly an important detail, and its placement at the very end of the film must therefore carry some kind of thematic resonance. The idea that an image from '33 can comment on matters in '68 is therefore a good one, consistent with the virtuoso filmmaking that SL is known for.

Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Harmonica's life
« on: February 11, 2005, 09:05:25 PM »
Some really good comments here, and CJ in particular, some great observations. But I think we have to be careful to maintain a distinction between Harmonica as a character who has "something to do with death" and the idea that he is Death personified. Harmonica does have a backstory, so we should treat him as a man who operates as death symbolically. I think we want to do this, if for no other reason than it makes the film more interesting. To be too literal (Harmonica is Death himself)closes off other possible readings. If Harmonica is only Death symbolically, however, than he can also be other things: avenger, redeemer, man of the west, etc.

It's helpful to compare OUATITW with High Plains Drifter in this regard. In HPD, Eastwood is slowly revealed to be some kind of supernatural agent (angel of vengence, demon, Death). There is no reason to have him disappear in the heat haze at the end if he is NOT supposed to be supernatural. Now, while I like HPD, and think the whole approach works, I have to say that the film has nowhere near the depth of OUATITW. And part of the reason for this is that the characters in Leone's film are invested with references to many many cultural archetypes. It is very difficult to bring this off in a movie, which is why it hasn't been done often. But when we have a movie that *has* accomplished such a thing, we should celebrate the fact, and not attempt to sell any of its characters short.

So, by all means, let's identify Harmonica with death, but not exclusively.

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: De Niro Last Smile
« on: February 09, 2005, 08:45:55 PM »

Remember when Leone supposedly said "Well, it started out in an opium den, you see..." and then the guy said "Don't tell me!"? Well maybe it wasn't a dream and it was to symbolize that he's moving on from his life where his guilt started rather than being oppressed all these years starting from that moment?

Works for me.

Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Harmonica's life
« on: February 09, 2005, 07:30:45 PM »
IMHO, I don't think Harmonica was kicked away. It appears to me he falls out of exhaustion. Creating a state in the kid, where he hates Frank for putting him up to this and also feels guilt for not holding out longer for his brother. As inner conflicts go, this surpasses Sophies's choice.
I too always considered: Son of a bitch referred to Frank.

Yup. That's the way I read it. (Good observation regarding Sophie's Choice, too).

Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: 30 Westerns in Once
« on: February 08, 2005, 09:48:08 PM »
Finally saw 3:10 to Yuma. An interesting film that starts out strong but gets stupid as it goes along. Still, from the perspective of a Leoneaste, it is fascinating, and as far as this thread is concerned, represents a motherlode of references.  There may be more quotations from it in OUATITW than from any other single film.

Before enumerating them, I should point out some general effects that Leone used not only in OUATITW but throughout his career. One is a particular shot of horses from the pov of a driver on a buckboard or coach; we see this used in GBU between the time Tuco and Blondie leave the mission and before they are captured by the blue bellies. We see  a very similar shot in OUATITW on the drive from Flagstone to the trading post. The antecedent for these is a shot in 3:10 near the very beginning of the film when a stagecoach is held up by Glenn Ford and his gang.

Ford uses cattle to impede the progress of the coach, and the steers kick up a lot of dust. This gives the director, Delmer Daves, the opportunity to present something that would later become a signature Leone shot: men emerging from clouds of dust. GBU and OUATITW both include such shots, but Daves did it earlier.

Also, Daves uses a *lot* of crane shots, maybe even more than the master himself. He even uses what we might call a reverse crane shot: intead of beginning close to the actors and moving away, he sometimes begins high above and then swoops down for a closeup.

Now for some of the references specific to OUATITW. The most obvious one is the casting-against-type of the bad guy. Long before Fonda's Frank, there was Glenn Ford as a cold-hearted killer. Even though this didn't work very well (Daves establishes Ford's ruthlessness early on, but for the rest of the picture Ford defaults to his usual on-screen persona), it is an attempt to put an actor associated exclusively with good-guy parts in the role of a baddie.

Another nod to Daves is the use of music in OATITW. Particular themes recur, sometimes under a scene (available to the audience, but not to the characters)and sometimes within the scene (the characters can hear or even create the music). Both films employ a character associated with a certain piece of music performing that very piece of music: OUATITW has The Man With the Harmonica, and 3:10 has The Man With the Puckered Lips (Ford whistles the theme while semi-reclining, his hat pulled down over his eyes).

Then there is the plan in OUATITW to ship a captive outlaw to Yuma as a safety measure, the exact situation of 3:10.

Finally, the biggest quote of 3:10 in OUATITW is Frank's dangerous walk down the streets of Flagstone. In 3:10 Van Heflin must also negotiate a street overwatched by ambushers, and there is even a moment when a spotter (Henry Jones) shouts out a warning that enables Heflin to down a gunman before he is shot (followed by the appropriate stunt work). There are differences, of course (the spotter is in the street and Heflin, at that point, is up on the second floor of a building), but you only need to watch this sequence once to know what inspired Leone's similar (but much superior) scene.

These are the quotations that leapt out at me on my first viewing of 3:10. No doubt more can be found......

Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Harmonica's life
« on: February 08, 2005, 08:21:05 PM »
When Timmy comes out of the house Frank looks at him almost loving but his expression quickly becomes remorseful at the mention of his name.  Timmy now has to be killed.  This doesn't fit with the fact that Timmy's survival would have made him heir to the property but there is just something about Franks face that suggests he is doing something that even he is not comfortable with.

I suppose that is one way to read the scene. Here is another: Although Frank had come to Sweetwater with the intention of killing all of the McBains, the possibility of sparing one now presents itself. Maybe it isn't necessary to kill Timmy as well, Frank reasons. After all, this kid isn't going to be able to get the station built on time, and even though he is now the legal heir, he'll only be inheriting a box of sand. So why waste a bullet? Mr. Morton has undoubtedly been impressing upon Frank the need to pay as little as possible for a property, and those extra bullets can really add up.

But is that really the best move? Who knows what kind of legal complications ensue if Timmy is left alive? Maybe there's a special survivor's clause that gives the McBane estate a break for catastrophic loss. This doesn't seem to be the case given subsequent events, but then, at the moment of decision, Frank doesn't have the deed in front of him to consult. He has to make a decision based on imperfect knowledge, and it has to be the right one. The agony of indecision shows on Frank's face.

Suddenly one of the men calls Frank by name. Perfect! The decision has been made for him, and Frank can now act and put the blame on the guy who spoke unwisely. Frank wriggles out of another one, the snake.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly / Re: GBU Remake
« on: January 31, 2005, 10:16:27 PM »
it wouldn't surprise me if they remade it in a completely different time period and genre... which i have no problem with... but if you think renee zellweger is playing the part of angel eyes in a REAL remake of the good the bad and the ugly... you really need to stop listening to any old hack around.
Yeah, gramps has it sussed. As soon as you bring women in to act one or more of the principals, you are NOT doing anything remotely resembling a Leone picture.

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