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Entries in William Powell (2)

Thursday
Aug 02 2012

Best Shot: "How to Marry a Millionaire"

Hit Me With Your Best Shot,our series in which all participating movielovers argue for what is a particular movie's best shot,just keeps on surprising me.I've learned so much about the movies by doing it: what I personally respond to,how often a single image is dependent on the editing around it or the scenes preceding it for its punch,and that the most brilliant images tend to either define an entire movie OR illuminate a very particular piece of its identity.Best of all,I've learned things I couldn't have learned without an extra set of eyeballs...yours.Last week,for example,I came to appreciateThe Royal Tenenbaums,in whole new ways via the posts on other blogs.Which is why I'm super anxious to read this week's entries.Because this week's movie,the romantic comedyHow To Marry a Millionaire(1953) which was a favorite of mine as a teenager,left me very uninspired.I hadn't remembered how unambitious the visuals were,lazily trusting that Cinemascope would provide us with terrific images.

Which is,come to think of it,what many filmmakers did in the early days of Cinemascope.I've joked before that rectangles > squares but shapes are neutral.It's up to the filmmaker to know what to use a movie's shape for,be that square or rectangular or circle (should the movies ever get round)

So my choice forbest shotmakes good use of the Cinemascope.The Cinemascope allows this image above to be expansive while the blocking reveals a tight trap.The moment  comes early in the movie when the three golddiggers (Marilyn Monroe as "Pola",Betty Grable as "Loco",and Lauren Bacall as "Shatze"-- delicious character names!) think they've snared their first 'bear',a millionaire by the name of J.D.(William Powell,extremely well cast).The girls aren't greedy*cough*and have already agreed that even just one millionaire will do.

You only need one!

For a brief flash with all their backs are turned to the camera,it's easy to imagine a much creepier movie wherein the ladies pounce in for the kill.They're essentially predators,after all,sexy spiders slinking around their phony web (Manhattan condo with terrace) for billionaire flies.

WhileHow to Marryis good popcorn fun,especially for Monroe's adorkable blind as a bat insecurities and Bacall's elegant snobbery as she looks down her nose at everyone and everything (including herself!),it's not much more than that.It feels padded even at only an hour and a half (is it the weirdly sleepy editing?) and the visuals are the least interesting thing about it.This is the only film we've covered where I had absolutely zero indecision about which shot to use.I'm a sucker for a continuous shot and ifHow to Marry's collection of them didn't feel so much like a filmed stage play (I actually wanted more cutting;that'ssoweird for me) they'd be a lot more exciting.But this one is a keeper.The middle 'backs to the camera' bit when the ladies pander to and coo at the squirming millionaire is perfect.The cherry on top is that the shot (and scene) ends with a delicious triple diva walk to the camera,all three stars really giving it to the camera...in character no less!

I think this is it kids,a great big room filled with nothing but rich millionaires.And us."

How To Discover Great Blogs(2012)
[Hint: click on them]
Against the HypeMonroe,Gable and Bacall existing in the same universe?
Amiresquegets dreamy with Betty Grable
Antagony & Ecstacya passing of the sex goddess torch
Armchair AudienceBacall sure can move across a screen.But does she choose the right man?
Dial P For Popcornmoments that stick with you
Encore's Worldin most intrigued by the revealing shots of the threesome.
Film ActuallyBest Shot = Best Comic Timing
Movies Kick Ass'there's no business like men business'

Final Three Episodes of Season Three:
Buster Keaton'sSherlock Jr(August 8th),Singin' in the Rain(August 15th),andDog Day Afternoon(August 22nd).JOIN US.WHAT WILLYOUCHOOSE AS BEST SHOT?

Tuesday
May 10 2011

Cast This: Johnny Depp's "The Thin Man" Remake

Let's talk aboutJohnny Deppfor a moment.Is anyone busier?

Depp sneaking away from all original movie ideas.

He seems to be rivalling Michael Fassbender (rising star division) and Leonardo DiCaprio (first dibs 30something division) on "most films in the pipeline".Aside from signing on for endlessPirates of the Caribbeanfilms (we thought one was enough but oh how we loved it at the time),there's Tim Burton'sDark Shadowsadaptation (I almost typedDark Habitsthere are no druggy horny nuns in that one) andThe Lone Ranger(which Depp says will be significantly rework the Tonto/Ranger dynamic),he and Rob Marshall are prepping a remake of the 30s classicThe Thin Manfor 2013.

What is with Depp's weird insistence on only doing remakes and sequels?That such an original performer would give himself over so completely to repetition and revisions is eerily similar to the "no more original material!"edict that seems to have consumed his once very original favorite collaborator as well (That's right,Mr.Burton,we're talking to you!)

A remake ofThe Thin Man(1934),one of the first feature "franchises"is a pretty terrible idea for a number of reasons and not just for the totally norm reason that the original is just fine the way it is.

There are two enormous hurdles to surmount in relaunching that franchise and the unbeatable William Powell / Myrna Loy chemistry is numero uno.Depp is a wonderful actor but when has he ever had chemistry that fine with a co-star?Think hard.Yep,he's something of an island actor.Problem dos is that though the 1930s should technically have been more backwards in terms of gender equality,it's pretty tough to beat the leading ladies of the 1930s in terms of gender equality starpower.Loy wasa real luluand who the hell will ever be able to top her impressive juggling of loving wife,comic sparring partner and elegant diva?

You're going to need an actress who can keep Depp on his toes whilst staring him straight in the eyes and simultaneously never dropping the witticisms from her lips.As much as Hollywood will want to cast a 20something woman in the this role,Johnny Depp will be 50 when the movie comes out so the Nora to his Nick should at least be in her 30s,but hopefully early 40s.(To be anal about it,there was a 13 year age difference between the original Nick and Nora Charles so we'll allow for an actress as young as 35.We're generous that way.)Remember you're looking for an equal in every way.

The last woman to hold her own opposite Depp with enough force to suggest that sheabsolutelydid not believe she was billed below him was Anne Heche inDonnie Brasco(1997).But we all know that they're not going to cast Anne Heche.Who would you go with?