457 Magnificent Obsession

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#126 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:26 pm

Glad I'm not alone in this. Even more surprising, I watched The Tarnished Angels last nite and had an unexpectedly lukewarm response. Lots of great setpieces, but something about the story lacked a hook-- I could never give a shit about any of the characters, which is surprising for a Sirk.

Give me There's Always Tomorrow any day. Moving as Moishe's and the 7 Santini Bros combined.

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Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#127 Post by Michael » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:53 pm

Matt wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:Sadly I've never been able to jibe with WotW or IoLife.
They're both exquisite corpses to me, too. Beautiful to look at but stiff as boards. The "jazz interludes" in each are astounding set pieces, but neither film really works as a whole. All That Heaven Allows is really on another level from Sirk's other films.
I could live without Written on the Wind but I love Bacall and Stack, they are great in this film. Dorothy Malone owns this film and Rock Hudson is pretty much wallpaper. But still everything about the film looks very gorgeous, the oil wells, the cars, the silver poodle weight, Dorothy's gowns...With this film, Sirk seemed to be most "loosened up", not meticulous like he did with ATHA.

Imitation of Life took me years to get it. I just love the spoiled girl Sandra Dee's stab at her mother about being the martyr and all. And her attempt to steal her mom's beau. Brilliant stuff. It's the most scathing film Sirk made. The film has a lot of layers that picks on everything that's fucked up about America and its Dream, the materialistic wealth, the success, the family disconnections and all - very much like Altman's Nashville. But I can see how it could be tiresome for some people. Too many films attacking the American Dream have been made since then.

That scene the maid massages Lana's foot seems so innocent but feels so fucked up wrong. This is how I feel about the whole film, Sirk is very clever in blinding us to the artificial beauty of the veneer of diseases. You get lulled into the world of diamonds, pretty settings, faked smiles, then only to step in pure vomit behind it all.. but on your own of course.

And yes, I agree with you all that ATHA is Sirk's greatest film.

What do you guys think of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul?

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Yojimbo
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#128 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:41 pm

Does anybody know how this compares with the French Carlotta set which also includes the two versions, but different extras

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#129 Post by david hare » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:00 pm

Which title yojimbo? The Carlotta boxsets don't include the Fassbinder - they include a pseudo-doco by Ozon which intercuts shots and scenes from Ali with the Sirk. It's actually not that great. The transfers are all different to existing R1s - I posted caps from ATHA Carlotta yonks ago. I prefer the Criterion in fact.

I am really suprised by the lukewarm response to Written and Tarnished. And Imitation. They're obviously all quite different films. Tarnished for one is produced by Zugsmith and Sirk's able to cut loose form the Ross Hunter Fairy Floss. I LOVE this picture - it's a real favorite Sirk (along with another half dozen - Summer Storm, Shockproof, Scandal in paris ATHA, Imitation, Habanera and probably - when I eventually see it - Schlussakord.) Schreck maybe you don't get a handle on TA because there is no single handle to grab - everybody drifits, unmoored, even Hudson whose gentle (highclass) alcoholism "protects" him from even a possible romantic attachment to Malone. Whose perf in this is even finer than her gig in Written. Every character in the picture is one of Sirk's "Split" people - Stack is obviously torn up because he's not the kid's father - Jack Carson is - and he resolves his own conflict by committing Hawksian suicide. Malone can't settle between the two men, but she cant have both hard as she tries. Carson himself is extremely touching in his simple mindedness, like his blowing the dough on the leather boots. The kid nearly dies on the merry go round. And so on and so on. I think this is just a great, great movie, and notwhithstanding Sirk's misgivings about not getting Technicolor for it I think it works superbly in B&W (and Scope) - the high point and literally most hysterical moment is the Mardi Gras party with the masked "ousiders". Scenes of absolutely classical genius.

Imitation is just mind bogglingly tough - it's like a spike being driven into your head. Every single character is living out a lie - Lana with her "performances", Juanita Moore with her blind insistence on enforcing her code of absolute integrity on Susan Kohner. Kohner herself who seems at her most "perfect in the late niteclub choreography passing as white. Sandra Dee who wants to have a love affair with mother's on-off boyfriend. Even John Gavin himself who just hangs around waiting for Lana to respond.

Maybe you need some time to live with these movies and really let them under your skin.

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Yojimbo
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#130 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:16 pm

david hare wrote:Which title yojimbo? The Carlotta boxsets don't include the Fassbinder - they include a pseudo-doco by Ozon which intercuts shots and scenes from Ali with the Sirk. It's actually not that great. The transfers are all different to existing R1s - I posted caps from ATHA Carlotta yonks ago. I prefer the Criterion in fact.

I am really suprised by the lukewarm response to Written and Tarnished. And Imitation. They're obviously all quite different films. Tarnished for one is produced by Zugsmith and Sirk's able to cut loose form the Ross Hunter Fairy Floss. I LOVE this picture - it's a real favorite Sirk (along with another half dozen - Summer Storm, Shockproof, Scandal in paris ATHA, Imitation, Habanera and probably - when I eventually see it - Schlussakord.) .
No, its the Carlotta MO set, david: which has the same two films as the Criterion, but different extras.
(they have quite a few Sirk DVDs, including box-sets)

I love 'Tarnished Angels', too: its possibly my favourite of the 5 or 6 Sirk I've seen so far, ironically since his use of colour was so vital for his 50's films.
(though I think "All That Heaven Allows" is the quintessential Sirk: at least in his peak 1950s period)

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Gregory
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#131 Post by Gregory » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:53 am

I'm happy to join in the praise for ATHA, but never at the expense of Magnificent Obsession, Written, Imitation of Life, Tarnished Angels, A Time to Love, All I Desire, and so on. I don't see any of these as flawed films in the slightest. I completely respect the preferences being voiced here, but so many of those being discussed are IMO in the very highest echelon of his oeuvre that I can't imagine picking and choosing between them (especially without it being quite clear to me how they're being evaluated, what assumptions are underlying different people's viewing and interpretation of them, etc.).
Case in point, I seem to be coming from a different place in my assessment of Magnificent Obsession than those here who refer to the basic plot as a kind of obstacle. As I briefly explained in an earlier post I find that the film is enriched by the element of distance, the way Sirk apparently complicated the simple narrative elements and messages. It's a fascinating case of ambivalence and contrast in adaptation. Surely that's not the only way to view it, of course. Because the film turned out to be what it is, problems with the story of the Douglas novel per se don't really matter to me.
HerrSchreck wrote:...I watched The Tarnished Angels last nite and had an unexpectedly lukewarm response. Lots of great setpieces, but something about the story lacked a hook.
Get thee behind me, Satan. Er, I mean, I'm surprised that, even if it didn't work that well on any other level for you, Schreck, the visual style alone wouldn't have been enough to bowl you over (perhaps moreso with a 35mm print vs. a DVD).

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#132 Post by david hare » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:53 am

Not that this is a recommendation of any critical weigh, but Tarnished Angels is the Sirk title that most often has me in tears- the shifts from lone character to lone character, and the sheer beauty of the mise en scene through whcih people seem to meet up, for a fleeting moment, then drift apart, unable to ever merge. It's his greatest "Classical" work (i,e, in the realm of Shakespeare and Aeschylus.) He does this with a minimum of music too.

I agree with Greg- at this level of artistry which ALWAYS repays endless viewings what becomes apparent is the differences in these films and the profound depth and scope of his formal responses to the material.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#133 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:02 am

Well Greg of course the cinematography in TA is fabulous, but this of course-- even conceding being bowled over by the shots (which to be honest I wasn't actually.. in terms of early w/s it's not for example as gogeous as some of Kobayashi or Kurosawa's work at around this time)-- this doesn't constitute the sum of a good film (if this were the case I'd like a lot more 1960's French films from the Vague)... and like I said there are some fantastic set-pieces in the film (one of which I was going to point out even prior to David's post was the Mardi Gras, as well as the amped up use of the masked partygoers during Rock & Malone's kiss), but I just couldn't get fully invested in the thing to the point of being completely moved. To tell the truth when I watched it (night before last I believe?), it was the third time... two false starts preceded it, interludes where I just wasn't getting going w the story and just crapped out and either threw on another movie or shut down and moved on to another activity in the house.

I'll keep some of these comments in mind when I eventually get around to re-viewing it.

Hmmm.. maybe greg it's because I didn't have my copy of the Roman Ritual on hand to cleanse the corruption of my eyesight prior to viewing... 'THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS ME... THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS ME... etc'

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#134 Post by Michael » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:51 am

david hare wrote:I agree with Greg- at this level of artistry which ALWAYS repays endless viewings what becomes apparent is the differences in these films and the profound depth and scope of his formal responses to the material.
That's it. You've answered my questions from a couple of posts ago. I started watching Sirk twenty years ago and never gave up on him or grew bored of his films...I keep coming back to his films year after year and they keep getting richer and richer. Last year I watched Imitation of Life with my mother and she reacted by saying it was, in her words, "a very phony movie" and I think Sirk would be completely pleased with her remark. With my mom (not a cineaste like myself), she justifies movies solely by their plots and type of characters and of course the performances,none of "artistry" stuff, for example, I would weep at the beautiful shot of Lana stepping into the cold darkness of her agent's office, her body and high heels silhouetted and people like my mom would be going "so what?".

Charles_Tranberg

Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#135 Post by Charles_Tranberg » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:25 pm

Magnificent Obsession is an entertaining film, but I like All That Heaven Allows much better, and so did Agnes. She thought the film had better structure and made more sense. Of course both films are fun to watch. They make a fun double feature on movie night.

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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#136 Post by Professional Tourist » Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:32 pm

Charles_Tranberg wrote:Magnificent Obsession is an entertaining film, but I like All That Heaven Allows much better, and so did Agnes. She thought the film had better structure and made more sense. Of course both films are fun to watch. They make a fun double feature on movie night.
In my own opinion, Nancy Ashford is one of AM's most brilliant and beautiful characterizations of all time, decidedly more so than Sara Warren, although she's very good there too. I know I'm not the only AM fan to feel this way.

I don't really think of either of these two Sirk films as 'fun' -- entertaining certainly , but I take them both pretty seriously.

You know, it's difficult to believe that AM would have thought that MO made less sense than ATHA, although she may have said so publicly at some point. How she could have built that character without seeing clearly the big picture, and Sirk's intentions, would be a puzzlement indeed. Perhaps she may have felt that the deletion of certain scenes from the final cut detracted from the overall sense of the story, particularly as regards the relationship between Helen and Nancy. Or perhaps she was just being very critical of her own performance.

I do admit that I had to work pretty hard myself to understand it all -- but found it well worth the effort.

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Gregory
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#137 Post by Gregory » Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:42 pm

The thing I generally hear from people about MO is that it's inferior to ATHA because the story is wildly implausible. I've already given my two cents about whether MO's story and how Sirk worked with it was a liability or an asset. I think the story can be crazy and yet the film still "makes sense" to me. But another point I would make is, don't people think the story of ATHA got just a bit crazy at the end? And do people really think this is somehow a flaw?

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#138 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:25 pm

Well, that's a valid point indeed. I think the artistry involved in the construction of ATHA is superior to MO, but I think the stories are essentially formed from the same tissue: the fantasy/weepie geared towards the middle-aged, 1950's housewife... a retreat away from the decay and infirmities of age whereby it is still possible to find one's self worshipped by a youthful, clear eyed, masculinely gentle, explosively handsome hunk. So as far as plausibility is concerned-- most of the time the complaint I hear leveled at MO is that Rock would never fall so hard for this woman-- they rest on the same axis. If anything, at least in MO Rock's character is from the same class as Wyman's character.. he's a wealthy guy, has everything, and is essentially a reformed playboy. Many women in Wyman's strata would desire him on that basis alone, and would approve- regardless if he were a total prick. In ATHA, he's a lowly gardener, is beneath her milieu, and results in Wyman's character having to suffer the slings of her peers. (Of course this is a hinge of the story, which makes it so powerful as a statement of independence versus the frozen social mores of the middle American century.)

I happen to like ATHA more than MO, but as far as 'plausibility' is concerned, none is really any more realistic (or maybe 'likely' is a better word) than the other. They're both the kind of romance melodramas that require you to submit to their universe... or GTFO.

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#139 Post by david hare » Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:22 am

I think the artistry involved in the construction of ATHA is superior to MO
Yes, that's the whole point. It becomes clear in ATHA that Sirk's own hand is involved in the shaping and finessing of the screenplay, down to throwaway details like the copy of Thoreau. Thus the crypto-idealistic angle takes on flesh, and when Rock essentially has to "tame" the Walden/Thoreau idealism of his War Vet buddy to satisfy Jane, he ends up building an architectural digest designer barn complete with grazing deer at the floor to ceiling windows, and still Wyman doesn't come, until it's possibly too late. This plot device takes the central trope of the American Western tradition - nature and civilization - and posts it flawlessly into the melodrama. The whole picture shows a real confidence and mastery that's also evident in Sirk's best pictures, like Zu Neuen, Summer Storm et al. And it's also not insignificant that Rock's performance in this is far ahead of his earlier movies with Sirk including MO. He still munches up some line delivery when he's talking aboutb plant species, but his screen persona is coming alive for the first time.

To get the most out of MO maybe you need to view it with Mark Rappaport's Rock Hudson's Home Movies as the template. Via this chanelling it's more germane to focus on metacinematic issues like Rock's homosexuality, and the significance of the quasi religious guru/ Sirk lookalike played by Otto Kruger. At one very obvious level Rock is playing "protege" to Kruger's "Daddy". This line of enquiry gets even more fascinating, or appalling, depending on your point of view, if you start to consider the assertions put out in the biog of Rock's agent Henry Willson, the king of the pretty boy casting couch and conduit of the would be stars to Ross Hunter's (and Sirk's) inner sanctum. As alleged, in the latter case.

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swo17
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#140 Post by swo17 » Wed May 15, 2019 4:46 pm


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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#141 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed May 15, 2019 4:50 pm

I almost guessed this in the Speculation thread, not because I expected it, but rather because I always am hoping for Sirk of any kind. Shame they're not adding the academy ratio to it, as the controversy that flared up over it always left me curious.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#142 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:12 pm


nitin
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#143 Post by nitin » Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:39 am

The 1930s version looks surprisingly good, thought it would just be an old DVD master.

M Sanderson
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#144 Post by M Sanderson » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:04 am

So, people mentioned that it’s not from a 4k scan when it was announced.

So, how does the PQ hold up? I’m curious.

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#145 Post by nitin » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:33 am

This very site has a review and screenshots!

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#146 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:01 am


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tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#147 Post by tenia » Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:26 pm

So I guess even Magnificent Obsession is foster for Svet's life ramblings.

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Gregory
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#148 Post by Gregory » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:47 pm

Ugh, why did I read that?

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