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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Antoine Doinel
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#51 Post by Antoine Doinel » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:09 am

CSM126 wrote:
Antoine Doinel wrote:Remember in the early days of DVD when studios offered both ratios on one disc? Why can't they apply the same logic here. The actual ratio for people who know what they're doing and the "FILL UP THE WHOLE DERN SCREEN CUZ THAT WHAT IZE PAYED FOR" ratio for everyone else?
Because that would require a double-sided disc which would fuck with criterion's obsession with branding every possible surface of their packages (flippers can't have disc art, of course).
I wasn't speaking of Criterion specifically.

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subliminac
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#52 Post by subliminac » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:30 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:Remember in the early days of DVD when studios offered both ratios on one disc? Why can't they apply the same logic here. The actual ratio for people who know what they're doing and the "FILL UP THE WHOLE DERN SCREEN CUZ THAT WHAT IZE PAYED FOR" ratio for everyone else?
Or the philistines could just hit the zoom or stretch button on their tv remotes and leave the rest of us happy with our black bars.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#53 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:33 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:Remember in the early days of DVD when studios offered both ratios on one disc? Why can't they apply the same logic here. The actual ratio for people who know what they're doing and the "FILL UP THE WHOLE DERN SCREEN CUZ THAT WHAT IZE PAYED FOR" ratio for everyone else?
Some co's still do it, thank god. Like the relatively recent issue of The Panic In Needle Park from Fox had the WS on one side and academy on the other.

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Antoine Doinel
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#54 Post by Antoine Doinel » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:48 am

subliminac wrote:
Antoine Doinel wrote:Remember in the early days of DVD when studios offered both ratios on one disc? Why can't they apply the same logic here. The actual ratio for people who know what they're doing and the "FILL UP THE WHOLE DERN SCREEN CUZ THAT WHAT IZE PAYED FOR" ratio for everyone else?
Or the philistines could just hit the zoom or stretch button on their tv remotes and leave the rest of us happy with our black bars.
I don't give the philistines enough credit to know where or how to use the zoom/stretch buttons.

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cdnchris
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#55 Post by cdnchris » Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:26 am


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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#56 Post by Michael » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:23 am

Sirk films being released on DVD is always the best reason to celebrate. Although I've never been a fan of Magnificent Obsession, maybe this new release will change my mind. Having seen it twice on VHS, I found it a bit messy and silly. But if that's what took Rock and Jane to appear in the next film All That Heaven Allows - Sirk's most sublime masterpiece, the greatest American film, then perhaps I shouldn't complain about Magnificent Obsession. The quiet grace and beauty of All That Heavevn Allows crystallizes a rare gem, that couldn't be found in other Sirks, in my opinion... even though I love the fun Written on the Wind and the fantastically ambitious emotional epic Imitation of Life.

I'm looking forward to revaluating Magnificent Obsession. Anyone a staunch fan of MO?

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Matt
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#57 Post by Matt » Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:58 am

Michael wrote:I'm looking forward to revaluating Magnificent Obsession. Anyone a staunch fan of MO?
Not here. I'm in agreement with you that it's a silly film. And every time I watch it to re-evaluating it, it gets sillier. I think it's only useful as a warm-up to the infinitely superior All That Heaven Allows.

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Gregory
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#58 Post by Gregory » Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:48 pm

It's important work not only in that created a clamor for another Wyman-Hudson film (ATHA) but it's also one of the key films in the history of the Hollywood melodrama. But aside from historical importance, I think it's wonderfully realized film, well executed in every way, that keeps in repaying repeated viewings as with all of Sirk's best films. I would not name it as my favorite Sirk, but it's in the upper tier.
The tension between director and material only adds to the interest. This distance is one of the things that makes his films so interesting, at least to me. Sirk is both engaged directly with the characters and their problems and is well attuned to the irony in the story that he can "comment" on these things at the same time. Sirk saw the source novel pretty much for what it is -- a trashy, Christian potboiler. But the film also shows a real concern with a lot of the core themes, such as blindness both literal and metaphorical.
Are we left with an implausible, even ridiculous story? Sure, but so is a lot of Greek tragedy, and so on.

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tavernier
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#59 Post by tavernier » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:00 pm


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cdnchris
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#60 Post by cdnchris » Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:04 pm

Has anybody read the novel? It sounds particularly awful and after going through the supplements (which mentions Sirk couldn't even read the novel because he found it so bad) and then Kehr's article there my curiosity has grown. Shame Criterion couldn't have included the book with this release.

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#61 Post by david hare » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:24 pm

As if in some Lloyd C Douglas-esque psychic harmony with the last post, Dave Kehr has provided this linkl

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CSM126
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#62 Post by CSM126 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:48 am

Holy crap, what a movie! Stupid and unbelievable plot, silly acting, over-dramatic lighting, heavy-handed soundtrack...This is entertainment. I think I've already fallen completely in love with MO after just one viewing (well, two including the commentary track, I suppose). I'm a neophyte when it comes to Sirk (MO is only my second of his films, following Written on the Wind), but I eat up soppy melodramas in general. Something about the fact that you can't take them even the least bit seriously makes them the best escapism, their bizarre universe being so fascinating in the way it defies common sense and the basic laws of reality that I wanna live in the world these movies take place in because it looks so fun in there. I always have a good time watching them. But MO was more than a good time, it was a great damn time. It's every cliche melodrama convention taken to it's overwrought apex in an orgy of absurdity; I was a kid in a candy store, eating it all up and smiling wide the whole time and even had a couple good, hearty laughs (weirdly, I felt as though I were laughing with the film rather than at it, and from what I understand of Sirk that might not be so far off the mark).

I can already tell this is going to become one of my most-watched discs. Perfect rainy day viewing in my household. Many thanks to Criterion for giving us a treat like this on DVD.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#63 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:19 pm

See now this is probably a perfect example of what happens to this film when deprived of the rather profoundly effective-- and melodrama-counterbalancing--rendering of environment and mood (and positionings in space) resident in the 1.33 AR. There's a whole symphony of mise en scene going on here which is atrophied in WS.. a depth & interwoven sense of subtext that girds the nature of the script and gives the whole affair a sense of genuineness, effective pathos-- and I daresay even greatness at times. At the pictorial level it seems to turn MO from a great piece of Cinema to just a wildly melodramatic Film. Or from a great painting to a cartoon. It's an extremely pictorial film.

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Gregory
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#64 Post by Gregory » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:34 pm

The whole camp dispute just never dies with certain types of films, including this one. There's certainly a difference between acknowledging some of the visual tricks or "jokes" that Sirk put into the films and saying that Sirk was laughing with us at the film as a whole.

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Matt
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#65 Post by Matt » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:43 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:It's an extremely pictorial film.
Come to think of it, the best way to watch this movie might be in slow-motion with the sound off, like a Douglas Gordon work.

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carax09
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#66 Post by carax09 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:48 pm

Or you could give it the Martin Arnold treatment...
Last edited by carax09 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#67 Post by Professional Tourist » Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:09 pm

I've purchased the new two-DVD set of MO from Criterion and over the past few days have absorbed all the content of the two discs. I love every moment of it! There are a couple of additional features I wish had been included in this set: 1) production stills and 2) footage (if available) or stills from the deleted scenes of the time that Helen and Nancy were living together in New Mexico, before the critical illness that brought them out of seclusion.

I don't know why those scenes were eliminated, since the final running time is only 1 hour 48 minutes, but perhaps Sirk (or the studio) was a bit concerned about the social acceptability by current-day U.S. audiences of what the scenes would be depicting.

So far I've found only one still online (black and white) from that deleted sequence:

Image

Does anyone know:
-- The real reason(s) why these scenes did not make the final cut?
-- If the footage of these deleted scenes still exists somewhere?
-- If there are any further stills from these scenes available online?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#68 Post by Michael » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:52 am

I sat down with MO last night. It was very entertaining, I enjoyed the sheer ridiculousness of everything. It was fascinating to see how everything was done very seriously on a high artistic note while the story remained so incredibly unbelievable and crazy, making it a very surreal cinematic experience for me, it was almost borderline Italian Horror.

It was hilarious to see Wyman adapting to the loss of her eyesight with such amazing ease and speed, the angelic chorus music swellelling to ahhhh to amplify suds of melodrama, a fairy godfather letting in a drunk hunk to crash overnight and ending up guiding him to achieve his “magnificent obsession” by becoming a doctor to cure what ails the poor Wyman.

Did the 1954 audience actually swallow the story? Did they really weep?

Putting the story aside, the production of the film is sublime. So painterly gorgeous. I love the dissolves between scenes, I wish more current filmmakers would use that technique. It is really a very lush looking film, shot after shot.

ADDITIONALLY:

Still thinking about the film throughout today. It keeps whispering through my mind, the pacing of the film, Sirk knitting images into a crazy tapestry of colors and shadows.. all that is really magical and beckoning. Of all Hollywood melodramas, the most beautiful ones come from Sirk.

MO is so bizarre that I'm amazed that it was received so well by the American audience in 1954.. so popular that Sirk, Hudson, Wyman and Moorehead teamed up again for the next film.

God, I really love Agnes Moorehead. They need to clone her so she could save more movies today.

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#69 Post by Michael » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:41 am

MO refused to quit beckoning me for a couple of days so I gave up and revisited it last night. There's something about this film I can't place a finger on, it's thoroughly a bizarre work. The fact it was a commercial success in 1950s is really perplexing. Not that it's a bad film, it's wonderful and wicked and visually breathtaking. I've NEVER seen a melodrama, even including the rest of Sirk's Technicolor masterpieces, that is just wild and absurd as MO. Wyman is a very average looking woman, probably a good representation of 1950s American surburban housewives, no where as glamorous as Lana Turner or as urban-independent as Lauren Bacall. I'd imagine a lot of women identified with Wyman in the 1950s. And the hope the Sirk films instilled in them: the opportunity to have an affair with a young hunk no matter how old or average you look is right around the corner! The husbands in Wyman-Hudson films are completely erased and forgotten. I bet those films made many corporate husbands squirm.

Something else came up in last night's viewing. Is Agnes Moorehead's character a lesbo or something? There was something weirdly lesbo about her that I sensed. And I also noticed how she was pushed over to the side as Hudson made his way to save Wyman. And I never imagined Moorehead looking so great in nurse outfits!

Then I followed that film with what else: All That Heaven Allows. I wept through this one. Still my favorite American film of all time. A robin's egg blue station wagon trailing through an autumnal neighborhood opens the film. And out of that car, Agnes Mooreheat emerges with the smoke from her car following her. Then when she goes to fetch empty casserole dishes to return to Wyman, the camera pauses a sec on Hudson in his hot lumberjack plaids walking with his back to us. Brilliant, brilliant touch, Mr. Sirk.

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#70 Post by HarryLong » Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:37 am

Is Agnes Moorehead's character a lesbo or something? There was something weirdly lesbo about her that I sensed.
Maybe after five o'clock some of it was bound to show???

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#71 Post by Michael » Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:41 am

HarryLong wrote:
Is Agnes Moorehead's character a lesbo or something? There was something weirdly lesbo about her that I sensed.
Maybe after five o'clock some of it was bound to show???
I don't get it. :?

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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#72 Post by Professional Tourist » Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:31 am

Michael wrote:Something else came up in last night's viewing. Is Agnes Moorehead's character a lesbo or something? There was something weirdly lesbo about her that I sensed. And I also noticed how she was pushed over to the side as Hudson made his way to save Wyman.
Personally, I don't appreciate the terminology used here, but I do agree with the idea that Nancy grows to love Helen very much, and that Nancy was pushed over at the end. You may like to have a look at the discussion on this film at Agnes' board at the IMDB, where this question is addressed.

Thank you.

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domino harvey
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#73 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:35 am

For what it's worth, I believe MIchael is himself homosexual, so I don't think anyone should read his comment as being negatively flippant towards a potentially homosexual character just based on his word choice

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#74 Post by Michael » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:04 pm

Sorry if I offended you, Professional Tourist. And yes, I'm homosexual and I tend to get very casual with gay terminology. And thanks for the link to IMDB, that's an interesting discussion because that made me think of Todd Haynes' gay spin in Far From Heaven. The New Mexico life of Wyman and Moorehead (cut from MO) would have made a very fascinating film.

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#75 Post by HarryLong » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:17 pm

I don't get it.
The story goes that at one point during filming of RUGGLES OF RED GAP, shooting went on into the night. The director (I'm blanking - Leo McCary??) asked Charles Laughton for another take because he felt Laughton was too nancy in the take just completed. Laughton is reported to have replied, "Well, after five o'clock, some of it's bound to show."
And since Moorehead is reputed to have been a Lesbian ...

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