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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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#76 Post by Professional Tourist » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:43 pm

Thanks, Michael. It's nice to meet up with other AM fans on the net. :)

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#77 Post by Michael » Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:46 pm

Professional Tourist wrote:Thanks, Michael. It's nice to meet up with other AM fans on the net. :)
Same here. :) Believe me, I do have a major issue with non-gays using offensive words: fag, dyke, queer, etc. but we, gay folks, own them. Again, I'm sorry about casually using "lesbo" (shame on my laziness). Rereading what I wrote, I can see how that could be taken in a wrong way. "Weirdly lesbo" doesn't sound flattering but that's not what I meant literally. MO is a weird film anyway.

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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#78 Post by Professional Tourist » Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:56 pm

By the way, if anyone is curious who hasn't yet seen this beautiful restoration, I have posted some screen captures from AM's scenes toward the end of this thread (dated 1/27/2009) :)

P.S. I agree that MO is a weird film -- magnificently weird. :P :lol:
Last edited by Professional Tourist on Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#79 Post by david hare » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:56 pm

The thing about the buzzwords - queer fag dyke lezzo queen homo poof pervert fudgepacker shirtlifter nancy boy tommy girl cocksucker etc etc is the only people can use them without offence are us.

Agnes' alleged Sapphic qualities are legendary but unproven as far as I know. As for Dame Judith however - "This is Rebecca's underwear, personally monogrammed..." as her eyes glaze over etc. I think Judith Anderson almost invents the Lesbian Voice, if indeed the sublime Gloria Holden didn't get there first (in Dracula's Daughter 1936) - "I feel RELEASE"!! Or indeed Garbo. Distinguished baritones all.

Surely her character in both MO and ATHA as "best girlfriend" to Wyman is as that typically closeted (or "silent") lesbian who loves her best girlfriend from afar. My mother had one all through the fifties called Else whom she strung along like a real pussy tease. The gay things go much further in Sirk the more you care to poke around. In ATHA which is a real masterpiece and doesn't suffer from Sirk's failure to really erase the supidity of the LLoyd C DOuglas of MO, scene after scene with Wyman and Hudson is a barely concealed dialogue between gay actor and faghag actress about the roles they have chosen to play in this movie, addressed diectly to their target popular audience of the era - notably lonely, ilsoated gay men and suburban faghags. (Male movie attendance during the fifties was in huge decline.)

Another small miracle of Milk is that Harvey brings back a touch of the old prelib queeniness to Harvey in voice and phsyical inflection. ANd then matches this up with a psychic and moral toughness. LIke queens through the era he grows. The 70s clone moustache phenomena which at one point was ubitquitous is also discomfortingly on display. A lot of facial hair mistakes there, including Harvey's first beard which looks like somebody's artfully arranged seaweed.

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#80 Post by Michael » Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:55 pm

david hare wrote:The thing about the buzzwords - queer fag dyke lezzo queen homo poof pervert fudgepacker shirtlifter nancy boy tommy girl cocksucker etc etc is the only people can use them without offence are us.
Right on, david. Geez, I've grown too polite and apologetic lately. Guess that happens when one works in a corporate environment for way too long.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#81 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:49 pm

Yea but that's wishful thinking David.. but you probably know it. All the world loves a good expletive, and even more than that loves a good expletive that really hurts people-- and over and above all that will latch onto a What's good for the goose is good for the gander excuse.. especially since these kinds of "hurtful bigotry expletives" (nigger, kike, faggot, rugmuncher etc) tended to originate in the majority and not the minorities who were first hurt by-- then found fun using-- them.

What you're reciting is what forever will be your own rules for receiving those words when you hear them-- they'll never be adopted by the caustic assholes of the world. Like Burroughs said, the word is a virus-- and should be treated as such... dangerous, contagious when most ill. Look at the agony the black population goes thru over "Nigger"-- adults want to retch hearing kids use it to sound badass, kids don't understand what the hell the problem is.

I've never understood the psychological impulse/need to find liberation or catharsis in the language of imbeciles. You don't hear jews saying "Yo wassup my kike" or Puerto Ricans saying "Yo where my spics at?" If you want something to go away, I really think you should try and avert it's use. The mass center chunk of people are dumb, and will never get the distinctions of tone you're making... and hurt will sprout anew. SOmething tells me I'll regret this post-- but I have so many friends in Wounded Groups-- always have-- and I've never ever for the life of me understood the impulse to adopt/reverse the tenor of the lingo of the cromagnum man who's been injuring you for decades & decades.

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#82 Post by Michael » Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:20 pm

You made great points, Schreck. However, there's so much empowerment in owning those words that slash us for centuries. We pass them around a lot in our community. One of my friends call himself queer and nothing else. Yeah, this being the film/dvd discussion forum on the Internet is not the best place to throw around those words but hey, we have a thread titled "Queer Films" here.

All this got started with someone who objected me using the word "lesbo" when I was suspecting Moorehead's character being a bit lesbo.

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swo17
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#83 Post by swo17 » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:21 am

I think the main issue though is that, on the internet, you have to assume that at least someone reading what you write knows absolutely nothing about you or where you are coming from other than the words placed immediately before them.

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#84 Post by fiddlesticks » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:31 am

Michael wrote:However, there's so much empowerment in owning those words that slash us for centuries. We pass them around a lot in our community. One of my friends call himself queer and nothing else.
I was under the impression that the word "queer" had been captured from the forces of hate and completely rehabilitated, becoming powerless as an insult or verbal weapon. Then again, I don't get out (of the car) much.

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#85 Post by david hare » Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:45 am

It's not just "queer" that we can de-toxify - it's all the words. All depends on Context natch - Shcreck you know this as well as anyone. And part of the liberating strength of spitting it out and teaching people the difference.

As for internet discussion who gives a fuck about the morons. I dont and none of you should either.

How about a laugh here? I just dont dig the PC and I prefer the fightback. This the English Language for chrissake.

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kaujot
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#86 Post by kaujot » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:24 am

Don't universities have Queer Studies programs and the like? I'm pretty sure U of Texas has a program with that name.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#87 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:21 am

Yea I never thought of Queer as an expletive-- I always thought of "fag" as sort of passable too.

I'm definitely no fan of PC-ness myself-- I loathe it in fact. I just think the "rules" (straights can't use a word, but gays can, some races can't use certain words, others can) are never going to work in the real world. Keep a word alive and you keep a word alive, that's all there is to it. You don't wanta hear a word, put it to sleep. If you want to keep it alive, accept the fact that you're going to keep hearing it out of mouths you dont want to hear it out of. That's my main point.

I don't agree that it should be-- let's use "queen" for example-- the exclusive property of this or that group. I think it's more a matter of ally vs non-ally. If I have a really good lontgtime gay friend, there's no problem with me, him knowing my form of wacko humor, saying something like "Pick up the phone ya damned purple queen," on his answering machine. Because he knows it's an affectionate jab between friends. If an unfamiliar uses the same term-- let's say an uppity closeted gay for example-- the person listening to the message could very well be offended by the latter, while having no problem with my usage. It's a matter of intent. So there you have a straight guy passably using "queen" viz a gay guy where another gay was found offensive. Like any other expletive used at someone-- when used affectionately with a friend it's nothing whatever... coming from an unfamiliar a fight could start.

But the whole 'empowerment' thing is a bit-- weird. You're more just having frisky risque fun having a goosing catch with a de-pinned grenade.

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Michael
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#88 Post by Michael » Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:03 am


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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#89 Post by david hare » Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:40 pm

Schreck if anyone's honorary queer it's you! THAT'S so gay!

THere's a great scene - second last one - in Avant que j'Oublie/Before I Forget. Nolot is waiting at a cafe, chain smoking as usual to meet a friend. The friend arrives, waddling somewhat. Nolot says "Now you'r older you look like such a Queen". Friend smiles and says "I thank you and my beautiful wife of 24 years thanks you." Theses are terms of affection. Between friends. (In French he uses the word "folle".)

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#90 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:48 pm

Jesus, David. What're you, gay or something?

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Gregory
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#91 Post by Gregory » Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:04 pm

Turning back to Sirk, Michael raised an issue in passing that I think is quite interesting vis-a-vis the reception of these films: age difference as a stigma within the film and for the audience. It's an even more fascinating problem with respect to All That Heaven Allows than with MO. I read somewhere once that the Harvey character was originally to have a far more significant place in the story, but the studio had most of this eliminated because upon initial screenings audiences were uncomfortable with the notion of a man in his sixties being interested in Cary, who was in her forties! This is especially odd considering that part of the premise is the stigma of age difference and that the audience was encouraged to feel sympathetic to the victims of precisely this stigma. Class differences between Cary and Ron was a crucial part of it as well, but a potential relationship between Harvey and Cary would have the added social approval of having the older party be the male.
In any case, Michael, I'm not sure all the women who watched Magnificent Obsession were necessarily comfortable with the idea of Helen (or Cary in ATHA) falling in love with a younger man. It would be interesting to see some data on how people responded to issues like this in test screenings.

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#92 Post by david hare » Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:47 pm

Yes also turning back to Sirk - I made the point at a_f_b last week when Mike Grost and others were introducing a discussion of class into ATHA that the whole basis of the social disapproval is Jane's age. She's over 40, a widow and "should be over" sex. SO the Country Club set expects her to marry sexless capon Harvey. Instead she obviously wants a sex life and opts for stud Rock. THis is the social transgression. She wants an orgasm. SIrk of course adds the Aeschylean trope of the children who cannot tolerate their mother being "violated." ATHA is a real masterpiece one of Sirk's greatest. MO is - simply - not.

Speaking of Sirk Ive been having another dicussion offline withn Tag Gallgher about the German period, from which I have only two, La Habanera and Zu Neuen Ufern. We were talking about Hoffkonzert and Schlussakord among others, the latter looking from stills and opinions of others like a killer Sirk. But when you go fishing for prints of these things in Germany you meet a total brick wall - the received wisdom commonly is that Sirk's UFA films were pro Nazi! This has been an ongoing sore and a real problem for curatorial retros for decades. HIS thirties "first" period is obviously immedaitely in his own handwriting and is extremely strong, like Ophuls (Both of them had produced hundreds of plays before coming to cinema) and there is a gaping hole in the knowledge for the two of them.

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#93 Post by Matt » Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:08 pm

I'm coming in about two topics of discussion too late. I researched Agnes Moorehead's life with a view to writing her biography (someone has since beaten me to it), and there is positively no indication she carried on a single, even brief, affair with a woman in her life. She was a rather devout Christian, took her craft very seriously (she took copious notes in her college acting classes), and lived a very quiet married life.

Her on-screen roles, on the other hand...

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#94 Post by denti alligator » Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:32 pm

David

I've seen Schlussakkord and it is indeed fantastic! "Pro-Nazi" is a bit much, though. I'm surprised it hasn't appeared in Germany, since it's one of those films you'll still see on television every now and then (if I'm not mistaken).

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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#95 Post by Professional Tourist » Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:32 pm

Matt wrote:I'm coming in about two topics of discussion too late. I researched Agnes Moorehead's life with a view to writing her biography (someone has since beaten me to it), and there is positively no indication she carried on a single, even brief, affair with a woman in her life. She was a rather devout Christian, took her craft very seriously (she took copious notes in her college acting classes), and lived a very quiet married life.

Her on-screen roles, on the other hand...
I, for one, feel that the definitive biography of Agnes Moorehead is yet to be published. Although "I Love the Illusion" contains much good information, and I do respect it as a resource, I think it is not particularly well written neither in terms of the writing mechanics nor as a biographical portrait -- it presents the information the author was able to find, but doesn't really "connect the dots" to create a true portrait of who she was.

I would not agree that Agnes lived a very quiet married life. She was single until age 29, and had many separations during her twenty-year marriage to Jack Lee, particularly during the 1940s when Jack's acting career had all but failed and he was managing Agnes' family farm in Ohio while Agnes continued to live and work in California. Her subsequent marriage to Robert Gist lasted a year and a half (although she did not legally divorce him for another four years) and Agnes was without a 'married life' for her final twenty years.

There has been much discussion of Agnes' sexual preference, and there is simply no documentary evidence one way or another, primarily because she was such a private person. Although some people will assume that someone is straight because there is no evidence otherwise and because the person has been married, it would still be an assumption and not evidence itself. There is a long discussion on this controversial issue on Agnes' board at the IMDB, which I think touches on nearly every aspect of subject. The discussion gets interesting, in my opinion, beginning with the posts made on June 18, 2008 and going forward from there. [There is also a quick summary in the posts from December 2008, at the end.]

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Matt
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#96 Post by Matt » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:41 pm

Professional Tourist wrote:I would not agree that Agnes lived a very quiet married life.
It's been a long time since I did the research and I have not kept any notes. Didn't she have a long-term relationship during her last couple of decades with a man who was either a dentist or a chiropractor? I must be misremembering that as a marriage.

The main reason I gave up on researching the book (apart from laziness) was that I found Moorehead a difficult figure to pin down. I couldn't find a "hook" on which to hang a narrative. I suspect that's the same problem Mr. Tranberg ran into (though I haven't read the book).

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Professional Tourist
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#97 Post by Professional Tourist » Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:52 pm

Matt wrote:Didn't she have a long-term relationship during her last couple of decades with a man who was either a dentist or a chiropractor? I must be misremembering that as a marriage.
Did she? I read everything I can find about AM, both in print and on the net, and so far I have found no mention of any romantic relationships at all during the last twenty years of her life. In fact, I've found no mention of any romantic relationships at any time of her life, other than with Robert Gist during the couple of years before she married him. In fact, interviews Agnes gave during the sixties would seem to preclude that she was in any romantic relationships with men at that time. Also, there would probably be photos of this man escorting her to various events, such as to the 1965 Academy Awards and to the 1967 Emmy Awards, when she was actually escorted by male friends (Cesar Romero) and co-workers. If nothing else, I think her good friend Debbie Reynolds would have known of this relationship and would have mentioned him when interviewed about or when writing about Agnes (in her autobiography) and she never has; in fact she has stated the opposite, that Agnes had no emotional attachments during that final phase of her life.
Matt wrote:The main reason I gave up on researching the book (apart from laziness) was that I found Moorehead a difficult figure to pin down. I couldn't find a "hook" on which to hang a narrative.
Indeed she is difficult to pin down -- partly due to how private she was, even among her friends and associates, and partly because she was so complex and changeable. There are such gaps in our knowledge of her personal life that it makes rather difficult any non-fiction writing of her beyond her work -- and there are even gaps and uncertainties in our knowledge of her work, particularly on the stage. I've come to think that the easiest/most rewarding way to write about AM would probably be a sketch of one particular point in time where much in known -- something like Tim Robbins' "Cradle Will Rock" -- or else a biographical novel.

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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#98 Post by david hare » Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:36 pm

Denti I recall more than once during the early 80s the programmers at what was then the NFT(Australia) were trying to curate a season of 30s UFA cinema which would have roughly run from Jutzi's Berlin AlexanderPlatz to the Veit Harlan picture Verwehte Spuren (1938.)

YOu could hear a pin drop the silence from Germany was deafening. Later that decade David Stratton programming for SBS managed to score a number of titles from the period including the Harlan, and at least two Sirks, Zu Neuen Ufern and La Habanera. Schlussakord may have been among them as well - I never caught it - but the prints were very clearly sourced from UK television distributors as Habanera, fro instance has a number of censor cuts during the Buillfight scene.

Both Enno Patalas and Straub are on the record as considering Sirk's 30s work "nazi friendly". God knows why? As though they had no idea about his Jewish wife and the tragedy of their son?

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zedz
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#99 Post by zedz » Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:48 pm

david hare wrote:Denti I recall more than once during the early 80s the programmers at what was then the NFT(Australia) were trying to curate a season of 30s UFA cinema which would have roughly run from Jutzi's Berlin AlexanderPlatz to the Veit Harlan picture Verwehte Spuren (1938.)

YOu could hear a pin drop the silence from Germany was deafening. Later that decade David Stratton programming for SBS managed to score a number of titles from the period including the Harlan, and at least two Sirks, Zu Neuen Ufern and La Habanera. Schlussakord may have been among them as well - I never caught it - but the prints were very clearly sourced from UK television distributors as Habanera, fro instance has a number of censor cuts during the Buillfight scene.
By the late 90s at least, the Goethe Institut was quite forthcoming with Zu Neuen Ufern and La Habanera to augment a modest Hollywood Sirk retro, though during that period they were much more focussed on Weimar / Expressionist, New German Cinema and contemporary experimental programmes than the problematic 30s / 40s (for all of which I am eternally grateful, anyway).

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david hare
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Re: 457 Magnificent Obsession

#100 Post by david hare » Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:48 pm

Zedz I believe there were other forces at work in the 80s lobbying from inside the NFT in Oz against the season. One can never confirm this authoritatively but you can guess what Im saying. It seems to me there is a very misguided PC/Post Holocaust Stigma syndrome still present in some circles around this subject. of course it's absurd when you're looking at Sirk as the films are clearly - if anything - even more "subversive" socially than the American 50s era.

Of course Zarah Leander became a Nazi. And so did Brigitte Helm and Thea von Harbou, etc.

And Sirk didn't flee (with his Jewish wife) until 1937. But Lang - despite the stories - returned to Germany more than once after 1933. And - dare I add - Renoir, Duvivier and Gremillon all made movies substantially if not entirely shot at UFA in Berlin between 1933 and 1938.

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