Auteur List: Otto Preminger

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#76 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:04 pm

Strangely Nancy Steele Is Missing! is completely absent from Fujiwara's book, even as a project Preminger was up for or shot a day on. Not sure why it's omitted or what Preminger's uncredited directorial work is, but unless there's another source issuing something different I'll probably skip it and assume he was uninvolved.

There are many conflicting reports about how involved Preminger was in staging A Royal Scandal, some saying Lubitsch staged everything and some giving Preminger a lot more credit, so I'm struggling on where to place it on my list for an auteur project but it'll surely feature. For the stragglers who have yet to see this comic masterpiece, I highly recommend trying to track it down.

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knives
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#77 Post by knives » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:20 pm

I think it, or at least the relationship with Lubitsch’s instructions, is at least as important as Laura regardless of the degree to which he was a typical director. That Lubitsch touch definitely seems to have effected him.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#78 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:46 pm

Definitely, well I love the film too much to knock it down any pegs (I notice the Lubitsch touch more than most in The Moon is Blue, though the key moment singled out is when Donald gets in the elevator with Cynthia and it closes when she slyly discloses what isn't on underneath her clothes). I always find myself having a low-stakes consideration about ranking 'favorite' or 'best example' in genre/auteurist lists which often overlap. For instance, Anatomy of a Murder feels like the most representative Preminger Film for his themes and involving-authenticity blending together as a worldview in form and story, literally making us the jury we've always been and also musing on the impossible yet rewarding journey of dissecting humanity from the start in hidden complacency through the "twelve different minds and hearts/mankind's disorganized soul" philosophical speech. It's also probably my favorite film he's ever made, getting better every time.

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knives
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#79 Post by knives » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:52 pm

I think even his dramas have it. Dancer in Anatomy for example has that wry mix of ironies as a real person that would fit well with many of Lubitsch’s films. In a lot of ways I’d argue even more than the actual Lubitsch films In Harm’s Way with its focus on systems and hierarchy is his most Lubitsch, albeit by way of Hawks, film.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#80 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:38 pm

knives wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:52 pm
I think even his dramas have it. Dancer in Anatomy for example has that wry mix of ironies as a real person that would fit well with many of Lubitsch’s films.
Yeah I'm not convinced it's an emulation of the Lubtisch touch, and seemed to be established within Preminger's ethos from earlier on, but regardless I see your point. David Niven and Herbert Marshall in Bonjour Tristesse and Angel Face, respectively, work within this framework as imperfect father figures who are realistically flawed, and tragically semi-conscious of their immaturities, just as they are externally acting as fun and funny. The balance is so perfectly forged that never are we being deceived towards one interpretation of the character- all are present, and what would be deemed superficial in a lesser director's hands actually holds merit and reveals layers here.

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knives
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#81 Post by knives » Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:42 pm

I’m not arguing it as a conscious emulation so much as having taken lessons and internalized them from an important experience.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#82 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:01 pm

I didn’t think you meant a conscious emulation, my point is that these characterizations fit within Preminger’s ethos already so perhaps it was a miracle of similitude that allowed him to glean something without stepping too far away from what he was already doing. However, it’s also worth noting that they were friends outside of work in the 30s so there could have been influence there (yet Preminger didn’t list any Lubitsch among his favorite films in his ‘38 list). Maybe in your favor, Preminger took over one Nazi comedy Margin for Error for Lubitsch- which is pretty terrible- while Lubitsch went off to make one of the best Nazi comedies ever (and one of those definitely does not possess the Touch, or complexity later mastered) but clearly one artist was still developing as the other was slowing down, albeit in their peak period. Anyways, the jury’s out, but it’s an interesting theory.

Oh and I did find the section of the book that talks about Nancy Steele is Missing! - all of Preminger’s footage was scrapped so it probably shouldn’t be eligible for this list unless another source says different.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#83 Post by danielclemens7 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 12:20 pm

I think this is only my second post here but I wanted to join in on this project, and plan to give more more detailed thoughts as I continue watching.

For now, Eleanor Parker's performance in The Man with the Golden Arm is so... bad? She's been at least good if not great in nearly every other film I've seen her in (particularly Caged, Detective Story, and the extremely underrated The Voice of the Turtle. I'm not sure where the fault lies here, but I found her character's desperation interesting enough (albeit perhaps too one-note) that I wonder what went wrong. DS especially showed what she could do with a somewhat peripheral role.

If the other woman had been played by anyone other than Novak, who I'm warming to slightly but generally find to be an insufferably self-conscious performer, I think we'd have a film that holds up much better upon multiple watches. As of now, I'd rank it as one of Preminger's most overrated.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#84 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:10 pm

Parker’s perf is clearly informed by Preminger’s desire for her to go way over the top. But I think it fares better than her not dissimilar but “serious” role the same year in Interrupted Melody

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#85 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 21, 2021 3:00 pm

Novak was a newbie and Sinatra was reportedly incredibly patient and kind to her in incessant rehearsals. The stories of him on that set really paint him as a phenomenal guy. As for Parker, as exaggerated as the melodramatics are, I think her perf is rather perfect in refusing to let us forget about Sinatra's history on harmed bodies that prevent a fluidly linear affirmation from us, the jury, to aligning with his drive to move on completely towards reform. She is a weight, but a valid one, that needs to scream from the rooftops in order to be heard- by an audience and by a world that won't listen. I actually wish she was in it more, as I indicated in a previous writeup, and think the movie would be better and more unbearably complex for it.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#86 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:04 pm

Angel Face. (revisit) Very good write-up(s) by twbb earlier, especially on the characters played by Simmons and Mitchum, and I don’t have much to add. I would argue initially Diane isn’t immediately sympathetic or the film’s center, but as the movie progresses we do get to discover a lonely and needy rather than purely psychopathic self. Meanwhile the fact that Frank sees through her games (well, most of the time anyway…) makes his character also less two-dimensional and the film more interesting. Anyway that last scene always strikes a black funny bone to me, but somehow that helps the film’s appealing oddness. (Preminger seems to perversely delight in making the scene and the similar one that preceded it longer and grimmer than they need to be!)


Centennial Summer
. Given the number and length of the numbers it’s hard to make much of this as a musical. The Meet Me in St. Louis quality seems to be just window dressing for the romantic comdram that’s the focus of the film, and the sibling rivalry feels comes across more like obvious text to me than subtext. I feel the dynamism in the direction, but the material is pretty thin to me, even if lightly enjoyable in parts.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#87 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:40 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:04 pm
Anyway that last scene always strikes a black funny bone to me, but somehow that helps the film’s appealing oddness. (Preminger seems to perversely delight in making the scene and the similar one that preceded it longer and grimmer than they need to be!)
The last scene is quite irreverent about human life- one of the best "you're not actually that important" bombshells in film, especially jarring when contrasted with the searing pain Simmons finds herself in the whole movie- which Preminger 100% empathizes with as incredibly burdensome and 'important' within her psychological prison. I also find the penultimate scene to be another antithetical crescendo for noir
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where instead of the femme fatale planning out a demise with precision, Simmons intends to drive forward with Mitchum even if it's towards a space where she will lose him -just as she was content to take the fall and accept his rejection of her when at baseline- but she is triggered by one of his utterances and impulsively decides to drive backwards to murder-suicide. It's not a case of premeditation, controlling what you can, or any abnormally logical surrender- but an emotional impetus that isn't thought through. It's all the more tragic because we know how this is a woman who has tried already- twice- to accept isolation from her enamored supports and yet cannot find meaning or solace in any crevice, from any person or from any institution.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#88 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:47 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:40 pm
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where instead of the femme fatale planning out a demise with precision, Simmons intends to drive forward with Mitchum even if it's towards a space where she will lose him -just as she was content to take the fall and accept his rejection of her when at baseline- but she is triggered by one of his utterances and impulsively decides to drive backwards to murder-suicide. It's not a case of premeditation, controlling what you can, or any abnormally logical surrender- but an emotional impetus that isn't thought through.
That's interesting. I noticed the driving forward then back but didn't put that all together.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#89 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:03 pm

Yeah it becomes clearer to me each watch
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You can read her reactive defeat in the very moment when the straw breaks the back: Mitchum criticizing her ("Watch it!" I think?) as she stalls the car. It's the last straw for the woman who's lost everything, the man she loves not even acknowledging her dignity by monotonously critiquing her as he lays back relaxed and unfazed as she tries to hold it together. I think it's his refusal to even look at her that really does it - as she makes yet another sacrifice to drive him to his next step, after she's tried to spare him with humility (independently without any ploy for him to 'notice' her plans to admit to guilt- how many of us do the simplest of good deeds without looking for some recognition?), and now she gets called out because she can't even drive a car right towards an endpoint of bleeding herself of her last support! For a character so guilty and problematic, Preminger really emphasizes how awful and unbearable this must be from her point of view.

We all crave being heard and seen, validated, by others- especially those we love. Personally, this is the first time I've really "understood" why a femme fatale might react murderously in a noir, in a way that is relatable. We've all been in moments of low frustration tolerance and acted impulsively- not like this- but it's far more broadly comprehendible than immoral plotting.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#90 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:20 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:03 pm
Yeah it becomes clearer to me each watch
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You can read her reactive defeat in the very moment when the straw breaks the back: Mitchum criticizing her ("Watch it!" I think?) as she stalls the car. It's the last straw for the woman who's lost everything, the man she loves not even acknowledging her dignity by monotonously critiquing her as he lays back relaxed and unfazed as she tries to hold it together. I think it's his refusal to even look at her that really does it - as she makes yet another sacrifice to drive him to his next step, after she's tried to spare him with humility (independently without any ploy for him to 'notice' her plans to admit to guilt- how many of us do the simplest of good deeds without looking for some recognition?), and now she gets called out because she can't even drive a car right towards an endpoint of bleeding herself of her last support! For a character so guilty and problematic, Preminger really emphasizes how awful and unbearable this must be from her point of view.

We all crave being heard and seen, validated, by others- especially those we love. Personally, this is the first time I've really "understood" why a femme fatale might react murderously in a noir, in a way that is relatable. We've all been in moments of low frustration tolerance and acted impulsively- not like this- but it's far more broadly comprehendible than immoral plotting.
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Yes that's what he says and viewing it here, and especially watching her eyes and inner processing after his comment, your reading feels really accurate.

Yeah she's definitely something beyond a stock character.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#91 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:57 pm

Advise and Consent. (revisit) Preminger the provocateur in subject matter again, with a resolutely realistic look at the world of high power politics, but more importantly just a consummate illustration of his worldview of life as shades of grey. The characters across the spectrum manifest both noble impulses and less than exemplary behavior (the latter sometimes at the service of the former), and reveal to be carrying both sincere convictions and “dirty” secrets. The viewer’s idealism is left severely bruised but without the film evoking cynicism at the same time, quite the contrary, and no mean feat. I just think this is a pretty extraordinary piece of cinema, great political and human drama that’s moved along by awesome performances (among them Pidgeon, Tone, Laughton of course), and a great visual sense in the compositions and in the flowing camera movements weaving us from one piece of the labyrinthine ensemble to the next. High on my wish list for a blu ray upgrade.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#92 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:15 pm

I like what Preminger said about the homosexual subplot in interviews
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namely that Anderson doesn't kill himself due to the blackmail or because he's ashamed of having had a homosexual experience in his past, but that when he goes to see Ray at the club (also admirably not portrayed as sleazy or deviant but with modern Sinatra music signifying normalcy and populated with people who are genuinely happy and engaging in a manner that isn't 'other'ing) Anderson realizes that he's still attracted to men and that life and can't bear its incompatibility with his current family. Preminger wanted to be clear that Anderson's suicide wasn't due to the idea of being gay projected upon him but because he was actually gay in an unforgiving milieu. In one interview I know he mentioned having a belief that if you're gay you "should" just embrace it and be 'out' which isn't such a progressive demand in our present context, but back then was a pretty radical opinion to champion publicly.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#93 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:50 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:15 pm
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namely that Anderson doesn't kill himself due to the blackmail or because he's ashamed of having had a homosexual experience in his past, but that when he goes to see Ray at the club (also admirably not portrayed as sleazy or deviant but with modern Sinatra music signifying normalcy and populated with people who are genuinely happy and engaging in a manner that isn't 'other'ing) Anderson realizes that he's still attracted to men and that life and can't bear its incompatibility with his current family. Preminger wanted to be clear that Anderson's suicide wasn't due to the idea of being gay projected upon him but because he was actually gay in an unforgiving milieu.
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I'm not sure that the fact that Anderson is undeniably gay comes across as much as the director stated it was his intention to portray it, but it definitely says something when we read in Anderson's letter to his war buddy that the homosexual experience "won't be easy (to forget)".

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#94 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 24, 2021 12:14 am

I don't think it translates plainly either, and the Fujiwara book does a good job at defending Preminger's intended reading (while also making progressive claims of its own) yet acknowledging the criticisms lobbed at the film for being opaque around this point. One of the greatest gifts from reading the book is getting substantial glimpses at Preminger's own intentions with his films, which have made me appreciate works like this (which I already liked) and something like The Man with the Golden Arm (which I didn't) more. Some of the actual analyses leave something to be desired but others are really terrific. RV, you might particularly enjoy the book since arguably the best analytic dissection in there is for Bonjour Tristesse, and Fujiwara thinks Preminger's Exodus-In Harm's Way period is his best.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#95 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Apr 24, 2021 12:23 am

Good to hear! You know I ordered the book about a week ago after reading you and Maltic talk about it, so I should get it soon. I agree with what you wrote early in the thread about the director's style and themes not being as visible as some others' (I have a very summary, surface grasp of them even though I've seen a good two-thirds of his films), so looking forward to getting a deeper appreciation of the art.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#96 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 24, 2021 12:31 am

Warning: He hates The Fan, and makes ridiculously uncharitable claims about its strengths mistaken for weaknesses, so you can skip that chapter

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#97 Post by Maltic » Sat Apr 24, 2021 5:10 pm

The format of Fujiwara's book has pros and cons, to be sure. Overall, I like the fact that he splits up biography, production notes, and analysis, and goes chronologically, with roughly the same number of pages devoted to each film, but of course, it can get a bit numbing and monotonous. It's probably hard to come up with elaborate and interesting takes on 30+ different films by the same director, even with a relatively diverse filmography like Preminger's.

Fujiwara's book on Tourneur has the same format, btw, and it's even better than this one. His Jerry Lewis book is more of a pure critical study, not a bio. It's much shorter and breaks up the filmography thematically... also great.

As for Preminger's style, I guess it's more visible than Hawks' and less visible than Hitch's or Ford's. His tracking shots are modest compared to Ophuls' or Minnelli's, but they're there. There's also his peculiar crammed blocking and the "objective" lack of POV shots.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#98 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Apr 24, 2021 5:31 pm

Also more emphasis on long shots and not so much on montage and reaction shots?

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#99 Post by bottlesofsmoke » Sat Apr 24, 2021 5:40 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 5:31 pm
Also more emphasis on long shots and not so much on montage and reaction shots?
Preminger has always reminded me of Renoir from a visual sense, using longer takes and camera movement over editing up scenes. Especially in the mid-forties, Preminger may not have the elaborate tracking shots of an Ophuls but he does a ton of little movements and reframings to keep a scene going without a cut. I think this toned down some once he went widescreen, but even something like River of No Return has some longer takes, I’m thinking especially of the scene in Mitchum’s house where he is talking to Rory Calhoun while Monroe and the kid are doing dishes, as well as a lot of scenes around the fire.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger (Pre-Game)

#100 Post by Maltic » Sat Apr 24, 2021 6:02 pm

You could say the stylistic choices match his themes and world-view. The characters are so opaque, and in a supposed melodrama like Daisy Kenyon, he will de-escalate in the situation every time Douglas Sirk would've "turned up the heat" (as Bordwell puts it).

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