Auteur List: Otto Preminger

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#126 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat May 01, 2021 8:12 pm

Hurry Sundown. A morally more simplistic and Manichean universe than habitually/previously with Preminger, in a film that in a larger sense doesn’t aim at subtlety. Nevertheless I agree with knives there’s a lot to like here. The director doesn’t pull any punches in this Southern Gothic epic, with the melodrama at times skirting the outrageous à la Written on the Wind. The excess is especially notable in the sexual aspects (Fonda fellating the saxophone was a clear sign we’re out of the Production Code era!). The ending disappoints a little in the way everything is wrapped up a bit too nicely, but it’s still a very entertaining film, with a lot of enjoyable acting. (Man, Burgess Meredith seems like in every Preminger film of this period.)

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#127 Post by knives » Sat May 01, 2021 10:28 pm

I should probably post my old review of it to show my perspective as I’m not sure I’ll get to my rewatch in time.
knives wrote:
Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:50 am
I'm surprised at no Dom post on Hurry Sundown. The DVD is characteristically unhelpful in developing a critical outlook on the film, but I must say I found it to be a good movie at least in the context of Preminger's late period insanity. It's really weird to watch this in dual with Carmen Jones which in many respects is the more modern film. The film has some slight similarities to Ray's Wind Across the Everglades (which I'll cop to liking more than most), but it doesn't have a Plummer equivalent character and seems to daringly be letting the habitat speak for itself. As a social picture I don't think it works since it stylizes itself in the weirdest way to almost approach a magical realism through it's sheer artificiality. Despite the location shooting the film paints itself like the opening scene of Blue Velvet.

Going back to what I started with though, the treatment of the black characters in the film is basically a less sexualized version of Carmen Jones, but it gets weird with the white characters who have this Huston grotesque look to them with exaggerated accents approaching a sort of expressionism at times (in a early scene there's this ugly woman who looks like a set of triangles. It's almost like a reversal of usual stereotypes where the affluent white characters are primates while the black characters are average folk. The film certainly has racial problems to it, but not that usually attributed (insofar as I've read) and certainly not in a clear cut way. It's split somewhere between modern and old presentations that I'm not sure if I should be offended by. The movie's just weird.

It's also excessively beautiful. The use of colour here is as good as it gets with striking whites, beiges, and reds. There's this cleanliness to that scheme that gets ruined on occasion in such a manner as to completely shock. I hate to go back to it, but in a lot of ways this film is like a lost Nicholas Ray film. It's just the sort of majesty you expect.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#128 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat May 01, 2021 10:48 pm

You're right about both the reversal of the stereotypes and the visual appeal. The film will probably just miss out on my top ten.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#129 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun May 02, 2021 12:20 am

I find the production stories far more interesting, dramatic, and eventful than the film itself- which is a bit ironic, considering the multiple accounts of racially-motivated violence against the cast and crew outside of a narrative that's conventional and civil by comparison! However I do fondly recall the drawn-out music scene early on with Fonda and that sax, and found myself really enjoying and appreciating Preminger's willingness to just let them breathe authenticity into their idiosyncratic interplay seemingly without limits, and holding those trivial moments with as much interest as the most structurally integral setpieces to the plot.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#130 Post by knives » Wed May 05, 2021 2:42 pm

Mischa Auer keeps popping in all these films and I really appreciate that. A Royal Scandal remains funny and great, which is obvious given Lubitsch, but I want to focus on the mis-en-scene which is where the film comes alive. The shots aren’t terribly long by Preminger standards, but their interiors are carefully composed like photos that don’t even need the dialogue to communicate the whole story, though the dialogue is amazing especially in the Vincent Price scenes. He and Coburn could have a touring show and it would be the best thing ever.

The film has the look of an austere costume drama and the movement of actors marched that. Yet there’s an arch expression to the actors that enforces is inherently funny. There’s a realization on the relationship between sound and image that relates yet differentiates between the theater. This is a eureka film if there was one. Most of all it’s hilarious.

Fallen Angel is the Preminger I remembered the least which is to say not at all which I’m delighted by as the twists and turns really work fresh and shocked as it manages to take Laura’s success and places a lot of weird on it. One of the biggest successes of the film is casting. There are a ton of reliable character actors doing what they do best and the two female leads are so in view of their star out of place in such a sordid affair as to make the movie all the more so unnerving. Darnell’s not listening to any saint’s songs here that’s for sure. The one potential dead weight is Andrews who plays even more an enigma than in Laura. He’s a Kuleshov effect with dialogue whose point of interest is that despite being the POV character is inscrutable.

Preminger really seems to view as his strength at this point the unease of the unknown creating a surreality from how the scenes are written with Andrews as a crook and villain while the code dictating some redemption at some point. This dissociation of text and metatext results in nausea because of the known unknown, damn Rummy and his way with words, hiding something from us.

Alternatively, Centennial Summer does a good job of showing that finding your direction doesn’t make you capable of doing everything. This, Preminger’s first color film, isn’t bad despite the threat of Oscar Hammerstein looming, but it isn’t as good as Preminger had achieved in his previous three features nor even what the material, a celebration of unity and community, could have been. I completely blame Zanuck on this one since this would have been a great project for Ford, Henry King, or any half dozen directors on the Fox lot well before Preminger would come to mind.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#131 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 05, 2021 8:10 pm

Is Mischa Auer in another Preminger I'm missing, or are you referring to your Dwan kick

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#132 Post by knives » Wed May 05, 2021 8:39 pm

I’m referring to my Dwan kick.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#133 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed May 05, 2021 8:50 pm

I figured, but worth checking in case he was in some unlisted role.. can never get enough Auer

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#134 Post by knives » Wed May 05, 2021 9:11 pm

Seriously. I liked him before, but this past year has given me a serious appreciation. I will forever now when I see him even sans mustache as in here.

It is kind of impressive how even this early on Preminger was able to make his films feel epic through casting. It’s not even names necessarily, but the quality of performance really makes it feel like we have the whole world here which can have a diverse effect like to heighten a sense of claustrophobia like in Fallen Angel, to reveal how above it the characters are in Royal Scandal, or even in a lame film like Centennial Summer give the effect of infinite opportunity. I guess that’s the benefit of being an actor.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#135 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat May 08, 2021 10:35 pm

Exodus. (revisit) This packs a punch. It's got the traditional sweep of a classic Hollywood epic but as twbb wrote it's matched by a contemporary historical and political content that's raw and provocative. The film is a constant confrontation between viewpoints that are all respected and get represented by sympathetic characters, regardless of angle or degree of radicalism (Ari for the Haganah, Dov and Akiva for the terrorist Irgun, the British general Sutherland, the Muslim Taha, the American Kitty who experiences being othered as she attempts to be accepted by the Jewish community). We're made at some points to share empathically with terrorists in the midst of an occupation in a way not that dissimilar or that less daringly than in The Battle of Algiers, and twbb is right in pointing out the emotional impact of the scene of Dov being confronted with his trauma at Auschwitz. At the film's end, Ari expresses his hopes for peace between Jews and Arabs in the future, but we leave him defiantly headed for more blood and death. For such a lengthy film, it's got very few weak moments, it never feels weighed down and there are some truly wondrous action sequences. All shot on location, the film also reveals how beautiful the land is, both in its urban and rural settings, which gives it a real authenticity and helps the viewer get absorbed in the mythic passion.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#136 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 11, 2021 12:10 pm

Let's say lists submitted by Thursday, June 9, which really means the morning of June 10. Ten films, no more no less. Preminger must be credited as director on-screen, though exceptions may be made on a case by case basis.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#137 Post by knives » Wed May 12, 2021 12:48 pm

A rewatch and two new to me films made for a truly fulfilling week that makes Preminger seem impenetrable. Started off with a rewatch of Daisy Kenyon and Dana Andrews is back again and switches things up a bit starting off as Glenn Ford bland before reverting to his usual brand playing an extra from The Big Clock. Of course he doesn’t control the film. The former First Lady of MGM does resulting in a radically different film from any other Preminger drama up to this point.

Part of that has to lie on the feet of Leon Shamroy who presents a gloss that furthers the feeling that this isn’t really a noir, at least in the sense that Preminger occupied until now, but rather a melodrama for the post war set. Over and over again the film reminded me of the sort Martin Ritt would soon master. Throw this in with Peyton Place or No Down Payment. That powerful sense of the past being lost, Fonda makes this explicit and seems to be hoping for a Hemingway time even as reality won’t permit that, mixed with the emotional malaise of easy money makes this a hot collared melodrama.

Previously I was rather cool to the film’s separation from the other Preminger’s, but this go around that difference stood out as a positive showcasing of his Soderberghian willingness to change everything for his movie and in this case star. There’s something tremendously warm to the film where much like Kenyon herself the film finds much to love in everyone and the torment of the film is that everyone is so complex. Fonda’s a sweet boy and Andrews a certain kind of petty slime and yet each get an equal love and feels like they earn it. The genius of the film is that everyone could support their own movie and in the margins do.

The weakest in terms of engagement came in the middle though Forever Amber has a lot of thematic depth. This okay if a tad generic perils of Pauline really lights up when George Sanders slithers on screen being more character than any movie can contain. Honestly that seems to be a career theme for Preminger at this point. Supporting actors and lead actresses that give power of engagement while the male leads are best compared to planks of wood. Wilde is such dishwater here that I didn’t realize he and his friend were two different people despite sometimes sharing the frame for the first thirty minutes.

Darnell is something else though. This might be her best performance and I adore the way she allows the film to be this empathetic portrait of how a woman could survivor the strictures of a society with limited vision. Regardless of if her choices are the right ones they are fully understandable and given the possibility of being complex.

Things light up to near perfection with That Lady in Ermine although I think it thematically should have ended around the 75 minute mark. I had wrote up a big old thing about how this is great with Grable’s horny eyes and Fairbanks’ proto-Jack Nicholson mania alongside how the amazing use of color make this one of the most fun films I’ve seen recently. I am bewildered why this is treated like such a black sheep. Oh well, we always have discussion.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#138 Post by Never Cursed » Thu May 13, 2021 10:28 pm

Preminger 1936-1944 (ignoring Die große Liebe, which as far as I can tell does not have English subs anywhere), in order of personal preference:

Laura: Even after seeing the gradual buildup to this more or less in order, I still could not help but be shocked at what is being done here and how far forward Preminger moved in the space of just a couple films. Out of a story that is superficially no more than a standard if twisty noir plot, Preminger has teased a movie of frightening personal/psychological relevance about self-invention. The narrative of Gene Tierney’s fast-rising ad executive, largely told through the perceptions of people who to some degree resent her, is one of an unresolvable tension between the capable and independent title character and the men who think that she owes her identity to them rather than to her own talents.
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It is telling that Clifton Webb’s character first senses a distance between himself and Tierney upon the introduction of a portrait painter suitor: in that man Webb sees a threat to his capacity for defining Laura’s image and identity, one that would eventually compel him to kill in an identity-erasing manner to “protect” his possession of Laura. (The much-lauded production design of the film, particularly in its use of objects of wealth, seems in some places like an extension of this, where glittering glass objects and mirrors in both Webb’s and Tierney’s respective residences reflect a vanity that may or may not be earned. Laura’s portrait is the centerpiece of a room that is otherwise adorned with expensive items that Webb performatively insists are “his,” which only further signifies the conflict between these characters.)

Vincent Price’s character fundamentally can’t interest Laura (one gets the sense that she enters into a relationship with him partially to spite Webb, though this could be another narcissistic falsehood nested within his story) because he is ultimately more concerned with his own security. His almost comical self-service (note how he is immediately willing to throw Laura under the bus when confronted with the shotgun at the cabin) saves him from police suspicion just as it forever distances himself from Laura. Her choice to take up with Dana Andrews’ unsophisticated, self-unaware cop is a little bit reaction, too: Laura decides to be with him because his obsession with who she has become is genuine and unmotivated by feelings of ownership. With Webb’s death, Laura is presumably able to live her choice of a life with Andrews and assert an independence not immediately associated with depictions of female characters from this milieu.
I think this is heady enough stuff in terms of, say, a proto-feminist narrative, but honestly more interesting to me is how strongly Preminger gravitated towards this project dealing with a wunderkind fighting representatives of an entrenched commentariat for autonomy. Was there perhaps a kinship felt between Preminger and his central creation here?

As a side note, I thought these two blog posts were interesting looks at elements cut from Laura’s final edit, with lengthy excerpts from the elusive shooting script of the film.

In the Meantime, Darling: Cute WW2 women’s picture/propaganda film that looks at the lives of military wives caught between the two filmic “fronts” of the war, living with their husbands in communal base housing as they wait to be deployed. This is the first of Preminger’s films to work on its own merits, depicting very humanistically the learned collective strength of these women. They accept their place within the military hierarchy on their own terms, which is about as progressive and uplifting a message as one could expect from a film in this milieu. That the movie is handsome and full of (sometimes subtle) long takes helps too. Preminger demonstrates a good sense of space and an ability to make very small setpieces engaging - a brief bit early on, involving Jeanne Crain failing to fill up a baby bottle, is a million times more interesting and revealing in a minute than any of the agonized comedic contortions of Danger-Love at Work are in eighty minutes. Preminger also begins his nonconformist streak here, slipping in some suggestive jokes about dresses and filming a married couple sleeping in the same bed (over which Preminger says he had to fight the Hays Office). A more sobering story about the shooting of the movie comes from the Fujiwara book, which relates how the talented Eugene Pallette was fired from the production (and most of his scenes removed - he must say something like three lines in the finished product) for airing pro-German sympathies and being extremely racist towards the sole Black actor.

Under Your Spell: Goofy programmer that really tortures itself trying to work around the substantial limitations of its lead actor. Lawrence Tibbett looks like Jack Parsons and is a talented singer, but he behaves like a slightly disgruntled dad and he just doesn’t have the physicality or ability to sell comic lines that this sort of half-screwball requires (and everyone else in the film banging on about what an unrestrainedly masculine image Tibbett projects does not help). The only performance to really work is Gregory Ratoff’s S. Z. Sakall-anticipating talent manager, who livens up the first few minutes with some acidic anti-showbiz barbs. (I wonder if he would do any more work along those lines...). Preminger’s work is excellent for what the film is, with the best moments being those when he is able to create some explicitly formal framing or get away with a surreal character entrance (doing both to great effect in the first moments of an otherwise terminally overlong opera house sequence), but even he can’t liven up musical numbers in which the central actor refuses to dance or even move at a pace faster than a walk.

Kidnapped: Speaking of great directorial work buried in a film that doesn’t deserve it! The most interesting moments here gesture at a very different final product, one much more expressively empathetic to the plight of its child protagonist. There’s a bat attack in a castle that uses silhouettes of the animals rotoscoped so crudely that they almost feel like visual-metaphor stand-ins for the mob of Scottish adults (themselves compared to bats in an earlier scene) that harass our hero on a regular basis, shadow anxieties manifesting on the edge of existence. One almost expects a taunting voiceover right out of the surgery scene from Dark Passage. And the film’s only song is sung in a single take (more or less) against a rear-screen projection of moving sky and trees, a beautiful shot that does more to convey a distance being covered than all the film's static pan wides of galloping horses combined. These are powerful and atmospheric moments that exist smothered under dull political intrigues that themselves are used to justify some rather unengaging swashbuckling “thrills.” The Jacobite Rising is an interesting historical event and one that deserves its own telling, but to use it as anything more than frightening texture in this story (indeed, to relegate the kid’s story to the backburner for much of the movie in favor of the tale of a leader of tax protestors and how he steals one of their wives) is a major mistake. I don’t know what element of the film specifically led Preminger to raise such a stink that Darryl Zanuck fired him, but he might have better used his energies elsewhere if this was a fundamental part of the source or adaptation.

Margin For Error: Yes it’s a B picture, but this is still a disappointment given the pedigree on both sides of the camera. There’s probably a great movie buried somewhere in the premise of a Jewish policeman being assigned to protect a Nazi consulate, but the movie is curiously more interested in the knot of evil schemes perpetuated by a cast of bored contract players, and so Milton Berle’s cop is shunted to the side (probably just as well, given that Berle is very annoying and the sole good performance is given by Preminger himself as the monocle-wearing arch-Nazi consul general). More interesting than anything in the movie is how much the project meant to Preminger: after originating on Broadway as a vehicle for him to direct and star, the film rights were bought by Fox (which had of course been responsible for his exile from Hollywood after Preminger angered Zanuck), and Preminger used the film’s eventual greenlighting to return to the film industry. That internal-political value the movie added to Preminger’s career more than makes up for its minimal artistic worth.

Danger-Love at Work: One of the most annoying screwballs - no, movies - I have ever had the displeasure of sitting through. I see that therewillbeblus euphemistically described the main characters (presumably in reference to the oddball central family) as “erratic” and “anomalous,” which is a very polite way of saying that nobody in the film ever shuts up or stops moving, and they all have an oh-so-droll hobby or speech quirk that is accentuated in place of recognizable personality. There is no buildup or structure, only an endless series of comedic “setpieces” that play like bad improv games of mishearing and word association. The film also has the gall to steal a number of elements (including its ending) from the far-superior My Man Godfrey, which only makes the final impression all the more damning. I’m not too familiar with most of the actors in this, which makes it a little more difficult to assess where some of the blame lies, but at the very least Mary Boland (who did the same shtick much better in Ruggles of Red Gap and would subsequently do it much better in The Women) should have known better than to mug to the extent that she (and everyone else) ended up doing here.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#139 Post by knives » Thu May 13, 2021 10:56 pm

If you like Preminger’s nazi you should check out Pied Piper with Monty Woolley where he also plays a nazi in the third act. It’s definitely a weird bit of typecasting he was under.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#140 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu May 13, 2021 11:00 pm

Never Cursed wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 10:28 pm
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Her choice to take up with Dana Andrews’ unsophisticated, self-unaware cop is a little bit reaction, too: Laura decides to be with him because his obsession with who she has become is genuine and unmotivated by feelings of ownership. With Webb’s death, Laura is presumably able to live her choice of a life with Andrews and assert an independence not immediately associated with depictions of female characters from this milieu.
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That's an interesting reading, because Andrews becomes obsessed with Laura prior to her reappearance in the flesh, though one could argue that once his 'fantasy' is destroyed by the real thing, he balances that desire with a willingness to learn about her beyond an externalized symbol of his fantasy, and thus authentically recreates a real union out of a false dream of one. However, the way you framed this dissonance between Andrews and Webb begs some questions I think Preminger is asking, rhetorically of course to fit his grey worldview: Is all obsession genuine, including desires of ownership and delusional diagnostics? Is the only thing separating the moral from the immoral to take those desires and delude oneself into extreme concrete actions like murder? Is Andrews' obsession justified because it's "genuine" or because he is a lawman and strong enough to be able to hold both this desire and self-delusion with a moral structure that prohibits him from killing people?

I also wonder about Laura "asserting her independence" and escaping her fate, since she's arguably still mobilizing on a fixed track within her symbolic state as the 'desired object', only to a healthier, more well-adjusted guy. The contradiction of her admitting that this is the first choice she's made for herself when she rejects Webb in favor of Andrews, following an earlier statement of claiming she always exercises her free will of choice, is enough to cheekily assert that self-delusion is occurring even as she appears to reach self-actualization in the final stretch. However, Preminger might argue that they're one in the same; if there's no objective truth and we all engage in hypocrisy by the nature of living in a contradictory world, especially when it comes to love which is inherently self-delusion to some degree by his own definition, then within that internal logic it's not a cynical lie but a subjective truth to be celebrated.
Never Cursed wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 10:28 pm
I think this is heady enough stuff in terms of, say, a proto-feminist narrative, but honestly more interesting to me is how strongly Preminger gravitated towards this project dealing with a wunderkind fighting representatives of an entrenched commentariat for autonomy. Was there perhaps a kinship felt between Preminger and his central creation here?
There are probably many answers to this rich question. Preminger values autonomy over just about anything. His decision to abandon an opportunity in the theatre world in Austria to travel to the U.S. affected him deeply and reinforced this already-sewn trait of autonomy- for if he had submitted to his systemic 'next steps' in an orderly fashion within that comfortable milieu with the complacency many of his peers did, he likely would have been killed by the Nazis. At least that's what he believed, and as I just proposed above, what we believe is our truth in Preminger's (and my) eyes!

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#141 Post by Never Cursed » Thu May 13, 2021 11:00 pm

knives wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 10:56 pm
If you like Preminger’s nazi you should check out Pied Piper with Monty Woolley where he also plays a nazi in the third act. It’s definitely a weird bit of typecasting he was under.
Certainly that's supposed to be a better movie! As for the typecasting, well, given his demeanor and accent, I kind of struggle to imagine another type of role in which studio Hollywood would have cast him in the early 1940s

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#142 Post by knives » Thu May 13, 2021 11:07 pm

True, but the typecasting goes all the way to Stalag 17.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#143 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu May 13, 2021 11:16 pm

They should have offered him the Blofeld role in the 60s Bonds. Maybe then he could've financed his last film without selling his French home and art collection.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#144 Post by Never Cursed » Fri May 14, 2021 1:06 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 11:00 pm
Never Cursed wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 10:28 pm
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Her choice to take up with Dana Andrews’ unsophisticated, self-unaware cop is a little bit reaction, too: Laura decides to be with him because his obsession with who she has become is genuine and unmotivated by feelings of ownership. With Webb’s death, Laura is presumably able to live her choice of a life with Andrews and assert an independence not immediately associated with depictions of female characters from this milieu.
SpoilerShow
That's an interesting reading, because Andrews becomes obsessed with Laura prior to her reappearance in the flesh, though one could argue that once his 'fantasy' is destroyed by the real thing, he balances that desire with a willingness to learn about her beyond an externalized symbol of his fantasy, and thus authentically recreates a real union out of a false dream of one. However, the way you framed this dissonance between Andrews and Webb begs some questions I think Preminger is asking, rhetorically of course to fit his grey worldview: Is all obsession genuine, including desires of ownership and delusional diagnostics? Is the only thing separating the moral from the immoral to take those desires and delude oneself into extreme concrete actions like murder? Is Andrews' obsession justified because it's "genuine" or because he is a lawman and strong enough to be able to hold both this desire and self-delusion with a moral structure that prohibits him from killing people?

I also wonder about Laura "asserting her independence" and escaping her fate, since she's arguably still mobilizing on a fixed track within her symbolic state as the 'desired object', only to a healthier, more well-adjusted guy. The contradiction of her admitting that this is the first choice she's made for herself when she rejects Webb in favor of Andrews, following an earlier statement of claiming she always exercises her free will of choice, is enough to cheekily assert that self-delusion is occurring even as she appears to reach self-actualization in the final stretch. However, Preminger might argue that they're one in the same; if there's no objective truth and we all engage in hypocrisy by the nature of living in a contradictory world, especially when it comes to love which is inherently self-delusion to some degree by his own definition, then within that internal logic it's not a cynical lie but a subjective truth to be celebrated.
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Well, both Webb and Andrews are sincerely in love with (obsessed by) some idea of Laura. Andrews performs this in a more conventionally romantic manner that leads the investigatory and emotional parts of him to become attracted to, tear himself away from, and ultimately adhere to his construction of the glamorous Laura. Webb's obsession isn't (or isn't just) driven by a romantic love (part of why it matters that Webb plays the character as effete and foppish). He tries to foster a sort of paternal or even emotional-transactional (in a way that again is outside of mere romance) relationship between himself and Laura, doing what he sees as the heavy lifting necessary to make her a part of his high-society world, in part to tease out a great potential he sees within her (a goal that is itself a symptom of his slanted view of her), and in part to benefit from the very real value-added that comes from being associated with such a person. His favorite moments from their relationship are those where he can impose a benign but defined control over Laura; he cites specifically the times when he read his articles to her. "The way she listened was more eloquent than speech." The imbalance comes when he proves too inflexible to change or move away in accordance with what Laura wants - why should he when he views himself as the author of Laura's success? (This is of course the message communicated in the context of the film's best line: "Let me put it this way - I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbors' children devoured by wolves"). So the (accurately) perceived immorality of Webb's obsession comes from his inability to give in a "give and take" relationship outside the boundaries he has set for himself, his inability to do what Andrews does and allow the real Laura to supersede the fake. (Webb projects this fault outward onto Andrews in his insinuation that his romancing of Laura will consist of taking her to lower-class events and regaling her with cop stories, which are just "cheapened" versions of the activities that Webb valued so highly when he did them with Laura). The sort of cognitive dissonance between what Webb wants and what his actions almost unintentionally create is what compels him to take up the shotgun.

Then again, maybe I'm justifying Andrews' obsession more than it deserves because it fits the arc of a romance, something more typical and friendly to Laura than the dynamic shared between Tierney and Webb. Maybe Andrews' obsession-motivated creation of his bond with Laura is just as artificial as Webb's self-perceived "creation" of Laura herself.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#145 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 14, 2021 1:16 am

I think that's a good take, and I also don't think it's necessarily mutually exclusive from my suppositions
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Regardless of what is "authentic" or "artificial," you're right that Andrews is able to compromise with the real person of Laura (and the world in general through systems of order) and not even recognize it as a dysphoric compromise but meeting reality where it's at with adaptable zeal, while the Webb is not, and is dangerous for the absence of this skill. Preminger prides himself on being able to see objectively enough to detach from blind intimacy but still retain affection, and though Andrews' character may get closer to love than Preminger would choose for himself, he's not doing so on the myopic level of Webb, which I think Preminger believes is the most damning quality one can possess- arguably the characteristic that devalues him more than committing a crime divorced from the triggering cause! Andrews isn't the protagonist because he's on the side of law and order, but because he's able to see peripherally and avoid the trappings of solipsistic intolerance.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#146 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri May 14, 2021 10:52 pm

Bunny Lake Is Missing. (revisit) In mood and story bizarreness, and look to some degree, this is a bit like Jimmy Sangster's thrillers for Hammer in the same time period. I can't say I got that much more out of it this time. Even if the ending isn't what we expect, you know something's a little off with the brother and sister from the beginning so it's hard to get completely involved in what seems to be at stake. I still enjoyed parts of it for the craft, especially Olivier and Noël Coward as the creepy landlord.


The Human Factor. A flawed film in terms of being subdued to such a degree, and perhaps not getting as much as it could out of its fine cast, but on the other hand there's a strong realism generated by that same very mundane, quiet, almost purely talkative tone of this tale of cold war espionage. Really a contrast to his usually much brasher style. This is very much a typically Premingerian neutral framework of competing viewpoints, but there's a touching tenderness in the depiction of the biracial couple and their circumstances, which is where the film comes most alive. Nice enough way to go out.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#147 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat May 15, 2021 2:24 am

I wrote it up more analytically in its dedicated thread, but Bunny Lake Is Missing has really grown on me as a pure exercise in style. I've always liked it, but the twist becomes less distracting on revisits, serving as little more than a reflection of the dangers of emotional surges, the blurry line between appropriate love and the deviant potential for insanity (so observes the intentionally, and cautiously, aloof Preminger/Newhouse). I love how Preminger saw Breathless, admired it, and realized he wanted to shoot this adaptation like Godard on the chaotic streets of urban Europe, and boy did he! Originally this was pegged into my no. 10 slot, but after a rewatch it's surpassing several films I had vastly preferred going into the project.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#148 Post by Never Cursed » Sat May 15, 2021 3:07 am

Die große Liebe: Thank you sincerely to the anonymous member of this forum who pointed me towards English subtitles for this film, even if it turned out to be quite primitive. The plot vaguely concerns a nameless Austrian veteran who, in returning to his home country a decade after the Great War, is mistaken for another (presumably deceased) soldier by that man's lonely mother, compelling(?) the veteran to pretend to be the dead man to ingratiate himself within the mother's household. There are a million different directions the film could have taken this good premise (an exploration of the inability of older generations to cope with the horrors of a world war; a Parasite-esque scenario of escalating infiltrations revealing black truths at the heart of a pre-Depression social structure; something like the brother subplot of There Will Be Blood, focusing on the sad desperation of the man doing the deceiving), but the filmmakers don't seem to have the understanding of how to generate those kinds of sparks in this medium. There are a lot of pacing and editing problems typical of early sound films (silent actions will take way too much screentime to complete; cross-cutting is repeatedly employed in this strange parallel manner where two separate conversations will artificially feed off of each other, as though the sequences were conceived as simultaneous split scenes), issues that are perhaps even symptomatic of Preminger's at-that-time limited skill as a film director. He was right to dismiss this movie in later decades as more of a practice swing, a mechanism by which he could learn the differences between theater and film without damaging his career, than a work in and of itself.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#149 Post by knives » Sat May 15, 2021 10:14 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 10:52 pm
The Human Factor. A flawed film in terms of being subdued to such a degree, and perhaps not getting as much as it could out of its fine cast, but on the other hand there's a strong realism generated by that same very mundane, quiet, almost purely talkative tone of this tale of cold war espionage. Really a contrast to his usually much brasher style. This is very much a typically Premingerian neutral framework of competing viewpoints, but there's a touching tenderness in the depiction of the biracial couple and their circumstances, which is where the film comes most alive. Nice enough way to go out.
I love love love this movie, although it won’t make my list, and the mundane feeling is part of it. In a sense Preminger uses didactic language to his benefit making a narrative essay film about the intersection of nationalism, familiar responsibility, and ethics among other choice features. It’s kind of an involving lecture and I love that choice. Nicol Williamson is sort of a perfect embodiment of this, also my favorite Hamlet as an aside recommendation, as he works through his deeply experienced emotions on an interior level. It’s a fascinating contrast to the also low key albeit more traditionally structured for adventure, Rosebud which I like a bit more though both films’ pitch black endings send shivers down my spine just thinking of them.

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Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#150 Post by Never Cursed » Fri May 28, 2021 8:21 pm

A Royal Scandal: Not really a Preminger film, but that hardly matters in terms of quality when the director being substituted for is late-period Lubitsch. The first hour is a very joyous nonsense, building up enough comic steam in its agonizingly protracted seductions and multifaceted palace plots to overcome a kind of sour third act. Fujiwara’s bellyaching over William Eythe’s wet noodle act makes no sense to me - surely anyone else who watched the movie could see that the impressionable empty space of his character was the whole point, that Tallulah Bankhead’s Empress is sculpting him into a servile social-romantic role just as Clifton Webb tries to self-interestedly create the titular character in Laura.
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The film even ends with Bankhead initiating the same process with Vincent Price’s wet noodle, which Charles Coburn accepts as a signifier of his trust in her rule and as a method of cementing the achievement of his own schemes.
All this is to say, Eythe’s passivity is rather the point. (From what I understand, this is far from the last of Fujiwara’s inexplicably uncharitable readings of some of the Premingers).

I for one would go so far as to say that all the performances are great from the top down. No one here needs me to explain the comedic gifts of the principal cast, so I’ll lavish a bit of praise on the supporting players. Mischa Auer is fantastic for the tiny bit that we get him, stealing an early scene as a palace guard so accustomed to the contradictions inherent to serving Bankhead that he seems to have abandoned earthly logic. More of him (perhaps to further illustrate the topsy-turviness inflicted upon the more ordinary Russians by the absurdity of imperial rule) would have been welcome, not that more Auer is ever unwelcome. And Sig Ruman and Mikhail Rasumny share a great moment of physicality in what is otherwise a very dialogue-driven film:
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Ruman, a general plotting an intrigue against the Empress, is attempting to remind his drunken comrade (Rasumny) to laugh at Eythe’s lame party jokes as a method of winning his support. So Ruman grabs Rasumny by the collar, shoves him in an adjacent room, and in a single take of goofy ferocity, throws him into every opulent piece of furniture in said room while admonishing him. It’s engrossing just on the level of the craft to see Rasumny hit so many marks in such a short space of time (he’s awfully graceful for someone acting so drunk!).

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