Richard Quine

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domino harvey
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Richard Quine

#1 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:39 pm

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Richard Quine (1920-1989)

"[Quine's films] are not merely well-directed films; there is a wry, disenchanted quality about them which betrays the presence behind the camera of an individual, a human being and a rather sensitive one."
--Lindsay Anderson


FILMOGRAPHY

Leather Gloves (1948)

Sunny Side of the Street (1951)

Purple Heart Diary (1951)

Sound Off (1952)

All Ashore (1953)
Warner Archives R1 / Warners Spain R2

Siren of Baghdad (1953)

Cruisin' Down the River (1953)

Drive a Crooked Road (1954)
Sony R1

Pushover (1954)
Sony R1

So This is Paris (1955)

My Sister Eileen (1955)
Sony R1

the Solid Gold Cadillac (1955) Sony R1 (OOP)

Full of Life (1956)

Operation Mad Ball (1957)
Sony R1

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) Sony R1

It Happened to Jane (1959) Sony R1

Strangers When We Meet (1960) Sony R1 (OOP) / Sony Spain R2

the World of Suzie Wong (1960) Paramount R1 (OOP)

the Notorious Landlady (1962) Sony R1

Paris-- When it Sizzles (1964) Paramount R1 (OOP)

Sex and the Single Girl (1964) Warners R1

How to Murder Your Wife (1965) MGM R1 (OOP)

Synanon (1965) Sony MOD R1

Hotel (1967) Warner Archives R1

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad (1967)

A Talent For Loving (1969)

the Moonshine War (1970)

W (1974)

the Prisoner of Zenda (1979)



FORUM RESOURCES

the American Film Musical

Columbia Classics

Jack Lemmon Collection

the Noir List Discussion and Suggestions

Rare Film Presentations: Black and White Widescreen
Last edited by domino harvey on Mon May 28, 2012 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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domino harvey
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Re: Richard Quine

#2 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:53 am

Since there seem to be few if any other members who quite share my fascination with this underseen and grossly underappreciated auteur (and not just here-- regarding serious critical articles about Quine, there appears to be a grand total of none), I thought I'd take a stab at offering a few defenses.

First, Quine's films, both comedies and dramas, are marked by oppressive, underlying tragedy. But a Quine film doesn't rise above the fray, it merely places its characters within the seemingly unwinnable situation and forces adjustment within the confines of the inescapable. In his comedies the coping mechanism is assimilation; in his dramas, defeat. Twin examples from both genres: Judy Holliday can't beat the board in the Solid Gold Cadillac, so she becomes the board. The sisters of My Sister Eileen encounter a city of men and only by folding their resolve into the abilities of their aggressive pursuers do they find happiness. In the World of Suzie Wong, Nancy Kwan is caught in a circular code of pride and morals regarding prostitution and William Holden's resistance to assimilation to such strange codes results in the death of a child. In one of the most disturbing sequences in all of studio era cinema, Barbara Rush's lonely housewife fails to fit the mold of the willing adulterer as imposed by Walter Matthau's headstrong family friend, and this refusal pushes him into attempted rape in Strangers When We Meet.

Secondly, note how all these pivots revolve around problems which are female-centered. Quine is a director of women, but he differs from the buddy-buddy approach to women of his Columbia contemporary, Cukor, in that he seems to see the social tragedy underlying within the very sex itself. This is probably why he is able to get such grand comedic performances from his female stars, even those not known for their timing, such as Natalie Wood and Lauren Bacall in Sex and the Single Girl, as a form of active resistance to the inescapable sex roles they are reduced to (not that it's ultimately an effective defense, as earlier argued).

The unavoidable nature of despair and crushing blows results in another hallmark of Quine's best work, the chaotic ending. With defenses giving their all against an ever-increasingly oppressive world, the finale of many of his films simply explodes into unbridled chaos. In the aftermath of these unbridled explosions, our heroes often "win," but these are pyrrhic victories. Kwan gets Holden but loses the child; Wood gets Curtis but loses credibility; Lemmon gets the contentious Novak but gains undesired attention; and so on.

Besides making sweeping statements about his oeuvre, on a smaller note, Quine is of interest for his myriad accomplishments: He's made one of the greatest musicals (and films!) of all time (My Sister Eileen), the best Hollywood miscegenation weepie (the World of Suzie Wong), the best Tashlin film Tashlin never made (Paris-- When It Sizzles), one of the weirdest sex comedies of the sixties (Sex and the Single Girl)... one scrolls through his IMDB CV and pulls out far more praise than anything else.

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zedz
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Re: Richard Quine

#3 Post by zedz » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:13 pm

I've only seen a grand total of two (2) Quine films (although My Sister Eileen sits waiting on my shelf because sometimes you need a great musical you haven't already seen): Pushover and How to Murder Your Wife. I thought the first was terrific and the second abysmal - an excruciatingly unfunny 'comedy' whose comic tension derives from pitting two variations on antediluvian misogyny against one another.

However, both films had in common a fascination with architecture and a really superb use of the carefully defined spaces of, respectively, Kim Novak's apartment building and Jack Lemmon's bachelor pad. Lots of shots of people going up and down stairs, from door to door, and both films took the trouble to define and explore the spaces surrounding the buildings and use them dramatically as well.

This might have been a two-film fluke, but I'll be interested to see if the same qualities can be found in future Quines.

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domino harvey
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Re: Richard Quine

#4 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:44 pm

I haven't seen How to Murder Your Wife (Yet, it's in my rainy day pile), but the fascination with architectural spaces as seen in Pushover, while not something that immediately came to mind when thinking of Quine, is certainly prevalent in his works. Even in something as dire as the Notorious Landlady, the topography of the apartment building is cleverly defined and utilized (at the service of lousy gags, but still). It's hard to think of the World of Suize Wong or Paris--When It Sizzles without thinking of the wide bedroom apartments. And of course, there's a whole Quine film about suburban homes vs modern architecture, Strangers When We Meet (and Quine got the actual house from that film as a wedding gift from the studio, though it was a bittersweet one when Novak stood him up at the altar). But probably the best use of cinematic space by Quine is in, no surprise, My Sister Eileen, with its ultra-wide frame filled with ultra-wide sets that become characters unto themselves (the basement apartment as third sister, or the courtyard which literally enables courting, or humorously the ominous bachelor pad with pitfalls in every piece of furniture, &c).

On a side note, for those who have Amazon Prime, the Solid Gold Cadillac is streaming free on Amazon right now. This one goes for like $50+ used and isn't available to rent on Netflix, so I recommend jumping on it while you can (I think it's only available for the next few days). I partook last night and it looks terrific. Very timely subject matter, too, and Paul Douglas makes an adorable love interest (!). The board of directors is a who's-who of '50s comedic supporting actors, too-- I won't spoil them, but I definitely let out a chuckle as they all paraded onto the screen one after another at the film's beginning.

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Re: Richard Quine

#5 Post by zedz » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:53 pm

It was odd for me. When I watched and enjoyed Pushover, I came away thinking that the most interesting thing about the film was Quine's use of architectural space, and when I watched and disliked Murder, I thought exactly the same thing.

Plenty of Hollywood films have well-defined and meaningful sets, but it's much rarer to see a film in which the connections between those spaces is so meticulously explored, and in which it actually matters to the action (rather than just: "Cut to Set B").

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Re: Richard Quine

#6 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:05 pm

Quine's films to my mind tend to lean towards unshowy proscenium presentations that then laze around the sets like a wandering audience member's eye during the second act, taking in details and paying off the dividends of directorial attention (thinking more of examples from films you haven't seen yet, unfortunately)

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Re: Richard Quine

#7 Post by HypnoHelioStaticStasis » Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:36 pm

Strangers When We Meet is absolutely searing and filled with an air of barely contained repression. I was expecting some rather bathetic and hyperbolic a la Douglas Sirk, but Quine reigns in his actors (including the irrepressible Kirk Douglas, whose usual method of subtle acting usually means gritting his teeth in a rictus of rage) to the point where their mere presence within the same frame sparks incredible sexual tension. The metaphor of the erection of the new pre-fab house could have been for more groan-worthy in lesser hands, but it feels intrinsic to the material because Quine doesn't push it the way a director with a greater desire to impress might have. And while Walter Matthau is a much beloved among the baby-boomers, he was so good at playing weedy little shits. It's a shame he felt the need to ingratiate himself with his audience the older he got.

I was incredibly impressed by this, as well as the stark Pushover and the sheerly enjoyable Solid Gold Cadillac, and I'd like to delve further into his filmography.

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domino harvey
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Re: Richard Quine

#8 Post by domino harvey » Sun Apr 03, 2011 2:44 pm

Indulged in two late period Quines available on MODs, Synanon and Hotel. Oh brother, Synanon is a well-meaning but pretty awful Important Drug Addiction Film made with C-string sixties stars and fading marquee names like Richard Conte and Edmond O'Brien (who looks literally ill on screen-- and he's not playing the addict!) that is so earnest in its silliness that it's almost embarrassing. Quine shoots the film at the actual first Synanon rehab beach house and he tries his best, but you just don't get an Awards-bait performance out of Chuck Connors or Stella Stevens, no matter how hard they try. Hotel fared much better, even though there's even less of Quine's touch than Synanon. Maybe it's because I have a high tolerance for fluffy actor potpourris like the V.I.P.s et al. Maybe it's because it's the perfect soapy flick for a laze Sunday afternoon. Maybe it's because there are worse ways to spend a couple hours than looking at Catherine Spaak. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed myself far more than the film merited on any logical basis, but as far as these sort of movies go, it's one of the best (if not, again, particularly worthwhile from an auteurist perspective outside of the continued focus of cinematic space [even if it came off here as Quine trying to keep himself awake!])

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Re: Richard Quine

#9 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:00 pm

Have you seen the Colombos Quine directed, Domino? They're really entertaining, and one of them has a speaking role for Edith Head playing herself.

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Re: Richard Quine

#10 Post by knives » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:06 pm

It's finally going to be released, but Drive a Crooked Road is great in all the ways it shouldn't and Dom's favorite My Sister Eileen is a real grower that only gets better the more you watch it.

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domino harvey
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Re: Richard Quine

#11 Post by domino harvey » Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:38 pm

Apparently Sony's doing the same thing as Warner Bros, as the OOP the Solid Gold Cadillac has now popped up on DVD-R. So has, weirdly, Anchors Ashore, which was originally part of the Warner Archives. Wonder what happened there? Both are still available on real discs as Spanish imports. Also newly available from Spanish import is Siren of Bagdhad

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domino harvey
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Re: Richard Quine

#12 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:14 pm

zedz wrote:This might have been a two-film fluke, but I'll be interested to see if the same qualities can be found in future Quines.
Heads-up for zedz and any other Quine/apartment fans, I was reading the Apartment Plot (Free online at Duke's website) and Quine is mentioned in the intro as "an apartment auteur" and I couldn't help but think of our discussions here! Glad someone else got the memo about this great, under-celebrated filmmaker

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Re: Richard Quine

#13 Post by Gregory » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:26 pm

I wonder what the chances are of someone saving Strangers When We Meet from obscurity, or if there's a reason both the US and UK releases have remained unavailable for some time now. If a HD master exists, I should think Twilight Time would be one of the most likely labels to get it released, since they have a deal with Sony and a track record of releasing Quine's Bell, Book and Candle and other Novaks.

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Re: Richard Quine

#14 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:32 pm

I wonder if Sony somehow lost the rights, as they had a perfectly good excuse to reissue it with their Novak box

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Re: Richard Quine

#15 Post by Fred Holywell » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:40 pm

domino harvey wrote:I wonder if Sony somehow lost the rights, as they had a perfectly good excuse to reissue it with their Novak box
I'd be really surprised if Sony/Columbia lost the rights to "SWWM", but it was the only major Kim Novak movie not shown during TCM's recent month-long tribute to the actress. Strange...

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Re: Richard Quine

#16 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:52 pm

Watching the non-Quine-directed A Guide For the Married Man provides a grim counter to how Quine used Matthau's lech in Strangers When We Meet, except now there's rampant apologia for the very behaviors Quine so expertly criticizes in his film (with Strangers culminating in what remains one of the most deeply disturbing scenes to come out of studio era Hollywood, Matthau's attempted rape of Barbara Rush)-- of course, Matthau eventually chickens out on cheating on his impossibly hott wife in the end, but the whole film is 99% in favor of cheating and 1% "But don't you cheat." Still pretty funny movie though, and the opening scene of Inger Stevens heaving her bosom and bottom at the screen is so transparently tasteless that it's kind of brilliant.

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Re: Richard Quine

#17 Post by domino harvey » Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:40 pm

My Sister Eileen has received a 4K resto for the TCM Fest this year, hopefully that means someone intends to put it out on Blu-Ray (Twilight Time?)

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Re: Richard Quine

#18 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed May 04, 2016 4:11 pm

Glenn Kenny on SWWM in the May-June issue of Film Comment.

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Re: Richard Quine

#19 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:31 am

domino harvey wrote:My Sister Eileen has received a 4K resto for the TCM Fest this year, hopefully that means someone intends to put it out on Blu-Ray (Twilight Time?)
Yep! Coming from Twilight Time in June

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Re: Richard Quine

#20 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:56 pm

Today is Richard Quine's centennial, quietly passed over by almost everyone. A few folks' championing him around here has made him an object of interest for me beyond my age old affection for Bell, Book & Candle––plus just the fact that he's such an interesting filmmaker regarding genre, having made so many films in so many genres, plus the twin genre-cocktails of Paris When It Sizzles and The Notorious Landlady.

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Re: Richard Quine

#21 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:39 pm

For someone so theoretically fatalistic, I really don't like his noirs, but find his ability to find inspiration and meaning within the confines of compromise nearly unmatched. Strangers When We Meet should be the post-melodrama discussed in film school bridging the 50s films with present day modernism, but the comedies are my bag with Quine.. The Solid Gold Cadillac, Paris- When it Sizzles, Sex and the Single Girl, and of course My Sister Eileen are all perfect films that mirror as exceptionally perceptive gender studies.

Hopefully another label pays attention to Sony's output and decides to release some of his good films on blu-ray while the iron's hot

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Re: Richard Quine

#22 Post by swo17 » Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:35 pm

I just noticed that a 7-film Audrey Hepburn collection came out earlier this month, which includes the Blu-ray debut of Paris When It Sizzles. It's an Amazon Deal of the Day today for $35

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Re: Richard Quine

#23 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:54 pm

Thanks for the tip! Also a few other keepers for those that don't already own the blu-rays

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Re: Richard Quine

#24 Post by domino harvey » Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:42 pm

Thanks, I have most of these already but now I can save space (and just trade out this Sabrina disc with the Academy UK one). I feel like a sucker for buying Roman Holiday so recently though

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Re: Richard Quine

#25 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:45 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:42 pm
I feel like a sucker for buying Roman Holiday so recently though
Thankfully I was deterred by that cover with the meshed hands looking like Zoidberg's face

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