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Entries in Walter Huston (4)

Friday
Mar152019

SLO Film Fest: Franchot & Fascism

by Nathaniel R

Walter Huston a fascist American president in "Gabriel Over the White House"

Those of us who live in big cities with dozens of theaters and access to films from around the world sometimes forget the need for communities of dedicated cinephiles elsewhere. Likeminded cinephiles are easy to find online and share obscure movie-watching with but IRL outside the biggest cities you often need a regional film festival to find them. Community, and not just of cinephiles, is what film festivals thrive on. The best regional festivals find ways to incorporate local groups and artists of multiple kinds. SLO Fest does that with local filmmakers of course and also local musicians like the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra. But sometimes local groups sponsor specific festival selections.

For instance we were completely puzzled at the inclusion of a 1933 movie we'd never heard of in a festival that mostly centers around new films, docs, and discoveries, so of course we scheduled it. We arrived to Gabriel Over the White House completely curious. We knew only that Franchot Tone was in it (you know about our Franchot Tone problem. Ahem) and that is usually enough. And here's where the regional community feeling comes in...

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Wednesday
Apr052017

On This Day: Pharrell Williams, "Out" Nominees, and the 1964 Oscars

On this day in showbiz history, some gay Oscar lore, lots of two time Oscar winners, and future Oscar winner Pharrell Williams (and much more)...

1883 Oscar favorite Walter Huston (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) born in Toronto. Without him no Huston acting dynasty!

1887
Helen Keller learns "water" from teacher Anne Sullivan, the moment will serve as the emotional climax of the popular stage and screen drama The Miracle Worker

1900
 Two time Oscar winner Spencer Tracy (Boys Town, Captain Courageous) born...

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Monday
Jan162017

The Furniture: Appropriating Chinese Design in "The Shanghai Gesture"

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. This week Daniel Walber looks back at one of the Art Direction Oscar nominees of 1942 for its 75th anniversary.

While Josef von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture was still in production, the studio received a letter from T.K. Chang, the Chinese Consul to Los Angeles. Having read the script, he objected to its vicious and absurd portrayal of Shanghai’s underbelly and cautioned the producers to take “consideration of Chinese sentiment.”

Producer Arnold Pressburger defended the film as merely a fantasy. “This imaginary world has no connection with the realistic aspects of today,” he replied. This argument even wound up in the final cut, in the form of an opening title card: “Our story has nothing to do with the present.”


Chang saw right through Pressburger’s nonsense. “Such imaginations always prove to be constructed from the raw material of realities,” he wrote back. He was right. The Shanghai Gesture attempts a menacingly ahistorical flare by appropriating specifically Chinese decor. This is, of course, impossible. But the Oscar-nominated failure of art director Boris Leven (West Side Story) is fascinating...

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Wednesday
Jun242015

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

We're looking back into 1948 ahead of this weekend's Smackdown. A world away from all of those women, though, John Huston was making one of cinema's most famous films about men. Here's David...

It was evident from the gilded treachery on display in The Maltese Falcon that John Huston was a filmmaker fully aware and largely in thrall to the darker side of human nature. World War II changed him, as it did millions of American men. An adaptation of B. Traven’s 1927 novel, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was the first feature Huston made following his time making war documentaries for the U.S. government, and while its setting and subject are quite estranged from the war – three men mining for gold in 1925 Mexico – it betrays the even grittier experiences Huston had witnessed abroad. If the film is about greed, as has long been celebrated, it just as much about the deep insecurities of masculinity.

More...

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