A Few Words About A few words about...™ Night People -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Nunnally Johnson is a name that's known to tried and true cinephiles, but possibly not to the more generally cinema public.

    His career began as a writer, associate producer, and then producer, making his home at Fox, beginning in 1934. His credits include, Prisoner of Shark Island, Dimples, Jesse James, The Grapes of Wrath, Tobacco Road, The Woman in the Window, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, The Gunfighter, Phone Call from a Stranger, and How to Marry a Millionaire.

    It's understandable that Fox would want to give him a shot a directing, which he received, via the support of Gregory Peck, in 1953, on Night People, an early CinemaScope film, released just months after The Robe.

    It's a good film, not a great one, about a very, wealthy and connected business man, who feels that he's capable of teaching government and military how they should be run. Broderick Crawford plays the blustering businessman, a purveyor for axel grease, and Mr. Peck the military officer from whom he learns his shortcomings.

    The major interest for me in this film, however, is none of the above, but rather the work of cinematographer Charles G. Clarke, also a Fox contract technician, and the perils of early CinemaScope.

    From my perspective, one can see, and easily recognize every problematic facet of working with the anamorphic adapter lenses in this film.

    One had to learn the exigencies of CinemaScope. I recall discussing the problems with Freddie Young, who in the early '50s was working at M-G-M London, and shot the first UK CinemaScope film, Knights of the Round Table, released in December of 1953.

    He has spent an enormous amount of time testing the format, and after breaking the screen down into five or so sectors, came up with a formula of what not to do, and where not to place his actors, unless there was no other means of getting a shot.

    Every one of those early rules in broken in Night People. Alfred Hitchcock, who never used the format, likened it to a perfect means of photographing a boa constrictor.

    Best to watch this film for yourselves, as everything becomes very obvious. You'll see the wide aspect ratio being used for its width without reason. Actors placed at each side of the screen, in areas where they are fully distorted by the optics. Literally every negative aspect of CinemaScope is here.

    And that, at least to me, as an instructive device, is a major reason to watch this film, and learn what every cinematographer using the format had to learn.

    Image - 4

    Audio - 4 (2-track stereo)

    4k Up-rez - 4.25


    Pass / Fail - Pass

    Recommended for the reason above

    RAH
     
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  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Unlike you, I'm a big fan of this film. I loved the Cold War aspects of this film and the actors in this cast. I'm ready to replace my German DVD Release that finally gave me an opportunity to watch it in its OAR so I'm hopeful this BD Release is a significant improvement over that DVD.
     
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  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    You may be mis-reading my comments. I do like the film. For me, however, the single most interesting aspect is that it proves how consummately difficult it was to shoot in Cinemascope, as Mr. Clarke was a superb technician.
     
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  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yeah, I kind of gloss over your good film comment and fixated on your major interest in this film one.:)
     
  5. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    Hitchcock's comments echo Fritz Lang's comment (who shot only one scope film Moonfleet) that CinemaScope is only good for filming snakes and funerals. Count me in as a big fan of the film.
     
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  6. lark144

    lark144 Second Unit
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    Fritz Lang said "Cinemascope is only good for filming snakes and funerals" in Jean-Luc Godard's CONTEMPT. I believe that line was actually written by Mr. Godard, as a few years later in a Canadian Film Journal, Mr Lang said, "Jean-Luc Godard made me say Cinemascope is only good for snakes and funerals...I'm afraid this will get me in trouble with the producers."
     
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  7. 7 Jul 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
    Flashgear

    Flashgear Supporting Actor

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    I love this film also, acknowledging that it isn't a great film of the milestone variety...but the cast, Cold War Spy/Counterspy atmosphere (accurate, from every history I've read of that dangerous period), pacing and the location filming really work for me...and I have yet to see the new BD, I have only seen it in OAR in SD once...Night People represents a fascinating time capsule of early '50s West Berlin, soon after formal peace treaties ended the Four Power Occupation Government...in the very early days of the emerging Federal Republic of Germany with a democratically elected Chancellor Konrad Adenauer...thematically, it's part of a subset of popular movies set at war's end and the immediate post war period that I really enjoy...Berlin Express, A Foreign Affair, The Third Man, Decision Before Dawn, The Man Between, One, Two, Three, and Spy Who Came in from the Cold, among others...even other lesser known films like Ten Seconds to Hell, Verboten, Berlin Tunnel 21, Funeral in Berlin as well...that stark, desperate landscape of devastation and total defeat in postwar Germany and Austria is a fascinating arena for drama...and as the Great Billy Wilder proved, brilliant comedic satire as well...really looking forward to seeing KL's new Blu of Night People...and seeing the Peck Family interview reminisces about their Father and the film itself...
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Kino is selling this release for $9.98 during their sale.
     
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