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A PEEK AT 78/52, HARPER, AND FAREWELL, MY LOVELY/THE BIG SLEEP (1 Viewer)

haineshisway

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Watched all these over the last few days. My thoughts:

78/52 - I was really looking forward to seeing this based on what I'd read and the good reactions at festivals. I should know better than to take any of that seriously. For me, this is a severe disappointment, and there is no bigger Hitchcock fan than I. It's so filled with pretentious, artsy, and pointless "direction" and over half the interviewees are simply annoying. There's some academic professor (from something called Sonoma College I think) who actually gives Dr. Drew Casper a run for his money in the completely irritating department. There's Elijah Wood and two of his geek pals doing heaven knows what - it certainly isn't fun or illuminating in any way. There are a few interesting comments, but it's all very surface and interestingly, the entire point of this thing, which is the shower scene, is actually never shown in its entirety as filmed. Nor are the fifty-two edits and seventy-eight set-ups shown to us, which is what I wanted - show me these 78 set-ups, one by one, and these 58 edits one by one - that's the title of your damn movie, guys. I'm guessing these filmmakers just took those numbers for the Truffaut book and never actually figured out where those seventy-eight set-ups actually begins and ends - same with the edits. There's an annoying score for string quartet. Since lots of clips were licensed it's a bit surprising how little of Mr. Herrmann's iconic score is actually in this thing. As you can tell, this just wasn't up to snuff for me and I cannot recommend it, even to die-hard fans. There is not an iota of new information here, save for a fun interview with Ms. Renfro, who was the nude stand-in for Janet Leigh, and the entire thing plays like a long Blu-ray special feature.

Harper - Okay I read Mr. Harris's rave and this will be one of those odd times when I simply do not agree with his assessment in terms of the color. I saw this film about twenty times when it was released, and owned an IB Tech print of it. The color here is flat and brownish and I have no idea why, really. It's not terrible or anything, it just doesn't look like the dye transfer prints did. The transfer itself seems very clean, but for a Conrad Hall film, it all looks very soft to my eyeballs. Know that I have been VERY pleased with all the Warner Archive transfers of late - this one not so much. The film itself is still fun - not as much fun as it was back when it came out - back then it was VERY fresh and hip. But Goldman's dialogue is stellar (his first produced screenplay), and most of it still works. For those who can only see things through "current" eyes, there are probably things that will annoy here, but context is everything and it was a different time back then. I enjoyed seeing it again, just wish the color were more accurate and that it was a bit sharper.

Finally, the double bill of Farewell, My Lovely and The Big Sleep from Shout Factory. I really love the remake of Farewell, My Lovely and much prefer it to Murder, My Sweet. The period atmosphere is rendered beautifully in sets and photography, David Shire's score is perfect, and the cast is just tops. Mitchum especially is a terrific Marlowe. The transfer looks like the release prints did, albeit better. The Big Sleep is a Big Misfire. Resetting the quintessential Chandler LA story to England is ridiculous and doesn't work at all. Mitchum just seems tired here, Michael Winner's work is pedestrian and nowhere near as classy as Dick Richard's in Farewell, and the whole thing just kind of lays there and frankly everyone but Candy Clark just seems really bored - for the perfect example of that just look at Joan Collins. The transfer of Big Sleep is fine, too. Recommended for Farewell, My Lovely.
 

Worth

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How can there possibly be more set-ups than cuts?
 

Robin9

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Thanks for that.

I'm not at all surprised you didn't like 78/52. I knew in advance - it must have been instinct - that this wasn't for me and I've avoided it religiously. As both you and Matt have high opinions of the Farewell, My Lovely transfer, I'll now order that. Harper is already on its way to me, together with The Drowning Pool.
 

Will Krupp

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I really love the remake of Farewell, My Lovely and much prefer it to Murder, My Sweet.

Me too!!! I feel less "alone" knowing I'm not the only one! ;)

I'm so happy it's finally out on blu and looks so "right." It's one of my three "holy grail" mysteries on blu (the other two being THE LATE SHOW and THE LAST OF SHEILA.) I couldn't agree more with your assessment, thanks!

As for THE BIG SLEEP, yeah it's pretty much a total misfire but it still has a loopy charm for me.

the whole thing just kind of lays there and frankly everyone but Candy Clark just seems really bored

Poor Candy Clark can act, but she seems like she's in a completely different movie from everyone else. She had to have gotten some bad Michael Winner direction there, she doesn't even seem human!
 
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Paul Penna

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"The Big Sleep" was like one of those TV movies of the 70s & 80s that had you sitting around between appearances of familiar or once-familiar faces in brief and insignificant roles. Mitchum might have been more lively if he had stuck his finger into the same electric socket that had made Sarah Miles's hair do that. Glad to hear "Farewell My Lovely" sounding more promising.
 

Charles Smith

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Not a bit surprised to hear this re 78/52, and I'm glad I made no effort to see it. This might be reaching a bit, but what's left for anyone to tell us about the shower scene that hasn't been documented to hell and back in articles, books, and documentaries over the decades?
 

Dick

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How can there possibly be more set-ups than cuts?

One set-up can be cut by the editor into several pieces, or even repeated. The shot of the shower head aimed right into the camera is a case in point. One set up, used several times. Each time it is used, that counts as a cut.
 

Dick

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Not a bit surprised to hear this re 78/52, and I'm glad I made no effort to see it. This might be reaching a bit, but what's left for anyone to tell us about the shower scene that hasn't been documented to hell and back in articles, books, and documentaries over the decades?

Well, as Bruce said, it would have been nice had the movie actually presented us with all of the set-ups and cuts, with some commentary to go along. The 1975 Richard Annobile book I once owned came as close as anyone to offering a pictorial analysis, but now we all have rock-steady freeze frames for Blu-ray study.

https://www.amazon.com/Alfred-Hitchcocks-Psycho-Classics-Library/dp/0876631898
 
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PMF

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Starting to wonder how many times Paul Newman and Conrad Hall had worked together.
"Harper" now makes four in my count; along with "Cool Hand Luke", "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" and "Road to Perdition".
 

Worth

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One set-up can be cut by the editor into several pieces, or even repeated. The shot of the shower head aimed right into the camera is a case in point. One set up, used several times. Each time it is used, that counts as a cut.

Of course, but that should mean there are more cuts than set-ups. Here, they're claiming 78 set-ups and 52 cuts, which doesn't make sense, unless at least 26 shots went unused.
 

Dick

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Of course, but that should mean there are more cuts than set-ups. Here, they're claiming 78 set-ups and 52 cuts, which doesn't make sense, unless at least 26 shots went unused.

That might very well be the case. The editing for these 45 or so seconds is very concise, and it is entirely conceivable that 26 set-ups went unused in the cutting room. I haven't seen this film and do not know whether or not that question is addressed.
 

John Hodson

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Starting to wonder how many times Paul Newman and Conrad Hall had worked together.
"Harper" now makes four in my count; along with "Cool Hand Luke", "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" and "Road to Perdition".

Sam Mendes paying tribute to Newman on his death, in The Guardian:

"Paul was 76 when I worked with him on Road to Perdition. Conrad Hall, another great man who is now sadly gone, was the cinematographer. He was about Paul's age, and he'd also shot Harper, Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, so they had been shooting together from their mid-thirties to their mid-seventies. They had grown old together. At one point he was shooting a close-up of Paul looking into a fire and I turned around to find that Conrad was crying as he lit the shot. I asked him what was wrong and he just said, 'He was so beautiful'. And I said, 'Well, he's beautiful now,' and Conrad repeated, 'Yes, but he was so beautiful.' I think he was crying for both of them..."
 

Robert Crawford

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Sam Mendes paying tribute to Newman on his death, in The Guardian:

"Paul was 76 when I worked with him on Road to Perdition. Conrad Hall, another great man who is now sadly gone, was the cinematographer. He was about Paul's age, and he'd also shot Harper, Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, so they had been shooting together from their mid-thirties to their mid-seventies. They had grown old together. At one point he was shooting a close-up of Paul looking into a fire and I turned around to find that Conrad was crying as he lit the shot. I asked him what was wrong and he just said, 'He was so beautiful'. And I said, 'Well, he's beautiful now,' and Conrad repeated, 'Yes, but he was so beautiful.' I think he was crying for both of them..."
I consider Road to Perdition, one of the most underrated films in the last 20 years. I can't believe it's been 16 years since it's release. It was a father & son drama inside of a gangster film. To me, a very emotional film. I hope history looks kindly on this very fine film.
 

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