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March 29, 2011

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That Fuzzy Bastard

I just love the parody of the TEN COMMANDMENTS opening at the beginning of SCHIZOPOLIS. A film that owes rather less to Victorian theater, though many a lot to post-war theater.

Jason M.

Made me think of Soderbergh's introduction to Schizopolis as well. Also Soderbergh interviewing Soderbergh on the Criterion DVD, which has to be one of the funniest DVD commentaries ever recorded. Never fails to make me laugh.

In things non-threadjack related, the Ten Commandments BR looks great.

Johan Andreasson

While it’s difficult to take Hollywood biblical epics entirely serious they’re still the closest thing I’ve seen to making Gustave Doré illustrations come to life, so count me in as a fan of the genre.

bill

I don't remember, but at any point does DeMille break in to the action and ask the audience to take out the cards they were handed when entering the theater, and vote on whether Moses should let the Red Sea drown all the Egyptians? Because William Castle would have.

Matt S.

I enjoy the film and all, but is it wrong to admit that most of the fun is just basking in how the film just amplifies what we already love about the actors' personas? Anne Baxter's hotness, Edward G. Robinson's sly duplicity, Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner booming their unique, machismo-laden cadences at each other, etc. (Etcetera, etcetera!)

Pete Segall

Have you seen the Criterion edition of Topsy-Turvy that's out today, Glenn? Apologies for the totally unrelated question but the post got me thinking about new DVDs.

colinr

For the curtain moment I actually thought of Carl Laemmle Jnr's opening introduction to Frankenstein even if comparing a Biblical epic to a horror flick could be considered inappropriate (or could it?)

"Well...I warned you!"

Tony Dayoub

No such luck getting the 6-disc set from a publicist. So I had to chuck out the shekels for this one. Can I tell you what cheesy and wholly appropriate fun it was to open the box? It "parts" open like the Red Sea, and contains two "stone" tablets with the discs inside.

david hare

Hahahaha!
You almost make me wish I'd forked out for it (I settled for the two disc BD version.)

Vis a vis Victorian showmanship, I seriously do think Demille generally and this film in particular reach some sort of high summit of Biblical Camp. Viz colinr's ref to deMilliean breakins and Jason's observations of the actors doing themselves. Baxter does seem to actually "get" what she's involved in and plays to the balcony. It's a fabulous performance. The only auterurist-related question I can ever ask about deMille is whether he's as good after the Leisen era, as he was during the early 30s at Paramount. Leisen definitely provides the real cream of those early Paramounts with costumes, choreography, Lesbian kisses and acres of beefcake. De Mille without him sseems definitely more "Victorian", by which I mean plodding.

Yet 10C somehow manages to repeatedly entertain me. (Maybe because it still has acres of beefcake. In Vistavision!!)

Shawn Stone

The '23 has the arresting image of Ramses placing his dead son before an idol--a scarab God. It's DeMille driving home the point that while the slaves have a GOD, Pharaoh prays to a BUG. (And yes, it's a wonderful all-caps point.)

I'm guessing the scene Dave Kehr is referring to is the lovely Nita Naldi's exit, which somehow manages to top her spectacular entrance.

Paula

Glenn, have you read Diana Serra Cary's The Hollywood Posse? (DSC was, back in her early childhood, a famous silent movie star, "Baby Peggy.") Her father was one of the real-life cowboys who moved into movie work when jobs on the big ranches dried up. She recounts in the book a long-running feud between the movie cowboys and DeMille which was filled with mutual loathing, and if DSC was accurate about DeMille, then the cowboys' hatred was deserved. Things got to such a bad pass during the shoot of The Crusades, when several stuntmen were seriously injured and a number of horses injured and killed, that her father and some of the other cowboys actually planned to *kill* DeMille. (!) Only an unexpected reaction by the horses to the noise of the armor the riders were wearing saved him. ;)

My giftset of The Ten Commandments has arrived but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I'm sure it's going to look splendiferous.

Pete Apruzzese

The image quality of the Blu-ray is staggering. I had only meant to check out a few minutes of it last night (100"-diagonal HD projector), but ended up watching part 1 all the way through. Ah yes, the wonders of large format photography on display. Really looking forward to watching the silent version soon.

Arden

This is a terrible, terrible movie - no amount of technical restoration can fix that or make it worth spending even one penny on.

Glenn Kenny

Hey, thanks, Arden! Good to know!

christian

In his book of Richard Lester interviews, Soderbergh referenced William Castle for the SCHIZOPOLIS opening not DeMille (added after a few preview screenings).

jbryant

Surprising that Arden wouldn't like a film about pronouncements from on high.

No dog in this fight though. It's been too long since I've seen the film (I first saw it age 9 on the big screen when they rereleased it for an anniversary run).

Michael Adams

"This is a terrible, terrible movie."

I've always thought so, too, but when a Blu-ray is executed properly, even awful films are worth seeing for visuals. This is especially true for older films most of us haven't seen properly since their release, if then. My lovely wife hates football and golf but would watch some telecasts after we got our high-def TV because the images were so striking. Looking forward to seeing Chuck Moses in Blu.

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