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April 09, 2011

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Brian Dauth

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF a poorer play than LONG DAY'S JOURNEY into night? Tennessee at his best (which CAT represents) is the equal to O'Neill at his best. I have always thought of those two plays forming a quartet with Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE and Shepherd's BURIED CHILD -- all plays about the dysfunction of the American family as it relates to the secrets and lies a family structures itself around. AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY may be a newer play making the group a quintet, but I have to live with it a while longer.

As for MotOE: it is a fine film and is more than defensible.

n.b.: When I post of CAT as a play, I am referring to Tennessee’s original version, not the Broadway version produced under pressure from Elia Kazan, or the final travesty that is Richard Brooks’ screenplay, each sorry step a de-queering of Tennessee’s masterpiece.

Kent Jones

Brian, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY? And Snoopy said in PEANUTS, "-sigh-"

DANIEL is an interesting case. It's been a while since I've seen the film or read the novel, but I remember both fondly.

I think it's important to acknowledge Andrzej Bartkowiak and Boris Kaufman in this discussion. Kaufman shot almost everything from '57 through '66, including 12 ANGRY MEN, THE FUGITIVE KIND, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY, and STAGE STRUCK (now there's an overlooked Lumet movie I like a lot - my DEATHTRAP). Bartkowiak shot 11 Lumet films from the early 80s through the early 90s, everything but RUNNING ON EMPTY, including THE VERDICT, DANIEL, Q&A, the beloved DEATHTRAP, and PRINCE OF THE CITY (their first film together), one of the most visually powerful and logistically complex films Lumet ever made. He worked with a lot of gifted DPs - Roizman, Kemper, Ornitz - and some great ones: Oswald Morris, James Wong Howe, Carlo di Palma, Gerry Fisher, Freddie Young, and Geoffrey Unsworth (on MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS). But he had special relationships with Kaufman (as did Kazan) and Bartkowiak.

Brian Dauth

Kent: I said I have to live with the play longer. I saw it in previews and liked it. I need to see a revival production to see how it holds up.

Lumet's work with Oswald Morris is incredible and moves seamlessly into the Bartkowiak years. EQUUS may be the rare movie that brings the primarily novelistic technique of the unrealiable narrator into film.

Oliver_C

Might Andrzej Bartkowiak be the cinematographer-turned-director who exhibits the largest chasm between the quality of his former and latter efforts? Even more so than Freddie Francis?

Dan Callahan

Kent, I also very much like "Stage Struck," and part of the pleasure of it is that the cast is so over-qualified for the small story it tells: Fonda, Christopher Plummer, Joan Greenwood. I seem to remember a party scene where the camera careens drunkenly through the space at one point.

I'm also fond of the opening train scene between Sophia Loren and Tab Hunter in "That Kind of Woman": they have surprisingly intense chemistry with each other, and that must be due to Lumet's careful direction.

I love at least ten of Lumet's movies; looking through his filmography, he does seem to have distinct periods of inspiration, and this must have had to do with his collaborators. With all due respect, though, sitting through a bad Lumet film, and there are more than ten, certainly, makes you never want to watch a movie again. I find it hard to believe that the man who made the perfect "Long Day's Journey" could so bungle "The Seagull."

Kent Jones

"sitting through a bad Lumet film...makes you never want to watch a movie again"

Now that sounds a little harsh. I'm sure you've struggled through. As we all have after sitting through bad movies by Hawks, Ford, Walsh, and so on.

I don't know about the drunkenly careening camera, but there's beautiful Technicolor location footage of Manhattan in the 50s. As for the story, I don't know what makes it smaller than any number of other Fonda, Greenwood or Plummer movies.

jbryant

Oliver: Someone might see your Bartkowiak and raise you Jan De Bont (except for SPEED). I've seen only two of Bartkowiak's directorial efforts, CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE and ROMEO MUST DIE, and while they're not great movies by any means, I thought they looked great and moved well. Respectable enough genre stuff. But yeah, they fall short of THE VERDICT or PRINCE OF THE CITY. :) I see he's gone back to the DP chair this year for Joel Schumacher's TRESPASS.

I quite like some of Freddie Francis' films, too, especially PARANOIAC.

Kent Jones

Oliver, there are precious few examples like Nicolas Roeg, plenty worse than Bartkowiak. I mean, have you ever seen WINDOWS? Or CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR? Or FM? And I agree with jbryant - Freddie Francis made some good movies. He may never have directed one as good as MAN IN THE MOON or THE STRAIGHT STORY, but few have.

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