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Hawks & Dave

(Soundtrack: The Replacements–Tim)

{n.b.–I just added another 20 films to the “favourites” list below, although I still couldn’t find a place for David Salle’s Search & Destroy (see comments)}

Ask and ye shall receive. Somehow, I just knew that The Forager was a Hawksian! On the matter of Citizen Kane vs. The Maltese Falcon, JW says, basically, they’re both good, and Falcon tells a more meaningful story, but The Big Sleep is much better than either of them (this is similar to my own response, except that I would stash It’s A Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, or The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp behind door number 3…)

I won’t deny that Hawks is a fascinating guy, and it’s crazy how he managed to tell the same story over and over again, in just about every genre you can think of, and almost always in an outrageously entertaining way! But I guess he’s too concerned with human action (as opposed to perception) to fully ensnare me in his project. The Big Sleep is a perfect example of this–I mean, it’s a great movie, but, frankly, it doesn’t have much to do with Chandler… I’m sure some people think that’s a good thing, and the fact that both Murder, My Sweet and The Lady in the Lake come closer to approximating the worldview of the original novels doesn’t make them better films… Still, it’s an amazing thing to watch the director contort Philip Marlowe into a Hawksian man-of-action…

I’m not sure how clear this post is–but what it boils down to is this: in a Hawks film, you never wonder what a character is thinking, you wonder what he/she will do. This is the antithesis of Capra/Borzage/Dieterle/Cassavettes, where feeling/perception is the whole show. And getting back to The Forager–I think it makes sense that a person who loves Kirby’s work as much as JW does would also love Hawks! There really is no way to make a judgment about this stuff. When you get to this level of technical virtuosity and artistic maturity, it’s all about whose worldview dovetails more closely with your own!

What do the rest of you think?


Is there a film-based equivalent of the comics blogosphere?

It doesn’t seem like it. I mean, sure, we all review a movie occasionally, but I haven’t found much in the way of a dedicated community of film bloggers. Yes, there’s Michael’s Movie Palace, which I read religiously, but that’s kind of an hermetically-sealed affair. Michael doesn’t engage in the kind of cross-blog discussions that I’ve come to cherish in the past half year. I wonder why this is? The IMDB messageboards are certainly a hotbed of activity. Don’t any of those folks have blogs?

Maybe I’m outta my tree, but I just tend to assume that anyone who loves comics must also love movies–the two forms are so linked in my mind. I may love Hawthorne, Hammett, Melville, and Dickens, but I don’t go to them when I’m actually writing–my creative binges have always been fuelled by coffee, Capra and Spider-Man (along with Keats, Shelley, & Frank O’Hara…)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to prod my fellow comics-bloggers to discuss their own favourite films. Would we detect a connection between their preferences? Or do most people operate on one wavelength at the theatre, and a completely different one at the comic store? Do comic book fans tend to like animation more than the average person? (I don’t want to offend anyone, but to this point in my life animation has always left me cold!)


Sean Collins did some wonderful stuff back in October on horror films, and I’d love to see more of that kind of thing around the web!


We all know that Top 30 lists are pretty useless, and I’ve only got about 10 minutes to come up with one, but they have been known, occasionally, to generate discussion… Let’s see if this one does (there’s no real order here & I’ll try not to double up on directors!):



1.Capra–It’s A Wonderful Life/Bitter Tea


2.Powell & Pressburger–Life & Death of Colonel Blimp

3.Coppola–Lost In Translation


4.Anderson–Punch-Drunk Love


5.Stevens–Alice Adams/Swing Time

6.Dieterle–The Devil and Daniel Webster/Portrait of Jennie


7.Borzage–Moonrise


8.Cassavettes–Minnie & Moskowitz

9.Huston–The Maltese Falcon


10.LeRoy–I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang

11.Sturges–Sullivan’s Travels


12.LaCava–Stage Door


13.Sam Wood–Kings Row


14.Ray–In A Lonely Place


15.Scorsese–After Hours

16.Dmytryk–Crossfire/Murder, My Sweet


17.Walsh–The Strawberry Blonde


18.Curtiz–Mildred Pierce


19.Wyler–These Three

20.Ben Hecht–Angels Over Broadway

21.Mayo–The Petrified Forest


22.Negulesco–Three Strangers


23.Siodmak–The Killers


24.F.F. Coppola–Peggy Sue Got Married

25.Rudolph–Mrs. Parker & The Vicious Circle


26.K. Vidor–Stella Dallas


27.Milestone–The Strange Love of Martha Ivers


28.Rossen–Body & Soul

29.McCarey–The Awful Truth

30.Hitchcock–Shadow of A Doubt

How does that list tally with a preference for Grant Morrison, Ditko, Dave Sim, Mark Gruenwald and the Gwen Stacy Clone Saga?

I’m too close to it. I can’t tell!

Good night friends!


Dave

morning addendum–maybe that should have been a top 50, because I’d like to add these:

31.Coens–Miller’s Crossing

32.Gillian Armstrong–Little Women

33.Welles–Touch of Evil

34.Hawks–Bringing Up Baby


35.Cukor–Holiday

36.Lubitsch–The Shop Around the Corner


37.Ramis–Groundhog Day

38.Polanski–Chinatown


39.Kazan–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

40.Mottola–Daytrippers


41.Montgomery–The Lady in the Lake


42.Minnelli–The Clock


43.Hanson–Wonder Boys


44.Leisen–Remember The Night

45.Zwigoff–Ghost World

46.Wes Anderson–Royal Tenenbaums

47.Andre de Toth–Pitfall

48.Dahl–The Last Seduction


49.Cuaron–Great Expectations

50.Woody Allen–Manhattan



Okay! I feel a little better now!

Bye!

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12 comments

  1. I’m not sure how that list matches up with your comics prefs Dave (alas, I’ve not seen half of them!), but you have no idea how excited I am that you rate After Hours so highly. It’s one of my favourite films, and is possibly one of the the worlds least comfortable comedies to boot — so many awkward non-conversations and unsettled situations! Sorry, I’m gibbering here, but god do I ever love that movie…

    I was also amused to note that while I’ve been slacking of (or rather writing essays and revising like a man possesed — by cliches, perhaps) you and J.W. Hastings have gone and made half of the points that I wanted to make about Punch-Drunk Love! Still, I’ve got one or two comments left up my sleeve, and hopefully I’ll actually get around to putting that post up some time soon.

    David

  2. I hope we’ll see that Punch Drunk post soon David–I’ve been looking forward to it since you posted the still photo on “Cakes and Money”! The great thing about criticism is that there’s always more to say!

    And After Hours…well, let’s just say it gets my vote for best film of the eighties! as you say–it is practically wall-to-wall anxiety, and somehow manages to be unbelievably funny at the same time. The two elements never get in each other’s way–they actually feed each other!

    I can’t explain how Scorsese managed this, but I can sum it up in two words: “Surrender Dorothy”…

    (Have you seen David Salle’s Search and Destroy? it’s not nearly as good, although I did come close to putting it on this list–which, let’s be frank, is no one’s idea of an objective “top 30” anyway! I think you can easily make a case for S & D as the “spiritual sequel” to After Hours…)

    Dave

  3. Hey, Dave-

    A few months ago, I created a list on a site called ymdb.com of 20 of my favorite movies. Here’s a link, if you care to read it. And bear in mind the list might look different if I did it today…

  4. thanks for the tip Mr. Bacardi!

    that’s a good list over there–what they call personality-plus! And I think I’ll do some YMDB exploring today…

    it seems like our only major overlap is on Miller’s Crossing, but of course I like a lot of the other items you cite too, notably: Citizen Kane; Duck Soup (whenever I’m reading Cerebus, my Marx Bros. enjoyment doubles); Scrooge (a brilliant adaptation of the novella); and The Bride of Frankenstein (although, when it comes to James Whale, I prefer Invisible Man, Show Boat, and The Old Dark House…still, Elsa is always worth watching…we’ve discussed this before, I believe!)

    it goes without saying that your site is one the few where almost all art forms get some coverage! You couldn’t ask for a better cornerstone to a hybrid film/comics blogosphere that the JB Show! So I guess it’s up to the rest of us to comment on what you’re saying!

    Thanks for the tip!

    Dave

  5. thanks for the tip Mr. Bacardi!


    that’s a good list over there–what they call personality-plus! And I think I’ll do some YMDB exploring today…

    it seems like our only major overlap is on Miller’s Crossing, but of course I like a lot of the other items you cite too, notably: Citizen Kane; Duck Soup (whenever I’m reading Cerebus, my Marx Bros. pleasure doubles); <>Scrooge (a brilliant adaptation of the novella); and The Bride of Frankenstein (although, when it comes to James Whale, I prefer Invisible Man, Show Boat, and The Old Dark House…still, Elsa is always worth watching…we’ve discussed this before, I believe!)

    it goes without saying that your site is one the few where almost all art forms get some coverage! You couldn’t ask for a better cornerstone to a hybrid film/comics blogosphere that the JB Show! So I guess it’s up to the rest of us to comment on what you’re saying!

    Dave

  6. You must check out “Millenium Actress.” I think it might change how you feel about animation, or at least the potential for animated films. I think the film would mesh with your belief in “personalism” (is that the word you used, i can’t remember.) Anyway, it’s about people and their interaction and how they change each other’s lives, as well as being a love letter to Japanese cinema.
    Oh and I love the Citizen Kane vs. Maltese Falcon discussin going on.
    Brian.

  7. Thanks Brian–I’ll try to find Millenium Actress… I’ll admit that I’m basically clueless when it comes to cartoons that move!! (although I do remember spending about a week in a catatonic stupor after seeing Watership Down when i was about 5… I’d say my vegetarianism really began with that film, after that, it was just a question of getting my mom to agree… I also broke down (and nearly failed to get up) when they took the horse to the “knackers” in the animated Animal Farm, and when the picnicking animals got frozen solid in Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe so I’m sure now that I was overstating my historical “coolness” to animation…

    Dave

  8. Dave,

    Bitter Tea and Wonderful Life I agree with BUT no Joe Doe??? How could you forget one of the most claustrophobic movies ever made. A movie that, even without a suicide end (as you know Capra decided against it), still has a kind of suicide end. And Stanwyck’s last Capra.
    Oh Dave, your list is so good, (happy to see Punch Drunk at 4) yet so waylaid.

  9. Jamo,

    of course, Meet John Doe should be there too (not to mention Miracle Woman, It Happened One Night, and Mr. Smith… I just didn’t want to kill the nice people with Capra stuff…

    I could easily have listed about five other Dieterle movies (Love Letters, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Juarez, Rope of Sand, I’ll Be Seeing You, The Accused…man, that’s six!) and the Borzage (History is Made At Night, Strange Cargo, A Farewell to Arms, Desire, The Mortal Storm) could have gotten crazy too!

    I am a creature of many obsessions!

    Dave

  10. I’m NOT a movie guy. Even though I see fewer movies as a middle-aged dad than I did as a young man, I was never an aficionado of film. And I don’t really see comics and movies as all that related. Comics as a medium work by transferring time and space one into the other (direction TBD by the exigencies of the narrative). Movies transform time into other kinds of time and space into other kinds of space. The nature of “design” between the two media seems incommensurate too. Ang Lee’s Hulk tricks notwithstanding, comics rely heavily on layout in a way alien to film. (I’m talking about the page unit – multiple images arranged in space.)

    Eve and I coincidentally got to talking about some of this stuff in the car on the way to meet Neilalien last night – how she found it so hard to transfer the narrative conventions of comics into other media because the conventions were so embedded in the conditions of the medium. She had of course been trying prose fiction, but believed the same problems would obtain for film. For instance, she said, a cartoonist can MAKE you slow down in a way that film has a harder time doing. (She thinks slow motion is almost always excruciating.)

    There’s a particular panel sequence in the first Twentieth Century Eightball sequence that I think is pure comics narrative, and practically irreproducible in either movies or prose. (It’s the “Monday”-“Wednesday” jump.) I respond really strongly to what Clowes does there – there’s something about the “cartoon-y” narratology that speaks to me in a way film doesn’t as much.

    All of which is a very long way to say that No, not everyone who loves comics loves movies as intensely.

  11. You make some important points here Jim!

    you (& Eve) are definitely right about the difficulties of importing the feel of a “comic book layout” into any other medium (I’m also trying to do it in prose, so I know how Eve feels!)

    one thing I can say is that your comment goes a long way toward explaining why I’m so much less into animation than drawings on paper… the way they hit you with sequence and structure at the same time is hard to reproduce, and the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that a comic book page functions more like a short poem than anything else…

    Does that make sense?

    Dave

  12. the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that a comic book page functions more like a short poem than anything else…

    You’re definitely on to SOMETHING with the poetry analogy. Not “short poem,” since a short poem is a thing entire, and a comic book page is not in most cases. It’s the rhythmic unit of a larger work. Maybe a comics page is like a single poetic line. Then the panels are your metrical unit of choice. Feet? Beats? Syllables? I incline to the middle option. But I could easily be wrong. Frex, Scott Mills’ CELLS is more akin to accentual-syllabics somehow, the way it takes its base 3×3 grid and rings variations on it but almost always honors the underlying scheme. Hm. Next we’ll need to start musing that Kirby, say, is “accentual” while Ditko (for the sake of argument) is “accentual-syllabic” and Clowes is strictly syllabic. Hm. Clowes as Marianne Moore. Kirby as the poet of Beowulf and Ditko as, hm, Spenser? I am really, really off the rails now.

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