A Century of FilmScreen Shot 2021-01-23 at 2.28.05 PM

Film History

1940-1949

Filmmaking had supposedly peaked in 1939 just as the war arrived to greatly limit (outside of America, film production was massively down) and influence it (in America, War films took the forefront).  After the war concluded, came the two lawsuits that changed the way of films in America.  First came de Havilland vs. Warner Bros. Pictures which altered the notion of what a studio could put in a contract.  Second came United States vs. Paramount Pictures which meant that production studios would have to sell off their theater chains.  The first hastened the end of the way films were made in the Studio Era while the second altered how they were distributed and brought an to the end to the concept of the “majors” as they had been known. (more…)

A Century of Film

Adapted Screenplay

It didn’t take long for screenwriters to realize that what had been successful in other mediums could be successful in film as well.  After all, what is probably the first great film, A Trip to the Moon, came from H.G. Wells before Melies visualized it. (more…)

A Century of Film

Original Screenplay

It’s a bit difficult to write the history of original screenplays on film.  First of all, it’s been hard to determine, a lot of times, over the years, if a film truly is original or not.  When the old oscars.org site existed they listed films by a source author which was really helpful for determining if something was adapted or not but not perfect as sometimes the “source” was just a screen story or an idea.  There were also occasions where they didn’t list anything, the same way that sometimes the IMDb or Wikipedia don’t list a source material and I end up considering something original until someone points out that it’s not. (more…)

If you don’t know what is being said in this scene you are sadly deficient when it comes to the greatest Comedy film ever made.

A Century of Film


Comedies


The Genre

“As America’s principal purveyor of entertainment, Hollywood packaged comedy in many forms.  In 1929, Variety surveyed the major studios and classified production trends into seven categories.  Comedy was divided into two – comedy drama and comedy.  The types subsumed under comedy drama consisted of society, rural, city, mystery, college, and domestic, and the types under comedy consisted of farce and action-adventure.  A quarter of all the films produced by the majors in 1929 could be classified as comedies of one sort or another.  Although comic types metamorphosed into the sophisticated, low-life, anarchistic, sentimental, folksy, screwball, populist, or romantic, the production trend remained a key component of every studio’s roster.”  (Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930-1939, Tino Balio, p 256) (more…)

A Century of Film


United Artists


The Studio

It’s a famous story by now, one of the most famous in film history.  Four artists were tired of the offers they were getting from their studios and so they left their studios and formed their own.  There was a director (D.W. Griffith), a couple of stars (Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, not yet married because of her pending divorce) and the man who could do it all (Charlie Chaplin).

“There is an antique strip of silent film barely two minutes long that is perhaps unique in motion-picture and business history.  It is in two parts, two simple cuts.  The first records the ritual signing of incorporation papers, and there is an appropriate solemnity as signatures are affixed to documents dated February 5, 1919.  The scene is artlessly composed and shot and would be of no visual interest whatever were it not that the four signatories, the founding partners of the newly formed United Artists Corporation, were perhaps the four most famous people on earth.”  (Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, Steven Bach, p 28) (more…)

This scene isn’t in the original novel even though it comes during the period of time covered by the novel. Nor is it ever mentioned in the novel that the Don’s birthday is December 7. This is pure Coppola.

My Top 10

  1. The Godfather Part II
  2. Young Frankenstein
  3. The Parallax View
  4. Murder on the Orient Express
  5. Lenny
  6. The Front Page
  7. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
  8. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
  9. Thieves Like Us
  10. Sanshiro Sugata

Note:  If you look at my original Nighthawk Awards you will only see nine films listed.  But, re-watching The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, which I needed to review anyway because it was a WGA nominee, I was reminded that it should have been on my list in the first place because the script really is quite good. (more…)

“Kay could see how Michael stood to receive their homage.  He reminded her of statues in Rome, statues of those Roman emperors of antiquity, who, by divine right, held the power of life and death over their fellow men.  One hand was on his hip, the profile of his face showed a cold proud power, his body was carelessly, arrogantly at ease, weight resting on one foot slightly behind the other.  The caporegimes stood before him.  In that moment Kay knew that everything Connie had accused Michael of was true.” (p 419)

My Top 10

  1. The Godfather
  2. Sleuth
  3. Play It Again Sam
  4. Cabaret
  5. Deliverance
  6. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
  7. The Heartbreak Kid
  8. Fat City
  9. Travels with My Aunt
  10. Avanti

Note:  My full list is fourteen films long but three of the of the other four are reviewed below because of award nominations (The Emigrants, Sounder, Frenzy) leaving just one for the list down at the bottom. (more…)

A nice ensemble pic from M*A*S*H that doesn’t really have a corresponding scene in the book.

My Top 10:

  1. M*A*S*H
  2. The Twelve Chairs
  3. Women in Love
  4. Lovers and Other Strangers
  5. Patton
  6. Floating Weeds
  7. The Joke
  8. Mississippi Mermaid
  9. Where’s Poppa?
  10. Catch-22

Note:  Not a strong Top 10, although at least it has 10.  The 2-5 are the weakest as a whole since 1965 and there won’t be a weaker group until 1976.  They look even weaker because they are between two very strong years.  Patton would have been #9 in 1969. (more…)

“To speak out boldly at once, she was in love, according to the present universally received sense of that phrase, by which love is applied indiscriminately to the desirable objects of all our passions, appetites, and sense, and is understood to be that preference which we give to one kind of food rather than to another.” (p 420)

My Top 10:

  1. Tom Jones
  2. Shoot the Piano Player
  3. White Nights
  4. Hud
  5. The Great Escape
  6. The Leopard
  7. Captain Newman, M.D.
  8. Sundays and Cybele
  9. Irma La Douce
  10. Charade

Note:  There are 14 films on my list.  The other four are all listed towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

“We’re disturbed, we’re disturbed / We’re the most disturbed / Like we’re psychologically disturbed” (p 207)

My Top 10:

  1. West Side Story
  2. The Hustler
  3. One, Two, Three
  4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  5. The Bridge
  6. Elevator to the Gallows
  7. A Raisin in the Sun
  8. Pocketful of Miracles
  9. The Misfits
  10. Macario

Note:  There are 16 films on my list.  Three of them are listed below, as they were Consensus nominees (The Guns of Navarone – #13, Fanny – #15, Judgment at Nuremberg – #16).  The other three are all the way down at the bottom.
Note:  Unfortunately, this is a year where there were several source materials I was unable to get, so I had to do the best I could. (more…)