Sunday, January 13, 2008
Preminger on HDNet Movies tonight
HDNet Movies is bowing hi-def transfers of Anatomy of a Murder and In Harm's Way tonight, the first and last of Preminger's "institutional" epics, as everything comes up Otto for the new year. Not a barn-burner of a post after ten days away (some of them deep in Huckabee country, which has a Baptist church for every resident), but you go with what you got.
I did see Preminger's Saint Joan at Film Forum last week. The image was variable, the sound buzzy and distracting, and the film so-so, almost a storybook version of the tale for literate adults (Graham Greene compressed George Bernard Shaw's play, a lifelong favorite of the director). The uncertain but compelling Jean Seberg would find her feet in Preminger's followup, Bonjour Tristesse, unveiled in a spectacular print right afterwards. Joan's highlight was Richard Widmark in an almost Jerry Lewis-like portrayal of the weakling Dauphin, an out-there performance he regarded as a near career-killer, one that pretty much chased him back into rancher and bureaucratic roles (I recall only one other comic part, the feeble Doris Day picture The Tunnel of Love). Too bad; I like Widmark, but with his perpetual sourpuss he always acted like he was nursing a peptic ulcer, and his lightening up made for interesting viewing.
TCM's Skidoo airing, that looked ripped from a decaying VHS source, was a distinct disappointment, with terrible pan/scan of the anamorphic image and hollow audio. Bad doggie, Robert Osborne. But watching it as a kind of ur-Sopranos, with Jackie Gleason's game performance as another menopausal gangster named Tony, made some sense of it all. And the opening meta-appearance of In Harm's Way, as Gleason and Carol Channing squabble over the TV remote control, and Harry Nilsson's sung end credits buttoned it up nicely.