Friday, March 05, 2010

Film Forum's Fleming fest

I enjoyed reading Michael Sragow's Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master last summer, and now it's inspired a Film Forum retrospective of his work, which runs through March 18. Among other speakers Sragow himself will be on hand for some of the screenings, including the highly entertaining Red Dust (1932, pictured), which will be shown tonight and tomorrow. A number of these films haven't made it to DVD yet, and seeing them on the big screen is a treat. Of particular interest is a double bill of the Spencer Tracy-starrers Test Pilot (1938) and A Guy Named Joe (1943); I hadn't seen the former until I'd read the book, and the biography informed a rewarding re-viewing of Joe, which I'd never particularly liked.

Though Sragow makes a convincing case for Fleming's ultimate ownership of 1939's Gone with the Wind and The Wizard if Oz, two troubled productions that landed in his lap, it won't settle auteurist arguments over the matter. I have a hunch, too, that readers will be disappointed with Fleming's miscast, unsuited-to-MGM Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), which Sragow waxes about. The series concludes with Fleming's other challenged credit with lover Ingrid Bergman, 1948's Joan of Arc, his last film before his premature death. But there's a lot here to hooray-for-Hollywood about.

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