Allan Dwan

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zedz
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#26 Post by zedz » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:43 pm

Maybe I'm missing the crucial distinction, but those screen caps scream "open matte" to me. Consistent dead space at the top and bottom (and look at the way the credits are placed in the third example) - unless the chandelier plays a leading role. 2:1 might be too tight, but surely it was intended to be projected narrower than 1.33?

(Now leaping off this particular slippery slope, and I realise I vowed not to judge aspect ratios on the basis of screen caps)

planetjake

Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#27 Post by planetjake » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:13 pm

Overall, I'd have to say the DVDs look fine. Certainly worth the low price. I actually got them all off of Amazon used for a little under $30. I'm actually quite taken with these films! As I said earlier, Silver Lode strikes me as a masterpiece. As does Pearl of the South Pacific. Cattle Queen of Montana is quite good as well... Though I was less entranced by it than Pearl of the South Pacific. Is Peter Bogdanovich's book on Dwan worth tracking down? Is any of his other stuff on DVD? I know of The Rivers Edge and some silents here and there... any other books anyone can recommend me? Once again, I appreciate it.

EDIT: Does anyone monitoring this thread have any previous experience with Ashfault's Classic Movies? They have 10 or so Dwan titles for purchase and was wondering if anyone had previous experience with the site. Thanks again!

Perkins Cobb
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#28 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:11 pm

I'm with Zedz on the screen-caps -- they look open matte to me. Plus one defaults to the general position that by 1955 almost no Hollywood features were shot for 1.33:1.

That said, by 1955 RKO was at death's door, so some archival research on how the film was shot and exhibited might reveal some surprises. At a minimum, I'd encourage comparing the framing at 1.33:1 and 1.78:1 for the best results, for those of you whose TVs can do that.

As for Ashfault, Jonathan Rosenbaum had some choice words about them in the postscript to his latest CinemaScope column.

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Scharphedin2
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#29 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:58 am

I found this poster online, which supports that the film was shown in Superscope.

Image

However, that in itself does not prove to me that the film was shot in Superscope, or, that the intent of Dwan and Alton was to have the film projected in the format. I know of course -- and there have been several discussions in the forum related to aspect ratios of films from the '50s -- that general studio policy was to have films projected in scope by the middle of the decade.

While some of the stills posted have "dead space", and could be seen as to indicate that Dwan and Alton framed these shots to allow for matting, several of the other stills would seem to suggest the contrary. Take the still with Reagan lying on the bed -- matting of this scene at any ratio would lose him completely from the shot. Take the establishing shot inside the brothel with the row of ladies in gowns at the bottom of the frame -- matting this shot would reduce the ladies to a string of pinheads riding the bottom edge of the frame in a shot that would now be almost all "dead space". If matting the shot was intended, why have one of them playing a piano that would be all but completely lost in projection? And as to the chandelier, I do not see any way of matting these shots, where the chandelier would be "lost". In the first with the group of card players, the chandelier would seem to balance the shot if projected full frame, if matted the shot would lose this balance but the lower part of the chandelier would still be visible, and the card players would again largely be reduced to a row of heads in the lower part of the frame; in the second still with John Payne standing on the right of the frame, the gambler he is talking to would have had a few odd crystals dangling in his face, if the shot was masked.

As Perkins Cobb points out, it would have been interesting to be able to compare different mattings of the film, but my setup unfortunatley does not offer that option.

My main reason for dwelling on this was the comment to the effect that VCI made a mess of the film. Hopefully, whatever else may be true about the way the film was shot/projected, the stills show that the disc is far from being a mess.

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david hare
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#30 Post by david hare » Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:29 am

Guys. I think there's no doubt it was shot open matte, and indeed the Hughes Superscope nonsense was an imposed add on. Which also gives rise to the (probably too high) composition and lighting.

As usual with these things I think I prefer the open matte but in this case at least, and at such a late date. probably 56, it's clear Alton is shooting for preferred 1.85 or thereabouts.

Do you agree? RKO at this stage is all over the fucking place.

shumpy
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#31 Post by shumpy » Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:37 pm

planetjake wrote:Does anyone monitoring this thread have any previous experience with Ashfault's Classic Movies? They have 10 or so Dwan titles for purchase and was wondering if anyone had previous experience with the site.
This DVD Talk Forum thread makes a persuasive argument that Ashfault's Classic Movies should be avoided at all costs. Which is a shame, as their catalog offers any number of unavailable films I would dearly love to see or revisit.

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Yojimbo
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Re:

#32 Post by Yojimbo » Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:18 pm

Gordon wrote:Ah, yes, Slightly Scarlet. Listed on the IMDb as a Film Noir, though it is colour and 2:1 SuperScope. Is it good? John Alton was the cinematographer.
John Alton does wonderful colour cinematography here: the colour scheme kinda reminded me of Warren Beatty's 'Dick Tracy'.

Arlene Dahl really steals this film as the 'sex-kitten' to beat all 'sex-kittens'.

Its not quintessential noir but Alton's cinematography and Dahl makes it a must-have.
I prefer it to 'Silver Lode' which perhaps wears its MCarthy references too much on its sleeve
(interestingly enough a climactic scene reminded me of Hitchcock's 'Vertigo')

Foulard
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#33 Post by Foulard » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:33 pm

Here are details on the upcoming Carlotta boxed Allan Dwan set:
http://www.cinefaniac.fr/news/news-42-d ... -carl.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Looks nice (and English-friendly). Carlotta never does forced French subs, do they? I have the Robert Siodmak set, which doesn't have them.

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tenia
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#34 Post by tenia » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:07 pm

Foulard wrote:Here are details on the upcoming Carlotta boxed Allan Dwan set:
http://www.cinefaniac.fr/news/news-42-d ... -carl.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Looks nice (and English-friendly). Carlotta never does forced French subs, do they? I have the Robert Siodmak set, which doesn't have them.
I own several Carlotta DVDs and no, usually, the subs are removable with the remote control.

planetjake

Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#35 Post by planetjake » Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:10 pm

Just got the Carlotta set in the mail today and I'm sorry to say they almost look like direct ports of the VCI discs. I'm sorry I'm not able to post any caps (My mac is out of region changes...) but needless to say I'm slightly disappointed with the set for that reason alone. On the other hand, there are some neat extras here. There's less to discover for those who've read Bogdanovich's The Last Pioneer, but for those who haven't the interview clips seem pretty entertaining. Though I only glanced at the two Screen Directors Playhouse episodes, those prints looked better than all of the main features!

So I'm mixed. On one hand I do wish the transfers were a bit better (honestly, they're passable) but on the other hand It's just great to see a filmmaker I've grown to love over the past year or so get such a caring box set dedicated to their last phase of work...

EDIT: Also, the 30min Bogdanovich interview really sucks the life out of these films: "Uh... His silent films are... uh... masterpieces... But these films are OK, too... Uh... I like them... They'd be better in black and white... uh... but what wouldn't"? *cough*


planetjake

Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#37 Post by planetjake » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:28 am

Speaking of VCI, does ANYONE have a copy of 'Up In Mabel's Room' or 'Getting Gerties Garter'? I've been desperate to see these for awhile and can't track them down anywhere for less than $60. I love Dwan so much that I'm almost willing to pay it, but I'm open to other options as well (Netflix, Classicflix don't seem to have them available).

Just bought a handful of Dwan from Grapevine. If anyone wants a report on quality, I'd be glad to post caps. Does anyone monitoring this thread have anything to say about a website called lovingtheclassics.com? They have quite a few Dwan's that I'm very, very anxious to see but am hesitant to do business with a 'public domain' company that has no reputation. Any information would be helpful.

Finally tracked down and watched a 'decent' copy of 'Calendar Girl' and was completely delighted (might be one of my new favorite musicals of the period). I'm continually astonished at how effortlessly Dwan can weave multiple story lines while retaining thematic unity and not sacrificing the humanity of any of his characters. I was really shocked at how much I enjoyed it.

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rockysds
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#39 Post by rockysds » Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:36 pm

Just stumbled on the fact that "Suez" was released on blu-ray in Brazil last year around the time Fox MOD'ed it. Does anyone have any word on this and/or know a cheaper place to pick it up than through Amazon?

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#40 Post by knives » Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:16 pm

I guess this is the closest to a proper filmmaker thread we've got here. I finally took up the forum's long recommendation of Silver Lode and had such a good time that inspired me to watch another Dwan which inspired me to watch another. Despite having seen 10 of his films I still feel totally ignorant on the man's work (even with the greatest consistency in the world over 400 films will do that to a man). So, I figure with the new year coming up trying to push that number up to 50, one for each year he worked as a director, would be fun. I might even occasionally post in here. I was curious as a result, since McCarthy was such a good guiding light on Hawks, if there's been any good books on Dwan to help me along?

As for Silver Lode, it more then lives up to its reputation as the Mycroft Holmes to High Noon's Goofus. First and foremost this is just a great entertainment with wonderfully drawn out characters and a sense of action that makes the already short runtime move like lightning. Dwan even offers the chance to showoff to the critics with a one take run across town that must make Cuaron the happiest boy in town when he watches. This is well fed by the actors that all enliven their characters in a way that serves the larger point well. The anti-McCarthyite metaphor, to whatever extent it's not literal text here, is very well thought out in Karen DeWolf's tight script and Dwan knows how to feed into it. Our protagonist is actually a fairly minor character all things considered played as a bland enigma which makes sense for the confused feelings many must have had for those McCarthy was fighting against. The real heros are the two women the film focuses in on, one played by noir darling Lisbeth Scott, who take up the cause to hear the poor sucker out and not let mob rule reign. The biggest praise due though has to be Dan Duryea at his slimiest playing a mindless McCarthy, sorry I mean McCarty, who won't let facts, law, or anything else get in the way of his vengeance. Having the law be the villain eases the metaphor so much it makes High Noon look all the more ridiculous. This is just a great movie I imagine I'll think of all weekend.

Next up was Cattle Queen of Montana starring Stanwyck and Ronnie Reagan from the same year and studio. It's not as good a film feeling a fair bit more generic and without the power that Duryea gives to the greater film. It's still a fascinating beast though. The best element is John Alton's outdoor photography which might actually be the best colour on location shooting I've seen from the era which is shocking considering the low budget and how VCI's stream looks. It's just a wonder to look at. The other point of interest is the difficulty the film has in expressing its right wing progressivist, attitude on Indian rights. It's certainly not an attitude that will win it any favours with the twitterati as it expresses a deep respect for the humanity of Indians who assimilate. The film tries to broaden that idea by discussing how even falsely accused people can be jerks and introducing a white villain, but neither makes much of an impact which stunts the film's ability to succeed beyond surface pleasures.

Finally I went way back to Dwan's first year at work with The Rancher's Vengeance which is a fairly typical oater from 1911. It does offer an interesting gateway into the possibilities of the western before it solidified as a genre. This is in its own way an epic melodrama of grand emotions and it would have been interesting if that family struggle could have driven the setting more often, but alas like Noir the western lost a lot once people recognized it as a genre.

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domino harvey
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#41 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:48 pm

If you want to read more on Dwan, one of Bogandovich's earliest books was the first study on Dwan's films. I looked at it when I was writing my thesis/book over a decade ago but don't remember much because I myself hadn't seen enough Dwan at that point (this was before I had access to back channels). The basic plot of Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon is also based on Dwan's early career

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#42 Post by knives » Sat Dec 05, 2020 7:46 pm

Thanks for the recommendation though it looks like that book is going for prices well outside my income bracket.

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domino harvey
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#43 Post by domino harvey » Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:02 pm

There’s a PDF up on back channels

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#44 Post by knives » Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:42 pm

I saw as well a kindle version, but (and this is totally an on me thing) I can’t concentrate on a computer screen for reading for long making book length pieces impossible for me.

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swo17
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#45 Post by swo17 » Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:12 pm

You can print out a pdf

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#46 Post by knives » Thu Dec 17, 2020 7:30 pm

Dwan has Stanwyck trade in her lasso for an elephant in Escape to Burma. This is another fun RKO colour programmer that really elevates itself while showing all of its seams. It’s also incredibly weird for me to see Stanwyck in color which bleeds over to the whole affair because her scarlet hair just isn’t what I associate with her.

As for the film itself, I’m of two minds. This is definitely one of the most patronizing and infantilizing adventure films I’ve seen. It’s on the level of those Sabu films though even those at least had him as a point of view. The Burmese here are stupid children to the kindly Stanwyck. This level of the film is just embarrassing.

On the other hand this is just a fun movie with RKO pulling no punches in making as fun a film as could be imagined with some pretty talented stars, Robert Ryan successfully playing to the ladies. In general the film plays out like a fantasy for tomboys with a masculine Stanwyck surrounded by handsome younger men who are into her because she’s rougher and tougher then them. If it weren’t for the orientalist perspective the feminist one would probably solidify the film’s reputation for good. It doesn’t hurt that the film is consistently entertaining in a way that high fantasy tries and fails too often at.

Jumping back in time Manhattan Madness has Dwan helming another lackluster Fairbanks comedy. As per usual it’s about an easily excited dope who gets fooled into danger. This time by being such an ass to everyone around him that they decide he deserves a pantsing. It's interesting for seeing the myth of the west explicitly be born. We're still in contemporary times, but Fairbanks is transformed by an idea of the west, its plain, and cattle that still holds an attraction for the American ideal. This one is going to be a lot more fun to talk about then to watch.

After cowboy action and other forms of adventure I jumped to Dwan’s Fox days which sees a comedian focused on dialogue and plot rather than action despite the proliferation of gangsters and other ruffians. The first of these, Rise and Shine a comedy starring an ancient looking Jack Oakie as a college student with the brains of a peanut, is a real rarity. A comedy in which none of the jokes land, yet somehow it retains a certain charm that allows it to be engaging and even won me over. I’m not arguing this is a good movie, just one I like. Though it is mildly disappointing to see a Thurber adaptation this square full of friendly people doing their best. Even the villain is a fairly likable goon by being such a benign stereotype. It also presents an interesting change in storytelling as the movie ends once the problem is solved and isn't actually invested in the repercussions that might still exist. Make this film nowadays and they'd add ten minutes at least showing the villain getting his comeuppance. What a weird situation in light of the code.

The Gorilla is another genre outlier at Fox for Dwan though I'm not sure if the film knows what genre it wants to be. All the stuff for Lionel Atwill is played straight as a Judex style crime thriller and yet its headlined by this ridiculous comedy trio I've never heard of who along with a few others who act in the screeching fashion of a failed farce. To make the film even more confused Bela Lugosi is here as Chekhov's gun when it doesn't fire. Unlike Rise and Shine there is nothing charming here as it is just loud and angry people being loud and angry to them hung on a story that doesn't work with the comedy beats if you could call this comedy. It's definitely Dwan's worst so far (though thankfully it is only an hour long) and I hope nothing else reaches these depths.

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#47 Post by knives » Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:03 am

I'm breaking my self imposed pattern a bit because I had a bit of a eureka moment with Dwan and also I imagine this is the maximum level of my writing anyone could tolerate in one sitting. Also, since I have somebody's attention this early in, is there any interest in me making an opening page for this in line with other director pages?

Anyway, onto Robin Hood. After these last few films I think I can begin to make my own case for Dwan’s auteur status. His reputation as a western punch man is too small and seems more a happenstance typecasting tying the beginning and ending of his career together. His career is far greater than that with an incredible, though normal for the time, variety with a large number of contributions in practically every genre.

What instead seems to be Dwan’s uniting force is people existing in multiple communities with an assumption that the meeting of these different allegiances whether for good or bad is the point of interest in a story. I’ve yet to see a film of his which lacks this chemist lab approach. Take a look back at Silver Lode which explicitly has competing communities whose view on the lead when clashing form a pillar of salt. Life before the wedding wouldn’t make for an interesting movie and life in his original community just moves as tragically expected. Potassium hits water when the communities meet and can’t survive alongside each other. Even something as garbage and thrown off as The Gorilla is exciting from this lens as the lead there is tossed between the classical mystery of Atwill, the horror in wait of Lugosi, and the bad comedy of the Ritz Brothers. Though those ingredients were more like ammonium and hydrosulfide. Perhaps, that is why Dwan conforms so well to the western, or rather had it conform so well to him since arguably he invented the genre in its cinematic form, as border living and outlaw status attach so well to these themes with the good potential of a new society and the bad of a chaos from mutual distrust.

All of these themes seem to be a developmental stage for many talking points of the modern era. Intersectionality, code switching, and identity fluidity are all alive in Dwan’s pictures. They may not be directly articulated as such, but that is because like any good show hand engaging audiences is always the number one priority.

That brings me, finally, to Robin Hood which really hit the nail on the head for me. This is kind of a reverse to Silver Lode and one of the most uniquely told versions of the legend. Dwan spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on Fairbanks before becoming an outlaw. Over half of the film in fact with that transition from noble knight into outlaw being where all themes are born from. This seems necessary in order for us to not glaze over the details of the setting. It’s important we recognize Hood as not being always of this lowborn culture, but rather someone of the wisdom and culture of the high class. He’s literally a stranger to his own setting which is perhaps what allows him to not follow the rules and battle against John’s tyranny (which is really emphasized in this rendition with whippings and other examples of extreme violence being shown). He’s a touristy phantom who takes on a mystical quality in the eyes of the people as they can’t engage with his accomplishments as something within themselves.

This is born out through Fairbanks performance which offers variance in order to complicate his character without a sacrifice in the fun. The movie’s keen adherence to the three act structure helps Fairbanks on this as he starts off a typical arrogant charmer that you would find in his earlier comedies in King Richard’s court to embittered warrior of the crusades ending with the joyous Hood who still has that baggage on his shoulders. I know he had already done Zorro and 3 Musketeers, but Robin Hood much more so feels like an organic transition from comedian to swashbuckler with these three faces providing motivation on his career development. I suppose though that that is just another case of Dwan’s interest in colliding communities bringing these aspects to the fore.

What’s really at the fore though is the fun. Everyone is perfectly cast from an intimidatingly friendly Wallace Beery up to Allan Hale originating his much repeated role as Little John. The story itself despite the length, this is unquestionably Dwan’s longest movie, moves at a lightning speed not allowing for a moments breath. Perhaps that’s why I see some people dismiss this as just entertainment, if only all films could rise to be such, as the playfulness and danger of the film easily overwhelm while the manipulations of the Robin Hood story are so cleverly presented it’s not first instinct to ask why. Fortunately, I managed to get there which has allowed me to appreciate this masterpiece as well as Dwan on the whole even more so.

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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#48 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:25 am

Knives, have you seen Dwan's Black Sheep (1935)? I just watched it the other night and found it delightful. It may be of interest to you.

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#49 Post by knives » Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:36 am

I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’ll place it on the docket. This week I was thinking of watching Man to Man and The Iron Mask. It really is shocking just how many films he has.

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knives
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Re: Allan Dwan on DVD

#50 Post by knives » Thu Dec 31, 2020 8:02 pm

A hearty thanks on such a joyous recommendation and a sincere plea for any others that are this damned delightful. Black Sheep is studio filmmaking at its best. The characters are all so well drawn out and interesting, even the expected wet noodle, in a way that breeds a familiar sense while also accomplishing the rare feat of keeping me on my toes never know which way this modest seeming bout of criminal la ronde will sway next. The plot probably constantly caught me unawares because of the charms of the actors who kept making me giggle like an idiot distracting me from what was being set up. Eugene Pallette obviously brings the goods, but I was really surprised by Claire Trevor who hasn't caught me before. Lowe too shows a lot of charm though his job is to be more austere as this isn't strictly speaking screwball, though it could be mistaken as such, and thus has comfort in having a human protagonist.

The script itself is the king to it all. I was a bit shocked to find Dwan credited with the story as it's so well constructed and witty though I suppose I could also see it coming across as a drunken stream of conscious stitching of the previous five years of heist films. While I haven't taken him seriously as a literary contributor to film before this may change that. I earnestly would like to know how this film was made as a result. Every few seconds a line or series of them would zip by leaving me punch drunk. This is definitely approaches the best Dwan I've seen and really highlights the qualities that make him a great B director (though I suppose in One Punch Man terms this is more an A as its honestly unfair to compare anyone to Lubitsch).

In a converse circumstance I was terrified going into David Harum as actor reprises cherished stage role is the worst genre of early cinema. Fortunately Zukor’s famous players decided they were going to make a movie and not some damned filmed play. The plot is the generic miser made good one, but the film is opened up so that the Harum character becomes a minor concern instead making this a kind of sentimental romance on work ethics. Some of that opening up seems to be to fulfill a propaganda quotient, Lusitania got a good exclamation from me, but also in a desperate attempt to make this a good movie. Largely the film succeeds with the focus on fish out of water antics helping, but whenever it is left alone with Harum or Aunt Polly too long the film does short circuit a little. This is probably most notable as featuring the earliest dolly shot in an American film used for great comedic effect against Harum's posturing. The technical aspects, especially in this gorgeous restoration, are the film's primary point of interest and really the only reason to search it out.

Going even further back in time Three Million Dollars is easily the best of these early shorts. It’s crazy and dreamlike in the kitchen sink way that Capt. Ascot was thinking of when making Nickelodeon. It’s a kind of mad comedy where the laws of physics are rewritten in each shot as the rules of storytelling are still unknown. This is the brilliance of the Wild West.

Finally is the finale of Dwan's career and one of the best final pictures for how it sums up the value of its artist. Most Dangerous Man Alive is a sort of proto Incredible Hulk noir made on a television budget. Dwan compensates for the myriad of expected weaknesses by focusing on the emotions of the characters leading to a depressed and down film. It's the sort of thing that feels like a swan song of a defeated man just wanting to do good. That weirdly connects with our most dangerous man whose base sadness in the face of transmodification is comparable to The Incredible Shrinking Man and other great tales of loneliness from the era.

This is reverse to what I noticed in Of Stars and Men where this film is shocked about the potential of humans without human flaws and the dangers that come of that. The film is also gorgeous to look at with Mexican cinematographer Carlos Carbajal, credited here phonetically as Carl Carvahal, doing amazing work to ensure this to look better then some high budget pictures. Maybe this is even the best looking of Dwan's film?

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