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April 1991


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 8 Apr 91 00:10:13 EDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Whoever mentioned Lang's FURY is on to a recurring strain -- the crowd as
personification of evil.  I can't recall reading much about this, but I
certainly remember several such scenes in Griffith's films of the 1920's --
ORPHANS OF THE STORM immediately comes to mind--not just the crowd scenes in
the slum sections of Paris, but in the near-mandatory "wild dinner party"
scene.  (I seem to recall another later film of his with a similar scene, but
can't remember the title.  It occurs in several silents of the 1920's.)
HANGOVER SQUARE (1945, d. Brahm) has a scene of adolescents eagerly preparing
and participating in a bonfire that also reflects this strain.
(You might also want to check out the opera PETER GRIMES for an approach from
a different art form.)
In a different light, I've always been fascinated by use of the crowd as an
element of design.  Of course any Berkeley sequence will do (look closely--he
always likes to pit the individual against the group).  Even something as
negligible as the main title to COCOANUTS (yes, Marx Bros.) which uses the
negative image of a dance sequence (which doesn't appear in the body of the
film in the same way) initiates quite an exhiliration on the part of the viewer.
For a more controlled use, try Lubitsch's MERRY WIDOW (1934) where the multiple
pairs of dancers flow along corridors and halls like liquid.  (I haven't seen
them in a while, but I recall that his "wild dinner party " sequences in his
silents are worth viewing--especially SO THIS IS PARIS (1926).)
Bob Kosovsky
New York Public Library--Music Division
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P.S.  Don't forget KING KONG!