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May 1994


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Sean Axmaker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 May 1994 20:13:10 -0700
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The term "overlooked films" appears to be very subjective, as many of the
suggestions I've read don't seem overlooked to me, due to the books I've
read, the film classes I've taken and the interests in my group of film
friends. As far as the general public is concerned, many films very
familiar to film scholars and film buffs (for example, I WALKED WITH A
ZOMBIE or GUN CRAZY) are still pretty unknown, though video availiblity
has made them more accessable.
To try and find films outside the realm of the general public and
scholarly discourse, I think some of the following films might fit the bill:
THE KID BROTHER (1927, dirs: Ted Wilde & J.A. Howard) Harold Lloyd comedy
that I think is stronger than his more famous features (such as SAFETY
LAST). Cinemax showed it recently during a Lloyd retrospective (with a
print lovingly restored by Brownlow and Gill and another great score by
Carl Davis); otherwise, I might never have run across it. Lloyd is already
overshadowed in critical circles by Keaton and CHaplin, and THE KID
BROTHER doesn't have any standout "gags" as SAFTEY LAST and THE FRESHMAN
do, but the narrative is stronger, as is his character development... and
there are some creative gags nicely integrated into the story. Not on video.
RIDE LONESOME (1959, dir: Budd Boetticher) Although this film is out on
tape (Goodtimes, slow speed) the film is a scope production and the
pan-&-scan print doesn't do it justice. One of the many films Boetticher
directed from Burt Kennedy scripts, featuring Randolph Scott, it is his
best: austere, poetic, apparently simplistic but underneath quite rich
in character and feeling. Boetticher uses many long, uninteruppted takes,
often running entire scenes in a single shot, dissolving to a transition
shot or transition montage, that back to a single shot scene. THe
landscape changes over the journey undertaken by the characters, setting
the tone for the scenes played out among the rocks, in the desert or by a
calm stream. It's stunning, a powerful film unjustly neglected.
These next fwe are more widely written/talked about:
THE BIG COMBO (1955, dir: Joseph Lewis) Less showy than GUN CRAZY but
possibly more intense, with stunning visuals by John ALton and more
sustained tension.
WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER (1957, dir" Frank Tashlin) Tashlin's best
film, a satire on advertising and media representation with gags aplenty.
THough shot in scope I've only seen it pan-&-scan, but it's still clever
and full of invention. Not on video, but it used to show up in AMC's
rotation on cable.
RIDE THE PINK HORSE (1947, dir: Robert Montgomery) Recently covered in a
FIlm COmment articel, which may disqualify it for consideration here,
though I think it's a fine, understated film whosr studio-bound settings
actually intensify the oppressive feeling through the film as the cocky
hero finds himself less prepared than he thought but finds help all around
him. Not on video.
My picks, for what it's worth
Yours in cinema,
Sean Axmaker
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