There's a version of this film that you may not have seen... and it just might still be around
Find out how Hollywood was really created... when early filmmakers fled from Edison’s stranglehold
A novice director takes a Stephen King novella and turns it into one of the top ten films of all time
Ahh yes, it was only three words... but it took 47 takes for “Sugar” to finely say her line right
The greatest car chase scene of all time just wasn’t quite what you think it was
The studio said no... so Hitchcock went ahead and shot this classic film using his own money
When I visited England a number of years ago I went to see Casablanca at the National Film Theatre in London. To my shock, amazement and astonishment I encountered a different version of the film than I was used to seeing back in North America.
What was different?… Well, the first hour of the film was edited differently than the version that I had seen many times before… but the rest of this classic film remained pretty much the same.
And just what where these differences ?
There are earlier scenes containing some delightful banter between Rick and Carl (S.Z. Sakall) the lovable waiter, Sascha (Leonid Kinskey) the Russian bartender and Yvonne (Madeleine Lebeau) Rick’s drunken girlfriend.
And then there’s a scene where we see a frantic Ugarite (Peter Lorre... the letters of transit thief) in an alleyway fleeing from the police while on his way to Rick’s Café.
But the most astonishing difference is an earlier scene that takes place in Captain Renault’s (Claude Rains) office where he is hitting on Annina Brandel (Joy Page). She’s the young lady who approaches Rick at his table and informs him of the problems she has been having trying to get from Bulgaria to the United States (her husband is at the Roulette table in Rick’s casino trying win enough money to pay for the journey).
It seems that all the refugees that come to Casablanca have to go Renault’s office get their papers approved… and he apparently hits on all the good looking young ladies.
So why did the scene with Renault and Annina kind of vanish into thin air? Well, let’s take a look at the chronology of the release of the film…
Casablanca premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on November 26, 1942… but it did not go into wide release in the United States until January 23, 1943. Sometime during this period the film was re-edited for national release as it was apparently decided that due to the stringent censorship standards of the day that the scene in Renault’s office had to be cut out (as I recall it was a mildly suggestive scene… certainly not very lustful or salacious by today‘s standards… but nevertheless it had to go).
Unfortunately when this scene was cut out the editor kind of went a little scissor happy and also cut out several of the earlier (or introductory) scenes with Carl, Sascha, Yvonne and Ugarite.
But while the film had been re-edited for national release in the U.S... it looks like that, in the meantime, a copy of the original version had been sent to London... where it has remained… and this was obviously the version I had seen many years later at the National Film Theater in London.
The National Film Theater (which is now called the Southbank) is run by the British Film Institute (BFI).
The BFI maintains the world's largest film archive. This archive contains more than 50,000 fiction films, over 100,000 non-fiction titles, and around 625,000 television programs.
So the question is… does the original version of Casablanca still remain somewhere in their vast archive? And if so, can they dig it out and put it on the screen at the Southbank… and/or at other locations.
And ultimately, can Turner Network Television (TNT) purchase the broadcasting rights for this version of Casablanca and make it available so the rest of us can see it? (They already have the broadcasting rights to the present day version)
And of course, there’s always the possibility that there might be a copy of the original version of Casablanca buried somewhere in the film vault at Warner Bros in Burbank.
Now this is not to say that one version is better than the other… they are both great renditions of a classic film… it’s just that after eighty years or so we should be able compare both versions for ourselves.
In her banter with Rick, Annina more or less implies that she has been a naughty girl… and that as a consequence Captain Renault has approved exit visas for her and her husband.
This classic film from 1994 was written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the 1982 Stephen King novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption". It tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. Over the following two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), and becomes instrumental in a money-laundering operation led by the prison warden.
Darabont purchased the film rights to King's story in 1987, but development did not begin until five years later, when he wrote the script over an eight-week period. Darabont had first collaborated King in 1983 on the short film adaptation of "The Woman in the Room", buying the rights from him for $1—a Dollar Deal that King used to help new directors build a résumé by adapting his short stories.
After receiving his first screenwriting credit in 1987 for "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors", Darabont returned to King with $5,000 to purchase the rights to adapt "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", a 96-page novella from King's 1982 collection Different Seasons, written to explore genres other than the horror stories for which he was commonly known. Although King did not understand how the story, largely focused on Red contemplating his fellow prisoner Andy, could be turned into a feature film, Darabont believed it was "obvious". King never cashed the $5,000 check from Darabont; he later framed it and returned it to Darabont accompanied by a note which read: "In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.
Morgan Freeman was cast as "Red" at the suggestion of producer Liz Glotzer, who ignored the novella's character description of a white Irishman, nicknamed "Red". Freeman's character alludes to the choice when queried by Andy on why he is called Red, replying "Maybe it's because I'm Irish." Freeman opted not to research his role, saying "acting the part of someone who's incarcerated doesn't require any specific knowledge of incarceration... because men don't change. Once you're in that situation, you just toe whatever line you have to toe." Darabont was already aware of Freeman from his minor role in another prison drama, "Brubaker".
Darabont looked initially at some of his favorite actors, such as Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall, for the role of Andy Dufresne, but they were unavailable. Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman were also considered, as were Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Kevin Costner but they passed on the role. Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, and Charlie Sheen were also considered for the role at different stages.
Darabont said he cast Robbins after seeing his performance in the 1990 psychological horror "Jacob's Ladder". When Robbins was cast, he insisted that Darabont use experienced cinematographer Roger Deakins, who had worked with him on "The Hudsucker Proxy". To prepare for the role, Robbins observed caged animals at a zoo, spent an afternoon in solitary confinement, spoke with prisoners and guards, and had his arms and legs shackled for a few hours.
At the time, prison-based films were not considered likely box-office successes, but Darabont's script was read by then-Castle Rock Entertainment producer Liz Glotzer, whose interest in prison stories, and reaction to the script, led her to threaten to quit if Castle Rock did not produce The Shawshank Redemption. Director and Castle Rock co-founder Rob Reiner also liked the script. He offered Darabont between $2.4 million and $3 million to allow him to direct it himself. Reiner, who had previously adapted King's 1982 novella The Body into the 1986 film Stand by Me, planned to cast Tom Cruise as Andy and Harrison Ford as Red.
Castle Rock offered to finance any other film Darabont wanted to develop. Darabont seriously considered the offer, citing growing up poor in Los Angeles, believing it would elevate his standing in the industry, and that Castle Rock could have contractually fired him and given the film to Reiner, anyway, but he chose to remain the director, saying in a 2014 Variety interview, "you can continue to defer your dreams in exchange for money and, you know, die without ever having done the thing you set out to do". Reiner served as Darabont's mentor on the project, instead. Within two weeks of showing the script to Castle Rock, Darabont had a $25 million budget to make his film (taking a $750,000 screenwriting and directing salary plus a percentage of the net profits), and pre-production began in January 1993.
In November 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrated the film's 20th anniversary with a special one-night screening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California. In 2015, the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Darabont responded: "I can think of no greater honor than for The Shawshank Redemption to be considered part of our country's cinematic legacy." Variety said that the word "Shawshank" could be used to instantly convey images of a prison.
The significant and enduring public appreciation for the film has often been difficult for critics to define. In an interview, Morgan Freeman said, "About everywhere you go, people say, 'The Shawshank Redemption—greatest movie I ever saw'" and that such praise "Just comes out of them". Robbins said, "I swear to God, all over the world—all over the world—wherever I go, there are people who say, 'That movie changed my life' ". In a separate interview, Stephen King said, "If that isn't the best [adaptation of my works], it's one of the two or three best, and certainly, in moviegoers' minds, it's probably the best because it generally rates at the top of these surveys they have of movies. ... I never expected anything to happen with it."
Darabont later adapted and directed two other King stories, The Green Mile (1999) and The Mist (2007). In a 2016 interview, King said that The Shawshank Redemption was his favorite adaptation of his work, alongside Stand by Me.
This film which is about two musicians who disguise themselves by dressing as women in order to escape from mafia gangsters whom they witnessed committing a crime opened to critical and commercial success and is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.
In 1960 Some Like It Hot received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning for Best Costume Design. In 1989, the Library of Congress selected it as one of the first 25 films for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"
The film was produced without approval from the Motion Picture Production Code (Hays Code), because it features LGBT-related themes, including cross-dressing. The code had been gradually weakening in its scope since the early 1950s, due to greater social tolerance for previously taboo topics in film, but it was still officially enforced until the mid-1960s. The overwhelming success of Some Like It Hot is considered one of the reasons behind the replacement of the Hays Code.
And Then There Was Marilyn...
The film's iconic closing line, "Nobody's perfect," is ranked 78th on The Hollywood Reporter list of Hollywood's 100 Favorite Movie Lines, but it was never supposed to be in the final cut. Diamond and Wilder put it in the script as a "placeholder" until they could come up with something better, but they never did.
In 1989, this film became one of the first 25 inducted into the United States National Film Registry. In 1998 the film was ranked at No. 7 in Time Out magazine's poll of Top 100 films of all time. In 1999 Entertainment Weekly voted it at No. 9 on their list of 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.
Some Like It Hot was voted as the top comedy film by the American Film Institute on their list on AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs poll in 2000, and was selected as the best comedy of all time in a poll of 253 film critics from 52 countries conducted by the BBC in 2017.
Thomas Edison was noted for inventing a lot of things… some of which he actually did invent and some of which he… well, kinda adapted. But this is the story of how his gangster like tactics in the early 1900’s actually led to the creation of Hollywood!
In 1891 he got a patent on the Kinetograph which was the first motion picture camera. It was a device that his assistant William Kennedy Dickson had actually devised based on photographic principles discovered by still-photograph pioneers Joseph Nicephone Niepce and Louis Daguerre of France. In any event, Edison got the patent and he subsequently went into the motion picture making business.
In 1893 Edison built a film production studio on the grounds of his laboratories at West Orange New Jersey… he called his studio the Black Maria and he went on to make hundreds of short silent films at his studio during the next twenty years or so.
In 1908 Edison formed an alliance among other major patent holders in the industry. It was known as the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) or as the Edison Trust. They totally controlled the movie industry at the time. If you wanted to make a movie you had to get permission from these guys. If you tried to make a film without their permission they would either send a lawyer out with an injunction to stop you… or they would send a gang of thugs out to bust up your set!
Needless to say independent film makers of the time were not too happy about this situation. At the time just about all U.S. film making was done in the east as just about all the U.S. population lived in the east.
In order to escape from the MPPC’s strong-arm tactics many of the independent producers of the day headed west… all the way west to California where the long arm of the MPPC couldn’t reach them… and thus Hollywood was born. The sunshine and great weather were just bonuses. They came here to escape from Edison!
In 1915 a Federal Court declared the MPPC to be an illegal monopoly and shut it down… but by that time the movie industry had been established in Hollywood… and it wasn’t coming back!
The plot centers on an encounter between on-the-run embezzler Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and shy motel proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and its aftermath, in which a private investigator (Martin Balsam), Marion's lover Sam Loomis (John Gavin), and her sister Lila (Vera Miles) investigate the cause of her disappearance.
The film was initially considered controversial and received mixed reviews, but audience interest and outstanding box-office returns prompted a major critical re-evaluation. Psycho was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh and Best Director for Hitchcock.
Psycho has been praised as a major work of cinematic art by international film critics and scholars due to its slick direction, tense atmosphere, impressive camerawork, a memorable score and iconic performances. Often ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films, and is widely considered to be the earliest example of the slasher film genre.
The film, independently produced and financed by Hitchcock, was shot at Revue Studios, the same location as his television show. Psycho was shot on a tight budget of $807,000. Nearly the whole film was shot with 50 mm lenses on 35 mm cameras. This provided an angle of view similar to human vision, which helped to further involve the audience.
And then there's the Shower scene
Psycho is a prime example of the type of film that appeared in the United States during the 1960s after the erosion of the Production Code. It was unprecedented in its depiction of sexuality and violence, right from the opening scene in which Sam and Marion are shown as lovers sharing the same bed, with Marion in a bra. In the Production Code standards of that time, unmarried couples shown in the same bed would have been taboo.
Psycho has undoubtedly become one of the most recognizable films in cinema history, and is arguably Hitchcock's best known film.
The highlight of this superb film takes place when, while driving his Ford Mustang, SFPD detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) becomes aware he is being followed by a Dodge Charger driven by two hitmen. An extended chase ensues through the streets of San Francisco to Brisbane where the Dodge crashes off the road, killing its occupants in a fiery explosion.
The Bullitt car chase scene through the dizzying streets of San Francisco is definitely one of the most epic car chases in movie history… but the people who live in San Francisco must have been rather dumbfounded when they first saw it as the chase sequence makes no sense geographically.
The chase takes place over as number of non-contiguous streets in and south of San Francisco with cars disappearing and reappearing at random points in the city. But the strength of that driving sequence -- a nine minute, 42 second breathtaking jaunt through the precipitous streets of San Francisco -- was still enough to ensure that "Bullitt" would become a classic.
The San Francisco car chase begins near the Army streets in Bernal Heights and proceeds west towards York Street. The two cars then magically appear on 20th Street at Kansas Street in the Potrero Hills district. They continue north on Kansas Street for about two blocks before suddenly transporting to the Russian Hill/North Beach area.
From Filbert Street, Bullitt crosses Mason Street then heads northwest on Columbus Avenue. He makes a left on Leavenworth and heads south toward Lombard and the chase continues for one block on Larkin Street... and then it goes on and on... in and around various nonadjacent streets until the chase ends when the Charger crashes in flames at a gas station on the corner of Guadalupe Canyon Parkway and North Hill Drive.
Director Peter Yates called for maximum speeds of about 75–80 miles per hour (121–129 km/h), but the cars (including the chase cars filming) at times reached speeds over 110 miles per hour (180 km/h). Driver's point-of-view shots were used to give the audience a participant's feel of the chase. Filming took three weeks, resulting in 9 minutes and 42 seconds of pursuit.
Multiple takes were spliced into a single end product resulting in discontinuity: heavy damage on the passenger side of Bullitt's car can be seen much earlier than the incident producing it, and the Charger appears to lose five wheel covers, with different ones missing in different shots. Shooting from multiple angles simultaneously and creating a montage from the footage to give the illusion of different streets also resulted in the speeding cars passing the same vehicles at several different times, including, as widely noted, a green Volkswagen Beetle.
The film was a critical and box-office success, later winning the 1969 Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Frank P. Keller) and receiving a nomination for Best Sound. Writers Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner won a 1969 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. In 2007, Bullitt was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Although Bullitt has many clever and entertaining plot twists and turns ending up in an incredibly realistic shootout at the San Francisco airport… the highlight of the film is undoubtedly the mind-blowing car chase scene.