Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nunnally Johnson at the keys

Leonard Mosley recounts the following events in his Darryl Zanuck: the Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Last Tycoon.

In 1951, Darryl Zanuck and the decision makers at Twentieth Century Fox struggled to implement Cinemascope. It was a revolutionary new process, originally intended for primary releases, using wide screen technology instead of the traditional aspect ratios of movie theatre screens. (Television was encroaching.)

It was difficult, envisioning how the existing Fox movie-making mindset would fit into the new technology. No one had an immediate answer. Even Darryl Zanuck was perplexed. When asked how to handle the transition to Cinemascope, he and the other executives had no immediate solution.

But around that time, Nunnally Johnson returned to Zanuck and Twentieth Century Fox. Johnson was a highly respected Hollywood writer (and producer/director). He was one of the cooler heads to prevail. And when asked how he was going to cope with the new demands of Cinemascope, he told an interviewer:

“Easy. What I’m going to do from now on is put the paper in my typewriter sideways.”

Note: Artwork by Andy Warhol.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Words and Images 58

Suggested by Enola Stewart

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ten Random Thoughts on the Tenth: March

--- We’re told that when Molly Haskell married Andrew Sarris, Pauline Kael declined to attend the ceremony saying she would attend Molly’s next wedding.

--- Stephen Lang's Stonewall Jackson in Gods and Generals gets me every time.

--- Once, in the MOMA cafeteria, after a Fellini film, the table next to me had three Italian women speaking their language animatedly – and my eyes glanced below their table, looking for subtitles.

--- When I was much younger, Andrew Sarris helped me realize that it is all right not to like The Ox-Bow Incident.

--- Marilyn Monroe after entertaining the troops during the Korean War purportedly told Joe DiMaggio “Joe, you’ve never heard such cheering.” To which The Yankee Clipper replied “Yes … I have.”

--- I prefer the Julien Duvivier / Vivien Leigh Anna Karenina
to the Clarence Brown / Greta Garbo version.

--- When I was around fifty, I took a vacation day from work and went to see a daytime showing of The Purple Rose of Cairo at which a woman on the ticket line asked me: “Why is a young man like you going to a movie when you should be working?”

--- I revere Now Voyageur and Dark Victory and do not object to the term "woman’s pictures," but recoil from the phrase “chick flicks.”

--- When I asked my English friend, Nicholas, who worked in Malaysia for decades, the difference between a typhoon and a hurricane, he told me it was the spelling.

--- I first saw Frances McDormand in Blood Simple but she opened my eyes in Short Cuts.

Note: “Random thoughts” pieces bring to mind the great Jimmy Cannon, whose “Nobody Asked Me, But” set the form. Any similarity stops there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A brief afterthought on those ceremonies

For those who might have missed David Hinckley’s review of the televised Oscar ceremonies. From the New York Daily News, Monday, February 28, 2011, the first two paragraphs only:

Partway through the Oscar telecast Sunday night, a well-dressed man and woman informed the worldwide audience that ABC has cut a deal to continue telecasting the Academy Awards through 2020.

But they didn't mean we'll get shows for the next nine years. They meant that at the pace it was moving, Sunday night's show might not finish until 2020.

Source of artwork is Half Hour Please.