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4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

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JackFavell
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby JackFavell » May 22nd, 2013, 12:20 pm

It's not just the newspapers though - it's the mayor and the governor and all the politicos in the movie. It's almost like the paper has to dish the dirt just to catch out the big time crooks... er, politicians. It's a symbiotic relationship. It's so spot on, it's eerie, with little people like Molly and Earle who pay for all that corruption. And it's still like that.

RedRiver
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby RedRiver » May 22nd, 2013, 12:45 pm

I get some wide eyes from my theatre friends when I tell them this is one of my favorite plays. I love the structure, the pace, the almost classical air of "How much action can we cram into this room?" It established the format for a lot of American comedy; conventions we still see. The play is course, even racist. But 1920's newspaper men were not saints! This show is exceptionally well formatted.

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ChiO
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby ChiO » May 22nd, 2013, 2:21 pm

It's not just the newspapers though - it's the mayor and the governor and all the politicos in the movie.

And there's another institution in for major skewering -- marriage.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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JackFavell
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby JackFavell » May 22nd, 2013, 3:05 pm

Absolutely! The only institution left out is the church...

I think.

kingrat
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby kingrat » May 22nd, 2013, 7:16 pm

FIVE STAR FINAL, also based on a play, clearly sees the corruption of newspapers who want a sensational story. It's earlier than HIS GIRL FRIDAY, but, I think, later than THE FRONT PAGE.

ChiO, I like the way you try to make distinctions about what the films are implying--the one bad cop as opposed to a rotten institution.

Are there any American films before the 1960s which portray religion or the church unfavorably? The only one which comes to mind is I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG. Every bit of advice Paul Muni's brother, who is a priest, gives him is naively wrong. Trust the people in power, the priest says. This doesn't work out well for Muni.

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JackFavell
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby JackFavell » May 22nd, 2013, 7:29 pm

Sadie Thompson or Rain.... :D

Western Guy
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby Western Guy » May 22nd, 2013, 11:45 pm

Those opening scenes with Hale Hamilton playing Muni's priest brother in CHAIN GANG are excruciating to watch. Hale's Father Clint comes across so pious he's enough to turn any God-fearing person into an outright atheist.

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ChiO
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby ChiO » May 23rd, 2013, 9:42 am

Are there any American films before the 1960s which portray religion or the church unfavorably?

Does INHERIT THE WIND (Stanley Kramer 1950) count? (It better, given the pain I just experienced in typing.)

I imagine there are several that -- in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways -- portrayed religion or the church unfavorably before the '60s. Especially if one expands beyond Christianity, such as mocking or otherwise negative portrayals of the practices of indigenous peoples of North America, Africa and the Pacific islands, or digs at Judaism, Islam and paganism or idolatry (pre-Christian and contemporaneous with the early Christian church).

And, like the rogue cop, there are critiques of the established Church (i.e. institution) by means of honoring a rogue who challenges that institution, thereby criticizing "the Church", but arguably supporting religion or what the Church should be. A telling of the Joan of Arc story, such as SAINT JOAN (Otto Preminger 1957), comes immediately to mind. One could make a case for THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (the Church building is a sanctuary, but it's a "rogue" that effectuates that sanctuary). That was, perhaps, the easiest way to do the tango around the Production Code.

What may be saddest is that negative portrayals of non-Christian religions may not have even been viewed as a Production Code issue even though the Code provided:

VIII. Religion
1. No film or episode may throw ridicule on any religious faith.

2. Ministers of religion in their character as ministers of religion should not be used as comic characters or as villains.

3. Ceremonies of any definite religion should be carefully and respectfully handled.


Where's Luis Bunuel?
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

RedRiver
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby RedRiver » May 23rd, 2013, 1:11 pm

Those opening scenes with Hale Hamilton playing Muni's priest brother in CHAIN GANG are excruciating to watch

Much of that unforgettable movie is painful. An American classic if ever there was one.

Western Guy
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby Western Guy » May 23rd, 2013, 3:03 pm

You're so right, RR. Hard enough to watch some of those scenes today - even after repeated viewings. Can only imagine what first-time theatergoers in the early 30s thought.

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JackFavell
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby JackFavell » May 23rd, 2013, 4:50 pm

Great choices, ChiO! Prem's Saint Joan DEFINITELY fits the bill, although after thinking about it, RAIN really doesn't, since it's more about the psychology of one man in the church, rather than the church as an institution. We can infer maybe a little more from it, but it's not explicit. And last time I watched Hunchback 39, I was aghast at the implications of different levels of corruption within the church in the film.

Oddly enough, Song of Bernadette also deals with some of these issues as well.

And you're words on other religions and practices are spot on. Some of the religions weren't acknowledged even up through the 60's, frankly.

RedRiver
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Re: 4th Wall Alert: The Big Heat

Postby RedRiver » May 24th, 2013, 1:30 pm

CHAIN GANG: Can only imagine what first-time theatergoers in the early 30s thought

We like to think this couldn't happen today. I wonder...


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