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BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

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Dewey1960
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby Dewey1960 » September 1st, 2011, 1:20 pm

Wendy, I look forward to hearing (reading) your feelings about this film!

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MichiganJ
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby MichiganJ » September 1st, 2011, 1:32 pm

I did, and as various posts in the thread indicate, it really is a satisfying amalgam of Frankenheimer, Fuller and Serling, and yet felt entirely original.

I was very impressed with Conrad's direction, especially his handling of the actors, all of whom gave very effective performances. It's interesting how your allegiance to various characters change. I especially liked Viveca Lindfors, whom I know mainly from Hammer's These Are the Damned. The sequence where Hunter confronts her in front of the two-way glass, while her destructive young patient has his tantrum, was compelling and difficult at the same time. *** spoiler***(Which, is unexpectedly echoed at the film's end and executed very well.)***End spoiler***

Conrad was even able to make the chestnut 'car stuck on train tracks' nerve wracking. (Too bad he didn't direct more features, but I'm sure to grab this and Two on a Guillotine during the next Warner Archive sale.)

Loved the score, too.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby kingrat » September 1st, 2011, 1:51 pm

Dewey, I did watch BRAINSTORM. It just got displaced a little by the unexpected vision of Barbara Hale fighting an alligator in A LION IS IN THE STREETS. Although BRAINSTORM isn't a masterpiece or a top-notch noir, the photography and set design are absolutely first-rate. That staircase set deserves some special praise. William Conrad is a darn good director with an excellent eye. When actors direct, they're usually more attuned to performances and script, but Conrad seems more interested in the visuals.

The only thing that bummed me out was the lack of a title song. If A KISS BEFORE DYING gets a title song, why not BRAINSTORM?

I've always liked Viveca Lindfors, and she's perfectly cast here as a psychiatrist. Didn't I just see her play a psychiatrist in A FINE MADNESS? I was kind of hoping the film at the end would go the direction it didn't go (don't want to spoil anything for JF or any other newcomer). This isn't the role to remember Dana Andrews for, though he's not bad. My attention did drift a little at times. Oh, I also liked Strother Martin as one of the inmates.

So thanks, guys, for suggesting we check out this curiosity. The director is better than the film. If William Conrad had started directing during the 40s, he might have become one of the best noir specialists.

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby RedRiver » September 1st, 2011, 2:23 pm

Strother Martin on the inside? Must have been failure to communicate!

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Dewey1960
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby Dewey1960 » September 1st, 2011, 3:25 pm

Kevin, I concur completely about Conrad as a director. Despite the fact that he was dealing with hyperbolic material,
he did manage to get compellingly realistic performances from his cast, especially Anne Francis and Viveca Lidnfors.
He very deftly set things up to intentionally keep us off balance with ever-shifting perceptions of what the characters
were really up to. The fact that he was able to keep things moving without ever veering off the track is an enormous
nod to his overall excellence as a director. I agree, too, about the score: it fit the proceedings very nicely! You should
definitely check out TWO ON A GUILLOTINE, which is a highly atmospheric film. Also, if you're able to, try to get hold
of the first five epsiodes of the final season of 77 SUNSET STRIP, which Conrad produced and directed. (They
turn up periodically on eBay.) Known collectively as "Five," they represent some of the finest and most compelling noir
drama ever presented on the small screen.
kingrat: I got a kick out of your post! While you contend BRAINSTORM isn't a "top-notch noir" you seem to have a
fair amount of praise for those crucial components that seem to constitute top-notchery within the narrow constraints
of the noir style! Glad you (somewhat) liked it, despite its lack of a theme song!

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby kingrat » September 1st, 2011, 4:33 pm

Dewey, I think the portrayal of the computer was fun, too. I wasn't sure if it was going to send more messages during the story. "Watch out for Lorrie . . . stop . . . stop . . . STOP."

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby RedRiver » September 1st, 2011, 6:33 pm

And the award for top-notchery goes to...

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby CineMaven » September 2nd, 2011, 8:28 am

JACK FAVELL writes: "Is Ray Liotta Jeffrey Hunter's long lost son?"


Image Image

Jaxxxon...you really got somethin' thar!!! WoW!
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby CineMaven » September 2nd, 2011, 9:10 am

"BRAINSTORM: aka 'MAD' MEN

"Shake my hand. SHAKE MY HAND. SHAKE MY HAND!!!"

DEWEY writes: “So...did anyone watch ‘BRAINSTORM’???”
(CineMaven, raising her hand excitedly...) Hi there Professor Dewey, I’ll bite.

Image


I saw “BRAINSTORM” during ANNE FRANCIS' turn under the TCM Summer Stars. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A good plot line gets my attention before the visuals do, and I liked this plot; a man feigns insanity in order to get away with murdering his lover’s husband. For once, I was able to pay attention to Jeffrey Hunter’s acting as opposed to those blindingly dazzling good looks of his. I thought he did a fine job here. Hunter’s descent into madness was very convincing. But you know...the real black widow in this might just be Viveca Lindfors.

to be continued...
Last edited by CineMaven on September 2nd, 2011, 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dewey1960
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby Dewey1960 » September 2nd, 2011, 10:29 am

Maven so acutely pointed out: But you know...the real black widow in this might just be Viveca Lindfors.
I think you just might be onto something there! One of the delights of this dense and emotionally complicated
film is the rugged ping-pong match Conrad plays with our perceived notions about who these people are. And
the curious psychiatrist Ms. Lindfors plays is certainly no exception. Please do continue, Maven!

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby MichiganJ » September 2nd, 2011, 12:10 pm

One of the things that interests me is that the film starts out being a melodrama but ends up being a horror movie.
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby CineMaven » September 2nd, 2011, 2:04 pm

"...One of the delights of this dense and emotionally complicated film is the rugged ping-pong match Conrad plays with our perceived notions about who these people are. And the curious psychiatrist Ms. Lindfors plays is certainly no exception. Please do continue, Maven!" - DEWEY 1960

Thank you Mr. Dadier. :-)

You're right when you say that. (who ARE these people)? I recall Anne being so distraught over being saved...then when she's with her husband she spews her hatred for him...and then when she calls Hunter on the phone, she acts like ohhhhh, she was just drunk and maybe he'd like to come over to a little soiree she's throwing. Huh? In any event, Anne Francis (and again, for my money and IMHO) is always good and credible. Here she is as a loving mother...a rich playgirl...a potential suicide and a sexy damsel in distress. Hunter saves Anne from getting creamed to smithereens when she’s parked her car on the railroad tracks; she feels this is the only way out of a marriage to a tyrannical businessman. As typical of damsels in distress...she hates her husband (played real meanie-like by Dana Andrews in his best soft and rough suede baritoned voice), but cannot leave custody of their daughter with him. Hunter’s plan is greeted with skepticism by Francis. (RED FLAG #1) Me? I liked his half-baked scheme of feigning insanity:

FRANCIS: “Are you sure about this? The whole thing’s getting so involved.”

HUNTER: “That’s what makes it all so fascinating. It’s like walking on a tightrope. You make one mis-step and you’ve had it. But if you succeed, it’s as though you’ve defied the very laws of gravity...and I’m going to succeed. I’m going to beat it! It’s just like a military campaign. That’s why I’m taking my time. Every step has got to be planned.”


Is it just me or did you catch the hint of egomaniacal glint in Hunter’s eyes? How much of this plan is him wanting to be with Anne Francis (said damsel) and how much is it Hunter wanting to be the smartest test tube in the lab?? (I figured Anne Francis would be enough, but what do I know...).

I found it fascinating to watch the steps Hunter goes through to seed this plan. But look at Anne’s reaction as he plays tapes of crazed rants. (RED FLAG #2). How ‘bout that sodium pentathol trip he takes. That was chilling. As for their relationship...by this time it looks like “the thrill is gone.” She initially does the push-pull thing...but Hunter's too caught up in the plan to turn back now. They're on different pages...but she doesn't definitively close the book on him. (I guess no femme fatale worth her fatale would).

Viveca Lindfors plays the Psychiatrist who Hunter must face and challenge and convince. Lindfors has the quiet sensuous sophistication of an Ingrid Bergman, whom she puts me to mind of, with the soft lilt of her Scandinavian accent. ( I can see Lena Olin doing this role in a re-make ). Lindfors asks for Hunter’s trust and trust is such an intimate thing, isn’t it? Now I don’t know if it’s the drugs that Hunter takes that (mistakenly) makes him think Lindfors is in league with him. I heard sexy saxophone music. Isn’t that our cinematic cue that “something” is happening between them? Is it wrong for me to wish and hope and think and pray that Lindfors purposely would want to keep Hunter all for herself...behind the walls of a mental institution? Would I be re-writing the movie in my head that is not up there on the screen?

I don’t want to unfairly give full disclosure to all the events in “BRAINSTORM” for those who still want to check it out; I’ll let William Conrad’s film unfold for you itself. I lerve 60’s fare like this. I liked the rendezvous montage sequence (“Leave him.”) I liked the good friend and colleague played by Stacey Harris. (Hey, there’s blonde Kathie Browne playing a kook...hired by Dana Andrews, no doubt). The movie was almost procedural in its take on depicting and checking for mental illness. And, again, I think Jeffrey Hunter gives a convincing performance. But I’m an Anne Francis fan. She’s always been more than just a “pretty face” in any of her parts. There’s an edge and depth to her that warrants your attention. During "Brainstorm's" 'My Man Godfrey' scavenger hunt party scene (love that mad mod music) there is a moment of a look between Anne Francis and Jeffrey Hunter that I had to play back a couple of times. As they watch the line of people dancing, Francis glances over at Hunter...you know, in that way that folks do when they don’t want the person that they’re looking at to catch them looking...but they get caught anyway?? Now I know it’s a small point, and nothing very paranoidish or noir about it...but it’s just a moment Anne Francis brings to the part. I just love the way she looks away when she gets caught looking. It’s very real.

Image

These two actors are not strangers to each other. They appeared in “DREAMBOAT” fifteen years before. Their chemistry here is believable and I love that they were two kids starting out in this crazy showbiz and now are mature stars in a really good drama. I've only scratched the surface of my thoughts on this movie...and will wait to dialogue with anyone that's willing.

"One of the things that interests me is that the film starts out being a melodrama but ends up being a horror movie." - MICHIGAN J

Right you are Michigan. What can be worse than being where you're not supposed to be?
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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby Dewey1960 » September 6th, 2011, 10:32 am

Maven, a long four-day getaway prevented me from taking a deep look at your fascinating analysis of
BRAINSTORM! Wow. You don't merely watch a film, you crawl inside it and live with it. Thanks for
sharing your (customary) brilliant observations on this top-notch noir masterpiece!

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby CineMaven » September 6th, 2011, 7:21 pm

Ha! Living inside this type of movie where insanity's involved...I hope I can get back out. Thank you for the compliment Dewey. Coming from you, this means a lot. :-)
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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Re: BRAINSTORM on TCM 8/29

Postby JackFavell » September 7th, 2011, 11:01 am

Well, I got five minutes into Brainstorm and something came up - it looks like I have to put it off for one more day. I'm beginning to feel this is a doomed movie. So appropriate.

But I have to say, this first five minutes before the credits run (I love that! Give me a movie with a hook before the credits and I am a happy girl) is one of the sexiest I've ever seen. Not sexy as in sex, but sexy as in stylish. The music, the timing, everything is PERFECT in this set up, and I know that Bill Conrad and I are going to be intimate, cozy friends for the next hour and a half. Am I going to be in trouble if I fall for this very large, very bad man, but very good director?


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