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THEM! (1954) on TCM Sat Feb 2

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

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mrsl
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Postby mrsl » February 2nd, 2008, 7:10 pm

knitwit:

You didn't have to worry about that sort of stuff. This is not a film where things go bump in the night. The first 15 minutes is an awsome display of preparing the audience for a heck of a ride, but it is not 'boo, gotcha' time. I'm with Dewey though, I hope someone gives their opinion to this true gem.

Anne
Anne


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Mr. Arkadin
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Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 2nd, 2008, 9:29 pm

I called home and had Mrs. A hit record. Haven't had a chance to view it yet.

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Dewey1960
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Postby Dewey1960 » February 2nd, 2008, 9:56 pm

I think you're gonna love it!

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Mr. Arkadin
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Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 2nd, 2008, 11:14 pm

I plan to kick it on here in a bit. Let's hope I can sleep tonight.

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Lzcutter
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Postby Lzcutter » February 3rd, 2008, 2:51 am

I had a very personal experience with "Them" over 30 years ago.

I saw the film when I was young and, as everyone here has noted, it is one that stays with you. Especially the young girl who hears the sound and says "Them".

Flash forward to 1977, I am new to the campus of USC. The focal point of the campus is the fountain in front of Doheny Library (made famous in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman sitting on the concrete railing of the fountain).

The sound, however, is very weird and takes me back to my childhood. I think immediately of "Them" and the sound of the ants.

The sound effect used for the ants is the sound that Doheny Library makes with its air conditioning/heating unit running.

The sound recordists went there and recorded the sound of the builidng.

I broke out in sweat the first time I stood next to the fountain and heard the sound.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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ChiO
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Postby ChiO » February 3rd, 2008, 7:54 am

I watched it -- and it has only gotten better with age.

Or maybe it's due to my age. For the first time, I caught Richard Deacon as one of the reporters.
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
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Dewey1960
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Postby Dewey1960 » February 3rd, 2008, 8:45 am

Lynn, as a (virtually) lifelong THEM! fanatic, I'm thrilled to learn the derivation of the ant sounds!! For the longest time after we first saw it, my brother and I went around replicating that sound vocally to the dismay and annoyance of intolerant grown ups in our midst. I plan on calling my brother in Detroit to share that bit of info; thanks!
ChiO: THEM! (for me) is one of those films I can watch at the proverbial drop of a hat. I've absolutely lost track of how many times I've seen it and, oddly enough, it always seems fresh and exciting to my senses. And yeah, ain't it a kick seeing ol' Deac in there! Deacon also makes an unbilled cameo in the mindblowing INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (boy, what a resume that guy had!) during the hastily filmed intro and outro imposed on director Don Siegel by a very nervous Allied Artists.

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Postby Ollie » February 3rd, 2008, 11:38 am

Looking at the MORE Credits on IMDB, it's interesting to dig thru some of these folks' history.

Olin Howland playing the drunk who let The General "make me a sergeant, give me the booze!". 205 IMDB credits from 1918 on, including so many classics, from Veronica Lake's THIS GUN FOR HIRE, Blondie movies, The Falcon films, and being Quirt Evans' "best friend" and Telegraph Operatior in ANGEL & THE BADMAN, and dozens of others. Never a star, but always there.

Ann Doran as the girl's psychiatrist, and she brings in 336 IMDB credits from 1922 on, including a seemingly perpetual figure on some TV show every few months of the '70s and '80s.

Leonard Nimoy...

Dub Taylor...

And I think it's Harry Wilson who's the face I can't place, saying, "Please! My noives!" in the Drunk Ward as Olin is singing, "Make me a sergeant, give me the booze!" because Harry was also one of George Raft's dumb gunsels who was "at Rigoletti's, wid chu!"

The puppeting ants are just a horrible FX, but I don't know why they are so wonderful. Seeing the ribcage rolled down the sandpile, seeing other bones and human artifacts strewn out there. It really doesn't have to be more gruesome to convey the movie's intent.

I also think that Ant Sound is just a terrific effect - decades before Jaws, we had THEM telling us auditorially to get ready.

I'm rather surprised that this film hasn't been ripe for Remake with modern FX. I hope it won't ever be, however. After seeing the simply awful TV remake of JASON & ARGONAUTS - which I thought would be even more suitable for FX-remakes - I have zero faith that CGI can possibly deliver a better product.

I will never understand why I am so tolerant of 1933's Kong FX versus Peter Jackson's cartoons - I suspect in one film, the filmmakers encourage me to suspend belief, while in Jackson's, their attempts at realism are obviously not realistic. Is that why I grade CGI so severely? I suspect so.

I think the JURASSICs have a lot going for them, but when I remember the opening scene of Sam Neill out of the jeep, looking at the Bronto's, waving his hand, and they're looking in the WRONG PLACE on the green screen. And the cartoonists refused to position the dinosaurs in concert with the human actors and faces. That bothers me. At least in Jason, Harryhausen ALWAYS made the swords look like they were striking one of the skeleton's swords. That had to be SO precise, not an "in the general vicinity" glance.

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mrsl
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Postby mrsl » February 3rd, 2008, 12:22 pm

Ollie:

Hand over mouth, man, hand over mouth. Please don't give anyone the vaguest smack of an idea to re-make THEM.

I've heard lzcutter's story before. We had quite a discussion about the sound over on TCM a while ago. I commented they sounded like crickets on a summer night, and thereafter referred to it as 'the cricket sound'. That opened up quite an avenue of discourse. I still contend that is what they sound like, but your remark about them being the advent of the music for JAWS is probably on the mark.

Anne
Anne


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* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

]***********************************************************************

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Dewey1960
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Postby Dewey1960 » February 3rd, 2008, 12:32 pm

Six years after THEM! came out my brother and I went to see PSYCHO (with our parents, of course!) The first time Bernard Hermann's violins began to shriek we turned to each other and silently mouthed: THEM!!

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Postby Ollie » February 3rd, 2008, 12:42 pm

MrsL, I understand your concern. I've started taking a contrarian view of remakes: "Bring 'em on - let's identify the idiot filmmakers up front and punish them from that point forward."

Gus Van Sant is number one on my list to bad-mouth and harshly critique from 1998 on. He remade a classic with absolutely no intention to improve it. He bought a paint-by-numbers kit and showed off his true creative spirit in so doing.

When the 1976 KING KONG arrived, they made it contemporarily timed. They used current technology to give us an updated Kong. Was it better? Well, I've seen the 1933 Kong maybe 30 times since then, and 1976's 2 other times. When they're scheduling Kong for annual big-screen showings, there is NEVER a doubt which version they show: 1933's, always. No one even considers the 1976 version.

In 10 years, I doubt the 1978 Atari-effects of ice-skating on Central Park will make Peter Jackson's version a big-screen re-show possibility either.

I appreciated the desire to 'improve' DIAL M FOR MURDER, for example. I don't prefer A PERFECT MURDER but at least they tried to change it around enough to stand on its own without attempts to degrade previous versions ("Oh lookee, ours is SO much better because it's in color AND has cartoons in it!") As fond as I am of Gwyneth's films, well - I've seen Grace Kelly. She's no Grace Kelly.

So, bring on the remakes. "Idiots, please identify yourself! Let the financiers lose their shirts."

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mrsl
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Postby mrsl » February 3rd, 2008, 1:27 pm

Actually, movies have been remade almost since the beginning, often by the same directors to improve their movies due to new cameras, lighting, etc. Look at Red Dust and Mogambo. Same lead male star. Think about His Girl Friday, they changed a whole characters' sex from male to female. The first remake was a great one, but the second fell to the wayside and hardly anyone took any note of it. But the difference is, when they re-made back then, they made changes to enhance the plot, and they used 'A' class actors and directors. I believe with the right blend of personalities you could probably have a runaway hit. I saw a movie the other day I would like to see remade. It was a good story, good plot, but the acting was stiff and boring. It had a lot of good lines but it just didn't come off right.

Today most remakes are sci-fi. Why? Because directors think they can improve with CGI, but that's not necessarily so. People have tried to copy MichaelAngelo and DaVinci, but something is missing, a type of brush stroke, or a color mix, but it just isn't the same. In 3:10 to Yuma, (tho I haven't seen it), most people say they took out the characterization and replaced it with shooting, and killing. Why bother?

I can't conceive of improving Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts was gorgeous, Richard Gere was fabulously suave, the director was on target, the music, lighting everything came together like a banana split - ie. all the flavors mingled and melded together to make a perfect final offering. But when they brought all the same elements together for Runaway Bride, it worked partly, but not to the heights of Pretty Woman, yet nobody can say exactly why, somehow the magic is missing.

If I wasn't so lazy, I would make a list of all remakes and have folks vote on the likes and dislikes, but maybe some will just comment here on what they feel is the problem with remakes.

Anne
Anne


***********************************************************************
* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

]***********************************************************************

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Mr. Arkadin
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Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 3rd, 2008, 6:26 pm

I finished the film. For those unaware, I rarely see an entire film in one sitting. Usually I watch in segments of about 30 min.

This type of film is usually not the kind of film I enjoy. Reasons for this are several: In many of these types of films, production is shabby and acting is subpar. All SciFi films have a "moral" that they impose upon the audience. Many times the whole film is subjugated to bringing this idea across, and the movie suffers as a result.

I was glad to say I saw none of that here. Time and care were taken with characters and shots. While the ants may not be the most realistic things by today's standards, the effect is more than acceptable here and benefits from the idea of keeping the violence off screen at the beginning.

Obviously, I don't have any insights at this time (I'm one of those people who needs several viewings), but I did enjoy a film that I fully expected not to like, which is a big deal for me. 8)

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » February 3rd, 2008, 9:15 pm

I loved this one again, after not having seen it for years and years.

Hey - that was Nimoy in the teletype room! I don't think I noticed him before, and I do think I saw it after Star Trek was on.

The point about detail and characterization is very well taken. One of the things that makes Them! endure is that it's laid out like a detective story, rather than an aliens from outer-space/mutant film. And I did find the ants to be not too bad, as tacky effects go. This one's definitely a keeper.

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Postby Ollie » February 4th, 2008, 6:18 am

My biggest objection against remaking films is, "Why does a filmmaker think they'll do better?" In this film, the pretty couple (James Arness and "Dr" Joan Weldon) are certainly capable of being replaced by the modern good lookers. She can be made into a modern, hard-charging, gun-toting lady, familiar with all forms of weaponry and tactics against monsters commonly employed by anti-terrorist forces.

He can, too. I'm sure all FBI agents are skilled at world domination weapons systems. (cough cough)

But what actor is going to think he can be better than James Whitmore?

And while Edmund O'Brien isn't a huge forceful personality, his wishy-washy first-half-of-film dilly-dallying will be hard to improve on.

In both of these cases, the actors that believe they're better already start with black-eyes.


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