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Classics Around The Dial

Films, TV shows, and books of the 'modern' era

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby moira finnie » June 14th, 2011, 11:59 am

The rarely seen and visually stunning Sons and Lovers (1960), directed by Jack Cardiff and based on D. H. Lawrence's autobiographical novel is being broadcast a 2pm ET on the Fox Movie Channel on Tuesday, June 14th. It is also available on Netflix as a streaming download.
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The film stars an adult Dean Stockwell as a young man in the industrial Midlands of England. Equally prominent are the brusquely genteel Wendy Hiller and coal miner Trevor Howard in two of their finest mature roles as his parents, whose marital life is marked by an uneasy but palpable and sensual depth of feeling. The couple's conflicts over the future of their son in Nottingham as he seeks a way out of his class via an artistic career form the centerpiece of the film.

Howard's rigid character of the father, imbued with a sense of class pride and earthy humor, is no match for the focused matriarch of Hiller, who openly favors her sensitive offspring's artistic yearnings, ignoring her husband's resentment toward the love she gives her second of three sons rather than her husband. The tug of war between these two is among the best portraits of a vital, if troubled marriage I've ever seen on film (The Sundowners and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs--all released in 1960--are among the best in my book as well. Was there something in the air in that year?).

Faced with censorship issues that prevented Cardiff from transferring much of the roiling sexual frankness in Lawrence's novel to the screen, the relationships of Stockwell's character with a "good girl" (Heather Sears), an experienced woman who is a suffragette and a married woman ( played by Mary Ure, who was nominated for an Oscar), and his domineering mother have considerable tension, though they take a back seat to the older adults' drama.

In the difficult role of a Mama's Boy as the central character, American Dean Stockwell, cast in part to ensure youthful audience appeal, holds his own in this heady company in the same year that he brilliantly played a child murderer in Compulsion (1960). His character spends much of the film half-understanding the events that he lives through, and is often unsympathetic, treating one woman callously and another brusquely, while expressing contempt for his mother's lavish care. Having read Lawrence's book some time ago, I recall that his central character was also constantly impatient with his situation, haunted by his inability to live without the maternal love he craved yet reviled, the spiritual love of his young sweetheart and the carnal love he experienced with a married woman. None of these "complete him" in Paul's (or Lawrence's viewpoint), which is conveyed by Stockwell's expression of dissatisfaction with life as he looks endlessly for one human relationship that will meet all his needs.

Given the legendary Jack Cardiff's background behind the lens as one of the most creative cinematographers in film history, enhancing the visual impact of Black Narcissus and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, among other films, perhaps it is not surprising that a film photographed under his direction won an Academy Award for cinematographer Freddie Francis' darkly beautiful expressionistic black and white visuals. Thanks to these gifted men, a literate script by Gavin Lambert & W.E.B. Clarke and their cast, simple scenes become fraught with meaning and emotion. A potentially prosaic scene when Trevor Howard takes a bath becomes a ritualized celebration of life and a ride on a swing with a girl conveys youthful intoxication with being alive, while the dark landscape take on a fecundity that is both ominous and alluring (reminding me of Henry Moore's sculptured figures).

Winning a Golden Globe as Best Picture, and nominated for a Palme d'Or at Cannes, and seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, (with one win by Freddie Francis for his expressionistic black and white cinematography), the movie ultimately received a nod for Trevor Howard's marvelous performance as Walter Morel from the National Board of Review, as did Cardiff for his direction, which was also recognized by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. The Writers Guild of America also gave the nod to this movie's sceenwriters, Gavin Lambert and T.E.B. Clarke for Best Written American Drama for Sons and Lovers. Unfortunately, Howard was nominated (!!) once for an Oscar as a lead actor rather than as a supporting player for an Oscar. If he had received a nomination as Best Supporting Actor, he might have won that year (Peter Ustinov won for Spartacus). As it was, Howard was competing in the leading category against Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry, for which he won), Jack Lemmon (The Apartment), Laurence Olivier (The Entertainer), and Spencer Tracy (Inherit the Wind)--and he didn't have a chance!

Bizarrely, given the prestige that this movie earned, it is not available on DVD commercially nor is it broadcast very often. If only Fox would have the good sense to ask Dean Stockwell (the only cast member still living) to do a commentary and attach the documentary, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff to the disc as an extra, they might even sell a few DVDs.

You can see more about Sons and Lovers (1960) here.Here's the trailer:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoMSiD08vFA[/youtube]
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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby movieman1957 » June 14th, 2011, 12:48 pm

I've seen it a couple of times over the years, none recently, but this is a pretty powerful film. The first time I remember thinking I was watching a culture I knew nothing about. Trevor Howard was terrific. It is one worth seeking out.
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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby moira finnie » June 14th, 2011, 1:00 pm

Thanks for responding, Chris. I know what you mean. The cultural atmosphere in that coal town is almost tribal (of course, when you think of it, there is an element of that in every community and nuclear family). I have discovered that Sons and Lovers is slated for several other times on FMC too:
June 14, 2011 2:00 pm ET
June 28, 2011 8:00 am ET
July 16, 2011 7:00 am ET
July 31, 2011 7:00 am ET
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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 14th, 2011, 2:29 pm

I studied Sons and Lovers at a literature class at night school, it's a favorite of mine as is Lawrence himself. From the perspective of the novel, the casting of Trevor Howard is a boon, he's so good as the father, Wendy Hiller isn't as I'd picture her in the book but she's superb full stop. It's the casting of Dean Stockwell that I find odd, surely there was a British actor available, it probably came down to appeal to the worldwide market, however he's not bad. Sons and Lovers is a complex novel dealing with a myriad of feelings, Paul is the favorite of his mother and has two very different relationships with Clara and Miriam feeling guilt with both. The film gets most of this across, I wish they'd have cast Alan Bates or Albert Finney as Paul but as it stands it's worth watching.
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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby moira finnie » June 14th, 2011, 2:59 pm

It's the casting of Dean Stockwell that I find odd, surely there was a British actor available, it probably came down to appeal to the worldwide market, however he's not bad. Sons and Lovers is a complex novel dealing with a myriad of feelings, Paul is the favorite of his mother and has two very different relationships with Clara and Miriam feeling guilt with both. The film gets most of this across, I wish they'd have cast Alan Bates or Albert Finney as Paul but as it stands it's worth watching.

I agree, Alison, Bates or Finney would have been excellent, particularly Alan Bates, who could express a realistic blend of the sensitivity, guilt and toughness needed in the role, but you are correct about the casting. Buddy Adler, the production head for 20th Century Fox at the time, and Robert Goldstein, the Fox rep in Britain, both insisted on an American for the role after suggesting and testing some very odd people for the part, including Sean Connery (who was as puzzled as Jack Cardiff by the idea of his playing a Midlands adolescent), Richard Harris and a few other unsuitable people for the role. Originally Fox wanted Vivien Leigh as the mother and Jack Hawkins as the father, despite their Shakespearean-trained voices and generally non-working class air. Cardiff visited with Leigh to discuss the part of the coal miner's wife with a 26 year old son, and her comment was "I don't want to look crummy, Jack." End of story, since Mrs. Morel was never going to be looking a bit glam. Hawkins wisely said no to the part, when someone at the studio hired Harry Andrews for the part after Cardiff had gotten Trevor Howard for less money than usual. Howard was so eager to play the part, he offered to do it for half of his usual fee.

Can you think of another actress in that period who could have done the part of the mother better than Wendy Hiller? I honestly can't.
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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby movieman1957 » June 14th, 2011, 10:14 pm

As luck would have it can be seen on Netflix instant viewing. I added it.
Chris

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby kingrat » June 20th, 2011, 12:19 pm

I haven't seen this film in years, but still remember Trevor Howard's bath scene. He and Wendy Hiller were marvelous. Dean Stockwell at least has the right sensitive innocent quality.

This would make a good choice for the 2012 TCM film festival, with Dean Stockwell talking to R.O. before the showing.

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby Mr. Arkadin » July 17th, 2011, 9:41 am

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Forever Amber (1947) is showing early tomorrow on FMC.

While I've never been sure what attracted me to this two hour epic (Otto Preminger's directing?, beautiful color cinematography?, George Sanders as King?!, Linda Darnell as a blonde?), I must admit I enjoy watching it. This film is still OOP to my knowledge, so if you want find out what the fuss is all about, you'll need to set those recorders.

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby movieman1957 » February 9th, 2012, 1:45 am

I just found it and I know it's late but maybe it will be shown again soon but at 6:40am ET on HBO Comedy Clifton Webb's "Dreamboat" is scheduled. If everyone stays out of the way here I might catch it.

Now, if only someone would show "San Diego, I Love You" again it would be nice.
Chris

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby MichiganJ » March 28th, 2012, 1:16 pm

Not sure where to put this, but Jaromil Jires' masterpiece Valerie and Her week of Wonders is available for free streaming on Hulu until April 9th.
The film is pure magic. Not to be missed.

http://www.hulu.com/playlist/305806
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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 28th, 2012, 4:37 pm

MichiganJ wrote:Not sure where to put this, but Jaromil Jires' masterpiece Valerie and Her week of Wonders is available for free streaming on Hulu until April 9th.
The film is pure magic. Not to be missed.

http://www.hulu.com/playlist/305806


An incredible film. I cannot believe that this movie never gets any press and has not been shown on TCM's Foreign or Underground segments.

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby movieman1957 » September 22nd, 2012, 9:49 am

Roxie Hart and Cool Hand Luke are making a back to back appearance on HBO Signature Tuesday the 25th starting at 4:35 am EDT.

Also on HBO Comedy "Take Her, She's Mine" on the 25th starts at 3:05pm EDT.

You can even find Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex... from Woody Allen and Frank Sinatra's "The Detective" later in the week on the two channels. That is, if any of it has any appeal.
Chris

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby movieman1957 » April 3rd, 2014, 7:52 am

Encore Westerns is showing Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter.
Chris

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby RedRiver » April 4th, 2014, 11:12 am

I'm required by law to mention that I love THE GUNFIGHTER every time it comes up. Henry King's best film?

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Re: Classics Around The Dial

Postby movieman1957 » April 4th, 2014, 11:20 am

Based on his work (which is plenty) it is hard to argue that but it certainly seems among his best work was done with Peck.
Chris

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