Caught Pitfall with Dick Powell, Lizbeth Scott, Jane Wyatt and Raymond Burr last night. Very good movie. Fairly fast paced, tight script, solid performances and interesting social commentary on fidelity, boredom with the post-war "good life" and the aftermath of bad choices.


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My late father-in-law, Robert Wade, writing as Whit Masterson, wrote the book "Touch of Evil" was based on. It was originally titled "Badge of Evil," but has been released under the title Orson Wells gave the movie. There was a long-running feud between Bob and Orson over the movie.

The book takes place in San Diego. The hero is an assistant DA and the bad guy is a corrupt police detective. Orson wanted to make the story all his own, so he set part of the book in Tiajuana, made the hero a Mexican police detective (played by Charlton Heston of all people), and made the bad guy a corrupt DA. Orson used to claim the only thing he took from the book was the title.

The movie is considered a noir classic by movie afficionados, but it was panned by writers and the members of our family. The changes Orson made make no sense and screws up the plotline.

I haven't read the book, but I agree with your family about the movie. One of the most overrated "classics" I've ever seen. After the long, long opening shot (which is brilliant) it's all downhill.

This is the result of growing up in a culture where appreciating the arts is a low priority. Visually, "Touch of Evil" is one of the greatest films ever made, and I could not disagree more about the dialogue. 

Cinema is the greatest of all art forms, but today's Americans only care about being entertained. They just want to leave the theatre scratching their asses and mutter, "That wuz good." You could get so much more out of the experience if you just paid better attention.

Interesting approach to the discussion. "You disagree with me, therefore you are a shallow idiot."  I'll have to try that one sometime.

Oh, and music is the greatest of all art forms. You'd know that if you paid better attention.

It's interesting that you take that comment personally. That was never my intent. I meant the general public. My apologies.

Because Americans no longer care that much about the arts, because the educational system discourages creativity, because we have allowed corporate thinking to dominate our lives, most people simply do not get what they could out of the cinematic experience. 

There is much more to the art of the cinema than mere entertainment, an art form I have spent much of my life studying. Nothing else we have combines light, sound, words and music with such endless and fascinating variation. The potential is limitless.

Which is why I'm sorry a masterpiece like "Touch of Evil" gets short shrift.

Spoken like an artist and a film buff. :) People have always wanted entertainment, IMHO. Nothing purely American or "corporate thinking" about that. Artists and critics want more.

Looking at the Van Gogh, the lady said, "Love those colors. They'll match the living room sofa."

Whoa!  Stephen, you think corporate thinking doesn't dominate Hollywood??


Not entirely. Some filmmakers have freedom, and of course, there are independent filmmakers more interested in telling a good story than they are in piling up too much money: Either/Or Films, based in New Hampshire, comes to mind. Foreign filmmakers, of course, have more freedom than those in Hollywood.

To this day, nobody tells Woody Allen or George Clooney what to do, Joss Whedon recently tackled Shakespeare, and I still have hope that the Star Trek franchise may be saved if they ever get rid of J.J. Abrams and his incompetent screenwriters.

I cannot believe that there isn't another Ingmar Bergman out there, that American drama died with John Huston, or that the industry will be left entirely to kids with computers. As long as there is art, we have hope.

Stephen, we're talking HOLLYWOOD, not New Hampshire. Nice state and all, but puleeze. Who's ever seen a film by Either/Or Films?  What films have they made? Where are they showing?

And in case it's not obvious, the reason Woody Allen and George Clooney get to do what they want is ... TA-DA, their films make money. Yes, foreign filmmakers do have more freedom, but, for example, I wanted to see the latest Pedro Almodovar film, and it is play ONLY in one theater around here, in Cambridge, MA 

I am closer to Hollywood than most, and I can safely say it's a little more complex. Woody Allen's films quite often lose money, but for every "Scoop" a "Midnight in Paris" comes along. Allen refuses to let anyone interfere with the way he makes films. 

After his Oscar nomination for "Good Night and Good Luck," David Straithairn went to New Hampshire to make "Sensation of Sight" for Either/Or. He certainly had more lucrative choices at the time, but David does try to be choosy about the parts he will accept. 

In short, it's not as bad as a lot of people believe. There is still some integrity.

The films are there, if you look, and you're lucky to live in Cambridge (my son lives in Somerville). 

But you don't say where Sensation of Sight played? In which theaters in what cities?

Okay, Woody Allen is considered an "auteur" by the Hollywood insiders, perhaps he's not a good example. But when all is said and done, including the lucrative foreign markets (France especially) and DVD deals, I would be astounded if his films lost a lot of money. Personally, I find a lot of them obnoxious, but that's another story.

P.S. I don't live in Cambridge, but I'm near a T-line, so it's not too hard to get there. Unfortunately, the Kendall Sq theater is NOT near the T.

Well, David Strathairn has been making movies with John Sayles since, "Return of the Seacacus Seven."

Sayles has said in interviews that lots of actors say they want to work with him on his indie movies but when he actually calls them the are always "scheduling difficulties" ;).


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