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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The House that Dripped Blood was the title of an Amiscus productions release but also
what some critics labled Hammer studios back in the fifties and sixties. Originally a minor
British production company, they found their niche market in the late fifties creating remakes
of classic Universal movies including "The Curse of Frankenstein", "Horror of Dracula"
and "The Mummy". They continued producing these re-makes and sequels throughout the sixties
with great success then fizzled out in the seventies.

What made the Hammer re-makes so shocking for it's era and so popular is that they were
bloody. Very minor gore in comparison to contemporary flicks but quite controversial at
the time. Universal had cornered the market on horror films in the thirties and forties and while they had excellent production value, performances and black and white photography they did not contain any on screen gore. Bela Lugosi did not even have fangs as Dracula. Hammer movies were shot in color and many of them printed in Technicolor so the few instances of blood and gore were very vibrant.

I never saw any of the Hammer films in theaters and only watched them on TV as a child.
I thought the color photography and acting was good and the sets atmospheric but I couldn't
understand why critics were upset with the blood. There was so little of it on screen. What
I didn't realize was that most of the Hammer films were heavily censored and re-edited for
television. In the case of the features that were distributed by Universal, not only was most
of the gore cut but they even filmed new scenes with other actors to pad out the running
times and tone down the atmosphere. "Curse of the Werewolf", "Evil of Frankenstein" and
"The Kiss of the Vampire" were heavily altered in this manner and were almost unrecognizable
from the original releases.

I found this box set of their lesser titles on sale at Borders and decided to give them another
chance and was quite surprised when I screened them on my DLP. Not only are the 16:9
transfers so vibrant and colorful that they almost look like HD images but the uncut,
restored versions of the movies were full of surprises. I can see now why some people found
them offensive and disgusting. They are quite graphic for their era in complete form and
some are even gory by today's standards. The sound has been cleaned up but they
didn't have the original mixes to re-do them in 5.1. They are all presented in 2 channel mono
but sound fine and are still effective. The 35mm negatives have been well preserved and these
films probably look as good as they did in Technicolor decades ago. I believe they are more
effective projected so if you have a DLP see them that way rather than on a monitor. I'll review
the titles individually below.

"The Curse of the Werewolf" is the best of the lot and is the most graphic and disturbing.
It's the nastiest and most sadistical Hammer film I've ever seen. It was also one of the most
censored and you can see why in this uncut version. Rapes, stabbings, a bloody
squib, scab picking and other gory images made me use the remote and back up a few times
since I couldn't believe what they filmed. Oliver Reed is one of the most intense actors in cinema history with an incredible screen presence. He got his start in
these productions and he made a great werewolf. When he explodes in anger and rage
you're actually nervous watching him. And in real life he was just as volatile. In one
of his drunken brawls in a bar he ending up severely scarring his face which can be seen
in later feature films. This movie had a very unsual structure. The first part of the film
details how Reed became 'infected' with the werewolf disease which according to this
story is because a servant girl was sexually harrassed by her employer, put in a dungeon
and then raped by a dillusional homeless man. Later you see Reed as a child attacking
and devouring farm animals and then finally as the grown man. The only disappointing aspect
of this film is that the transformation scene only shows his hands growing hair. You don't see his face change as you did in the Lon Chaney films. Highly recommended for horror film buffs.

"Paranoiac" is a black and white anamorphic film that is more of a Gothic mystery movie although
horror elements are introduced at the end. It's also a very good picture although it was shot
in black and white instead of Technicolor. Reed stars again as an even crazier man living in
a mansion and trying to drive his sister mad to inherit the estate. Then a supposedly dead
brother reappears threatening his agenda and there is a really wild surprise ending and climax.
When Reed loses his temper and mind in this one, he is truly frigthening. I'd never seen this
picture before so it was a real treat and also highly recommended.

"Night Creatures" is another Technicolor film with some suggested horror elements but more
of an adventure yarn. It's the same story as Disney's recently released "Scarecrow of
Romney Marsh" except a lot more graphic in it's violence and sadism. It's a very entertaining
film with lots of plot twists. Different in tone to the Disney movie and a better adaptation
of the narrative although Walt's three part mini-series was good too. Peter Cushing stars in
the Patrick MaGoohan role of a minister who is covertly a rebel terrorist during the reign
of King George. A good flick.

"The Kiss of the Vampire" is a very good horror thriller, especially in this uncut restored
version. There is some blood but the movie is carried by the performances of lesser
known character actors. No stars in this film which made it more convincing. A young
married couple's car break down outside of a Inn where the landlord feeds the patrons
to a vampire cult that live in the nearby castle. Very good production value and atmosphere
with a surprise climax that is slightly offset by unconvincing bat effects. However, it's
so different than the altered TV version it was a pleasure to see it the way it was meant
to be seen.

"The Evil of Frankenstein" with Peter Cushing reprising his role as the mad doctor is good
too although not as gory as the above four. Even so, there are some gruesome medical
details of trying to make a heart pump after removing it from a corpse and an interesting
sub-plot about a deaf mute beggar girl who becomes entangled with him. The actual monster
is an interesting variation of the Universal make up. An entertaining sequel that held my interest.
Cushing is an excellent actor with his major attribute being able to say hokey dialogue so
convincingly and with such conviction that you end up believing the premise which would
otherwise sound preposterous. Good color photography.

"Brides of Dracula" is an average sequel to the "Horror of Dracula". The Count
isn't in this movie but Peter Cushing as Van Helsing is. The color cinematoraphy
and sets are fine as is Cushing. The main problem with the film is the lead
actress played by Yvonne Monlaur who has a thick French actress and gives the
appearance or reading her lines phoenetically. The emphasis in each sentence
seems off or is on the wrong word so she throws the movie off balance. Otherwise
it holds your attention and has some nice sequences. Monlaur arrives at a Villa
where a woman keeps her handsome son changed to the wall. He seems very
charming and tells her his mother is mad and so possessive she won't let him
leave the mansion. So Monlaur unchains him which turns out to be a mistake
because the reason he was locked up was because he was a vampire and
goes on the prowl at nights. Once again they depict vampirism as a type of
disease if not STD. If only the lead actress was better this would have been
one of the best Hammer flicks. As it is, it's not bad but could have been better.
They should've dubbed the lead actress who is pretty but just didn't speak our
language well.

"Nightmare" is an above average mystery film that doesn't have too much horror content.
It has an interesting structure like "Curse of the Werewolf" and is really a two part movie
since the woman driven insane and institutionalized disappears from the second half of
the film. The climax is a bit cliched but overall the black and white anamorphic film is
mildly entertaining for the way it's put together if nothing else. Certainly watchable.

"Phantom of the Opera" is a decent version of the story with Herbert Lom although this
tale has been told so many times there are no surprises. Color photography and
production value are fine. A bit too many opera scenes. One nasty eye gouging sequence was restored. The Phantom make up is okay but is only seen very briefly during the climax without close shots. Nothing could compare with Lon Chaney's make up in the 1925 original which was the most grotesque of all the film adaptations.

So if you like Gothic movies with a little gore and lots of bizarre imagery, I recommend this
box set. You certainly get your money's worth and since these are not among the studios
best known releases, you'll be seeing most of them for the first time. No suppliments but
most of the cast and directors are long gone now so it's understandable.

If you're wondering why Hammer studios eventually stopped production it's because
they lost their exclusivity on gory content. In the seventies the major studios started
making graphic horror films like "The Exorcist" which made the British features seem
tame in comparison. Also Hammer worked on low budgets by recycling sets over
and over. There was no way they could compete with the larger budgets of
the US studios once they decided to join the field. However it's important to note
that Hammer movies were character and story driven thrillers, not slasher movies
where the gore is the only attribute. I guess that horror film buffs have divided
into two categories in the interim. Splatter buffs (those that like gore for gore's
sake) and horror film buffs (those that like gore within the context of a good
story and with sympathetic characters). I fall into the latter category even
though I've directed movies in both venues. "Splatter University" was definately
a splatter film whereas my latest feature, "What Really Frightens You" has graphic
gore but it's contained within a narrative with characterization.
 

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Thanks for the thoroughness of your review as always. I`m glad I read it. Of the hammer films, by far, me and my friend were into the Dracula Christopher Lee movies. He was convincing, did not really get into stein and the mummy. I liked the originals too much with Karloff.
That is another thing about me, don`t re-do something, if you can not make it better. Then why bother at all. Makes me angry, some movies should just be left alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Greg,

Many thanks. Looks like you were able to get rid of the quotes before your
post.
I thought Lee made a better Dracula than Lugosi. In fact, the only time I thought
Lugosi was scary was in "Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein". The original
1931 Dracula film is very stagey and stiff. Not one of my favorites.
 

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Greg,

Many thanks. Looks like you were able to get rid of the quotes before your
post.
I thought Lee made a better Dracula than Lugosi. In fact, the only time I thought
Lugosi was scary was in "Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein". The original
1931 Dracula film is very stagey and stiff. Not one of my favorites.
I agree, but Bela being the first, hey, where would we all be without him! So, what did you think of the Wolfman Collection I found? I`m considering making that purchase. I never saw that box set before. Never did make it to Wal-Mart yesterday, maybe today.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You should purchase the wolfman collection if you like the older Universal movies.
I like them up to a point but I still prefer the color versions by Hammer which have
move of an edge. I don't require lots of gore to enjoy a horror flick but the complete absense of it is a bit disorienting to me. There is no on screen violence in the black and
Universal films which reduces their impact. Of course they were working within
Production Code restrictions and/or didn't have the clout of David O. Selznick or
the cleverness of Hitchcock to circumvent the Code and get away with it. The one
compensating factor of the Universal black and white pictures was excellent make up
effects. In the case of the wolfman series, that aspect of the movies was better
than the Hammer films.

I drove by the Poughkeepsie Wal-mart today and there were peope picketing it.
I don't know why.
 

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You should purchase the wolfman collection if you like the older Universal movies.
I like them up to a point but I still prefer the color versions by Hammer which have
move of an edge. I don't require lots of gore to enjoy a horror flick but the complete absense of it is a bit disorienting to me. There is no on screen violence in the black and
Universal films which reduces their impact. Of course they were working within
Production Code restrictions and/or didn't have the clout of David O. Selznick or
the cleverness of Hitchcock to circumvent the Code and get away with it. The one
compensating factor of the Universal black and white pictures was excellent make up
effects. In the case of the wolfman series, that aspect of the movies was better
than the Hammer films.

I drove by the Poughkeepsie Wal-mart today and there were peope picketing it.
I don't know why.


Without question, to me I felt also that the makeup, or transformation of Chaney from man to Wolfman, is the best. When you consider that for its time, and what they were working with, they did a good job. I grew up with Karloff, Lugosi, and Chaney. Cushing and Lee were good, especially Lee in the Dracula movies, but give me Universal for the rest.
Maybe too much gore for me, in comparison to Universal. Just like, for me, Basil Rathbone is the only Sherlock Holmes for me, all other adaptations, pale in comparison. But, I`m sure someone else will differ with me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Try the Jeremy Brett British TV series. He makes an interesting Holmes. Very hammy but if you read the stories, that's how he's supposed to be. Brett is almost unrecognizable from his earlier role as Freddie in "My Fair Lady". He didn't age well but it helped his characterization. Rathbone was very good but they updated the later
movies so they took place in the 1940's instead of the 19th Century. I prefer Holmes
as a period character.

I prefer some on screen gore. Not films that have nothing but gore but those
that deliver the goods in that regard. Each Hammer movie usually has one
gory scene that comes out of no where since the rest of the movie is usually
more restrained. As a result, they tend to be a more disturbing and shocking
because you're not expecting it. For example in "Phantom of the Opera" there
is no gore except for one gruesome scene when the rat catcher gets stabbed
in the eye and blood squirts out. It even surprised me.

The Lon Chaney wolfman transformations were just a series of dissolves but they
worked. Poor Chaney had to lay there for hours as they applied the make up in
stages and shot a few feet. Then the lab would dissolve one shot to the other.
A simple effect but it worked.

The Dracula bat transformation in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" was
animated by Walter Lang who did Woody Woodpecker and it was also effective.
 

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Try the Jeremy Brett British TV series. He makes an interesting Holmes. Very hammy but if you read the stories, that's how he's supposed to be. Brett is almost unrecognizable from his earlier role as Freddie in "My Fair Lady". He didn't age well but it helped his characterization. Rathbone was very good but they updated the later
movies so they took place in the 1940's instead of the 19th Century. I prefer Holmes
as a period character.

I prefer some on screen gore. Not films that have nothing but gore but those
that deliver the goods in that regard. Each Hammer movie usually has one
gory scene that comes out of no where since the rest of the movie is usually
more restrained. As a result, they tend to be a more disturbing and shocking
because you're not expecting it. For example in "Phantom of the Opera" there
is no gore except for one gruesome scene when the rat catcher gets stabbed
in the eye and blood squirts out. It even surprised me.

The Lon Chaney wolfman transformations were just a series of dissolves but they
worked. Poor Chaney had to lay there for hours as they applied the make up in
stages and shot a few feet. Then the lab would dissolve one shot to the other.
A simple effect but it worked.

The Dracula bat transformation in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" was
animated by Walter Lang who did Woody Woodpecker and it was also effective.

Like usual, you said a lot here. I have not seen Hammers version of Phamton of the Opera. In fact, to be honest, I did not know they had one. Thank God Chaney was patient, but based on what you said, it does not look like he had any choice about it anyway. But, I loved it.

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein has always been a favorite of mine. But, I wonder on some level if I should be angry, because the movie does poke fun at my favorite monsters. Yes, all of Bela Lugosi`s transformations I have enjoyed as well. They made the best of what they had to work with, and it was successful.
Todays filming can take some hints from them. Computers and special effects are very good, but sometimes over done. The main thing is for you and me, and people like us, we have some memories on dvd, that we now can re-live and enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
They don't poke fun of the monsters in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein".
They play it straight which is why much of it is rather creepy and scary. They
plop down the two comedians within a classic Universal horror setting. They play
it for laughs but not Lugosi, Chaney or Glenn Strange who act as if they are in
a traditional monster feature. That's what makes this movie work so much better
than the over-rated "Young Frankenstein" which does have the monsters goof
around. Brooks replicated the original sets but not the style of the A&C film.
Since the monster series had played out by 1948, it made sense for Universal
to end it by combining their two entities that kept them in business during
the Depression and World War II. The monster movies and the comedy team.
If it wasn't for them, Universal would've folded.
 

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They don't poke fun of the monsters in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein".
They play it straight which is why much of it is rather creepy and scary. They
plop down the two comedians within a classic Universal horror setting. They play
it for laughs but not Lugosi, Chaney or Glenn Strange who act as if they are in
a traditional monster feature. That's what makes this movie work so much better
than the over-rated "Young Frankenstein" which does have the monsters goof
around. Brooks replicated the original sets but not the style of the A&C film.
Since the monster series had played out by 1948, it made sense for Universal
to end it by combining their two entities that kept them in business during
the Depression and World War II. The monster movies and the comedy team.
If it wasn't for them, Universal would've folded.


Thats good. Did not realize that Universal was in trouble during that time. That is how it seemed to me, since no other movies came out after this. I guess it was the beginning of the end. Sadly...........
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Many of the studios specialized in some area if not cornered the market.
They were ruthlessly competitive. Universal had the horror films and
Abbott & Costello. MGM made the musicals. Warner Brothers was known
for their gangster movies. Disney made animated features. Paramount
had the Marx Brothers, Mae West and W.C. Fields. Fox had Shirley Temple
and then focussed on historical epics (they used to be called 16th Century
Fox because of the period movies). RKO had Astaire and Rogers and later
Film Noir thrillers. UA was the quirkiest studio in that they produced movies
in all genres and didn't focus on any particular one. There were some smaller
studios like Mongram (Bowery Boys) and indies like David O. Sezlnick and
Sam Goldwyn that made movies independently and licensed them to major
studios for release. Naturally they all copied each other and MGM made a
very good Film Noir ("The Postman Always Rings Twice") to give RKO a run
for their money. But each one generally had the genre or performers that
were their bread and butter and kept them in business during the worst
years of the twentieth century. All of it fell apart in 1948 when the government
interfered in the industry and forced them to sell of their theater chains which
destroyed the studio system. After that, they all produced movies in all genres
without really focussing on individual stars or story types since they didn't have
people under contract for seven year stretches as they had previously in the
studio system. Of course the split up of the studio system enabled people like
me to make movies in the long run although there's no question that system
enabled the production of superior feature films. It made sense from a business
perspective to have everyone under one roof so if some actor or theme proved
profitable, you could cash in on it and make more movies along the same lines.
If a film was a hit in the post-studio era, the producers had to renegotiate fees
with the star or screenwriter and director which dramatically increased production
costs and risk. In the studio era they were under contract so they could just
instruct the same people to make another movie with the same characters and
theme. In other words if Abbott & Costello's first horror spoof "Hold that Ghost"
was a hit, they would tell them to make some more along those lines without
increasing costs.

Movies are the greatest and most influential art form invented which combines
elements of all the other art forms. But the bottom line is that they are still
a business and various factions in the industry have been allowed to run up the
costs and risk to an absurd level. For instance, why should an actor listen
to the director if he or she is making 10 times more than the filmmaker. A
really rediculous situation from a creative standpoint in my judgment. Over
the years the screenwriters had acquired a lot more power but that was a
mistake too. Movies work best when there are multiple screenwriters with
each one bringing something to the script. Then the director will customize
it (if he's any good) to incorporate his style and worldview. It's not like
a play where the author's vision is the primary ingrediant. It's a director's
medium and the writer or writers should be a secondary entity. That's
what works best.
 

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Many of the studios specialized in some area if not cornered the market.
They were ruthlessly competitive. Universal had the horror films and
Abbott & Costello. MGM made the musicals. Warner Brothers was known
for their gangster movies. Disney made animated features. Paramount
had the Marx Brothers, Mae West and W.C. Fields. Fox had Shirley Temple
and then focussed on historical epics (they used to be called 16th Century
Fox because of the period movies). RKO had Astaire and Rogers and later
Film Noir thrillers. UA was the quirkiest studio in that they produced movies
in all genres and didn't focus on any particular one. There were some smaller
studios like Mongram (Bowery Boys) and indies like David O. Sezlnick and
Sam Goldwyn that made movies independently and licensed them to major
studios for release. Naturally they all copied each other and MGM made a
very good Film Noir ("The Postman Always Rings Twice") to give RKO a run
for their money. But each one generally had the genre or performers that
were their bread and butter and kept them in business during the worst
years of the twentieth century. All of it fell apart in 1948 when the government
interefered in the industry and forced them to sell of their theater chains which
destroyed the studio system. After that, they all produced movies in all genres
without really focussing on individual stars or story types since they didn't have
people under contract for seven year stretches as they had previously in the
studio system. Of course the split up of the studio system enabled people like
me to make movies in the long run although there's no question that system
enabled the production of superior feature films. It made sense from a business
perspective to have everyone under one roof so if some actor or theme proved
profitable, you could cash in on it and make more movies along the same lines.
If a film was a hit in the post-studio era, the producers had to renegotiate fees
with the star or screenwriter and director which dramatically increased production
costs and risk. In the studio era they were under contract so they could just
instruct the same people to make another movie with the same characters and
theme. In other words if Abbott & Costello's first horror spoof "Hold that Ghost"
was a hit, they would tell them to make some more along those lines without
increasing costs.

Movies are the greatest and most influential art form invented which combines
elements of all the other art forms. But the bottom line is that they are still
a business and various factions in the industry have been allowed to run up the
costs and risk to an absurd level. For instance, why should an actor listen
to the director if he or she is making 10 times more than the filmmaker. A
really rediculous situation from a creative standpoint in my judgment. Over
the years the screenwriters had acquired a lot more power but that was a
mistake too. Movies work best when there are multiple screenwriters with
each one bringing something to the script. Then the director will customize
it (if he's any good) to incorporate his style and worldview. It's not like
a play where the author's vision is the primary ingrediant. It's a director's
medium and the writer or writers should be a secondary entity. That's
what works best.

That is a lot. Postman, Jack Nicholson right? I saw that. Have you considered writing a book about the fim industry and share your experiences? I really enjoy all the wealth of knowledge and information that you have and share. If I like it, then someone else will also, ever consider that? Could move you right out of the recession into the forefront...............


Going to work out at the Y in White Plains, talk witrh you later.................
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
No, not the Nicholson remake the John Garfield, Lana Turner version from the
forties.

Studio era was over after 1948. Universal was one of the few ones that continued
to have some actors under contract although in many cases it was for their television
product rather than theatrical features. MGM let everyone go by the mid-fifties.

Most of the historical information I include in my posts is already covered in my two books, "Technicolor Movies" and "The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001". I
spent years researching this. One of the things I do (that most film historians don't
incorporate) is the business side of motion pictures. The profit/loss margin is what
really dictates the content of movies and to ignore that part of history makes it sound
as if events happened in a void. So I always looked into the financial part of filmmaking
as a guide for analyzing what happened and why. And of course the political climate
and stakes always worked their way into content on some level even if it was instinctual. For example, the "Film Noir" cycle of doom and gloom thrillers was a
reflection of post-war cynicism. When Eisenhower became President his upbeat
attitude and baby boom made the grim noir genre fizzle out. Combine that with
the television competition and you have the decade of the spectacular as various
new processes tried to 'wow' people away from their television sets.

By the late fifties the studios took another approach. Rather that fight TV, join it. They all began producing shows for the new medium and selling their libraries for broadcast. As a result, the new formats like VistaVision, 3-D and Cinerama were phased out. All this was tied to the finances of the industry at the time. It was more profitable to produce for TV than compete with it. So if you examine VistaVision and why it disappeared after
1962, it wasn't because the process wasn't popular. It did yield a much sharper
image for theatrical release. But if you link it with the new ancillary market of selling
movies to TV after they played out in cinemas, the poor quality of television sets
in 1962 were not enhansed with VistaVision photography and since there was more
long term money to be derived from syndication than exhibition, the studios couldn't
justify the added expense of shooting in the large negative format.


So that's how I write about film history. I always look into the business side of the art form as guidance for what was going on at any point in time. That's why dye transfer printing
didn't catch on when it was re-introduced in 1997. The superior quality of the
Technicolor release prints couldn't justify the extra cost and short window of
theatrical exhibition. And they weren't appropriate for video transfers. The
primary market was home video, not cinemas, so dye transfer printing bit the
dust for a second time and will never be revived again.

Film Daily Yearbook was the bible of the industry business end and are excellent sources
for this type of information. They are very expensive and hard to find but they do
turn up on ebay. Unfortunately, the yearbooks (1916-1970) ceased publication in
1970 so I have to use alternate sources for financial data. Variety tends to be
an unreliable source because it's linked with the distributor's publicity departments
which exagerate everything. The Film Daily had more accurate data including the
endless litigation everyone was involved with throughout cinema history. If a new
format or process has lots of lawsuits against it then you know it was a successful
one that was adopted by the industry at large.

Bringing this approach to contemporary times, the HD DVD format was better in
some respects to blu ray because they were cheaper to produce and didn't require
a different manufacturing process that blu ray did. But when Warner pulled out
and they lost their software product line, the format was doomed. Beta was
a better format than VHS but Sony was entangled in the Universal/Disney
lawsuit against home videotaping of copyrighted material. They won the suit
but lost the format war and the inferior VHS system prevailed. So many times
the business end of it doesn't result in the better process surviving.


In terms of writing an autobiography, I might but not until I'm out of filmmaking.
Right now I'm focussing on survival since so many people I've done business with
in the indie field are folding like dominoes. Labs, video transfer houses, negative
matchers etc. Fortunately I'm used to working with very limited funds. But,
any tax increase would really hurt me since the recoupment and profit margin
is so tight in this end of the business.
 

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No, not the Nicholson remake the John Garfield, Lana Turner version from the
forties.

Studio era was over after 1948. Universal was one of the few ones that continued
to have some actors under contract although in many cases it was for their television
product rather than theatrical features. MGM let everyone go by the mid-fifties.

Most of the historical information I include in my posts is already covered in my two books, "Technicolor Movies" and "The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001". I
spent years researching this. One of the things I do (that most film historians don't
incorporate) is the business side of motion pictures. The profit/loss margin is what
really dictates the content of movies and to ignore that part of history makes it sound
as if events happened in a void. So I always looked into the financial part of filmmaking
as a guide for analyzing what happened and why. And of course the political climate
and stakes always worked their way into content on some level even if it was instinctual. For example, the "Film Noir" cycle of doom and gloom thrillers was a
reflection of post-war cynicism. When Eisenhower became President his upbeat
attitude and baby boom made the grim noir genre fizzle out. Combine that with
the television competition and you have the decade of the spectacular as various
new processes tried to 'wow' people away from their television sets.

By the late fifties the studios took another approach. Rather that fight TV, join it. They all began producing shows for the new medium and selling their libraries for broadcast. As a result, the new formats like VistaVision, 3-D and Cinerama were phased out. All this was tied to the finances of the industry at the time. It was more profitable to produce for TV than compete with it. So if you examine VistaVision and why it disappeared after
1962, it wasn't because the process wasn't popular. It did yield a much sharper
image for theatrical release. But if you link it with the new ancillary market of selling
movies to TV after they played out in cinemas, the poor quality of television sets
in 1962 were not enhansed with VistaVision photography and since there was more
long term money to be derived from syndication than exhibition, the studios couldn't
justify the added expense of shooting in the large negative format.


So that's how I write about film history. I always look into the business side of the art form as guidance for what was going on at any point in time. That's why dye transfer printing
didn't catch on when it was re-introduced in 1997. The superior quality of the
Technicolor release prints couldn't justify the extra cost and short window of
theatrical exhibition. And they weren't appropriate for video transfers. The
primary market was home video, not cinemas, so dye transfer printing bit the
dust for a second time and will never be revived again.

Film Daily Yearbook was the bible of the industry business end and are excellent sources
for this type of information. They are very expensive and hard to find but they do
turn up on ebay. Unfortunately, the yearbooks (1916-1970) ceased publication in
1970 so I have to use alternate sources for financial data. Variety tends to be
an unreliable source because it's linked with the distributor's publicity departments
which exagerate everything. The Film Daily had more accurate data including the
endless litigation everyone was involved with throughout cinema history. If a new
format or process has lots of lawsuits against it then you know it was a successful
one that was adopted by the industry at large.

Bringing this approach to contemporary times, the HD DVD format was better in
some respects to blu ray because they were cheaper to produce and didn't require
a different manufacturing process that blu ray did. But when Warner pulled out
and they lost their software product line, the format was doomed. Beta was
a better format than VHS but Sony was entangled in the Universal/Disney
lawsuit against home videotaping of copyrighted material. They won the suit
but lost the format war and the inferior VHS system prevailed. So many times
the business end of it doesn't result in the better process surviving.


In terms of writing an autobiography, I might but not until I'm out of filmmaking.
Right now I'm focussing on survival since so many people I've done business with
in the indie field are folding like dominoes. Labs, video transfer houses, negative
matchers etc. Fortunately I'm used to working with very limited funds. But,
any tax increase would really hurt me since the recoupment and profit margin
is so tight in this end of the business.
Okay, well you are thorough as usual. And if that is the way you had to come up with the information you needed at the time, then so be it. Sounds like I need to pick up, one of your books, at least, right. Should provide a bit of interesting reading. But I must say, you really know your stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You can purchase "Technicolor Movies", "The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001" and
"Animal Kingdumb" on www.amazon.com.

Everything you wanted to know about everything regarding motion picture color
and exhibition...but were afraid to ask. And if you have kids, "Animal Kingdumb"
is a combination of Dr. Seuss and Mad Magazine.

And if you're wondering...both my parents were teachers as is my wife so it's
in my blood. I like disbursing all kinds of information. You might disagree with
my spin on the info, but I try to make sure the info is accurate.
 

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Registered
Joined
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526 Posts
You can purchase "Technicolor Movies", "The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001" and
"Animal Kingdumb" on www.amazon.com.

Everything you wanted to know about everything regarding motion picture color
and exhibition...but were afraid to ask. And if you have kids, "Animal Kingdumb"
is a combination of Dr. Seuss and Mad Magazine.

And if you're wondering...both my parents were teachers as is my wife so it's
in my blood. I like disbursing all kinds of information. You might disagree with
my spin on the info, but I try to make sure the info is accurate.
I have no doubt your info is accurate!! But, I`lll look into these. Mykids are young adults now..........
I`m sure there great teachers and love what they do.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just got another Hammer film collection with "The Two Faces of Dr. Jeckyll" and "Scream of Fear". Very interesting. I'll probably review it in another post. I guess I'm an afficianado of small indie companies that exceed expectations and make good B movies with limited funds and excellent technical specs. No excuses for bad camerawork or performances impress me with the line 'we didn't have the money to do it well'. What they mean is they didn't have the talent to utilize their low budgets for maximum impact.

Besides, on the other end of the spectrum, a director can take a huge budget and squander it so the movie looks terrible as was the case of "Heaven's Gate".
 

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Just got another Hammer film collection with "The Two Faces of Dr. Jeckyll" and "Scream of Fear". Very interesting. I'll probably review it in another post. I guess I'm an afficianado of small indie companies that exceed expectations and make good B movies with limited funds and excellent technical specs. No excuses for bad camerawork or performances impress me with the line 'we didn't have the money to do it well'. What they mean is they didn't have the talent to utilize their low budgets for maximum impact.

Besides, on the other end of the spectrum, a director can take a huge budget and squander it so the movie looks terrible as was the case of "Heaven's Gate".
Wow, you got me here on these two. Definitely the Dr. Jeckyll film. Where did you purchase these? For I`m sure these two movies must be pretty hard to find?? Well, I wouldn`t know about such things. But it sounds like, maybe one director could be more creative and heady as to how he puts the film together, and wisely uses his resources. Those who do, a more successful.
 
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