Sunday, November 02, 2003


watched Stage Door - the last in the Katharine Hepburn festival on ABC TV last night, waiting for the line that many years ago had been adopted as a catch phrase in a distant shared household past. boynton was becoming anxious as she heard the litany of wise cracks and one liners, and was beginning to think she had the wrong film in mind. Until right at the end Ginger delivers:
The best line in the film, though, is Rogers' marvelous barb to a friend over the phone when Gail Patrick enters the scene: 'Hold on, gangrene just set in.'

Comments: barb

I cannot watch those "films" myself---its all about wisecracks, one liners and delivery(Bob Hope style).
The visual language is shockingly bad. It's little more than theatre masquerading as film.
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at November 3, 2003 11:10 AM

It's funny isn't it how people's pleasure in movies can be so different. I just love the sheer performance brio of these flicks, and the timing, and the wit and the guts of the characters. A lot of the shooting was mechanical, but that also sometimes had to do with the clumsiness of early sound stages, and the basic decision of many directors to simply shoot it so they stayed out of the way of the comedy. Watch any Marx Bros film..

For me, one of the intriguing ideas about the whole space is that they are so theatrical, and yet they rely so completely on a cinematic and not theatrical relationship with the audience.
Posted by David Tiley at November 3, 2003 11:42 AM

Yes I forgive Stage Door its limited regard for cinematic language for its many charms.
First non-musical film to have that strong female ensemble - the men are quite secondary. And such an ensemble! In the historical socio-eco context that is quite remarkable. Apparently much of the dialogue was improvised - and some of it seems to work and get a spontaneity feel even within that wall of wise-crack chatter. I did find it hard to catch all the words, so it's interesting about the sound quality issue. Like the Marx bros - (connection with Kaufmann and screen-writer Ryskind)- you just have to run with it - and then there seems to be an over-arching rhythm or sense to the verbiage city/theatricality.
And Rogers and Hepburn are just wonderful.
And of course it's the right vintage - I'll watch anything made before say 1952.

& while there are certain times and moods however when such verbally 'dense' film can be irritating, I found it rather pleasant on saturday night.
Posted by boynton at November 3, 2003 01:08 PM

"its all about wisecracks, one liners and delivery"...

just like alot of Shakespearian comedy really - much ado about nothing, taming of the shrew come to mind. The one's where the girls really get to answer back.
Posted by wen at November 3, 2003 02:26 PM

Yes "its all about wisecracks, one liners and delivery"...
funny it reminded me of the blogosphere at times-
this cacophony of chat and throwaway one-liners.(disturbing development in blog addiction: starting to read world as blog)
Also it's been a while since I saw "The Women" - that more celebrated example of the women's ensemble genre, but I didn't like it as much as SD.
Posted by boynton at November 3, 2003 05:27 PM

Gary, you've gotta stop watching Ingmar Bergman for the slapstick.

Boynty, just looking at your first comment above and I noticed a proloferation on hyphens. Don't read it, just look at it and see if you don't agree.

Coincidentally, I watched Stage Door on Satdee night too. Doubtless an early chick flick, and good fun with it. A worthy companion to His Girl Friday or 42nd Street.
Posted by Tony.T at November 3, 2003 06:56 PM

- dash it all- I see nothing unusual-looking - or even remarkable - about my idiosyncratic -though perhaps Emily-Dickinson-esque- use of the hyphen.

- oh and btw Gold Diggers of 1933 is the movie cited as being a musical forerunner of this genre.
Posted by boynton at November 3, 2003 07:12 PM

I'm not convinced by the defence of Hollywood. I accept strong women characters, great ensemble acting,improvised dialogue and the relationship with a cinematic audience.

But the defence treats film as a secondary form of literature,not as cinema.
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at November 3, 2003 08:33 PM

I agree, Gary. It is bad cinema.
As such, on its own inferior terms it can be nonetheless a rather enjoyable 'read'.
Posted by boynton at November 4, 2003 10:14 AM

well - we see all their faults (their inability to get the new medium quite right), but still read and enjoy the first 'novels'. Maybe they'll still be watching (& enjoying, but for ethno-historical reasons only) all the bad earlyish cinema 100 years hence.
Posted by wen at November 4, 2003 02:17 PM

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