Saturday, October 25, 2008

Norm Partridge on movies

Further comments on Touch of Evil:

Norm Partridge:

It really amazes me all the stuff Hollywood threw out. Of course, I wouldn't have expected anyone to anticipate DVDs with all those extra features, but jeeze. It would have been nice to see some of this stuff uncut, as the director originally intended it. But it seems like (mostly) the studios just buried all the footage that wasn't in the final release print in landfills. Maybe that's what's under Burbank.

And, for my money, Universal was the worst. I love those old monster movies especially. Have heard about missing scenes/test color footage for SON OF FRANKENSTEIN/Lugosi's screen test as the monster for the original FRANK/alternate cut of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN in which Lugosi's monster talks.... all that stuff FOR YEARS. And Universal keeps releasing different editons, and wait a sec--this time even a specialer edition--but they don't seem to have a single frame of that stuff. It's just a crying shame that they tossed EVERYTHING. I get upset just clicking over to the special features on their discs. I know that all I'm going to get is a half hour of talking heads (their A&C MEETS FRANK disc doesn't even have the outtakes that you can find on Youtube, fer chrissakes!).

The Warner Brothers discs are almost uniformly fun, though. Even if they don't have a lot of extra material that ties into the movie, I always get a kick out of the Warner Night at the Movies features. Great to see those old short subjects and cartoons, and they really help get me in the mood for the main feature.

What surprised me is that TOUCH OF EVIL also got really bad press when it was released. I love that movie to pieces (even with Fritz Weaver's character being so annoyingly nervous and wacky). Also really dig THE STRANGER even though Welles thought it was his least important film (it was apparently his only truly successful one too). CITIZEN CANE helped to establish a lot of the noir mood that crime pics eventually became known for. If the man had stuck to crime early on out of the gate and actually embraced the genre, I wonder if he would've been truly embraced by the public.
I love TOUCH OF EVIL, too. Even Chuck Heston as a Mexican. In a twisted way, it's fun to check out first-round reviews like that. I came across one for Charles Beaumont's THE HUNGER AND OTHER STORIES awhile back that pretty much carved it up. I'm sure a lot of the fifties guys had reviews like that (if they got reviewed at all). One book I've always been curious about is I AM LEGEND. I'd like to go back and see what folks made of that when it first came out. I think it was a pb original, so I'll bet it didn't get too much coverage, but it would be fun to investigate.



MysterLynch said...

I must confess I have not seen ATOE.

I have the new edition sitting on my desk and am looking forward to checking it out in the next week.

Anonymous said...

Norm, great column. I don't know much about the ins and outs of movie-making and the history of noir and all, but Craig McDonald, in his new novel HEAD GAMES, has some great comments about ATOE. Is any of it true? I've no idea, but it seemed to fit what I do know about the movie and it was fun to think about. Welles and Marlena D are peripheral characters in the novel and they're quite fun.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that. I mentioned Craig's book HEAD GAMES and didn't sign the post. It's just me.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me why I should take seriously the opinion of a man who doesn't know the difference between Fritz Weaver and Dennis Weaver? Or who perhaps does know but didn't bother to get it right?