You Only Live Once (1937)

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Mr. Arkadin
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You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by Mr. Arkadin »

Comes on tonight. TCM hasn't shown this one in years. Possibly the most influential couple on the run flick with the exception of Gun Crazy, which was made over ten years later and is a very different film.
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JackFavell
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by JackFavell »

Thanks for the heads up, Joel. I wonder if anyone will ever find the original 15 extra minutes of the film?

Also on tonight right before You Only Live Once at 8 is They Live By Night. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out. It's quite a film. Ray's sense of romantic fatalism was never as tender as in this film of another couple on the run.

Later on Silent Sunday, it's a Keaton double feature of Steamboat Bill Jr. and The Paleface (1922). I think this is a stroke of genius on the programmer's part since no other comedian is as fatalistic as Keaton. Cops might have been a better choice for the short subject to match the previous movies , but we can't have everything.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by charliechaplinfan »

They are 2 good films to run side by side. I think it was when watching You Only Live Once that I realised how good Henry Fonda was as an actor, I've really grown into him over the years. And Sylvia Sidney, I love her too.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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JackFavell
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by JackFavell »

I was lucky, I think my first experience with Fonda was in The Grapes of Wrath, so I just automatically assumed that he started out as a huge star, and a brilliant actor. It took some time for me to realize that at first, the studios didn't know what to do with this gawky kid who sounded like a Nebraska farm boy.
RedRiver
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by RedRiver »

They are 2 good films to run side by side

Are they ever! The Lang film is ONE of the best with that storyline. Ray's cold drama IS the best! It's simply one of the great crime films of them all. I've asked this question before, but isn't there a movie that finds Fonda holed up in an apartment somewhere? Wanted by the law, maybe? Desperate? I only saw the last few minutes. Don't know much about it, but it looked good.

the studios didn't know what to do with this gawky kid who sounded like a Nebraska farm boy.

It turned out, that was precisely the appeal of this Everyman. There was nobody better at that particular trade.
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JackFavell
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by JackFavell »

That's right red.

I don't know quite how to put this.... Did the movies change and become more realistic because the actors coming up were more rugged and common looking? Did this happen on stage first in the late twenties, or not? Did theatre audiences want a naturalistic approach and it spilled over to Hollywood? Or did theatre and movies change at the same time? Or is it perhaps that the stage actors changed their training because of popular audience taste in the years before the Depression? Tracy, Gable, and then Stewart and Fonda were all trained in the theatre, but at a time when artists were looking for a less declamatory way of acting. Was it more the influence of Stanislavski than any socio-economic event that led to their rise? I just wonder why there was such change right at the moment when the Depression started. Talkies came into popularity, we were thrust into a life and death struggle for our very livelihoods, while more worldly ways of viewing our country and politics became popular. All of this happened pretty much right at the same time.
RedRiver
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by RedRiver »

Wendy, I haven't given much thought to the time frame you've cited. I have concluded that the accepted style of acting became more realistic, less melodramatic, in the era of Lee Strasberg and Brando. Nowadays, actors like Cagney, Stewart and Davis would be considered over the top.
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JackFavell
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by JackFavell »

If we keep going forward on this same path, toward less and less emoting, our actors won't do anything, just stand there with a blank look on their faces at all times.

Some might say we are already there...not me of course. :D :D :D :D
RedRiver
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by RedRiver »

One of my Facebook friends posted a photo of Scorcese, De Niro and Jerry Lewis. I said, "To be honest, I think Jerry is my favorite of the three!"
clore
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by clore »

RedRiver wrote:I've asked this question before, but isn't there a movie that finds Fonda holed up in an apartment somewhere? Wanted by the law, maybe? Desperate? I only saw the last few minutes. Don't know much about it, but it looked good.
That would be 1947's THE LONG NIGHT, a remake of a 1939 French film DAYBREAK which starred Jean Gabin.

The Fonda film does show up on TCM a couple of times a year
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JackFavell
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by JackFavell »

Hey, Clore! Is that you with the Burt Reynolds moustache? :D
clore
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by clore »

JackFavell wrote:Hey, Clore! Is that you with the Burt Reynolds moustache? :D
Yes, that's me from half-a-lifetime ago.

I had that stash before Reynolds hit worldwide fame. Only because I kept getting pulled over by cops while driving and asked for proof by bartenders - and the drinking age was 18 then. One night when I was 20, I was stopped twice by cops, just 15 minutes apart. So, I told the second officer about having just been stopped and he said that I looked too young to be driving and that maybe I should grow a stash to look older - "if you can" he chuckled.

I had it for most of thirty years, though I did take it off now and then as I'd get bored with it. Finally took it off about a decade ago as it was coming in white.

I only found this pic while going through a box of old stuff recently - the pic is actually from my 1982 driver's license.
kingrat
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by kingrat »

Hey clore, love the mustache. I had one (and later, a beard) for decades until a few years ago when the gray facial fuzz became a business detriment.

I was less enthusiastic about You Only Live Once than most of the rest of you. The gap between the quality of the visuals and the quality of the script was reminiscent of Samuel Fuller. Oh my, that cornball ending, and so many other melodramatic clichés that preceded it. This is the weakest script of all the Fritz Langs I’ve seen, with the possible exception of While the City Sleeps.

The interesting style, however, is reminiscent of M, with a well-shot robbery sequence. Great shot of eyes visible from a slightly rolled-down car window, and the use of tear gas and a gas mask is effective. Robert Siodmak perfects this in Criss Cross in an even better robbery scene. The framing shot of Sylvia Sidney’s tiny face (few movie stars have heads as small as she does relative to their bodies) when she visits Henry Fonda in prison is another highlight. The closing gun battle gives us a taste of Bonnie and Clyde to come.

The script seems geared toward boosting Henry Fonda as an appealing new star rather than creating a believable character. Fonda leaves prison for the third time looking as if he’d won the milking contest at a county fair. He can be a basically good guy and still show the effects of his prison years; John Garfield would have no trouble with this. In the later scenes Fonda does exactly this, but this is where he might be more effective as an innocent despite what he’s done. An alternative approach would be to center the film around Sylvia Sidney, the smart young woman who assumes that if she’s attracted to a guy, then 1) she must be in love with him and 2) he must be worthy of her love. Her colorless boss (Barton MacLane) is the hero of the film if actions speak louder than profiles, which in the movies they usually don’t. I have nothing against sympathetic movie priests, but the script fawns over the prison chaplain so much that it almost seems an attempt to curry favor with the Breen Office. I didn’t like the mean boss out of an early Eisenstein film, either.

For me You Only Live Once is far below Gun Crazy, They Live by Night, and Bonnie and Clyde, or, for noirish Henry Fonda roles, The Long Night or even John Brahm’s Let Us Live, which also uses the last minute reprieve by the governor gimmick. Granted, the first four of these are mighty fine films.
clore
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by clore »

Thanks Kingrat. I had a beard for a while, but it was showing a rainbow of colors rather than the normal "so brown it was black" hair on my head or above the lip. Distinctive - yes, but just disturbing to me and I grew tired of explaining that it wasn't something I was doing for effect.

I guess that I'm a bit more fond of YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, maybe because I give it points for being the first of such things, but yes, there's a few points about it that do annoy me. There are too many contrivances, with the bulk of them coming in rapid succession in the last 15 minutes. I do have to watch it again, I passed on the recent airing as I have the DVD.
Western Guy
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Re: You Only Live Once (1937)

Post by Western Guy »

I enjoy YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE for a number of reasons, not the least because it gives us a brief glimpse of a very young Jack Carson and affords toughie Barton MacLane one of his very few genuine nice guy roles.

Another interesting early film based on the Bonnie & Clyde story is PERSONS IN HIDING, featuring Patricia Morrison and J. Carroll Naish as the criminal pair.
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