The Cobweb (1955)

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benwhowell
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The Cobweb (1955)

Post by benwhowell »

Here's an MGM title I'd love to see...
Produced by John Houseman and directed by Vincente Minnelli-the team behind "The Bad And The Beautiful."
With music by Leonard Rosenman...and art direction from Cedric Gibbons.
And what a cast!
Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Grahme, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, John Kerr, Susan Strasberg, Oscar Levant, Fay Wray, Tommy Rettig, Adele Jergens, et al.
About the staff and patients of a chic mental institution who all weave tangled webs while deciding on the design of the library drapes! in glorious Eastmancolor.
Any comments?
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Moraldo Rubini
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Re: The Cobweb (1955)

Post by Moraldo Rubini »

benwhowell wrote:Here's an MGM title I'd love to see...
Produced by John Houseman and directed by Vincente Minnelli-the team behind "The Bad And The Beautiful."
With music by Leonard Rosenman...and art direction from Cedric Gibbons.
And what a cast!
Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Grahme, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, John Kerr, Susan Strasberg, Oscar Levant, Fay Wray, Tommy Rettig, Adele Jergens, et al.
About the staff and patients of a chic mental institution who all weave tangled webs while deciding on the design of the library drapes! in glorious Eastmancolor.
Any comments?
Sounds great. Why have I never heard of it? With a cast like that... it must have been a terrible bomb, right? I'm curious!
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Moraldo Rubini
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It's three o'clock in the moooorning.

Post by Moraldo Rubini »

JohnM wrote:It's a fairly terrible film, interesting because of its cast, only! I feel it gets fairly adequate airplay on TCM, and always has. You must keep missing it, Moraldo. I seem to recall that either the cast takes a curtain call, or they did in one of those MGM Parade shorts.
It probably plays at 3am. It's a pretty sure bet that if I want to see a movie, TCM will play it at 3am...
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Post by pktrekgirl »

I saw this film about a year ago on TCM - and was interested in it mainly because I love both Lauren Bacall and Charles Boyer.

In short, not the best film I've ever seen.

The cast did wonders with the material they were given. But unfortunately, what they were given was essentially a steaming pile of garbage. :lol:

I'm glad I saw it because of the cast. But the script itself is sub-par.

I thought I burned a copy of it to DVD-R, but I don't see it on my film list for some reason.... It might be in this pile of films I have sitting around that I've not edited yet....if I still have it, I can send you a copy, Ben. Otherwise, you can wait for it on TCM.
My wife said she'd help young people, ... That's what I'd do. Help young people, then buy a big motor home and get out of town.
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benwhowell
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Too many cooks?

Post by benwhowell »

I guess this would fall under the "one man's trash..." category. I love big Hollywood productions like this with all that talent...leaving you asking "What went wrong?" These are the movies that beg for "audience participation-"making up your own dialogue, etc.
Another one of my faves is "The Oscar." One of the many curious things about "The Oscar" is sci fi writer Harlan Ellison co-writing the screenplay!
feaito

Post by feaito »

I watched it and found it OK. Nothing really special, but worthwhile. I was intrigued because of the all-star cast and cuz it contains a performance by Lillian Gish (who's a favorite).
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ken123
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Post by ken123 »

It's awful. :(
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

With that great sounding cast and as accomplished a director as Vincente Minnelli one can't help but expect something special, but it seems muted from beginning to end, with a few exceptions:

1.) 2 Bad Girls in this movie stand out--one, because she rarely played such a vixen, and the other because she patented the type:
Lillian Gish and Gloria Grahame, both of whom stir up nothing but trouble.

2.) An interesting sequence searching for an escaped and possibly suicidal patient (John Kerr) takes place on a rainy night along a river. It almost could've been as effective as the director's handling of Lana Turner's car ride in The Bad and the Beautiful or the hunting for the wild boar in Home From the Hill a few years later, but I suspect that there may have been some budget cuts in the studio and maybe the actors and other personnel didn't quite believe in the material either, and the script seems to waste some fine talent at every turn.

3.) Oscar Levant's last appearance on film is sad, funny and striking.

Probably worth a look if you love Minnelli's work. No one else is really able to rise above the material here, unfortunately. After all, can you really make a whole movie about choosing some new drapes?
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mrsl
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Post by mrsl »

One man's trash, another man's treasure.

The choice of drapes was strictly a by-product. They were a catalyst to begin the unraveling of several different stories revealing jealousy, envy, lust, love, conspiracy and corruptness. The shame of it is that Minnelli obviously didn't know what kind of script he had, or what calibre of actors he was working with. A truly great director could have made this a terrific movie. All the elements are there, but he doesn't bring it to the front. Everyone is seeming to sleepwalk through their lines and nobody ever wakes up until its over.

I don't know directors very well except western ones, so I have to use them as my examples. If a Budd Boetticher , or John Ford directed, this would have been an oscar contender. They would have been able to bring out the emotional impact needed from the actors, but Minnelli just didn't know how to do that apparently. The hatred between Lillian Gish and Gloria Grahame should have been so apparent you could taste it, and the empathy of Strasberg for Kerr could have been palpable enough to bring the audience to tears. You understand I'm not saying those directors should have directed, I'm saying a contemporary director who has their strengths and knowledge. As I said, I can't say just who, certainly not Sirk, he would have made a soap opera tour de force out of it like he did with Written on the Wind and countless others. Maybe Billy Wilder - he did The Apartment didn't he or someone like that?

Anyway, next time you see it, try to picture it with a different director, and the potential it had to be great with a few changes in personnell.

Anne
Anne


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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Sorry, Anne. The flippant remark about the drapes was meant to be a little humorous.
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Moraldo Rubini
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What a tangled web Dorey Schary weaved...

Post by Moraldo Rubini »

But Minnelli had both the talent and the power, Anne. So I can't help but wonder if he didn't have the inclination. He was seriously battling MGM at the time this movie was made. He was disgusted with the treatment of Brigadoon, the musical that he'd just finished after MGM drastically slashed his budget and forced him to make the movie their way -- not his. At the insistence of Dore Schary, he was thrown into Kismet. He wanted nothing to do with it, preferring to work on the biopic Lust for Life, and forcing other directors to take over on the musical fantasy. It wasn't a good time for him, nor for MGM. Something tells me there's a revealing and interesting backstory in The Cobweb...
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Post by mrsl »

Moira: I knew that you were being facetious. I truly feel Cobweb could have been a much better movie, and Mr. Moraldo probably makes a few good points. I know I always get a kick out of the story of Brigadoon and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. Imagine all the money that would have been made if the studio had gone all out for both movies and done them on location!!!! As it was, 7 Brides did pretty well, but to take away from one to play up the other, and the one they don't expect to do anything ends up as the biggie - ha, ha.

You're probably right about a good back story Moraldo!

Anne
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

I know I always get a kick out of the story of Brigadoon and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. Imagine all the money that would have been made if the studio had gone all out for both movies and done them on location!!!! ~Mrsl
I'm still holding out hope that some creative genius will come along and give Brigadoon the on-location in Scotland remake it deserves, (and restore alot of the music & dance that was lost in the film). Now, how do we bring back a Gene Kelly to play his role the way he and Minnelli would have wished?
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Post by MissGoddess »

I thought The Cobweb was going to be better than it was, too, but it's entertaining enough in a very sudsy way. However, Susan Strasberg has always irritated me most unreasonably. She always seems to have this mewing, "poor me" complex. Lauren did a more interesting variation of the mental-illness theme with Shock Treatment---anyone see that?

I have never yet seen The Oscar, but it may be the most "panned" movie I've ever heard of. Was it really so awful?
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