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Filmmaker Henry Koster

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Konway
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Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Konway » November 20th, 2012, 10:15 pm

Hello Everyone,
Henry Koster directed several films (It started with Eve, The Bishop's Wife, Harvey, My Cousin Rachel, The Robe, Mr. Hobbs takes a vacation).
But my favorite film from him was Harvey (1950). The film has Great acting from James Stewart and others, Great cinematography from William H. Daniels, Great script by Mary chase and Oscar Brodney, and Wonderful Direction from Henry Koster. This film also has a brilliant music score from Frank Skinner who also did the score for Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942).

Here is a review of Harvey I did long time ago. But it contains SPOILERS

Harvey (1950)

Harvey (1950) is a film that touched me throughout my life.

One of the strong points of Harvey (1950) is it focuses on the value of a human being and many of extraordinary things that humans forget to notice. Let me take the character Herman Schimmelplusser. He is an old man who opens the gate for Chumley's Rest. But he is an extraordinary man like Elwood P. Dowd. He constructed the brilliant gate himself for Chumley's rest. I think Elwood is the only person who was able to recognize the brilliance of Herman. We see Elwood P. Dowd congratulating Herman Schimmelplusser. Others will just ignore by saying like this "He is just an old man." It is important to give recognition to people for their hardwork and contributions.

Elwood's sister Veta is a social climber who looks for her own success and her own satisfaction. Elwood is exactly the opposite. He is a kind man who tries to do good things for everyone. He gets his satisfaction by making others happy. Elwood's best friend Harvey shares the same good intentions of Elwood. It doesn't matter to Elwood if the person is rich or poor. He is kind to everybody. We also have to understand that Elwood is not living with Veta and Myrtle Mae. But Veta and Myrtle Mae are living with him. If Elwood was in cab driver's own words "a perfectly normal human being", then he would have thrown Veta and Myrtle out of his house. The invisible effort of Harvey makes Veta realize the difference between a man like Elwood and a perfectly normal human being.

Another thing I liked about the character "Elwood" is he talks about about the values of life through his experience - Elwood says to Dr. Chumley like this "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." Cinematography by William H. Daniels was brilliant. You can feel the presence of happiness throughout the movie especially through the use of cinematography. Direction by Henry Koster is brilliant. Each Scene is handled brilliantly. Performance from Jimmy Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Jessie White, Charles Drake, Wallace Ford, and others were great.

I wish I could talk more about it. But it is a long post already. I rate the film 10 out of 10.
Last edited by Konway on November 21st, 2012, 1:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

kingrat
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby kingrat » November 21st, 2012, 12:33 pm

Konway, I must confess that I sometimes confuse Henry Koster with Henry King. Both were "house directors" at Fox for many years, and both tended to favor deliberate pacing in their dramas. I don't have a good grasp on Henry Koster's career as a whole, but the films you mentioned show that he made some films which are still interesting today.

Konway
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Konway » November 21st, 2012, 1:10 pm

Henry Koster was born in Germany in 1905. Since he was a jew, he was becoming an enemy in the eyes of Nazis. He was forced to flee Germany after Adolf Hitler came to power when he knocked out a Nazi SA officer who insulted him in a bank. The manager of the bank, a friend of Koster's, saw the incident, shoved some money into his pocket and told him to go directly to the train station. Koster took his advice and made his way to France, then Hungary, and finally to America. Ironically, after World War II started, Koster was considered an enemy alien and was restricted to his house in the evening. Charles Laughton visited him and played chess with him.

Charles Laughton worked with him in It started with Eve (1941).

RedRiver
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby RedRiver » November 21st, 2012, 2:24 pm

Love that story about Koster in Germany! Fascinating. HARVEY is a beautiful work. You could drive yourself crazy trying to decipher exactly what it means. Is Harvey real or imagined? is Elwood crazy or is it the rest of us? Whatever the meaning, I love it. Stewart was seldom better. The whole cast is fine.

You've posted a very interesting look at Koster's career. He did THE ROBE? Are you bloody well kidding me? How do you fit a biblical epic in with MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION? Directors had jobs in those days. If the boss wants THE ROBE, you give him THE ROBE!

Konway
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Konway » November 21st, 2012, 3:53 pm

When Henry Koster married Actress Peggy Moran in 1941 he promised her he would put her in every movie he made from then on. He did, but it was her statue. Usually it is a sculptured head on a mantelpiece or a piano or desk. In Harvey (1950), we see the sculptured head of Peggy Moran. The sculptured head of Peggy Moran is in the room Where Elwood's mother portrait is. We can see the sculptured head in the scenes that takes place in this room. You will see Peggy Moran's sculptured head on the table.

kingrat
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby kingrat » November 21st, 2012, 8:10 pm

Red, that's why directors like Henry Koster were sometimes referred to as "house directors." The studio trusted them and gave them whatever projects were around. Jack Conway, Sam Wood, and Robert Z. Leonard were similar house directors at MGM.

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Uncle Stevie
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Uncle Stevie » November 21st, 2012, 8:41 pm

Henry Koster was a huge influence in the career and successes of Deanna Durbin while he was at Universal Studio.
Uncle Stevie


"Great Marriages Are Made In Heaven,
So Is Thunder and Lightning"

Konway
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Konway » November 21st, 2012, 9:17 pm

The Henry Koster film I have seen with Deanna Durbin is It started with Eve (1941). It was an interesting comedy with Charles Laughton and Robert Cummings.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Rita Hayworth » November 21st, 2012, 9:55 pm

kingrat wrote:Red, that's why directors like Henry Koster were sometimes referred to as "house directors." The studio trusted them and gave them whatever projects were around. Jack Conway, Sam Wood, and Robert Z. Leonard were similar house directors at MGM.


kingrat wrote:Konway, I must confess that I sometimes confuse Henry Koster with Henry King. Both were "house directors" at Fox for many years, and both tended to favor deliberate pacing in their dramas. I don't have a good grasp on Henry Koster's career as a whole, but the films you mentioned show that he made some films which are still interesting today.


Kingrat ...

Can you elaborate even further what is a "House Director" is? ... I never heard of this term until NOW!

I get somewhat a picture here ... but it is a little vague to me in these two posts here. Thanks!

RedRiver
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby RedRiver » November 24th, 2012, 4:59 pm

Sometimes it's good to have a job. Those guys did some good work. Conway made the sensational A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935), the best of all the Dickens dramas. A couple of brash Gable adventures, as well as the more substantial BOOM TOWN. Sam Wood had a fine hand for melodrama, the result being GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS and the superb KINGS ROW. Hanky wringers don't get any better than that!

I'm less familiar with Mr. Leonard's work, and can't comment.

kingrat
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby kingrat » November 26th, 2012, 2:04 pm

The term "house director" usually refers to the reliable types who usually took the projects offered to them and brought them in more or less on budget. They were not as distinctive or famous as directors like John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock. The look of their films often represented the kind of look the studio favored.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Filmmaker Henry Koster

Postby Rita Hayworth » November 26th, 2012, 2:14 pm

kingrat wrote:The term "house director" usually refers to the reliable types who usually took the projects offered to them and brought them in more or less on budget. They were not as distinctive or famous as directors like John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock. The look of their films often represented the kind of look the studio favored.


Thanks ... I understand this completely ... kingrat!


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