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WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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ChiO
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby ChiO » June 26th, 2013, 8:41 am

Babbitt was adapted for the movies twice:

BABBITT (William Keighley 1934), with Aline MacMahon, Guy Kibbee, Claire Dodd & Alan Hale - The New York Times review stated:

Although the cinemized "Babbitt" lacks the remorseless irony of the printed page, it is in its own right a skillfully managed motion picture which regards the immortal George F. with a human and sympathetic eye. As a comedy of commercial manners, it succeeds in being an enjoyable entertainment, and it is performed by the excellent Guy Kibbee with his customary humor and veracity.


BABBITT (Harry Beaumont 1924) - The New York Times at the time called it "tedious", "a clumsy failure", "a hapless effort" and "anything but entertainment." Ouch!

Neither appears to be readily available for home viewing, which may be just fine as to the 1924 version.
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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 26th, 2013, 10:15 am

The wiki article on the book Babbitt is quite interesting. Lewis meant the book as a satire of unthinking conformity and materialism, with a real person as the hero - his hopes and dreams and common status were to make him somewhat sympathetic. Some critics thought he was simply using his writing talent to create unpleasant characters in a complacent and unpleasant universe.

Comparing what I read at wiki and the half of the film I saw, the unpleasantness that generally arcs through Lewis' works (in other words the satire) is completely missing from the 1934 film, making it far more entertaining than the book on which it is based...but then it may actually do the opposite of what Lewis intended. The ending in the film has Myra saving the day, getting Babbitt back into the good graces of his community. Happily ever after, with no satirical edge whatsoever. In the book, Babbitt slips back into conformity due to Myra's illness, accepted by his fellow townspeople for towing the line - the 'boosters' and bourgeois businessmen he's known forever. In the book, he's not altogether happy about being accepted back into the fold. He's simply helpless to do anything different. He's still got his dreams, but is enveloped in groupthink boosterism. It's meant as a scathing indictment of middle class values. The film seems to celebrate those values, at least it appears so to me.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 26th, 2013, 10:39 am

I watched Keeper of the Flame recently Wendy, it didn't rank high up in the echelons of Tracy and Hepburn movies for me but it had enough for it to tick along nicely. I wonder if it played better on stage?
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Professional Tourist
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Professional Tourist » June 26th, 2013, 11:09 am

I realized why I couldn't find Babbitt at the IMDb -- I was spelling it with one 't'. Here is the 1934 production:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024851/

It's interesting that the town in which they live is named the same as in Dodsworth -- Zenith.

It'll be a job finding a copy of the 1934 film of Babbitt anywhere, unless someone has a TV recording. [Elmer Gantry was easy to locate.]

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 26th, 2013, 11:36 am

I don't have a copy, sorry PT!

I think Zenith and it's surrounding state Winnemac were used in several of Lewis' books. Here's what it says about Zenith in the wiki entry:

Zenith is a typical midsize Midwestern city. Lewis was very critical of the similarities between most American cities, especially when compared to the diverse—and by his lights, more culturally rich—cities of Europe. Frowning on the interchangeable qualities of American cities, he wrote: "it would not be possible to write a novel which would in every line be equally true to Munich and Florence."[9] This is not true of Zenith, Babbitt’s literary home. Zenith is a fictitious city in the equally fictitious Midwestern state of “Winnemac,” adjacent to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. (Babbitt does not mention Winnemac by name, but Lewis's subsequent novel Arrowsmith elaborates on its location.) When Babbitt was published, newspapers in Cincinnati, Duluth, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis each claimed that their city was the model for Zenith.[10] Cincinnati had perhaps the strongest claim, as Lewis had lived there while researching the book.[11] Lewis's own correspondence suggests, however, that Zenith is meant to be any Midwestern city with a population between about 200,000 and 300,000.[12]


Alison - it's so good to hear from you! I didn't even know Keeper of the Flame was a play! It's certainly not exciting, but I liked the foreboding of evil it gave off, and again, those references to Citizen Kane were exceptionally strong, to my mind. It's quite thoughtful, and the black and white photography is worth checking out. Lately I've been into those transition movies at MGM - late forties attempts at noir that weren't always successful because the studio was bulging with excess... it seems to take a 'less is more' attitude to do noir well. Or maybe it's not even attempting to be noirish, but more like All the King's Men or something of that nature. Not great, but interesting, certainly.

EDITED: Well, I have to change my post here, because I didn't realize that Keeper of the Flame was made in 1943! That gives it a different spin altogether, not late forties at all.... Now I think it really was influenced more by Citizen Kane.

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby RedRiver » June 26th, 2013, 2:58 pm

There's nothing I DISLIKE about KEEPER OF THE FLAME. It's not dull; not ridiculous, nor terribly pompous. I just don't find it all that entertaining. It's the kind of movie that holds my interest, but afterward, I'm a little disappointed.

feaito

Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » June 26th, 2013, 3:41 pm

Alison, I liked "Keeper of the Flame" (1942) very much when I saw it years ago. I gues that due to the fact that I had only seen Kate & Spence in comedies such as "Desk Set", "Woman of the Year" and "Adam's Rib", I was favorably impressed by their performances in this entertaining drama about the dark side of a supposed American hero. I have fond memories of this film. Guess I'll revisit it any time now. Thanks for bringing it up.

feaito

Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » June 26th, 2013, 3:42 pm

Professional Tourist wrote:I can't find a movie titled "Babbit" at the IMDb.
Perhaps I'll give Elmer Gantry a try tonight -- if I can stop myself from a fourth viewing of Dodsworth. :D


PT I am glad to read this since "Dodsworth" is on my top five list, Wyler is my favorite director and IMO Chatterton, Huston and Astor have never been better than in this superb film.

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby knitwit45 » June 26th, 2013, 7:52 pm

The first hundred :shock: times I watched Dodsworth, I couldn't stand the Ruth Chatterton character, but I have since learned to appreciate the sad woman she was. This is the movie that made me a Mary Astor fan. Never did like her in Maltese Falcon, until I saw what a great actress she truly was in this movie. This is a top 5 movie for me.
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » June 26th, 2013, 8:22 pm

I will never forget the first time I saw "Dodsworth." It was 1982, and it was the second half of a double bill with the Cukor "David Copperfield." I had heard of the Cukor but had never heard of "Dodsworth."

During the intermission, the manager of the theater went to everyone in the audience and begged them to stay and see "Dodsworth."

What a wonderful film! It seemed miraculous that night, and it seems miraculous when I think about it now. Great performance by Huston, in an all-around excellent cast.

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Professional Tourist
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Professional Tourist » June 27th, 2013, 12:08 am

Well, I resisted the urge to watch Dodsworth again tonight, and watched Elmer Gantry. Booo. Long and dull, with another Zenith city, and another character named 'Babbitt.' That Sinclair Lewis fellow does tend to repeat himself. I'm going back to Sam Dodsworth tomorrow night. 8)

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby movieman1957 » June 27th, 2013, 7:48 am

Someone (or several) were raving about "Dodsworth" a few years ago. I found the DVD when a rental place was going out of business. For $3 I found a pretty terrific film. Even The Bride liked it. One of my favorite scenes is still when David Niven rips Ruth a new one in a way that only the English can do.

I haven't seen it in a while but it packs a pretty powerful punch.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

RedRiver
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby RedRiver » June 27th, 2013, 11:44 am

another Zenith city, and another character named 'Babbitt.'

I don't see that as repetition so much as a continuing of story elements (albeit, mere names and locations). It's not ANOTHER Zenith. It's the same fictional town. Main Street America. I assume it's the same George Babbitt. It's like Shakespeare's Falstaff. John Ford's cavalry soldiers. They keep coming back. Not everybody likes ELMER GANTRY. I must be the audience they were looking for. I like everything about it, right down to the rich, painting-like colors. I'm SO glad this one's not in black and white!

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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby RedRiver » June 27th, 2013, 12:05 pm

Never did like her in Maltese Falcon, until I saw what a great actress she truly was in this movie

MALTESE FALCON, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, ACT OF VIOLENCE and this fine performance. That's versatility!

couldn't stand the Ruth Chatterton character, but I have since learned to appreciate the sad woman she was

I have some empathy for her character too. She can't help being what she is. She's not exactly adorable. She just doesn't know any other way. Good writing is like that. People are not all good or all bad. People are people!

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JackFavell
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Re: WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 27th, 2013, 12:57 pm

I love the whole movie, all the characters, but in the last few years, I've come to understand Fran just a bit better than I did before. I used to despise her. Now I really feel some empathy for her. I do think that her feelings had been building up for a long time, while she waited for Dodsworth to retire so she could have her chance at the limelight. Her expectation was that now it would be her turn to have fun, to have an adoring husband who wanted to revel in the fancy living she wanted for a change, rather than following his fairly spartan regimen anymore. Marching to his drum all those years might have been difficult, despite the perks of being a businessman's wife. I think that she was a dutiful if not warm mother and wife, and she felt that maybe it was her turn to have her own fun after years of putting it off as many wives and mothers do, Sam had the place of importance all these years. I'[m not saying that she's right, or that I have marriage problems, just that I can see something in her that I can relate to. Unfortunately, she and Sam were already heading for something different the moment they left for vacation. Sam was lost without work, and really couldn''t understand the vapidity of that social swirl Fran was so besotted with. He needed something to take his time. Something meaningful.

All couples I think go through times like these, where their wants are at odds.... at least I think so. But hopefully, we are able to compromise and work it out with understanding and love. It's not always easy and sometimes we find we don't know our spouses at all. If there's enough caring, we can get to know them all over again. If not, we drift apart further. I think the brilliance of Dodsworth is showing a dysfunctional relationship between two unsuited people who never really knew one another. It doesn't any punches.


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