Monday, February 27, 2012


“Film is a disease,” Frank Capra said, “when infected your blood streams it takes over as number one hormone.”

This is collector’s piece either you’re interested in American history of cinema or simply love to watch those popular and lesser known golden classics of last century. Made for British Film Institute (BFI), the volume is consists of three parts with more than three and half hours material and it was brought to screen by none other than Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson. Scorsese who making his active presence felt regularly by making topnotch motion pictures ever since 70s and 80’s powerful New Hollywood cinema also has been making brilliant documentaries about American cinema and music. No wonder many of the films he mentioned here remained his inspirational material as he grew up in 40s and 50s as matinee obsessed boy.

It’s constant dilemma for a Hollywood director to have a tug of war between his personal expressions and commercial imperatives. From iconoclastic names of film grammar like D W Griffith and Munrau to legends like John Ford, Hitchcock, Orson Welles. Elia Kazan, and Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick and lesser known like King Vidor, Samuel Fuller, Nicholas ray, Anthony Mann, Arthur Penn, Raoul Walsh and John Cassavates. Marty talks about the films that impressed him and moved him and intrigued him as a cinephile and brought an urge to direction. Sometimes even lesser known directors’ films remain more inspirational one than the prestigious and popular ones. One can see interesting footages of many silent classics to talkies ranging from various genres like noirs, westerns, gangster films, epics and musicals- i.e. ‘Duel in the Sun’, ‘The Naked Kiss’, ‘The Searchers’, ‘Scarface’, ‘Intolerance’, ‘Sunrise’, ‘Murder by Contract’, ‘The Red House’, ‘The Phenix City Story’, ‘The Bad and The Beautiful’, ‘Colorado Territory’, ‘On the Waterfront’ and many more including those impressive low budget B movies like ‘Detour’ (shot in just 6 days!) and ‘Cat People’.  

He segmented all of the directors and their films in parts such as ‘The Director as story teller’, ‘The Director as illusionist’, ‘The Director as smuggler’, ‘The Director as iconoclast’. He extensively talks about filmmakers from silent era to almost early 70s excluding the era of his career and fellow contemporaries. How filmmakers over the period of time emerge as independent filmmakers, how from fiction and narrative techniques they start exploring and documenting reality, how they break free from studio foundations and set conventions; well Marty shows us certain pioneers of that too. As it ends, I found many great filmmakers sidelined with mere mentioning but as Marty mentioned there are numbers of documentaries books and other materials available on them and so he has highlighted those quite relegated geniuses.


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