Friday, April 24, 2015

Goodbye A. Arnold Gillespie

I've really been enjoying this month's Friday Night Spotlight on TCM with the two special effects men looking at the special effects on some of those old MGM movies. Tonight, however, is the final Friday night in April, so it's the last of the special effects from A. Arnold Gillespie. Tonight kicks off at 8:00 PM with the obvious special effects of Forbidden Planet. They don't have all that much time to discuss each movie, so it will be interesting to see how much they talk about each of the various aspects in Forbidden Planet, since it's got a lot of effects: the spaceship, the robot, and the Krell invention beneath the surface of the planet all spring to mind Oh, and the various monsters of the id that get produced.

Second is North By Northwest, at 10:00 PM. The Mt. Rushmore used is of course a mockup, just like Alfred Hitchcock had used a mockup of the Statue of Liberty on Saboteur 17 years earlier. I don't know if I'd quite consider that a special effect, but I presume that if Gillespie was in charge of the department that made it, then it's perfectly sensible to discuss the movie. Or are there other more conventional special effects that I've forgotten about? North By Northwest isn't one of those movies that I make it a point to sit down and watch for a third or fourth time when it comes on since I prefer the same story the previous two times Hitchcock did it and don't particularly want to invest two and a half hours on it. Instead, it's more of a movie to watch for certain individual scenes, like the kid plugging his ears before Cary Grant gets shot at the Mt. Rushmore visitors' center/cafe because the kid had sat through a dozen or more takes, or the scenes on Mt. Rushmore. Oh, there's also James Mason's house.

Finally, at 12:30 AM, you can see the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. Gillespie would have had to deal with MGM's water tank to do all the galleon scenes, and then of course there's the chariot race. If you saw the salute to Robert Osborne earlier this month, you'll know that he must be happy he doesn't have to mention the filming of that scene. Oh, and I suppose Jesus performs a miracle or two in this version, as he does in the 1920s silent version. I have to admit that even more than North By Northwest, the 1959 version of Ben-Hur is the sort of movie I'm always reluctant to sit down and invest the time in watching. I think I've mentioned in the past that once you get up to two and a half hours, there are almost no movies that couldn't benefit by being edited down somewhat. Not necessarily down to 150 minutes, but at least a bit. One of the few movies for which I'd say it's long running time doesn't feel long at all is The Best Years of Our Lives.

Next Friday being May 1, we'll be getting a bunch of Orson Welles, if memory serves. I haven't checked yet to see who's going to be presenting the films.

No comments: