Auteur List: Otto Preminger

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#151 Post by knives » Thu Jun 03, 2021 10:37 pm

Time to finish off the ‘40s which really were a stellar time for Preminger despite the rough start. Have to start with my personal favorite of the noirs, Whirlpool. Mentally I have the Tierney and Preminger films as one of the great pairings of cinema, so the massive gap between Laura and Whirlpool took me by surprise. It just goes to show the quality of these films make them seem so large.

Whirlpool in particular with its mundane handling of the surreal is so amazing it stands as perhaps the greatest noir of all time and surely the greatest bit of proto-giallo studio surrealism ever. The strength of every element and every person is proven by the mere fact that the movie succeeds despite hardly making a lick of sense and having its main narrative concern be delusion. The real world doesn’t matter as this is entirely above it wherein the naked feeling of experience dictates everything. I almost wish to just post every frame of the film as it does it’s own work of arguing it’s worth more than all the words any human could ever write. In general I’m finishing it hard to talk about these later noirs because their qualities speak so much for themselves and benefits are so closely tied to the experiential.

The Fan is a little easier to talk about though I still feel that it’s qualities speak more loudly than my words could. I should really just save myself the time for the next few films, give or take a Monroe, and say this is the best possible version of an already great sounding premise. Dorothy Parker adapts Wilde starring George Sanders is a dessert made in heaven even before we get to the toppings of Preminger and Crain. As can be expected with that background this is another Preminger in love with the spoken word and shows it through the inability to communicate with speech. These are people who speak volumes of beloved words that convey more then the visuals could, but nothing narratively or even necessarily concerning relations. Those are left to the actual visuals. It’s the sort of critique of silent era fuddy-duddiness that only could be born from the theater.
Last edited by knives on Thu Jun 03, 2021 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#152 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 03, 2021 10:52 pm

For the life of me, I cannot fathom Fujiwara's critique of The Fan, where he essentially slams it for bastardizing Wilde without any cinematic involvement. Dorothy Parker's adaptation stings with pleasure, the actors and Preminger's direction plays the acidic dialog so straight that even if you're glued to the screen, several scenes beg to be rewound with subtitles on to grasp their full effects. Even though they have obvious differences, I get a similar amusement from how Preminger tackles The Moon is Blue (which are both easy top five for those trying to cram in prioritized viewings over the next, what, six days left in this project?)

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#153 Post by knives » Thu Jun 03, 2021 10:58 pm

Agreed on both. It’s a tragedy that it seems that Moon and Saint Joan were among my discs to be stolen a few years ago.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#154 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 03, 2021 11:11 pm

That really sucks- though with Warner Archive's curious prioritization of blu upgrades, I'm constantly expecting The Moon is Blue to come sooner or later

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#155 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:38 pm

Lists are due Wednesday, but do people need more time? I wasn't able to log in to post a reminder earlier than this

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#156 Post by knives » Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:05 pm

I wouldn’t mind more time, but anything is good for me.

User avatar
Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#157 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:27 pm

I'd definitely be happy to have, say, one week extra?

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#158 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:59 am

Let's give it to the 16th then!

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#159 Post by swo17 » Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:16 pm

Possibly stupid question about Exodus: I know this film covers a period when Jerusalem was under British rule, but how much of a stretch is the casting of Paul Newman, Lee J. Cobb, etc. as characters that speak fluent English?

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#160 Post by knives » Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:21 pm

Do you mean historically? Any real person from those backgrounds would not have likely known English though I suppose Newman’s character may have been taught some English. After the English inherited Palestine from the Turks they were fairly hands off most of the time.

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#161 Post by swo17 » Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:32 pm

Yeah, I guess that's what I mean. I suspected something like that would be the case, but was a little thrown off by some characters being legitimately English

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#162 Post by knives » Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:08 am

It was a confusing period of history, short of the Balkans has any region been more confused than the lavant in the past seventy years?

User avatar
Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#163 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:31 pm

Just finalized and submitted my list for this, a truly wild ranking that I suspect would please the Cahiers staff. Six of my listed films directly reference the central female character in their titles, seven are at least partially about affairs, and while on the whole I was kind to those films with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, neither of them are in my #1.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#164 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 16, 2021 8:54 am

Lists are due end of the day today, which really means tomorrow morning

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#165 Post by knives » Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:28 am

Which is as good a call as any for my final posting in the list period which appropriately sees the end of Preminger’s second stanza.

As part of that Where the Sidewalk Ends is where I admit noir isn’t really my jam at least in film. For whatever reason as a genre it doesn’t engage me terribly. The exception is these cop on a road to suicide of which Where the Sidewalk Ends is certainly an examplar, albeit not the one in my mind. Andrews’ body is just so degraded and eaten by the shadows he never ceases to be interesting to watch which for those following at home is a big thing for me to feel.

Hecht’s script is brilliant in making the film both inevitable and not bound by fate. Of course with how he is Andrews would eventually have to face the challenges and mirror that he does, but as the boss says at the beginning he could have been someone else. Maybe Malden, maybe a hero. Either way it is by din of choice that we have the character and thus movie that we do.

The 13th Letter is a new one for me and not one I was terribly excited to see though it is better than I was fearing. The conditions of watching this really show the role of cinematography in Preminger’s work as instantly the current terrible print condition makes this less enthusing than those films surrounding it. I imagine a clean release would improve the experience of watching this significantly. The end result is a film that I seem to like more than the average though I’ll admit the fidelity to the source material makes it far less interesting than something like Loosey’s M though there have been a number of great shot for shot remakes so I don’t know what is the actual missing spark here. The use of local flavor is great and helps elevate this significantly though.

Finally, for noir, I’ve got Angel Face, a sad little film that comes across all new. This is one I had no memory of, but right away with its Big Clock vibes and with Preminger away from home and at RKO it’s exciting and different enough out of the gate without necessarily to be new to announce this as one of the great transition films. The biggest change is in tone. This isn’t a whirlwind of psychological decay, but rather a slow exhausted sigh of just wanting to be done with it. He war’s over, let’s get on with life.

That doesn’t mean Preminger enters into a kind of realism, that sequence of shots with Simmons playing the piano would take away any suspicions of that, rather I mean to say that this film’s interest in the strange is focused on action rather than thought. I guess my theme across these noirs has been about Preminger discovering how visual narrative works with this being him realizing how to do it in any methodology. There is no need for a singular cinematic language. Each story can now have its own and so Preminger’s growth as aided by noir is complete and he can do anything he likes.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#166 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:12 am

Never Cursed wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:31 pm
truly wild ranking
So wait, how many times does he say "wild" across two episodes of Batman?! That's.. wi

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#167 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:31 pm

Image

THE OTTO PREMINGER LIST

01 Anatomy of a Murder (1959) 10 (4)
02 Laura (1944) 13 (3)
03 Bonjour Tristesse (1958) 10 (2)
04 Whirlpool (1949) 9
05 Daisy Kenyon (1947) 7 (3)

06 Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) 10
07 Advise and Consent (1962) 7 (1)
08 Angel Face (1953) 11 (1)
09 Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) 8
10 Saint Joan (1957) 7

11 Fallen Angel (1945) 6
12 the Man With the Golden Arm (1956) 4
13 the Fan (1949) 6
13 In Harm’s Way (1965) 5
15 A Royal Scandal (1945) 5

16 Exodus (1960) 6
17 the Moon is Blue (1953) 2
17 River of No Return (1954) 4
19 the Human Factor (1979) 2
19 Skidoo (1968) 2

ALSO RANS

the Cardinal, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, the Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell

ORPHANS
Forever Amber, Rosebud

User avatar
Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#168 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:36 pm

Thank you domino!

My list:

1. Bonjour Tristesse
2. Daisy Kenyon
3. Saint Joan
4. Laura
5. Anatomy of a Murder
6. Advise and Consent
7. Whirlpool
8. A Royal Scandal
9. Angel Face
10. The Fan/Lady Windermere's Fan

I am flabbergasted in a good way as to the high placement of Bonjour Tristesse! Did Laura appear on every submitted list?

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#169 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:40 pm

There were 14 lists, so close but not quite

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#170 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:58 pm

Guess I was the lone Laura holdout--just didn't think it needed my help, and it didn't stand out as much during a rewatch, possibly because my prior rewatch had exceeded expectations. Anyway, this was a fun one. I didn't think I would have time to participate until domino granted an extension and I eventually reasoned that it was dumb for me to own practically all of these films if I didn't take an opportunity like this to watch them. So I marathoned them all over the last week and settled on these rankings:

01 Daisy Kenyon (1947)
02 Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965)
03 A Royal Scandal (1945)
04 Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
05 The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
06 Saint Joan (1957)
07 Whirlpool (1950)
08 Angel Face (1953)
09 The Fan (1949)
10 The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)

I was tempted to put Royal Scandal at #1 but that seemed perverse, so I topped it with two truer Premingers that are equally accomplished but in wildly different directions

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#171 Post by knives » Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:04 pm

To make you not feel too bad swo I would have probably not had Laura on my list if I got my rewatch of Angel Face in earlier.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#172 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:20 pm

Thanks domino! I'm pleasantly surprised to see Bunny Lake is Missing and The Fan score so high, but expectedly despondent that The Moon is Blue continues to fail to impress many. Maybe others will eventually give it the three magic revisits that helped me move from nodding along to considering it an all-timer. This is also the rare list project where I think every film on my list is a perfect movie under its own logic, ranked according to preference in the moment.

1. Anatomy of a Murder
2. The Moon is Blue
3. Whirlpool
4. The Fan
5. Laura
6. Angel Face
7. Bunny Lake is Missing
8. A Royal Scandal
9. Saint Joan
10. Bonjour Tristesse

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#173 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:41 pm

Thanks domino! Nice to see there were at least enough votes to make this project work. Felt iffy there for a while.

Mine:

1. Anatomy of a Murder
2. Bonjour Tristesse
3. Advise and Consent
4. Exodus
5. Where the Sidewalk Ends
6. Laura
7. In Harm’s Way
8. Angel Face
9. Fallen Angel
10. Saint Joan

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#174 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:42 am

Expectedly none of Preminger's pre-Laura works were listed, but interestingly most of his late period was- and the two post-Bunny Lake films that I think actually have some merit in at least being interesting failures were the only absent titles- Oh well, Fujiwara would be proud

It's notable that Carmen Jones was on zero lists as well, probably the most relevant/popular film from his hot period to miss to cut completely

User avatar
Shrew
The Untamed One
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:22 am

Re: Auteur List: Otto Preminger

#175 Post by Shrew » Tue Jun 22, 2021 12:52 pm

Thanks for running the numbers, Dom. I meant to participate more in this list, especially as I got around to a lot of these films for the first time and liked a lot of them, but such is life.

1) Daisy Kenyon
2) Anatomy of a Murder
3) Laura
4) Bonjour, Tristesse
5) The Human Factor
6) Advise and Consent
7) The Fan
8) Bunny Lake Is Missing
9) Where the Sidewalk Ends
10) In Harm's Way

Not seen: Everything pre-Laura/In the Meantime Darling, 13th Letter, Such Good Friends, Rosebud

The Worst: River of No Return--Skidoo and Hurry Sundown are more flawed, but I'd take their bonkersness over this rear-projected dullness. Rote westerns are the worst.

The Underrated: I found myself surprisingly moved by the end of The Human Factor, given the first half-hour of soul-crushing mundanity. The film is so resolute about being humdrum that the would be inciting incident, the after-dinner conversation in which British bureaucrats casually discuss offing a suspected agent, barely registers. Yet at some point the horror of this banal evil begins to build and the flaws become strengths. Iman's limited ability to emote and Williamson's extreme button-down performance create perhaps inadvertent tension about their relationship: is it an intrigue, one-sided, an act? Until suddenly the end reveals that there's been a genuine romance hidden under all the humdrum this whole time. It's like someone took a season of The Americans and cut out everything but the arc of one of the Jennings' sadsack marks and then ended it like a Bresson film.

Post Reply