Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Grab Bag - THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY and PERFORMANCE on Blu-ray ""

Monday, April 28, 2014

Warner Archive Grab Bag - THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY and PERFORMANCE on Blu-ray

THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964; Arthur Hiller)
I've heard it said that THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY was Julie Andrews' favorite film that she ever did. I may agree with her estimation of it. It's pretty great. I recall reading about it in Danny Peary's Guide For the Film Fanatic years ago and I had meant to see it since then. The combination of cast (James Garner & Julie Andrews among others ) and Paddy Chayefsky having written it was quite a draw. I think I was obsessed with NETWORK around the time that I first heard of it. It really feels like a romantic WWII film from the writer of NETWORK, which is great.
We've all seen our share of romantic or heavy drama scenes that take place in the rain. It's a very cinematic thing to do. We can always associate with the idea that whatever is happening is so important to the characters involved is enough to make them forget that they are getting drenched. Plus, filming characters in the rain just looks cool. Often the emotion and their wet faces carry more weight than they would otherwise. All that being said, this film has one of my favorite scenes in the rain that I've seen in a long while. It's the one that really hooked me into the movie in a big way. 

On top of having a great looking black and white transfer (I love high-definition B&W), this Blu-ray has a few extras.
First, there is a nice audio commentary from director Arthur Hiller. With a film as old as this, it is always a treat to have the director's own thoughts and recollections from the production. Hiller mentions right up front that this is his favorite film that he ever directed (& rightfully so as it is probably his best).
Also, there is a short (6 minute) vintage promotional featurette called "Action On the Beach" which covers the recreation of D-Day scene that was used in the film. It shows the various many elements needed to set up this scene.
Buy It Here:
http://bit.ly/1o88oLx




PERFORMANCE (1970; Donald Cammell/Nicolas Roeg)
As with THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, I strongly associate PERFORMANCE with Danny Peary. Though Peary only delineated  AMERICANIZATION with a simple "CM" (indicating it was a Cult Movie) in the back of Guide For the Film Fanatic, he went into much more detail about PERFORMANCE in his essay about it in the first Cult Movies book. It would seem his affection may have landed more squarely on the side of EMILY, as he went into much depth about why he disliked PERFORMANCE. He discussed how it was a film that, as well as being a bit of a mess, conjured up the sense of many distinct odors in the viewer. Though PERFORMANCE was never exhibited theatrically in any sort of Odorama-esque process, Peary felt it was vile enough to make one quite nauseous nonetheless. While I agree with Peary in some respects, I still think PERFORMANCE is a trip worth taking. To be fair, one of Peary's overriding principles (as laid out explicitly in his books) was that though he himself may dislike a film, he would still encourage people to see those films for themselves as they may find some value in the experience. Though the characters in PERFORMANCE - chiefly a gleefully violent gangster and an ex-rock star and his two live-in lovemates - are not particularly likeable at all, there is a lot more going on here. There is an examination of the intermingling of personalities that is rather intriguing and has stayed with me over time. Though PERFORMANCE is in no way as good a film as either, it is easy to insert it into a thematic conversation with masterworks like Bergman's PERSONA and Altman's 3 WOMEN. Along with that thematic thread, the style and editing of the movie also make it memorable and poetic as well. It is certainly an artifact of the late 1960s, but the fact that it was released at all, especially by a major studio is beyond an anomaly, even in a period of offbeat personal expression via more mainstream cinema outlets. PERFORMANCE must been seen by and is recommended for adventurous cinephiles looking to really challenge themselves.
This disc includes a couple supplements:
-"Influence and Controversy" (25 mins) This featurette focuses on the circumstances surrounding the making of the film as well as its reception at the time of its release and its impact since then. It includes interviews with David Cammell, the film's producer Sanford Lieberson , star Anita Pallenberg, editor Antony Gibbs, and others (including other crew members). It's a nice retrospective "making of" type of piece and as you'd expect from a film like this, there are lots of interesting stories behind it and about it.
-"Memo From Turner" (5 mins) 
This vintage featurette is all about Mick Jagger and covers his composing of the film's score and his acting in the movie. 
It features some nice behind the scenes footage from the set and was clearly meant to sell Jagger as one of the driving forces behind the film and what the studio saw as their way to sell the film to audiences at the time. 
Buy It Here:
http://bit.ly/1j4ALCl

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