Flippin Sweet Dude

September 15, 2014

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Filed under: Films — Tags: , , , — erika @ 11:08 am

As I started watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid I was sure I hadn’t seen it before. Then the credits at the beginning started with words on a filmstrip about the “hole in the wall gang”. I have watched this film before, but remember the actors, Paul Newman and Robert Redford from the movie Sting which I have watched several times. I think that these actors play well off of one another and make for a great movie. Butch is portrayed as the older and smarter of the two. He is good at thinking according to Sundance. Sundance is a superior shot with a gun and has a temper that Butch seems to be able to sooth so as not to get into too many brawls.

I am not usually a fan of western movies, but have found a few exceptions. This movie held true to the style of criminals and lawmen of the old west. You have the opening scene where the main characters are seen gambling in the local tavern and of course they are winning. Someone is accused of cheating and the guns come out. But what I enjoyed from this movie is that the shooting doesn’t start right away. All Sundance wants is to be invited to stay, then he will move on peacefully, no harm done. The other card player knows he is in serious trouble only after Butch slips of who Sundance is. Their reputations precede them but he still asks how fast Sundance really is in drawing a gun. He receives his answer as he loses his gun and belt across the tavern floor. They leave without anyone getting hurt which isn’t the usual case in the other western films I have watched. You know the type I mean, shoot first, ask questions later.

I enjoyed the added touch of hearing the old sound of a filmstrip clicking away as the movie begins and showing the sienna tones of the days when film was first being introduced. The producers use of montage sequencing in this film helped the film flow and not drag on during the long trips. When they finally decide to go to Bolivia, I liked how you just saw photos put together with music to document the long journey. It would have been boring otherwise. The editing done while they are being chased after the return train robbery helped move the scene along. They went from grassy desert hills, to mountains and sand with rock ledges. This starts in the day and goes through the night and ends on the ledge of a cliff overlooking the choppy river water. I enjoyed the humor of the biggest reason Sundance didn’t want to jump and fight it out was because he couldn’t swim. He was more afraid of drowning than being shot to death.

All in all the movie flowed well for me. It didn’t have too much dialogue that would get in the way of the story just being played out on screen through the acting and body language. I have found that most western genre movies don’t go through a lot of effort to put in too many words. They tend to state the demands and follow through with a good old fashioned shoot out. Sometimes that is the best way to tell their story. I did do some research that leads me to believe that although Butch was a thief he really didn’t shoot anyone. So I guess there is an upside to being the “gentleman” robber.

September 8, 2014

The African Queen

Filed under: Films — Tags: , , , — erika @ 1:04 pm

The African Queen is set in the German occupied part of Africa in 1914. Mr. Allnut is a steamboat driver who delivers the mail and news to the British missionaries there in Africa. This movie starts with the missionaries trying to get the native people to sing hymns. It turns into a cacophony of noises, the missionary singing trying to be louder than the droning monotone syllable of the natives. Mr. Allnut comes into the village and causes a disturbance to end the church session. He is invited to stay for tea where he has an embarrassing scene of his stomach growling and making Rose and her brother uncomfortable. As an afterthought Mr. Allnut lets them know as he is leaving that he won’t be bringing any mail for a while as they are at war with Germany back home.

The ominous sound of drums can be heard in the background announcing the arrival of the German soldiers rounding up the natives to go to war for them and burning their huts so they have no where to return to. This sends Rose’s brother off the deep end and he goes crazy with fever and dies making this the catalyst to push Rose into action. Mr. Allnut comes back to see the village in ashes and Rose sitting devastated on the porch. The bleak scene portrays that there is nothing left to stick around for prompting Mr. Allnut to offer to take Rose with him and hide off of an island until the whole war blows over. The music leading up to getting on the African Queen is foreboding and I thought for sure they would be caught right there. It quickly changes to a jaunty little tune fitting for a peaceful trip down the river.

Rose comes up with a plan of action, she is not content with waiting out the war, she wants to do something to stop the Germans because she blames them for her brother’s death. The idea to go down the river that only one other person has ever survived shows how desperate she is. The use of close up shots in the film really lets you see not only the obvious reactions to each other, but you can see how much more of a story can be told just by reading the body language in each of the actors. Between the close up shots and the music played you can see the distaste that Rose has for anyone who chooses to lose himself to drinking.

The framing of the steamboat in the shots going down the river rapids is large to help make the effects seem bigger. There are some wide shots where it looks like a toy boat being tossed down the rapids put together with some close up shots to show the actors reactions to being thrown down the river. Compared to the quality of editing today, it was very clear at points what was added to the film. You can see the outline of the actors is clearly in front of a picture behind them and when they encounter the swarm of mosquitoes it looks as if there are just floating particles edited over them with the sound of bugs. Even my boys laughed at that. There was the charming B story in the film of falling in love, even though they were complete opposites.

To me the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly. They are captured, about to be hung and then they crash into the sunken African Queen to still blow up the Louisa. That was too much of a Hollywood ending where everything turns out just right in the end. Maybe that was how people liked watching their films in the 1950’s. I usually enjoy them more when there is a dash of reality to the film. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a happily ever after once in a while too.

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