A Sound Like Thunder

New Forgotten! I recently upgraded my copy of Sternberg’s THUNDERBOLT from the fuzzy mess depicted above to a pristine, pin-sharp thing of beauty more accurately reflecting the style associated with that master of perversity — you can judge  the improvement for yourselves over at The Daily Notebook.

23 Responses to “A Sound Like Thunder”

  1. Great, great piece. Sternberg yoked Bancroft in somewhat for THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK, not for Bancroft’s lack of trying: he’s “big” there, too, but DOCKS is seven hundred per cent bigger.

  2. Tony Williams Says:

    O.K. David. Where did you get that pristine copy? I also have a fuzzy one and want to upgrade so please pm. I also searched for the silent version some years ago in vain.

  3. The pristine copy came from a French TV broadcast, so it has burned-in French subs, making it technically sub-pristine, I guess. Excitingly, I also just sourced a nice-looking version of An American Tragedy, whose previously available version was even worse than T-bolt‘s.

  4. David Boxwell Says:

    Bancroft is perfection in Rowland Brown’s great bail bondsman drama BLOOD MONEY (33), which pushed against the Production Code to a greater degree than just about any other film of the time.

  5. Sounds enticing! I’ll look into it at once. In spite of my immoderate language, I sort of like Bancroft, he’s a totally off-his-time actor who could never have become a star under conditions of absolute sanity.

  6. Simon Fraser Says:

    ” a face like a holocaust of suet”

    too funny!

  7. The UCLA Film Archive has a pristine copy — which I saw last year.

    A DEEPLY strange film.

  8. Thanks for all the praise!

    It is indeed a very odd work, which is perhaps to be expected from JVS, and the nature of the technology available at the time makes it seem even stranger!

  9. “A DEEPLY strange film.”

    @ David E.: I don’t know how you feel about Harold Bloom, but you may be familiar with a powerful concept he brought up, that strangeness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. This key opens lots of doors: Bresson, Ford, Sirk, Welles, Lang, and so on. And it most definitely applies to Sternberg.

  10. >>>and the nature of the technology available at the time makes it seem even stranger!<<<

    Isn't it that the primitive recording technology is echo-y, so that you actually sense the real space that the actors are in? This is what makes it strang, the mixing of fiction and the real.

  11. Sirk spoke of the idea that craziness and trashiness could combine to produce art more readily than stolid good intentions. Sternberg, whose impulses were to high art, whose inspiration was in the low art of the Viennese carnival, and whose field was the genre movie, would probably have agreed.

  12. Not a fan of Harold Bloom.

    David Lynch is always strange but greatness eludes him.

  13. Tom, the accoustics contribute, but I’m also thinking of the extreme use of offscreen sound, the unbalanced levels which seem to fight each other (which is also more realistic than the well-adjusted soundtrack) and the deliberate arrangement of incidental sounds like laughter in an almost musical way. It’s an early study for Shanghai Express, where all the sounds and dialogue follow the rhythm of a train for long stretches.

    I think Lynch is pretty great! But his flavour isn’t to all tastes.

  14. “I think Lynch is pretty great!”

    One of the greatest.

  15. In regards to Viennese directors, although I’m stretching things a bit, have you ever seen Micheal Haneke’s Das Schloss? I saw it a long time ago; I think before Fuuny Games. When I saw Games, I was a little disappointed, feeling that Schloss was alot more nuanced. Maybe its just more conservative.

  16. I hated Funny Games and have tended to avoid “Happy” Haneke’s work, but Das Schloss is one that everyone speaks highly of. I’ll probably take a chance and see it. I’m assuming it can’t be as depressing as The Piano Teacher, seeing as it’s based on Kafka…

    Like most filmmakers with a reputation for glumness, Haneke seems a jolly sort in real life.

  17. I’ve “kept up” with what Haneke’s doing but haven’t seen anything since Games, which I thought too easily pushed “bourguosie” buttons. It seemed like it was intended for a very conservative, middle class, Austrian audience.
    Das Schloss, I remember differently; mostly that it seemed very close in tone to Kafka, and different from say, the arch creepy Mittel- Europa of Svankmeyer or Bros Quay.

    Thanks for the Happy Haneke, although I”m afraid I’m not Jewish, and its only July! Mazel Tov!

  18. Haneke’s teriffic. Cache is a masterpiece, and The White Ribbon isn’t far behind.

    Which version of Funny Games didn’t you like? Haneke prefers the American remake to the original.

  19. Well, I saw the original. The remake didn’t look like it would offer much new material to appreciate, and I resented the “this film is salutary (but not enjoyable)” vibe that seemed likely to be just as strong in the remake (indeed, the fact that he apparently remade the film to reach a wider audience with his dumb message seems to reinforce that impression). But I should probably remain silent until I’ve seen more. There probably IS a Haneke somewhere that I’d like. Probably.

  20. I saw the original, not the American.

    DE – Have you seen Das Dchloss?

    Looking through Village Vuice Archives, saw an article by David Ehrenstein.


  21. Which one? My piece on Made in USA perchance?

    Haven’t see Das Dchloss.

    I’m a major admirere of Ichael Pitt and Brady Corbett.

  22. THE SEVENTH CONTINENT comes highly recommended as it shows that “Slappy” had it all mastered way back in the 1980s.

  23. DE I was trawling through the VV archive looking for a peice of information, so i wasn’t in the right frame of mind to take the time to read the piece, but it was not directly film related. I remember that ther was something about a Viet nam vet.

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