Mann Up!

It’s decided — next week, starting Monday 9th, will be Anthony Mann Week here at Shadowplay.

The sharp-eyed among you might have noted the lack of an August edition of the Shadowplay Impossible Film Quiz. This will happen — but maybe not until after Mann week.

Meanwhile, this coming weekend I shall be in Klosterneuberg, where my film CRY FOR BOBO is getting screened at the Shortynale Kurzfilm Festival. I must say, it’s delightful the movie is still getting festival action nine years after it was made. Delightful and weird.

If I make it to a computer on Sunday, I’ll be able to post the first ever Sunday Intertitle Live From Austria, but this is not 100% certain to happen. And Saturday could well be affected too. But you’ll have Anthony Mann to look forward to, so I figure that makes us even.

17 Responses to “Mann Up!”

  1. Cool…ANTHONY MANN is one of the finest film-makers of the 50s(which is increasingly becoming clear as the greatest moment of American cinema)…

    I believe this is going to be the first Auteur-Related Week Since the Borzage spectacular a few years ago(of course Hitchcock-Year was different).

    My favourite Manns are THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, MAN OF THE WEST, THE NAKED SPUR, THE MAN FROM LARAMIE, RAW DEAL…and its flawed but THE FAR COUNTRY is also one of the most powerful and disturbing anti-humanist westerns.

  2. Tony Williams Says:

    John Ireland about to give it to us with both barrels in RAILROADED with bullets soaked in his girlfriend’s perfume, the distant ancestor of Robert Joy’s transvestite hoodlum in DEATH WISH 5: THE FACE OF DEATH who eventually faces the vengeance of Charlie!

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    Steve Brodie getting beaten up by the light of a swinging lamp in DESPERATE (47) is the sublimely pure ESSENCE of film noir (cinematography: George Diskant).

    We’re gonna have us some fun with Mann next week!

  4. Tony Williams Says:

    And in the same year he gets strung up near an electric light cord in CROSSFIRE (1947) earning him the Elijah Cook Jr film noir fall guy award for that year also/

  5. Look up Godard’s review of Man of the West — it was a favorite of his.

  6. love Mann’s noirs–have never quite managed to love his westerns (or anyone else’s really, unless you want to count a few Vidors as westerns)… I’ll be looking forward to reading about them all though!

  7. I think Mann translates quite a bit of the energy and darkness of his noirs into his westerns, epics, war movies etc. My viewing for next week has not so far taken in a western, though Winchester 73 was maybe the first non-spaghetti western to make an impression on me as a kid. It was all about Dan Duryea.

    Man of the West is simply sensational, and The Last Frontier impressed me hugely in 16X9 — so now I have a copy in the correct, much wider ratio, I expect to be blown away.

  8. Manny Farber discribed Mann for all times as “Tin Can DeSade”, in that famous joint interview with Patricia Patterson he talks about “The Far Country” in amazing detail.

    ”The Last Frontier” is one of those films that’s worth enjoying only for the CinemaScope framing and arranging of space. It’s basically a remake of FORT APACHE with Victor Mature as a Noble Savage trapper. He’s rivetting, imagine Boudu in the American countryside and entering a Union Fort.

  9. Yet Last Frontier is pretty anti-cavalry, as I recall. Mature is magnificent in it, and Anne Bancroft manages to act her way out of a really unflattering blonde hairstyle. The ending, imposed by the studio, was shot under protest in a deliberately flat way to rob it of uplift, rather like Fuller’s last scene with Stanwyck in Forty Guns.

  10. You’re not going to give THE FURIES a glimpse?

  11. That ending is one reason why I feel the film falls short of the great Manns. Actually endings are a frequent problem in his films either they are too bland as in the final bit of Bend of the River where this selfish love interest of Arthur Kennedy suddenly shacks up with Stewart or plainly poorly written as in The Far Country(I agree with Farber who says that the film collapses as soon as Stewart’s amoral survivalist suddenly goes “man of the people” at the end).

    For me most of the film is about how Mature’s outsider character raises hell inside this humourless compound of military life not unlike how Robert Ryan, with Mephistophillian glee, frequently subverts James Stewart’s pretense of moral uprightness in The Naked Spur. One reason I love The Fall of the Roman Empire is how shocking its ending is – the throne of the Roman Empire going on auction to the highest bidder.

  12. THE FURIES is an amazingly uneven film, extremely interesting whenever Stanwyck, Huston, Ricardo Montalban, Judith Anderson are on the film, but all caught up in a mess. It’s a pity because it could have become a darker version of RED RIVER with Huston in the John Wayne role.

  13. One reason Mann’s endings sometimes seem to wimp out is his films can get so radical around the midpoint, some backing-away from that is necessary to appease studios and censors. Even the excoriating Man of the West gets somewhat more conventional in the last act.

    I should try and get The Furies in there, it has some superb stuff and Wendell Corey is the best he ever was, exuding a lizardlike charisma.

  14. Tony Williams Says:

    I would not say that Julie Adams is a “selfish love interest” in BEND OF THE RIVER. She naturally reacts against Jeremy’s patriarchal attitudes voiced in his washing of socks comment (“Your mother used to wash thousands of socks when she was alive and never complained about it etc)” and is attracted to Kennedy in the same way that her younger is towards “the Rock” despite his earlier comment to her, “I’ve got business with these gentlemen” – a line that always brought the house down when students knew about Rock and his real interests.

    Eventually, she realizes that Kennedy, despite his charm is a dangerous ex-border ruffian who has not changed unlike Stewart. Thus while the Rock can be redeemed by the heterosexual charms of Lori Nelson, Kennedy is beyond salvation since he represents the dark side of Stewart.

    I would also be inclined to agree that many “noir” elements continue underground in the different style of the westerns as they do in Nicholas Ray’s color films.

    Finally David, as to the end of MAN OF THE WEST, the film does break traditional conventions in so far as the girl does not get the hero and he is riding the wagon besides her in the same position as Dock Tobin.

  15. Quite true, the harshness of the film’s treatment of London is markedly modern and leaves us without happy resolution.

    Roman Empire’s ending is terrific indeed, the darkest ending in Mann’s work, perhaps echoing that of Reign of Terror slightly.

    A prize will go to anybody correctly guessing the subject of Mann Week’s edition of The Forgotten, but you’re allowed only one guess each.

  16. Comparing the endings of REIGN OF TERRROR and FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is apt. Although REIGN OF TERROR is linked chronologically – and visually – with Mann’s noir period, it arguably has more in common with his later historical epics. Robespierre in REIGN is just as much the psychotic tyrant figure as Commodus in FALL. (You can also find psychotic tyrant figures in the Westerns, e.g., Doc Tobin in MAN OF THE WEST.)

  17. Commodus in FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE(vastly more interesting than that hideous Oscar-whore remake by Ridley Scott) is actually a fairly complex character, he’s unhinged and crazy but he’s also a victim in a way. Christopher Plummer plays him very well.

    I think that the end of MAN OF THE WEST is really sad, the way the last shot shows that these two people won’t ever see each other again. I also love the ambiguity of the end of WINCHESTER ’73. That rifle is a cursed object spreading violence and bloodshed in its adventures in the film(a shaggy-dog plot that’s handled very poetically by Mann), and Jimmy Stewart who won it never uses it once in the entire film, in the end he wins it by killing his brother and who knows what’ll happen to him. The ending of THE MAN FROM LARAMIE is also just right.

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