Red Rock West

Glasses on!

Celebrating the release of Joe Dante’s THE HOLE with a couple of choice 3D movies!

TAZA, SON OF COCHISE is one of the most interesting-sounding 3D movies of the 50s, since it’s directed by Douglas Sirk and photographed in colour by Russell Metty (maybe the greatest cameraman to use the process back then). I never thought I’d find a copy in anaglyph 3D… but then I did! And it was worth it.

“You remember, it was a time of a certain technical revolution, the wide screen, etc. Ultimately, the exhibitors didn’t like it, so it was scrapped. But it was no help to me.” ~ from Sirk on Sirk, Conversations with Jom Halliday.

Despite Sirk’s professed lack of enthusiasm, he stuffs every frame with dimensional interest, achieving numerous subtly impressive effects, always decorating the Utah landscape with foreground action, and taking care to use scenery which offers different plains of interest, from distant buttes to looming branches. As in IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, the best effects are achieved with scenery sloping up or down into the distance. I could hardly be bothered following the story, I was so entranced by the embracing diorama.

Watch out for that rock, Rock!

Of course, there are more vulgar pleasures. Somebody obviously thought having Rock Hudson topless for half a movie was a fabulous idea, and I’m not going to say they were wrong. Stuff gets thrown at the camera, but not too frequently. Generally, the best thing about the process is the you-are-thereness it imparts to the traditional John Ford environment.

17 Responses to “Red Rock West”

  1. I recently saw John Farrow’s Hondo in 3-D. it’s quite a remarkable Western that treats native Americans not as murderous hordes or Nable Savages but people who are perfectly justified in being upset over getting drive off their land. it also features what I’d argue is John Wayne’s finest acting performance (He really acts. Doesn’t coast on his John Wayne-ness for a minute) And his leading leady is (of all people) Geraldine Page.

    Farrow doesn’t throw ANYTHING at the camera. he just uses 3-D to shoot grand Western vistas.

    Taza is indeed kind of fun, with both the director and his star managing to keep a straight face through it all.

    My favorite 3-D movie remains Paul Morrissey’s Flesh For Frankenstein with Udo Kier, Monique Van Voorhen and Joe Dallesandro. High time it was revived.

    High time Joe’s career was revived. He manages a building here in L.A. Kind of like Jean Hagen in her swan song Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn (a marvelously trashy made-for-TV movie about a male hustler that could have used Joe.)

  2. Taza, Son of Cochise is one of the films included in that upcoming (Sept. 30 release date) Douglas Sirk Filmmaker collection from TCM/Universal. Presumably in 2-D. ;)

    So did you watch this 3-D version with the images all blurred and bleeding, or do you have glasses that let you see it in actual 3-D? The one time I tried 3-D at home on my Pioneer Kuro (an episode of the TV series Chuck), the 3-D was pretty lousy. (I have not seen one of the new 3-D television systems.)

  3. I have red and blue specs. You can get them from Amazon. What you can’t get is any movies to watch them through. We NEED a 3D copy of Dial M For Murder, people!

    Taza largely goes the noble savage route. The Indians have a point of view, but none of them are really brought to life as people, despite the good intentions. If you can’t give them a sense of humour and if they have to speak entirely without contractions (“I do not understand what you are saying,”) then it’s pretty hard to make them real. Especially when all the speaking parts are taken by white people.

    What makes it a good film, rather than just a well-meaning one, is actually the use of 3D. I’m tracking down an anaglyph copy of Hondo now…

  4. Jordan Benedict Says:

    3-D? Not this mid-twentieth century gimmick again! While it may appeal to Sony and the other makers of high-def flatscreens, on the off-chance they can backstop their sagging revenues, it does little to improve the enjoyment of avid film buffs. For those of us old enough to remember seeing THE HOUSE OF WAX in 3-D, images jumping off the screen at you was little more than a stunt, and the crappy glasses given to the kids in the audience did strange things to the optic nerves. Worse was the fact that the 3-D movies themselves were just plain awful.

    Time passes, and although improvements have been made in the cameras, features in 3-D are still awful. I would sooner enjoy watching a restored epic such as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA on a 45-foot-wide academy screen with every seat in the house filled so the beauty and grandeur of an event picture could be shared with everyone sitting around me. That’s my idea of going to the movies, not sitting in some danky dark man cave struggling to stay awake during AVATAR. The beauty of movies, big or small, is not so much what the filmmaker shows you; it’s the ability of letting the audience fill in what isn’t shown. Every moviegoer is a participant, which is why we laugh or get scared or cheer the hero on when it’s payback time. If you take that participation away from the moviegoing experience by spoonfeeding the audience with images leaping off the screen, you diminish the thrill of enjoying a picture exponentially.

    3-D can best be summed up by Chicago film critic Roger Ebert
    who said: “It’s a waste of a good dimension!”

  5. Orson Welles had a good put-down for widescreen: “I don’t think the audience deserves anything bigger than they’re already getting.” And Fritz Lang’s “only good for snakes and funerals” is unbeatable. But I still love widescreen movies, Lawrence included.

    There’s no way that 3D can remove the element of the audience’s imagination: only bad storytelling does that.

    Newsflash: hi-tech digital cinematography has removed the 3D headache effect for all save a tiny minority of susceptible viewers (but stay away from bogus 3D like The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans).

    It’s a little hard to judge the merits of 50s 3D movies when most of them are only screened flat. Creature from the Black Lagoon and House of Wax were never great movies. It Came from Outer Space and Taza are GOOD ones, and they get better when seen as the filmmakers intended.

  6. Christopher Says:

    I’ve seen Creature From The Black Lagoon,The Revenge Of The Creature,It Came From Outer Space and House Of Wax in 3D on the big screen.None of those rally need the 3D to be enjoyed..But having seen Hondo a few times,I’ve often hankered to see it most of all in 3D over the others.Its a highly pleasing film and simple,its the locations mainly I’d like to be immersed in with the big effect.

  7. Apropos of little, but I quite literally thought about this film last night for the first time in, oh, a quarter century or so. Why? Because I was watching a South Korean crime drama called Tazza: The High Rollers (sadly not in 3-D, though). Entitled Tajja in Korea, the film was re-titled for Western consumption, though the basis of the new title is not clear to me–for example, there’s no character called Tajja or Tazza. Even better, a sequel is planned, though I don’t think it will be entitled Tazza: Son of Kimchee. Which, I think you’ll agree, it should be.

  8. I’m one of those people who has had difficulty with anaglyph 3-D in the time I tried it. It’s perhaps tied to my astigmatism or something, but I never got the effect as I should have. I grant that I haven’t tried the newer systems, but I though paying a premium to watch a film in 3-D might be a waste for me personally.

  9. Astigmatism would probably wreck it. Although you’ll stand a better chance with the better systems now available.

    Since Jeff Chandler (reluctantly) guested in Taza to tie it in with the preceding film, it’s a shame they didn’t carry on the tradition with Bob, son of Taza, Grandson of Cochise. Or something.

  10. How about Judy: Daughter of Cochise?

  11. Now that I have contacts that fix my astigmatism, it may be so. Back in the day, they were unavailable or (later) horribly expensive.

  12. I’ve seen TAZA in the polaroid full-color 3-D process, and it is indeed quite beautiful – like a Viewmaster slide set of Monument Valley, only on a big screen and moving.

    The plot? It’s another one of those Indians get f**ked over by White Men stories that seemed to be fashionable in the early ’50s (see also DEVIL’S DOORWAY, BROKEN ARROW, APACHE, etc.) and it works OK on that level if you can accept Rock Hudson and Barbara Rush as Indians. I found them both more than adequate, though not as great as Robert Taylor in DEVIL’S DOORWAY.

    I’d be more than willing to buy one of those 3-D television sets if and when they make available for it the best of the ’50s stuff.

    Best 3-D cameraman? DIAL M FOR MURDER had Robert Burks, I, THE JURY had John Alton, and KISS ME KATE, the best looking color film of the lot, was shot by Charles Rosher, who also shot SUNRISE.

  13. With Ann Miller and Bob Fosse 3-D is redundant.

  14. Christopher Says:

    unfortunate the sound was removed from that Judy clip..dazzling and disturbing!

  15. I wondered if it was mute rushes or something, since it’s an outtake.

    Have never seen Kiss Me Kate in 3D, and long to! Never really seen any 3D dancing, and wonder what it’ll be like.

  16. I’ve seen it in 3-D and it;s quite fun, particularly in “Why Can’t You Behave” featuring Ann Miller, Tommy Rall and piece of lumber they both dance on, which frequently sticks out into the audience via 3-D.

  17. Seems like 3D dancing could be pretty good fun. I haven’t been to any of the recent dance things in 3D though because I don’t trust the filmmakers to shoot the dancing properly. Plus I don’t much care for the music…

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