The Christopher Movement

This is the only film Leo McCarey shot between GOOD SAM in 1948 and MY SON JOHN in 1952.

It’s a sort of documentary made for the Christopher Movement, a Catholic organisation dedicated to, I guess, getting more Catholics into government, education and labour organisation. It’s not, I would argue, a very distinguished piece of film. Although it’s meant to be factual rather than entertaining, it’s entirely staged. A bunch of Hollywood types discuss the movement with Father James G. Keller. Notes follow ~

  1. The best thing about the film is the wonky telecine job performed on it by the uploader or his associates. We keep zooming and panning in sudden drunken lurches at every edit, giving the conversation a woozy, drugged-out quality.
  2. William Holden may have become McCarey’s opponent on SATAN NEVER SLEEPS but he was happy to donate his time to this thing.
  3. Normally, a film with these people would be bound to be interesting, though it’s hard to think up a plot that could realistically incorporate roles for Holden, Paul Douglas, Jack Benny & Rochester, Ann Blyth, Loretta Young and Irene Dunne.
  4. Who invited the mermaid?
  5. It’s not really fair to judge Keller on how he comes across here since he wasn’t a trained actor. But I find him damned sinister. Also, he looks a good bit like McCarey. Great cheekbones.
  6. Paul Douglas’ rendition of the Declaration of Independence is not as effective as Charles Laughton’s* in RUGGLES OF RED GAP. Context is key.
  7. Despite everything, Irene Dunne gets a laugh around 13.30. She was one of McCarey’s regular visitors when he was dying, as he is here.
  8. Jack Benny gets some laughs at around 23.
  9. Bob Hope might have gotten a laugh but the sound effect is timed badly.
  10. Oh Leo, Leo, Leo.

*See comments for correction.

 

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7 Responses to “The Christopher Movement”

  1. I’ve seen that sort of drunken telecine panning and zooming before. I always assumed it was an attempt to avoid being detected by copyright-violation-detection-software. (There must be a more succinct term for that.)

  2. Maybe, but it seems to be triggered by edits. As if those were hot-splices upsetting the projector, which seems implausible. Maybe the software detects edits and so this is an attempt to throw it off.

    Anyway, it adds to the immersive quality: that sense of reality coming unstuck is exactly what I imagine it would feel like if you were in the room with those people hearing that conversation.

  3. Randy Cook Says:

    RUGGLES: Gettysburg Address, surely?

  4. Oh yeah! One of those things, anyway.

  5. Youtube’s image stabilisation has been applied. It is intended to make mobile phone videos watchable, and will often decide that any large moving object is actually the background that it is supposed to keep level.

  6. bensondonald Says:

    Eddie Anderson? Just maybe. Jack Benny? Not Catholic.
    Although it makes for fun speculation …
    “Mary Livingstone’s going through our pickles and ice cream, Mr. Benny. Maybe you’re getting a little tax deduction.”
    “That’s impossible, Rochester. I use the rhythm method.”
    “Uh oh! I’ve heard your rhythm, Mr. Benny.”

  7. Thanks, Bob! That KIND OF makes sense, I guess. Although I never encountered it with anything I uploaded, and I don’t see why it should react to edits in totally stable shots.

    McCarey talks about Benny donating to Keller in another anecdote, so I guess Jack was responsive to the anti-communist subtext (and he was, irl, very generous).

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