Archive for The Man With the Golden Arm

Kim Walks Amuck

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on June 8, 2013 by dcairns

Sometimes you just want to grab a shot, isolate it, and hold it up to the light. A walk, a mermaid dress, an elegant camera move. In this case, for some reason the soundtrack refused to come with it, so we have to do without.

The first time I watched THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM I was bothered by the unconvincing, claustrophobic sets. This time round, I had the experience of having been to New York and the production design seemed to capture something authentic about the place — perhaps that very enclosed feeling. Though director Otto Preminger would abandon the studio, pretty much (that last scene in THE HUMAN FACTOR seems to violate his locations-only rule about as brazenly as you could wish for), his earlier films do make sensational use of the ability to film interior and exterior in the same shot, something that’s tricky out in the real world unless you have very bright lights to make the stuff indoors almost as bright as the stuff outdoors.

Bass relief

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2008 by dcairns


The start of the Bass-Preminger collaboration…


Title sequences by Saul Bass. It’s interesting that Otto Preminger, something of a control freak one might think, was happy to basically hand over the openings of his movies to somebody else to direct. I mean, no doubt Bass and Preminger discussed these sequences intensively. But they still smack of untrammelled creativity, so it would be astonishing to me if Otto interfered much after the concept was agreed.

But then, Otto was also able to collaborate effectively with some great composers, and of course there again the filmmaker must entrust a large part of the movie to somebody else, somebody who cannot be directed in quite the same way as an actor or cinematographer…

SAINT JOAN. Impressive how Bass’s hip work merges so well with the period flavour.



EXODUS. “Otto, let my people go!”


“When the Saul Bass credits conclude with the dome of the Capitol lifting to reveal Preminger’s name, the limitations of the whole enterprise are already apparent.” ~ Jonathan Rosenbaum.

THE CARDINAL. Again, simple but stunning due to the careful design of action and lettering together.

IN HARM’S WAY. Just the placement of the words over the image is beautiful, it makes it inexplicable why so many title sequences don’t seem to bother with composition at all.

BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING. Probably my favourite late Preminger, of those I’ve been able to see in decent form. The best ever Olivier film performance, and a superb turn from Noel Coward.


Preminger, a useful combination of artist and huckster, undoubtably borrowed from Hitchcock’s zesty promotional gimmickry, pushing himself forward as a personality, as a bigger star than those in his films, and even narrating his own movie trailers in a lugubrious fashion (Hitch was way better at that though). But Preminger was the first to use the iconic Saul Bass as titles designer (unity was achieved by having Bass design ALL the publicity material as well).