Lost Command
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2015 | 2014 | 2011

2 items from 2015


The Films of Val Lewton: ‘Cat People’ and ‘I Walked With a Zombie’

6 October 2015 3:17 PM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

Val Lewton, Russian émigré turned horror master, was a reporter, pulp novelist and MGM publicity writer before moving into film. He spent the 1930s as David O. Selznick’s story editor, directing second unit work on A Tale of Two Cities (1935) and script doctoring Gone With the Wind (1939), warning Selznick it would be “the mistake of his life.” While not Hollywood’s most prescient man, Lewton’s professionalism earned Selznick’s respect, and their collaboration led to Rko offering Lewton a producing job in 1942.

Rko was reeling from Orson WellesThe Magnificent Ambersons, an expensive flop forcing a refocus on low budget films. Charles Koerner headed the studio’s B Unit, envisioning a horror series inspired by Universal Studio’s successful franchises. Where Universal culled from established literature (Dracula, Frankenstein), Rko worked from Koerner’s whim: he created a title and left the filmmakers to handle trivia like plot and characters. »

- Christopher Saunders

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Leni Riefenstahl’s Impossible Dream: Tiefland, Fantasy and the Fuhrer’s Shadow

7 July 2015 11:25 PM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

Part I. A Filmmaker’s Apotheosis

April 20th, 1938 marked Adolf Hitler’s 49th birthday. In the past five years, he’d rebuilt Germany from destitute anarchy into a burgeoning war machine, repudiated the Versailles Treaty and, that March, incorporated Austria into his Thousand-Year Reich. In Nazi Germany, fantasy co-mingled with ideology, expressing an obsession with Germany’s mythical past through propaganda and art. Fittingly, Hitler celebrated at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, Germany’s most prestigious cinema.

There, Nazi officials and foreign diplomats joined dignitaries of German kultur. Present were Wilhelm Furtwangler, conductor of Berlin’s Philharmonic Orchestra; Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and confidante; actor Gustaf Grundgens, transformed from Brechtian Bolshevik to director of Prussia’s State Theater; and movie star Emil Jannings, Oscar-winner of The Lost Command and The Blue Angel, now an Artist of the State. Also Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who nationalized German cinema in »

- Christopher Saunders

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2015 | 2014 | 2011

2 items from 2015


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