“Why is life worth living?” Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) asks into a tape recorder in Allen's 1979 film Manhattan. His answers—random yet specific—include the crabs at Sam Wo’s, the second movement of the Jupiter symphony, Sentimental Education by Flaubert, Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Potato Head Blues” and “those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne.” Here’s our version of that, certain elements of cinema that make our lives worth living, or at least make movies worth watching. They seem to come to us from out of nowhere, little pockets of breathtaking beauty, expert craftmanship and happy accidents. Here are ten such moments—random yet specific—that make us stick around for one more day.
Entries in metropolis (7)
Sometimes a wonderful thing happens once a film is in the can. The marketing department takes over and creates printed materials that, if you’re lucky, accurately reflect the style and content of the picture you’re about to see. And if you’re really lucky, the posters and one sheets of a particular movie transcend mere communication and stand on their own as works of art. Here are twenty-five movie posters from the silent era where message and mode combine to make something extraordinary.
Metropolis premiers to an enthusiastic audience at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, 1927. Fritz Lang’s ambitious science fiction epic about the conflicts between futuristic societies clocked in at 153 minutes, but distribution company Parafumet had the power to restructure the film as they saw fit in an effort to increase profitability. And so they did, enlisting the creative input of playwright Channing Pollock to simplify and shorten the picture to 115 minutes. In 1936, UFA saw fit to edit Metropolis even more, trimming it to a severely abridged hour and a half.
Its modern-day renaissance began in 1984 when Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder added color tints and an original score to the picture which, with subtitles replacing intertitles and a faster frame rate, ran 80 minutes. Since then, additional bits of footage have been discovered, including scenes found in 2005 at the National Film Archive of New Zealand. Then, in 2008, an incredible find was announced: a nearly complete 16mm print of the film—passed around among distributors and film collectors since 1928—was discovered at Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires. The newly restored, 145-minute Metropolis premiered in February 2010.
Sal Mineo is born in The Bronx, 1939. “It would be easy to blame Hollywood to say that I was typed and forced to play the same role over and over,” the actor said. “For a while, I did. But the truth is that I knew what I was doing. I enjoyed myself. I was making money. I suppose that had to stop. I made some good pictures, and I made some bad ones. I wasn’t trying to build an image, though. I was trying to build a life for myself.” After making Rebel Without a Cause in 1955, he saw lots of troubled teen roles come his way. Following an early-1960s career slump, he appeared in Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965), a rather lurid tale of Lawrence Sherman (Mineo) who stalks Norah Dain (Juliet Prowse) while indulging in his favorite things, namely making obscene phone calls and visiting adult movie theaters. The film did not revive his career, but did switch his typecasting from angry young man to psycho criminal. Though never again as successful as he was in the 1950s, Mineo worked steadily until his death by homicide in 1976.
Here’s a peek at his Who Killed Teddy Bear? workout routine.
Lengthy camera set-ups, time-consuming lighting preparations, actors with copious amounts of free time—all are hallmarks of the slow, precise process of making a movie. Here are some nifty glimpses of that process, 25 moments that reveal what lurks just beyond camera range.
Matt Novak, blogging for smithsonianmag.com, recently shared a nifty article from the June 1927 issue of Science and Invention. Titled “Metropolis—A Movie Based on Science,” the piece examines the futuristic Fritz Lang silent classic with an eye towards how a lot of its special effects—floating rings of light encircling a robot, the destruction of “Workman’s City,” electric currents jumping from one object to another—were achieved. A fascinating selection of illustrations accompanies the article. Take a look.