Los Miserables, el musical

¡Por fin! ¡POR FIN! Llega a todos los cines españoles una película subtitulada. Toda la película de Los Miserables es un musical, cantan practicamente el 98% de la película, y cuando no cantan, y ahí se nota que estamos en España, está doblado. Es… como escupirle a alguien un lapo de moco verde. Estás tú tranquilamente, emocionada por lo divertidas o conmovedoras que son ciertas escenas y de repente… zas! Una frase en otro idioma con otra voz de un personaje que ya conocías. ¿No habría sido más barato, más agradable y más respetuoso para quien paga la entrada de cine no haber doblado el puñado de frases que han decidido doblar?
Sí, claro que era todo lo mencionado y más.
¿Por qué han decidido doblarlo?
Porque vivimos en Espala, ese maravilloso país.
Fui a ver la película con Chandler que no estaba del todo convencido. Yo tenía muchísimas ganas de verla, había oído que a todo aquel que fuera a verla le encantaría. Y a mí me maravilló.
Los Miserables es la historia de Jaques Valjean, un hombre pobre que sufre veinte años de prisión por robar una hogaza de pan. Valjean escapa a su destino, a su vida y acaba prosperando, siendo un hombre respetado que por motivos de guión vuelve a encontrarse con su suerte y a partir de ese momento, explotan todas las historias, Fantine y su pequeña, la no revolución francesa que empeora, los pícaros ladrones…
Todas las canciones se grabaron en directo mientras los actores actuaban, la mayoría de los rostros son conocidos y yo siento una indescriptible devoción por el chaval que interpreta a Grachove. Qué máquina. Tiene un divertido acento británico y no tiene miedo de la cámara, lo hace genial, pero genial que ese niño va a ser un grande del cine.
La actriz que hace de la Eponine adulta (la hija de los ladrones) también actúa en el musical teatral de Los Miserables.
Tom Hopper dirigió la película, el mismo que me fascinó con The King’s Speech y Claude-Michel Schönberg se encargaba de la música. Aunque la película cogió las canciones del teatro, así que tampoco tuvo que inventarse lo que ya existía.
Quizá la película sea un poco larga (pero yo le quitaría entre diez y quince minutos, no más) pero desde luego que merece muchísimo la pena.

Looper

Cuando vi el tráiler de esta película ya me entraron ganas de verla, pero también tengo ganas de ver Desafío total, que tiene pinta de ser una de esas en la que importan más los tiros y los efectos que la historia. No era que actuaran Joseph Gordon Levitt y Bruce Willis, quizá soy una de esas que se deja llevar y cuando escucha que una peli es buena, es la razón que me impulsa al cine.

Sea como fuera, la película me pareció genial. Se hizo con 30 millones de dólares, lo que para Europa es una barbaridad y para EE.UU. es bajo presupuesto, al parecer no confiaban demasiado en la película. A mí me parece perfecto, si hubiera tenido más dinero igual la habrían estropeado, así que así todo el mundo vive feliz. ¿De qué va la película exactamente? Cuanto menos sepáis mejor, pero os copio el resumen que aparece en FilmAffinity.

“Como en 2072 los asesinatos están terminantemente prohibidos, las víctimas son enviadas a través de una máquina del tiempo al pasado (2042), donde los Loopers, un grupo de asesinos a sueldo, se encargan de eliminarlas y deshacerse rápidamente de sus cuerpos. El problema surge cuando Joe (Gordon-Levitt), uno de los Loopers, recibe desde el futuro un encargo muy especial: eliminarse a sí mismo (Bruce Willis).”

La historia está muy bien explicada, utilizan una voz en off para ello, (en la primera parte de la película sobretodo) y te van dando detalles que más tarde cobrarán sentido cuando la película vaya llegando a su fin. La historia me parece muy original, muy curiosa y no te aburres en ningún momento. Es ciencia ficción con cine negro, mafia con viajes en el tiempo, una historia de amor con el egocentrismo. Es muy interesante ver cómo el personaje de Gordon Levitt y Willis cambia tanto con 30 años de diferencia, uno es joven y pasota, el otro es un amargado sabio.
Por mucho que sea una película que te deja pensativa, no deja de haber tiros y persecuciones, por si alguien lo dudaba, y esos momentos son aún mejores porque son cuando no te acordabas de qué tipo de película te habías metido a ver. Yo desde luego os aliente fervientemente que acudáis al cine a verla.
Aplausos al director y guionista de la película Rian Johnson, a partir de ahora estaré atenta de sus nuevos proyectos.

MacCarthyism Effect on Hollywood: Inherit the Wind

Inherit the Wind

Inherit the Wind was filmed in 1960 by Stanley Kramer, producer of High Noon, and the script had been written by Harold Smith and Nedrick Young (although in the movie he appears as Nathan E. Douglas). This film was based on the play with the same title written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee in 1950. These two men were familiar with the so-called “monkey trial”, for that was the name that the historical events which occurred in 1925 took. Lawrence and Lee saw a metaphor between the current situation developing with McCarthyism and the trial.

Inherit the Wind is the story of a school teacher who was put on trial for teaching evolution in school. The press covered this event and as the situation could not be contained, the atmosphere was chaotic. The Tennessee state law forbade teaching Darwin’s theory and so that is how everything began. Although the authors of the play have stated that even if the trial is based on historical facts, the story is completely fictional. The names were changed, Clarence Darrow became Henry Drummond and William Jennings Bryan was transformed into Matthrew Harrison Brady. What they actually wanted to denounce through this film was the lack of intellectual freedom, under McCarthyism, people were denied their right to think, the HUAC was not trying to control people’s mind, they would simply erase what they did not want people to think (Communist ideas) and would move on with the next victim. In this film, religious people are afraid that their beliefs are so vulnerable they did not want them to be confronted to different points of view which could destroy them. If someone’s values preclude them from watching movies or reading some books, that is their problem, what they do not have the right to do is to make everyone else stop doing it.

Nedrick Young was called to speak before the HUAC in 1953, it is after that year when he began to change his name and use alias to sign scripts so he could still earn money out of his talent. He was apparently quite aggressive towards the committee. “I will probably refuse to answer any questions from a committee that refuses to confront me with a prosecuting attorney, which is the oldest right in the United States. Why don’t you say which proofs you have against me?” The bold answer of the witness made the public laugh, and it probably made the HUAC feel uncomfortable. He mentioned the First Amendment when they inquired if he supported the Communist Party “by answering your question, I would grant you the right to ask it, which I will not do”. Young was doing the same thing the Hollywood Ten had done a few years before, which gained Young their respect among them when they were interviewed about Nedrick Young’s interview. From 1951, uncooperative witnesses had to resort to the Fifth Amendment, which Young did, infuriating Jackson, who for a moment was unable to speak because of the rage. The screenwriter commented that Jackson was on his way to Fascism, to which he answered “I prefer to go that way than being a slave and a footman from the Communist Party”. Young mocked him for recognizing his sympathies for Fascists. Jackson intended to cover it up by blending Fascism and Communism, but the harm had already been done. (Humphries, pp.168)

The review published by Bowsley Crowther in The New York Times in 1960 does not refer to anything out of the common, it mentions its clear connection on the freedom of ideas, but this topic could be connected to many things, so it was not immediately linked to Communism. In fact, it can be assumed that the filmmakers refer to Hollywood’s situation because of who is writing and who is directing. (Kramer as it has already been mentioned, preferred to support the freedom of the people from a distance; the moment it jeopardised his job, the situation changed). Crowther mentions the two main actor’s fantastic interpretation with the help of the consistent characters they were interpreting. He comments on the make up and direction of the movie, but makes no comment concerning MacCarthyism. By the beginning of the 60s it is true that some of the Hollywood blacklisted began to be hired again by some bold studios. Situation was starting to be as normal as it could get taking into account that very few years had passed since the trials had sent quite a lot of people in Hollywood into unemployment.

There are no real parallelisms to be found between MacCarthyism and Inherit the Wind, of course a few of them can be found, but they are not obvious. It is more the general idea of liberty to think and produce and utter the speaker’s own ideas what relates this movie with Hollywood’s situation. When Henry Drummond (the liberal lawyer from Chicago who was sent to defend the teacher) arrives in Tennessee, he is received with hatred by the people of Hillsboro. Only two people talk to him, a reporter and the accused, whereas Matthew Harrison Brady enters the town with his wife and almost a parade celebrating his presence in the trial. What today’s society considers ‘the good guy’ was then thought as the undesirable man. In Los Angeles, in the 50s what today would be considered as the ‘good guys’, at the time they had no one to talk to, no friends who would help them, since they were all in the same situation. Edward Copeland in his review of the movie explains:

“He also asks why would God give man the ability to think when no other species does. Didn’t God grant Darwin the ability to come up with that theory? Does a sponge think? Brady says that if God wants a sponge to think, it thinks. ‘Shouldn’t man have the same rights as a sponge?’ Drummond asks. ‘I don’t think about things that I don’t think about,’ Brady responds. As the give-and-take continues between the two men, Drummond says, ‘It frightens me to think about the state of learning in the world if everyone had your driving curiosity.’ (…) Finally, Drummond reminds his legal adversary that, ‘The Bible is a book. It’s a good book, but it’s not the only book.’” (Edward Copeland)

Drummond turns all the Bible’s religious ideas against Brady who tries to answer as well as he can with all the information he has been instructed with since he was a child. And hence, Drummond manages to disturb him, to trap him in his own speech, as the HUAC used to do with nervous and insecure witnesses. Chicago’s lawyer’s quote about the lack of interest in learning can also be attributed to some of the friendly witnesses, and the great majority of United States population who believed everything they were told by the media, they did not want to know the truth, or they were maybe not curious about the truth, what they were told was the end of the matter, and that was it. Another similarity can be depicted with the Bible, “It’s a good book, but it’s not the only book”. The HUAC, Hoover and MacCarthy’s way of thinking could have been considered by some as a good way of doing things and obtaining results, but it was surely not the only one, and theirs was surely not the best. But what they wanted was for everybody to think the way they did, or they were afraid their belief structure would crumble.

MacCarthyism’s Effect on Hollywood: On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront, 1954, was directed by the famous director Elia Kazan, who gave eight names when he was called to testify. He could have claimed the Fifth Amendment, but decided otherwise and destroyed the career of the co-workers who had helped him reach fame in the seventh art. Humphries explains “On the Waterfront, written by Schulberg, makes an eloquent apology on the act of testifying” (Humphries, pp. 193). Kazan received an Honorary Oscar for all his devoted years to the cinema industry in 1999 which was severely criticised due to his betrayal almost half a century before. Budd Schulberg called the HUAC, before he had been called, to declare his communist past. He stated that blacklisted moviemakers could find jobs in other places are theatres, publishing books or editors. He could not understand why that bleak reaction, he believed there were job offers opened everywhere. Cinema was over for them, but other possibilities were still available, which was not entirely true, as the blacklisted’s names were public and although they wrote asking for jobs, most of them were left unanswered. Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg made this movie, as a way to purge their conscience, and to defend their ideas, with a doubtful result on the screen. If this movie was watched knowing what it was about and the context, parallelism began to appear everywhere, sentences with double meaning and characters that represent other people or situations. It must have been the same for the anti-communist who looked in movies for communist tinges, if they had imagination (and paranoia) it could be found everywhere.

The film is about Terry Malloy’s story and his confrontation with Johnny Friendly, the Union boss who rules it as if he were the capo. It is based on a true blackmailing story. Malloy wants to defend his interests and ends up being a squealer. Terry is contacted by the police to make a statement about Johnny. He is considered a friendly witness, not an unfriendly one, “the irony of this declaration lies in the fact that what happens to Terry (the Union’s reprisals) is precisely what happened to dozens of people that appear before the HUAC.” (Humphries, pp. 193) Terry speaks and then has to endure the consequences. Kazan spoke and then made the others suffer the consequences. Terry represents both Schulberg and Kazan. They tried to justify their acts when it is done because of honest and noble reasons. Johnny Friendly’s Union represented the Communist union. The parallelism between Terry’s confessions about his Union and Kazan’s confessions about the Communist Party was meant to be that all Communist Unions were corrupted and all the corrupted unions were Communists. It was not like that, not in Hollywood, nor anywhere else in the States.

There is a strong imagery regarding birds throughout the movie. At the beginning of On the Waterfront Marlon Brandro (Terry Malloy) sets a trap for a man named Joey. He does not know they will kill him, Malloy thinks they are only going to talk to him, but Joey is thrown from the top of the building and dies. Some of the union workers make a joke saying “Maybe he could sing but he couldn’t fly”, for Joey was a squealer. He is made an example for all to see. Joey’s father does not want to make a statement when the policeman arrives, he knows his son was murdered because he decided to talk. Later, Malloy is shown on the top of a building were he takes care of a cage of carrier pigeons, in a conversation with Edie, Joey’s sister, he says he envies them, because they have no one controlling them. It could be interpreted as if in a sense he envies Joey as well, who could not fly and hence, now has no worries for he is buried. It might be a feeling of guilt because it was his fault that Joey was killed. It is a clear sign that Malloy feels manipulated by Johnny Friendly, and sees the birds in the cage freer than he sees himself. He has the help of a young boy, Jimmy, who also cleans the pigeon’s cage when Terry cannot do it. After he declares against the Union, Jimmy kills all the carrier pigeons and throws one of them to Malloy. Jimmy has destroyed Terry’s only hobby, the only thing he cared for and thought of it as a passion. Kazan can be seen in Jimmy who killed the dream and job of others. Edie says “you try to help them and they stab you in the back”. Johnny Friendly is also seen as a hawk, who hunts mercilessly the pigeons he finds free in the middle of the street. This imagery links the first one above explained, Terry’s pigeons are freer in a cage, where they are free and safe at some level because in the streets were they can be killed any moment due to the lack of protection, but then, their murder can be considered an easy one because they are all locked up in the cage and they trust Jimmy. They were betrayed by someone they thought they were safe with, as Kazan gave the names of people who were his friends. It is a movie which explains at some level the reasons for Schulberg and Kazan to form an alliance with the HUAC, but it has many flaws and some scenes go against the ideas they are promoting. It may seem that the creators of On the Waterfront did not know how to defend their ideas with arguments without fissures.

Another comment that traps the ‘true’ meaning of the movie is when at a certain point it is clear that Friendly works for other people, he does not have the leader’s position, and they are represented in the movie as the industry union. They mention a phone call made by ‘Mr. Upstairs’. The film wants to show that Johnny Friendly works under orders of the Union, but actually he works for business men as corrupted as he is. Without doing it on purpose, On the Waterfront depicts the true capitalist who export jobs. Schulberg and Kazan meant to represent the Union as the Communist Party, but I see it more as the HUAC. Some people (as Budd Schulberg) turned to the HUAC to confess, this was a way of becoming directly a friendly witness, and at the same time acquiring the honour to be despised by the rest to the moviemakers. In On the Waterfront, people went to the union to ask for some favours, normally money, and then, they were trapped by the system. They could not talk against the Union, because somehow they were part of it, they could not go against the union because they had gone to ask for help, it was a manner the Union had to defend itself. And terror, of course, was a very important factor. And if somebody was against the Union, as Joey was, it could be eliminated, creating fear among his friends, who would not want to cooperate with the police anymore. HUAC did not kill people, but they could make the producers not offer them jobs. In Schulberg’s case, for example, he had gone to talk to them to save his future, destroying other people’s future at the same time. The HUAC considered him a friendly witness, they had caught another important fish. People who were against the HUAC were sent to prison like the Hollywood Ten, or were blacklisted. The HUAC had all the power it needed, it made everyone be terrified by it, and that was more than enough.

The Catholic Priest, (Father Barry) interpreted by Karl Malden, represents idealism, he is the possibility of how witch hunting could have been if no one had betrayed no one, but fear is a powerful enemy. It might also be seen as a way of telling the blacklisted that indeed it was their fault to be if they were in such a situation because they did not fight for their rights. The union makes the Malloy brothers face each other. Charlie, the older brother, has to convince Terry to go back to their way (to their ‘good’ way) or he has to let him go, with all the consequences. In the car conversation Charlie points a gun at his brother and forces him to accept the job, a job in which he will do nothing, and earn 400 dollars a week, the condition is that he will do nothing, but say nothing either. They are trying to make him take that job so if for some reason the boat sinks, Terry Malloy will sink with them because he will be part of the band. When Terry refuses and Charlie lets him go, Charlie enters a trap and ends up murdered. Terry finds him, hung on the street; he has been shot three times. In Mccarthyism not only the witnesses who were considered Communists were attacked, but the people close to them as well, so people who in the beginning were strong against the HUAC would little by little crumble. Another scene in which they play with silence and sound is when Terry confesses to Edie that he is to blame for Joey’s death, the sound of the boats does not let the audience hear the conversation, which can be a metaphor stating that the truth is not completely revealed, or the truth can only reach the ears of a few chosen ones.

As the movie comes to an end, Kazan and Schulberg begin to be more ambiguous. After Terry Malloy confirms that he was the last person to have seen Joey alive and that Friendly had his men kill him, his acquaintances and friends in the street do not greet him. Hence, this scene might mean that Kazan and Schulberg considered the way they were treated unjust as they firmly believed they were doing the correct thing by denouncing their friends to the HUAC. If they had filmed On the Waterfront it was a form of defending their ideas but also a kind of apology. Perhaps they wanted to see themselves as the victims of this situation for they kept their jobs but they lost their credibility to be loyal and the trust and friendship of all the people who had helped them get to the place where they were. The reason why Terry spoke in court was because Johnny Friendly had killed his brother Charlie, Terry here had a personal excuse to denounce the Union – apart from the unjust way the union treated the other workers. But Kazan had no reason for revealing the names of those who had been in the Communist Party with him. Alternatively, maybe Kazan considered himself old enough, he was in his early forties when he spoke with the HUAC, to believe that even if he went somewhere else to work, it would be hard to start from the beginning. In any case, it is quite clear he took the easy way, first thinking about himself and not doing what he later makes Father Barry do in the movie. He took his chance, knowing he had the talent and he was at the right time in the right place. He obviously felt guilty and later filmed On the Waterfront; it was his way of expiating his sins.

The last scene is an idealistic happy ending Schulberg wrote, certainly wishing everything would have ended that way for them. When Terry Malloy confronts Friendly, all the longshoreman back him up, maybe not taking part in the fight, but only their presence probably made Malloy feel stronger and gave him the courage to be so brave. But then again, the situation cannot be compared because Terry is the one that has no job because he spoke in court, whereas Kazan and Schulberg precisely because they spoke, they had the guarantee they could keep theirs. In the end, when they gain control of the union, giving equal rights and conditions for everybody and having no boss who would manipulate them as puppets, it can be related to Communism. So, even if these filmmakers wanted to free themselves from Communism and named names to ‘clean’ the country from those ideas, this movie can be considered to have a Communist ending. Communism was something they learnt to hate so much, they even ended up becoming part of it, and tinges of communism began to spread everywhere.

Movie critic A. H. Weiler wrote in July 29th 1954, only a day after it was released, a review about On the Waterfront, only mentioning the theme of the movie, the cast and the wonderful job the producers, director and scenarist had made. There is not a single word about the HUAC or Communism. Another review published in The Times on the 9th of August of the same year, explains not only what Weiler mentions, but also comments some anecdotes on the setting, other movies which were filmed at the same time and the money that was spent for it. Bosley Crowther was bolder in his critic of High Noon than these two reviews probably because the HUAC was becoming very severe and because Kazan was not trying to make people react, he was just representing his point of view and the victim he had become when he named names.

What some of the contemporary reviews say is the magnificent work Kazan and Schulberg have done, what an extraordinary work they accomplish, and how clearly they explain Malloy’s need to tell the truth to be in peace with himself. If Schulberg and Kazan represent Malloy, that statement cannot be true, because if they were proud and did not doubt they had made the right choice then it would make no sense to later shoot a movie, to explain their behaviour. In Damian Cannon’s review he mentions

“It becomes painfully clear as to why someone wouldn’t want to testify, simply because the cost is too high, and it wouldn’t be their fault. Not everyone is cut out to be a hero. Some folk have learnt, in the spirit of self-interest, to look away and forget what they’ve seen. On the Waterfront has it both ways.”

Cannon treats Kazan as a hero. This review was published in 1999, it was crystal clear that at that time what Elia Kazan had done to maintain his job was of common knowledge, at yet some people treat him as a hero because he was a good film director. Talent and integrity have nothing to do with each other.

MacCarthyism’s Effect on Hollywood: High Noon

High Noon

High Noon was released in 1952. It had been written by Carl Foreman, based on the story of John W. Cunningham, The Tin Star. Fred Zinneman directed the movie and Stanley Kramer produced the picture. Stanley Kramer and Carl Foreman had worked together in two previous movies Champion (1949) and The Men (1950), the latter was nominated to best original screenplay and Carl Foreman won an Oscar for his work. In 1951, the writer was called by the HUAC while he was finishing the script but did not mention anyone’s name before the tribunal and was declared an uncooperative witness. When the producer found out Foreman’s implication with the witch hunting, he forced him to sell his part of the company, as Foreman was the associate producer. Stanley Kramer did not want his friend’s connection to Communism to damage the movie, although Carl Foreman had not been part of the CP for over ten years. It was High Noon’s main actor, Gary Cooper, with the help of Fred Zinneman who managed to get Carl Foreman out of the country before the movie was released. When Kramer tried to fire Foreman, Gary Cooper menaced him to leave the job if the writer was treated in such a way, even thought it was not necessary as Carl Foreman had already left for England. The actor was not a leftwing as the writer was, but he considered very un-American the outrage. The screenwriter already knew he would not be able to work again in the USA. Kramer erased Foreman’s name from the final credits of the movie; after this they did not talk to each other again, on the other hand Cooper and Foreman became very close friend and that relationship lasted their whole life.

On 23rd of October 1947 Gary Cooper was called to testify. He was considered a friendly witness, but the actor did not give anybody’s name, he was as loyal to his co-workers as he could be, for he did not mention a single name. He was asked if he had found tinges of Communism in the scripts he read before deciding whether to do a movie and Cooper answered he had found some scripts with Communist parts, and had not even finished reading them. The HUAC asked for the titles of the scripts and the authors’ name and Gary Coopers commented he usually read at night in bed, as did most of the actors, and that was why he could not recall any of the names. All this made him look a bit thick, and the situation was a little bit unbelievable, an actor who cannot remember any of the scripts he reads is hard to accept. The Chairman was very furious against Cooper for not collaborating with them. It is curious that four years later the actor decided to be the lead star on a film where Communism could not be appreciated, but the metaphor at the time must have been quite clear. I think Gary Cooper must have chosen High Noon on purpose, he knew what he was doing, and that movie was the only opportunity he had to support the blacklisted and the suffocating situation that Hollywood was living. Although he was severely pressured not to help Carl Foreman, he was still loyal to the screenwriter. As Byman mentions “he showed some sense of absent morality during that period by denying to deprive some people of their jobs, not taking into account the political differences.” (Byman, 2004, pp. 90)

High Noon is the story about the sheriff Will Kane who has just got married to his young wife Amy Fowler. After the wedding Kane promised her he would leave his job and go to another city to work as a shopkeeper. While the wedding is taking place, some people see three members of Frank Miller’s band. Frank Miller, who is a killer and wants to take revenge on Kane because he had put him in jail, will arrive in the noon train with the firm purpose of killing him. Kane decides to take again his badge and not leave Hadleyville to capture Miller. He has less than an hour and a half to try and convince his friends and people from his town to help him kill Miller. The film has been filmed in real time, images of the clocks around the city are shown, so that the viewer feels oppressed by the minutes passing, just as Kane does. Not only his wife turns her back on him, but his deputy, his former lover and his friends do not want anything to do with it. There is a clear parallelism with MacCarthyism. The working people in the film industry knew that their time would arrive sooner or later, they would be called by the HUAC, and the fact that the time passed only made them even more nervous. Friends started betraying each other because they were scared of going to prison or of being fired. And as Kane in this movie, the accused comprehended that he stood by himself with little or no help from outside. The only help they received was the same Will Kane was offered: incompetent people (because of their age) or too weak to help him. Dalton Trumbo, who was one of the Hollywood 10, made an interview and tried to put himself in the place of the people who had given the names of their friends and co-workers. “If you could choose between food for your children, and a house, basic needs against your freedom of speech, you’ll choose the food. So, very few people would remain fighting for the luxury.” (Trumbo, 2007)

The easy solution would have been for sheriff Kane to leave town, to prevent Miller from killing him. Kane’s former predecessor, played by Lon Chaney Jr., settled in town after retirement. When Gary Cooper knocks on his door for help, he explains: “It’s a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and juries turn ‘em loose so they can come back and shoot at ya again. If you’re honest, you’re poor your whole life. And in the end, you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star.” He has arthritis which makes his hands useless and his wife is Indian, so that leaves him in a position of marginal status. The previous sheriff has understood that the town’s inhabitants want the sheriffs to risk their life for them, but when they have to return the favour so that they can live in a peaceful and safe community, they simply close their eyes or look somewhere else. It means that the people would leave a man who has defended them on his own when the problem does not attain them directly.

The soundtrack of the movie Do Not Forsake Me also underlined the tension during the film, it was the first song to win an Oscar which did not belong to a musical film. Dimitri Tiomkin composed the music and Ned Washington the lyrics. During the whole movie there are not lyrics to the music, the drum’s sound accompanies Will Kane throughout the whole movie. It is a hypnotic song, played over and over again throughout the duration of High Noon. While the sheriff and Miller’s band are shooting at each other the music intensifies, using wind instruments to mark the danger of the final scene. It is not until the end, when Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly are about to leave town after having killed Ian MacDonald’s character, Frank Miller, that lyrics begin. But hence, words are not necessary to understand the pressure Gary Cooper’s character has to endure. Kane throws his tin star to the ground, almost disgusted of having worn it, for it did not represent as much as he thought it did. The lyrics sung in the movie do not correspond with the lyrics published on the Internet. In High Noon’s final scene, Frankie Lane – the singer – sings the song’s last stanza, but introduces new elements and erases other parts of the song. He sings for example: “I can’t be leaving, until I shoot Frank Miller dead”.

The insistence on the time shots during the whole length of the movie puts pressure on Will Kane and makes the audience nervous. The noon train is about to arrive and as time passes, the main character only finds himself even more alone. Frank Miller’s presence is a time bomb, which is about to arrive. Just like the summons Hollywood received. They knew it would arrive sometime, and maybe waiting for it, it made them more anxious that the actual HUAC. It was more the importance it was given to it by fear than its power. It seemed to be a mass hysteria, and even the big producers participated, as in fact the HUAC had no real influence on the screenwriters and directors work, it was the companies who decided to write the Waldorf statement. By the end of High Noon, when finally the train arrives and Frank Miller gets to Hadleyville, it can even be said that it is a little bit disappointing. It is the importance and power offered which made him more terrible than he really is. Kane ends up killing him, ending the problem. Unfortunately, MacCarthyism needed more than a gunshot to disappear. It happened, it was there and they had to face it.

This western has been very much applauded since it was released in 1952 and critics have only been but wonderful with this film, in modern and actual reviews the palpable MacCarthyism is mentioned, but in the year it was on the movie theatres, while MacCarthyism was still a very powerful influence, the critic Bosley Crowther wrote the 25th July 1952 about High Noon in the New York Times. This review begins as all the movie review about High Noon start: exalting its great work, the time so perfectly calculated, the splendid job of the actors and the wonderful music. But in almost all the reviews published these last few years, there is always a small mention of the parallelism between Macarthism and this movie. In Crowther’s review, this encrypted paragraph is the only clue he offers: “How Mr. Foreman has surrounded this simple and forceful tale with tremendous dramatic implications is a thing we can’t glibly state in words. It is a matter of skill in movie writing, but, more than that, it is the putting down, in terms of visually simplified images, a pattern of poetic ideas. And how Mr. Zinnemann has transmitted this pattern in pictorial terms is something which we can only urge you to go yourself to see.”

John Wayne, who profoundly disliked High Noon because of its un-American features, proposed Ward Bon and Howard Hawk, all of them right-winded, to make a film about just the opposite: how a sheriff refused the help of his town and faced the problem bravely with very little help, they called that movie Rio Bravo. Wayne loathed High Noon for the representation of his people as cowards, nervous and selfish. He was one of the most cooperative members of the HUAC and made everything he could, so that Carl Foreman was fired from the production of the movie. It is quite surprising that the following year, it was John Wayne who picked up Gary Cooper’s Oscar – because he could not attend the ceremony. In his speech he commented the power, the structure and the wonderful work they had made with High Noon and publicly regretted not to have taken part as the lead actor. So, in the beginning he makes it clear he hates the movie, but then, when the movie happens to be a success, he says he would have liked to be Will Kane. Wayne either lied saying he loved the movie when he was at the ceremony, or worse, he only followed the big MacCarthyism’s wave that said High Noon was very un-American, but had not a clear opinion about this and was just a popular puppet the HUAC could play with.

High Noon was one of the movies with metaphors about MacCarthyism’s situation, but it was obviously not the only one. On the Waterfront, 1954, and Inherit the Wind, 1960, are two good examples of the points of view of the movie makers. On the Waterfront was directed by Elia Kazan – famous for been a friendly witness and naming names – and it was written by Budd Schulberg – who called personally the HUAC, even if he had not been called, to declare his communist past. Inherit the Wind had been directed by Stanley Kramer – the producer of High Noon – and Harold Jacob Smith and Nedrick Young had done the screenplay. Young had been called by the HUAC and had followed Hollywood Ten’s irony and aggressiveness to respond to the questions, on the risk of following their same path.

Sherlock Holmes

El otro día cuando fui a verla estábamos entre ésta y Edge of Darkness. Ya sabéis cuál fuimos a ver.

No había leído críticas fantásticas, mucha acción, un clásico demasiado modernizado, así que no iba esperando un misterio fabuloso. Al principio fue duro entender lo que decía Robert Downey Jr. ¡Por dios bendito qué acento era ése! Pero al de diez minutos, nos acostumbramos a él y dejamos de leerle los labios. Además las imágenes nos decían lo que las palabras no.

Mi compañero de piso me avisó media hora antes de que saliera de casa que el final era de infarto, que de repente Holmes explicaba cómo había descubierto el pastel y que era una secuencia de imágenes que te quitaban la respiración. Que él, siendo inglés, le había parecido complicado, así que, quizá yo no lo entendería.

En fin… tendría que haberme imaginado que él en su mundo yupi quizá tenga amigos con retraso mental incapaces de entender ése final, pero alguien normal y corriente, entiende perfectamente el final. Que de hecho no es para tanto. No es ni de lejos para tanto. Lo mejor de la película es sin duda el reparto, la guapísima Rachel McAdams, el sexysexysexy Robert Downey Jr. y Jude Law, que nunca me ha enamorado pero… que sí que creo que es buen actor.

La música también me gustó. Sherlock no tocó el violín ni una sola vez de la manera en la que todos lo imagináis haciéndolo. Punteaba. Me gustó ese otro toque, más moderno… más tenso.

El misterio que se desvela al final de la película… me esperaba algo más emocionante. Algo del estilo El ilusionista, que me quedé con la boca abierta. Claro que hay pequeños detalles que van dándote pistas para el final, pero no son detalles suficientemente importantes como para que tú te montes tu teoría. Al final que el malo haya hecho ésto de un modo u otro, te da igual.

Lo que más me gustó de la película es el misterio que se desarrolla en torno a Moriarti. La tiza, su oscuro rostro, su saber más allá del de cualquier malo maligno. Si hay segunda parte, que supongo que la habrá que los productores son todos muy guapos y listos, la veré, seguro. ¿En el cine? Éso ya no sé, primero veré qué dicen los críticos, y luego decidiré.

Crítica: Invictus

Bueno, estaba claro que me iba a gustar. Estamos hablando de Eastwood y de Freeman (que me gustaba desde pequeñita, aunque entonces era sólo porque tenía pecas) y de mi adorado y sexy Matt Damon. Lo que no sabía, es que me iba a gustar tanto, hasta ese punto.

Me gustan los personajes, me gustan que los negros odien a los blancos, que los blancos sean prepotentes y se crean superiores, para más tarde bajarse de su pedestal. Me gusta que Francois Pienaar no sea el líder nato y maravilloso que tendría que ser si ésto fuera una típica película americana. Me encantan  los acentos de todo el mundo, algunos forzados (muchos supongo) y otros naturales. Me gusta la idea que late durante toda la película, me gusta el modo en el que está narrado. La fotografía, sobretodo la del comienzo de la película, me pareció estupendísima (no sé si existe esta palabra, pero es exactamente lo que quiero decir).

Y la música… he pensado que quiero que alguien me regale ese CD cuando salga la banda sonora (quien quiera darse por aludido, estupendo me parece). Salvo una canción. Hay un momento que la canción pega tan poco, que se saca de la película y dices What the…? pero luego también piensas que la canción es bonita, que no está mal, es simplemente una canción que en ese momento no pega ni con superglue. Cuando la oí me imaginé a Eastwood de pie, mirando la imagen, junto con el compositor, sentado en la silla frente al ordenador. Seguramente uno había fumado maría y el otro estaba dopado con medicamentos de la edad. Sea como fuera… la banda sonora sigue siendo divina.

A partir de ahora, nunca dudaré que saldré sonriendo del cine cuando vaya a ver una película de Eastwood. Nunca dudaré que la pompa de magia que el cine crea durará más que con otras películas.
Oh… amo el cine.