Wednesday, September 07, 2005

the tyranny of the narrative and classic films

narrative is a methodology. by this device stories are unfolded in a linear fashion. like a Rube Goldberg machine one action causes a reaction; this in turn precipitates another reaction and so on. narrative methodology is rather rigid and will follow these progressions:
(1)scene/setting established
(2)characters(heroes/antiheroes/protagonists/antagonists) introduced
(3)conflict arises between character-this arc is where we find the drama/comedy/tragedy
(4)conflict resolution

This methodology is oppressive because of its' inherent tidiness. Rarely do we find life so neat and clear cut. this vehicle is a pale reflection of life and all its' backwaters and subplots. to consider this form of methodology the class has been assigned to watch some films from the Golden Era of Hollywood. i was provided the rare opportunity (man, i was sick) to watch three films from to fulfill the assignment. the films are:

A Night at the Opera1935 directed by Sam Wood; starring: Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones and of course the Marx Bros.

an amazing film, the Marx brothers assist two young lovers to rise into elite opera community against the hurdles of society snobs and egotistic stars. all the while Groucho and Chico skim and bilk, Harpo teases, and all three chase women. the story unfolds strictly in narrative form:
(1) high society of the opera scene
(2)Groucho is courting the rich heiress and hanging onto the opera society for free lunches, we are introduced to the young performers beautiful talented and gracious, and we see the established talent (gross, overconfident, egotistic)
(3)the established, egotistic performer and heroine are signed to the prestigious company which splits up our young heroine and hero, separates Groucho from his free lunch train, etc
(3) groucho and bros and hero follow the heroine to reclaim his love and win the position overturning the egoist. They 'delay' the established performer during the season opener and the hero rushes in and proves he is a worthy talent.
(4) groucho gets his free lunch back, the lovers are reunited and the hero wins the lead in the company.


Key Largo 1948 directed by the inimitatable John Huston; starring: no less than Bacall, Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore...

(1&2)Frank McCloud (Bogart) is a dour veteran of WWII passes through the Florida Keys stops to meet the family of his fallen war-buddy. He find s himself in the middle of a group of nervous shady characters that are obviously up to something. Chief among them toughguy Johnny Rocco (Robinson) who seems to be putting the Temple Family in awkward if not dangerous situations
(3)Frank struggles with his own mortality and bitterness at the war as sadist Rocco pushes everyone's buttons to pass the time while he waits for another thug to get there.
(4) Frank is victorious after the big shoot-out, yet he is wounded ahhh film noir....

A Night in Casablanca 1946 directed by Archie L. Mayo and starring the Marx Bros. I am not going to analyze this film but to say I have wanted to see it ever since I read the Goucho Letters . Check it out even if you have to read the little bit on line. this is the funniest damn thing I think I have ever read is the letters from the Warner Bros. lawyers and Groucho's responses regarding this film.

t-

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