|Title:||Young Mr. Lincoln|
|01.23.07||DVD|| Man 1939 was a hell of a great year for movies.|
I remember the first film class I ever took (and only one I ever liked), the week the professor went over John Ford... I think he screened Stagecoach but he showed clips from The Searchers and matched it to Star Wars, then he played two clips from My Darling Clementine: the scene where Fonda's stretching out with his feet up on the veranda post and the scene where he dances. The teacher's note on both of these scenes was how great Ford utilized Fonda's physical stature, really playing up the too-tall lankiness of him by accentuating his legs or making everyone around him smaller. Well, this whole movie is like that. I lost count of the shots where Fonda's legs are up in the foreground, his feet are jutting out toward camera, his pants are barely getting down to his long boots, or his oafish walk with his tophat made him look about 3 feet taller than everyone else in the movie.
With the make-up on, it's REALLY strange to hear Henry Fonda's voice coming out of Abe Lincoln. really really strange... On the second disc, there's a GREAT bit of audio recording of him talking to John Ford's grandson (for a book he was working on) where he talks about going into the screening room to see the test he shot as Lincoln and saying "Jesus Christ, this big tall sonofabitch is lincoln! And then he started to talk and my voice came out and I shat!"
Actually, even though I haven't watched the two 45-minute BBC tv shows on the second disc, I think this 5-minute audio interview is my favorite bit of the week. As Fonda's about to go into an impersonation of Ford, he falters a bit then adds "and this is just for you and me" before launching into a couple four letter words that I don't believe I've ever heard in Henry Fonda's (or Abe Lincoln's) voice. Then right at the end he discounts Ford's famous story (also here in a 7-minute audio interview with him) about how when he first met Fonda without the Lincoln nose and make-up on he didn't recognize him. Great stuff.
Anyway, the movie.... I mean, I really really liked all the visual things about it, all the acting and shot construction and pacing and flow and all that stuff... but I have to admit that the sapfest Alfred Newman score was like pouring syrup into my sinuses for 100 minutes straight. I'm trying to figure out why I don't go berserk over these Ford movies when, after I break them down into specific elements, I like almost everything about them. I think here it's the music and also, perhaps this is true with a lot of his others as well, when he dips into the ritual and shows the dances and singing and whatnot... that stuff goes on a bit too long for me. I really like that he includes that across all his movies... i love that on a conceptual level... but I'm thinking maybe that's when it loses me a little bit on the visceral level as I'm watching.
I don't know... maybe it's something to grown into... maybe it's an acquired taste... right now it's kind of confusing to me though. Like I see iconic images from The Searchers like the beginning and ending shots or hear absolutely classic lines like John Wayne saying "I can whup you to a frazzle" and think that's absolutely perfect... yet my memory of actually watching The Searchers is that it felt a bit too long and pretty slow. who knows... maybe in a year or two I can look back and read this and laugh because future-me is such a gigantic fan and right now i'm just being naive and immature? we'll see i guess. But if you're reading this, screw you, future-me! heh heh heh.