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Re: [F_MINOR] GG: Solitude Trilogy Question

Yo Newbie and everybody,

The first big movie scandal about a sound montage were Orson Welles' movies
"Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons." Apparently no major feature
release up to that time had ever had characters speaking en masse on top of
each other's lines, and critics found it shocking and confusing. (Well, of
course, some just found it realistic and brilliant.)

It marks not just an evolving moment in the use of the new (1929) technology
of the talking picture, but a huge break in the culture of film acting and
directing. Silent films had, of necessity, drawn on the broad, crude 19th
century techniques of stage melodrama. The first decade of Talkies continued
the old stage traditions (in which it's a mortal sin for one actor to "walk
over" another's line of dialogue). Welles -- finally the recipient of better
microphones and sound recording systems -- reflected the realistic world of
speech we all encounter in public gatherings: Dozens of people all talking
to each other at once. (And yet we learn to become quite good at picking out
the interesting parts.) These scenes in his movie are a startling and
immediate shorthand to tell the viewer where he is, what kinds of people
he's seeing, what's on their mind, are they genteel or crude, is this the
Northeast or the South, etc. From this babble of public speaking, Welles
would then "focus" on important snippets that he wanted the audience to hear
clearly, then de-focus again to the big convention or society party or the
hectic newsroom, etc. Audiences responded to this revolutionary technique
very enthusiastically -- it was their everyday experience.


PS. I really love Altman's films, and you mention "The Long Goodbye,"
probably my all-time favorite of his movies. I thought the man was insane to
cast Eliott Gould as Phillip Marlowe, but Gould turns out to be one of the
most satisfying Marlowes Hollywood ever tried. They had guts -- Gould walked
into a role that Humphrey Bogart had practically made a holy icon. And
Altman had the courage -- most directors don't -- to approach the Raymond
Chandler books loosely, informally, casually, he interpreted them very
personally. Most directors approach Chandler as Holy Writ, and the results
are pretty stodgy and museumesque. (On the printed page, Marlowe's somewhat
of a moralistic stiff, and needs any loosening up and humanizing a director
and actor can give him.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Gess <libgess@EMORY.EDU>
To: F_MINOR@email.rutgers.edu <F_MINOR@email.rutgers.edu>
Date: Friday, November 07, 2003 9:56 AM
Subject: [F_MINOR] GG: Solitude Trilogy Question

>Hello, Fm list. Newbie here, chiming in with some non-GG,  post-Idea of
>North examples of the contrapuntal voice concept. [Warning: newbie post,
>may include content previously talked into the ground long before the
>newbie's arrival...] The two that come immediately to mind:
>--the early films of Robert Altman, where the sound design often
>included background conversations at near-equal volume levels to the
>ostensibly main dialogue. Altman's purpose was to counterpoint the main
>characters' dialogue with all the rest of the related or unrelated


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