The Corner

Director’s Cut

Yesterday in my post about the X-Men movie I asked why directors get so much credit for good opening weekends, especially in the case of a sequel like X-Men III when nobody was lining up because of the director. Anyway, here’s an interesting, if somewhat off-topic, email in response:

Jonah,

As a longtime officer of the Director’s Guild, lemme clue you in re.

the “credit” people get for big openings. First of all, it is a

proven axiom of the biz that NO DIRECTOR’s name will EVER “open” a

movie except perhaps Spielberg’s and maybe not even him anymore. Even

with all the fanboy crapola about the behind-the-scenes stuff, the

numbers tell the tale. BUT…getting attention, bigger billing,

position on billboards on Sunset Blvd. etc. etc. is the movie studio

equivalent of a “corner office” or a “company Mercedes” in this game,

and frankly, the advent of the “Special Features” stuff on DVD’s has

made it worse. It is, like most things in this town, a very

in-crowd-patting-itself-on-the-back retromingent game. But then, so’s

Hollywood in general. And when they begin to pay you such HUGE money

you start thinking you’re worth it, whether you are or aren’t.

Remember the lyrics to that song from “Team America” about Michael Bay?

MEANWHILE, slightly different topic–if you want to see a GREAT DVD

presentation of SUPERB special features and a great restoration of a

long-out-of-circulation film, get the new release of the 2-disk “The

High And The Mighty” which not only is the original “disaster” movie

par excellence and holds up quite well, the extras on disk 2 are

really, really good. Everything from the inside stuff on John Wayne’s

production company “Batjac” (the name, which comes from a fictional

company in one of his early movies, was a TYPO on some stationary

that he decided not to pay for reprinting, hence the missing “k” at

the end of the “jack” part) to all sorts of interesting stuff on

director William Wellman, author Earnest K. Gann, and most

interesting on Dimitri Tiomkin, who got his 2nd Oscar for this one

after “High Noon” made him the highest-paid scoresmith in town. ALSO

of unique value on the disk (which is hosted well by the sometimes

too kissass but this time just right Leonard Maltin) is a little

featurette called “Flying In The Fifties” which intercuts period

footage and advertising art with interviews with older retired

airline captains and stewardesses of the era. Really great Americana.

I devoured this from Netflix this past weekend and have already

ordered one to keep AND sent one to my brother the American Airlines

captain. Its a keeper.

AND AS LONG as I’m on the subject, the DVD of “The Great Raid” is

out, the amazingly great story about the WWII rescue of POW’s in the

Philippines, and for movie techies, there is a HUGELY great section

of “special features” footage and interviews on the well-explained

but complex subject of post-production sound mixing and editing, even

complete with a “sound board” you can play with to mix and isolate

the dialog, effects, music and other tracks. The movie was wonderful

and sadly overlooked by many and, for its patriotism and positive

military portrayal, of course a film NRO folks would enjoy.

But then, the John Wayne whistling epic is the same.

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