S1: Welcome to Flashbacks podcast about older and classic movies. This time we are going to be talking about one from the heart. Francis Ford Coppola is musical fantasy from 1982.
S2: I don’t know. Whenever we get into a genre, I look to you. Can I want you to give me the correct schoener to fit in?
S3: I don’t know what people would know to call it beyond musical.
S4: And I call it a musical because even though the characters themselves are not singing well, there is a dance sequence, but it’s not a guy to sing, not a dance kind of musical. But first of all, first financier was MGM. I think that’s partially why they were interested until they weren’t. And I guess like for me, the definition of a musical is about the way the music interacts with the soul and character and psychology of the character. Right. So that to me is why something like the Magic Mike movies are verging on musicals, because when they’re performing those songs, it is like they’re breaking out in song and dance. Like, you know, the way the movie interacts with these things feels like a musical. So I’m going to call as a musical, but it’s complicated.
S2: Yeah. I mean, musical fantasy covers the fact that they’re not really singing and maybe they are romanticizing that they are right. But but whatever it is, it was something so unique in its day that it was a massive flop. And we’ll get into that as well. But first, I should say that the other voice you hear there is chaos in Colin’s film critic for Vanity Fair. I can’t. Hi. Good morning. So since this is your choice, I’m going to let you roll out the red carpet of the production history. But I may jump in because this is one of those movies. I don’t know if we’ve done a movie on this podcast yet where the production history is as germane to start with as it is in this movie. I mean, if you were to just regard this as this standalone aesthetic object and evaluated only on those terms, I don’t think you’d really be understanding what’s important and interesting about it.
S3: Yeah, I think you’d really be missing however strange the movie is to watch out of context switch, which I don’t discourage because I think on its own it generates questions. There’s just no way to watch this and not just wonder how the hell this movie exists in the way that it exists.
S5: I mean, yeah, I agree. It would be fine to watch it not knowing all that stuff. But to really start thinking about it, you’ve got to go back and read up.
S6: You’ve got to go back. Yeah. So I guess we should start with where this is in Francis Ford Coppola. His career, obviously, for parks like this, we could have done The Godfather, Godfather to conversation and Apocalypse Now like the classic couple, a new Hollywood, Spielberg, Lucas Scorsese, etc. A generation of big movies. But what’s interesting about one from the Heart, it is the movie that comes right after that hot streak of four films that couple of directed, you know, from like 1972 to 1979.
S7: Those four films were the breakout of his career. They weren’t his first films, but they were the films between the money that they made. They’re instantly canonical status, multiple palm doors, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Enough of a kick start to give the company that Coppola co-founded with George Lucas a real good kick in the rear and really give them a lot of money. A couple of those films are Zoetrope films and a couple of George Lucas’s films are also Zoetrope films.
S6: So when you’re thinking about this movie arriving in 1982, just imagine that the guy who’s helming it is just at a very, very high point in his career. And also that he by this point, has already been experimenting with financing his own movie. He’s already had troubled production histories with films like Apocalypse Now. He’s also already kind of had the rhythm of making a film that wasn’t accepted that was then instantly sort of re-evaluated and re accepted. Films like Apocalypse Now, which are there, test screenings, didn’t fare nearly as well as they did when they were at the Cannes Film Festival when they went beyond that. I mean, The Godfather films, of course, speak for themselves. So just imagine that the guy who’s writing this is like a youngish, very energetic, very, very, very overtly accomplished director. And then he and his production company want to make this.
S7: Tom Waits, Los Vegas Casino. Bright lights, musical ish, shot completely on a soundstage.
S5: Shot sweetly honest series of soundstages.
S6: Right. Doing everything we know, like matte paintings and just this incredibly virtuosic camera work, lighting and set design and production design that are just through the roof. A movie that is much more expensive than probably it needed to be for what it is. But just imagine that movie instantly from the test screenings onward, from the fact that it passed from studio to studio studio. I think it was MGM. Then MGM dropped it Paramount, then Paramount dropped it and then Columbia.
S5: And he actually had a tycoon come in at one. He had a Canadian real estate tycoon named Jack Singer who came in and saved the day with some right because of money at the office, I think.
S6: Originally co-financed by Chase Manhattan Bank and another realtor, I think. And they eventually just sold it off. But ultimately, I think what’s important to know is that the movie cost twenty six million dollars. It made about seven hundred thousand.
S7: It was only in theaters for a week, or it was only in the theaters for a week. It’s like the movie after Apocalypse Now.
S8: Imagine some analog to this where you make it like the biggest, boldest movie of your career, but also one of the biggest, boldest movies of American cinema history, world cinema history. And then you make this. And no one goes to see it. And the test screenings are bad. But you think, well, the other big films I just had had bad test screenings, too. So this should work out and it doesn’t work out. This is like the first movie in the in the long history of just bankrupt and deep financial issues and very complicated and largely bad relationships with Hollywood studios and Hollywood money that would determine much of the rest of Koppel’s career through today. But this is the movie. This is like that whole narrative starts when he goes for bankruptcy. And I think ninety one or ninety two, the articles that you find there all have that moment like midway through whether like this story arcs.
S9: Right. For the last 10 years, this man has been trying to recoup his losses right now.
S3: You know, he’s like 71 million dollars in the red. And it wasn’t always this way. That’s how the articles all read. It’s just a fascinating object in that regard. And it was also just like we’re thinking about just in terms of Hollywood studio money. We’ve done a number of Hollywood films and this podcast so far, but none that I can think of. I’ve had the trouble that this movie had. And I think the trouble that this movie has and what that means for just the art of it and just for artists trying to make ambitious work in Hollywood is just really think something that’s new for us to discuss. I just don’t think we’ve had the kind of flops that this is.
S2: Yeah, I think you’re right. I’m glad that we’re talking about it from that perspective first. The last thing I did want to say about the business history, though, is that I hadn’t realized until researching the background of this movie a bit is that Zoetrope Studios as a Hollywood space is an actual place in Southern California where movies were made as opposed to the San Francisco business office that it had been previously and still is. There was just this two year period from 1980 to 1982 while making this movie essentially that he bought this space, called it Zoetrope. You know, he turned all these soundstages that had once housed Harold Lloyd and Mae West and the I Love Lucy show. He’d been branded as kind of historic Hollywood property that he tried to revive it almost as far as what if studios. But good. You know, he gets nostalgic in a way about the Hollywood studio system and wanted to reinvent it in his own style and had a whole lot of, you know, Hollywood legends come and gather around him. You know, at the time, in fact, Gene Kelly is an uncredited dance supervisor on this movie and worked with Terry Goren. Well, Julie, on their big dance scene. Right. Which is Quaker, which is an incredible film, really beautifully. We’ll get there. But just the idea that sort of old studio legends were coming out of the woodwork to help him build this new studio. You know, it was this moment of this huge ambition for, you know, what production could be, that sort of new Hollywood and old Hollywood could emerge in this exciting way. And because of the flop of this movie and ended up not happening. And in fact, in 1982, right after this movie came out, he had to sell that studio and it became Jack Singer’s production company, Canadian Millionaire, who was in the movie. And so that is all part of it to just sort of going bust with this dream of new and old Hollywood coming together.
S3: And we don’t have to get into it, but we’re still in the moment as of this recording. And frankly, by the time this airs, given that as of today, there are still articles being written about this, but there recent comments that older filmmakers and Hollywood, Scorsese, Coppola and others made about Marvel movies and about Hollywood as a kind of moviemaking system. And I think part of what was lost in that conversation was that films like this are in the history of those directors, that these very fraught fights that they had to have to make certain films more than once for the directors that we’re talking about, that so much of their idea of the studio system and of how hard it’s been to make things as a kind of individual artist within that system are inflecting the things that they’re saying about Marvel movies and other things like this is the kind of movie that we’re saying just a Hollywood studio would just never, you know, granted that the fact that three studios sort of picked this up like a hot potato and tried to get rid of it is indicative of something of that moment and also of the history of this production. And it was always troubled. But a studio just would not approach a movie like this in the same way, like you’re not going to get a risk like this. And this is a risk. It’s a risk that financially didn’t pay off. Artistically, though, I think that there’s a lot of really interesting stuff about this film. I wish that when Lolla landed come out that more critics that said to people, have you seen one?
S7: Know not at all saying that Damien Chazelle was copying this film. I don’t really even recall a moment in the press when he mentioned this. He was more talking about shock to me and other directors. But this film really is looking forward to that film. Like everything that Long Island is sort of reviving with an L.A. gloss is here in the I’m going to put Las Vegas in quotes because he to feel like New York. Characters to me, but it’s here. Like the innovative mix of realism and realistic romantic drama with just complete musical fantasy. It’s very MGM. But it’s distinctly 80s. It’s looking forward. It’s looking backward. It’s just like a lot. It’s a lot to take in this movie.
S2: And I honestly, when I look at the critiques from time, which I hope to read some excerpts from later on, everything that the critics thought was a weakness is what seems like a strength to it. Yeah. And one of the main things that critics didn’t like about it was this kind of contrast between the grandiosity of the production, you know, the design, the music, just how elaborately produced the whole thing was and what they thought was the banality of the story. Right. The idea was that it’s this insane love story. And why do we care if this one little couple in Las Vegas stays together or not? And to me, the contrast between, you know, the banality of everyday life and everyday romance and then, you know, these grand fantasies that drive the story are what make it interesting. I mean, totally. If the Terry Ghaffur tricked forest characters were these bigger than life heroic Hollywood types, it wouldn’t be the modern movie that it is.
S10: Yeah, I mean, I agree with you like the tension between how normy their whole ordeal is and like the familiarity of of course, he meets someone. She meets someone.
S7: That stuff, it just totally is enlivened by the walls that disappear and become screens and the ways of their lives are mapped onto each other, just like the visual choreography of it. I think that’s the point, right? Like the point is that they live these normy lives and they have these huge fantasies of themselves and their fantasies are incompatible. And that’s why I think about Warlow and a lot, actually. It’s just the incompatibility of people and whether or not they find a way around that as a basic premise for a love story. Right. It’s basic.
S9: There’s no way around that. I the good roads were basic bridges. What? Yeah. I don’t know. Like put your basic bitch out on it.
S5: Put on your lavender overalls like Terry guards. I love every single costume.
S10: Every costume change is remarkable to me.
S2: I want to just start with really quickly with the credit sequence because it’s so it’s so startling and gorgeous and it I think really sets the mood for the whole movie. You would not want to come to this movie three minutes late and miss that credit sequence, which has these beautiful billboards that are actually miniatures. Like a lot of stuff, as you mentioned earlier. There’s a lot of matte paintings and miniature backgrounds and forced perspective and things that make this studio set look like it’s an outdoor Las Vegas strip. Right. And that’s all kind of set up by the beginning, I think, where, you know, that the names of the vair, his crew members and cast members are displayed on these billboards and the camera’s moving among the billboards. And you’re hearing Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle in the background. And it’s just so grand.
S3: It’s such a grand setup to the movie and would be done with like CGI or we’d be done like digitally in some way now. But like that when I was rewatching it this I had to remind myself that I was looking at actual objects on screen because the ease with which the camera moves between these things and how flashy they are, my brain right now is trained to think, oh, like a splashy digital credit sequence. But the materiality of it is immediately like, whoa, this is built object and that will come in in the movie itself.
S2: Yeah, millions of ways, right. With all the scrims and the sets that backup to other sets. And I think we’ll get into it as we go through. But there are so many moments that things that would have been established digitally now, or at least with an in-camera trick are actually done almost theatrical style. Radlick with a back to back set with a scrim. Yeah, that stuff is just crazy, crazy, ambitious and again speaks to why Zoho Trope studios failed because yeah, the dream of Coppola was initially that this would all be shot essentially in real time. You know, he had this fantasy that it would be almost like every set would’ve joined every other set, and that the actors would be acting almost like a play with several cameras, not unlike what we talked about with high and low, the price of a movie. You know, they were the way that he would use two cameras on sets of the actors could move freely. I think, couple, I had a dream that was like that, but even more fantastical and more in scale. He didn’t quite realize it, but there are some long sequences where that is what’s happening in the movie.
S11: Absolutely. And I’m glad you said that because I thought a lot while watching it this time me one last time I saw this, you know, I hadn’t seen nearly as many movies as I have now. And so this is something I’m sort of noticing for the first time. But it really made me think, particularly for the co-published generation of directors and the directors that they have always spoken about.
S3: You know, I thought about Hitchcock’s rope with its seemingly single cam, but very staged like theatrical setup, very much a matter of a basic story with a overly complicated and very ambitious just technique and production style. I think of this as that kind of movie, like one that like Hitchcock would sometimes say that he thought that Rope didn’t quite work up at other times say that it was one of the best things he did because it just is like a marker of his ambition. You know, it almost doesn’t matter whether or not the movie totally works out. I like rope and I like one from the heart. But it’s just interesting to see these directors play in this way. It’s not my money.
S9: So that’s why I can say I didn’t give him the 26 million dollars, but I thought a lot about that.
S7: Like that part about couplers tapping into or just not only older movies, but like signature films that really indicate the directors are really trying to do something within the context of like the Hollywood confines, like the plot confines, the drawn out confines and the production confines. How can you find a new way to make this kind of movie? How can you map to people such activities onto each other? You just try something that’s not movie like. You try something that’s theatrical or whatever. You have Tom Waits write an entire musical score. I think it just is so indicative of just trying to get to your point about old Hollywood in new Hollywood emerging, just trying to remember the ambition of older Hollywood directors were really, really going there with something and trying and trying to make money, which this one didn’t.
S10: But I would’ve been surprised that this flopped as hard as it did to, frankly.
S5: But I get the same time I can see it. Sure. I can see why audiences walked out scratching their heads in 1982. You know, it’s kind of ahead of its time. And yet not even that in a way. It’s essentially preceding this cinematic feature that never came. You know, but it’s so confident in how boldly it posits what that future could be. And there’s something kind of noble about that, you know?
S3: Yeah. And I mean. It was that moment in like the 70s, the 80s were directors of cupolas stature, like all tours were really trying to do their musical like a lot of directors have musicals that we don’t talk about. Gore says he’s New York, New York, York, which is I think one of his seeing it recently, one of his best movies. But I can totally see why it didn’t work in the moment that it did. Same for this scene from movies like Pennies from Heaven.
S5: Well, they’re all downbeat, too. I mean, this does have a happy ending, but they’re downbeat. Musicals and musicals famously do not do well. Right. People take down the musical to feel bad.
S9: Now, I did. All his voters want to make a downbeat musical knowing cinema history the way the state did.
S5: So let’s get into the story itself and just the setup. What happens to these these basic normies after the camera descends from that glorious opening sequence? I think it is a deliberate contrast, you know, between that grandiosity and then the kind of banality, early simplicity of what comes next, which is Terry Ghar carrying her groceries home from work. Right. Right. He harassed by a dog. The two of them kind of converging Simpson style on their very modest Las Vegas house, which will soon become a plot point itself. Right. The potential ownership of the house. And then there’s this wonderful sequence where they just miss each other as they’re coming into the house. Right. There’s these moments where the it’s not one unbroken shot, but it is a lot of fairly long takes where the two of them both enter the house and are doing their own thing. Like she’s getting ready to take a shower. Right. Putting down the groceries. He’s bringing in his stuff. But they keep passing each other and just missing each other through the doors, kind of setting up the the near miss that the whole story will be about.
S11: Right. And establishing, I think, so much of the dynamic of the relationship, even in the fact that I think that she drops a grocery bag on the street and he picks it up, coming in after her. But before we even know that they know each other. That’s the thing that’s happening. And when they’re in the house together and sort of passing by each other. If you didn’t know that, the next step was going to be something that makes some sort of break apart, even though there’s no hostility in the moments they’re not together, there’s just like a separateness. That’s very clear. And the music is establishing it. And the music. Right. And this is part of why I think it’s musical. Because I think the lyrics of the music are speaking aloud, the things that they’re feeling in a way that the characters don’t really have to be singing. You know that Tom Waits is the frederich worst voice. And you know that Crystal Gayle is the Terry Ghar voice.
S5: But they’re not on the nose. What they’re they’re not. It’s something I love about the soundtrack or cast album. If you want to call it to this movie is that the songs were all written beforehand.
S2: He commissioned an entire score by Tom Waits to be written and recorded before. Tom Waits obviously had read the script and knew the story, but he wasn’t supposed to be writing for these characters directly. Right. So they’re not singing sort of, you know, the characters names addressing each other, saying, hey, I work at a travel agency and I work at a junkyard. It’s not the specific details. It’s more the mood. So I think one of the lines, for example, in that opening montage where they keep missing each other in the house. Crystal Gayle says something like, I’m sick of tired of picking up after you. Right. Right. Even though there’s no overt conflict between them at that moment, it’s establishing this mood of kind of domestic disease.
S12: Slag smells like a.
S13: The second day that the.
S11: Yeah, and it fits really well together, like as you’re saying, it’s like indirect, it isn’t as if the things that are coming up in the lyrics are being directly even performed onscreen. I just feel like I understand immediately what the movie is about, what these two people are about, in the sense that I understand that there’s discontent.
S7: I understand that there’s separation. There’s this distinction between these two people. And I understand that wherever this movie is going, it’s going to involve them coming apart in some way. It’s just very clear. But at the same time, for like the humbleness of what’s happening, even when you first see Terry gar- in the street, there’s just no way to miss that. You’re on a studio set. Like, there’s just like the artifice of how wet the streets are, how, you know, it’s like Truman Show, you know, that the sky is not a sky. You know, you’re in a building. It is very not real. Even as details like the dog running up and her shooting it away or the groceries themselves are very real, like their furniture, their clothing, they’re not fancy, you know, they’re just not fancy people. He’s a mechanic and she is a travel agent. Really. She like, as far as we see, is like a window dresser which ties her in with this world of fantasy.
S5: Right? Right. Because her job is to make these windows about exotic places look beautiful. And that’s the only place you see here at work is stand right there in the window creating a tropical paradise.
S7: Absolutely. And he’s like a mechanic. He fixes things up. And, you know, these aren’t more than metaphor. To make things very clear. And they’re very symbolic. But it works to me like I don’t know that I need more inner complexity than what this movie gives me of these people, because I guess it’s the way that it weaves their lives together that proves complicated to me.
S3: Right. Like the story itself, they’re just you know, they’re unhappy. They want different things. They come apart. They find other people that sort of help them live out fantasy in a way. And then what happens happens from there. But I wondered for you. Like what psychologically is a thing that is missing that people might have wanted?
S5: I don’t know. I mean, I guess the idea would be like these aren’t rich characters because we don’t know about their background to do to me as a fairytale sort of fable that it is it works completely. I mean, maybe with the exception of the Dishdasha Kinski affair, which we’ll get to like I’m not sure I believe that totally in. It’s something you have to just buy as a contrivance. Yeah. You know that Dishdasha Kinski, the the martini glass dancer and tightrope walker would just fall for this random guy who owns a wrecking yard.
S9: But wheelmen dream also.
S2: Is that ever really happening? Right. I mean, weak, right. Question to what degree? Those are just psychological fantasy spaces, right?
S7: I mean, you mentioned Gene Kelly earlier watching at this time. I actually thought like Natasha Kazinski, she was invoking like Leslie Keran, an American in Paris or something like that, like in part because of the face and demeanor and in part because Gene Kelly, his co-stars were often also dancers, people who were just as elegant in body and movement and expression as he was, and then breaking out in dance together function’s way that it does here this. But like it was invoking something else, like, you know, Hollywood musicals to me. I have a question for you, though, beyond the fact that it has like the big lights of Vegas. Something that I have thought watching this opening scene in particular this time was what is Las Vegas about these people? This dialogue feels very New York couple to me and their friends as well, maybe less so.
S14: Harry Dean Stanton then I’m Lainie Kazan, who’s who’s just sense of humor. I think is very New York gal pal and romantic comedy to me. Like she tells her. Susan Hayward. You’re gonna live.
S10: Joke, which I’ve seen enough movies that I know what that feels like. That feels like new. Yorkey Right. And I wondered how that played for you. I get 1br in Vegas, but why are we in Vegas? Are they Vegas? I don’t know what that means.
S5: I mean, I don’t think that Copel a gave much thought to the regional specificity.
S2: I think he wanted to be able to construct that set. He wanted to create something that was in a land of fantasy, like why it set on the Fourth of July. Right. What does that particular holiday lend? I feel like all of that is a way of over determining the kind of specialness of this stagy space that he’s creating. It’s something else that this movie is is one of the many movies that take place over a 24 hour period. Like a longstanding trope, you know, that they have this one day to live out their fantasies. It’s like the purge or something, right. They have one day of sort of moral freedom, you know, before coming back to their humdrum lives. But their humdrum lives have been, you know, like Dorothy in going to Oz or something. Their humdrum lives have now been enriched by the experience they had. They’ve been sort of invested with magic.
S3: Yeah. And they’ve been together for five years. And he has cheated, but she hasn’t yet. Right. Like, that’s part of the background tension that there’s already been as something that sort of pushed them apart a little bit. That’s been unresolved. That’s not the reason that she seems to get sort of fed up with him. But speaking on Fourth of July, I think the sense of freedom that she has to sort of flirt with another guy comes in part from the fact that she gives this line back to him, maybe in a fantasy sequence, but in part because he’s done it.
S2: All right. Although there was that makeout session with Harry Dean Stanton at the nail.
S9: That’s right. You’re right. If Louds on blouse off. We don’t know.
S2: I’ve forgotten that this has more to do with just the time this movie came out in. But I love that kind of casual promiscuity in this movie and that I just feel like all we’re so much more prudish now and oh yeah, the idea that there would be a romance where both characters go and just sleep with somebody else for a night and then they come back together after that night. I don’t I don’t see that happening now. You know, it’s almost like in the post AIDS, like post 80s era, we couldn’t have sweet, likeable everyday normies who just casually cheat on each other like that.
S7: And on the other hand, in the earlier musicals that I feel are being invoked here, you couldn’t be as direct about the fact that they were having sex with other people. They would be going on dates with other people or making love in the strictly verbal sense. But right. It’s like it’s this perfect halfway point between the two where they’re very modern. And I think she in particular stands out for being modern to me, because I think she’s the one whose sense of making a move. And someone else comes first in my mind. But a guy on the other hand, they’re still wedded to a kind of romantic plot. It’s like that mix of like genre conservatism with of the time a kind of freedom, even when she puts on like her red dress. There’s just something so flagrantly liberated about that ‘cause she’s doing it right in front of her live in boyfriend.
S5: Right. Just saying like I’m going out to look for snacks. Yeah. Bye. Yeah.
S2: So let’s let’s get to just how they’re driven apart the beginning and also just the way that that early fight scene establishes the bizarre lighting patterns. And, you know, this is a very, very strange use of theatrical space and theatrical lighting that’s going to dominate the rest of the movie. That doesn’t really come out except for the credit sequence until they have their first fight. Yeah. So there’s actually quite a bit of sweetness between them before they have that first fight. And that was something that Coppola later said he decided to go back and put in. He used to start off with them squabbling, but then he decided he wanted you to see what was good between them. He wanted you to attach to these two characters in their relationship before splitting them apart. So you get that scene where they, you know, sort of giggle and kisses. He’s on the phone, right. They give each other those gifts that are this very oh, Henry kind of gift where she thinks that he wants tickets to Bora Bora, which he doesn’t, and he thinks that she wants a deed to the house, which she doesn’t. And of course, he’s representing stability, everything staying the same. And she is representing this dream of some tropical fantasy.
S10: Right. Side note, I just feel like there’s something so Seinfeld to me about the number of times we heard that name, Bora-Bora, just putting this in the 80s bucket of the ways that people spoke or like the nature of the fantasy of the moment feels very.
S7: Of the time to me. And I had to laugh about that.
S5: It’s like the shirts that Tom Cruise wears and cocktail or something. Right. I mean, it’s it’s a very Hawaiian shirt. Dream of it. Absolutely. Leisure and freedom.
S10: Absolutely. She’s gonna be a huge Scarface fan when that comes out.
S5: But so she’s established. Is this person who is dreaming of different things. Yeah. Wants to change up their lives. Who, for example, on their anniversary wants to go out dancing and is already to do so when he says no, but I’ve made you dinner. And I actually love how that very first fight is a. Did right, she says. I thought we were going out. And then there’s a cut and we seem to have just skipped over some period of time and suddenly they’re glumly sitting in chairs staring at each other. And you just know that they’ve had this horrible deflating couples fight, but we don’t have to actually hear it.
S11: No, we don’t. And I think that’s important because I think, like, even though he gives us these fights early on, what he doesn’t do. Coppola is like deflate.
S7: Like, I don’t feel overly bogged down in the problems of the relationship, even as they are apparent to me, like this is a jump off point for the movie. They have to kind of a light from here. They have to live out their fantasies in some way. I don’t feel overly bogged down in the sadness of this, even though it is sad to me, even just the idea of the ways that their minds are just not in sync about any of this, how he doesn’t really seem to understand that she wouldn’t want to live in that house forever. You would think that be something that he would understand about her. And you think that she would understand that he’s not the Bora-Bora type. There’s like there’s something innately sad to that. But the movie doesn’t get in the way of the momentum of them, meaning to go somewhere from here, which I think is important, particularly for her to me. There’s something about Terry gaṇa that just so alive that like she really in particular takes off from here. And she’s also right. She’s like the more exciting character because he’s one. He’s like, let’s put on close and go out and do something exciting for our anniversary. Yeah, definitely pro her. I don’t think the movie’s making us a side. I think that she’s naturally more the character that I’m more interested in.
S5: Yeah, maybe that’s also why the Kinski Forest side story is less interesting. Although I do love Fredrick Forest as a dramatic actor and he’s a little bit out of place in the dance music kind of sequences and maybe a little bit too much of a sad sack to be a super interesting character. But I’m just such a frederich Forest fan as somebody who grew up watching Valley Girl in which you played the dad. I mean, Fredrick Forest just has this sort of and then in Apocalypse Now also, he has an extremely memorable role. But he was just one of the great character actors of that period, along with Harry Dean Stanton, who had to for sure.
S2: But I just wanted to point out when they have the real fight. Right. So they have the fight that we dont see. Right. Then they have sex. Right. And there’s a sort of romantic scene of them on the mattress on the floor. And then we see them having dinner. So presumably it’s late at night, late at night, on the night of their anniversary. Right. And they’re having the dinner that he made hours earlier. But that’s where the lighting gets crazy in that scene. And that was, I think the moment that the movie got me, it was like that was that kind of had me at hello moment. Yeah, it was. When you see that they’re talking across the table and they seem to be inhabiting radically different times of day. Right. So when you look at him, you see this kind of neon stage lighting behind him and he appears to be late at night and then she appears to be sitting in broad daylight in a normal kitchen. Yeah. Just such a bold way to establish that they’re inhabiting different universes and also to just dislodge the viewer’s sense of reality so that you know that what’s coming next is not going to adhere to normal rules.
S10: And aesthetically, just the way that throughout the film, but particularly I think in these home scenes, like the way those lights come into the windows and color their faces and just it is so like expressionistic and over the top. But really, it’s gorgeous.
S7: Like I think if anything, people have been talking about this movie more recently because people have been finding it just in terms of cinematography and design, just something that is radically beautiful to look at. It’s just ravishing for them. Even the parts that you’re talking about, sitting in the house, the lights coming in from the windows are very artificial. It’s very colorful. But I just have a sense of heat and passion, but also discontent and wariness. It’s all coming through and like the lighting. It’s also rounding them. And as you’re saying and. Right, they’re occupying very different worlds. But so much of the movie is about the visual, but also psychological and emotional crossover of those worlds, the melting of those worlds, even as they’re separate. This is one of those movies that you can just tell is very thoroughly planned. The amount of attention given to the emotional realities in the design of the movie sounds like a headache from a filmmaking perspective. I just feel like I feel things just based on the lighting.
S2: Well, it was storyboarded down the last shot and apparently storyboarded using a technique that at the time was really innovative. You’re calling electronic cinema that was basically videotaping the storyboards so that you could edit each sequence together. It was a whole thing where he was like in a trailer watching things on video in real time and basically making a video sort of sketch of the movie that he would then turn into the film. Yeah, he seems worth mentioning the crew at this moment, too. Yes. Which is Vittorio Storrar was the cinematographer who is this big European DP also who had worked with Dario Argento, among others, and with Bernardo Bertolucci on the conformists. So, I mean, he had made a lot of different worlds look gorgeous for different directors at this point.
S15: And when wild lighting schemes. Right. That’s his thing. Yeah.
S2: And is obviously having so much fun with the lighting in this, you know, doing things like, you know, bringing up that lighting behind frederich Forest in the fight scene when there’s no objective reason in the room, nobody’s adjusting any lights. Right. That’s the moment that, you know, OK, there’s a different sensibility in control besides just a realist directing sensibility. And then the production design, which is also incredibly important to this movie and a huge. Part of the reason for the cost overruns and everything getting so crazy but didn’t have a large another legend who designed both The Godfather movies and designed Bonnie and Clyde. You know, so at that point was really at the top of his field. So all of those people are working together to almost create this playroom. You know, I had this feeling that they’re all in on that vision of Coppola creating that playroom.
S11: I’m glad you pointed that out, because I think that’s a part of just reiterating the context of the movie. You’re thinking about what couple was working on leading up to this. And yet his films like, you know, the major four that came before this, even the most popular ones like Godfather 2, are all these like craft experiments in a way. These are moments where just, you know, they’re all extremely notable for cinematography, extremely notable for things like production design, sound design. And even going into the 80s, Coppola was still working at a very, very high level with these things. I think part of the reason that it’s important to think about making this movie in or adjacent to Hollywood rather than just solely independently is because the resources that it takes to make films like this, that couple is really trying to make like you need people like photographers, TURTURRO Like doing your cinematography and your lighting. You need people who are at the top of their game, but also experimenters like you just sense that couple is really just working with people who are in on it with him, who, you know, who are like, okay, you want to make the cars be an orchestra. Great. Let’s let’s find the way to make the cars be an orchestra. Let’s do a lavish credit sequence like let’s do this domestic story in a way that is more wildly colorful than even like a Cirque movie. And like, let’s try to make that work with like the humbler emotional reality of this story. You know, for all the ways that it was like basically pre visualized, I just think that takes a lot of creative intelligence and experimentation, which is the kind of thing that you kind of need money to do that. I think that’s part of the reason that a lot of these films that flopped in the 70s and 80s were sort of sad because a number of them, like Heaven’s Gate and others are really these experiments.
S15: This is what people were trying to do at the same time that people were doing very mainstream things that were also experimental in a way.
S5: I would even throw a star in there. Absolutely. You know, like it’s sort of a comedy. It also has a musical element to an actually huge exotic part in the desert. And it’s trying to do a lot.
S11: I think this is a up a period of trying to do a lot. And with these actors, it’s just like it’s I think what’s really important about their performances, particularly the two leads, is just that, like they have to make that work.
S3: Like as actors, they have to make the eye by these characters. I buy this relationship. It is basic on the page.
S11: But in the tensions that the actors bring out, like Project Force Face, I think is really remarkable in this movie. And Terry GA’s just whole demeanor has like someone who’s just grasping at freedom, but who’s just like an exciting person still who isn’t like totally, totally bogged down in the sadness of a relationship, who very sort of quickly is like, well, another guy, very good looking guy.
S9: Does those rebel or is Tango? Tango says he’s been there.
S2: Doesn’t it make you wish that Terry Gaarde had more leading role? Oh, my gosh, absolutely. She was always such a great standby as a kind of supporting role. Or is the romantic voil, you know, and Tootsie, there are all these moments that you’re just so happy to see Terry Gardened movie. But how often does she get to dominate a movie the way she does this one?
S11: Like she dominates this movie in a way, but she’s not like an overbearing, huge, accurately presence to me. I think maybe maybe some of that was casting wise hard. But I just think that she’s perfectly fluid.
S5: Well, because she has that self-deprecating R-GA Diane Keaton, kind of goofily clumsy equality. Right. But then when she starts dancing, you realize that she’s this incredible train dancer, right? I mean, she’s absolutely gorgeous. And that dance.
S10: I had to check to see if they were actually doing the dancing because I was that taken aback. You know, getting some not a gotta sing got a dance kind of musical film. So, yeah, I had to backtrack that.
S3: I was I was sure that I was looking at Terry Ghar, but I wasn’t sure there is that line. Early on, I think, where they’re yelling at each other. And he says that she has gained weight or something over recent months.
S9: There’s like a a medium shot of her where you just like I don’t think, sir, I do not think that you have a point here. I do not body shame. My Terry. Yeah. I’d like. Don’t do it anyway. But I if this is where you’re going with this fight, she’s going to win this fight. Yeah.
S2: It’s funny that that’s one of the things that that the fight that we do see is about both of them put down each other’s physical appearance. So they’re really mean to each other. They’re really mean to each other. Again, I think that’s sort of a marker of the time that this was made. Right. I mean, I don’t think that two characters who are this mean to each other would be meant to be together in a movie. Right. You would say, oh, find someone who’s kinder to you. But, you know, it was the days of squabbling, sleeping with other people at parties and getting back together anyway. So the next sequence in the movie, I think, is one of the most successful, artistically successful chunks of it. And I want to just break down a little bit how it works. And it’s this essentially parallel crosscutting sequence where they go to their separate friends houses and just. Crash for a bit as they kind of regroup and decide what they’re going to do with their evening. They will eventually meet back at the house on that’s their own house on that same night. But during that long sequence in which she’s at Laynie, Cezanne’s apartment and he’s at Harry Dean Stanton’s apartment, there’s this fluidity of movement between the two spaces that really I think is the best use of that combination of the article and cinematic virtues, he notes. It’s the moment when this fantasy that Copel Ahad about creating these different sets that would abut each other and that he would keep a camera moving smoothly through them so that the actors didn’t know where it was. It’s the part where that works the best because I didn’t even realize watching this the first time through that that is all one take from the moment you first see him walk into Harry Dean Stanton’s apartment. Right. The two of them have the conversation about the party. And did he make out with Terry Ghar at the party and the fighting about it? They’re moving through the apartment. It’s a two shot. It’s a one shot. It’s a close up. All one shot. Right. Then there’s that moment where they are sitting on the couch together, Harry Dean and Frederick Forest, kind of glum. And suddenly the wall behind them turns into a screen and you see Lainie Kazan and Terry Ghar in that apartment. Right. Which you might think is some sort of back projection or some sort of effect. But no, it’s an actual scrim. So there were two sets. It’s just crazy to imagine two huge sets built back-to-back with a scrim in between that looks like wallpaper until it’s lit in a certain way that the image behind emerges and very slowly. Right. And then slowly the camera just moves into that space, which is lit completely differently. Totally different color scheme. Right. I mean, just a radically different world, sort of pinkish red, which is the color associated, I think in general with Terry gaṇa wild greenish blues are associated with him. Right. So that shift happens. And without the camera cutting, we start moving with the two women through their space, having a somewhat similar, you know, winey conversation about their respective romantic trials as something I think we take for granted when we’re watching things.
S3: It’s just like the amount of choreography and planning it must take to do something that is so seamless that you don’t even notice in the moment that it’s like a long single take unless you’re looking for something like that. I too had to I had a moment where I had to stop and rewatch the scene just to make sure that I wasn’t missing where the cuts were.
S10: And, you know, there could be invisible cut that I’m just not noticing. But I just wonder how they just sat and conceived of this. Everything just feels effortless, right?
S5: I mean, I think it was very rehearsed.
S2: You know, unlike a lot of movies at the time, I think they had a six week rehearsal period, something like that. And it’s not show offy. It’s not it’s not it’s not sort of watch me doing a long take with lots of choreography, aren’t I fancy it really thematically expresses what that scene is about, which is this, I think, kind of contiguous fantasy that exists between the two of them, you know, so that when that scream comes in and you see the two women come in, you almost don’t know. Is that really them in Lady Cezanne’s apartment or is it him imagining what might be happening right now? You know, and this is the idea that they psychologically kind of inter penetrate, you know, that they occupy the same space.
S7: The couple, even when they’re not together, is just so strongly expressed by the choreography of that scene, which is, I think, what’s important about this movie coming where it does in his career, because I think an earlier career director would be showing off a little bit more like this is like the master at work. I’d done The Godfather 2 already. I’ve done Apocalypse Now already. So I wanted to show off for you. Right. But I’m going to show off in a way that is immediately relevant to the movie. I think that might actually be the most remarkable thing about the movie for me that I really am in the moment. You’re talking about. I’m thinking about the characters. Yeah. All the lighting changes. And we’re we’re in Laynie, Cezanne’s apartment, which is a genuine like wow moment. I’m not thinking about it in those terms. And it’s helpful to have people like Lainie Kazan, who’s hilarious, distracting you from the fact that there’s a lot of bells and whistles going on in the production that like I’m thinking about the jokes that she’s cracking and. And the story she’s telling about the day that she’s about to go on. And I’m not thinking about the other things, but they’re happening at once.
S2: Yeah. I mean, I guess what we’re both saying in a way is that the spell that Coppola wanted to cast in most of this movie at least is actually cast on. Yeah. You know, and I think especially on the big screen, that would be true. I mean, even watching it on on DVD at home, I felt completely, as you say, drawn into these supposedly banal stories of is it not true that Harry Dean Stanton took her class off at the party, which matters, which is important to me and matterson their friendship, certainly. But it invites you into that dream space of kind of longing and the song that’s playing, at least during part of this 10 minute, uncut, real. It’s an entire reel of film, I think, because it was still being shot on film. Right. The song is called Old Boyfriends, but it’s, you know, just kind of Crystal Gayle going through these broken memories of relationships past. He’s just about to get his musical equivalent of that, though, in the first scene after the long parallel scene in the apartments. And I wanted to mention this both. So I think it’s the best song on the soundtrack. And because it’s what has had moments when I completely see why the movie flopped and left everyone scratching their heads, because suddenly you’re in this very artificial feeling, extremely beautiful, but extremely artificial junkyard, which I believe is called reality wrecking.
S5: Totally brilliant name that seems to be that’s his job, right? Frank Forest runs a junkyard with his friend Harry Dean Stan. I mean, who wouldn’t want to run a junkyard with Harry Dean Stanton? That’s just I know some dream. He doesn’t.
S16: Especially this junkyard, which has nothing in it but neon cowboy boots and a great like Desert View is completely sound stagey and an artificial feeling and obviously deliberately so and sort of claustrophobic. And another thing about this scene, those broken bicycle scene, that’s the song of the Tom Waits song in the background, is that it doesn’t advance the story in any way. I mean, it really is just about feeling and mood and a moment of establishing a place which will become important later because it’s where he takes Natasha Kinski. Right. For their date. Right. But all that we really learned from that is something we already knew, which is that Hank Fredrick Forest character is a sad sack and he misses his girlfriend. But that’s a beautiful song about the broken bicycle’s with old rusty chains. Right. It’s something, I think that Copel just loved that song and wanted to find a way to put it in. And that’s one of the many moments when this might as well be a string of music videos, which was a big critique of it at the time. Critics didn’t like it would say, oh, this is just like MTV. And of course, critiquing something is being like MTV would have been a very of the moment critique because MTV was only about a year old at the time. Now it’s it’s no longer necessarily a diss. It’s one thing to say that it looks like a music video. But I think the superficiality of this movie that critics wanted to harp on, you know, is is very clear in that scene. And yet, I love that broken bicycle scene. I wouldn’t want it out of the movie.
S17: Busted, chief.
S18: So. Things that no.
S14: I mean, to your point about music videos, it’s funny because it’s I guess it would seem to precede this the sort of like junkyard loner with like the hot cars, the kind of greasy guy all of a sudden and the music video, Alicia Silverstone to be on the hood of the car or something. But look, it does seem like it’s imagining that fantasy, the sexuality that uses from a space like that. I mean, I did find an interview where a couple is said that he felt like the film had influenced music video culture in a way. And I hadn’t thought about that until I read that. But I can see how that would be true. It also wouldn’t be the first time that a flop by a director proved hugely influential for musicians. I’m thinking about Daft Punk’s love for Brian de Palmers and Phantom of the Paradise is like a little known movie.
S5: There’s filmography that has just had an incredible influence in a way, in ways that we haven’t really reckoned with, because not everyone seen the movie Phantom of the Paradise is actually such a good analogy for this movie period, in that, you know, it’s a it’s an auteur doing a loopy musical that’s completely bananas. Yeah, it has a design sensibility all its own and that you can completely understand why it flopped at the box office, but also why it would be taken up as a cult hit. Yeah.
S14: Like, you know, the things that I think make a movie like this such a risk are the things that of course other artists are going to draw from. I think what’s also really interesting is that even though in the friend conversation scene, it feels sort of discrete to me as I remember the movie, the moment that the wall disappears. I’m just remembering that the rest of the film is bifurcates but fluid in that way, that just for the rest of the film we’re gonna be seeing the two storylines flow through each other even just now, like sort of scrolling quickly through the film, I’d forgotten the number of screens that disappear and become new. Other rooms like the number of times that happens, the number of times that they cross each other in the street. They cross each other in the street. There’s a moment of I’m forgetting where they are, but there’s a moment where there two faces are seeming to talk to each other from their opposite storylines or they’re communicating across the time and space of feeling and song.
S5: Well, are they at the end of the ten minute friend montage we talked about, you see their two profiles kind of silhouetted right against whatever’s happening in the background of this, which is also very music video now that I think about it.
S14: Well, I’m really now in the moment like thinking about music videos and this movie. I think that’s really apt. But that makes sense, right? I think that’s part of why this is a musical, because the music is not adornment. It is a part of the movie in a way that just makes it too tied to these things to not be musical for me. Like if we’re ever comparing it to music video so much, what does a music video, if not like musical moment from a musical ripped out of context? But with lip-syncing and design that’s you know, fits the song in a way I have to disagree. Those critics though I don’t think the movie is just that even as we’re in the point in the movie where now they’re meeting the other people that are going gonna have fantasy lives with. They’re going to criss cross again at the house. Terry guy’s gonna put on this amazing red dress to hang out with this guy, Raul Julias Ray. She thinks that, you know, he’s hurt a bit. Bora-Bora. He said he’s been there. She thinks he’s a bigger deal than he is. It turns out he’s a waiter. She’s been a waiter before. But I think it’s interesting and important that she would seem to be looking for something bigger than what she has or better than what she has. And the guy that she has a fantasy life with in the film is a guy who also has aspirations, but as a waiter, but like the fact that she’s attracted to him suggests to me that what’s lacking in project for this character is imagination. It’s not the things that he doesn’t do. It’s the fact that he doesn’t imagine doing certain things as in his storyline. He’s doing exactly the thing that I think that she would seem to demand of him, which is like imagining something more for himself than what he has. This is happening independently of her and she doesn’t realize it. It’s like little things like that that I think are really making the movie psychologically work to me. As these two fantasy lives are playing out, I think they’re providing for each other without each other. The thing that they’re missing. Yeah, for each other.
S16: I mean, something you could say about everything that happens from broken bicycle’s on through not quite the end of the movie, but on through the moment when the two of them get back together. Is that the further apart they get from each other, the more the movie takes place in a fantasy space. Yeah. I mean the less realistic the backgrounds look, the more musical like it is. And the most musical like moment of all is gonna be sort of the emotional climax for her, which is the dance with Raul Julia for the one on one tango. Then the big street dance right now and then that Segways into that sort of Fred and Ginger moment right there, dancing in a space that almost seems like she’s inside the paradise display. She’s inside the window display that she created earlier. And you stop even expecting the reality that they’re in to not be this strange studio environment in particular in his big number with the statue Kinski, where they’re kind of climbing up neon signs and things like that.
S5: Right. And so there’s really almost a movement through this center of unreality back towards something more resembling an external reality at the end.
S14: Yeah. And I don’t think I as I watched this time, I didn’t. Really understand the extent to which the film was knowingly divorcing itself from reality and sometimes returning to that reality until there is just this one cut as Terry Gardendale Julia. Ah, I think I forget what they’re doing musical wise, but there’s a cut to them and they’re in an elevator in real life. They’re in an elevator.
S5: And there’s an old couple that comes out of the Fred and Ginger. Right? They’re having that Fred and Ginger dance on that sort of next to a ship parked at port. Right. And it’s right at this Bora-Bora moment is happening in their fantasy. And I also can’t remember the exact transition. Is it a dissolve? It’s just it’s almost it’s like a dream like that.
S14: They’re suddenly in an elevator and all of a sudden it’s something that happens in the cut and the framing that all of a sudden they’re in another space and it’s the real space. I think that is the first moment that I really identified the extent to which much of the rest was imaginary because. Yeah, in this fantasy sequence, the really going places. I think that’s actually part of the reason. I think that Manelli in particular is an influence on this movie is because the lighting stuff that happens the way the lighting changes within a scene reminds me a lot of moments from Minnelli’s musicals. But really as melodramas like Home on the Hill or some came running, which has these subtle, very stage like moments of just rapid shifts in lighting, but also like these big musical fantasy sequences that remind me of things like an American in Paris, like dream ballets or there’s a dream within a dream.
S5: And suddenly Leslie Caron has that crazy long scarf that’s rattling in the wind, that Singin in the Rain. I think that’s American paranoia, just moments where it was already a fantastical setting. But within the fantasy there is this sort of inner fantasy that you get into.
S14: Yeah. Which is kind of why I think that I’m Kinski is invoking Carone here, because I think Manelli in particular is the musical director that Coppola seems to be drawing a lot from. And it’s sort of clarifying for me what’s really special about Manelli, which is that I mean, it’s a musical, right? So you really can’t abandon the rules of reality. That’s more than sort of the idea. He just takes that var. like literally because the reality is like. It’s jarring, it’s jarring when they’re in an elevator.
S9: And there’s that older couple kind of mocking them for their indecision about whether they’re sleeping, whether or not an elevator go fuck high, which they proceed to do.
S5: Taking your advice and that goes to the thing I was saying earlier about, you know, how sort of enjoyably promiscuous this couple is. You know, I mean, both of them fairly jealously go off and have an affair. That an idea.
S10: Don’t they? Do you think the romance is satisfying? Because I actually kind of do.
S16: I can’t say that I agree with the people who think the romantic thread here is, you know, since you mentioned that maybe this is a good moment to read a bit from Pauline Kael’s, very negative review of one from the heart, because she had exactly the opposite response. She responded not at all to the emotions. And she was one of many critics that essentially thought it was sort of overproduced and and superficial and maybe even if it was her that made that MTV reference, but she would have fallen into that camp. Right.
S2: So I’m going to read a bit from Pauline Kael’s review for The New Yorker, which appeared before the movie opened and was one of many.
S5: You know, Daniel, the reason for this part of it. I mean, there really was a lot of prerelease hassling of people just for the budget overruns. I mean, this was a big piece of Hollywood gossip way before it was a movie anyone had seen. He also showed a very early print of it that I think didn’t have the music added yet. And I mean, I am sitting here trying to defend him all of these years later. But I think that he could have been given more of a chance than then Chris gave it. So here’s a quote from. This movie isn’t from the heart or from the head either. It’s from the lab. It’s all tricked out, dissolves into means.
S9: So, I mean, why now? She’s got it. All right. I’m ready. Well, she’s just warming up.
S2: It’s all tricked out with dissolves and scrim effects and superimposition and even oral super in positions. One from the heart is like a jeweled version of a film students experimental pastiche, the kind set in a magical junkyard. There’s nothing underneath the devices but a hope of distilling the essences of movie romance. And then later on in her review, she says it wants the audience got over the glitter and glamour of the opening. They would, quote, realize that there is nothing, literally nothing happening except pretty images gliding into each other.
S16: I mean, I don’t think either of us feel that in watching it. Right. There are a lot of there is a lot of gliding. But to me, the gliding of the images is part of what draws you into that romance. Even the mere fact that we’re having trouble reconstructing what came in what order as we are about it. Because in the middle, you’re sort of sucked into this, you know, just this sweep of of images and sounds. And to me, that’s what gives you that sense of, I don’t know, giving yourself over to the romance.
S15: Yeah. And I have to say, I mean, certainly as a critic, one thing that I try to keep in mind is when the things I’m saying about a movie are just three iterations of the kinds of critiques that a certain kind of movie is always historically gotten. And it’s just the case at like lavish musicals. Being called superficial is not new. You could not have a more apt critique for a film that is drawing from the musicals that it’s drawing from which face the same critiques or also just like Douglas Surt kind of. Have these accusations all the time. Hitchcock even had these accusations. But I think, yeah, that’s often true. This is just a case where I think that the flowing this is really in concert with what’s happening. Psychologically, I actually like that emotionally. Psychologically, these things are fairly straightforward on the page, but are just enlivened like that to me is what a movie in many of the best cases does. It takes something that feels narratively simple and reminds you that a movie is a thing that could do things visually and with actors that just totally surpass that. And this is, I think, a really good argument for that. I can by not being satisfied, maybe by the romance, but with the reconciliation at the end of the film, I really surprised myself by feeling something. It really took me aback knowing where the movie was going to go. Knowing what the ending images were, even I just found myself really taken with a close up on their faces that they’re bracing the closeness of them as in contrast to the big wide production ness of the rest of the film, just like the emphasis on faces and feelings toward the end narrowing and toward that. It just feels very yes to her point. Deliberate and overproduced. But aware of when you can pull back on production and remind us of what the production is really trying to give you and what the story’s really trying to do. Like, it’s very canny about that. And I do not think of film school, you know, person would actually have that level of control over how to use their effects in that way.
S16: The courage and kind of boldness and absurdity of that to me is part of what’s endearing about the movie, which may have to do with the passage of time as well, maybe in 1982. You know, if I could time travel back and be a critic in the mindset of that time might have had a similar reaction. But even the mere fact that this has been this hidden gem this whole time, you know, the fact that it hasn’t had recognition, there’s just something endearing about this movie’s 30 plus year quest to be loved and the fact that it’s finally getting some love now.
S15: Yeah, this is what’s interesting about films, right? That like the times can change and our own visual language as a culture can change. You know, we’re more familiar with music videos now than people would have been in 1981. We just have decades of backlog there. So hearing that as a critique is like, well, sure. What is the you know, for us, it’s like what is the issue? That’s a part of the visual landscape that’s interesting to me. It’s like right now with like I’m just waiting for Vine videos and other things to have and ticks off to have more influence on movies and for us to be on the top of the curve when it comes to these things, because I think, yeah, it’s hard to see what’s new about something in the moment of its newness. It’s easy to reject it and not know how to make sense of it. And yeah, if this is the movie after Apocalypse Now, I can see being confused, although I bet I don’t remember specifically, but I bet Kael hated Apocalypse Now.
S5: It seems like the kind of movie she would get.
S15: She’s unpredictable in that way, or maybe predictable in that way. I can’t decide. He has made so many kinds of movies. I mean, his last movie was filmed in the jungle, so of course he wanted to be in a studio set.
S9: Right. And he’s explicitly said that at the time that he was. Yeah, they do.
S16: And after the darkness and the bleakness and just the violence of making Apocalypse Now, that he wanted to make a love story and something something domestic and, you know, a little kinder. All of this said, I will say I’m going to turn into a Kail myself at that moment and say that the weakest part of this movie occurs. Now, I would say that there’s a very sharp juncture between her musical interlude with Raul, Julia Terry and Raul’s little romance, which is just, I think, a perfectly realized little mini story within this story. Right. You see his appeal. You see what he symbolizes for her. You see her ambivalence and hesitation about sleeping with him. But then there’s kind of the implication that they had pretty good sex, you know, which is another nice part of this movie. Like she’s not punished for stepping out that way. But I have to say, that little boy blew that whole number that Natasha Kinski sings and delivered with Fredrick Forest, where they’re sort of creeping around on the reality. Wrecking junkyard equipment is a pretty dead part of the movie for me. I feel like it’s inert in the way that other critics said this movie was inert and I didn’t find it. But there I do. Yeah. And business dashes lack of charisma as a singer. I mean, what is it? Because she is a pretty charismatic dancer, tightrope walker. Arie, you know, she get she even delivers her lines kind of well. And at the Times, it was sort of a joke that Natasha Kinski was this very wooden actress. Right. This was a year or so after tests. Which rail was her? Her big debut with Roman Polanski. And as I remember, she was, you know, this gorgeous model who was always taking knocks in the press for not being able to act. But I don’t mind her in this movie. But that number just does not work. Why?
S15: Yeah, I feel the same. And I don’t know. I mean, because I certainly can’t fault the design of it. I think it in my memory, it’s like one of the scenes I go to first, him conducting the cars. Also just heard throughout the film her and the martini glass, her on the billboards, the lighting of all of this. I think it’s one of the most gorgeous parts of the movie. I think the song doesn’t totally work for me. I think Verdict Force is a very good actor. I don’t think the writing you know, I think he’s more interesting than the guy that he’s playing. I think it’s sort of how is it? And so in this moment, I I guess I want the song that feels like it’s coming from a performance that I’m getting from him rather than a song that was planned for the guy that he’s supposed to be playing, which is just not and which he doesn’t sing.
S5: I mean, maybe that horse doesn’t sing and that’s fine. Let’s not make somebody saying suran saying buddys differently, but he’s the character whose growth we’re supposed to be attending to in this scene. And yet, yet she’s the one who’s performing. So maybe part of what’s bothering me I’m now talking my way into it is that he’s passively acted upon by the song. You know, it just passively acted upon by the fact that the hot tightrope walker girl wants to get with him. Right. Ruber, the scene where he inheriting Stanton are ogling her in the street like we can’t believe how beautiful she is. You think she might even possibly talk to us in a couple minutes later, she’s agreeing to this assignation with Frederick thoros. I mean, I don’t want to do it sort of, you know, hoddy versus Nathi kind of setup here, because I actually think Frederick is very cute. Yeah. Very handsome guy. That is just a part of the movie that feels like he’s a passive object of a fantasy being realized as opposed to R-GA is doing, which is going out and sort of, you know, conquering something.
S15: I think that’s. Not on I think I think a lot about, you know, the policies. Can you be with Joe klingberg, an unmarried woman, were part of the excitement of that film is she breaks up with her husband. I mean, she’s just set loose on New York and is finding her way through romance. It’s fun to like watch someone sort of get a taste of and really make something with a newfound freedoms in a way. And that’s what I’m getting with from the Terry Gar character. And then, yeah, he’s definitely the one who feels broken up with. I think that that is not as generative for fantasy. That’s supposed to be sort of an equivalent to. It’s not about grasping anything. This is sort of why he’s the one who’s broken up with it. He is the more passive, more stable one. But yeah, it’s just like the combination of that with like Kinski and the way she’s like walking tightropes and doing all this, you know, Cirque de Soleil, whatever for this guy who just not given it to me like that. You know, just all this energy directed in his direction. Why? Like she should be with role as well. Right.
S5: Well, she kind of gets the beginning. And I will say the best moment for her character is the next morning when it becomes clear that he’s not interested in staying with her. It was just a one night stand. And she has that beautiful moment of saying, you know, the great part of being a magician or a magic girl is you can close your eyes and they’ll disappear. I’m misquoting the line, but it’s so great. And then the effect that she just does disappear at that moment, that does that for her. Right. I think the important next plot point to get to is here’s the most MI2 thing that happens in this whole movie, which is the moment in frederich Forest character bursts in a real Julia Terry glass ceiling falling through the ceiling, the slanted skylight as they’re having sex, or maybe just after he carries her off half naked over her shoulder. Another thing that you could not get away with post. I don’t know. Definitely post. Me too. Really? It’s hard to maintain it a century because we’ll be dragging her by her hair. And yet, I mean, in the context of this movie, which as I’ve said, you know, these people are squabbling and smoking and having sex and getting back together in the kind of loosey goosey environment of this movie. It doesn’t seem that abusive and disturbing, but it is kind of a crazy moment.
S15: Yeah. Movie romances have a way of doing that, right? They’re likely to be MI2 as hell, but just find fantasy ways around that through town. I will say that it’s the most active thing he does is accidentally falling through the ceiling to where she is because it’s also not like he’s peering through the window and decides to jump down. He trips and has a wire around his neck and puts his foot in a bucket and he falls. But carrying her out of that place is be most active. He’s been, you know, was thinking about Jeff Goldblum busting through the window in the fly or John Wayne and Deborah Care in the Quiet Man. There’s this moment where at the height of this romantic film, he drags her halfway across Ireland, like in this pursuit of marriage. I think there are these moments that are jarring like this, where, like the romance has this tinge of male violence that you just sort of or you shouldn’t be able to work our way around if you’re watching it through contemporary eyes that I agree with you in this context because it’s surrounded in slapstick and silliness feels less dangerous, but it’s still like the same trope.
S5: I will say, though, to Terry’s credit, that doesn’t win her over. No, it sure doesn’t. And in fact, it’s post that that she decides to use the Bora-Bora tickets and go to Bora Bora where the real Julia character. And then we get the second least passive thing that frederich Forest does. The classic romantic comedy move of showing up at the airport. We have to note here that the airport was entirely built on a soundstage as well in part of the car. We had him so much. CB Francis Ford Coppola. And I think what Dean Travelers, the production designer did is actually take the nose of a plane, a real plane that had crashed.
S16: Yeah. And to construct it, you can see on-set photos and behind the scenes featurettes and things like that where you see this nose of a plane being driven into this studio set. But I mean, it’s just the scale of it is completely nuts. It would have been so much easier to just go to the airport and film.
S15: And this was just, you know, airport with these like vibrant lights. I mean, just if this is your first impression of Las Vegas, you have an impression of a place that is just alive in ways that it was not when I visited. So I’m glad for these people that it seems so colorful in a way that it wasn’t for me when I visited, but it is like exorbitant. But here’s the thing about like making movies like this, right? Like it’s a musical. I kind of want it to be exorbitant. Again, I’m not the person paying for these movies, but. I love that they built that set. I love the nose of the airplane. I love the built reality of this fantasy. It’s like the tension between the fantasy and the reality of the object. It’s like the the Las Vegas isn’t real, but somehow being on a studio lot, knowing that everything there was brought there or made there, it just makes everything feel more tactile to me. I just feel like the difference, even like between a regular shore and a map painting like that textural difference just makes a movie. You just I don’t know, I just put my hands on it. You know, just like Dollhouse like or. Yeah, it’s just it’s like it’s playful in a way that, you know, that totally looks forward to people like Wes Anderson building like half a boat for something like life aquatic or, you know, just like the set ness of it. It just is part of the magic to me. It’s like the artifice is the magic. And this is where I really, really, really am in tune with the movie Tarzan Jane, stuff notwithstanding. It’s the airport, the reality of the airport, the lighting, the noir, ishness, even of the exteriors and the blue backlighting and all these things, the wetness of the concrete. It’s just all. Yeah, it’s music video, OK? Plenty. But it’s just romantic to me. You know, it’s lavish. And then, you know, they leave the airport and you get back to their home and it’s dark.
S5: Well he just gets back to the. He gets back, right. Right. Because the next romantic move is Terry’s to make. Right. We think that she’s gotten on the plane withdrawal. Then there’s a really beautiful scene where Fred Forest goes home to the place that they no longer live together and is just weeping, is just like openly weeping as I think he’s planning to burn her clothes. Yes. Another very metoo moment of reverse waiting to exhale.
S10: It’s like he’s Angela Bassett. But his reasons aren’t as good to me. But also, like, you know, I wish that she’d packed them up for clothes. I know you’re going to like Bora-Bora, but this guy’s gonna burn your clothes.
S5: There was that earlier scene before going to Laynie Cezanne’s that she packs and she got patches and most classic Hollywood way. I’m sure they KOEPPEL coached her to pack in this exact way. It’s like the way Barbara Stanwick would pack it in old melodrama, right? Just like a few daintily folded slips and panties hurled at random into a little suitcase.
S9: No toiletries, no nothing.
S5: Yeah, not like a plastic bag that you’re putting your shampoo in or anything like that. Yeah. But so then Teri comes back to him. The moment when she appears kind of in the foreground is another moment where the romance just completely did it for me. You know, just the idea that she come back to him in spite of everything he’s done. I mean, in spite of the fact that we as moderns might not necessarily forgive him for all these things or find him the worthiest guy to return to.
S16: Yeah, there’s a real affirmation of just imperfection and really banality at the end. You know, to get back to what we’re saying at the beginning of, you know, critics calling this a banal story, suspended in grandiose, you know, setting that to me is sort of the beauty of the end.
S15: You know, it she does come back to her pot bellied junkyard boyfriend and we’re shooting at that airport, something that we ended up seeing and tried to sing, something that we give a lot of later heroes on friends and of her programs and movies. A lot of credit for I think he’s like, you know, really at the top of the curve, as you grant ahead of his time is. And just back to your point about when he gets home, I think I’m so in with how devastated he is and the way that just like the screen is deprived of color when he’s home weeping.
S5: Yeah, it’s true. It’s gotten to this very gray green, all of the pilot at that point, suddenly it’s just like charcoal on screen.
S15: And then when she shows up, I think because they’ve been tied together visually and just emotionally in so many ways, even when they were separate. I buy it when she comes back. I don’t know. Always her reasons. When I think about them for going back, because I think that maybe I would have left to, frankly. But there’s an in severability to them for the entire movie that just sets us up for this. I not only buy it, I’m just really moved by it. And I think that’s one of the great things about artifice in the movie, is when the real illness all of a sudden rears its head. It can be really surprising and overwhelming. And that to me is like the end of this film. It’s like for all the artifice the entire time, that dose of reality when he gets home to when she shows back up and those vibrant colors are gone, but their faces are still there. It’s really powerful.
S16: I would just add another really strong element of this last scene is Take Me Home, maybe my other favorite song on the soundtrack with Crystal Gayle singing, you know, take me home, you silly boy. It’s just it’s beautiful. And it’s, again, sort of Terry GA’s character’s point of view without being point for point like. Here I come back from the airport. Right.
S19: I mean, it’s this this this oblique match with what we think she must be feeling.
S16: I should also mention that there’s a great version of Tom Waits singing that same song, a demo of him singing Take Me Home from his point of view, singing Take Me Home, You, you silly girl. And it’s on this album called Franck’s Wild Demos. That’s nothing but Tom Waits singing his own songs and in demo form, totally beautiful. But the last effect I wanted to mention in terms of this artifice versus reality theme that we’ve been talking about this whole time is the way the light changes when she walks into the house. It’s sort of unique in the movie. I think I mean, there’ve been all these crazy light changes and shifts. The movie has been all about that. But there hasn’t been an effect quite like that where, as you were saying, he submerged in this darkness, but a realistic darkness and murky nighttime in a house darkness, not anything theatrical. And then she comes in and the lights very slowly are turned up as if in a theater on a dimmer almost. I mean, it’s a moment when it’s happened so slowly that it has to be on purpose. Right. We’re supposed to notice that the space is just being changed like a stage set from night today. And and it’s just such a striking rhyme, you know, with the feeling of daylight coming back into his life and also bringing her color palette. And she has this kind of salmon colored dress that’s part of those warm colors that she always wears and that’s it. We end on pretty realistic lighting and the two of them kissing to the song. And then the very, very last callback to the unreality of the stage set is that we see them from the outside. Right. The house that he has bought for her, that we don’t know if she’s still wants that now. I don’t know what’s up with that.
S9: I wonder what she’s doing about that house, actually.
S16: But it’s just enough of a glimpse outside to re-establish that. Yes, we are in this artificial space of a fake street, you know. And just a classic happy ending of them embracing on the balcony. And I’m therefore it.
S15: Yeah, me too. I think it’s really sweet and that it’s cool that the film just leaves it there. Like, that’s it. We don’t really know if it’s really going to work out for them. It’s not that kind of ending. It’s a happy ending. But it’s also for me like a nothing that drove you apart has been resolved. But I have confidence that you’ll figure it out. You know, it’s like it’s I’m confident in you. I’m rooting for you. Right.
S5: I mean it in that way. It’s a movie that’s very pro fantasy.
S16: I mean, it’s a movie about how like The Wizard of Oz, about how voyaging into a fantasy space can change your reality in some way. You know that it’s not the case that you just end up make a 360 and end up right back where you started. Right. They have fixed everything that they’ve gone somewhere.
S11: You know, it’s very sweet. Yeah, I’m glad we talked about this.
S5: They had this is a great one. And you know what? This one inspired in our conversation in the course of our conversation today, inspired my choice for our next one. Because we’re talking about dark musicals and how dark musicals are never successful. And then I just thought of the great Gene Kelly Stanley down in production. It’s always fair weather.
S15: Oh, man. Which was just on my mind because it was one of the films that Scorsese, he mentioned in his New York Times editorial.
S5: Oh, you’re right. Maybe it was in my mind for that reason, too. Yeah, yeah. Great. And I’m so excited. Well, since Gene Kelly was a consultant on this one, that’s like sort of a little mednick jump. Yeah. To different Gene Kelly territory. So it’s from 1955, just a couple of years after Singin in the Rain and other Stanley Donen Gene Kelly collaboration in a completely different register. And I feel like a lot of people have seen bits of this movie, the famous rollerskating sequence classic. But it’s not a movie musical that shows up that much in retrospectives or that I hear people talk about a lot. And we’ve been wanting to do a musical. So I mean, One From the Heart was a sort of musical now. Yeah. Segway into a full on musical for next time.
S15: Oh, this is exciting. It’s one of my favorite musicals and yet it’s depressing.
S9: So yeah. But like in a really restorative way and we were checking where you can stream.
S2: It’s always fair weather and basically the answer is everywhere. I mean it all your usual suspect kind of venues, you should be able to find a streaming version of this musical. So we will reconvene in two weeks to talk about. It’s always fair weather.
S1: So thanks for being a Slate Plus subscriber and listening to this episode of Flashback. Our producer, as always, is Chowchilla for Chaos and collins’ for Vanity Fair. I’m Dana Stevens.