Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What was wrong with those New Wave guys?

There are several Roku channels that show only public domain movies and TV shows, mostly American B movies from the '30s and '40s, and they were just terrible. Horror movies with no horror, thrillers with no thrills, comedies with no humor. The westerns were the worst, the horror movies the least boring.

These were the movies that turned Ed Wood, Jr, into the director he was. He grew up watching these things and if he had made his movies in the '30s, they may have been barely passable.

What I can't understand is what those French New Wave guys saw in them. I assumed it was because they wanted to make movies and they knew that if they were going to do it, it would have to be with very little money. They were just interested in what could be done on a very small budget. I suspect that the audiences for no-budget movies today is made up mostly of people hoping to make their own movies the same way. Rick Schmidt who wrote Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices (which has been revised with a different title now) sells his books, his DVDs, and advertises his workshops from the same website.

I wrote on this blog some time back that you should ignore B movies and watch TV. A lot of the B movie directors went on to work in television, and production techniques were very similar. They were working with little money, filming in about a week. Most B movies seemed to be from 55 to 65 minutes long.

I never watched Charlies Angels when it was on the '70s, but I watched a couple of episodes several years ago and I was shocked at how cheap they were. One of the angels went undercover in a women's prison. The scenes in the prison yard were filmed at a public swimming pool. Pools always have high fences with barbed wire so drunks won't climb over and drown at night. They made no effort to explain why a prison had a swimming pool.

Amother episode had Farrah Fawcett climbing out of the cab of a moving truck. They did this in a "poor man's process shot". They just filmed from a low angle so all we see is the truck and blue sky behind it, so, in theory, we can't tell if the thing is moving or not.

The show was awful. It didn't have to be. Look at Emma Peel on The Avengers. She wore that weird black leather jumpsuit and would get into fake judo fights. She beat up men all the time. Charlies Angels seemed helpless. And they drove terrible cars. One had a Mustang II, another had a Pinto, but mostly they rode around in a huge 1970s Ford Country Squire station wagon with fake wood on the sides. Emma Peel had a Lotus Elan.

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