WEIRDLAND: Come and Get It, Get Out, Oscar Predictions

Friday, February 16, 2018

Come and Get It, Get Out, Oscar Predictions

For moviegoers who enjoy spotting a filmmaker's personal trademarks, the 1936 comedy-drama Come and Get It is a special treat and a special challenge. It carries the signatures of two great auteurs from the studio era-Howard Hawks and William Wyler--and historians still haven't definitively figured out which director directed what. The film was nominated for two Oscars: Walter Brennan for Best Supporting Actor and Edward Curtis for Film Editing. Brennan earned the newly created supporting actor Oscar for this film.

The story would have been more appealing to Hawks than to Wyler, with its blend of rugged adventure and romance, and Hawks was certainly the first director to sign on. The tale begins in 19th-century Wisconsin, where Bernard "Barney" Glasgow, smoothly played by Edward Arnold, is a lumberman with corporate ambitions that involve marrying the boss's daughter. He falls in love with Lotta (Frances Farmer), a saloon singer with a lovely smile and a throaty voice, but leaves her when his marriage of convenience can't be postponed any longer. Lotta marries his best friend, a boisterous Swede named Swan (Walter Brennan), then dies a quiet off-screen death. Many years later, Barney meets their daughter, also named Lotta (and also played by Farmer), and falls in love all over again. Barney's son (Joel McCrea) also tumbles for Lotta Jr., setting up a struggle with Barney, who's still married to the boss's daughter.

The credits say Come and Get It is "based upon the famous novel by Edna Ferber," although Hawks claimed it was based on the story of his own grandfather. He may have meant he used his ancestor's experiences when he fleshed out the screenplay by Jane Murfin and Jules Furthman, trying to make the second half more physically exciting and psychologically compelling. Then trouble started, due less to Hawks's tinkering than to uncertainty over what exactly he wanted. His assistant later reported that "strain, indecision, and malevolence" stalked the production as Hawks fretted about the storyline and shot scenes before the actors felt prepared. Then Sam Goldwyn returned home to recuperate. Hawks biographer Todd McCarthy says Hawks was prepared for fireworks when Goldwyn, who idolized important writers, discovered he'd tampered with Ferber's plot. Hawks was right: Goldwyn hit the ceiling, and things got worse when he learned that new material he liked had been penned by Hawks himself. "Writers should write and directors should direct!" the producer allegedly yowled.

Hawks resigned in a huff, if you believe his account, or got fired by Goldwyn, if you believe his account. What's certain is that Hawks left the premises on the 42nd day of production, and that after an eight-day shutdown Goldwyn replaced him with William Wyler, who'd just finished Dodsworth (1936) and was still under contract. Wyler's grumpiness about the job alienated Farmer, but after 28 more days the picture was finished. It's ironic that Wyler used material written by Hawks for the ending, preferring this to the screenplay's own conclusion. Hawks told film critic Robin Wood that he shot all but 800 feet, or about ten minutes, of the completed film. McCarthy says Wyler contributed more than this, but less than Goldwyn implied when he told Ferber he "threw away most of what Hawks photographed." 

For viewers today, the fun begins when we try to determine which scenes came from which director. Wood says the beginning of the movie, with its exciting lumberjack footage, "clearly" has Hawks's touch-but to add one more complication, the credits say these scenes were directed by Richard Rosson, who'd co-directed Scarface (1932) and Today We Live (1933) with Hawks in the early 1930s. Aside from the logging material, there's no certain way of telling which scenes were directed by whom. Still, it's pretty obvious that some material in the film's first half contains patented Hawks touches-people bonding over cigarettes, finding togetherness in a sing-along, and working at a tough men-only job away from ordinary society. 

And it's equally obvious that Wyler influenced the off-kilter camera angles and striking use of a stairway setting in the last half hour-perhaps working with cinematographer Gregg Toland, whose deep-focus framings would later be crucial not only in Orson Welles's legendary Citizen Kane (1941) but also in Wyler's masterpieces The Little Foxes (1941) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Toland was only one of the Come and Get It cinematographers; the other was Rudolph Maté, fresh from DodsworthCome and Get It has at least three elements that hold up very well: the rough-and-tumble logging scenes; the complex characterization of Barney, who never becomes a clean-cut hero or a clear-cut villain; and Farmer's fascinating performance as both Lotta characters, who look alike but speak and sing in different tones and registers. 

The picture received strong reviews in 1936, largely because of the lumberjack material, and because critics felt a good balance had been struck. Admitting that it wasn't "a thoroughly Ferber work," the New York Times critic called it "genuinely satisfying" and "a vividly toned portrait of a man." Ferber agreed it wasn't thoroughly Ferber, turning down publicity requests because the movie underplayed the novel's environmental concerns. Yet she praised Goldwyn for "throwing out the finished Hawks picture" and starting again from scratch, which of course he hadn't done. In any case, the box-office returns were underwhelming despite a solid marketing push. Variety blamed Arnold, who didn't have "quite enough on the ball to pull 'em in alone," and the lack of female stars--true enough at the time, although today Come and Get It shines as arguably the finest achievement in Frances Farmer's troubled career. Source:

Confessions of an Oscar Voter: I Loved ‘Three Billboards’ and Don’t Get ‘Get Out.’ We asked an anonymous Academy Awards voter for their honest thoughts on this year’s nominees. "It’s pretty much a tie for me between Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water. Three Billboards is a beautifully crafted, excellently written piece that has such extreme drama with comedy that it’s a perfect combination. I saw The Shape of Water for a second time and really appreciated not only the visuals and the story, but the actual fairy tale aspects of it. At the moment, I am leaning toward The Shape of Water. It’s tough to say [which will win] because I think Three Billboards has more cachet as far as the type of film Academy members would normally vote for.

I’m a bit confused by ‘Get Out.’ Not by understanding the film—I understood the film fine—I’m just not 100% sure why they made that one the social statement of the year. I thought it was an intelligent, sophisticated psychological horror film. But I’m completely confused by why it got all that attention. I actually got more out of the Scream movies as far as intellectual twists on horror films, and they’re making Get Out as this huge statement, and I don’t quite see the depth of it that other people are seeing.

What about the supporting categories? For Best Supporting Actor, for me, it was a toss-up between Sam Rockwell [for Three Billboards] and Willem Dafoe [for The Florida Project]. I’m going for Sam Rockwell for the same reason as Frances McDormand. He was pitch-perfect. He had to straddle the line between monster and hero, and he did it perfectly. Unfortunately, because The Florida Project did not get nominated for Best Picture or screenplay, the chance of Dafoe has gone way down.

Will The Shape of Water win the most awards? Dunkirk? "I hope it’s not Dunkirk. I didn’t understand Dunkirk. It’s a fine battle picture, but it’s very, very confusing. They constantly switch between night and day. I wasn’t familiar with Dunkirk in my history, and I didn’t know it’s in France. And they never explained it. I liked The Post. I know that other people had issues with it because they compared it to the actual events and to All The President’s Men, but where I was not familiar with Dunkirk, I was also not familiar with the events from The Post, and unlike Dunkirk, I was not confused by The Post and I was very enthralled by the narrative. Source:

“Baby Driver” is riding in second place behind “Dunkirk” in all three of its Oscar races — Best Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing — in our combined odds. But Christopher Nolan‘s World War II epic should keep an eye on the rearview mirror because “Baby Driver” could very well speed past it all the way to the Kodak Theatre stage.

“Baby Driver” needs only to look to “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) for inspiration. The third installment of Matt Damon‘s spy franchise went three-for-three in the exact same categories the Edgar Wright flick is up for. War films have historically ruled these categories, but every now and then, the Oscars go all in on popular action films that aren’t Best Picture contenders but are brimming with sharp cutting and audio work. “Baby Driver” is similar to “The Bourne Ultimatum” — Both feature frenetic, pulsating car chase sequences and both center on a protagonist with a medical ailment: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has amnesia and Baby (Ansel Elgort) has tinnitus. 

“Baby Driver” lost SAG stunt to “Wonder Woman” and the comedy ACE Eddie to “I, Tonya,” while “Dunkirk” won the drama ACE Eddie. “Baby Driver” and “Dunkirk” will face off at BAFTA and MPSE on Feb. 18 and at CAS on Feb. 24. The difference is that “Bourne” didn’t have to compete against a behemoth of a war film like “Dunkirk.” If “Baby Driver” takes any of those, watch out on March 4. Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4. Source:

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