Frank Perry

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stroszeck
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:42 pm

#1 Post by stroszeck » Wed May 10, 2006 7:26 pm

So one of the major filmmakers of the late 60s, to me, is Frank Perry. Yet nearly all of his great films from LAST SUMMER and Capote's TRILOGY (with interesting narration by Capote himself) are MIA on DVD & VHS. (Except for that dreadful Mommie dearest thing he did in the early 80s, which has apparently received a deluxe DVD edition).

I was hoping that with the recent addition to R1 land of Peter Watkins films that perhaps hope would allow for Perry films to arrive, as well as other long lost films of that era (From Kaufman's NORTHFIELD, MINNESOTA RAID to films to the Troell films).

Anyone hear anything either about potential DVD releases or even new/mastered prints touring the nation?

atcolomb
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The Swimmer

#2 Post by atcolomb » Mon May 15, 2006 12:41 pm

I was very happy when Columbia Home Video released The Swimmer (1968) on dvd. The story of a man who swims from pool to pool is very fascinating and Burt Lancaster gives a good performance. I did read somewhere where there might be a remake......i hope not!!

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Antoine Doinel
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The Swimmer

#3 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon May 15, 2006 1:26 pm

At one point a remake was in the works with Alec Baldwin in the lead but this was a while ago. I think it's since been dropped.

atcolomb
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The Swimmer

#4 Post by atcolomb » Mon May 15, 2006 1:36 pm

That's good news....it would be no fun to watch Alec Baldwin go pool hopping in his speedo!!...

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Gordon
Waster of Cinema
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Rancho Deluxe

#5 Post by Gordon » Mon May 15, 2006 1:59 pm

Rancho Deluxe is on DVD, with a not-to-good, though anamorphic, transfer.

I am surprised that Truman Capote's Trilogy didn't somehow find its way to DVD when the Philip Hoffman biopic hit the screens this year. Doi Viacom, ie. Paramount own the rights?

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neuro
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The Swimmer

#6 Post by neuro » Tue May 16, 2006 3:55 pm

If anyone's even mildly interested in The Swimmer (like myself, having enjoyed the Cheever short story), it can be had for about the cost of a rental fee as part of DeepDiscountDVD's current promotion.

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Last Summer (Frank Perry, 1969)

#7 Post by Dylan » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:39 am

Last Summer (Frank Perry, 1969)

Image

I just came across Roger Ebert's excellent review of this little-known, unreleased 1969 drama. I hadn't heard of Last Summer before tonight, but it's based on a novel by Evan Hunter, who wrote an excellent book about his experiences as a screenwriter for Alfred Hitchcock. I think it sounds excellent.
Roger Ebert wrote:From time to time you find yourself wondering if there will ever be a movie that understands life the way you've experienced it. There are good movies about other people's lives, but rarely a movie that recalls, if only for a scene or two, the sense and flavor of life the way you remember it.

Adolescence is a period that most people, I imagine, remember rather well. For the first time in your life important things were happening to you; you were growing up; what mattered to you made a difference. For three or four years, every day had a newness and unfamiliarity to it, and you desperately wanted to act in a way that seemed honorable to yourself. Even if you didn't read Thomas Wolfe you were more idealistic than you were ever likely to be again.

But on top of the desire to be brave and honorable, there was also the compelling desire to be accepted, to be admitted to membership in that adolescent society defined only by those excluded from it. Because you were insecure, like all teen-agers still groping for a style and a philosophy, you tended to value other people's opinions above your own. If everybody else disagreed with you, then how could you be right? And so sometimes you repressed your own feelings, rather than risk being shut out. And yet, inside, there was still the strong force of that idealism, and occasionally it occurred to you that the way you handled these years might decide the worth of your life.

Frank Perry's "Last Summer" is about exactly such years and days, about exactly that time in the life of four 15- or 16-year-old adolescents, and it is one of the finest, truest, most deeply felt movies in my experience.

As "Last Summer" opens we are introduced to three affluent teen-agers, two boys and a girl, who are spending the summer on Fire Island with their parents. Sandy, the girl, is more familiar and experienced with sex than the boys, or so she would have them believe. The two boys are, naturally, unsure of themselves. They are not men and yet must be concerned with manhood. In the hot sun, during the long summer, the three friends circle the knowledge of sex like skittish colts.

But the movie is not really about them. It is about Rhoda, a plump and painfully idealistic girl from Ohio, who is also staying on the island. She forces herself into the group, her loneliness overcoming her shyness. And although she seems the most insecure of them all, she is the only one who knows her own mind and whose decisions are not determined by insecurity.

What happens then -- how the story is brought to a conclusion -- is not really important to the greatness of the movie. Indeed, the sensational last scene doesn't strike me as particularly valid. A quieter conclusion would have made the point.

But the movie makes its point anyway, with dialog, with exquisitely drawn characterizations, with a very accurate examination of the adolescent character. Some months ago I attacked a lousy movie, "The First Time," because it demonstrated no knowledge of how teen-agers really talk and think. Godard tells us that the only valid act of film criticism is to make another movie; "Last Summer" will serve as the definitive criticism of "The First Time."

One scene: Rhoda has just been taught to swim by her friend Peter. They rest on the beach, and she talks about some of the things she believes in, and then he does, and then with infinite delicacy they realize they "like" each other.

Another scene: Sandy and the two boys sit on the beach, drinking beer, fooling around, skirting the awareness of their own new sexuality. During this scene the friends become unequal; Sandy is now in control.


Another scene: A rainy day. Sandy, Peter and Dan experiment with pot. On an impulse, they wash each other's hair. They talk. They kill time, Rhoda arrives and feels excluded by the camaraderie. They convince her to tell "the worst thing" in her life. Reluctantly, she does; in a brilliantly acted monolog, she describes the death of her mother by drowning. The way Rhoda's ambiguous feelings are presented makes this the best scene in the film.

There are many other things I want to say about "Last Summer," but I don't want to diminish your experience in seeing the film for the first time. So a longer article will have to wait. But let me add that the performances of the four teen-agers are the best that could possibly be hoped for; Cathy Burns, as Rhoda, clearly deserves an Academy Award nomination. Barbara Hershey's character, Sandy, seems easier to play but there is a marvelous subtlety in the way she gradually alters her relationship with the other three, Richard Thomas, as Peter, and Bruce Davison, as Dan, perfectly capture the ambiguity, the self-doubt, of, adolescence.
He was certainly very moved by it.

Has anybody seen it? Are there any letterboxed versions floating around? It sounds like it might have that kind of late 60s John & Mary (the Hoffman/Farrow film), Last Picture Show feel, which I love. I also loved Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters, and I'd like to see her in more films.

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Mr Sheldrake
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Last Summer

#8 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:58 am

I saw this in 69 while a college student in Rochester NY. I wrote movie reviews for my college paper and I remember writing a positive review of Last Summer although I can't find it now. I did find a 10 best of 69 list I did for the paper and I had Last Summer third for the year. I also had Russ Meyer's Vixen on the list, much to my surprise. I may have been predisposed for movies with "strong sexual content" - still am.

I don't think I've seen Last Summer since. I'd love to see how it stands up to the test of time.

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Belmondo
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:19 am
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LAST SUMMER

#9 Post by Belmondo » Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:35 am

I also saw LAST SUMMER in 1969. Although my memories are vague, this one may be "of its time" and might not retain its original impact.
The young Barbara Hersey was mighty sexy and a joy to watch. Shortly after this movie, she became a certified hippie-chick by legally changing her name to Barbara Seagull; but when producers began to decline casting her under that name, she changed it back.
Remember - what was strongly sexual in the late 60's is PG-13 now and I remember little in the way of real sexual material.
On the other hand; I think I enjoyed my youth, but I can't really remember.
Booze and drugs = bad. Clean and sober = good. That's my story now and I'm stickin' to it.

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Last Summer

#10 Post by Dylan » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:59 pm

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts.

A DVD-R of the "uncut version" (apparently the Key Video VHS release cuts some nudity and violence) is available at Shocking Videos for $20. I'm very curious as to what the source is. Do either of you remember what the original aspect ratio was?

A seller on ioffer is also selling a DVD-R (not sure if it's uncut or what the source is) for $10. I'm kind of assuming this is a straight VHS to DVD-R transfer, although the seller doesn't say.

And finally, from an IMDB user:
On 02/21/06 The Home Theater Forum held a live chat with Warner Home Video and someone asked about 'Last Summer' coming to dvd and their reply was : "We've discussed LAST SUMMER...but no date is set yet."
I don't believe this film has been mentioned in the chats since, has it?

By the way, many of Frank Perry's other films also sound interesting to me (The Swimmer, David and Lisa, etc.). Any thoughts on his other work?

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lord_clyde
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Last Summer & David and Lisa

#11 Post by lord_clyde » Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:30 am

'Last Summer' is one of my earliest "art" movie experiences. I saw it on tv late one night and figured 'what the hell'. Very gripping in the way that Barbara Hershey's character slowly manipulates the two male leads, including the final act of violence. Ever since I have been trying to see Frank Perry's 'David and Lisa' and 'The Swimmer', but have never come across them (actually, if I want to shell out 17.99, there is a copy of 'David and Lisa' available locally.) Although I haven't seen it since I was 13 or so, several images remain burned in my mind: A dead seagull on the beach, the trio washing each other's hair, the trip to the movie theater, and the closing shot. I highly recommend it, and if you find a good dvd let me know.

jaredsap
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The Swimmer[

#12 Post by jaredsap » Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:27 pm

Dylan wrote:By the way, many of Frank Perry's other films also sound interesting to me (The Swimmer, David and Lisa, etc.). Any thoughts on his other work?
THE SWIMMER is a powerful indictment of suburbia in all its absurd, manicured glory. I've never read Cheever's famous story, but Perry treats its odd premise with an appropriate mixture of surrealism and operatic flair. You can feel the 60s' sense of promise crashing to a close.

PLAY IT AS IT LAYS is intriguing, though not as successful. I love Tuesday Weld, but it's a little too enamored with its dysfunction and the fractured narrative veers into pretentiousness. Still worth seeing. I know many people have long been clamoring for a DVD.

stroszeck
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:42 pm

David and Lisa

#13 Post by stroszeck » Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:11 pm

David and Lisa is an interesting piece of work. It stars Keir Dullea (best known as Dave from Kubrick's Space Odyssey) as a young man emotionally detached from society and his parents and sent to a mental institution where he meets Lisa. Its perhaps a little dated and simplistic, but the characters are very interesting and its shot in glorious black and white so it would definitely a movie I would at least rent once.

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kaujot
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The Swimmer & David and Lisa

#14 Post by kaujot » Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:37 pm

Dylan wrote:By the way, many of Frank Perry's other films also sound interesting to me (The Swimmer, David and Lisa, etc.). Any thoughts on his other work?
The Swimmer is really wonderful. One of Burt Lancaster's best performances.

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Ornette
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:41 am

David and Lisa

#15 Post by Ornette » Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:38 pm

The Beaver on David and Lisa.

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Person
Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 3:00 pm

The Swimmer & David and Lisa

#16 Post by Person » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:05 pm

kaujot wrote:
Dylan wrote:By the way, many of Frank Perry's other films also sound interesting to me (The Swimmer, David and Lisa, etc.). Any thoughts on his other work?
The Swimmer is really wonderful. One of Burt Lancaster's best performances.
I thought the same when I first saw it about 4 years ago, but when I watched it again last year, I found it overwrought and prententious. Having said that, I still feel that it is a unique and disquieting film and is further proof to the greatness of Burt's power as an actor.

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domino harvey
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

David and Lisa

#17 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:22 pm

I rented David and Lisa when it came out on DVD a few months back... pretty lousy film, shockingly naive and stale for when it was made, and most mindboggling of all is how it got nominated for Best Director.

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david hare
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The Swimmer & Last Summer

#18 Post by david hare » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:25 pm

The Perrys (Frank and Eleanor) are something of a problem case, and definitely I think they're stuck in a time capsule.

Their movies were earnest and well intentioned to buck the status quo but they now feel very dated, com[pared to say, Lumet or Penn from the same era. The tone is often, as Gordon mentions above frequently, if not usually overwrought and histrionic and given they were screenwriter/directors much of the blame for such burdensome moviemaking can be fairly directed to the screenplays themselves. The Swimmer takes Cheever's almost pellucid prose and munches it into literal gravy, as Burt resolutely swims his way across suburbia, doing his one and only (and too late) nude scene.

There's also Diary of a Mad Housewife made just after Last Summer which had a lot of feminist cred in its day. As I remembr it at least, Richard Benjamin is so totally obnoxious (both as an actor and in character it amazed me Carrie Snodgrass didn't murder him on the spot. He certainly had a number of women in the cinema hollering out abuse at the screen. Benjamin went on to make the completely iredeemable Portnoy's Complaint - the perfect vehicle for him as an exercise in relentless masturbation.

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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

Play it as it Lays

#19 Post by Barmy » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:18 am

Have to disagree. Just saw a great 35mm of "Play" on Sunday. Pretentious? Yes. But great controlled performances by Tuesday Weld and, to a lesser degree, Anthony Hopkins (too many unsubtle gay tics that I'm sure he thought were subtle). "Diary" is a fine film as well.

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tavernier
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Play it as it Lays

#20 Post by tavernier » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:30 am

I've never heard anyone describe a Tuesday Weld performance as "controlled."

Until now.

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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

Play it as it Lays

#21 Post by Barmy » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:36 am

Hey, per the program notes, Rex Reed said Tuesday's perf was one of the best ever!!!!!

But seriously, there are no histrionics, screaming jags or even shouting by TW in "Play" whatsoever. Even though she plays an actress whose life is a mess and is going nuts. Truly remarkable.

Narshty
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Last Summer

#22 Post by Narshty » Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:48 am

I've wanted to see Last Summer for years, but to the best of my knowledge the R rated version is cut from the original X certificate version. I strongly suspect that the version on the Shocking Movies is straight from the R rated VHS currently available on Amazon for $35. I'll just wait for Warner to get it together, seeing how good they about restoring missing footage to their titles; maybe their next 'Leading Ladies' collection will have it in there.

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Person
Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 3:00 pm

Last Summer & Play it as it Lays

#23 Post by Person » Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:20 am

Last Summer DVD-R from VHS.

Play it as it Lays DVD-R from 1.85:1 widescreen TV broadcast.

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Last Summer

#24 Post by Dylan » Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:35 am

Person wrote:Last Summer DVD-R from VHS.
Now's a good time to thank you for that link. I went ahead and ordered this this, as $7 (including shipping) seemed like a damn reasonable price to see the film, considering it would cost $4 to rent the Key Video VHS from Scarecrow Video here in Seattle (this way, aside from having a copy of the film, I can also dodge the completely unnecessary $200 debit card hold they'd place on the rental if I did rent it from them). The DVD-R arrived today and I watched the film this afternoon.

The visual quality is about what one would expect from a 1985 (or older) VHS of a 1969 film, but a "plus" is that the OAR is certainly not more than 1.66:1 or 1.85 (it may even be open matte)...this is a "plus" because I was, surprisingly, more than prepared to suffer through a 2.35 pan/scan disaster just to suffice my fascination for this intriguing late '60s material (as an aside, did Frank Perry ever shoot a film in 'scope?). The overall aesthetic feeling I had watching the print was that of running a 16mm film...so, while it could've been worse, the film's begging for a better transfer, which I hope it gets in the coming years.

Now onto the actual film: I was, in many ways, quite affected by it, although I'm still trying to sort out my thoughts. Aside from the strange central metaphors, which seem to have thrown a great deal of people off during the unexpected and quietly psychotic, almost Les Bonnes Femmes-like final scene, the film is reasonably clear and simplistic in presentation and language, but simplistic in a way that registered with me as honest and rather warm...it is clearly of it's time, but that's not a bad thing, not by an stretch: I love this era for teenagers, and this film also emanates that late 60s American drama feel I've had a (strangely) high affinity for during this summer of my life, and an affinity I can't quite explain properly yet, but it's pretty much here in abundance (although this film didn't have quite the same effect on me as films like John & Mary or Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice did).

There are many good scenes: when they first consume the Heinekin's, which they dub “the truth serum,â€

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lord_clyde
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Last Summer

#25 Post by lord_clyde » Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:19 am

Glad to see Last Summer affected someone else so much. One of my absolute favorites from the 60's, (how did we decide that being 'of its time' is a bad thing again?) and I also would love to see a proper dvd release.

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