Monday, January 16, 2012

Small Bites: Patton, The Red Shoes

Patton is a film that I somehow avoided for many years despite seeing its iconic opening scene spoofed in numerous ways over the years. I had always heard that despite being a great film, the length of the film less than desirable. While I admit the film does feel even longer than it 170 minute running time, I was glad that I finally got around to seeing it. I loved the way George C. Scott portrays General Patton as both a brilliant strategist and as a man who may be slightly mad. Beside Scott’s performance, I thought Karl Malden was equally strong in his understated supporting role as General Omar Bradley. The rivalry between Patton and the British General Montgomery was interesting to watch unfold. However, the aspect of Patton’s life I found the most fascinating was the latter years when his outspoken ways cause the loss of his command. It must also be noted that the battle scenes in this film were quiet exceptional. Living in a time when it seems scenes of war have been documented on the big screen in every way possible, it is nice when a film, an older one at that, can still manage to grab your attention. Though Patton could have been trimmed down a tad, overall I was pleased.

Patton is part of our "The Must See List" series. The film was recommended by JBT’s husband Andrew

The Red Shoes
Over the course of one day I went from knowing nothing about the directing duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to being completely enamoured with their films. After screening a double bill of Black Narcissus (which I will talk more about in my Blind Spot post for January) and The Red Shoes, I immediately added ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’ to my Netflix queue to watch at a later date. The centerpiece performance of the ballet The Red Shoes is quiet magical. I would recommend the film for this sequence alone. Even people who are not usually fond of the ballet, or do not like dance related films in general, cannot help but get swept away by the majesty of it all. Featuring lush sets and outstanding choreography, the directors skilfully use the ballet to foreshadow what Victoria Page will have to endure. Moira Shearer in particular was perfectly cast for the role of Victoria Page. Shearer really sells the conflict Page endures while trying to choose between her love for composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) and her desire to dance for Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). Unfortunately despite the strong performances, the cast cannot hide the predictability of the plot. This is especially noticeable in regards to the way love triangle is unfolds. Although The Red Shoes is a great film, it is not quite on the level of Black Narcissus. Granted, this is like saying a Ferrari FF is not as good as a Ferrari the end of the day you are still driving a Ferrari when others are in a Buick. Those who enjoyed Black Swan should find The Red Shoes equally, if not more, rewarding.


  1. I saw Patton many years ago and I agree that it runs too damn long. Maybe, it is brilliant but by the end, I did not really care for it. I just wanted it to finish.

    And Red Shoes was masterful, especially the way story unfolds. I actually felt like reading a book. Brilliant !! I Know where I am going is going in my Netflix queue as well.

  2. For me, too much was left out of The Red Shoes. I didn't buy the romance as shown in the film at all.

    The dancing, however, makes up for it. Those scenes are worth the price of admission by themselves.

  3. The Red Shoes was a discovery of mine a few years ago and having revisited it just before Black Swan's release and getting the DVD. It made me want to check out more Powell/Pressburger films as Black Narcissus made me become a fan. I just DVRed A Matter of Life & Death last week. I'm not sure if I'll see it this week as I want to focus on finishing my stuff on Lars von Trier right now.

  4. I saw Patton as a kid and I remember not caring for it. I should rewatch it.

    I'm gonna be watching The Red Shoes for my Blind Spot series I can't wait to check it out. It'll be my first Powell/Pressburger

  5. I got to see The Red Shoes when they toured the 35mm restoration at the Bloor Cinema. It was a revelatory experience. I've since seen a whole bunch of Archers films, and they really are wonderful. I'd have to say The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is my favourite. Anton Walbrook is amazing in it. Also really great is their WWII propaganda film set in Canada, The 49th Parallel. It's a lot of fun, and Walbrook shows up to deliver one of the best monologues ever.

  6. @SDG – I would recommend Black Narcissus as well if you have not already seen the film.

    @SJHoneywell – The love story did not work well for me either. I felt that other films of its time had captured love triangles far better. I could watch the dancing over and over though.

    @thevoid99 – I will have to add A Matter of Life & Death to my list of films to seek out. As for von Trier, while I have seen many of his films there are still I few I need to catch up on.

    @Dave Enkosky – I look forward to hearing your thoughts on The Red Shoes. It was your Blind Spot list that peak my interest in seeing the film.

    @CoreyAtad – I will have to try and get a hold of a copy of both The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and The 49th Parallel. Thanks for the recommendations! Really looking forward to exploring the Archers canon of work.

  7. "No man ever won a war by dying for his country. You win a war by making the other poor bastard die for *his* country." That's probably my favorite quote from a movie (Patton) that is eminently quotable. I don't remember it being long, but it has been several years since I saw it.

    I've actually never seen The Red Shoes. It's one of those movies that, when you are reminded of it, you say to yourself that you should see it, but you never end up getting around to it.

    I recently reviewed The 49th Parallel at my blog. My advice would be to try to watch it as if it is 1941, not the present. If you can put yourself in the mindset of the people of the day the propaganda will not seem quite so overbearing.

  8. @Chip Lary - That indeed is a great line. The film has so many wonderful quotable moments.

    I will be sure to give your The 49th Parallel review a read.

  9. TRS and BN are two of the greatest technicolor films ever,I Know Where I'm Going is also very typical M&E

  10. @David - If 'I Know Where I'm Going' is more of the same from this directing duo then I will be very happy to say the least.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.