Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dramarama


A quick call out to readers, mockers and passerby:

I am teaching a course on movies and melodrama in the fall, and I'm starting to assemble a list of films to watch or re-watch over the late spring/summer for syllabus prep. There are several movies I know I want to look at again, and will probably use for the course (although nothing's set in stone yet): Rebecca, Gaslight, all the Douglas Sirk that's available, Preminger films like Fallen Angel, Bonjour Tristesse, and Daisy Kenyon. I'm looking forward to diving into the oeuvres of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (especially after the Siren's great pieces on her). I'm also curious to think about how the genre interacts with other genres, like the political film (Advise and Consent), the horror movie (arguably all of them, but especially those of the 1930s, 40s and 70s, like Hangover Square or Carrie), and the musical (Love Me or Leave Me, A Star Is Born, The Red Shoes). But I throw the question out to you all: are there melodramas I absolutely have to watch? Favorites of yours that I haven't mentioned? Offbeat or obscure films I might have overlooked?

8 comments:

Larry Aydlette said...

The Heiress.

Jason Mittell said...

Personally, I think the intersection between melodrama and action films is quite interesting - Face/Off is a great example of a film that can be read as a melodrama or action-thriller.

Are you going to consider TV melodrama? Soap operas are obvious touchstones (and arguably where strict melodrama migrated post-50s), and revisionist TV dramas like thirtysomething, Six Feet Under and Friday Night Lights recast the melodramatic impulse.

Good luck watching, and stock up on Kleenex!

Brian Doan said...

Larry,
Ooh, THE HEIRESS-- great suggestion, thanks! Especially since I like WASHINGTON SQUARE, and it might be a nice way of talking about melodrama in earlier media.

Jason,
Thanks for stopping by-- it's nice to hear from you again! I was definitely going to do TV-- I was thinking of THE OC and THE SOPRANOS, but FNL is great, too. I wish thirtysmething was on DVD-- that's one of those shows I've always wanted to catch up on, since I was really too young to catch it the first time (except for a few re-runs on Bravo several years ago). I also really like the action suggestion, which I hadn't thought of. Face/Off is really underrated, I think.

Bob Westal said...

Well, let's see. For your musical melodrama section, I'd consider "For Me and My Gal" and, since you're doing "A Star is Born" you might consider "New York, New York" -- though I haven't seen it myself since I was bored to tears by it age eleven twelve or so. (A bit early for the material, probably. I need to check though one again.)

And, since you've thrown open the door to TV, and I know you're a "Buffy" fan, the season II closers are as soap operatic as anything in the fantasy/action/horror genre I've ever seen, except for maybe Marvel Comics. (I've heard Buffy described as a "soap about monsters" more than once.)

As for more conventional melodramas, I'd definitely do some Max Ophuls in his U.S. phase -- "Letter to an Unknown Woman," "Caught, "The Reckless Moment" are all good choices. (The last one was remade nicely a few years back as "The Deep End" with Tilda Swinton, keeping the story very similar but rewriting the daughter who kills a would-be rapist into the character's gay son.)

Oh, and you just gotta do some Nicholas Ray....

Bob Westal said...

And "A Place in the Sun"!

Brian Doan said...

Hi Bob-- Great suggestions! I especially like the Ophuls stuff. Do you know if "Letter" is on DVD?

I'd love to do some buffy, although I worry about overwhelming students with it: I've already found ways to work eps into three different classes. (:

Bob Westal said...

On IMDb they've got pics of the DVD box, so I guess that's a yes.

But I got the title wrong, it's "Letter FROM an Unknown Woman." Prepositional inversion.

Brian Doan said...

Cool! I'll have to check that out at amazon or something. I do really love that film, which I saw years ago on laser disc.