Boom! (Joseph Losey)

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Michael
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#1 Post by Michael » Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:47 am

Joseph Losey's Boom! VHS was out only 6 years ago. It's now out of print which is understandable. Does anybody know if Universal plans to release the DVD? That's one of the handful of films that I've been dying to see. The only independent video store left in my town carries the VHS and I'm thinking about purchasing a cheap VCR (since mine wore out a couple of years ago) just to rent Boom! Any comments about this film itself would be very appreciated.

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Matt
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#2 Post by Matt » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:31 am

I wouldn't buy a VCR just to see this on tape. The VHS is very unsatisfactory - panned and scanned 'scope film = blecch.

I don't know why it's not out yet. Universal had a perfect opportunity to piggyback on Warner's Tennessee Williams collection. They'll have another perfect opportunity when Warner gets around to their Burton/Taylor collection (which I'd expect this year, the 40th anniversary of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). God knows John Waters would gladly do a commentary for the release.

I don't expect anything from Universal. I mean, if this isn't the most heartbreaking list you've ever seen...

Exciting trivia: Tab Hunter played the Burton role on Broadway opposite Tallulah Bankhead. Now if only someone had filmed THAT!

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Michael
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#3 Post by Michael » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:50 am

The most heartbreaking list indeed!

Matt, if you don't mind me asking - what is your take on Boom!? What is your favorite Tennessee Williams adaptation if you have one? Tennesee Williams being very fond of this film got me interested in seeing it. I love Liz Taylor especially in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof but I realize that Boom! is a different galaxy. And also many thanks for the advise. I will wait for the DVD.
Last edited by Michael on Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Lino
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#4 Post by Lino » Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:51 am

Universal should really sell the distribution rights for this to Criterion. I mean, if they can get away with releasing Equinox, why not Boom!?

In fact, I asked Mulvaney last year about this and I got the usual negative reply. Pity. A Dirty Shame, really.

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Barmy
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#5 Post by Barmy » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:21 am

I would kill, or at least maim, for a Boom! DVD. Caught it at a recent Losey retro and had to see it twice.

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Matt
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#6 Post by Matt » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:52 pm

Michael wrote:Matt, if you don't mind me asking - what is your take on Boom!? What is your favorite Tennessee Williams adaptation if you have one?
I don't really like Tennessee Williams at all. It's not just him - all of those mid-century American playwrights (Odets, O'Neill, Inge, Miller) just turn me right off. So I don't really have a favorite adaptation.

Boom! is fun in parts, but also exasperating and tiresome. It's best when Noel Coward is on screen camping it up. It's also best when it looks like they should have done a second take, but nobody cared enough about the project to do so. The whole movie feels really amateurish, which boggles the mind since everybody in front of and behind the camera was capable of truly great work. I get the sense that there was a lot of booze (and money) flowing on the set. The dialogue itself is just awful. It's the worst of Williams in florid, "profound" mode and it just stinks.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#7 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:59 pm

I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival one year with John Waters introducing the pic... very funny. If memory serves, it is one of the movies he screened for potential significant others and if they didn't like it he wouldn't date 'em!

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Michael
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#8 Post by Michael » Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:12 pm

I don't really like Tennessee Williams at all. It's not just him - all of those mid-century American playwrights (Odets, O'Neill, Inge, Miller) just turn me right off. So I don't really have a favorite adaptation.

I'm not a fan of any of those playwrights except for Tennessee Williams (Matt, have you read any plays by Paula Vogel? I love her!). Back at my high school, I remember getting very excited when A Streetcar Named Desire was assigned for my English class. Not because of the play itself or its author... it gave me the precious opportunity to hear what other classmates had to discuss about Blanche finding her beau in bed with another man. That was the most exciting part of my sophomore education. Tennessee Williams churned out very grim and stark plays that came alive with poetic dialogues, whiskey and sex. He was never afraid to be himself - an openly gay man. I grew up in a small town where anything "gay" was completely foreign and Tennessee was one of my very few role models simply because he was openly gay (many thanks to the passionate reader in me). Truman Capote was another model. I love Williams' plays, especially his characters always sexy and fucked up. But that doesn't mean I adore every film adaptaton. All are failures except for Baby Doll which I think is utterly the most pure and greatest Tennessee Williams film ever. Matt, if you haven't seen Baby Doll, then don't let your dislike of Williams get in the way. I mean I can live without any of the film adaptations but Baby Doll.. never! Some of the failures, such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer, are still fascinating to see (at least to me as a gay man) how Hollywood went so far to skip around the gay theme, the very action that caused them turning into nonsense, hilarious disasters that I think every person should see to believe.

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tryavna
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#9 Post by tryavna » Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:30 pm

Michael wrote:He was never afraid to be himself - an openly gay man.
Imagine finding one of those in the theater! :wink:

I can understand why many people don't care much for Williams' plays; they do tend to wallow in their Southern Gothic excesses. But I must say that I really enjoy reading his plays. Williams was a wonderful wordsmith, and even his stage directions are beautifully written. The description of the scene at the opening of Streetcar is incredibly evocative -- it's a shame that so few people bother to read it.

But my favorite American dramatist is easily Eugene O'Neill. Even in plays that aren't entirely successful (or just plain out of fashion), like The Emperor Jones, reveal an incredibly sharp mind at work. The way he manages to fuse the pulp with the mythic never ceases to amaze me.

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#10 Post by neuro » Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:32 pm

Michael wrote:All are failures except for Baby Doll which I think is utterly the most pure and greatest Tennessee Williams film ever. Matt, if you haven't seen Baby Doll, then don't let your dislike of Williams get in the way.
Not much to add, except to agree with Michael wholeheartedly. I can't stand Williams either (or Kazan, for the most part), but Baby Doll is a whole other animal all together. It still seems racy today.

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Gordon
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#11 Post by Gordon » Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:49 pm

Well, Universal released Secret Ceremony in the UK in May, so Boom! has a good chance of finding its way to DVD. Paramount's, Figures in a Landscape is still in delayed-DVD Hell, as is Studio Canal's (?), The Go-Between. See my LIST to see my full frustration.

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Lino
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#12 Post by Lino » Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:07 am

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival one year with John Waters introducing the pic... very funny. If memory serves, it is one of the movies he screened for potential significant others and if they didn't like it he wouldn't date 'em!
You do realize you got every Waters fan on this board just fuming with envy, don't you?

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Michael
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#13 Post by Michael » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:09 am

Baby Doll is a whole other animal all together. It still seems racy today.

Yeah.. the cinematography is really pristine and luxurious, giving this film an exceptionally beautiful, almost surreal glow. It really looks like it could be filmed today. If you peel away the hypnotic directing, acting and cinematography, then you will get an impossibly ridiculous story - a 19 year old child bride (since when was a 19 year old a child? only in America!) promises to have sex with her much older husband - a psychotic wolf - on her 20th birthday. But a foreigner steps in and magically liberates the girl from her previously "baby" behavior, transforming her into a "woman" over the stretch of one lazy afternoon of empty cars, swings, lemonade and ghosts. How crazy that sounds! But Kazan turns this story (obviously penned in a boozy haze) into a completely beautiful masterpiece. Like Myra wrote in the other thread, the film ends on a very ambiguous note. It shows that no one really wins from one long day of playing "games".
Last edited by Michael on Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#14 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:16 am

Myra Breckinridge wrote:
Fletch F. Fletch wrote:I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival one year with John Waters introducing the pic... very funny. If memory serves, it is one of the movies he screened for potential significant others and if they didn't like it he wouldn't date 'em!
You do realize you got every Waters fan on this board just fuming with envy, don't you?
Heh, I guess I shouldn't tell you 'bout the screening of Pecker I went to that intro'd by Waters and a very drugged out looking Edward Furlong! :wink:

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Lino
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#15 Post by Lino » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:29 am

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:Heh, I guess I shouldn't tell you 'bout the screening of Pecker I went to that intro'd by Waters and a very drugged out looking Edward Furlong! :wink:
Please stop... or I'll burst into tears... :(

Anonymous

#16 Post by Anonymous » Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:54 pm

I paid a lot of money for that tape of BOOM! once, even though it's cropped. This film is pure delight from start to finish, camp at its heighest. No surprise to me that Waters loves it. Liz Taylor at her most hysterical, Burton at his most pompous and then a character who is actually named the Witch of Capri, do I need to say more? Alongside with a few Micheaux, Meyer, Ed Wood and Waters films, this is one of my favorite trash films.

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Lino
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#17 Post by Lino » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:24 pm

Let's all hope Universal includes this oddity in their proposed Cinema Classics Collection.

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#18 Post by david hare » Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:21 pm

I havent seen Boom in a thousand years but it's always struck me as nothing more than a vanity project for Liz and Dick, and possibly the debut of Liz' ultra shrill period. (X Y and Zee being the apex.) The biggest disappointment was Noel Coward as the Witch of Capri who seemed to be either stoned or embarrassed throughout the picture.

Losey delivered great stylish camp with Dirk in Modesty Blaise, but Boom takes itself far too seriously, as I recall, without any real feeling of commitement from Losey as Liz/Dick house director.

But it's been a thousand years.

As for Tennessee the one play/adaptation from Short Story I would KILL to see as a movie (directed by John Waters) is the Kingdom of Earth/Seven Descents of Myrtle. Act one ends with tubercolic brother's new white trash wife giving half breed hung butch brother a blowjob under the table. I saw a production of this at the Adelaide Festival years ago which had the back flats collapse under the weight of a symbolic flood from stage rear. The front rows of the audience including dignitaries like the State Premier and Vice Regals etc were drenched. Mass walkouts etc. Sublime!

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Lino
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#19 Post by Lino » Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:10 pm

davidhare wrote:As for Tennessee the one play/adaptation from Short Story I would KILL to see as a movie (directed by John Waters) is the Kingdom of Earth/Seven Descents of Myrtle.
Well, not John Waters but Sidney Lumet did film his version of that play. Haven't seen it, though.

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#20 Post by david hare » Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:02 pm

Yes, Id forgotten. I havent seen it either.

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#21 Post by Anonymous » Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:49 pm

I must say I entirely disagree with you David. You think the film takes itself to seriously? Of course it does, that's the charm of its camp! When you look at a camp classic like the splendid FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! then one is immediately invited not to take it seriously. It's like a comic book. Losey's BOOM! on the other side is a film with high intentions, which all failed in the process of making it. John Waters described the film as a masterpiece of failed art and he hits the point. The hilarity and joy of BOOM! comes from the fact that all involved participants thought they were up to something deep and (maybe) Oscar-worthy, yet as it turned out Liz, Richard and Noel seemed to be drunk constantly while Losely appearently joined them. You really should see the film again David, and again and again. I love it as much as Waters does.

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david hare
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#22 Post by david hare » Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:00 am

Oh Carsten!

Such admonition!!

I will watch Boom again (after Ive' reviewed the extremely fine late Losey Secret Ceremony with Liz) but I suspect this whole topic needs dredging into a definition of what is Camp?

As a homosexual I have a very strong aversion to the subject, preferring to view such artefacts as a form of shrieky "artifice", and camp to me has always been a symptom of self-denying/self hating homophobia. Certainly not Sontagian. I think it's totally a straight concept.

But let's wait and see. Maybe Gremillon's costumes and macquillage in the yet unseen Dainah la Metrisse (which look very much like precursors of Leisen's sublime costumes and set dec for de Mille) might prove to be more transcendent.

Some of the things I view as "camp", like the dubbed US cut version of Harlan's "Anderen als du und ich" are appealing to me because they are inadvertently funny, constantly, but they give me pause to think about why they're funny. I think of all of us here Shcreck has the firmest grasp on the concept of "incomplete" or amusingly "flawed" movies which give him (and me ) huge pleasure. But NEVER because they are in some way inferior to us , or the subject, or themselves.

(Thus I come out as a part time admirer of Dwayne Esper.)

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#23 Post by Anonymous » Fri Dec 08, 2006 10:14 am

davidhare wrote:But NEVER because they are in some way inferior to us , or the subject, or themselves.
I didn't say that. To be more direct, my love for BOOM! comes from the fact that I enjoy and love its over-the-top hysteria, the crazy performances and the laid-back way Losey filmed it. John Waters said that BOOM! is actually beyond camp. And I know that many people differ in their views of what camp is (and my and your understanding of it seem to differ quite drastically), but eventually it hasn't anything to do with our different opinions of the film itself.

BOOM! is, as Waters said, failed art and thus perfect. I really agree with that. BOOM! creates its own genre, it exists in its own one-entry category. It moved away from its intentions and created something that most people weren't prepared for.

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#24 Post by pianocrash » Thu Dec 28, 2006 8:24 pm

The Sundance Channel will be airing Boom! & Secret Ceremony during January (as well as a few other La Liz films), so the rest of us can all join in on this discussion (maybe). In widescreen!

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Lino
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#25 Post by Lino » Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:11 am

Ok, people -- I need a favour from a kind soul, here.

As pianocrash said above, Boom! is playing this month on the Sundance Channel in its correct aspect ratio of 2.35. If someone would be kind enough to make me a copy of it (VHS, DVD-R, CD-Rom, DivX, any format will do fine) and then send it to me (I will pay for the P&P expenses, of course), I would be very, very grateful.

Thanks in advance for any kind of reply.

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