The Pitch of Style

Liliom (1930) is a film notable for its striking, somewhat contrary choices, made the more distinct by the way they seem to frame this most straightforward of stories. These are baffling choices at times, and yet the result is so harmonious that you have to wonder if the stories that read as uncomplicated tripe on paper are not in fact, through the lens of film, the best palates for style.

-The pace. the way they seem to wait thirty seconds in between words–and when a scene calls for two person dialogue, forget it. You could go into the next room and peel potatoes for half an hour only to come back and find you’ve missed about half a sentence.
-the interiors are some of the most beautiful i’ve ever seen; spartan sets, and always a corner of interest in an otherwise blank frame, something we can appreciate but not be distracted by. And the point of interest, boldly enough,  is not always where the action is.
-The pitch of Farrell’s voice v. that of Hobart. Hers is a low, long drawl, not quite husky, but a half-tone shy of dietrich territory. The fact that she isn’t in any way sultry just makes it seem masculine, which works, because his intemperate squeak is about as feminine as it gets without entering the realm of the fey.
-The fact that it’s quiet.  So sparsely quiet as to compliment the set design, everything is minimalist, from the emotions to the directorial interference to the mise-en-scene. Quite different from what we would come to expect from Hollywood in the following years.
-Lee Tracy. The jewel in the crown of any production.

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~ by levantor on January 16, 2009.

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