The film that changed Richard Linklater's life
April 12, 2010 11:03 PM   Subscribe

"Have I taken things from it for my films? I wish! They don't make 'em like that any more. I would love to, but I don't think people would buy that kind of 50s melodrama. There are sequences that are intimate, one-room scenes, but then there are beautiful crescendos, like the one at the end - he can deliver that too. Minnelli's sensibilities were perfect for it - the sensitivity and the bravado. It hits all the notes." Richard Linklater talks about Vincente Minnelli's great widescreen Technicolor melodrama Some Came Running in The Observer's "The film that changed my life" column. An often overlooked film, especially in the Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin "canon."
posted by saltykmurks (14 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Apparently Some Came Running will be showing on June 7, at 11:30am EDT on Turner Classic Movies.
posted by hippybear at 11:36 PM on April 12, 2010

Wow, what an unexpected and original choice. I don't think "Some Came Running" is all that great a movie, and if you want real bona fide melodrama, go to Nicholas Ray or Douglas Sirk. But an intriguing choice. There is some great hallucinatory stuff going on with the use of color in that movie. Shirley MacLaine's performance in it as Ginnie Moorehead (which Linklater doesn't mention) is so grating it's virtually unbearable, much like Shelley Winters' performance in "A Place in the Sun." That may be sort of what Linklater means when he says that people wouldn't buy that kind of melodrama today.
posted by blucevalo at 11:41 PM on April 12, 2010

Hmmm, I haven't seen Some Came Running, but I just watched (again) another Minnelli melodrama, The Bad and the Beautiful, and it seems to hit some of the same notes that Linklater is talking about. It's got Kirk Douglas at his Kirk-Douglasest, and his performance is so overwrought you couldn't get away with it in a modern film. But Douglas (and Minnelli) do get away with it, because A: it's Kirk Douglas, and B: the whole film is grounded in a very realistic, even cynical look at Hollywood just before the collapse of the studio system. (Apparently most of the main characters are based on real Hollywood figures of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.) As such it makes a nice companion piece with Wilder's Sunset Boulevard. Anyway, I'm glad we still have these melodramas to watch, even if they don't make them like that anymore.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:36 AM on April 13, 2010

I've caught it a couple of times more or less in passing (on PBS I think). Not a BAD movie at all, and very much of its time (that part of the 1960s before Kennedy killed the hat and then Oswald killed Kennedy). But no, not what I would call a classic or a masterpiece ... and neither would Mr. Linklater, I suspect, if the culture had embraced it at the time (and the Academy) and it was now a household word (three of them actually). Which isn't to say he's into it for the exclusionary "cool" factor; more along the lines of it being a lot easier to love something that hasn't been shown (and discussed) to death ... kind of like most of the movies I'd call personal favorites without feeling it necessary to declare them "the best".
posted by philip-random at 3:37 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I fucking love Some Came Running.
It's not Sinatra's very best performance, although it's up there; Dean Martin is supremely languid, effortless, cool. Arthur Kennedy's support as Sinatra's brother is pitch-perfect. Everyone remembers Shirley MacLaine's slightly-too-shrill turn, but it stands to work the contrast between Ginnie and Gwen. The colour, the sets, the costumes all work together to create a film that is incredibly beautiful to look at. The narrative manages to embrace some huge themes -- war's aftermaths, family, life's hard choices -- yet retains an intimate focus throughout. It really is a seriously good film.
posted by hydatius at 4:23 AM on April 13, 2010

I had a conversation with the Head of Production at one of the major Hollywood studios about two weeks ago. He told me he would love to make a big family melodrama, but that he feared that AMERICAN BEAUTY had destroyed the genre by mocking it. Another HOP at another studio told me they simply were not making dramas for financial reasons. I wouldn't count the genre out, but it will take a fresh twist to get the corpse out of the grave.
posted by unSane at 4:51 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's got Kirk Douglas at his Kirk-Douglasest...

Isn't the proper term: Kirk-Dougliest?
posted by fairmettle at 5:23 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Filmed in beautiful Madison, IN!
posted by LakesideOrion at 5:48 AM on April 13, 2010

I love the way this movie opens, with the passed-out Sinatra on the bus, having been packed back to his hated hometown by well-meaning buddies while he was rip-roaring drunk the night before.

This is an excellent film and I don't think RL is being disingenuous at all.
posted by saltykmurks at 6:52 AM on April 13, 2010

He told me he would love to make a big family melodrama, but that he feared that AMERICAN BEAUTY had destroyed the genre by mocking it.

Another addition to the long list of things that "American Beauty" destroyed.
posted by blucevalo at 7:39 AM on April 13, 2010

Incidentally, Some Came Running is also the name of film critic Glenn Kenny's fine blog.
posted by muckster at 8:07 AM on April 13, 2010

blucevalo: "Another addition to the long list of things that "American Beauty" destroyed."

You can add "my toleration for voiceover" to that list.
posted by brundlefly at 8:37 AM on April 13, 2010

Incidentally, Some Came Running is also the name of film critic Glenn Kenny's fine blog.

That is indeed a fine blog. Thanks for the link -- I look forward to reading more of it.
posted by blucevalo at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2010

James Jones is a great writer. I had read Some Came Running years before I even knew there was a movie version. Then I saw the movie. Dean Martin as Bama Dillert is some righteous deadly casting selection.
posted by ovvl at 7:35 PM on April 13, 2010

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