::Behind the scenes, I had all sorts of trouble with this week’s mystery movie. The main problem was that my trusty blogging software stopped talking to WordPress so everything had to be done manually. If you’re not on WordPress you won’t know this, but it recently rolled out a “blocks” toolbox that is Clippy but for blogging (“Hi!! It looks like you are trying to do a blog post!!!! Would you like help with that??!!!”). Another complication was that many images from Hoffmann are in various reverse-image search engines. I had some wonderful images that I had to scrap because they show up online. I had also been on the road for the last 10 days, covering 2,000 miles and I was beat. Frankly, I was about to pull the plug on WordPress and move to a new platform, maybe even give up the mystery movies, I mean I was really fed up with what had gone from a two- or three-step process into something like 10 steps. Fortunately, I resolved the problem by going to another blogging program that works – at least for now, so my apologies for this week. It was tough.
::I chose The Tales of Hoffmann after a recent chat with a member of the Brain Trust. I noticed that the film had only aired once on TCM and, fortunately, I had a copy. Notice that the running time listed in Motion Picture Daily is 138 minutes, while the version that aired on TCM runs just over two hours. It’s a wild movie visually, with lots of elaborate makeup and some modernistic scenery mixed with period settings. It is an opera, sung throughout in English. The voices are fine (it’s all lip-synced) but the movie is so visual that I wasn’t especially conscious that Hey! These people are singing! And let’s see if The New York Times reviewed it and if so, who hated it. Bosley Crowther: That’s your cue! Writing April 5, 1951:
The inevitable question about this picture is how close does it come to matching the beauty and excitement of the same producers’ The Red Shoes? Although the two films are basically different, a comparison is fair to this extent: The Red Shoes had warmth and vitality, Tales of Hoffman is splendid and cold.A member of the Brain Trust (you know who you are) requested this week’s mystery movie. For Monday, we have a mystery gent. Update: I think this is Frederick Ashton, but I’m not positive. For Tuesday, we have a quite mysterious guest. Update: I believe this is Frederick Ashton. I ran the image mainly to hint that the mystery movie was a little unusual. Brain Trust roll call: Megan (mysterious writers/directors). For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mysterious gent. Update: This is Robert Helpmann. Also for “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mysterious guest. Update: This is Frederick Ashton. Brain Trust roll call: Megan and Thom (mystery movie) and Gary (mystery movie and mystery writers/directors). Also Beach Gal (mystery movie), valiantly struggling to defeat a rogue spam filter. For “Aha Thursday,” we have a mysterious gent who is not Jerry Lewis. Update: This is Robert Helpmann. Also for “Aha Thursday,” we have this mysterious guest. Update: This is Pamela Brown Brain Trust roll call: Beach Gal (Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mary Mallory (mystery movie, mysterious writers/directors, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest No. 1) and Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and mysterious writers/directors). For Friday, we have this imposing mystery guest. Update: This is Robert Rounseville. And we have this mysterious dancer. Update: This is Moira Shearer. Brain Trust roll call: L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), Mary Mallory (Monday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Beach Gal (Monday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guest No. 2) and Benito (mystery movie).