Sunday, January 21, 2007

To The Best Of Our Knowledge

This episode is dedicated to movies. Laura Poitras (IMDb profile) talks about her documentary "My Country, My Country", which follows a Sunni Ara doctor who runs for public office in the 2005 'purple finger' election in Iraq. This one has won several awards and is on the short list for an Oscar. Trailer.

Orson Welles: Hello Americans written by Simon CallowActor Simon Callow (IMDb profile), author of "Orson Welles: Hello Americans", tells us why "Citizen Kane" was loved by critics but hated by audiences. (I've never known anyone that said they liked it).

Callow says this is a movie that inspired a generation of filmmakers despite the fact that it flopped at the box office. One reason for its critical acclaim -- it was edited by image guru Robert Wise, who went on to direct "The Sound of Music", "West Side Story", and one of the most visually well executed movies, "The Haunting".

Will Farrell in Stranger Than Fiction written by Zach HelmZach Helm (IMDb profile), screenwriter of "Stranger Than Fiction". He tells a funny story. He was doing work for hire for Fox 2000 when he submitted a spec called "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium". They liked it but decided to give it to another writer for doctoring. Helm was shattered because this was his first script. Fox 2000 sent him a ham as consolation. The experience compelled Helm to insist that none of his future work be doctored by another writer and, in return, Helm stopped accepting rewrite assignments of other writers' work. Happy ending -- Helm got the script back and the movie is in production with Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman -- Helm directs. Helm also describes why he separates himself from his writing and how thick black bands tattooed around both his wrists help him to accomplish this -- and, yes this comes off a little stranger than fiction.

Hitchcock's Music written by Jack SullivanJack Sullivan, author of "Hitchcock's Music" on the collaboration between the director and composer Bernard Herrmann. There are two very interesting stories. One is about how the producers of "Vertigo" were afraid that audiences would not know what the word vertigo meant, and commissioned a song to explain the word's definition to be played of over the opening credits instead of Herrmann's jarring orchestral music -- chalk that one up as a close call.

Another story is about how Hitch was disenchanted with "Psycho" and was about to cut it up for presentation on his TV show. When Herrmann found out he told Hitch to take a few days off, and during that time Herrmann scored the shower cue (which Hitchcock originally planned to be unaccompanied by music). When Hitch came back Herrmann played the shower scene with what later became the most famous movie music ever -- Hitch loved it and decided to shoot "Psycho" as a feature.

Listen to the show (53 minutes)

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