‘WILD’ HYPERBOLE - Blogs
For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Harrison Ford movie, ‘The Call of the Wild,’ which opens in theaters this weekend, is a remake of the famous 1903 Jack London novel that has been filmed no less than five times before. The most famous version was the 1935 black-and-white picture that starred Clark Gable. When the Gable film received its first DVD release in 2006, I reviewed it for the Deseret News on Aug. 18, then a week later (Aug. 25) did a column (with a quiz) that was related to it.
THE DVD REVIEW: "Call of the Wild" (1935, b/w). If you want a strong example of Clark Gable's he-man appeal, check out this pre-"Gone With the Wind" adventure, a freewheeling adaptation of Jack London's novel that perfectly casts "the King" as gambler/gold digger Jack Thornton. Gable has great chemistry with Loretta Young and his comic sidekick Jack Oakie — and seems even closer to his dog, Buck, who gets his journey to the Yukon started. This one is lots of fun.
THE COLUMN: If you ever read the newspaper ads for movies, perhaps you, like me, get a kick out of the ludicrous levels of hyperbole used to promote films these days.
A example that just floored me was this line in the ad for "Pulse": "Unlike any horror film you've seen before or will ever see!"
Ahhh, prognosticating publicity.
As wild and weird as such hype can get, however, it's nothing new. Over-the-top declarations designed to get you into theater seats, are as old as the motion-picture industry.
The difference today is that the quotes come from critics. In the olden-golden days, they came from the studio publicity machines.
This occurred to me while watching the DVD of the 1935 Clark Gable-Loretta Young film "Call of the Wild" a few weeks ago. The trailer declares the film as "The mightiest adventure drama of all time." And includes the required "cast of thousands" line, as well.
Another trailer on the same disc, for Gable's 1955 western "The Tall Men," also boasts a "cast of thousands," calling the film "The world's mightiest cavalcade of adventure."
That word "mighty" apparently got a workout for Gable films.
Anyway, this prompted me to go back through some posters of well-known films, to glean a few lines of movie salesmanship.
See if you can guess which vintage movies listed below belong to which of these hyperbolic quotes.
THE HYPE (from poster ads):
1. "Warner Bros. supreme triumph."
2. "The most amazing motion picture of our time."
3. "Gaiety! Glory! Glamour!"
4. "A story as explosive as his blazing automatics."
5. "The entertainment experience of a lifetime!"
6. "Will give you nightmares forever."
7. "Too startling to describe!"
8. "The strangest adventure in history!"
9. "The motion picture with something to offend everyone."
10. "The best picture of any year."
THE MOVIES (alphabetically):
"Blood of Dracula" (1957)
"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1939)
"I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957)
"The Jazz Singer" (1927)
"The Loved One" (1965)
"The Maltese Falcon" (1941)
"The Outlaw" (1943)
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
Trailers often have scenes that are not in the movie, or perhaps show a different camera angle.
When “Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988 a lot of people asked about a quick scene where Bob Hoskins appears to have an animated pig's head, which was in the trailer but not the movie. (It's on the DVD now.)
But that also happened in the old days. The "Call of the Wild" trailer has a 17-second bit with Gable being lectured by Young at a campfire but it's not in the film. Since it's rare for older films to have surviving bonus elements, it almost plays like a deleted scene on the DVD.
I also noticed in the trailer for "Double Indemnity" that a scene at Fred MacMurray's apartment — with Edward G. Robinson in the hallway and Barbara Stanwyck behind a door — plays from a different angle than is shown in the film itself. In the movie, it's shown from MacMurray's point of view; in the trailer, it's Stanwyck's.
Yes, DVDs offer small joys to obsessive movie buffs.
Answers to the quiz
1. "The Jazz Singer"
2. "I Was a Teenage Werewolf"
3. "The Wizard of Oz"
4. "The Maltese Falcon"
6. "Blood of Dracula"
7. "The Outlaw"
9. "The Loved One"
10. "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"