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For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ah, pompous movie critics. Here’s an example of my own pomposity in a ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column published in the Deseret News on Dec. 10, 1989 under the headline, ‘Some American films masterfully dubbed, reader says.’ With two new subtitled foreign-language films opening this weekend, it seems appropriate.

We get letters . . ..

DEAR MR. HICKS,

In an article you wrote Oct. 1, 1989, you take (Motion Picture Association of Americn president) Jack Valenti to task for his endorsement of quality dubbing of foreign-language movies. Personally I don’t have any problem with subtitles. I immensely enjoyed, for example, “Babette’s Feast” last year. And the subtitles version of “Das Boot” was far superior to the dubbed version (I’ve seen both). But I believe, in a sense, you may have missed the point of Mr. Valenti’s comments. I wonder if perhaps you are not fluent in a foreign language and therefore have never had the opportunity of seeing a masterfully dubbed American film.

     

Years ago . . . in Germany, I was able to see a few such films. It might seem strange and disconcerting to you to think of Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston spewing forth German in “The Ten Commandments,” but to German-thinking-and-speaking people it was tremendous! I saw one of my favorite movies, “The Sting,” the first time was dubbed into German. The effect was marvelous. I saw it twice and looked hard for awkwardness. I found virtually none. It was easy to believe that Redford, Newman, Shaw, etc., had shot a German version of the film.

The point it, we Americans never see first-class dubbing. If we did, you might feel differently, too.

Sincerely,

Barney Christiansen, Sandy

DEAR MR. CHRISTIANSEN,

I also spent some time in Germany, during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and had an opportunity to see several American films dubbed into the German language.

   

The most interesting experience was with “The Graduate,” which had dubbed-in German dialogue but still featured Simon & Garfunkel singing in English in the background. It was an odd but enjoyable experience.

In my comments about Valenti’s address, however, I was referring to foreign films being dubbed into English. And it’s not just the usual lousy dubbing that causes me to prefer subtitling. There’s also an ambiance, a  sense of the culture of the foreign country that is lost when, for example, an English voice speaks for a French actor.

But you may be quite right in your assessment, and perhaps I should reserve judgment until after I’ve seen an example of a foreign-language movie that has received a first-class English-dubbing job.