All Movie Talk, Episode 35

Posted in Episodes at 10:34 am by Sam

Show contents, with start times:

  • Industry Trend: Studio System (1:36)
  • Trivia Question: Improv Comedy Act That Spawned a High School Movie (20:56)
  • Series Spotlight: Disney Animated Features, Part 1 (21:32)
  • Top 6: Movies We’ve Seen Over and Over (37:10)
  • Film Buff’s Dictionary: Split Screen (53:44)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (60:49)

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Show Notes:

Industry Trend: Studio System


Trivia Question: Improv Comedy Act That Spawned a High School Movie

Who would have thought that an improv comedy act about a few clueless high schoolers could be turned into a classic ’80s high school movie about a couple of clueless high schoolers?

Series Spotlight: Disney Animated Features, Part 1

When Walt Disney started to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), nobody in the industry believed in the project — not even his own wife and brother. It became known as “Disney’s Folly,” for it was astronomically expensive, and the commercial prospects of a feature-length animated feature were untested in North America. Perhaps people were envisioning the musical gag reels of the short cartoons of the day, stretched out to feature length. If so, it’s easy to see where the doubts came from.

But these doubts evaporated on opening day. Audiences were amazed by something they’d never seen before: an animated movie with a solid story and characters we care about that was artistic and entertaining for audiences of all ages. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became the highest grossing film of all time, until Gone With the Wind stole the crown a year later.

With Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a new genre was born, one that Disney monopolized for an amazing 60 years or so, when other studios finally figured out how to do what Disney was doing.

On RinkWorksAt-A-Glance Film Reviews feature, you can find this list of Disney Animated Features, with reviews.

Top 6: Movies We’ve Seen Over and Over

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Film Buff’s Dictionary: Split Screen

The split screen is a cinematic technique that’s done partly in camera and partly in the editing room. In its most common use, it refers to visibly splitting the screen by somehow splicing two or more distinct pieces of film together. If the part where the splice was made is hidden, it can be used for some low-budget special effects.

Prior to the introduction of digital technology that makes the whole process much easier, split screens — with the split hidden — were famously used to have the same actor play two different characters at the same time. It is done by filming a single scene twice, on two separate pieces of film. Each take records the actor playing a different character. After the film is developed, a third piece of film is used to composite the two together. The third piece of film has one side masked off, and one of the two takes is exposed on the other side of the third piece. Then the now-exposed side is masked, and the second take is used to develop the other half of the third piece of film. When both sides are unmasked, the third piece of film contains the images from both original takes.

In addition to cheap special effects, this process can be used for artistic effect. Directors can use it to show two different events, or two different angles of the same event, happening on-screen at the same time. Famously used during the late 1960s and early ’70s, the process was somewhat abandoned, though it seems to be making a recent resurgence.

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  1. Ferrick (140) said,

    May 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    When Disney released “The Black Cauldron,” I was so excited because I had read all the Lloyd Alexander books. I remember being disappointed with the movie. Not the last time a movie based on a book would let me down.

  2. joem18b (231) said,

    May 29, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    “Conversations With Other Women” has a wrinkle on the split screen.

    From IMDB:

    “This film is a bit different than most because it is filmed for dual screen, meaning that during every scene there are 2 cameras capturing the action. Usually we are shown the same event from different angles, other times the 2 sides are splits in time, so we see the past and present… Ms. Carter was asked if the split screen made acting more difficult. She replied that unlike the shooting of a “normal” movie where they would have to shoot each person’s part separately then take a break and move the camera and do the other person, with both camera’s running at the same time, the whole scene could be shot nearly continuously allowing for a more realistic conversation situation. This made things much easier, but she did admit she missed having any “down time” since she was always in front of one of the cameras.”

  3. LaZorra (60) said,

    June 3, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    I was one of those folks who grew up in a cave and never saw Star Wars until the middle of last year. I have to say, it was quite incredible for all the cliches and endlessly quoted lines and famous characters to finally be put in context so they made sense to me. I was kind of amazed at how much of the movies I’d had figured out wrong. Still haven’t watched the prequels. Don’t know if I will, heh. Now if I can just find time to watch the Holy Grail.

    It’s interesting to look back on the animated Disney movies now and compare the parts I like as an adult with the parts I liked as a kid. As a kid, I was bored to death with Dumbo’s “Pink Elephant” scene, confused by the whole of Bambi (I completely missed the whole “circle of life” theme), and scared out of my WITS by the Evil Queen (I had nightmares for weeks the first time I saw Snow White). And I surely didn’t even notice the quality of animation. Now, I think the first is not only great fun, but great creativity; the second is compelling without being too sappy; and — well, heck, the Evil Queen still scares me. ;-)

    Despite never having seen the movie in question, I got the trivia answer right. I’m still trying to figure out how my brain did that.

  4. joem18b (231) said,

    June 4, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Seems like that first viewing can inform your opinion of a movie for life, if it happens at the right time. The Disney discussion on the podcast mentioned Alice in Wonderland in passing, but when it came out in 1951 and I walked down to the theater with my big sister to see it, it was my first Disney film. There were so many kids in the theater, I had to sit on the carpet in the aisle, but that didn’t seem like a problem (Fire Dept. must have been taking the day off).

    The movie seemed like a magical creation to me, something different and more special than any other movie I had seen. On some level, I think that I still believe that about Alice in Wonderland. I could never cold-bloodedly evaluate and rank it in its historical context. Probably a good thing to have a few like that, for yourself if not for public debate.

  5. Jaguar (22) said,

    June 5, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    About split screen shots. The Hulk had several split screen shots showing action from different angles. It was neat because it was done with one or more boxes on top of a main shot (like picture-in-picture). Sometimes the boxes moved across the screen, and sometimes they stayed still. I think it was done to be comic-book-like. It was neat, but it was a bit hard to try and follow everything at once.

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