Turner Classic Movies Rediscovers Fear and Desire

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Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire will make its world television premiere on December 14, 2011 on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The rarely seen first film of Kubrick’s will be, per TCM, the “centerpiece of an extraordinary 24-hour marathon honoring the preservation efforts of the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House.”

TCM host Robert Osborne and Head of Cataloguing and Access at George Eastman House Jared Case will present the following 15 cinematic rarities:

6:15 a.m. The Blue Bird (1918)
7:45 a.m. The Valiant (1929)
9 a.m. The Spanish Earth (1937)
10 a.m. The Trespasser (1929)
11:45 a.m. The Moon and Sixpence (1942)
1:30 p.m. The Lottery Bride (1930)
3 p.m. A Page of Madness (1926)
4:30 p.m. Delicious (1931)
6:30 p.m. Payment Deferred (1932)
8:00 p.m. Fear and Desire (1953)
9:15 p.m. Huckleberry Finn (1920)
11 p.m. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)
1:15 a.m. Roaring Rails (1924)
2:45 a.m. The World Moves On (1934)
4:45 a.m. Goldstein (1965)

More on Fear and Desire [Courtesy of TCM]:

Stanley Kubrick’s allegorical anti-war drama Fear and Desire, which opens the primetime portion of TCM’s tribute to the George Eastman House, stars Frank Silvera, Paul Mazursky (who would later go on to become a noted filmmaker) and Kenneth Harp. The story centers on a platoon stranded behind enemy lines while fighting an unknown foe in an unidentified conflict. The existential drama comes to a climax when the soldiers’ perilous return home is interrupted by an encounter with a mysterious woman.

At the time Kubrick made Fear and Desire, he had established himself as a photographer for Look magazine. After directing two short documentaries that were released by RKO, Kubrick felt he was ready to tackle a major narrative. Working with a team of 15 people, including five actors and five crewmembers, Kubrick shot the low-budget film in and around California’s San Gabriel Mountains, using whatever he could to compensate for the lack of high-quality film equipment.

After a difficult shoot and several delays in post-production, Fear and Desire was eventually picked up for a very limited release by a distributor specializing in art house films. Despite Kubrick’s disappointment with the finished film, it received praise from the New York Times, as well as from film critic and screenwriter James Agee. Within the catalog of Kubrick’s works, Fear and Desire provides early glimpses at the unique visual style he would perfect in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), as well as anti-war themes he would explore further in movies like Paths of Glory (1957) and Full Metal Jacket (1987).

Following Fear and Desire’s short theatrical life, the film all but vanished from public view. Stories circulated that Kubrick, who considered the film “a bumbling amateur film exercise,” spent years gathering up prints of the film in order to prevent any future screenings. Fortunately, some prints survived in private collections (or in the case of one recently discovered print, in a film laboratory in Puerto Rico). Fear and Desire received its first retrospective screening at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival and has only been presented a few times since.

Source: TCM – December 2, 2011

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