This scene is fairly spectacular. Along with a few other scenes, like George’s dinner-table conversation with his father before the dance, I think this is what made the movie off-putting to audiences in 1946 (such that it failed at the box office), and increasingly beloved with the passage of time (such that it has become many people’s, including my own, favorite Christmas movie).
It was just way, way ahead of its time. It was so dark, so in-your-face realistic in confronting things normally swept under the rug, at least in the stylized world of Hays Code Hollywood, that it must have been a jarringly intense experience to audiences of the day. It’s a jarringly intense experience now.
I think this scene is probably the best example of that. Not necessarily the part shown in this gifset (though the “He’s making violent love to me, Mother!” line is both out there and hilarious), but the rest of the scene as it plays out. If you know the movie, and the scene (which, c’mon, you have to, right?) you know what I’m talking about. If not, consider this a giant **SPOILER ALERT**. You really should see it before reading about it.
Supposedly Stewart was very self-conscious about filming this, his first romantic scene since returning from the war. As a result, Capra filmed the end of the scene in a single unrehearsed take. After George and Mary get on the phone together there was a significant amount of additional dialog they were supposed to say, but in the moment Stewart and Reed skipped it and went right to the embrace. The result was so intense that Capra had to cut some of the kiss in order to get the scene past the censors.
It’s really an amazing thing to watch. I’ve heard some people (“kids these days,” I think is the technical term) talk disparagingly about old black-and-white Hollywood movies, about how boring they are.
Um, no, sorry. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Donna Reed died in 1986, Jimmy Stewart in 1997. But with the help of Frank Capra and the rest of the people who made this movie, the five minutes of film they created here remain as compelling today (for me at least) as anything I’ve ever seen on screen.
Reblogging to remind me how much I love this scene.
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Giant driftwood on the beach at La Push, Washington (2010)
this made me feel really uneasy, the ocean is terrifying.
its like when cats bring home a dead bird and drop it at your feet except the ocean is like I HAVE BROUGHT YOU THIS ENORMOUS TREE FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL ENJOY
Welcome to Washington
When I lived in Oregon someone was crushed to death by a log while walking on the beach and a man I worked with said, “Pfft, everyone knows you don’t walk at the beach this time of year and I was all “I DIDN’T KNOW!!!”
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Happy 239th Birthday JMW Turner, 1775 – 1851.
Self portrait painted around 1799 and the amazing Snow Storm – Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, which I was lucky enough to see on Monday, the last day of the Turner & The Sea exhibition at the National Maritime Museum.
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Buster is onto me.
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How it turns out that during a lunar eclipse, the penumbra’s width is about the same as the Moon’s diameter
Hey lies, remember our discussion about the lunar eclipse diagrams? It looks like we were right: the penumbra’s width is about equal to the Moon’s diameter and it’s because of the apparent sizes of the Moon and Sun being about the same. This site has a neat interactive diagram where you can change the apparent sizes of the Moon and Sun and move the Moon in its orbit.
Yeah, that’s really cool.
I like your comment about how we were right in our earlier speculation, especially the part where you graciously elided the portion of it in which I was talking complete nonsense. :-)
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Heh. Out-of-focus kissing is the best kissing.
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…about the last episode of Lily & James, about the first chapter of the series, about the KitR fandom experience so far. We wanna know all the things!
And here’s how we feel about every single one of you:
There will be a separate post collecting thoughts on the transmedia experiment next week. Canonization will continue through this week, the experiment will conclude on Monday, 4/28 with a final drabble from yulinkuang.
Thank you so much for watching with us, we would kiss you all in the pouring rain if we could!
What do I think?
Well, in general, I love it. But you knew that, right?
I think it was a gift. A gift conjured out of thin air by mad magicians who used cameras and lights, PVC and sprinkler heads, and transformed them into moments of beauty.
It was a gift of talent and imagination and humor. It was a gift of people willing to spend their few precious dollars, and something even more precious: their time, their nights and their weekends, to make something cool and give it away to strangers for free.
“The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity, a network not of wires but of people,” said Pope Francis back in January. “The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
I can’t verify the God part. But the rest is dead on, and Kissing in the Rain is the best example I know of what he was talking about. Because it was a gift.
To speak more specifically I’d have to watch all the Lily and James episodes again, so I could comment on my favorite parts of each. Which is clearly impossible. “I’m far too busy, so ask me now before I can become sane.”
Episode 1: Lily & James
Still my favorite episode. Favorite things:
- Crazy blocking at the beginning that works so well I can’t even.
- Q: The “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you”… Is it meant as a Singing in the Rain reference? Was it scripted like that? Inquiring minds want to know…
- Sean’s improv at the end.
- Sean’s (real!) glasses, and all the business that Lily doesn’t see him doing after the cut.
- The RAIN! Favorite rain of the series. It seems so real, especially in the wide shot at the beginning, and it just totally sucks me in. A+ rain.
Episode 2: Anne & Gilbert
A very fun episode. Favorite things:
- The magical rain that falls from a barely-clouded sky.
- The contrast between Anne’s heightened, slightly self-important delivery with Gil’s naturalness.
- James’ post-“cut”: “You are… not a nice person.” I love that line, and the delivery.
Episode 3: Olivia & Ben
From the BTS info Yulin gave, I think this is the episode on the treehouse porch that was shot late at night, with only a limited amount of something (battery? memory?), such that they had relatively few takes. Also, I think the actors talked about it being especially uncomfortable in terms of cold and wet?
I’m not going to say it’s my least-favorite episode, because I love them all, and you don’t say things like that about the things (or the people) you love. But I’ll say that this sometimes feels like the hardest episode for me to love.
- The rain. Heh. This is also the hardest rain for me to love. Is it okay for me to say that it basically felt like they were standing under a sprinkler head? Especially when Ben moves in for his dance and the hissing gets louder?
- The director’s line. I like the little bits of the different directors’ personalities that we get, and this one is one of my favorites.
- The blanket gift, and the understated Lily and James interaction after he puts it around her. The first signs of a thaw. Watching this was when I really started to see the shape of the characters’ relationship arc. I mean, I’d sort of wondered if that’s where things would go from the beginning. But this was where I really started plotting the post-“cut” interactions mentally against the episode numbers to see how events were tracking.
Episode 4: Edgar & Annabel
Next to episode 1, my favorite episode. Depending on when you ask, it might be in first place. I’m glad it’s not a contest.
- Annabel’s face, and Lily’s acting, generally, in the pre-“cut” part. I think it’s funny that Mary Kate thinks she looks stupid, or awful, or something (can’t remember exactly what she said, but I think she’s both posted about it and mentioned something during the livestream re-watch the other day). I know the prevailing opinion is that it’s the magic-hour sunset lighting Zac managed to capture on her face that makes her look so pretty here. And if so, then okay; it’s the lighting. But I think it’s Mary Kate, too, and not just her face (which srsly needs to stop). I think it’s acting. I just really loved her as Annabel here.
- Sean as James as Poe. I want more Sean as James as Poe. I’ll watch Sean as James as Poe any chance I get. Forever. I don’t know why it works so well for me. But it does.
- The post-cut interaction. The little bouncy thing James does, and the way Lily looks at him.
Episode 5: David & Susan
So fun seeing a minute-long screwball comedy. I love that James and Lily get to show off this completely different style of acting.
- The contrasting body language, with Susan sitting up ramrod straight and David hunched over, hiding under his paper.
- “Cut. Boom in the shot.” Okay; not so much a favorite thing, but a thing I’ve been curious about since I first watched it, and am still a little confused about. Is it that the director says that because in the scene we were just watching, there was an accidental appearance of the boom mic in the shot? Because I don’t think it’s visible, at least not on the cut we see (though I realize that we’re seeing different cuts edited together in the pre-cut section). Hm. And also, the director’s voiceover happens during the “Kissing in the Rain” title card, when we can’t actually see the shot. So maybe the mic dipped into the fame during the part we didn’t actually see. And of course, it dips down afterward. Is that just meant to explain the director’s comment? Or is it meant as an action the boom operator has taken in response to the director’s statement? Like I said, I’m a little confused. I like it all. I just want to understand a little better what the intention is with all that.
- The fact that we get to see them going back into the next shot, with the rain starting up again, and the way James grabs the prop newspaper and ducks back under it. Something about it just felt really cool. Like, here I am, going back to work. And my work is… holding a newspaper over my head under a sprinkler.
- The sidelong look Lily gives him at the end, and the sidelong look James gives her right after. Heh. Even if I wasn’t following along the drabbles and canonized fics, I’d know you were full of shit with the “I don’t care about you” line, James.
Episode 6: George & Mary
Third-favorite episode. Though depending on mood, it might slip into second. Or first. Okay; look: like I said, I love them all, and love is an all-or-nothing kind of thing for me.
- I picked up on the It’s a Wonderful Life reference as soon as I saw the title; I’m on record (if anyone feels like stalking my blog backwards far enough) as loving the “He’s making violent love to me, mother!” scene, especially the great story about how Reed and Stewart had pages more of dialog, and skipped it in the moment to go straight into the kiss. God, what a scene. I mean, the emotion in that scene is terrifying, in the best sense. I can’t believe a 1947 audience would have been able to handle it (which they apparently couldn’t; the film’s gritty realism was so far ahead of its time that it flopped commercially, taking years for audiences to catch up).
- The post-cut kiss. Awwww. So well-done. Legitimately misty-eyed every time I watch it.
- A weird thing: I love the minimal set design of this episode, especially since seeing aivlysann’s beautiful fan-art. Something about the way she extended the frame beyond the shot, so I get to see the actors full length, down to their feet, does some weird thing to my aesthetic perception, and makes me appreciate it even more.
Episode 7: Lily & James
Love, love, love. Perfect way to end the series. Favorite things:
- James has a badass house, with a really expensive-looking door. Way to arrive, KiTR actors!
- The rain is mostly invisible, but the sound of it rocks. Very good rain sound.
- The sneaky way they hold off on the kiss, and James is mumbling, and then he pushes into that super closeup so fast for the kiss, such that Zac (I assume it’s Zac?) even loses focus for a moment. So cool. In a weird way it reminds me of the blood pack that spattered on the lens during the inside-the-bus part of that huge extended take at the end of Children of Men, and the way Cuarón was actually shouting “cut” but no one could hear him over the explosions so they just kept going, and it was his DP (I think was the version of the story I heard?) who convinced him that no, the blood spatter on the lens was what made the scene even more raw and real. Um, maybe that’s not the most tonally resonant thing for me to be thinking of in this particular moment of KiTR. But still. I mean it as a compliment. Comparing a scene to the blood spatter at the end of Children of Men is about as high as my compliment-o-meter is capable of going.
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Okay; that’s all I’ve got for now. But once again: Thank you so much for KiTR! I can’t wait for the musical interlude, and then on to series 2!
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Yes; oops, I meant to update that with an ID, and forgot. Yeah, definitely a male Yellow Warbler. I love those guys, and not just because I know you’re such a fan of yellow. But that’s a factor, too. :-)
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