January 18, 2010

"I reach out to grab it, it just won't stand still": Montage from "Blues in the Night" (1941)

Don Siegel's excellent montage work from Warner Brothers 1941 movie "Blues in the Night"

Clip starts off with Richard Whorf's character, Jigger, being unable to play his song on the piano. Then the montage starts, showing how Jigger has a nervous breakdown and then finally, after professional help and the help of his friends, he regains his confidence and musical ability. Montage starts at about 1:30 in, but I included the first part for some context:

Now, wouldn't you say this kind of montage is a lost art in today's commercial films? I can't think of any movie in the last couple of decades that has attempted anything like this (doesn't mean the films don't exist, I just can't think of any examples). I'm struck by the idea that "montage" nowadays is more closely associated with cheesy 80s movies and that (hilarious) song from the "Team America" movie than with anything on same level as the surreal, dream-like stuff from "Blues in the Night."

Is it time to bring back the crazy, expressionistic montage?

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