155 Great Directors: Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack

“Underneath [Schoedsack’s] hard-boiled exterior, he had a heart of gold and the sensitiveness of a true artist. He was easy-going to the point of weakness with regard to everything but his work. It came first, and where it was concerned, he could be exacting. His patience was inexhaustible and he never lost his temper.”


What Got This Director Here?
: King Kong and that’s it.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: King Kong.

What Did I Watch: Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life.

Where Do They Fit: Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life owes its aesthetic to Flaherty, its subtitle predicts Sunrise, and it was somehow directed by the two men who did King Kong. Cooper and Schoedsack were basically hacks who got lucky once when they co-directed, but this documentary is nevertheless way more fun than its title suggests thanks to the intertitles, which are up there with Foolish Wives and the drowning card from the aforementioned Murnau. They feel like parodies of the sort of thing Guy Maddin would use. “BR-R-R! This water’s COLD!” is a particular favorite of mine, along with a policeman joke too good to spoil.

grass-a-nations-ba

Most Valuable Asset: Excitement at the world.
Most Excited For: N/A. Seen all the good collaborations.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Not really. One hit wonders at the end of the day.

Coming Up Next: French agonizer Maurice Pialat.

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