Thursday, May 20, 2010
What in the Name of Robert Mitchum is Goin' On Here???
One night I can't sleep--a common occurence in recent years--so I'm up at three a.m. watching my favorite Robert Mitchum movie in one of the greatest Films Noir ever slapped to celluloid, Out of the Past, from 1947; it's the year's best Noir in Noir's best year. Anyway, since I'm up late and don't want to disturb my sleeping wife, I watch with the volume down and the subtitles on.
I was blissfully relaxed until the following:
There's an apartment scene with Jeff Bailey (Mitchum) and Meta Carson (Rhonda Fleming) pretending to be cousins. They're visiting Fleming's boss, Leonard Eels (Ken Niles), who's making cocktails. Eels asks Mitchum "Have a Martini?" but the subtitles read: "Apple Martini"!!! There's no way in this old brown world that a hardboiled 1940s Noir film is going to have a yuppified drink ---which was most-likely concocted by the writers of Sex and the City--- like that in a movie where just watching Mitchum light cigarette after cigraette in every single scene can produce emphysema-like symptoms in the viewer...in fact, I was so taken aback with a combination of shock and amusement that I lost count of how many unfiltered coffin nails ol' Mitch was firing up (and speaking of Mitchum's smoking in Out of the Past, imagine how many he lit and dragged from in the out takes!)
The subtitle gaffe isn't a huge deal, I guess, at least to those of us among "The Annointed", and who love classic movies so much that they write an occasional blog post, but what if a younger person, born of CGI parents and weaned on Yu-Gi-Oh cartoons is watching Out of the Past for a school assignment and thinks that something like an "Apple Martini" was commonplace among the WWII generation. I can hear it now: "Well, Hitler's dead, let's sit in our favorite sports bar and sip a sugary Apple Martini and eat low-carb food."
I exaggerate for comic effect...
The subtitle gaffe is amusing and I eventually moved on, but that one error says volumes about how a terrifying, monolithic, fire-breathing corporation like Warner Brothers works: They have barely-paid--if at all--indentured servants from one of the film school mills work as interns in a hot basement using the most rudimentary of tools to scratch out the dialogue and submit it like a typical data entry drone in some office. Out of the Past is a revered film in Film Noir circles, and hopefully any self-respecting classic movie lover will have seen it. It's not as famous as Gone with the Wind or Transformers 2, but it's an okay film. If companies like Warner Brothers farms out their subtitle crew to such incompentents, can you imagine who Universal Pictures selected to store their film and TV library?