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May 20, 1956 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily, 1956-05-20
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Page Ten

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, May 20, 1956 -

Sunday, May 20, 1956

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

,.

An Open Letter to the Producers of

LOEHR: art
By LOUISE TYOR "Would you please now show the}
Daily AssOciate Edi next slide?"
The picture of a bronze Chinese
THE TALL, slender, lithe man Buddha flashes in the screen and
on the platform of the dimly- Prof. Max Loehr of the fine arts
lit auditorium whips off his glasses department turns quickly and
and turns to the back of the room. peers at it, holding his glasses to

a

civilizig process

entlemen :

"PURCHASE FROM PURCHASE"

\

ill l /

/

Mom
Brighter-than-ever pictures!

his eyes. The picture begins to7
shake and Prof. Loehr removes his+
glasses once more and addresses7
the student behind the projector.1
"Perhaps the slide-it is a bit
sea sick?"
The slide is readjusted, the pro-
fessor replaces his glasses, nods
his thanks to' the back of the
room, and resumes his lecture. +
O HIS students in Far Eastern
art, Prof. Loehr is the para-
gon of courtesy and continental
charm; his amiable smile, grace- +
ful manners and noticeable Ger-
man accent help define this.
And in his classes, a sense of
his love of the art-he terms fine
arts "a civilizing process rather
than a learning process"-pervades
his lectures.
One student remarks, "Prof.
Loehr seems to live the art-you
get a feeling that it's alive and
real, and not just pieces of ancient
jade and bronze." His classes are
usually amazed at the number of
languages he can speak, read and
write, including Sanskrit.
Specializing in Chinese paint-
ing of the tenth and eleventh cen-
turies, and in Buddhist iconogra-
phy, Prof. Loehr teaches two
courses and a. seminar. He has
been atethe University since 1951,
when he left his position as Cura-
tor of the Asiatic Collection at the
Museum fur Volkerkunde (Ethno-
graphical Museum) in Munich.
Previous to that, he had spent nine
years in China, most of the time
as Director of the Sino-German
Institute in Peking, doing research
and study, which he calls "arm-
chair archeology."
T HE PROFESOR feels that stu-
dents and teaching methods
are quite similar all over the world,
but in one respect finds Americans
much more reticent than Euro-
peans "It is a matter of tradi-
tion in every European audience
to more rapidly show their feel-
ings of enthusiasm or disappoint-
ment," he says.
"In all European universities
there i applause after each lec-
ture," He goes on to explain that

the amount of applause depends
on how well the class feels the
professor has presented the ma-
terial. "If they disagree during
the lecture they shuffle their feet.
You can always feel some reaction
--a tension in the air."
In comparison, Prof. Loehr says
"in America the students are too
overly well-behaved. The pity is
that direct critical evaluation of
what an instructor presents to the
audience is lacking."
As for evaluation in the other
direction, Prof. Loehr terms the

groups, the student participates in
an individual way.
Prof. Loehr believes in the
European system where no grades
or examinations are given until
the comprehensive when the stu-
dent is ready for a degree,
TEACHING both large and small
classes, the professor explains
that "lecturing to a large audience
has something stirring which
makes it more exciting" but "for
the process of learning and educa-
tion, in large classrooms very lit-
tle can be achieved, because of
the question of personal contact.
Seminars are ideal in as far as
they afford the best, at times the
only, deeper personal relationships
between student and teacher."
He feels that these relationships
are very vital, and at the present,
one of the major problems of edu-
cation is "whether or not the prec-
ious tradition of learning is in
danger of becoming watered down
by the tremendous expansion of
numbers in colleges and universi-
ties.,"
As for academic freedom, Prof.
Loehr believes that "there is not
really a great problem except such
as arise from either political
thought or prejudices, or social
patterns, These are outside mat-
ters which don't arise -within the
academic life or duties

PROF.

checking of i
paper war" ar
cial."
"The only;
kind of test of
conversation o
essays." He c
only possible
Sclasses as the
n ubers,' alth

..,s MOST OF HIS students think.
that Prof Loehr is more in-
- formal and at. ease in his smaller
classes and seminar. "He seems
to be a little nervoug and very
cautious in his larger le cture
class," one student observes.
Although he enjoys teaching,
MX LOEHR much of Prof. Loehr's time has
shuffling feet been taken up by study, research
and writing, He has written more
ndividual grades "a than 50 articles and reviews, and
nd calls it "superfi- his first full-length book, "Chinese
Bronze Age Weapons," has just
sensible and useful been published.
the student is either An admirer of "Segovia and his
r finished papers or ilk," the fine arts professor relaxes
onsiders quizzes "the with the Spanish guitar and water
way out in large coloring, but admits that his favor.
re is the pressure of ite hobby is his work. "There is
dough he admits that a beauty and lure toy profes
them. In smaller sion," he says, smilingly.

T AM writing this to you for sev-
eral reasons, the chief of
which, and most noble, is that I
would like to do what I can to
correct an apparent and grievous
injustice. To get to the point, I
think the film you have just pro-
duced-"Picnic"-has turned out
to be the greatest American mov-
ing picture ever made. And I mean
"American" on both levels of
meaning. The injustice, now, I feel,
is that scarcely anyone is aware
of what you have accomplished.
I was able to keep my unquest-
ionably passionate feelings on this
subject more or less to myself- for
the past several weeks, but a single
sentence that I read has set this
thing off and has produced this
letter as the result. Bennett Cerf,
a book publisher and critic whose
judgements in literary matters I
have always felt were informed
and perceptive, is the author of
the incendiary sentence in quest-
ion. In his Trade Winds columnin
the May 5 "Saturday Review," Mr.
Cerf saws fit to list a number of
recent movies which he had es-
pecially enjoyed. And at the end
of that paragraph he was moved
to make a characteristically ran-
dom, but, I am sure, seriously
weighed comment, In concluding
his movie recommendations, Mr.
Cer said: "And despite the excel-
lence of "Marty," I still think the
Oscar award should have gone to
hPicnic,"
Well, gentlemen, rdo. too s
S0HERE is my demand--I sup-
pose I should say recommenda-
tion-for what should be done
with "Picnic" now that it has had
an initial run throuih all the first-
rate theaters
Gentlemen. you must bring the
picture back for two reasons.
Your masterpiece "Picnic"is
a film that has to be seen twice.
at least, by everyone who claims to
possess an artistic taste developed
to the point where it will com-
municate (if nothing else) whether
a movie is pleasing or not. I have
seen the picture more than twice,
and I am fully aware of the re-
wards to be taken from the sec-
ond viewing, I am also aware of
the dire loss to be ascribed to the
person who watches the picture
once and walks out with a shrug.
The other reason is this: the
movie must be brought back to be
shown only in the best theaters
because only on the large and
curved screen can the exciting
magnitude of the movie be per-
ceiveda
THE glorious shortcoming of the
picture is that it is so real.
Perhaps this is the main reason
for its greatness havingbeen little
appreciated. -The moviegoer leaves
the theater saying to himself,
"A nice show, A bunch of nice
small town people," And what's
extraordinary about that? Not a
single incredible or spectacular
episode to exclaim over.s Others
have said it many times before:
reality, like romanticism or sym-
bolism, has its own art, its 'own
devicese. . but they simply blend
in with the scenery.
Here are some of the things
you put into "Picnic" that I feel
recommend it to the great theater
audience in general, and to the
thousands in particular who have
already seen "Picnic" no less,
y ou have transformed Mrs Potts
into a classic go-between,
making of the little old lady next
door one of the most charming
and disarming schemers in the
long and tradition-filled history
of amorous designing. She is one
of the most vital forces in the
story of "Picnic," and although
she numbers among her antece-
dents some of the crudest procur-
ers the world has known, you have
made her seem prefectly and nat-

Mr, Yates is a previous con-
tributor to the Sunday Maga-
zine awl wil be remembered
for his article on "Fitzgerald
and Football,"

urally at ease in the quite Kansas Ja
townw nWE
The section or your film which A
showed the actual picnic (some- tl
thing that the original play did not d:
portray) is unquestionably some
of the greatest footage of Ameri-
cana ever filmedtr
There was another, a more uni- l
versal mood captured within the
limits of the picnic scenes, It was
the theme of the last day of sum-
mer, for this was the Labor Day
Picnic. And it was the theme of
dying, too. The desperation of the
people- could be sensed, of the
people who felt: "summer is nearly
gone, winter is near . . . we will
die again soon." It was the pas-
sionate, reckless mood of this small
dying society that you captured.
And it set the stage so perfectly
for Hal and Madge, who had met
scarcely hours before, to find
themselves caught up in the whirl
of desperate emotion which set the
motion of the picture on its last
direction,
And how beautifully Madge was
prepared for Hal. She was the
new Queen of Neewalloh and the~
noblest prize in town,
The dance, scene, where Hal,
Madge's younger sister Millie,
Rosemary, and Howard -apart
' from the rest of the members of
the town picnic-are dancing on
a tiny ;pier across the river from,
the others, by the light of Japan-
ese lanterns, is a scene which few
who have seen it will forget. Rose-
mary and Howard are dancing by
themselves andi, as a soft, rhyth-
mic, and sensual beat starts up in
a new number. Hal tries to convey
to Millie the feeling of the, beat.
He snaps his fingers in perfect
time with the irresistible throb-
bing of the music. Millie feels it,
too, but she cannot find the beat,
snapping her fingers offr.beat, out
of time with Hal. The implication
is clear: Millie is too young, she
is not ready for Hal, or for any
man. She can't get the beat. But
then Madge comes across the river
and into the trees and stands
watching the scene. Then, spon-
taneously, naturally, she picks up
the tempo with soft, graceful claps
of her hands and descends the
seven steps down to the pier and
reaches out to touch Hal's finger-
tips as they- start to dance. Madge
is ready,
This is the most romantic and
sensual scene in the movie. I must
express my admiration to you for
following it only moments later
with the ugliest scene, when Rose-
mary, drunk and depressed, tears
Hal's shir't and projects herself
into a foul-mouthed tirade against
him and what he stands for.

apanese lanterns cast their soft,
arm glow on the lovers' faces.
nd Madge, of course was all sub-
e red; her lips, her rose pink
ress, her long, free strawberry-
fond hair, And her pink was con-
'asted by the loud common scar-
et color of Rosemary's blouse.

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New modern compact styling, combined with
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A new handy Slide Editor-included at no
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See t bis completely new Argus projector today.
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WHEN Madge decides the next
morning to run off to Tulsa
to meet Hal and become his wife,
there are several levels of under-
standing of her decision. It is
very~~ moving, gentlemen, the way
you show it, As the bus rattles
down the dusty street carrying

Madg
young
the le
follov
curb
Madg
more

he

dislikes

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T HE music written for "Picnic"
by your friend, Mr. George
Duning, surely must have been
conceived in the flush of inspira-
tion. A single listening to the now
available recording taken from the
sound track will makefurther elab-
oration on this point unnecessary.
But I must say that the "Picnic"
theme has a classic romantic qual-
ity that is very strongly remi-
niscent of Tschaikovsky's lyrisiem.
A single - record recording by
George Cates and his orchestra of
the song Hal and Madge dance to
-"Moonglow"-with the "Picnic"
theme superimposed at precisely
the right moment, with exactly the
right force has been a great popu-
lar success. For my money it has
all the qualities of an everlasting
favorite; frankly, I would select it
to fill out the constellary trium-
virate to be composed of the three
greatest popular romantic songs:
"Deep Purple" "Stardust," and,
now "Moonglow" (the "Picnic"
theme version).
I must also confess to an al-
most complete lack of understand-
ing of the photographic techniques
of movie-making, but I did observe
and was profoundly impressed by
your use of color in- '-Picnic.," of
red in particular. The screen for
one moment was flooded with the
gay red of a sea of sliced water-
melon, a scene which faded dir-
ectjy into the gold-turning-crim-
son sunset of the dying picnic day.
When Hal and Madge danced, red

1116 South University
"PURCHASE FROM PURCHASE"

218 SOUTH STATE STREET

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