Friday, March 19, 2010

Adultery at the Movies; Or, How to Get Rielle Photos Out of Your Head

The Siren is obsessing over a news story again. Briefly distracted by news that Bernie Madoff got the living hell stomped out of him in prison, she found herself confronted by John Edwards. I've been avoiding the Edwards saga because, frankly, I really liked the jerk's health-care proposals. So once it became obvious that I had thrown my support behind a self-regarding horse's ass, I sort of checked out. Tea Parties, Oscars, the bond market, the Finnish dock workers' strike--I would read anything that got me away from John & Elizabeth & Rielle & Andrew.

This week, however, I tore myself away from the fed-funds rate and read that GQ interview with Rielle Hunter, the one where she proves her dedication to the image of women everywhere by stripping to her scanties and plopping down next to Dora the Explorer. I can explain my madness only by comparing it to the impulse that had me watching The Oscar, although in all fairness The Oscar had better photography and Eleanor Parker looks better half-naked. My brain froze, my eyelids drooped, I started to wonder what was for dinner, and still I read on in search of one sentence that would show some form of self-awareness. There are no words for this woman's vacuity, only images--it's the Pyramids, it's the steppes of Russia, it's the pants on a Roxy usher. And I kept muttering to myself, over and over again, "Jesus wept, John, YOUR TASTE."

So, in order to clear her brain of the stuffed-animal clutter that is "Hello America, My Name Is Rielle Hunter," the Siren started to think about Adultery at the Movies, where love is set to Rachmaninoff, "Un Sospiro" or Max Steiner and not the Dave Matthews Band. Here are images from ten movies where people lie and sneak and cheat on their spouses, but by god, they do it with someone worthy and they do it with style.



1. The Earrings of Madame de...


2. Letter From an Unknown Woman


3. Children of Paradise


4. Brief Encounter


5. Now, Voyager


6. The Postman Always Rings Twice


7. A Summer Place


8. That Hamilton Woman


9. Strangers When We Meet


10. Deception

108 comments:

X. Trapnel said...

Siren, I was knocked gratefully silly by that Ophuls 1, 2 punch (La belle Danielle AND Lovely Joan!), but having collected myself I'd like to add Intermezzo (with beautiful [uncredited] Steiner score [yes, I know most of what we hear is Grieg's "The Last Spring"]), proto-Bergmanesque and I think a much underrated film.

Kelli Marshall said...

It's not of the classical period, but one could place BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY in this category of "stylish adultery."

Raquelle said...

Great post!

I was on the John Edwards bandwagon for the Half in Ten campaign which I thought was great! Cut homelessness in half within 10 years. But then he pulled an Ethan Frome on me. :-(

Strangers When We Meet is a personal favorite of mine. I like Kirk Douglas also in The Arrangement which deals with infidelity. Although I find most people can't stand that movie!

Vanwall said...

No "From Here to Eternity"?

X. Trapnel said...

Or Back Street? (the Sullavan/Boyer version, of course)

DavidEhrenstein said...

All absolutely first-rate examples. To them I'd add Cronica di un Amore -- Antonioni's version of Postman with Lucia Bose and Massimo Girottti -- and of course Visconti's Ossessione.

And Senso too for that matter.

It's a precitious drop from Lucia Bose, Clara Calamari and Alida Valli to (yuck) Riellle Hunter.

But John Edwards is no Farley Granger either

DavidEhrenstein said...

And speaking of Brief Encounter. . .

Miss Tinky said...

I know this is awful, but I even like Maytime (I adore Jeanette MacDonald), although I actually feel awfully sorry for wronged husband John Barrymore.....

Flickhead said...

If this indicates a subconscious desire to commit adultery, Siren, my wife gave me permission to date.

Yojimboen said...

Damn you, Flickhead! You stole my opening line!

Serieusement, barely hanging on to the edges of this topic, but just like Pretty-Boy Edwards, that other pious politician (or is that a tautology?) Newt Gingrich – serial adulterer – actually visited his cancer-stricken wife in hospital to get her to sign divorce papers. Behind the screen was overheard this conversation,
Mrs G: “But Newt, I have cancer – I may be dying!”
Newt: “Press hard, you’re making three copies.”

altocat said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more re: the music. If a guy was trying to get romantic with me & put on The Dave Matthews Band, I'd suddenly develop a "headache." :)

Arthur S. said...

How come no one mentioned The Rules of the Game? Adultery is the main plot gimmick of that masterpiece.

One reason I love That Hamilton Woman is the very adult view it takes on that relationship. It was made at the same time as Casablanca but has the exact opposite message, "monogamy" doesn't matter during wartime. And Korda does it by not demonizing Nelson's wife or his preacher father who disapproves of Emma. But Emma and Lord Nelson are meant to be of course. It's refreshingly non-puritanical. It's also a film that's essentially about celebrity couples and it casts Olivier and Leigh at the height of their joy and love for each other. And no offenses to David Lean and Mr. Coward, but I find it far less prudish than Brief Encounter.

Another film which is sympathetic to adultery is Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol with Ralph Richardson and Michelle Morgan, initially you expect it to be sinister thanks to Richardson's sense of foreboding but he and Morgan are genuinely in love.

Antonioni's La Signora senza Camelie on the other hand, also with Bose is a very complex film on that kind of subject. She's married to a Selznick-type producer, she starts affair with other man and leaves husband only to be lost when she finds out that Other Man isn't making a committment.

The Arrangement is done in a very modernist style, influenced by Godard and Antonioni so I wouldn't place it in the classic period, I find it a very striking film. It's nasty and bitter and hard to see at times but it's totally truthful and the actors are excellent. The final funeral scene framed inside those freeways is a thing of beauty.

ferdyonfilms said...

Divorce Italian Style is a real favorite of mine and I'm a new fan of A Fool There Was, primarily for Theda Bara's great portrayal of The Vamp. I also think it's quite funny (the film is a stitch in many ways) that Gloria Swanson conveniently gets himself killed - quite on purpose - so that she won't have to commit adultery with Rudolph Valentino in Beyond the Rocks

The Siren said...

Y'all are embarrassing me. I've just about destroyed my keyboard banging the old head on it. XT wounds with Intermezzo, then slaps me with the Boyer/Sullavan Back Street; Ehrenstein hits me over the head with Senso; and now Arthur S administers the coup de grace with Rules and Fallen Idol. I will have to update this. I was doing it quickly this morning, and wasn't joking when I said I was trying to get those Hunter pics out of my head. Unfortunately what I may also need is gingko biloba to boost the IQ points I evidently lost after reading 10 pages of Ms Hunter's musings.

As for Flickhead and Yojimboen, unfortunately at the moment I have a freebie list that is strictly regulated and presently confined to Jon Stewart, Daniel Craig and that midfielder for the French national soccer team whose name I can't spell. And George Clooney, but he is on the Universal Freebie List as I am sure you all know.

X. Trapnel said...

Arthur, I had thought about Rules of the Game, but Renoir's dramatic perspective on adultery here is deliberately external (as opposed to Ophuls in Madame de..., which is also about breaking le regle). His concern is with social behavior rather than the interior emotional drama that is the precipitant in Ophuls films.

Arthur S. said...

In La regle, the social behaviour and internal emotional dramas are at the same level. Don't forget that the entire plot is jumpstarted because Christine misunderstands an event. An event that's both true and false. She sees her husband kissing a woman and realizes he has a mistress. What actually happened is that the husband is ending his affair with his mistress and that was his last kiss. Doomed at the last.

In any case, I consider adultery to be an aspect of social behaviour. Which is to say, it is called adultery only by those on the outside peeping in and has little to do with how the parties involved look at their own relationships amongst each other. Ophuls' Madame de... is a key example of the latter, we don't look at Charles Boyer as a cuckold or DeSica as an other man or the Darrieux as an adulterous woman at least the film doesn't look at them that way.

Of course a film like La regle and the Ophuls is set amongst a class concerned with social image so there's much confusion between actual relationship and feelings and social image and appearances. That's the case too with That Lady Hamilton. You see it too in real life with all these celebrities and politicians. Altman's Tanner '88 has a key dialogue about this issue.

Tony Dayoub said...

DOUBLE INDEMNITY, A PLACE IN THE SUN, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, SHAMPOO?

X. Trapnel said...

Arthur, I gree with your points about both films; my main point was that Le Regle is not a "romantic" film in the spirit of the Siren's other listings; its view is panoramic, classical, eighteenth century (like pere like fils). And ironic, compare Jurrieu's reaction to Donati's when the woman breaks the rules.

Trish said...

We live in a cynical age.

The mother of Norma Shearer's character in "The Women" advises her to fight for her marriage.

But women have more options now. Public humiliation should be a deal-breaker. I'm thinking of Sandra Bullock.

Arthur S. said...

Well I don't consider Madame de... a romantic film. The only romantic film of Ophuls is Letter.... Madame de... has the same approach to relationships that Stendhal had. It looks at romantic feelings as if it was a malady. It's a harsh film. And Ophuls has always been acknowledged and feted as one of cinema's great ironists. It's a quality Sirk admired in him. And what Fassbinder and others took from him. This is a man who ended one of his films with the immortal phrase, "Happiness isn't such a nice thing!"

Renoir once said about La regle that no one in that film was worth saving.

Anne Richardson said...

How about Clara Bow in Mantrap (1926) or Marcel Pagnol's The Baker's Wife (1938)

X. Trapnel said...

"Romantic," as Jacques Barzun demonstrated many moons ago, is an elusive and frequently misused concept. In French literary historiography Balzac and Stendhal are both romantics (and since when does romanticism exclude irony?) although the latter is an acute cartographer of the inner life while the latter eschews psychology altogether. The romantics were powerfully aware of the destructive power of sexual passion, its beauty, and irriesistable force(Letter is "romantic" in this sense; so is Madame de) and never glorified it mindlessly for its own sake. On reason Letter seems more "romantic" in the conventional/popular sense of the word is the concentrated point of view of Lisa as narrator and the nocturnal dream city ambience of Vienna (whose illusory character Ophuls--ironically--shows up).

X. Trapnel said...

Yikes!

Correction: "the former [Balzac]excludes psychology altogether"

I should have added except as it dramatized through action, but Balzac's characters, while vivid, are usually animated by a single trait.

The Siren said...

Arthur, perhaps Renoir was being self-effacing. I would save Octave in a heartbeat. But XT has a point; when I was composing this in haste my thoughts were of adultery with the kind of romance that Rielle deludes herself we're all going to see in her sordid goings-on. Rules, although it is usually the film I cite as my all-time favorite, has that in the mix, but not as high up as the ones here.

That's also why I wouldn't include Marilyn's, Anne's or Tony's movies, with the exception of Doctor Zhivago. They're all a bit too acidic. This begs the question of why I included Postman, perhaps; except that for me, any movie with John Garfield in it gets classed as romantic because he SENDS me.

Raquelle, don't you just wish Edwards would go away now? For me, the only thing that could save his sorry hide would be a few decades doing poverty relief a la Lord Profumo.

Alto, I think the words "Dave Matthews" marked the moment of no return for me and Mr. Edwards.

Tinky, Barrymore is just about the only thing I like in Maytime!

X. Trapnel said...

Note to M. Renoir: I'd save Mila Parely. I have my reasons.

Kendra said...

Let's just say, if Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were ever featured in GQ, I'd buy the entire newsstand.

Karen said...

Oh, Siren, I share your heartbreak (not to mention your freebie list)! Edwards was my go-to candidate and I have felt so horribly betrayed. I have studiously avoided the Hunter interview because everything I've seen of her heretofore has been so appalling and I'm just so sick sick sick of these men who risk it all for such trashy, vapid women.

But I digress. I would add to your list, despite the adultery being but one plot of many, Dana Andrews and Theresa Wright in The Best Years of Our Lives.

Karen said...

Oh, and what's the movie with Kay Francis and Carole Lombard? In Name Only, that's it!

And does The Scarlet Empress qualify? It wasn't exactly an amour fou. Is Daisy Kenyon too sordid?

The Siren said...

Kendra, Leigh/Olivier were the best instance of an adulterous real-life couple turning reel-life, in my view, although Cleopatra has its moments.

Karen, I'd say thumbs down on all save In Name Only, though it pains me for BYOOL. Now I am pondering Dodsworth...

Yojimboen said...

Mmm… A lot of great choices here, (Honey, could you put up some more coffee?) First, the torture of decisionsdecisions; am I a real romanticist or simply posing as one? You have to be British, no really, you have to be, to fully understand Brief Encounter. You also have to be homosexual to write male and female characters as well as Noel Coward. (The Hacketts were once asked if it was more or less difficult to write dialog for male characters or female. They answered that they thought of every character they wrote as homosexual, and had no trouble.) Brief Encounter is unique - in a genre unto itself: a tragedy of manners.

La Règle du Jeu (a film I once bought on Betamax, and I didn’t even have a Beta player). I own more copies of this film (in various lengths – the longest 107 mins) in more media: Laser, DVD, Blu-ray, VHS, Soundtrack etc., than any other; and it irks me no end to hear it called The Rules of the Game. La Règle is singular, not plural. There is only one rule, ‘Love is better if you don’t get caught.’ And I’ve never bought Octave as the hero of the piece –that mantle belongs to Dalio as Marquis Robert – that noblest of noblemen.

La Femme du Boulanger? A very special case of infidelity; the cuckold’s horns don’t sit well on the brow of Raimu’s baker, who is all but destroyed by wife Ginnette Leclerc’s fling with a younger, studlier shepherd. At story’s end, in a speech he should be making to his errant wife, the baker furiously scolds the house-cat for its carnal wanderings. While Pagnol’s resolution is a dramatic device beyond price, the film is slightly off-balance. Leclerc’s wife isn’t given much to say in her defense – in fact has very little dialog throughout. The reason – not widely known – is that the part was written for Joan Crawford (it fell through for sundry reasons) and was limited to make allowances for JC’s limited language skills.

A Summer Place has an odd niche in film adultery. It’s a little obvious in that author Sloan Wilson (he of that other Cinemascope saga of Grey Flannel infidelity) creates two marriages with a one monster in each, the better to drive the nice spouses, Dorothy McGuire and Richard Egan, into each other’s arms (not to mention their children Sandra and Troy). Cheap but effective. Way to stack the deck, Delmer. It’s the perfect H’Wood mellerdrammer.

Yojimboen said...

Ere I forget, I would be remiss not to mention what is for me the finest anti-adultery speech in all of cinema: Beatrice Straight in Network; her passionate delivery of Chayevsky’s heart-breaking “What about loyalty?" stands infinitely higher than the tiresome “mad as hell…” leitmotif. How many other actresses can we think of who won an Oscar for basically one scene?

Charles Noland said...

I watched "Dodsworth" a few years ago because of the wonderful writeup you did on it(newcomers to this site should check out that post), what a great movie, but I don't remember if he ditched his wife before getting together with Mary (actually, now that I think of it, she ditched him, didn't she). Hmmm, tough call, I'll be looking for your decision.

(My mostly infallible ability to detect a rat was on the nose with Edwards, he looked like a total phoney from the start. Just the mansion combined with the "two Americas" theme was all you needed to know.)

panavia999 said...

Miss Tinky: Why feel awful about Maytime? It's one of my favourite movies, and I always felt very sorry for poor Nicolai (Barrymore). However, while the couple love each other, they didn't have a chance to actually commit any serious adultery like in most of the films mentioned here.
Speaking of "Backstreet" (of course Boyer/Sullavan ) I also suggest "The Life of Vergie Winters" with Ann Harding and John Boles. One of the great pre-code women's pictures.
Fortunately, John Edwards always struck me as a huge phony. His downfall is more cringe making that expected but no surprise. Thank goodness for old movies!

The Siren said...

Panavia, I have been trying to track down Vergie Winters for yonks. You are the first person here who's seen it, even (I believe) beating Karen and possibly Peter Nelhaus, we will have to see if he shows.

The Siren said...

Charles, I think you're right; Dodsworth has an emotional affair but we're given every reason to believe that it goes nowhere until Ruth Chatterton is on her way. But is consummation necessary?

Yojimboen, that is one hell of a scene in Network. But Luise won for one scene as well! (She got VF's Proust Questionnaire last month.) As for Brief Encounter--what, are you saying a Bible Belt native doesn't understand guilt and repression and social stigma? I have some people you could meet...

Trish said...

Is there such a thing as no-chemistry adultery? In "From the Terrace", we know Ina Balin is the better woman for Paul Newman, even though they don't exactly set the screen on fire.

Yojimboen, I always thought "Gray Flannel" was cruel. Not only did Jennifer Jones suffer, but Gregory Peck later dismisses ex-lover Marisa Pavan as a prostitute.

Yojimboen said...

Infidelity? Call it a moral compulsion, but somebody has to say a word or two agin it.

From IMDb:
The complete scene. Holden as husband Max, and the late, great Straight as Louise:

Network (1976)

Louise Schumacher: Do you love her?
Max Schumacher: I don't know how I feel. I'm grateful I can feel anything.
[his wife flinches]
Max Schumacher: I know I'm obsessed with her.
Louise Schumacher: Then say it. You keep telling me that you're obsessed, you're infatuated. Say that you're in love with her.
Max Schumacher: [pauses] I'm in love with her.

Louise Schumacher: Get out, go anywhere you want, go to a hotel, go live with her, and don't come back. Because, after 25 years of building a home and raising a family and all the senseless pain that we have inflicted on each other, I'm damned if I'm going to stand here and have you tell me you're in love with somebody else. Because this isn't a convention weekend with your secretary, is it? Or - or some broad that you picked up after three belts of booze. This is your great winter romance, isn't it? Your last roar of passion before you settle into your emeritus years. Is that what's left for me? Is that my share? She gets the winter passion, and I get the dotage? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to sit at home knitting and purling while you slink back like some penitent drunk? I'm your wife, damn it. And, if you can't work up a winter passion for me, the least I require is respect and allegiance. I hurt. Don't you understand that? I hurt badly.

Paddy Chayevsky.

Tony Dayoub said...

Okay Siren, now I think I get what you're going for. No "acidic."

So how do you feel about something like THE GAY DIVORCEE in relation to this post? Too fluffy?

DavidEhrenstein said...

Thanks for printing out that whole exchange Yojimboe. The reasons Straight won the Oscar for so brief a part is that she delivered (with volcanic power) a teriffic speech in which Chayevsky captured the exact thing every wife has longed to say to the sleazeball hubster that dumped her for a younger model.

We've been taking about Rules of the Game on and off in here, but as movies about adultery go it's not an easy fit. Renoir is taking on French society -- upstairs and down -- as a whole. Therefore while there are adulterous doings going on it's not realy the central focus, as it is in the case of so many others that we've mentioned.

Brief Encounter is gay solely in the repression aspect -- which is were thing swere in the UK in the post-Wilde pre-Dir Bogarde era. Coward was very clever. He recapitulated everything a gay couple who met by chance would go through to try and find a place to Do The Deed. But he kept things chaste. And so -- as the film deals with a straight couple -- recapitulated adulterous passion in incredibly "nice" people. It was in short a film about adultery you could take your granny to without fear of offending her.

Billy Wilder said it inspired The Apartment, in that his film was about someone who would let people borrow their flat for assignations. The result was a deeply romantic film cleverly disguised as an unromantic and cynical one. Shirley MacLaine's final run down the street -- grinning ear-to-ear as the main theme rises invariably renders me a sobbing wreck.

A modern, genuinely gay variation on Brief Encounter is Jim Fall's Trick. It's about an aspiring composer of musicals (played by Neve Campbell's brother Christian) who goes to a club one night and falls for a handsome go-go boy (Jean-Claude Pitoc) who -- wonder of wonders -- likes him too. But Christian's straight roommate has his girlfriend over so they can't go there, and their subsequent adventures take them all over the Village in search of a trysting spot, wiht frustrating/amusing results. Along the ways they run into Torie Spelling who -- believe it ot not -- is sensational as Christian's best pal and chief booster. That's because she's hoping he'll write the musical that will make her a star. Her performance "Enter You", one of the numbers from his musical -- with him accompanying her on piano -- is insanely funny. Especially when Torie breaks into a tap dance at the "bridge." She gets an even better scene later on when she Campbell, Pitoc and a whole bunch of their friends are at an all night diner and she throws a fit climaxed by what has become one of my all-time favorite lines "And I don't care if I'm lactose-intolerant -I WANT THOSE CHEESE FRIES!!!!"

Just as in Brief Encounter the boys don't get to get busy. But unlike that film as the sun rises on Sheridan Square they make plans to meet again. And with a happy heart and a big smile Campbell walks off into the morning as Jim fall gives us a giant Minnelli-style crane up to take in the whole street as a full orchestra and chorus suddenly rising on the soundtrack with "Enter You" as Conrad Salinger would have orchestrated it.

That leaves me a sobbing wreck too.

Vanwall said...

Not all adulterous relationships are bad, or good, necessarily, but all involve two human beings, frail vessels for such absolutes, and are in constant danger of sliding into gray zones near to love and hate. As a tonic for the easy, and queasy, situational morals in so many films, and sadly in real life, I nominate "The Browning Version" from '51, with Michael Redgrave in a brilliant and moving performance, against the avaricious and opportunistic Jean Kent's adulterous...well, bitch. Poor Nigel Patrick's paramour character is eviscerated verbally in subtle ways, and just are the desserts served.

Most people deserve mercy, but justice is what they usually get - perhaps this will be the fate of all the star-fuckers and clay-footed pillar dwellers.

But I wouldn't bet on it.

Yojimboen said...

“Shirley MacLaine's final run down the street -- grinning ear-to-ear as the main theme rises invariably renders me a sobbing wreck.”
Shut up and pass the Kleenex.

edwards said...

With heads bowed in shame, the Edwards family casts its votes for "Psyche 59", where Patricia Neal is blind to her adulterous husband and sister, and "Death of a Soundrel", where there are so many affairs one has to be adulterous (all the while being accompanied by a Max Steiner score). Or perhaps this is just our need to divert your attention away from John.

panavia999 said...

Most Esteemed Siren, I recorded Vergie Winters many years ago when AMC was good. I watched it many times. The tape wasn't very good, figured I'd catch a rerun soon enough. Fast forward 15+ years.... It's been on TCM once - I may have it on DVD.
I have the idea it was on when TCM first showed "Double Harness".
There are so many great titles mentioned in the post and in comments! Thanks to all for reminders of classics and new ideas.
"Senso" is high on my list. Speaking of Alida Valli how about "The Paradine Case"? It's adultery that causes the murder, and adulterous feelings that cause the downfall of the lawyer. Oops, I've circled around to John Edwards again.

Manny said...

Great list. Does Seven Year Itch count?

The Siren said...

If you have read the Hunter interview--not that I am recommending it, far freaking from it in fact--what is striking, aside from the fact that she doesn't have the sense god gave an animal cracker, is that she casts this extremely tawdry liaison in terms of sweeping romance. Hence the list's focus on adultery that does, in fact, have elements of the grand passion, wrong or right. So Seven Year Itch doesn't fit, either, although frustrated adultery it is certainly is. I love The Gay Divorcee but as the original marriage is delicately unconsummated it doesn't quite work. Certainly lots of sex, though, the Astaire-Rogers numbers always suggesting all sorts of techniques for seduction and...other.

The Browning Version is definitely an antidote to these films' general tendency to either ignore or sweep aside the spouse--although Ophuls, master that he is, takes no such shortcuts.

David, it warms my heart to hear a longtime critic admit that certain films still get him in the solar plexus. Ditto Yojimboen. Sometimes familiarity breeds contempt with film (oh hai, Mr. Schickel).

Trish, I missed you up there; From the Terrace could fit but for the lack of blazing chemistry between the leads, I agree.

DavidEhrenstein said...

semi-counts. In Axelrod's play the anti-(hero) and "The Girl Upstairs" Do The Deed. But in Wilder's incredibly sweet film they don't. The reason is that Wilder gets to heart of why so many middle-aged med stray. They're feelignt heri age, and they're feelign taken for granted. Marilyn's "Girl" (she has no actual name) perks Tom Ewell's libido at first. But as the film ruahes to its finish she does somethinh more. She notices him, and appreciates he tells him he's just swell.

Now that's something no mere roll in the hay could ever do. And so our hero runs off to join his wife (Evely Keyes of all people!) and his "Little Space Cadet" (Tom Noonan -- a very interesting L.A. figure who personally I know slightly. He writes frequently for newspapers and magazines.)

Her final wave to him out the window is MORE delightful than her iconic encounter with a subway grating. And it's real reason why Marilyn was -- and will always be -- the greatest star of them all.

panavia999 said...

"she casts this extremely tawdry liaison in terms of sweeping romance." I'm sure she absolutey believes it - the desire to believe in the romance despite the facts is a weakness of womankind. eeeyoo, I'm brushing off the sordidness and watching something old and sweet tonight - maybe a Marie Dressler flick.

Yojimboen said...

Ladies! Ladies! Karen and Madame Sirène! Take the stiletto from my chest! There is no adultery in TBYOOL (save the off-screen shenanigans of V. Mayo and S. Cochran). Fred Derry and Peggy Stephenson share one miraculous kiss in the parking lot; one kiss. They’re never together again until the end – they have no opportunity for hanky-panky! You don’t understand! That’s what keeps the bums of us mere males nailed to our seats – will Fred and Peggy get it on? When and where? Ah, the wedding scene – talk about your sobbing wrecks!

“You know what it’ll be, don’t you Peggy… It may take us years to get anywhere… We’ll have no money, no decent place to live… We’ll have to work, get kicked around…”

DavidEhrenstein said...

"she casts this extremely tawdry liaison in terms of sweeping romance."

Much like Joe Orton's brilliant, posthumously published novel Between Us Girls:

"Long talk with Thelma who tells me that Frank Thompson is going to Hollywood end of next month to write the script of a film, about a doctor who thinks she may be accused of murdering the man whose bad character she has accidentally discovered. Lovely things keep happening to all sorts of people, never to me, I'm fated, I thin, always to be left behind.
Sheila Gribble had a record of 'Suddenly It's Moonlight', the hit song from the new musical. Told Sheila it was just the thing I'd been looking for. Intend to sing it at my audition for the Rainier Revubar.
Sheila said: 'The Rainier Revuebar?'
I said: 'Didn't you know? I had a letter from them the other day. I don't mind telling you I'm thrilled to death about it.'
Sheila said: 'Daaarling. The Rainier Revue bar.'
I said 'It's a great chance for me if I get a job. I'm worried about my lack of experience.'
Sheila said: 'Daaarling! Experience? What kind of acting do you think they want on the new mirrored stage? Lady macbeth?'
Sheila Gribble is just a cat."

The Siren said...

All right, all right, Yojimboen, I am putting away the switchblade. You're right about TBYOOL.

P & D, yes, women are champions at lying to themselves. But some of the men in these movies are too...

gmoke said...

I originally supported Edwards as well. My reason was his monthly work days. I've always wanted a politician who campaigned by doing something practical, something that would last whether the election was won or not. He was always a little too pretty and a little too smart for my taste but I thought Mrs Edwards was pretty solid.

I saw her speak at Harvard a few months after the campaign was over and asked her about those work days. The answer I got was not satisfactory. I fear what was best about both of them was illusion. Just like the movies.

Watching the end of Donat's "Goodbye, Mr Chips" as I write this. Tears in my eyes. If I take a walking tour of the Tyrol, can I meet Greer Garson?

cgeye said...

Yes, the publicity and openness of the trashy, sordid, vapid women is distasteful, but wasn't it ever so?

Isn't the difference between now and the golden days (when men met their hookers in convention hotel rooms, with stories only revealed after death) the ubiquity of gossip media? Now owned by multinationals whose affiliated studios paid top dollar back in the day to suppress such stories for their stars.

The trashiness is due to hard times and the lack of social censure; for women who don't really threaten anyone in power, second, third and N-th acts are plentiful. And haven't we forgiven the worst of the racist and sexist acts our favorite stars perpetrated? I watch Errol Flynn dutifully, but that pesky bit of his possibly being a slavetrader sticks in the mind....

We wanted less hypocrisy and more openness in our society, and now we've got it -- but only to the extent that those in power use it to threaten those who threaten them, as always. Rielle Hunter's additional pop-cult moments tell me nothing about her hotness or wiliness, but they tell me a hell of a lot about those who want to remind us that one of this century's foremost champions of healthcare and poverty reform had so much dog in him he made the hairy boys in NEW MOON feel inadequate.

As with Tiger Woods, there is an industry dedicated to supporting the bad choices of powerful people. Until we get serious about why we still need so many people and industries to sustain such hypocrisies, we'll keep on seeing people who have learned to live without shame.

Arthur S. said...

In my defense, I did say in full,

----------------------
How come no one mentioned The Rules of the Game? Adultery is the main plot gimmick of that masterpiece.
----------------------

I called it a plot gimmick of the film. But it's also a film that isn't judgmental about it or whatnot. I still don't consider ''Madame de...'' a romantic film. It has much of the same Pirandellian concerns of the Renoir, the conflict between social image, performance and the ever elusive mysterious reality.

To Yojimboen,
My understanding is that ''La regle'' is a word which is used in both the singular and plural sense. And the film works on both levels. Renoir used it in the plural, he said that "The rules of the game are those that which have to be observed if one doesn't want to be crushed by society."

As for the real hero of the movie, the main reason why the film is so unique is that it has none, it's a completely ensemble effort and in how the movie denies catharsis of any kind. Which is probably what Renoir meant when he said that no one was worth saving. I must say I said that because people tend to label the film under that horrid word "humanist" because of that line, "everybody has his reasons" when Renoir's film is very critical and even scathing at times all the moreso because they seem to be intelligent and not without kindness and charm.

Renoir was even more harsh when he told Rivette that the film was about a society, "that kills, kills, kills and wil keep killing as long as it survives."

Arthur S. said...

To cgeye,

Much of what you say, about media obsessing over trivial matters and hypocrisy addresses the problems of living in a media saturated landscape. It was a big obsessive theme of Robert Altman's films. In the character introductions for Tanner '88 on the Criterion disc, Jack Tanner(Michael Murphy) says, "The only thing worse than the indignity of campaigning in '88 is the absolute horror of campaigning today." He was addressing the 2000s elections. In Altman's sequel Tanner on Tanner which is an ode/parody of documentary filming you have a summation of Altman's interest in media created landscapes and ideas. How it makes everyone ridiculous and caricatures and how politicians are to be pitied and ridiculed for being part of it.

Renoir also dealt with it in his colour trilogy where he puts performance art, show-business and politics on parallel planes. Then of course you had Ophuls with Lola Montes which was based more on tabloid rags of the 50s than on the actual historical biological Lola Montes.

Arthur S. said...

In fact, it's actually a running theme in 50s cinema, from Renoir and Ophuls to movies like A Face in the Crowd, It's Always Fair Weather, It Should Happen to You, The Last Hurrah and a lot of Frank Tashlin movies. Media that is. My feeling is that today's media culture or whatever you want to call it is less sincere and self-critical than the old days where you know people kept things out of private lives. I mean I don't care about golf or how Tiger Woods is so great but his serial-adultery doesn't seem a concern for the wider world what with the natural and human disasters we have in the planet.

I think the fact that during the 50s, the first decade of wide television distribution in the Western world, you had such a diverse range of critiques and perceptive movies about the cultural changes says more about those days than today. A film like The King of Comedy for instance wouldn't be possible today, even if all the people who made it are still alive.

Yojimboen said...

I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed to confess I had to Google Rielle Hunter to learn who she was. I still haven’t read her tabloid confessions and probably won’t; fact is, from Letterman’s litter of lubricious lackeys to Tiger’s titillatin’ tribe of temptresses, it’s just all too silly for words. John Edwards lied??
A politician lied?? Alert the media!
Nah, second thought, don’t bother.
At least Christine Keeler was cute.

Flickhead said...

Don't feel bad, Yojimbo, I had to google her as well. I can't keep up with reality's supporting players.

Interesting how Tiger Woods' extramarital flings were met with hostility by the tabloid media, yet Sandra Bullock's present situation has earned Jesse James little else than bittersweet grins and gentle shrugs.

Me? Ophuls, shmofuls. This blogpost inspired me to queue Disclosure, which may be to infidelity what The Oscar is to show biz. Teflon coated Demi Moore demanding the nasty from doughy employee Michael Douglas, a happily married suburban dad about to be plunged in a faux noir conundrum in which he could very well Lose His Job. I last saw it when it came out in '94, and I do remember laughing quite a bit.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I interviewed Christine, back when Scandal was released. It was a lot like talkign to Blanche DuBois in th last act of Streetcar. She was going on and on about minutae of decades before -- as if it were still 1962. Weird and sad. By contrast Mandy Rice-Davies made life for herself. Running a popular nightclub in Israel for many years and turning up with her near-namesake Ray Davies in the great "A Quiet Life" number in Absolute Beginners

Karen said...

Ah, Tanner '88! Thanks, Arthur S., for that reminder. A great, great series--and where I first discovered the marvellous and shamefully underused Pamela Reed.

As for you, Yojimboen: call me a hopeless romantic, but when a married man like Dana Andrews dreams of marriage to a sweet young thing; when simply sitting next to each other at a nightclub table yields such agonies; when sweet young thing defends her passion for said married man to her own father--that's adultery, whether they've gone biblical or not.

Arthur S. said...

Actually Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, that any man who looks at a woman to check her out(and presumably vice versa) is guilty of adultery. That is if they stare at a woman, imagine or fantasize about her, they are in sin. So to reiterate, Dana Andrews and Theresa Wright are in sin. But then Jesus applied that against people who wanted to punish women for adultery saying they have no foundation on passing judgment on the matter.

Another classic film that touches on adultery that I didn't mention, Minnelli's Some Came Running and also The Cobweb. In the former film, it touches on in the subplot of Arthur Kennedy's relationship with his secretary.

The Cobweb is more striking because Richard Widmark is a very intelligent and caring analyst and Gloria Grahame is his superficial wife who is out of place in her husband's world and initially you expect her to cheat on him with Charles Boyer(who plays a distinctly non-romantic rake). But she's faithful to him while he starts an affair with a recently widowed arts-and-crafts teacher played by Lauren Bacall. Very unconventional way of dealing with it. The good guy is the source of all the problems and conflicts in the film and misjudges his wife totally. It's much more mature in that respect. Adultery, marriage and relationships are big themes in Minnelli's melodramas.

Yojimboen said...

Now there's an odd coincidence, David E, I was thinking about Ray Davies all day yesterday and how 38 years ago he summed up today’s thrilling zeitgeist:

Everybody’s a dreamer
Everybody’s a star
Everybody’s in Show Biz
It doesn’t matter who you are…

Gloria said...

As per adultery movies, what about Naruse's Floating Clouds?

I could think of a number of other Japanese movies featuring adultery... There's something curious about them, they have nothing to do with Western moral (or "moral") traditions, which I find very refreshing.

(As for the GQ link: I have to say that I shudder at the thought of that 2-year-old kid being thrown to the horses' hooves of the media)

Arthur S. said...

Can't believe I forgot my favourite Mizoguchi, The Crucified Lovers and for that matter Ugetsu Monogatari. Ozu touches on adultery in Early Spring and also in Tokyo Twilight.

Flickhead said...

"Actually Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, that any man who looks at a woman to check her out(and presumably vice versa) is guilty of adultery. That is if they stare at a woman, imagine or fantasize about her, they are in sin."

I'm totally screwed. Totally.

Yojimboen said...

Personally, I like to gaze upon a well-turned ankle, but yes, I suppose, for those in the group who have an imaginary friend in the sky…
Vous êtes vraiment foutus.

Vanwall said...

FAMOUS, adj.

Conspicuously miserable.

Ambrose Bierce had it right all along.

I for one feel if you put your life forth as a public example, prepare to be made an example of.

gmoke said...

Kurosawa's "Scandal" is a take-down of 1950s media culture in Japan. The two people are accused of adultery in the press because they are both at a hot springs and their towels appear side by side hanging from a balcony.

"Sweet Smell of Success" would be seen as a how-to documentary for the media people of today. Certainly, "A Face in the Crowd" has been used that way.

MrsHenryWindleVale said...

A Phrase To Be Passed On ...
I'm not sure who came up with it, but I still love it: describing Deborah Kerr as the 1950s' Designated Adulteress.

J.C. Loophole said...

What of All This and Heaven Too?

Tonio Kruger said...

Whoa! A whole thread committed to movies about adultery and not one mention of Casablanca? My mind is reeling as we speak.

On the bright side, at least you didn't include Primary Colors...

Yojimboen said...

Which reminds me, my favourite film of the last decade is also about adultery; albeit a different brand Far from Heaven.

Mary said...

A Letter to Three Wives? Although you could say that it's not really about adultery, more about marriage, and Addie Ross is just the McGuffin.

DavidEhrenstein said...

A much different brand Yojimboen! When Julianne Moore discovers Dennis Quaid with another man she takes him to a shrink. That's not what would have happend had it been another woman. And on top of that she's tempted to "be unfaithful" with Dennis Haysbert -- who's nicer than Quaid in every way.

But he's black. And so there's is "a love that ca never be."
Quaid,meanwhile, leaves her and is last seen in a hotel room with a boytoy waiting on the bed. He's chatting Moore up on the phone telling her how wonderful hid life is now that he's discovered his true self.

Cut to the opening credits of Milk to show what he's REALLY got in store.

As for The Cobweb, MGM missed their chance at the ultimate movie ad line: "When Gloria Grahame Changes the Drapes It's Curtains For Everyone!"

Say what you will abotu Minnelli, he's the only Hollywoddirector capable of making a complelling drama abotu drapes.

Plus it's got Oscar Levant singing "Mother" in the hydrotherapy tank!

Arthur S. said...

Well the library drapes is just an unusual choice for a MacGuffin at the end. The film is on the whole about a great many things other than drapes. After all Alexander Pope wrote an epic about Dunces and an epic about a piece of hair being yanked out of a lady's head. Minnelli does the same only he takes it dead seriously and somehow pulls it off. Besides, it would be a spoiler if it's announced so boldly.

MrsHenryWindleVale said...

"Before dying I want to see some red and some green" (John Kerr in THE COBWEB).

Only Minnelli, or perhaps a Michael Powell supernatural messenger, would place so much importance on color.

Arthur ... *love* your piece on THE COBWEB. Thoroughly recommended.

DavidEhrenstein said...

One important adultery movie i just rememebered: In the Mood For Love.

Set in Hong Kong in the 60's it's Brief Encounter as Antonioni might have made it. A man and a woman who life in the same cramped apartment building discover that their respective spouses (who we neevr see, both of them being away) are having an affair. Left behind, the two are mving closer together -- but never connect. Wong went back and forth many times on whether they would do the deed or not. He opted for not. And in the matless finale He goes to the temple at Ankor Wat and whispers into a crevice in its walls all his feelings for the woman he can nver have.

Karen said...

David, that sounds like a very highbrow version of the dreadful The Facts of Life with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball...

Yojimboen said...

What’s left on the list? The Ophuls have been dealt with by sharper wits than mine; Les Enfant du Paradis? I never saw it as a tale of adultery – but rather perhaps the original amour fou in the realm of Film Classics. Besides, Barrault as Baptiste is just too sweet and angelic – I mean he’s a mime and you don’t want to slap him. What higher praise is there?

The Bettes and the Lana I’ll leave; it’s no secret that I’ve never been an admirer of either actress – I find them interesting only in the iconic sense.
That Hamilton Woman isn’t technically about adultery; doesn’t there have to be an aggrieved spouse in the mix somewhere? Sir William Hamilton, overawed by the fame of his wife’s trophy stud-muffin cheerfully pimped her over to Nelson without a qualm. WTF, Nelson was a vital national resource, who’s going to say ‘nay’? Just as in the reel world, the convenient moralist L.B. Mayer once punched out Chaplin for his notorious adulteries but of course kept mum on Tracy & Hepburn who were making him money.

That leaves Strangers When We Meet which, IMHO, belongs at the top of the list. When it came out, it caused a major sensation in Eisenhower’s U.S. of A. I mean a Last-Tango-in-Paris-pass-the-butter sensation. Yes Americans committed adultery, but until SWWM they didn’t get away with it!

We had a great (and eminently re-readable) discussion a few months back on the film as it parsed with Mad Men (link here); for my money, the movie has only become better over the years – Kirk Douglas actually has moments of real subtlety – and Kim Novak… Simply put, her patented blend of vulnerability and raw sexuality reached its zenith right here.

What isn’t on the list is the other side of the SWWM coin: The Arrangement. Raquelle and Arthur S have expressed some admiration for that film; with the highest respect, I couldn’t disagree more. In fact since our recent agreement that The Oscar deserves the Citizen Kane of bad movies award, The Arrangement will have to settle for the runner-up Ambersons title.
More on that later. CSpan beckons.

Arthur S. said...

Oh quit your preening, on no objective level is The Arrangement a bad film or anywhere near being the "worst film ever made". I can never understand why people always put a film that is ambitious and provocative among the worst, even if they are unsuccessful, they are at least better than mediocre crap that never tried anything.

Yojimboen said...

As I was saying, The Arrangement isn’t the worst film ever made but close enough for government work. It’s Kazan’s only bad film, in my view, but it’s a doozie; a disaster on virtually every level – inexplicable and unforgivable for an artist of such undeniable skills.

The thrust of criticism at the time – most of it wasn’t kind – was to point at the film as proof that directors shouldn’t be allowed to direct their own life story, no matter how they try to disguise it. I disagree. The Arrangement could be fairly re-titled America, America Pt II, for it is in many ways the completion of his ersatz bildungsroman. Kazan directed America, America brilliantly, with joy and love. Which makes the second film all the more perplexing.

He just got everything wrong; the production design aims for mid-century and misses by a country kilometer; it’s all glass and steel (which only Sirk knew how to use), meant to convey, one supposes, the unwelcoming hard surfaces surrounding the hero. Please. Even Robert Surtees, the man who shot Oklahoma, Raintree County and Ben Hur lit The Arrangement like a Blake Edwards comedy. For no apparent reason (except perhaps speed of set-up), Surtees elected to use harsh direct light all the way (except mercifully when he came in close on Faye Dunaway and Deborah Kerr and silked the lens; Ms Dunaway, it must be said, never looked more beautiful in her life).

Those two actresses must also be given A+ for effort; Richard Boone does a moderately diverting post-Zorba turn as Kirk’s Greek patriarch father. (Do we care that Boone the actor was younger than Douglas? And anyway, when did you ever see Boone in any part where he didn’t have that look on his face that said: “What the fuck am I doin’ here? I should be playin’ your part!”)
At least they gave it their best.

Continued…

Yojimboen said...

Continued:

Kirk Douglas, on the other hand, has a few too many scenes where one almost has to look away in embarrassment for the actor. In one, he wakes from a nightmare and starts bouncing off the walls in hyper-hysteria; seriously, he doesn’t just devour the scenery here, he vomits it up and devours it again… and again! Watching him ‘act’ leaves one with that slack-jawed expression last seen on the faces of the audience watching “Springtime for Hitler”. (And I like Kirk Douglas.)

The dialog? It’s functional; sometimes hipper-than-thou, but mostly lamer-than-shit, like a 40 year-old dad trying to be cool in front of his son’s friends. Douglas and Dunaway do get naked a lot, I wish I could say it’s sexy, but… (Yeah, yeah, Elia, we all know you were banging Faye, but do you have to broadcast it quite so loud? She’s a stunner but every skin shot is more coy and forced than the last.)

For me Kazan’s most grievous mistake was his attempt to tell a story in a non-linear way. He had never done it before and it’s not as easy as it looks. No question he’d seen a lot of nouvelle vague and decided “I can do that!” Sorry, Elia, no you can’t.
Finally, what does one say about a film – a serious attempt at melodrama, mind you – which cuts in full-screen title-cards: “SOCK!” - “POW!” - “BIFF!!” - “ZLONK!” straight out of TV Batman?

I actually had the privilege of meeting Kazan while he was editing The Arrangement (top floor editing suite, Magnosound building – just off Times Square), we had a very nice conversation; he was nothing if not gracious to me, a film student. I even saw a few minutes of the film on the Moviola; one of the highlights of my life. I was therefore, obviously, quite disappointed when I saw the finished movie a few months later.

If I had to guess at the main reason for Kazan’s lamentable choices throughout the piece, I would hazard he – like Robert Surtees – was no longer young and was looking over his shoulder, when he should have been looking through the viewfinder. Hubris, certainly some of that – it’s just a pity no one was there to tell him that “I coulda been a contender!” works brilliantly in a three minute scene, but not if you stretch it to 125 minutes.

After the box office failure of the film it would be seven years before Kazan directed another major studio film, his last, The Last Tycoon. All told The Arrangement was for me the most disappointing film ever to emerge from a major studio by a major director. It’s not a hoot like The Oscar, it’s a wail.

Arthur S. said...

----------
...a disaster on virtually every level ...
----------

Again the hyperbole is quite unnecessary. It didn't appeal to you, we get it. But it isn't a bad film, or a disaster on any objective level. It's a film that's floridly melodramatic, like most of Kazan, and much of the content of its critique - the self-loathing, the anger, the regret of a middle-aged man - can be extremely upsetting and deeply unpleasant. Ingmar Bergman tackled on such subjects in his films but since it came to American audiences, packaged as art, subtitles and all, it's readily accepted as serious truths. When Kazan made a film with the same amount of ambition and set it in the poshest picturesque middle-class home, people are left confused and angry.

---------------------
The Arrangement could be fairly re-titled America, America Pt II, for it is in many ways the completion of his ersatz bildungsroman.
---------------------

As per Kazan's autobiography, ''America America'' is the story of his uncle's immigration, he got to American first and then brought over the family. With ''The Arrangement'', he's telling the story of the succeeding generation's crisis in integrating with society and the neurosis that comes with social mobility. It is directly a sequel to ''America, America''(it even uses sepia-tinged clips as flashbacks). In the 90s, Kazan completed a trilogy and he briefly tried to get out of retirement to direct ''Beyond the Aegean'' which from what I hear is a bitter epilogue...the young boy in the first film grows up, becomes a corrupt American and returns to Asia Minor and works on the docks
again.

--------------------------
No question he’d seen a lot of nouvelle vague and decided “I can do that!”
--------------------------

Actually save for Resnais, the French New Wave weren't flashback heavy to the extent Kazan is in this picture, where the flashbacks and flash-inserts are triggered by visual and aural rhymes. And besides Kazan, a worshipper of the altar of Aleksandr Dovzhenko(whose films have the most incomprehensible of plots) didn't need the New Wave to teach him about non-linearity.

----------------------
Finally, what does one say about a film – a serious attempt at melodrama, mind you – which cuts in full-screen title-cards: “SOCK!” - “POW!” - “BIFF!!” - “ZLONK!” straight out of TV Batman?
-----------------------

Well why not? The film is set in a middle class mass media consumerist landscape, so why not use visual references from that time period.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And speaking of Alain Resnais, he LOVED The Arrangement. He and Florence Malraux were sitting next to me at the first show on opening day in New York (at a now long-gone eastside art house.) When it was over she said "Well let's go," to whcih the master replied "No! We're going to see it again!"

It's a weird film. Kirk Douglas at his most Kirk Douglas in a role Kazan BEGGED Brando to do.

Brando said no. Maybe he didn't want to work with Faye.

Anyhoo, Deborah Kerr is brilliant in it.

The Siren said...

David Ehrenstein, Arrangement mediator. Truly there is something for everyone in this thread. :)

Arthur S. said...

According to Kazan's autobiography, he initially wanted Brando, Deborah Kerr and Barbara Loden to be the triangle. He wanted Brando to play Eddie Anderson, big shot Madison Avenue advertising executive, a very provocative casting idea. But then Brando backed away because he was depressed after Dr. King's assassination, which is what he related to Kazan in a weird as hell parking lot encounter which ended up being the last time either of them saw each other(as of the publication of the book in the late 80s).

When Brando backed away, Kirk Douglas came in and Kazan while disappointed was nonetheless impressed with Douglas who was of Russian Jewish extraction, his real name being Issur Danilevetsky, in other words a near-mirror image of the character in terms of the neurosis of having to be "more American than the Americans".

He then chose Faye Dunaway who understudied with Barbara Loden during Kazan's production of ''After the Fall'', that ruined their marriage, that's for sure(incidentally when Loden made ''Wanda'', she used some of Kazan's clothes for the male lead of that film). Kazan felt that Loden and Brando would have been perfectly matched against each other but Douglas and Loden was a bad mix. She didn't buy it one bit.

I'd love to read the book which apparently is very good.

Yojimboen said...

Dear me, Arthur, sorry if I took the jam out your doughnut, I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s delicate sensibilities. It’s just an exchange of opinions, old boy, nothing sinister, nothing personal.
I don’t like The Arrangement, you do.
Now everyone ‘gets it’.

A couple of minor points/questions to help us both get on with our lives:

“the hyperbole is quite unnecessary”.

Really? Who made up that rule?

“it isn't a bad film […] on any objective level.”

I don’t know what that means. “Objective level”? Hate to burst your bubble again, son, but here in the adult world there ain’t no such animal as ‘objective’. Well, that’s not entirely true, there is one objective yardstick to measure the value of a motion picture: how much money did it make?
Every other evaluation of any given film is
(say it with me)... subjective.
Take it to the bank.
Pin it on your corkboard:
All art appreciation is subjective.
Honestly, ask anyone.

To sum up: You think The Arrangement is a worthwhile film; I find it strident, quite ugly and completely wrong-footed; in toto, thrillingly bad, sometimes hilariously so, but mostly not.

I’ll close with a helpful hint: On this blogsite, the participant commenters are probably more expert in and attuned to film history than any other group on the internet. In other words we’ve all read the relevant (auto)biographies of Kazan and Brando, you don’t need to re-hash them; also in the future, why not just link us to WikiPedia and save all that re-typing?
Keep those cards and letters comin’.
Chin up and have a nice day.

The Siren said...

*delicate, Catherine-Earnshaw-style cough* Gentlemen. No fisticuffs, please, particularly not over a movie I have not seen and therefore cannot mediate. I like both your sensibilities and both your posts. Now please, retire to your corners, before someone has to carry me over to the window...

X. Trapnel said...

Siren, you may have just invited fisticuffs over who gets to carry you to the window.

The Siren said...

I am LMAO over the incongruous Asian porn spam this post keeps attracting, too. I need to dig up an unrelated Anecdote of the Week, stat.

Vanwall said...

I always come here a bit trepidacious, then Sarge hollers, "Come on you apes! Ya wanna live forever!?!" and it's over the top. I just seen a lotta films, and read some, so the elucidation here is often worth the direct machine gun fire. But some firefights, when I got no dog in the hunt, I just hunker down and watch - best to let dogs lie, if they are sleepers, tho I can catch Siren from out the winda, if needed. If you gennelmans is done, I'll stop huggin' the earth now.

Yojimboen said...

I feel cheated, Madame, I paid for the full half-hour.

DavidEhrenstein said...

a fortiori (and seeeing that it's his birthday. . .)

Arthur S. said...

Let me say that my reproaches to Mr. Yojimboen were meant in the spirit of light teasing and jest. Though I did feel that his feelings toward ''The Arrangement'' was slightly over-the-top. So If I made any of the cultured bystanders/readers of this blog uncomfortable, I apologize.

That said, let me pick my last bone with him...

------------
All art appreciation is subjective.
-------------

On an objective level, ''The Arrangement'' is a personal film, narratively ambitious, and full of insight into a particular time and place. There are films which fit this category which can rub people the wrong way. Like ''The Deer Hunter'' is quite fascinating and unusual as a film although I feel it is grandiose and the Vietnam portions is theatrical in its presentation and set design and full of cliches about horrors of war and feels like a whole different film. But objectively it isn't a bad film at all, it's in fact considerably better than most Oscar winners. For me bad films are movies which are medicore and/or incompetent something Kazan never was.

Yojimboen said...

I can’t believe at this late stage we’ve all missed La Ronde; adultery times ten. The more I watch Walbrook (in anything) the more I understand my late mother’s adoration of him – and she only ever saw him in The Red Shoes. Her two other pashes were Marshall Thompson and Don Taylor; but Anton was fave.

Karen said...

David, he just got a helluva birthday present, too.

DavidEhrenstein said...

WOW! That's incredible! I saw several shows at the Henry Miller back in the day including the fable cult flop The Nervous Set -- a show Sondheim greatly admires (and Hal Prince lifted staging ideas from for Company)

In the 70's it was a gay porn house (renaming itself "The Park-Miller") Went there too.

And I imagine so did Sondheim.

Talk about La Ronde !

Yojimboen said...

Karen – A belated ouch to your gentle zetz – of course you’re right about TBYOOL. I sit corrected.

X. Trapnel said...

Speaking of TBYOOL, I note it received a zetzing from Richard Schickel (zetzed earlier on this thread by our hostess)in his memoirs and managed to get every detail wrong.

WV: Riall (..."the end of all our exploring will be to arrive [sort of] where we started"--T.S. Eliot

Karen said...

Well, Yojimboen, I suspect we're both right--and that that's what allowed the film to be made as it was. Anything more than one chaste kiss would have been fated to the cutting room floor.

There's no doubt, however, that Fred and Peggy, in the immortal words of Jimmy Carter, "lusted in their hearts."

Trish said...

I love Kazan's work, but "The Arrangement" is so self-conciously arty it makes me want to scream. Aside from Faye Dunaway, who looks wonderful and acts fabulously, the cast is a travesty. Did Kazan owe favours to Kirk Douglas and Richard Boone? The site of Kirk's naked body on top of Faye is, frankly, revolting. I much prefer "The Swimmer", which has a similar theme, an appropriate leading man, and is not all about the director's ego...

The Siren said...

Okay, now I HAVE seen The Swimmer and will readily agree that a half-naked Burt Lancaster > Douglas.

Yojimboen said...

The key scene in The Swimmer (with BL and Janis Rule) was added after Frank Perry left the picture and was directed by Sidney Pollack. Not to be too unkind but on most of Frank Perry’s successful films, David and Lisa; Last Summer; Diary of a Mad Housewife etc., the lion’s share of the credit belonged to the screenwriter – the self-effacing but brilliant Eleanor Perry.

Yojimboen said...

In celebration:

The Man

Glenn

Glynis (and Len)

Barbra

And the one that turns yours truly into a puddle:

Judi

DavidEhrenstein said...

NPH turns me into a puddle -- and in light of the Teabaggers this song is more timely than ever

Rich said...

"History Is Made At Night"!! Jean Arthur! Charles Boyer! Colin Clive going insane! The sinking of the Titanic! FRANK BORAZAGE!

(pardon me for shouting, but I love this movie. At one point, Charles Boyer is admired (without irony) as "The finest headwaiter in all of Europe!"

cgeye said...

Elia banged Faye? Faye?

Well, the things I don't know. Huh.

As for this --
Everybody’s a dreamer
Everybody’s a star
Everybody’s in Show Biz
It doesn’t matter who you are…

-- if you're in want of a rant from me, just get me started about how the decline of American industry has been based precisely in the marketing of individual workers as stars. Hollywood unions are at once some of the most wealthy and powerless units of the international, precisely because their members are encouraged to see themselves as autonomous, in exchange for millions of dollars in union dues.

This lack of solidarity means that every strike becomes a joke, because the members who have been bribed to be ersatz managers -- showrunners, production company heads -- have a conflict of interest that they constantly resolve on the side of management. This is nothing new, and organized crime were the innovators in coopting unions while still preserving the veneer of opposition, but it bears repeating in this age of independent contractors.

*whew*

As for one of my twisted adultery faves, I nominate IRMA LA DOUCE, where Jack Lemmon pimps, cuckolds and is jealous of himself. It tells me a lot I didn't really want to know about Wilder's view on the female problem.

As Bjorn said...

So, if Edwards had picked a really cool woman it would've been better? There's that thread in this: his taste in women is so bad. But as a possessor of a penis it is entirely too true that sometimes taste is not arbitrated by breeding or intellect. Where Edwards failed is in continuing to run for office, that's ego feeding itself.

The Siren said...

We-ell, it certainly wouldn't have been WORSE...