Saturday, July 24, 2010

Anecdote of the Week: "You Remind Me of Carole Lombard."


The Siren's Dazzling Better Half (that gentleman having informed her, with finality, that he does not wish to be called Mr. Anything) is out of town, and this never does her movie viewing any favors nor, frankly, her mood. So where to turn when skies are gray, the projected high in New York City is 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and you say you are blue? To Carole Lombard, that's who.

Courtesy of Anita Loos, in Kiss Hollywood Good-by, a story the Siren really hopes is true.

Carole Lombard, Clark's third wife, was the wish fulfillment of every man in and out of Hollywood; a natural blonde who, both a lady and a hoyden, had a sense of humor and lack of pretense that seldom go with beauty as glittering as hers. I recall one day when she was strolling down a road and a passing truck driver offered her a lift. Carole accepted and, because the driver was good company, she drove with him all the way to Bakersfield. But before very long the young man began to sense he'd picked up an angel unawares. "Know something baby?" he ventured, "you remind me of Carole Lombard." "If you compare me with that cheap floozy, I"ll get right off your truck!" Carole flared up. So the driver apologized.

*****

Kim Morgan has re-posted an appreciation of Phantom Lady, in which Ella Raines proved she could act, but the Siren can't resist posting Kim's paean to Winnipeg (yes, Winnipeg) alongside a rendition from either the World's Sluttiest Auto-Translator, or someone with an exceptionally dirty mind. (Warning: If you are put off by repeated use of a certain versatile four-letter word, stick with Kim's original Winnipeg post.)

Years ago the Siren saw the original production of Oleanna and, despite a great performance from William H. Macy (does he give any other kind?) thought the play was a crabby, unfocused, scattershot mess. Marilyn Ferdinand saw the film and has a lucid and decidedly fair-minded write-up right here.

When it comes to The Red Shoes, Tony Dayoub is on Lermontov's side. Bravo. So's the Siren.

Ed Howard didn't like Seconds quite as much as the Siren did. But he did see a great deal of merit in the terrifying body-and-mind-swap movie directed by John Frankenheimer (or Handsome John, as I suppose he is now known in these parts), and Ed also has some great screen caps.

Kendra Bean, lucky woman, got to interview Universal Classic-Film Crush Robert Osborne. At her blog Viv and Larry.


You know how people claim to hate saying "I told you so"? What's up with that? The phrase "I told you so," wielded when someone winds up loving a movie you've been nagging them to see, is one of the most satisfying in the language. But the Siren will bow to convention and just point out, in the most casual manner possible, that hers was among the voices urging Ryan Kelly to buy Close-Up, even though he'd seen it already.

Finally, there is simply no way, no how that the Siren was going to post anything about the goddess Carole without linking to VP81955. Here's a post tied to the Day Lombard Told Off Laughton, with stills.

119 comments:

DavidEhrenstein said...

The mind boggles at the thought of a set-to between Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton! Two of my favorite movie people -- and two overwhelingly powerful personalities.

I was just thinking of Laughton re his clash with Sternberg on I Claudius . Bact in 1965 there was a great BBC documentary on that unfinished legend, The Epic That Never Was. Jut about all of the complete scenes were shown in it, as narrator Dirk Bogarde explained what happend. Plus there were interviews with Flaor Robson, Emlyn Williams, Merle Oberon and Sternberg himself.
The film is included as an exra on the boxed set of the great TV mini-series of I Claudius.

I was thinking about it because of the about-to-hit-theaters-momentarily L'Enfer de L'Henri-Georges Clouzot -- which reconstructs that fascinating unfinished film. Not to be missed under any circumstances.

The Siren said...

David, I also saw The Epic That Never Was...Laughton had a brilliant speech in it, I remember. One of my biggest "wish they'd made that ones", along with La Fleur de l'Age, and the Clouzot.

Arthur S. said...

Lombard vs. Laughton, I would love to have been there.

Everything I read about Carole Lombard makes me realize that she really was super-cool. I love her in any movie I've seen of hers - 20th Century, My Man Godfrey, To Be or Not To Be.

As for Laughton, Renoir wrote of his friend that he would never play a scene until "he was in the mood", interestingly he mentioned a film that might have been the aborted I CLAUDIUS. He said that it was an ancient Roman set and Laughton held up the entire crew for the entire evening refusing to do the scene because he wasn't in the mood, finally he announced, "I am in the mood" and it was nearly dark.

It's entertaining enough to suffer making a film when he was in those kind of fits. On the other hand, Laughton got along well with McCarey, Siodmak, Renoir, Hitchcock, Brecht, Preminger and David Lean. Stanley Kubrick famously had issues with both Laughton and Olivier on the set of SPARTACUS and tasked Peter Ustinov as a go-between, both actors disliked each other, ignored the script and decided to out-ham the other.

Flickhead said...

On FB, Scott Somerndike's been posting some interesting observations/criticisms on Criterion's new Red Shoes. Here's one of his posts, but dig around his page and you can find more:

"More like reimagining. Visual comparisons of before and after, proving that big budget restorations can be as poorly executed as big budget Hollywood movies. Improvements have been made, to be sure, but the compromises are deep, common and in some cases avoidable. This is what I've found so far.

"The sound maladies cannot be displayed here (which may lie at the fault of the video transfer), nor can the visual problems while watching the film as it plays."

This post (with pics) can be found here.

His FB page is here.

Maya said...

Fabulous truckdriving anecdote. I hope it's true as well.

Yojimboen said...

The lore that Preston Sturges saw Ella Raines in Phantom Lady and signed her for Hail the Conquering Hero is exactly backwards. She finished shooting HTCH in September 1943, and started Phantom Lady a few days later.

The HTCH release was held up till after PL because the… what’s the word I’m looking for (?) arsehole producer Buddy DeSylva (reportedly very jealous of Sturges’s freedom and success) decide to take it out of Sturges’s hands to “fix it”.

Needless to say DeSylva “broke it” (the test-screening of DeSylva’s re-cut version was a catastrophe) and Sturges had to come back in to restore his original movie. Most of DeSylva’s butchery involved trying to minimize Ella Raines’s part. (Buddy had a rep, perhaps he made an offer to Ms Raines which she declined – we’ll never know.)

gmoke said...

Another Ella Raines picture is "The Walking Hills" with a screen appearance by Josh White. Quirky little contemporary Western.

Elisha Cook Jr got to be the head of the mob rather than the sleaze or sap when he played "Ice Pick" on TV Magnum PI. He did it with great relish.

Tony Dayoub said...

Thanks for the plug, Siren. I've already had some visitors from your site check in with comments on the post.

Now, I'm off to read Kendra's interview with Robert Osborne.

Karen said...

Am I allowed the minor quibble of saying that that's not a particularly flattering photo of the Divine Carole? She looks more like Helen Thomas there.

But nice to see her and Gable in their happiness, nonetheless.

The Siren said...

Karen, you're right, it is probably the least flattering picture of the divine Lombard that I have ever seen. But I love it for the reason you state--it's a picture of pure happiness, a couple in love enjoying the hell out of one another's company. For that reason I love it.

Tony, you are most welcome. Every time I see that marvelous movie I think "you little fool, GO FOR THE BALLET!" But that is probably my seldom-discussed (here at any rate) balletomania coming to the fore.

Gmoke & Yojimboen, Ella Raines is something of a universal male taste, along with a select few other actresses.

Maya, Lombard is one of the few great stars I can see climbing into a truck with a strange man and riding to Bakersfield. Imagine Joan Crawford or Audrey Hepburn doing that. I don't think so.

Arthur, I love Laughton but according to Garson Kanin (not the most reliable source, I find) he was a complete PITA on They Knew What They Wanted. It was a case of two completely different working methods (Lombard & Laughton) clashing, I think. Would you believe I've never seen They Knew What They Wanted? I bet it's good.

Flickhead, good to see you again. Those comparisons are eye-popping. I know not what to think. Does he persuade you?

Yojimboen said...

Agreed, Karen.
I prefer this one.

Though in truth, speaking as a male, Gable’s appeal eluded me completely. What CL saw in him, I cannot imagine; especially given her famously confiding to Marion Davies that, “Clark isn’t much in the sack…”

Yojimboen said...

Nowhere was the sentiment, "you little fool, GO FOR THE BALLET!" more prevalent than in Britain – given that no matter how hard we try, we all of us fall prey to at least partly judging actors by other roles we’ve seen them in, and Marius Goring had played one too many Nazi officers.
(Plus the name Goring in post-WWII Britain wasn’t helpful.)

A decent man, by all reports, a pro who co-founded UK Equity, he was a skilled character actor.
But… a romantic lead?
For our luminous Moira?
Sorry, it’s just not on.

That’s always been the moment for me when Vicky Page grand jeté’d the shark.

Ryan Kelly said...

Thanks for the shout out and, of course, the recommendation. Much appreciated!

DavidEhrenstein said...

Goring's romantic deficiency is key to the fact that it's all over from the start. Walbrook SHOULD love her, but loves only what he can make of her (ie. an extension of herself.) Moira falls for Goring partyly becuase of the music he's created for her to dance to, and partly because she can actually talk to him on a rational basis (unlike the God-like Lermontov.)


I adore Goring in A Matter of Life and Death, particularly when he says of Heaven "They are starved for Techniclor up there!"

He's also quite teriffic in The Barefoot Contessa, particularly his set-to with Edmond O'Brien about oil depletion allowances.

The Siren said...

David, agree on all points. I also love his cameo in the first reel of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, where his fate as the unrequited suitor of Ava Gardner is sweet revenge for those of us who couldn't stand his character in The Red Shoes.

Gloria said...

Great Lombard anecdote!

I'd like to enlarge the anecdote mentioned by Arthur S.

The I Claudius story was actually told by Charles to Jean over a drink of Glenlivet after they has succesfully finished shooting a scene in This Land Is Mine. Incidentally, Charles had had difficulties about how to play that particular scene, which Renoir's expertise (and empathy with Laughton) helped to overcome.

Laughton told Renoir how his remark of not being "in the mood" was retorted by a cockney electrician on the set "oh, don't tell me!"... So it wasn't just the late hour what ended the shooting back that day, ha.

However, in a leter section of the book, Renoir mentions how he attended a concert at Madras during the shooting of The River: he mentions how the artist started to play, and after a few notes he said, like Laughton, that he wasn't in the mood. Renoir was told that such search for inspiration could last for days... though luckily, the musician didn't require that long, and Renoir considered the experience as unforgettable.

The moral would be that Artists with a capital A may not always be inspired but, o boy, when they are and deliver the goods, they are something to behold!

(Also, I'd like to add that, for all his occasional "temperament", Laughton would give memorable performances... I'm sure that since the times of Laughton we've heard of people with greater temperaments and lesser talents)

Gloria said...

And about They Knew What They Wanted, I'd like to say that Simon Callow considers Kanin's tale of the facts to be rather biased (in the Sternberg fashion)... Allright, Both Mr. Callow and me will always be on the Laughton side, but although i'm quite sure that the anecdotes referred by Kanin are true, I'm also sure that he wasn't in the least ready, or able, to empathise with the man, and it shows in his writing... I'd like to mention that Ruth Gordon (Mrs. Kanin) and Charles loved each other to bits, and Garson seems to have warmed at the man in the end.

This having been said, Laughton could be temperamental enough, and more when he had difficulties with the role, as it was the case here. Callow says that CL's role in this picture was typical of the roles offered to him since his early stage days, and he may have been, on one hand, tired of that. On the other hand, he had spent his savings of the previous decade in setting a film company with Eric Pommer, which they had to close after three films and not enough box-office income. The Laughton-Pommer relationship doesn't seem to have been at its best point at the time of They Knew What They Wanted.

There was also a lack of understanding between the stars: CL and Carole had worked perviously in White Woman, and it seems, not too happily. According to Pommer's biographer Ursula Hardt, Charles told Pommer that he'd rather not act with Carole, although Pommer finally convinced him to do so.

I'd say, though, that for all their offscreen difficulties, Charles and Carole manage to suggest some warmth of feeling in their characters. On the other hand, I cannot figure why she falls for William Cargan: he seems to me rather inaproppiate casting for Carole's lover (Also, for a lover, he looks most decidedly unsexy in jeans: seeing him in this film, you'd never guess that denim wear would eventually become a sexy garment)

P.S.: Siren and VP81955, the Zone 2 DVD release of They Knew What They Wanted is available at Amazon

Gloria said...
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Gloria said...
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Gloria said...

As for the Laughton-Olivier enmity in Spartacus, I'd say it was rather due to Olivier's attitude to those he considered "rivals", and in this regard, Charles fared no differently than Redgrave, Gielgud or Guinness. I have a personal theory (so don't take it very seriously, ha), that Olivier must have been feel rather uneasy about the fact that he was balding and laughton could still make rather long curls of his own hair (I don't know if his Crassus wears a hair piece, but sure he seems to have more hair than olivier does in the Spartacus production newreels)


Yojimboen,

What CL (Carole Lombard) saw I Clark, I can't tell... But I know what CL (Charles Laughton) said about Gable "he makes you feel full of pep".

Hum...

VP81955 said...

Thanks for the link to "Carole & Co."...and the compliments.

Regarding the Lombard truck anecdote, I've previously commented that if it did take place (and I, too, most certainly hoped it happened), it could have been a defense mechanism by Carole as much as wry self-deprecation. As a celebrity, she surely sensed her vulnerability in such a situation (the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932 intensified security in the film community, and then there was the Thelma Todd incident). She had to safeguard herself in case the person picking her up wasn't entirely scrupulous.

Yojimboen said...

From Howard Hughes: Hell’s Angel

“Later, when Miriam [Miriam Hopkins, the only actress in Hollywood Bette Davis hated more than Joan Crawford] was in the powder room with Carole, she said the actress did deliver a one-liner about Howard [Hughes],
“He’s got Clark beat by four inches, but Hughes has no soul.”

VP81955 said...

According to Larry Swindell in his Lombard bio "Screwball," Carole lost her virginity to Hughes in the late 1920s (although, since the book was published in 1975 and Hughes remained alive through the following April, he couldn't directly mention him by name). The affair was reportedly done with the utmost secrecy. For more about this little-known part of her life, go to http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/11206.html

DavidEhrenstein said...

Our pit-stop at Bruce Robinson the other day bought to mine for me this morning (the Return of The Repressed?) one of the 20th Century's greatest beauties Peter Beard

Son of railroad robber barons, Beard was born to so much money he has never had to "work" a day in his life. So he's done what any gentleman in his position would do. Not become a yachtsman like Georgie Minafer, but an African explorer, and pursuer of beautiful women. He married supermodels (before the "super" became affixed to their profession) discovered Iman, and starred in one of my all-time fave obscure films Hallelujah the Hills. Written and directed by Jonas Mekas' brother Adolfas, and shot in the most gorgeous black and white outside of Gianni di Venanzo by Ed Emshwiller, this cheeky jape premiered at the very First New York Film Festival, where it's non-stop display of movie buff in-jokes went over exceptionally well. it had a brief theatrical run afterwards, but has somehow never become "a classic." A pity.

Peter Beard (in his only acting role to date) plays a parody of himself. Likewise his co-star poet/actor Marty Greenbaum. They play two friends in love with the same girl (played by two different girsl to reflect the imaginations of each) who has ditched them for "The Horrible Gideon" (film maven supreme Gideon Bachmann) They take off for the wilds of Vermont in the dead of snowy winter the better to expiate their grief and enact slapstick scenes evoking everything from Vampyr to The Fatal Glass of Beer to an amzingly lovely scroe by Meyer Kupferman.

How I wise this were available on DVD!

Yojimboen said...

The lubricious Ms Lombard in pre-code days:
here and here.

DavidEhrenstein said...

A clip from Hallelujah the Hills

The shot of Sheila Finn at the window is a hommage to Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon. Shirley Stoler, playing her mother, went on to star in The Honeymoon Killers and Seven Beauties.

Peter Beard running naked through the snow speaks for itsel.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Peter Beard hunting the wild Verushka.

Russell said...

OT, but I wanted to thank you for the tip on "City of Nets" (elsewhere in your blog). It's a great cultural history.

Now I'm an Otto Freidrich fan. I'm half-way through "Before the Deluge", an examination of Berlin in the post WWI era.

Auf Wedersehen!

David Zimmerman

Trish said...

I always wondered why Ella was so hung up on Alan Curtis, who seems bland and unworthy of her. She puts me in mind of Claire Trevor when she's all dolled up and on the make for Elisha Cook Jr.

mckeldinb said...

So happy to hear others echo my feelings about the Lermontov v. Craster dilemma in The Red Shoes. When I talk about it among my friends I sometimes feel as if there's something wrong with me.

As far as I'm concerned all one needs to do is study Craster's and Lermontov's respective reactions to Vicky's death (suicide?) to recognize which man had the stronger connection to Victoria Page.
-----
Great anecdote about Carole ("it was the f***ing 'e' that made all the difference") Lombard!

p.s. How have I lived this long without discovering your blog? I'll certainly be a regular reader from now on.

DavidEhrenstein said...

"As far as I'm concerned all one needs to do is study Craster's and Lermontov's respective reactions to Vicky's death (suicide?) to recognize which man had the stronger connection to Victoria Page."

Hmmm. Interesting question. Julian is actually there on the tracks with her as she dies. Lermontov is in the theater. Julian's reaction is fairly simple. lemontov's more complex for it isn't just vicky who dies. He dies too. Albeit a spiritual death. But it's just as devestatingly complete. The last shot of Lemontove shows he's become a frozen mask of abjection.

Yojimboen said...

I wonder how many times one of our lovely hostess’s multiple streams has wound up being channeled and diverted to yet another discussion of The Red Shoes; to my memory at least a half-dozen times. Which is, one supposes, the real measure of the film, that it has made such a mark on all of us. The older I get, the more times I see it, the better Anton Walbrook looks. What a truly astonishing talent was his!

Trish said...

I heartily agree! You can't take your eyes off him when he's making a speech...

There is an irresistible book (can't remember the name) that surveys the absurd history of the Academy awards, and very academically re-distributes the statues to those who truly deserved them.

Walbrook won best actor for The Red Shoes...

X. Trapnel said...

(to be read with Nigel Bruce accent) About time I saw The Red Shoes, what.

Karen said...

Yes, X., about bloody time.

The strangled, anguished voice in which Lermontov delivers his closing speech to the audience is as devastating as anything in film, I'd say.

Yes, I think I would prefer that Vicky danced, also. I've always felt it was an unfair choice that Craster made her make at the end, a choice offered by an egotist more concerned with his own success and acclaim than her happiness. Lermontov's feelings for her were complex, but Craster's were simple: he wanted her to be his supportive wife while he lived his own dream.

No contest, really.

Trish said...

Amen, Karen.

What was the interpretation of the time? Was The Red Shoes seen as tragedy of a women unable to make a choice between art and love? Was there more sympathy for the dull Craster if he was perceived as the "normal" man in her life? Were there those who felt Vicky's death was Lermontov's punishment?

I can't imagine anyone seeing this film and not feeling Lermontov's grief like a punch to the stomach...

Yojimboen said...

Karen and Trish!

(Well, X, so much for Spoiler Alerts.)

Trish said...

Oh, I'm so sorry X.!!! I didn't give away ALL the details... :O.

I promise never to spoil the ending of Star Wars for you...

gmoke said...

At the risk of being torn limb from limb, I would like to put in a word for Mr Craster. Last time I saw the film, I was shocked that Vicky could so easily refuse to be at the premiere of Craster's first major orchestral work (or at least that's how I remember it). That must have hurt.

Craster loves Vicky as a real woman and his wife. Lermontov loves Vicky as an artist. It it this tension that tears her apart.

As for Walbrook, his anti-Nazi speech in "Colonel Blimp" is part of another great performance. That guy was good. I've seen "The Queen of Spades" once on TV when I was a kid and "Le Ronde" but would really like to see the British version of "Gaslight." I bet he was really good in that too.

Karen said...

Hey, why single out Trish and me? Reading up the page, I see plenty of spoilers before ours!

Besides, I'm sure that, in the time he's been on this site, Y. has gotten a great sense of what the actual story is. The thrill for him is going to be in seeing how it's told.

gmoke, no one will tear you limb from limb! And your point is a good one--except that that's the reality of a marriage in which both partners are working performers. Spouses miss Academy awards, openings, you name it.

But on another note: Theo's speech in Colonel Blimp! Oh, that is simply marvellous! Forthose who don't know the text:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dePMU8R131s
and
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036112/quotes?qt0460038

But, of course, to hear that dialogue spoken by Walbrook and Roger Livesey is the real treat.

Tony Dayoub said...

THE RED SHOES is not only sixty-two years old; it's a well-known classic. I think the time for Spoiler Warnings expired in 1950.

The Siren said...

The whole spoiler thing is an interesting matter for a classic-film blog. What is my obligation regarding a 40, 50, 60-year-old film, especially if the movie was intended to be suspenseful? I got *extremely* annoyed at an IMDB review that spoiled the climax of Criss-Cross in its first sentence, no warning. But I'd feel silly posting "spoiler alert!" in my Rear Window writeup.

I try to either warn people, or avoid spoilers, because I often write about movies that many people haven't seen. The fact that I am not into extensive plot recaps helps, but sometimes I find myself wanting to discuss an important scene that will let every single cat out of the bag. I'm sympathetic to James Wolcott in his Mad Men recap, saying that he finds spoiler warnings clumsy and annoying. I haven't really come up with a good solution. I do it on a case by case basis and try to insert the warnings elegantly when I decide something needs them.

If anyone wants to proffer thoughts or advice on the issue, I'm happy to listen.

DavidEhrenstein said...

This is a sophisticated film blog, not a gaggle of Fanboys. Everythign discussed in here assumes an execcedinly film-savvy readership. Moreover recent films are seldom dealt with -- especially those for who the cry of "spoilers" is invariably raised.

Screming about"spoilers" means there's no way to talk about Vertigo -- and that's the bottom line. No serious film entusiast can possibly NOT discuss vertigo -- in detail.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And speaking of Vertigo, here's a spanking new interview with Kim!

X. Trapnel said...

Not to worry, Trish. I shall never see any incarnation of Star Wars nor any of its progeny (i.e., Age of Reagan medievalism celebrating feudalism and vassalage).

mckeldinb said...

Apologies if my first post on this blog included spoilers!

@Flickhead: Thank you for posting that link of comparison frames for The Red Shoes. I recently upgraded from standard DVD to Blu-Ray specifically for the restored release of three movies: A Star Is Born (1954), Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes. I've been having conniptions trying to re-calibrate my TV (something I do obsessively whenever I get new home video equipment)... and it's The Red Shoes that's been giving me the most problems... it inevitably looks too dark! Since I don't remember having the same black-level issues when I saw the restoration screened theatrically I wonder if it's a problem with the home video transfer?

X. Trapnel said...

I agree with David that the notion of spoilers is not really relevant to the content of this site nor to great film generally. The flow and continuity of any great work of art is a constant dialog of small and large moments and details. The gigantic chords that begin the last movements of the Beethoven 9th or Mahler 1 (speaking of chords, Siren, I would liken the beginning of Tchaik piano cto 1 to getting beaten about the head with bronzed baby shoes cf. Jack Webb vs. Henry Morgan in Appointment with Danger) don't lose their power or relation to the whole when we expect them.

Knowing the HC Anderson story I assumed a lamentable ending for Ms. Shearer.

The Siren said...

David! You called me sophisticated! I'm absurdly pleased. Just the praise needed to alleviate a quarrelsome morning, and from a delightful source.

Anyway. Spoilers. I will probably continue to warn people about plot disclosures for the obscure, especially if I think the movie gains a lot from suspense. But for a well-known old movie I generally can't be bothered.

XT, NOTHING can dim my Peter Ilyich love but that comparison is freaking hilarious.

Trish said...

I don't have a problem with classic film spoilage, either. If I haven't seen it yet, then it's just my tough luck. I shouldn't expect film criticism to keep quiet because of me.

That said, I don't like to spoil it for someone else.

Walbrook also has a great anti-Nazi moment as Peter in The 49th Parallel.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I find in talking about the obscure -- and trying to make it less obscure -- I zero in on a particular moment, or series of moments, rather than the whole thing.

Discussing a film in a forum like this doean't mean a shot-by-shot disseration. And zeroing in on the heart of the matter doesn't mean disclosing the "secret" of the plot.

"Rosebud" was his sled, but that fact doesn't come anywhere near to dealing with the mysteries of Citizen Kane

Yojimboen said...

Rosebud is his sled???!
Oh, god, and I was so looking forward to that movie!

Umm… Dawn here on the left coast and I awake to half a score of comments on spoilers caused by me. Oops.

Next time, Karen and Trish, I’ll add one of those little smiley thingies to convey my utter lack of seriousness. Attempted humor, ladies, lame, but mine own. To get semi-serious on the topic, anyone who hasn’t seen the classics had best seek another watering hole than this; cos here you’re gonna spoiler-slapped upside the haid every day, and deservedly so; price of the entry ticket to these Elysian Fields.
And there’s an end on it.

X. Trapnel said...

Y, you haven't missed anything; it's in black and white

Nora said...

Spoilers on this blog or any other classic film site don’t bother me. If the discussion is on a film I am not familiar with or have not seen in a great many years, I do a little research. If I have an argument with anything, and it is slight, it would be the assumption that I have to be “exceedingly film-savvy” to read or participate on this or any other blog. Perhaps I take issue with such a notion because it is a hot, humid, quarrelsome morning deep in the heart of Texas. But despite my lack of savvy I will continue to at least lurk, if not participate, because this forum is usually so enjoyable as well as being informative.

Now I have an overwhelming urge to watch The Uninvited. Although **Spoiler Alert** I have no intention of jumping off a cliff.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Having film-savvy doens't mean you know Absolutely Everything.It's simply an awareness of the multi-faceted nature of the cinema and the fact that there are any number of ways to talk about it.

Kevin Deany said...

Gmoke: The British version of "Gaslight" with Anton Walbrook is available on the same DVD as the M-G-M version. A very nice bonus extra. I haven't seen it in awhile but if memory serves I preferred it to the M-G-M version.

Karen said...

Ah, Nora, don't sell yourself short! Your very presence at this-here sophisticated film blog presupposes a level of savvyness of which you may not even have been aware. So, good on ya!

And, Yojimboen, I knew you were joshin', you sly dog. I was merely pointing out that Trish and I weren't the first to spill the beans.

About spoilers: sometimes, while I'm watching a film, I'll go to the AFI Catalog's description of it, because I'm curious to see how they've parsed certain plot points. And once I begin reading their synopsis, it is well-nigh impossible for me to stop reading at the point to which I've been watching, which means I know how it's going to end. But this doesn't bother me unduly because I tend to feel (speaking only for myself, you understand) that it's as interesting to see how they do it as to know what they're going to do.

Similarly: about 20 years ago, I was watching the extremely minor film Faithful in My Fashion on TNT (back when it showed movies). I had to leave for work before it ended, however. I had no recording equipment; I just had to leave. Did I doubt that Tom Drake would end up with Donna Reed? I did not. I knew without doubt or quibble that Donna would forswear Warner Anderson (I mean, seriously: Warner Anderson?) and marry Tom Drake. But it drove me crazy I hadn't seen the end! How exactly would it play out?

I didn't see the whole film until last year, and happy I was to do so. It puts the flesh on the bones, so to speak.

And just to flog a dead horse a little more: I've never thought about trying to remain spoiler-free here. One, because these films are really, really old. But more because this isn't a review site but a discussion site, thanks especially to our hostess' skillful handling of the comments section. And in order to discuss, one can't be constrained by suppressing plot developments.

That being said, I don't think anyone has ever complained about spoilers; as Y. was quick to point out, he was only making a joke on someone else's behalf. So, let's not second-guess ourselves, yes?

Yojimboen said...

Ms Nora – I trust our gracious hostess will forgive the minor breach of dinner-table etiquette, and permit me to echo Karen’s welcoming sentiments, and urge you to cease this lurking nonsense and pull up a chair – the poesie of “…hot, humid, quarrelsome morning…” indicates you have much to bring to the party.

gmoke said...

Spoiler alert: Thelma and Louise is a feminist remake of Vanishing Point.

Nora said...

First: it is very hard to intimidate a Texan, but y’all manage to do it. However, it is also almost impossible to keep a Texan quiet, so lurking is only a part-time occupation with us.

Second: seriously Karen, I have to sell myself short because I am short.

Third: Yojimboen, may I pull up my pickup truck instead of a chair?

Fourth: many, many, many years ago, in the midst of a discussion on the difficulty of turning novels into films, the passenger in the front seat of my old clunker told me to stop being so self-conscious. The passenger’s name was John Houseman. But when surrounded by such savvy and sophisticated people I just can’t help it. However I do apologize for being so cranky and quarrelsome this morning, with a special apology to our beloved hostess.

Trish said...

Yes - don't be a stranger, Nora. I suspect many here are either in the business or are film scholars. I'm merely a fan, but I feel comfortable here.

A day without the Siren in like being trapped in the mosh pit at Lillith Fair...

Vanwall said...

Beggin' the Siren's pardon, Humble Vanwall speaketh, "I was just spekullatin' about a hypothesis, I know I don't know nuthin'!" And they let me in, anyway, quel surprise! So, don't be a stranger, Texas.

This blast from the Vanwall comment past regarding "The Red Shoes" from Siren post of August 31, 2008:

"The salient point about this film...is that Shearer, Goring, all the ballet dancers, the scoring and choreography, all of these aside - each was replaceable if needed, (altho I would've missed Shearer's lovely, red-haired exuberance and Massine's solid, natural support playing); the only indispensable one was Walbrook. No one else could've been Boris Lermontov - he simply inhabited the role, became it onscreen like nobody else would've. He sold the romance, he sold the elegance, and above all, he sold the implied drug of great dance, without a single, simple dance step - he did it all with nothing but his skill and ability as an actor.

Shearer may have been the picture-book Degas painting, but Walbrook was the dark, deep undercurrent of mania, almost madness, of making some kind of great art, under the tight control of an iron will to succeed on one's own terms. Shearer's Vicky paid the price of getting too close to that kind of abyss - and Walbrook created that love-hate romance with a powerful Svengali-like figure, the kind that fascinates and repels at the same time. I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of attraction didn't bring as many aspiring ballet dancers into the art as any of Shearer's lovely leaps."

I can't say it any better from my point of view.

Trish said...

Sob! Thanks for The Siren update, Vanwall! I don't know about anyone else, but I remain speechless, blubbering and nonsensical... :O

Yojimboen said...

There I was concoctin’ some pretentious twaddle about Vicky flying too close to Lermontov’s sun and in walks M VW with a rolled up newspaper in his hand. Smek!!

(Color me speechless.)

This Siren babe can put us all twelve rows up in the left field bleachers with a casual check-swing. Goddamn!

The Siren said...

Ah, but that was Vanwall's own wonderful writing, not the Siren's, Y.!

Nora, "lack of savvy"? What in the all-fired hell are you talking about? The Siren treasures your presence, and has a weakness for Texan women anyway. And a Texan woman who loves The Uninvited...please, I hope you become a fixture. I also want to know what you were doing in a clunker with John Houseman. THAT sounds worth hearing.

I will reply more tomorrow morning; now I have to delete some porn spam. These guys are REALLY getting my goat...although considering what may be at the other end of those links perhaps that's an unfortunate turn of phrase.

Yojimboen said...

Like I said, color me stupid!

You're gonna have to toot that horn a little louder, M V, ah'm gettin' deef in my old age.

hamletta said...

I shall never see any incarnation of Star Wars nor any of its progeny (i.e., Age of Reagan medievalism celebrating feudalism and vassalage).

X, that makes no sense to me. The first movie came out in 1977, during the age of Carter.

Also, my dad, a California native and Reagan-hater from way back loved it for its resemblance to Saturday morning serials.

I think you're reading too much into it.

Vanwall said...

Ah, M Yo, twas only a mis-read - no autopsy, no foul, what I say. I don't usually toot my own cornet very much, 'specially in someone else's elegant and sophisticated drawing room - I'm happy just to be in the peanut gallery. Thanks for the left-handed compliment, tho!

Vanwall said...

Thankee, again, Siren, for the comp, as well!

The Siren said...

All right, spam dealt with, moving along:

Russell/David, I am so happy you're now a Friedrich fan. Everyone should read City of Nets.

Mckeldinb, welcome, and I am glad you like the blog. Comments have a way of circling back to certain Grand Unified Topics and The Red Shoes is absolutely one of them, as you can see.

Trish, I love 49th Parallel, full-out wartime propaganda that still works as a thriller. And yes, Walbrook is terrific.

X. Trapnel said...

Hamletta,

I meant Age of Reagan loosely; in the long view we're still in it and my cranky belief is that Lucas/Spielberg/super heroes/fake mythology/militarism/economic royalism/steroidal athletes all induce an infantile passivity, directionless rage, and unthinking servitude toward our corporate overlords (Criterion folk excepted).

Yojimboen said...

Yoda: Surprised I am, X, that Social Darwinism, you missed.

XT: Yoda? Up the f*ck, shut.

X. Trapnel said...

I just Wikipedia checked to see what is Yoda (I frightfully ignorant am), who seems to be Billy Wilder in green Rustoleum dipped.

Trish said...

Judge me by my size do you? Wilder, mh-hhh. But beware the Miss Piggy inside.

Nora said...

Siren, the clunker was a coupe with an engine from the scrap yard; didn’t have a grill; the ceiling fabric was loose and, despite the duct tape, rested on the head of anyone over 5’4”; the inside passenger door handle didn’t work and the springs in the back seat were non-existent. So on the various occasions when Mr. Houseman was in the front seat of my old heap, he was my captive. Originally my motive for having him there was simple; I wanted him to dish the dirt on a mutual acquaintance. I asked, he said no. From then on we discussed other topics.

My film savvy is negligible, but I’m learning.

Gloria said...

gmoke: "Spoiler alert: Thelma and Louise is a feminist remake of Vanishing Point."

I thought that Thelma And Louise was a decaf version of Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill

X. Trapnel said...

Quite seriously, I think T & L rips off quite a lot from Odd Man Out. All for the worse.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Thelma and Louise is an Infomercial for Brad Pitt -- the Marie Curie of Washboard Abs.

Trish said...

X., how is Thelma and Louise like Odd Man Out? Other than the hopeless pursuit angle... Mason's character chose his destiny in events previous to what we see in the film. This isn't the case with T & L.

X. Trapnel said...

Trish,

The abstract plot line: an unplanned killing precipitates an odyssey in which the characters' encounters reflect on the film's larger political and social themes in a series of dramatic vignettes. There is a semi-sympathetic pursuer, a sense of the protagonists' caught in an ever-tightening circle; T&L practically quotes the shot in which we see the semi-circle of police flashlights closing in on Mason and Kathleen Ryan. That said, I don't much like T&L, too smug by half. Odd Man Out is in my top 10. And that music! William Alwyn, one of the greats.

The Siren said...

I loved Thelma and Louise. Then and now, couldn't see why people got so worked up over it. A crime-buddy road picture, fresher and funnier than a lot of other entries before and since, in which the mayhem motivations are a little more spelled out than usual, that's all.

But Odd Man Out, ah, now that's a horse of a different color. Lyrical, poetic, death-haunted, spiritual, and heartbreaking. And YES XT, the music! Now I want to see it again.

X. Trapnel said...

Siren, I could rhapsodize endlessly about Odd Man Out, but Yeats said it all in "Easter 1916":

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
...
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death...

The tragic grandeur of the film is in its dramatizing of the unresolved questioning and self-questioning ("From the argument with others we make rhetoric; from the argument with ourselves we make poetry." Yeats again) of all the characters. "A terrible beauty is born."

Yojimboen said...

Elas! None of you seem to see the perfect symmetry of it all.

(Some people have to be hit on the head with a ’66 T-Bird!)

What is T & L’s cliff-dive to freedom if not Vicky Page’s grand jeté writ large?

X. Trapnel said...

Interesting point, Y, but not having seen The Red Shoes I can't judge the moral or dramatic point of VP's death. T&L's freeze frame flight strikes me as utterly false. Why doesn't Antoine Doinel himself in the cruel sea? (Because otherwise he'd never meet Claude Jade?)

X. Trapnel said...

make that "throw himself in the cruel sea"

Trish said...

I think the male perception of Thelma and Louise is quite different than the female perception. I think men primarily take offense because, save for Harvey Keitel, the men in the film are moronic, unreliable, and insincere. (sorry, Brad -- I love ya but...)

Women respond very strongly to it for a variety of reasons... I loved the spirit of adventure, and the fact that they weren't supermodels, and I loved the fact that there was one man who believed in them, and I loved the inevitability of their end.

X. Trapnel said...

Oh, hardly Trish. I have no quarrel with the portrayal of male perfidy and doltishness and believe most fervently in the (absolute) aesthetic and (relative) moral superiority of women, but T&L was boringly cartoonish, a failure of art. Just one example: the scene (if I remember rightly) in which an arrogant cop is disarmed and made to beg for his life is just not funny, nor the boffo conclusion with a wayfaring Jamaican blowing pot smoke into the car trunk the former is locked in. Crude agitprop technique. Moreover, the put-on twangy accents (I'm with Yojimboen on this) sounded actorish, shrill, and false, like the whole sorry enterprise.

Geena Davis may never have actually worked as a supermodel, but otherwise... And Susan Sarandon in those years...

Vanwall said...

Actually, I feel the kinship of T&L is closer to "The Sugarland Express", without the added bonus of Ben Johnson, but that's just me.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Yeha but it's a conscious act on T & L's part. Vicky is being driven by forces beyond her control.

hamletta said...

Moreover, the put-on twangy accents (I'm with Yojimboen on this) sounded actorish, shrill, and false, like the whole sorry enterprise.

So, where are your people from, dear?

X. Trapnel said...

My people? Queens and the Bronx, but no accents (it's a long story). Susan Sarandon grew up some 10 minutes from where I live now, where no twanginess is heard.

Not to keep piling on poor T & L, but let me point out another film in which Sarandon, plays a much put-upon working class woman yearning for escape: Atlantic City. Here is all the imagination, characterization, grace, and quirky humor that T&L lacks. And the ending (also by car; this is America) feels truly like a flight to freedom; the whole thing an unexpected flowering of Renoir-like humanism in a very stony place.

DavidEhrenstein said...

It is indeed. Susan Sarandon has a Beyond Transcendent moment when she look up at Burt Lancaster with those enormous eyes of hers and says "Teach me stuff."

She and Louis Malle were an item at the time -- which also helped.

Trish said...

X., I won't argue with your comments about the arrogant cop and the cyclist. It's my opinion that female writers sometimes go overboard. That's why I loathe Nora Ephron and Diane English.

What is art? Can it really be categorized in a few words? Even a cartoon can be art. Neither shrill nor false, the scene where Louise sobs after losing her money to the drifter is one of the saddest I've ever seen...

Yojimboen said...

From X.:
“…I have no quarrel with the portrayal of male perfidy and doltishness and believe most fervently in the (absolute) aesthetic and (relative) moral superiority of women…”

I’ll agree, and go further; way further: Men are pigs. If it wasn’t for women we’d still be living in caves. Our sole saving grace is the occasional embarrassment we feel when reminded of the truth.
(We’re pigs.)

From Trish:
“…I think the male perception of Thelma and Louise is quite different than the female perception. I think men primarily take offense because, save for Harvey Keitel, the men in the film are moronic, unreliable, and insincere…”

I’ve lost count the tautologies in that sentence, Trish (plus one contradiction in terms, ‘male perception’.)
The reasons you give for ‘taking offense’, however, are the same reasons to turn away. I didn’t actively dislike the film, I just didn’t find it in the least bit original. How it has attained such an iconic status escapes me. All the men – including Keitel – were cardboard, stereotypical, predictable oafs. The heroines weren’t that much better. Okay, I’ll grant Young Brad Pitt caught the eye, but mainly for the James Dean impersonation - I hadn’t seen it done that well since George Peppard in Home from the Hill.

That’s about it. Not a bad film, just your straight buddy/criminal road movie. Changing the sex of the protagonist(s) hardly raised an eyebrow; and I do like the actresses, but they’ve both done much better work; Davis in Accidental Tourist and Sarandon in Bull Durham et al.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Here's Brad before Angelina.

Trish said...

Guys, I'll just use simple language here: I don't agree.

gmoke said...

We know how Carole Lombard dealt with the truckdriver, much more smoothly than either Thelma or Louise (or Kowalski, for that matter).

I wonder if she and Preston Sturges ever talked about working together.

cgeye said...

The happiest month of the summer is here, and all I can say is BASIL BASIL BASIL BASIL BASIL!!!

The Siren said...

Yojimboen, with the utmost respect and affection as ever, I must disagree with you here too. First, T&L raised a lot of eyebrows, if not yours, and I remember that very well. Time Magazine, op-ed pages, pearl-clutching articles in the arts sections--it caused as much of a political and social stir as a movie could in those pre-Web days. One of those dread "fodder for discussion" movies. And the objections voiced again and again always, I mean ALWAYS focused on the male characters. This struck me as, how shall I put this--quaint. You & others in this thread say that the men in T&L are cardboard stereotypes. Well, we were coming off a decade, no, TWO decades (Molly Haskell, where are you? come here and back a sister up) where the women in action movies were a parade of the least desirable qualities of MY gender, when they weren't pushed so far into the background they became part of the scenery or disappeared altogether.

And if the men in T&L were so cardboard, riddle me this--why is it that I recognized every one of the ones Thelma and Louise encounter as someone either from my own life (men like that patronizing, boorish husband, sleazy wolf-whistlers like that truck driver) or, sadly, from the lives of some of my friends (and yes, I am afraid I mean the rapist and the drifter). What happens when the protagonists encounter these men wasn't something I'd seen before, though, and that's why I and so many other people I knew loved the movie. It was a riff on a very old genre, but it had originality. Show me the prior crime-spree movie that had a main female character who, when a victim brings up his family, responds with anything like, "You be sweet to them, especially your wife. My husband wasn't sweet to me. Look how I turned out." (My favorite line.)

After saying that I recognize T&L's men, this may seem contradictory, but it isn't--I also take exception to the view that men are pigs. No, they're really not, although many invoke that nondefense when they've been naughty. T&L may collect male behavior at its worst and put it all together in one big two-hour package but that doesn't mean it's a documentary. Most men manage their way through life quite well without beating up a girlfriend or taking her money or betraying her in ways large and small. Men may love to chalk their worst moments up to some overriding flaw in their nature, but in practice I have no trouble holding the vast majority of men in my life to a higher standard than the barnyard.

Most men are extremely decent individuals. Men even, on occasion, make completely awesome movies with great, believable female characters. Like The Red Shoes.

The Siren said...

Oh, and one more thing, for Trish--that scene where Louise sobs after her money is stolen? I PLAYED that scene with a roommate after her entire rent stash was stolen by a (gorgeous, as it happened) man she picked up in Tompkins Square Park. And yeah, heartbreaking.

The Siren said...

No wait, make that two more things. Atlantic City? LOVE. Malle is a huge favorite of the Siren's.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I quite agree on T&L, Siren. A lot of what went on in that movie was the sort of thing one would find in B-films of the period -- especially those coming from Roger Corman's New World Pictures. I'm not talking about the plot of T & L, but rather the attidude towards gnder dynamics. Corman flicks were always mixign thing sup in edgey ways. But for the BIG mass audience characters like T & L hadn't really been seen before. Add to this a big budget and Ridley Scott's superb eye for the landscape of the American soutwest and you've got yourself quite a movie.

Tony Dayoub said...

The most surreal experience I have ever had with a roommate was when I got up one night to go to the bathroom and discovered her on the couch with a Japanese little person.

I'm sorry to make light of this, but this is one comment I'm saving on my email so I can read it to my wife later. What's really surreal is imagining you, Siren (who even though we've met in person, I can't help but picture as [excuse my ignorance... who is that in your avatar pic, again]) telling this story on a comment thread that sprang out of a not too dissimilar anecdote about Carole Lombard.

The Siren said...

David, that's true re: Corman and the antecedents cited for T&L here are interesting, but as you say, not mainstream.

Further to Yojimboen's first point, in the interests of fairness and since I am suddenly reminiscing about my old roommate Susie (SO not her real name, btw). She was a painter of some talent and a good-natured good-time gal of whom I was fond, but when it came to men, brother was she something else. Talk about having them coming and going. The most surreal experience I have ever had with a roommate was when I got up one night to go to the bathroom and discovered her on the couch with a Japanese little person. It's conjuring up these blasts from the past that help make a blog worthwhile, don't you think?

Anyway, Susie. Not two days before, I had said to Susie in as nice a manner as I could muster that if she were going to sleep her way through the entire East Village art scene, it might be a sensible idea not to leave her cash in plain sight. I was merrily waved off as a fussbudget with insufficient faith in her male vetting process.

So when I came home to this woman sobbing over her empty wallet, what did I do? Well, what anyone would do. I went out and bought us a six pack, popped the tops one by one, put my arm around her and said (what else?) "I'm sorry Susie. MEN ARE PIGS."

So there you are, Y. :D

The Siren said...

Tony, I just deleted and reposted to make that anecdote slightly more discreet. Susie is lost to the mists of time (although my BFF remembers this whole saga I'm sure, as he got an earful) but it's just possible she'll read this and think, "hey, I resemble that!"

Karen said...

I'm coming late to this recent round of comments, but I have to back up the Siren here. First and most vehemently in that, while many men are pigs--and most of those pigs have found their way into my life at one time or another--it does not follow that all men are pigs. And I don't even think all men require the humanizing influence of women not to be pigs, either. I have known far too many good and decent men (and, quite frankly, piggy women) not to take issue with that statement.

That being said, I, too, recognized every single one of the men in T&L and could put names to the versions that passed through my life. In my view, they were types, not stereotypes, which are two different things.

It is difficult to articulate the catharsis I experienced when T&L blew up the semi of the vulgar truckdriver. While there had been films about strong women fighting back before (and, yes, I'm thinking Roger Corman here, too), there had not been many films where ordinary women, women like the women in the audience, women in bad relationships or dead-end lives, had found inner strength and sisterhood in such an organic and believable way.

For what it's worth, I know very few men--even the non piggy ones--who understand why women love that movie as we do. And I know a few women who view it with disdain or resentment or even dismissal. But for me, it was an important and powerful film, and it kills me anew every time I see it.

Yojimboen said...

(Waist-deep in the hole, the fool reaches for a shovel and continues digging.)

Of course I was aware of the hype and hysteria surrounding T & L, you couldn’t live in Manhattan and not be; but perhaps seeing it on the day of its release before the ensuing sturm und drang coloured my reaction – I didn’t know it was such an important film when I saw it (that’s not sarcasm, we’ve all been there).

This morning out of curiosity, I cruised IMDb’s ‘external reviews’ of the film; the words ‘cardboard’ and ‘stereotype’ appear more than once, and the end shot is singled out for criticism more than twice.
(Roger Ebert even voices anger.)

To save time, of all the revues, I settled on writer Jim Emerson’s analysis as closest to my own feelings of semi-ambivalence.

As a pseudo-defense, I did say above that I didn’t dislike the film; I just wasn’t persuaded by the shift of protagonist sexes. (His Girl Friday it ain’t.)

It’s always comes down to the question of standards, I suppose, not that mine are higher or lower than anyone else’s; they’re just different. I admire subtlety above all, and detest condescension. And I feel T & L condescends more often than it entertains and, more often than not, to women more than to men.

While I think Ridley Scott’s images were superb, I just don’t care for Callie Khouri’s script – too often it’s path-of-least-resistance writing. Apparently her idea of subtlety was to shape the Brad Pitt role as a strained and unoriginal reincarnation of James Dean.

(Of course I could be wrong, maybe there’s another reason she named the character “J.D.”?)

I’ve always felt that Noel Coward’s observation, “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is” holds equally true for movies. This clip is immensely colorful, extraordinarily potent… but cheap (not quite “Hee-Haw” cheap, but I wouldn’t want to live on the difference).

Finally, again, out of respect for the style & grace of the opposing voices, I’ll get it down off the shelf (yes, I have a copy) and look at it again. If I’m wrong - and it has happened (1962 IIRC) – I’ll sneak in an apology on P22 of the Brooklyn Paper (Gristedes Edition).

Trish said...

No sale, Y. You're wrong in your description of J.D as "a strained and unoriginal reincarnation of James Dean".

To which James Dean do you refer? In his brief career, Dean's image was that of a shy misfit, troubled and misunderstood. T&L's J.D. is a larcenous, albeit charming, a**hole.

Yojimboen said...

Nothing nefarious, Trish, I’m referring mostly to the physical mimicry of Dean in Giant; “strained and unoriginal” to my eye because I’d seen it several times before; cf (as I mentioned) George Peppard in Home from the Hill. Be assured I think Brad Pitt is a supremely talented actor, a master of his craft, but here, his preoccupation with what I saw as mimicry I felt got in the way of an honest performance.

Gloria said...

Hey! Hey! Leave the poor pigs out of this! (At least you get swell Pata Negra hams out of them).

Men are... Well, men! (For better and for worse)

DavidEhrenstein said...

In his brief career James Dean's image (onscreen and off) was that of piping hot piece of Rough Trade. Read "Live Fast, Die Young -- The Wild Ride of the Making of Rebel Without a Cause " for all the dish.

Anagramsci said...

thanks for the Ella Raines link, among other fine items!

Phantom Lady is a longtime favourite--as is Strange Affair of Uncle Harry

Gloria said...

Agreed, and apart from miss Raines, we also have the always enjoyable Mr. Sanders (just for this once out of his usual cad roles), and Geraldine Fitzgerald, as disposed to have an unhappy entourage around her as she did in Wuthering Heights

hamletta said...

Uncle Harry is terrific.

I once found the promotional materials online, and Lord, did they play up the incest angle!

It's an odd film.

Marilyn said...

Wow, I only just got here, after spending a lot of time closing our Chicago office and setting up my home office. Thanks so much for the shout-out and kind comments.

Trish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yojimboen said...

“…If people only realized that Paramount in the ’30s and ’40s was the golden age of American wit…”

Today’s Mo Dowd column could have been written just for us. Incisive, smart, funny and terribly depressing.

X. Trapnel said...

Indeed, an excellent column. I'm utterly baffled by the stardom (is it that? Do these films make money or do they keep producing them no matter what?) of Jennifer Aniston, who to my eyes resembles a female Ann Coulter.

Is there anyone here who dislikes B at T? I do, very much, chiefly for the treatment of Patricia Neal, all of 2-3 years older than the principles, an old bag apparently. I believe Wasson's book is subtitled "The Making of the Modern Woman" or some such. Did Loy, Arthur, Lombard, [K] Hepburn, Russell et al. labor in vain?

Yojimboen said...

Someone should mention the two giants we lost this week:

Robert F. Boyle died Monday at 100.
Production Designer/Art Director, who designed about 100 movies - everything from North by North-West to Abbott and Costello Go to Mars.

Complete filmography here.


Legendary Italian screenwriter, Suso Cecchi D'Amico died last Saturday in Rome. She was 96, and basically created post-WWII Italian Cinema – she invented neorealism.

A partial list (about 1/5th) of her credits:

Rome, Open City
The Bicycle Thief
Miracle in Milan
Bellissima
The Lady Without Camelias
Senso
Le amiche
Le notti bianche
Big Deal on Madonna St.
It Started in Naples
Rocco and His Brothers
Boccaccio '70
Salvatore Giuliano
The Leopard
Casanova 70
Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa...
The Taming of the Shrew
The Stranger
Lady Liberty
Brother Sun, Sister Moon


Complete filmography here.

Yojimboen said...

Sorry, Robert F. Boyle
correct link here.