Thursday, November 18, 2010
Classic movies are obviously one of my favorite things (hence this venue for my passion), and although I write about various films and classic stars, there are so many other personal viewings whose good or bad aspects, as the case may be, don’t get recorded on this blog. There just isn’t enough time to write about them all as in depth as I might like. Having said that, I’d like to pass along a few films, recently viewed, but not shared.
The Great Man's Lady (1942)
Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea, with second lead going to Brian Donlevy, The Great Man’s Lady has a cast who can always deliver the cinematic goods. McCrea is the Great Man, Stanwyck, his lady. Babs ages from 16 to over 100 (pictured above), and lives a lot of life in between. Director William Wellman leaves his signature masculine touch, with plenty of rough and tumble historics mixed with emotional histrionics.
Stanwyck was made for this kind of role. She is part Stella Dallas, part Victoria Barkley. Some may wonder why she sacrifices so much for her “great man”, but that’s the nature of old Hollywood. Catch it if you can.
Le Corbeau (The Raven; 1943)
Director Henri-Georges Clouzot was known as “the French Hitchcock” and with good reason. Most famous for 1955’s Les Diaboliques, Clouzot shot Le Corbeau during the war and its somber mood and very adult themes reflect the conditions of his nation at the time. More a mystery than a suspense, the latter characteristic is always present.
Le Corbeau or The Raven is the signature used by a poison pen letter writer in a small French burg, whose main aggression is directed at a local doctor (Pierre Fresnay). The letters accuse, among many other things, the doctor of being an abortionist. Pretty frank topic during World War II, or anytime before the new millennium for that fact. The entire film is frank and extremely well made. Even if you aren’t into sub-titles, if you like film noir at all, I suggest you give this foreign flick a try, as it is very noirish in feel.
Four Frightened People (1934)
I don’t usually write about films that I didn’t really enjoy, but with this particular post, one takes the good with the bad. It’s not that Four Frightened People is particularly bad, it’s just not all that good. Directed by the gargantuan filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, it did not even make back its cost and DeMille counted it one of his box office turkeys.
The story tells of four completely different types from the western world, who evacuate a ship off the Malayan coast, which has been striken with bubonic plague. They make their way to land only to be lost in the deepest jungle, to be hunted by nasty natives and even nastier attitudes among themselves. Think Survivor 1934.
Starring Claudette Colbert and Herbert Marshall, with support by William Gargan and Mary Boland, and made at Paramount, the film looks more like one of the studios attempts at a low grade B flick than a Cecil B. DeMille mega-production. But the thing that really got this blogger, was Claudette Colbert, who never disappoints. As a mousy, high strung old maid teacher (can you imagine!), she is anything but classic Colbert. Then she blossoms into a jungle maiden, wearing a sarong of giant banana leaves or leopard print, in full make-up and coiffure. We are talking Fredrick's of Hollywood in the middle of a jungle folks. But the classic Colbert would appear directly after this film was released, because it was then that she played her career changing Oscar winning role in It Happened One Night. One bright spot is Mary Boland. Looking like Paula Deen’s grandmother, Boland is a comic relief of sorts, a toned down version of her Countess DeLave from The Women (1939). I wouldn’t say “Don’t watch this”, as it is watchable but don’t expect a lot either.
There you have it. Rupert’s recent roster of raves and rants. Which leads me to ask, have YOU seen anything delightful or deplorable of late?