I’ve never read a full biography about Rita Hayworth. The small amount of information I do know about her has always left me sad. From her earliest years, Rita was dominated by selfish men, starting with her father and continuing on to husbands, and men in the film industry who shaped her image. In many ways, her life was tragic one.
The knowledge of her personal life has always influenced my experience watching her films. I’m usually left with a feeling of both compassion and the melancholy of wondering what if? What if she had been in charge of her own career? What if she had found one man who would protect her instead of using, cheating and abandoning her? It is through this lens I view her performances.
Affair in Trinidad begins with death. The police arrive at a local nightclub to speak with the deceased’s widow, Chris Emery (Hayworth). She is famous all over the island as a dancer whose beauty draws in scores of customers. Initially the police believe the death may be a suicide, but after seeing and speaking with the gorgeous Chris, they suspect foul play. Chris is surprised by the news but not devastated. She and her husband Neil had drifted apart in their marriage. Continue reading “Rita Hayworth Blogathon -Affair in Trinidad (1952)”
This month I managed to watch twenty-four films I had never seen before. Of those, four were foreign classics. Sadly I didn’t love any of this month’s foreign film choices.
Several of these films surprised me in a good way including She’s Working Her Way Through College and Without Reservations. Others surprised me in a negative way. I also watched two film adaptations of Tennessee Williams plays. All in all, September was a productive month for me in terms of classic film. Continue reading “September Classic Film Quickie Reviews”
In order to marry his hometown fiancee, gambling dancer John “Lucky” Garnett (Fred Astaire) heads to New York to make $25,000. His friend and sidekick Pop (Victor Moore) follows him like a faithful dog. On his first day in the city, Lucky has an unfortunate first meeting with Penny (Ginger Rogers), a dance instructor. Not only do Lucky and Pop almost get Penny arrested, but they also cause Penny and her friend Mabel (Helen Broderick) to lose their jobs. Even though Lucky convinces Penny’s boss (Eric Blore) to re-hire her, she is not so easily won over.
But Lucky is in luck because he and Penny are now dance partners. The more time they spend together, the more they begin to fall for each other. However, both try to resist their mutual attraction. Lucky has not forgotten his purpose for being in New York, even though he never mentions it to Penny. As for Penny, her long time admirer Ricky Romero, continues to propose to her despite multiple rejections. Meanwhile Pop and Mabel connive to see Lucky and Penny end up together.
As I searched for my film choice, I found The Night of the Iguana which just happens to star not only Kerr, but also Gardner, and Burton. Both books also referenced this film as it was an important one for both Gardner and Burton though for different reasons. The Burton-Taylor affair had taken the world by storm and the notoriety followed them to the set of this film. As for Gardner, this picture is often ranked as one of her best performances. Continue reading “Deborah Kerr Blogathon -The Night of the Iguana (1964)”
Juliete Hardy is a sensually precocious young woman without anyone to love her. She has been raised in an orphanage and taken in by the Vigier-Lefrancs. Her reputation in St. Tropez is well-known. Madame Vigier-Lefrancs finally threatens to return Juliete to the orphanage after she catches her chatting in the nude with the wealthy but older Eric Carradine.
But Juliete only has eyes for Christian Tardieu, the eldest son and breadwinner of the Tardieu family. Because of this she refuses to commit to Carradine and also spurns the advances of Christian’s quiet but steady younger brother Michel. Christian promises to take her with him when he goes back to Marseilles if she will spend the night with him. But when he breaks his promise he sets into motion Juliete’s revenge. It is a revenge that will entangle Juliete with all three men and almost cost her a chance at the love she yearns for. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -And God Created Woman (1956)”
Cary Grant is the quintessential leading man in both dramas and comedies. But I prefer his comedic films. He had a skill for appearing silly while also still being suave and sophisticated. One of my favorite among his comedy films is Topper. Made just as his star was hitting it’s peak, it is the last film in which he ever played a supporting role.
George and Marion Kerby are a socialite couple with few responsibilities. They live a fast, lively and glamorous life. One of the few drags on their carefree life is the annual board of directors meeting at a bank George owns. Once a year, he is forced to attend by the bank manager Cosmo Topper.
After a night of partying followed by the board meeting the next morning, George and Marion are killed in a car wreck. They are perplexed as to why they remain on earth instead of immediately going to the afterlife. Marion believes it is because they haven’t done anything that would earn them a spot in heaven. So they decide that they must accomplish one good deed. They settle on liberating their bank manager, Mr. Topper from the rigid and regimented life enforced by his wife.
Topper finds his life unwillingly and completely turned upside down by his ghostly friends. But before long, he begins to see the benefit of allowing a little joy and fun into his mundane existence.
I watch many more films than I have time or interest to review. So, I am trying something a little different this month. I thought I would share the list of (new to me) classic films I watched during the month and my brief impressions of each. Let me know what you think.
Without Honor (1949)-An unexpectedly intriguing drama about an adulterous wife who accidentally stabs her lover. Meanwhile, her vindictive brother-in-law tries to ruin her marriage. Laraine Day is an underrated actress in my opinion. Here she stars and gives an excellent performance.
Johnny Rutledge (William Holden) is rootless bachelor who works for a traveling medicine show. When his employer is arrested, Johnny finds himself cooling his heels in a small town, while awaiting his employer’s release.
While out fishing he comes across a small cabin where the five young Chalotte siblings live. The oldest child confesses that his parents are dead and he is trying to keep the family together. Johnny feels sorry for them, but explains to young January that he can’t stick around to help. Past experiences have left him with a distaste for anything resembling roots or commitment. Still Johnny finds himself drawn to these children named after the months of the year. He also finds himself more and more intertwined in their lives.
Arsène Lupin -The Gentleman Thief of French Literature
The gentleman thief is a much beloved character in both literature and film. Arsène Lupin is one such character, first birthed by the pen of French writer Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900’s. Over the course of the next two decades Leblanc published many novellas, novels and even plays featuring his popular creation. These stories were contemporary with another, perhaps more famous, thief and master of disguise, that of the English gentleman Raffles. Without the underrated gift of classic film, I might never have heard of or been introduced to either.
The Arsène Lupin character also made appearances in television, stage and over twenty films. It is the pre-code 1932 version starring the Barrymore brothers, Lionel and John that I fell in love with. According to an introduction given by Dave Karger for this film on TCM, the Barrymore brothers were highly regarded by the two most important men at MGM during the early Thirties. Louis B Mayer believed Lionel to be one of the best actors of his time, while Irving Thalberg felt the same about John. When John’s contract with Warner Bros. expired, MGM snapped him up. He was cast with Lionel in Arsène Lupin, the first of five films in which the brothers would appear together in the years 1932-1933. Of those five only one would also star their equally famous sister Ethel. Sadly, after 1933 there would be no more films co-starring Lionel and John. Continue reading “Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon -Arsène Lupin (1932)”
Though long gone, Judy Garland is still famous for her singing voice and her film musicals. Of her forty film credits, there are only three in which she does not sing or dance. The first of these three is The Clock and it proves that Judy was a talented actress in her own right, even without her musical skills.
Joe Allen (Robert Walker), a country boy turned soldier, arrives in New York City for a 48 hour leave. Immediately, he is overwhelmed by the hustle and bustled of the city and seeks to lessen the effect by making conversation with strangers. While taking refuge in the train station, an accident brings him and Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) together. Though she has other plans, he convinces her to pass some time with him. Feeling compassion for this soldier Alice first allows herself to be talked into a walk in the park, then an afternoon at a museum and finally a dinner date. Alice’s roommate warns her not to fall under the spell of a man who will soon be shipping out.
Alice tries to resist and a few awkward moments and misunderstandings tempt her to abandon Joe. But neither one can deny a strong connection and many things in common. Despite differing plans for their futures, the pair find themselves in love. An accidental separation leaves them both desperate to find the other. Unfortunately, they haven’t even exchanged last names, so their odds of finding each other before Joe leaves the city are very low. By chance, they meet again and are so overjoyed and relieved that they decide to get married. But they have less than 24 hours to complete all the necessary steps so that a judge can marry them. And as Shakespeare wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”