Archive 363 - May 2017
Previous Posts that appeared on the front page of cinemagraphe.com
Frightened Doll - 1961
"Frightened Doll" - The Barbara Stanwyck Show, broadcast April 24, 1961 on NBC
Directed by Jacques Tourneur, written by A. I. Bezzerides
Stanwyck is an aging quasi-prostitute named Hazel Wexley haunting the bar where Wallace Ford (as bartender Harry) works. She gets picked up by visiting Chicago mobster bagman Jake Lytell (Harold J. Stone) and they travel back to his hotel room (he complains he is feeling quite ill, gripping his stomach with a puzzled look on his face, and would she help him make the walk?)
The two tired adults begin talking, and Hazel lets slip out how badly she wishes she could go home, how long she's been barely surviving in the city, and how she's too poor and too embarrassed. What would it take to finance her trip back home? Asks the genial mobster with the constant stomach pain: about a thousand dollars, she says, then she could do it in style.
He's promptly willing to give her the funds for this fantasy trip that she's been nursing in her head for years, but when he gets up to move to a locked room where presumably his money is stashed, he dies of an apparent heart attack and slumps up against the wall. Hazel tries to help him and then finds the dead man's black bag, which is stuffed with cash. She takes it, leaves the dead man and smoothly glides out of the hotel back to her little rented room and starts dreaming of going home. But then...
This isn't exactly The Trip to Bountiful but it comes from the same source, the wish of an aging woman to be able to return home (Stanwyck played a similar but much darker role in Frtiz Lang's 1952 semi-noir Clash by Night), the twist here is that when the mobster owners of the money come looking for what happened to Jake's black bag, the need to go home (and hide) takes on a practical dimension that has nothing to do with nostalgia and emotional satisfaction.
Wallace Ford's bartender is a sort-of guardian angel and general nice-guy who can see where everything is leading if Hazel doesn't get out of town, and though he temporarily stalls the pair of mob scouts searching for the cash ("I just mix the drinks" he claims, blowing them off) it's this fast thinking bartender who provides an ironic (and comical) solution that caps off the story in an unexpected way.
Director Tourneur puts Stanwyck through the paces, going from a black-mane of hair as a worn femme-fatale in a shiny sheath-dress and then (through a shampoo rinse) into the familiar silver-haired and smiling Ruby Stevens.
Daredevils of the Red CircleKino has released a 4K Blu Ray of the famous 12 chapter cliffhanger serial from1939 starring Bruce Bennett, Carole Landis and Charles Quigley.
Rossellini War Trilogy on Blu Ray
Criterion has put out a 3-film Blu Ray set of Roberto Rossellini's "war" trilogy from WW2: Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero.
Sabrina - 1995
Sabrina - Released December 15, 1995. Directed by Sydney Pollack
The Sabrina (Julia Ormond) of Sydney Pollack's remake of the 1954 Billy Wilder film is still a lost innocent, the Larrabee family are still blindingly wealthy and dwell in a kind of Kingdom by the sea, and the problem of managing wealth and the lives attached to it continues to vex the eldest son of the family, Linus (Harrison Ford in this tale, Humphrey Bogart in the older one).
Pollack's film gently updates Wilder's era into one more modern, and some of the caustic bite is toned down, but the same problems rule the story - Sabrina starts off with a radically over-the-top infatuation for the younger Larrabee brother David, and this keeps her in an emotional stasis that a trip to Paris is meant to overcome: it doesn't exactly do the job.
Pollack's film emphasizes what was more shaded in Wilder's movie, which is that Sabrina becomes a bridge to real life for the always-responsible Linus Larrabee, and a glittering and beautiful distraction for the younger brother who is engaged to someone else.
Jay Adler and Anne Whitfield - 1964
The Case of the Ugly Duckling - Perry Mason - Broadcast May 21, 1964
Orphaned rich girl, toy factory heiress Alice Trilling (Anne Whitfield) is in the process of self-destructing over a host of personality and psychiatric issues when she notices a particular napkin-artist at a bar she frequents who is always drawing her when she comes to the place at night. Confronting him angrily, a small argument moves to the artists studio where he commences on a formal portrait, accompanied by the two's continued on-and-off verbal fighting.
Director Arthur Marks doesn't have a lot of run-time (50 minutes) to make a complex story fit, but Adam Lazarre (as the artist Anthony Usher) provides a nice performance as the bar-room artist who gets framed as a gigolo and proceeds to adopt the part as circumstances require, Whitfield as the struggling girl trying to get in control of her own life, and Raymond Burr as the gravitas-heavy lawyer Mason who has to untangle the mess of not just the usual murder, but (by 1964 a near constant in the series) the messy personal lives of the people involved.
Sunset Boulevard, 1950. Directed by Billy Wilder
William Holden and Gloria Swanson at the pool from where a floating Bill Holden will narrate Wilder's (sometimes comical) gothic-horror story of classic Hollywood and the rigors of stardom.
Movie-internet pioneer Ken Yousten called this movie the classic "biting the hand that feeds you story" from Billy Wilder. Wilder's script (with Charles Bracket and D M Marshmann also writing) seems to suggest that Hollywood stardom can give you everything but a usable future.
A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove - Released Sept 30, 2016 (USA). Directed by Hannes Holm
This Swedish language film which adapts from the novel of the same name seems like it picks up from where Goodbye, Mr Chips (1939) left off. Both feature a man who has a difficult relationship to a world that moves faster and in a dramatically different way than they're able to emotionally understand, and both men are dramatically able to make connections because of bright, smiling women who come into their lives
Those basic similarities aside, A Man Called Ove is not about a school teacher (like the famous Donat film) though a schoolteacher is a major element of this film from 2016. Ove (Rolf Lassgard) deals with the irritation and disasters of modern living in his small suburban Swedish community by trying to correct people who break the residential rules (such as driving cars on pedestrian paths) and also trying repeatedly to commit suicide by hanging in his living room when he is otherwise not occupied with other tasks (director Holm gives these episodes some real tension but eventually this always becomes a comic moment). The suicide is an effort to reunite himself with his dead wife, but other responsibilities keep barging into his existence and he is a stickler for getting the job done right (he eventually switches to suicide by shotgun blast, this too goes awry when a young gay man of his acquaintance comes to his door seeking help because his family have kicked him out).
When Ove is unwillingly recruited to be an erstwhile grandfather for a Persian/Swedish couple with young daughters, he goes at it with efficiency but irritation, which the young girls delight in, and Ove doesn't realize how much he is being dragged into a full life he thought he was ready to exit.
Original Page May 3, 2017
- The Stand In - 1937 - Leslie Howard, Bogart and Blondell
- The Black Book - 1949 - Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl
- Who Done It? - 1942
- The Viking Queen - 1967
- Little Miss Marker - 1934
- Get Out - 2017
- Man's Favorite Sport
- Braveheart 1995
- Bringing Up Baby - 1938
- The Comedy of Terrors - 1963
- Day of Anger - 1967
- Central Park - 1932 - Joan Blondell has trouble on her hands when she gets suckered into helping a gangster to rob a charity event. Though this film stars Joan and Wallace Ford, it also features the American Great Depression which is the background for the hunger and desperation that flavors the film.
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