Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Martin and Orloff

“Why’d you try to kill yourself?”

            The question is asked quite a lot throughout the movie. For those of who are special enough to have ever seen the show “Upright Citizens Brigade” then you know right off the bat what will be happening in Martin and Orloff and what kind of insane, crazy, out of control antics all the characters will be getting into. But for those of you who have no seen anything by the UCB… you’ve been warned this movie is odd and ridiculous to all proportions.
            Ian Roberts plays Martin Flam with Matt Walsh playing Dr. Eric Orloff. Throughout the movie we see that Martin is actually the sanity while Orloff is the insanity. Orloff surrounds himself with the oddest of people including his friend Keith who has a problem with shitting in sinks. Orloff drags Martin all over New York starting with a softball game he had to get to in the middle of Martin’s first session. From then on Orloff drags Martin to a hot dog vender where the guy’s face and hands got messed up from oil exploding on them, to a strip club where his girlfriend is a striper and has the best sweet potato pie, and to a theater play that is about someone killing themselves. Orloff is always saying to Martin “this will be good for you” and then something crazy winds up happening.
            As with the show, everything is all crazy from start to finish and comes together nicely at the end. He meets Kasha who is Eric’s stripper girlfriend, her friend and fellow stripper Patti, Patti’s overweight and very well endowed ex-boyfriend Jimbo, a writer named Dan Wasserman, and a patient of Orloff’s with severe daddy issues. All these people come together at the end and help Martin with his problem and standing up to his boss.
            Martin creates character costumes for a marketing company. He was to make an eggroll costume for this company called China Chef. The guy from China Chef is out of his mind and did not want Martin to make a costume with eye holes because he did not want people to be reminded there was a human inside he wanted it to look as real as possible. The actor in the eggroll costume went for a smoke but because he could not see where he was going he walked off a pier and drowned. The guys from China Chef covered the whole thing up and cut eye holes in the costume when the body was brought up.
            On the way back to Orloff’s office in one scene they stop for Chinese food (“It’s the best in the city.”). When they get back to the office Orloff takes out an eggroll and tosses it to Martin. Martin freaks out seeing the eggroll and says “I don’t want to talk to you I want to talk to the eggroll.” We along with Orloff that Martin tried to kill himself because he blamed himself for the actor in the eggroll costume dying.
            Martin and Orloff is one of those movies that you need to have a special kind of humor for. The story is outrageously ridiculous and the characters are all out of their minds in some way. This is a fun movie to watch for all the actors: Kim Raver plays Kasha who is affectionately called “Strippy” by Orloff, Amy Poehler plays Patti, David Cross is Dan Wasserman, Matt Besser is Martin’s boss, and Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Janeane Garofalo play the Southern Ladies a dinner theater play. This movie was before Amy Poehler was on Saturday Night Live, you can tell because her top front teeth were not capped yet. It was odd in one part to see her kissing Ian Roberts in the scene when Patti takes Martin back to her place, I can’t explain what makes the whole thing awkward and weird but it just is.  
            If you are in the mood for some dark, ridiculous, non sophisticated, humor watch Martin and Orloff. This is a movie I show all my friends at least once, it’s different from all the other comedy movies that have been made in the last ten years. Martin and Orloff is fun to watch when you think the weight of the world is upon you and nothing has been going your way, you see Martin and what he is going through and you realize that your life no matter how insane it is at the moment is nothing compared to what he goes through.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Killers (1946)

“If there's one thing in this world I hate, it's a double-crossing dame”
he plot for The Killers is one we can still see in many movies today. After watching this you can probably name at least five movies that have this kind of story and twist. What makes The Killers different from the movies of its kind today is you truly do not know who did what until the end. The movie is told as a series of flashbacks as a detective tries to solve the murder of a man.
            The beginning of the movie is sinister: two men are driving down a dark street with booming and mysterious music playing in the background. The two men pull up to a diner in Brentwood, NJ and go inside. They tell the man behind the counter they are waiting for a man named Paul Lund aka the Swede. They know he goes to the diner after work so they wait for him.
When Swede doesn’t show up at his usual time the two men leave to go look for him. Someone from the diner runs to Swede’s place to warn him that two men are coming after to him to kill him. Swede doesn’t care he said he did something wrong and now he has to pay for what he did. The two men eventually come for Swede and shoot him.
            Swede had a small life insurance policy so his death has to be investigated. John Reardon is sent to investigate Swede’s death. He tracks down people from Swede’s past and finds out that he was a boxer named Ole Anderson. He connects with an old friend of Swede’s named Sam Lubinsky who is a detective. Swede’s career ended one night when after a fight the bones in his hand were badly broken. Both Sam and Ole’s girlfriend at the time Lilly were at the fight. After the fight Ole started to hang around with some shady people. He took Lilly to a party one night at the home of “Big Jim” Colfax. There he sees the most beautiful woman he has ever gazed upon: Kitty Collins. From that first meeting his life is never the same again the beautiful woman took such a hold on him that he could think no one and nothing else.
            Everything Swede does is for Kitty. She and Jim play upon Swedes feelings and set him up for one of the greatest double/triple cross story ever.
            The moment this film was over all I said was “wow.” It has got a great story and a great twist. I truly enjoyed every minute of the film. I liked how we see a man lusting after a woman instead of always seeing women who are usually lusting after a man and will do anything for them. Swede risked everything on Kitty and his desire to be with her and was eventually killed for it. Kitty was truly a femme fatale men died for things that she had a large in role in.
            This was my first time seeing Ava Gardner in a film and she was perfect as the femme fatal. With her looks you could tell her character was going to be some form of trouble. She was so gorgeous in everything she wore. The smoldering, lustful looks towards Swede are to die for. I had always expected Ava Gardner to have this beautiful, sexy deep voice so when she first spoke in the film I was a little taken aback by her somewhat high voice… that does not in any form take away from her sexual appeal. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Big Jim is planning out the robbery of a factory and Kitty says something that he does not like so he says “Keep your mouth shut or get it slapped shut” and she comes back with “If you slap me you won’t live to see morning”, I love the way Ava Gardner says this line and how it shows Kitty’s feistiness and how she’s not afraid of Big Jim.
            This was Burt Lancaster’s first film roll. I believe that this is my first film seeing him as well and he did an excellent job. He and Ava Gardner had such good chemistry together and he was so good playing the lustful man after Kitty.
            Richard Siodmak directed the film with his fabulous Noir touch. He captured the lustful looks of Kitty, Swedes desire and lust for Kitty, and all the emotions of both characters so perfectly. 
            The Killers is based off a short story by Ernest Hemingway. The only part of the screenplay which comes from the short story is the beginning when the killers are in the diner looking for Swede. The rest was written by Anthony Veiller and an uncredited John Huston who would later have a successful career as a director.
             Definitely see The Killers if you are a fan of Film Noir. The Killers is one of those films that set the bar for all other crime and noir films that were to come. It is an excellent example in acting, writing, and directing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Made For Each Other (1939)

Made for Each Other was one of the over 500 films made in 1939. Compared to the dozen or so classic films which came out that year this one does not stand out in any grand way. But what Made for Each Other lacks in grandeur is made up by how real and true to life the story is.
            John Mason (James Stewart) works in a law firm where he has done pretty well for himself over the years. He has dreams of making partnership and making money to be comfortable. Judge Doolittle- John’s boss and head of the law firm- sends John to Boston to look up a case file. While in Boston John meets a woman named Jane (Carole Lombard). They quickly fall in love and marry immediately. The first time the audience sees Jane is when John brings her over to meet his mother. John’s mother does not know that the two of them are married. Mrs. Mason likes Jane but she does not approve of John marrying her. As John tries to tell his mother the best he can that he and Jane are married Jane comes right out with and says it. Mrs. Mason has a bit of a dramatic panic attack at this news. As Mrs. Mason goes up to her room, John and Jane agree that she can come live with them.
            Jane and John for their honeymoon decide to go to Europe for two weeks. John has been working on an important case in which he knows a lot about. Before he left he made sure to get a continuum so he would not have to rush back. John and Jane are on the ship with ten minutes left to leave when a man John works with, Conway, comes on board telling John that the case will go ahead next week that the continuum did not work; it’s either the case which could make John’s career and make him a partner or screw things up by going on his honeymoon. The couple stands on the deck waving goodbye with a crowd of people to the leaving ship.

            The couple, along with John’s mother move into a small apartment. They are having Judge Doolittle, his daughter, and Conway over for Thanksgiving. Things are not going smoothly at all: Mrs. Mason is driving the maid out of her mind to the point where she wants to walk out and she’s also driving Jane up a wall telling her what to do. John has been out trying to find a bottle of wine which is does but it is not enough to last the whole evening. Dinner did not over how Jane and John had planned: the maid wanted to leave and needed to be paid so John had to get up and find money for her and Judge Doolittle told John that he was giving the partnership to Conway not him even though he won the case he was working on.
            The next scene is Jane finding out she’s pregnant. She writes John a little letter (she did this at the beginning when John went back to work even though she was married and living with him) in the style of a poem with a baby pin attached to the paper. She goes to the court where John is and when the court lets out for the day she gives John the letter. When John reads the letter he is very excited, they hug each other in happiness.
            A few months later, Jane and John have a baby boy. They get into a taxi at the hospital to go home. Jane stares amazed at the baby and keeps asking over and over again “Isn’t he beautiful?” A mounted police officer comes by to see why the car has not moved yet when he looks through the roof from the window and sees the new parents and their baby. He says he’s sorry for being loud and then yells at the other cars to move along and to be quiet!

At home Jane tries to give baby Johnny a bath and Mrs. Mason is yet again telling Jane what to do. The baby’s clothes are hanging on a string in the bathroom to dry make the room even smaller and crowded then it already is. John keeps asking if he can do anything which makes Jane more frazzled. Jane sends John to get the baby a bottle, when he comes back he tries to feed the baby by making him hold it but obviously newborns cannot hold their bottles so Jane takes over.
            Times are getting harder. Jane encourages John to demand partnership and a raise from his boss. To pep John up Jane asks “Are you a man or a mouse?” to which he answers “A mouse.” He is up all night going over what he will say to Judge Doolittle; Jane sees this as she lays bed and has a proud look on her face. The next day John goes to Doolittle to tell demand his raise but Doolittle tells him some bad news: everyone, including himself, will be taking a 25% pay cut due to hard times. That night John comes home drunk, slamming the front door, turning the lights on waking the baby who unfortunately has to sleep in the dining room, and dropping the milk bottle in the kitchen. Jane doesn’t get mad at him she knows what has happened instead she tells him good morning since it is 3am and asks him if he’s comfortable once he goes to bed because he still has his shoes on. As she takes off his shoes, John starts going into a drunken rant about how he can never get any peace and quiet when he comes home. When he’s done, Jane tells him that she ran into Judge Doolittle and knows he did not get the raise. She calls him a fool and tells him she loves him no matter what that money is not all that matters. She feels bad that she made him go to Judge Doolittle and nothing came of it. He says to her that he’s no good for her and that he has let her down.

            Now the bills are piling up and notices are being sent out to the couple. Stress is getting to the both of them now. Jane sits in a park with their maid Lily. Jane tells Lily that she may have to her let go but Lily says she will stay no matter what. Lily tells a great metaphor: a watermelon is life it’s full and good and the seeds are money and other bad things so they should be spit out. She says “Never let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon” and that she’s got her watermelon but she is choking herself on the seeds.


            On New Year’s Eve John and Jane are waiting for Conway to call so they know where he is having his party. They are all dressed up nicely and ready to go but Conway never calls. Upset, Johnny decides to go out without taking Jane but she runs after him. They go to a restaurant where there is a big party. They talk about their problems when John tells Jane that he wants to end the marriage. Jane is heartbroken; she says Happy New Year sarcastically and leaves. John stays behind and gets sucked into the party at another table. Jane comes rushing back in a panic; the baby is very sick and has been rushed to the hospital.

            Before they had left to go out we see that John’s mother has a cold. She keeps saying she got it from the baby he’s the one who has had a stuffed nose. Jane feels the baby’s forehead she senses something is a bit off but she dismisses it. At the hospital the doctor tells John and Jane that the baby has pneumonia. There is a serum that can save the baby’s life but it is in Utah where there is currently a big snow storm and nobody can get out.
            To get the serum it will coast five thousand dollars. John does not have that kind of money so he goes to Doolittle in the middle of the night. He wakes up his boss begging him to help; he loves his son and does not know what would happen to him if his son dies. Doolittle agrees to help and gives John the five thousand dollars. The pilot of the plane in Utah tells John over the phone that he cannot fly out not in a bad snow storm. John pleads him and asks the man what he would do if one of his kids was sick and there was something that could cure them. The pilot says no but another pilot who is not married says he will bring the serum to New York.
            The pilot has some engine problems in the weather and his plane explodes. He ejects himself and parachutes to safety but hurts his leg in the process. He finds a house nearby where the owners take him in. He asks where he is and they tell him he is 35 miles outside of New York City. The pilot faints in exhaustion and relief. The medicine is given to the baby just in time.
            The last scene of the movie is John in Judge Doolittle’s office with the partners. He has finally been made partner in the law firm and he is being tough with his demands and what he feels should be done with the firm. Jane comes in all excited to say that little Johnny has just said his first word. Everyone looks at him and tries to coax him into saying “dada.” He finally says it and the movie ends.
            Although this is not the greatest of films ever made it drives reality home. Nothing has changed in the 71 years after this film was released; people are still struggling with economic problems and money issues. The message of this film is what everyone needs to be reminded of now again that it is not money that is important it is the love of family and being together that counts. We all want things in life like a nice car, that apartment on Park Ave in NYC, or that perfect job making great money but that does not always happen. Sure not having a lot of money makes life tough but if you have the love of your family and friends and your health that is all that matters in life.
            I relate a lot to this film. My family has always struggled to make ends meet. My mom cleans houses and my dad is a teacher and they support me and my three younger brothers. My parents live pay check to pay check and literally have to budget everything they can’t just get something like a pack of pens from Staples on a whim. They always taught my brothers and I that as long as we are all there for each other and we are happy that money does not matter. I could not have asked for any better lesson in my life.
            In the film, Jane (kind of jokingly) tells John that when he gets his raise that she wants a fur coat and he says to her that he will get her a nicer ring than the one she has. In a scene later in the film she tells him that the ring and the coat and all the small things they want doesn’t matter as long as they have each other.
            Right now I can very much relate to the stress of money problems as I am making my way through college. I have been an undergrad for five years now and need to go off to grad school next year to get the job that I want. I know I will be paying for my college education for the rest of my life but as long as I am happy with my job and my life that is all that matters.
            In the film, John and Jane go through what every couple goes through. They are suffering financially in every way but no matter how much John can doubt that he has let Jane down she still loves him and he still loves her. By the end they get through their troubles and things get better with John’s job.
            James Stewart and Carole Lombard were able to take a not so amazing script and unglamorous story and make it believable and great. I have only seen Carole Lombard in Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith (which I love and will eventually review) where she plays a funny character. At the beginning of the film you can see her screwball side come out but towards the middle and especially the end of the movie she is serious and dramatic. She did an excellent job with the dramatic scenes (even if her acting was a bit over the top at some points) I was very impressed. My favorite scene of the movie is when the baby is in the hospital and a nun takes Jane into the hospital chapel. Jane says that she is not a Catholic but the nun tells her it is alright and leaves Jane to pray. Jane prays to Jesus let the baby live that he means so much to her and John and that they can’t seem to do anything for him but that He can help. Carole Lombard was to me totally amazing in this scene she played it so well.
            I say definitely try to see Made For Each Other. If you look at other reviews online they will say that the movie is not that good and that you’ll only see it if you’re a Carole Lombard or James Stewart completist. I like both actors and will admit I downloaded the movie to see the two of them together but now that I know what the film is about and what a great message of perseverance and love it has see the film mostly for the story and what it has to say.  

“It is an indisputable fact that this mundane, domestic chronicle has more dramatic impact than all the hurricanes, sandstorms and earthquakes manufactured in Hollywood last season. What demands solution is why, when Hollywood can make pictures as sound as Made for Each Other, it practically never does. [Stewart and Lombard’s characters] become two of the most memorable personages who have ever come to life upon a strip of celluloid.”TIME

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

I'll never let you go. Never, never, never.

Leave Her to Heaven is a story about a psychotically jealous woman who “loves too much” and wants whatever she loves all to herself.
            The film starts off as Dick Harland (Cornell Wilde) arrives back at his home called Back of the Moon. He has been in jail for two years. As Dick rows away to his home, his lawyer is asked what happened to him by a man sitting with him. From here the story of the movie is told as a flashback.
            On a train to New Mexico, Dick Harland meets a beautiful woman. She stares at him and he notices. She apologizes telling him he looks so much like her father. The two get to talking when he comes and sits next to her. He says something to her and she realizes she just read them in her book. He says he was the writer of the book and they introduce each other. Her name is Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) a young socialite.

When the train pulls into the station Ellen says it is her stop, Dick is so taken by her he doesn’t realize the stop is his as well. Once they are off the train they are met by the same people; Ellen’s mother and step sister Ruth and their family friends. Dick is going to their home to start writing his new novel.
            At the house, Dick sees that Ellen is wearing an engagement ring. She’s currently engaged to Russell Quinton who is running for district attorney. A few days later Dick is sitting outside typing up his novel. Ruth is above him hanging some flowers on a walkway and the two start to talk. From the pool next to where Dick is, Ellen swims up. He notices the ring is not longer on her finger. That night Russell comes down to New Mexico to talk to Ellen. The talk does not work and he leaves in silence as everyone in the living room watches him walk out the door. Before Russell had come, Ellen announced to everyone that she and Dick were to be married. This comes a surprise to Dick so after Russell he talks to her. She proposes to him and soon after they are married.
            Dick has a teenage brother named Danny who (for an unknown reason) cannot walk well on his own. Instead of going on a real honeymoon, Dick and Ellen honeymoon in Georgia where Danny has been staying in an outpatient home. Ellen seems to like Danny. She spends a lot of time with him and helping him move around. When Dick suggests they all go home to Back of the Moon Ellen goes to the head doctor pleading with him not to release Danny to tell Dick that Danny is not ready to leave. The doctor said there is no reason why Danny has to stay any longer he can go home for a while. Ellen says that she and Dick have not had any time alone together since they got married they just came to Georgia and they’ve been with Danny. When Dick walks in Ellen goes from being sort of angry to happy for show.
            At Back of the Moon, when Ellen wakes up in the morning she immediately goes over to Dick’s bed and wakes him up to spend some time with him. The walls are paper thin, Danny knocks on the wall and he and Dick start talking. Ellen is at once upset. The next scene is of Ellen in the kitchen with the house helper Thorn who is a long time friend of Dick’s. She tells Thorn that she can make breakfast and set the table herself she did not need any help (this goes back to a talk she and Dick had about once they settle somewhere they can hire a maid. Ellen doesn’t want one because she wants to do everything for him). As she sets the table with Thorn she tells him of a nightmare she had: she was out on a rowboat in the middle of the lake while Dick was in the water, Dick started to drowned but she could not move the boat her arms would not move the paddles she just stood and by the time she realized Dick was in serious trouble he had drowned.
            Later on, Ellen walks over to where Dick has been typing up his story. She does not like that a lot of his time has been spent writing the book and not with her. All the sudden a boat is coming up the lake, in the boat is Ellen’s mother and step-sister Ruth- Dick has surprised her by inviting them over. Ellen is furious and the whole time they are at the house she is on edge and nasty. Dick gets along nicely with Ruth; teasingly he calls her The Girl With the Hoe after he saw her outside gardening one day. A few days later Ellen’s mother tells Dick that she and Ruth are going to be leaving. He asks what’s wrong with Ellen and the mother replies “There’s nothing wrong with Ellen it’s just that she loves too much.” Dick is now beginning to see there is something wrong with his new wife.
            Ellen and Danny sit on a boat in the lake. They talk about going to her family home in Bar Harbor. Danny is going to be attending school in the town. Ellen says that Dick does not want to leave Back of the Moon before his book is finished that Danny can go on before them. He says that he’ll wait for Dick and Ellen so the three of them can go to Bar Harbor together. The look on Ellen’s face is pure hatred and anger. Danny says he is going to swim all the way to the other side of the lake. Ellen follows behind him in the rowboat encouraging him to keep going. Danny starts to get tired and his muscles begin to cramp. Ellen sits and stares in anger and anticipation as Danny drowns in front of him. She hears Dick whistling at the house, she immediately yells Danny’s name, throws off her sunglasses and jacket and jumps into the water. Dick jumps in the water and swims out his brother.

             Dick sits on a beach in Bar Harbor saddened by the loss of Danny. Ellen cannot understand why Dick is out there all alone. She does not realize that killing Danny only made things worse; Danny is all Dick can think about. Ruth suggests to Ellen that maybe they should have a baby to bring some happiness. The wheels in Ellen’s head start turning; she thinks if she does get pregnant that Dick will spend more time with her and she will just be his main focus.
            A few months later Ellen is still unhappy; she can’t go out anywhere, in her mind the baby is making her a prisoner and she feels Dick is not paying any attention to her at all. To top off her jealousy and hatred her father’s former laboratory has been turned into a nursery for the baby and she goes out of her mind. One day she sees Dick and Ruth coming back from town together where it seems like they were having a good time together without her. You can see the jealousy on her face and the wheels turning in her head as she creates a new scheme.

            Ellen is her room with Ruth. She can’t stand the sight of herself and the thought of the baby. She says to Ruth “Look at me, I hate this little thing. I want it to die.” When Ruth leaves Ellen comes up with an idea; she put on a long nightgown and sandals with heels and walks to the stairs. The evil, nasty look on Ellen’s face when she comes to the top of the stairs is heart stopping you cannot believe this woman is going ahead with this awful plan. In the hospital the doctor tells Dick that Ellen is alright but the baby boy did not survive.

            A few weeks later Dick’s book new book comes in the mail. Ellen opens it and she sees the dedication says “To the Girl with the Hoe.” Her jealousy starts up with a fury. Ruth told Dick that he should have dedicated the book to Ellen and all of his books for that matter but he did not listen. Dick comes back and has it out with Ellen. He cannot understand why she is jealous with everything and questions everything he does. During this talk, Ellen confesses to killing Danny and to not wanting the baby and purposely falling down the stairs. Her reasoning is she did not want anything coming in between the two of them. Dick cannot believe what she has just said and tells her he is leaving her.
            The night Dick leaves Ellen goes down the basement where her father’s laboratory equipment has been moved. She takes out his container of arsenic and exchanges it with something from the bathroom. She then sits down and writes a letter.
             Dick is at the train station when he hears his name on the loudspeaker telling him he has a call. It’s Ruth she tells him Ellen is really sick. He goes back to Bar Harbor where Ellen is literally on her death bed. Her mother tells Dick she was fine this morning but all the sudden has gotten very sick. He goes to her, she tells him she loves him and that she wants to be cremated and her ashes scattered like her father’s.
            Ruth is later held for the murder of Ellen. The letter Ellen wrote was to Russell Quinton telling him she believes Ruth is after her and she is afraid of her sister. A bag of full of arsenic was found in the pocket of coat that was owned by Ruth which she had let Ellen borrow. Russell believes what Ellen had to say because he still has feelings for her. The evidence is damning against Ruth: Ellen was the only one who took sugar in her coffee and she had left her Will that she wanted to be buried in the family crypt not have her body cremated. The cremation of the body and her trip she had booked a few days before to Mexico makes Ruth look very guilty for murder. Russell yells and yells at Ruth asking her is she is in love with Dick. Finally she breaks down and confesses that she was in love with him. Dick is asked by on the stand. The first time Russell asked Dick if was in love with Ruth he denied it but now that Ruth had said something he confessed as well. He went on and told the jury that Ellen was crazy she would be the type of woman to kill herself and that out of jealousy had killed Danny and killed their baby as well. Ruth is let off for murder but Dick gets sentenced to two years of jail time as an accessory to murder since he did not call the police right away when Ellen told him about murdering Danny.
            The flashback ends with the end of the lawyer’s story.  The man sitting with the lawyer asks if she will be waiting for him and the lawyer says yes she will. The lawyer says that Ellen had lost, it was the only time she had ever lost anything.
            Dick rows his boat to his house. Ruth sees Dick rowing up to the house and she runs out to the dock and they hug.
            The whole time I was watching this film I could not believe how someone could be so insanely jealous like Ellen. My mouth was open the whole time. The film just took a woman’s obsessive love and jealousy and wove such a great story.
            Gene Tierney was excellent as Ellen Berent.  She did an amazing job throughout the whole film but the scene where Ellen kills Danny was her best. Her facial expressions alone were incredible. You know you are watching a great actor or actress when their facial expressions tell more than words ever could. Gene Tierney was up for Best Actress in a Leading Roll for Leave Her to Heaven… as evil as her character was she should have won. This is why I love acting and seeing actors/actresses play different rolls than what you’re used to seeing. Seeing Gene Tierney as a jealous, evil woman was shocking to see but made the film that much more enjoyable (and shocking) to watch.
            Gene Tierney’s costumes in this film are so pretty. The white coat and sunglasses she wears on the boat when Danny drowns was so pretty (is it weird to say that her character’s anger made her look very pretty?). See her in Technicolor was really cool. She was gorgeous no matter in black and white or color.
            Leave Her to Heaven is what a Film Noir is about; it’s about crime, love, passion, and a deadly Femme Fatale.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Women (1939)

"Mary Haines, don't you have any pride at all?"
"No pride at all. That's a luxury a woman in love can't afford."

For this movie I’m not even going to write out a detailed plot it would just be totally confusing and I would feel like a gossip whore myself. This film is literally all about women from the writers to the cast. The first five minutes of the movie I got a headache from all the yapping that was going on.

            Basically it’s a movie about women gossiping about everyone else’s lives but their own. They all go to this beauty club and just gab about everything and everyone. All the women are all kept and have nothing better to do while their husbands are at work.

            Norma Shearer’s character, Mary Haines, is the only who has any common sense and doesn’t really gossip unless her friends come over for lunch. One day she decides to go to this club that everyone goes to and the manicurist starts gossiping away and she lets slip that this lady’s husband, Steven Haines, is seeing this woman who works behind a perfume counter. This manicurist doesn't know who Mary is so Mary gets up all upset and walks out. By this time all her friends know about her husband’s affair but she refuses to talk about it and she doesn’t want to bring it up to her husband.
            Well things get crazy and Mary divorces her husband and she’s still totally in love with him and he is as well but their pride is getting in the way. The very last scene of the film is Mary seeing her husband in a club and they get back together.
            My god this film made me really hate women and all their gossiping!!! In 71 years nothing has changed at all!!
            The only good thing about this movie is the cast; it’s like an all star movie of classic actresses. You have two of silent films’ greatest stars, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. This was my first movie seeing both actresses. Norma Shearer was excellent I really liked her and her character was very good, you don’t feel sympathetic or annoyed or angry with her you just feel for her. Joan Crawford… she was a good actress but the woman is SO ugly! She played a very good antagonist as the other woman. Joan Fontaine was my age when she made this movie (what have I been doing wrong with my life?!), she’s outrageously over dramatic but ridiculously adorable. The next year she would go on to make Hitchcock’s Rebecca (I am very jealous). Paulette Gooddard I now love as well. She played a very good, feisty character. Rosalind Russell was such a pain in the ass but she was funny. The best part of the film is when Paulette Goddard and Rosalind Russell start fighting each other and Goddard bites Russell's leg!!! Definitely a classic scene to watch I cracked up so much. 
            Anita Loos, author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, wrote the screenplay. I read Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Women is almost exactly like the book. All the characters except for Mary Haines were all gold diggers who were used to money and getting whatever they wanted and they were all socialites with their names in the gossip columns.
     The clothing for this film was alright. Adrian who designed the costumes for The Wizard of Oz made the costumes. There is a scene where some of the women go to a fashion show and the show is in Technicolor. I have seen some Adrian’s designs for other movies and they were gorgeous but I did not like much of the clothing in this movie especially the ones Rosalind Russell wears they were hideous!!
            I will say some of the dialogue is hilarious and very fresh:
Edith Potter: Weren't you going to Africa to shoot Nancy?
Nancy Blake: As soon as my book's out.
Sylvia Fowler: I don't blame you, I'd rather face a tiger any day than the sort of things the critics said about your last book.

Countess DeLave: Get me a bromide - and put some gin in it.

Sylvia Fowler: Oh, you remember the awful things they said about what's-her-name before she jumped out the window? There. You see? I can't even remember her name so who cares?

Crystal Allen: Thanks for the tip. But when anything I wear doesn't please Stephen, I take it off.

Crystal Allen: There is a name for you, ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel.
                        (^^^ one of my favorite movie lines!!)

            I know the film is called The Women but there could have been a guy thrown in at some point it was too much with all the ladies, the only male who was part of this film was the director, George Cuckor. All the estrogen needed to be toned down a bit.

            The Women is good to watch once just for all the actresses who star in the film.