Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

“The time to make up your mind about people is never.” 

            I have seen The Philadelphia Story once before this. The first time I really did not think anything of it I thought it was good but that was all. This time around I again thought it was good and I now have an opinion on the acting. I do not think The Philadelphia Story is the best film from any of the main cast members but it is good and I like seeing all the actors working together.
            Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) and C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) married impulsively. When the film opens he is walking out the door when she bends one of his golf clubs and then he pushes her in the face onto the floor. Two years later Tracy is set to marry a man named George Kittredge who absolutely adores her. Tracy is not interested in publicity at all she does not want her wedding splashed all over the place while George wants it to be announced and at least one photo from the wedding in the paper. George is nouveau riche while Tracy’s family comes from a long line of distinguished rich people. He plans to run for government but Tracy does not want him to do that because of publicity.
            Dexter has taken a job with the gossip magazine Spy. The magazine’s editor Sidney Kidd has Dexter get into Tracy’s wedding along with reporter Macaulay “Mike” Conner (James Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey).  Mike is not happy about having to report like a gossip columnist. He is an author and wants to publish meaningful books but he knows what unfortunately pays the bills. Dexter takes the reporter and the photographer to the Lord house saying he has an invitation from Tracy’s brother Junior who is away in South America.
            Dexter’s presence at the Lord house is uncomfortable at best for Tracy and her mother. Her younger sister Dinah though is absolutely thrilled to have him she missed him. Tracy quickly knows what Dexter is up to so she decides to play a trick with Mike and Liz when she first meets them, she even gets Dinah to join in the joke.
            Throughout the day Tracy is faced with so many uncertainties. Dexter keeps talking to her sentimentally about their marriage and how happy they were together when they were not fighting. Mike is nothing but sweet to Tracy and she is sweet to him in return. That night Mike gets very drunk. He goes to Dexter’s house at four in the morning to talk to him about Tracy and their whole deal about covering their wedding. Dexter does not want to write the story any more than Mike and Liz want to cover it. Mike drunkenly lets slip that Sidney was given an award he should not have gotten and Dexter decides to use this as blackmail to not publish the story.
            Mike goes back to the house along with a drunken Tracy. The two continue drinking and talking outside her house until all hours of the morning. She had written George a letter telling him she cannot marry him they are so different they would not work. Tracy drags Mike to go swimming like she and Dexter used to do after parties. Both Dexter and George show up at the house to see Tracy. They arrive just as Mike is bringing Tracy back to the house after she fell asleep. He brings her up to her room for the night.
            The next morning Tracy and Mike are horribly hung over. She wakes up thinking that she did something she should not have with Mike the night before. Dexter has a talk with her about marrying George and her feelings and emotions get all stirred up. George shows up anyway in his suit in case Tracy should change her mind but he eventually sees he cannot marry her.
            In the end Tracy remarries Dexter and Mike sees that Liz loves and cares for him a lot.
            Sorry for the crappy review, I watched the film on Monday with my grandma and I did not have my notebook to write down notes on the film. I forget most of it and the details. Maybe I do not remember it because I kind of find the film forgettable. There are plenty of scenes that were funny like Mike going to Dexter’s house drunk off his rocker and his time with Tracy in the backyard.
            Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn have a strange chemistry. They made three films before this one together which I have seen and I think they had a strange romantic chemistry. I think that comes from Hepburn because she was the most unromantic leading lady that it is hard to see her acting as if she has to be romantically or sexually attracted to the opposite sex. Cary Grant could have had chemistry with a stick he was so romantic and such a good actor. I mean come on, Ingrid Bergman said she wanted to get with Grant and Ginger Rogers wrote in book that she often wonders if she would have married him if she was available when they met on the beach one time while they were both on vacation. The man just oozed charm and was so handsome. Their lack of chemistry could have been due to their characters as well because it seemed like Hepburn and James Stewart had great chemistry in their scenes together. James Stewart was just awesome in this film. I am not a huge fan of his he gets on my nerves too much in his films but I was loving him here he was so funny and so full of angst. I was cracking up with him when he goes to Dexter’s house drunk. I read that he adlibbed his hiccups and did not tell Cary Grant. You can see that Grant wants to laugh so bad but he keeps his composure. Those too were very funny together I can just imagine the outtakes they must have been cracking each other up so much. Stewart won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in this film and he completely deserved it. The Philadelphia Story is considered Katharine Hepburn’s best film. I will agree with that even though she does tend to over act in some scenes.      The film is based off the stage play of the same name that was written for Hepburn. I have issues with her after reading a biography of her, I could see what issues of her life the story was addressing. To me this just made her look like a spoiled not very good actress who needed to give her acting a boost. Hepburn had a lot of ego issues and this was just one of them.
            Ruth Hussey with her quickness saying her lines steals all her scenes. I have never seen her in a film before this and I like her a lot I would like to see her in more films. Liz was a good character she was the sane one in the middle of the chaos. Roland Young as Tracy’s uncle Willie was hilarious. He was an old playboy and went around pinching all the girls’ behinds. He even got Liz in a scene.
             The Philadelphia Story is not a bad film in the slightest it is very well written and extremely well acted by the entire cast. But there are points in the film where it became a bit boring to sit through. Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart continually test my patience whenever I watch them in films and did so a few times here. The Philadelphia Story is worth watching for the cast at least once and for if you want to call yourself a classic movie fan.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Silent Sundays: The Phantom Carriage

“Lord, please let me soul come to maturity before it is reaped.”

            The Phantom Carriage by Victor Sjostrom is one of the best silent films I have seen. Every time I would go to a Barnes and Noble that sold DVDs I would always see The Phantom Carriage. The other day I took at the DVD to see what the film was about. The plot sounded so interesting I had to see it. From beginning to end the film is just so brilliant. The way the plot plays out is so good and so well done from the direction to the acting.
            On New Year’s Eve in a small Swedish town, a young Salvation Army sister Edit is dying in her mother’s home after a year of being sick with consumption. She asks Sister Maria to look for a man named David Holm (Sjostrom) she must see him before she dies. Sister Maria goes to look for him at his home but only his wife is there and she looks sad and miserable. The wife goes with Maria to see Sister Edit and just breaks down and cries when she sees the dying young woman.
            In the graveyard three drunkards are sitting around waiting for the New Year. One of the men asks the other if they heard about the Phantom Carriage that is driven by the last person to die on New Year’s Eve. He tells how his friend Georges was a happy go lucky fellow but last New Year’s Eve he became worried and upset. He told a group of men the story of how the one who drives the phantom carriage must do so for a year and every day he does his duty to him it is like a one hundred years. Unfortunately Georges is the one who dies at the last stroke of midnight that year.
            A man runs over to the graveyard and finds David among the drunken men. It was David who was telling the story of the Phantom Carriage. The man tells David that Sister Edit is dying and wants to see him. He just laughs in the man’s face and says that he is not going. The man leaves but the two other drunkards tell him he that he should go to Edit. David becomes angry and the three men get into a fight. David is hit on the head by one of the men and falls onto something on one of the stone slabs and dies. Georges comes riding over in the Phantom Carriage and calls David’s soul to rise out of its prison. Georges tells David that he must face the consequences of his evil ways.
            David used to be a good man with a loving family and a young brother. Georges was the one who is to blame for David’s horrible slide into alcoholism. David was thrown in jail for drunken behavior. Before he was to be released the warden showed him that his brother has been thrown in jail as well when he murdered someone while he was intoxicated. The warden tells David he should do the time for his brother since he was the one who introduced him to drink. David is truly sorry for what he has done and willingly accepts to do the time. When he is released he cannot wait to see his wife and children. But when he returns home his wife and children have left him. He is extremely upset that his wife has left him without facing him, he could have handled it if she had faced him instead of just walking out without a word. While David searches for his wife his hatred for her grows as well as his revenge.
            David’s revenge and hatred was brought with him in his wake when he arrived in the small town. On New Year’s Eve he goes to a Salvation Army house for the night. Sisters Edit and Maria are the caretakers. The house has just opened and David is their first guest. Edit has no problem helping David she sees him as a man sent by God for them to take care of. Edit spends the night sewing his jacket. Maria has warned her that she should not being so that because of all the germs and filth that are it. In the morning David wakes up to find his cot all mended. At first he seems to be happy about it but very cruelly rips it in front of Edit. She tells David very calmly to come back next year because she prayed to God for him to have a good year.
            The year is miserable. David is so far from the man he used to be. He is cruel and nasty to everyone around him. He is sick with consumption and does not care who catches it. David goes to a Salvation Army rally where Edit is. He goes just to make fun of everyone and is yet again cruel to her. His wife is there as well. Edit goes to her not knowing who she is but when she finds out she tells David and has them reunited. The reunion goes well for a while then David falls off the wagon and is a miserable drunk yet again. His wife tries to leave him but she collapses and cannot get out of the apartment. Eventually she does leave him and lives in a small shack with her children.
            Georges tells David that he must see Edit before she dies. He ties David up and brings him to the house. Edit sees Georges as Death and begs him for a reprieve telling him to come back tomorrow because she has to see David one last time to save his soul. Georges tells her it is too late for David. David manages to come near her bed. He feels terrible to see this innocent caring young woman die because of him and how awful he was to her. Georges tells her soul to be released from its prison and Edit dies.
            After the sad scene Georges takes David to his wife’s home. He makes David watch as his wife plans to poison herself and the children because of him. She cannot go on living because of him and what he has done to not only her life but that of Edit’s. David cries out praying to God not to let his wife kill herself and the children. He begs for forgiveness and mercy with all his might. Georges sees that David really does mean what he has to say and that was all his had to see. Georges takes David back to his body and is brought back to life. David runs to his wife to save her. He tells her he saw Edit die, the wife does not believe him and he breaks down crying saying he wants to truly change but she does not believe him. The wife tells him that seeing him cry she does believe that he wants to change.
            The film is so much better than I have described it trust me.
            Victor Sjostrom  wrote the screenplay, directed the film, and also starred in it. The man did a magnificent job. His direction was perfect as well as his acting. I liked the character of David because he was the anti hero. You hatred him for being so mean but at the same time you wanted him to find happiness you do not want him to remain dead you want him to right all his wrongs. He made such a wonderful film. All the actors were not bad at all. So many actors and actresses during the silent era over emoted using histrionics which is why some people stay away from silents (and I do not blame them sometimes the bad acting is way too bad to sit through) but in this film there is not one person who does.
            The scenes of the ghosts where you see them as transparent figures are chilling. The coloring of the film just adds to the creepiness of the figures. The film is put into the horror category just because of the ghosts. But I look at it as a horror of a person having gone astray and for a short time thinking he could not redeem himself and truly become a better person to those around him. That to me in itself is a horror and a hell worse than anything I can imagine.
            The Phantom Carriage is one of the best silent films or any film I have watched. I think I have said more than enough about how great it is that I cannot say anymore. I can only suggest that you see The Phantom Carriage for yourself to see why I like it so much (youtube). 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

“All those kids yours?” 

            Like most of my generation the first time I ever heard of the term or a movie called Cheaper by the Dozen was when the remake in 2003 came out. I actually had no idea the 2003 version with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt was even a remake until I became a fan of Myrna Loy. The only reason I sat through the newer Cheaper by the Dozen nine years ago (holy crap it seems like yesterday!) was because Tom Welling played the oldest son and at the time I was in love with him. Other than me loving Tom Welling I remember very little about the movie, well I do remember the line when someone asked Bonnie Hunt’s character about all her kids she replied “… well after the sixth one they just kind of walked out” haha.
            The original 1950 Cheaper By the Dozen with Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb as the parents is very different than the 2003 version. Sure I guess the newer one modernized the story but I found the 1950 one to be nicer. For one the original is set in the 1920s when the real Gilberth lived (the story is based off their lives). It has more of an innocence and sweetness to it. The story really has no running plot like the new one, it goes through different periods and stories of the family’s life just as in real life.  
            Frank Gilbreth (Webb) is an efficiency expert who is sought after the country over. At the beginning of the film the family only has eleven kids and they live in New England. Frank comes home from work one day and tells his family that he was offered a new job in Montclair, NJ (hey Montclair!! Tell why this is special to me later). The kids are not happy at first but they have no choice. They all pile into their oversized car Frank has nicknamed Foolish Carriage because it is always breaking down.
            The family moves into a very nice large house in Montclair. The house is just right for the family of thirteen but not small enough for two servants to work. Frank calls a family meeting to discuss everyone having chores. The kids seem never to have done chores before and do not take kindly to starting them now. Lillian tells them if they do not make some sacrifices they will have to make cutbacks in other places like buying clothes or ice cream. Instead of wanting those things cut out of their lives all the older kids agree to help out.
            One day one of the kids gets sick with whooping cough. Some of the younger kids come home from school to see the doctor’s car parked outside and automatically think there is another baby on the way (which there is but it is not said). Frank says that there cannot be sickness in the house because it is like an epidemic. Which turns out to be the case, all eleven wind up sick at home with the cough.
            The twelfth baby to be born into the family is a boy Lillian and Frank name Robert. The scene in the hospital where Frank sees his new boy for the first time is very sweet. They talk about how from when they were married they planned on having twelve kids.
            On a summer afternoon a woman from the local birth control center comes to the house to speak to Lillian. The woman had spoken to a neighbor of theirs and told her to visit Lillian who is also a psychologist. Lillian plays a joke with the woman. She gets Frank telling him who is in the house and he calls down all the children. The woman is in shock that all the kids are theirs.
            The oldest daughter and child Ann (Jeanne Crain) is growing up. The family goes to the beach for a summer vacation and while there sees a boy from the high school she goes to is a life guard there. Ann also sees the girls who are wearing modern bathing suits that show a little more skin while hers is one from the teens. That night she cuts her hair and tells the next sister that she is doing it for her and the other sisters so that it will be easier for them to be free of the old ideals. Frank at first has a fit but eventually things calm down and he reluctantly accepts his daughter is growing up. During the school year Ann is asked to the prom. Frank refuses to let her go alone and chaperones her at the dance. All the girls and even some of the boys like Frank and sit and talk to him. They all think he is a great man.
            Frank has been given a great opportunity to travel to London and some of Europe to give lectures. The family is sad to see him go for such a long time but they know how much this opportunity means for his career.
            The ending is very sad for the family and comes from left field. For the entire film you come to love every single member and then the sadness comes and numbs even you like it does to them.
            I like the closeness of the family. I am the oldest of four and we are all very close no matter how much we argue and say we hate each other. I missed my brothers and parents terribly when I was away at school only an hour and a half away and when I went away to London for a month. The scene where Frank goes to the dance with Ann reminds me of me and my dad. My dad gets on my nerves to absolutely no end we fight and argue more than anything. The problem is he does not know when to stop and thinks he is so funny when he is not. All our friends love our dad and think he is absolutely hysterical. Sometimes I will give in and give him a hug especially when I am upset over something. I always know that he will be there when I need him.
             I must warn you that while the film portrays the father as loving and somewhat close with his children you cannot watch it with modern eyes. Frank is very much a man from the early 1900s. As I said he was somewhat close with his children but not what we think of as a warm and loving relationship today. In terms of being modern and ahead of his times Frank did want all of his children to go to college including the girls. Lillian was most definitely an early 1900s wife taking care of the children and pretty much doing whatever her husband says and letting him take control of situations. But she was also a working woman she was a rare woman for the time she obtained her degree in psychology which meant she went to college. She also had the inner strength and courage most women had at the time. In the end she becomes the strong mother and the strong woman who takes over and is respected.
            Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb were great in their roles but they would not have been my first choice to play Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. I kept thinking to a quote of Loy’s as I watched her play mother to all these kids: “Some perfect wife I am. I've been married four times, divorced four times, have no children, and can't boil an egg.” Loy just looked uncomfortable and awkward playing this part with all the kids around. I noticed even when she was in The Thin Man films and in the third one they made Nick and Nora have a kid, she just looked awkward around kids. I am so used to her as this bold 1930s woman matching wits with the guys and spouting off these wisecracks that no matter how many times I see her in her later roles as “the perfect wife” and mother she just seems awkward and odd. Of all her films I have seen Loy never gave any of her performances less than one hundred percent. Her best scene is at the end where Lillian has to become the rock of the family. She puts on a brave face and tells her oldest children what she is bravely going to do and how they can help. That to me was pure, wonderful Myrna Loy. No matter how many times she has had to toughen up in her films that never gets old because that is her and she played the quiet bravery and toughness to perfection. In her autobiography Loy tells how she got the part: “… Daryl Zanuck offered me the role of Lillian Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen. What an irony! Zanuck, who typed me as the sloe-eyed exotic at Warners, casting me as the wholesome mother of twelve.” This quote is interesting to think about especially if you have seen any of her early films where she played the exotics or the mean girls. Loy definitely came a long way from those days. She goes on to say how she should have fought like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford not to play perfect wife roles with children but at the time she was more concerned with her political work. She did read the novel by the real Lillian Gilbreth and it did seem like a good role for her.
            Clifton Webb to me is just an odd choice to play a father. The man always seems like such a flame in his other films and like Loy seems so awkward around children. But what do I know he was perfect for the role. Jeanne Crain wrote for Loy’s autobiography that while Loy was calm and submissive Webb was all over the place he was very demanding and temperamental. Loy herself wrote that he would try to move her out of the way of the camera and bully her a bit like he would when he acted on stage and this almost drove the cinematographer off the film. Crain wrote that while Webb would be everywhere else Loy remained quiet and let Webb fly off the handle and that it is amazing to see how great their chemistry was on screen.
            Jeanne Crain was adorable as Ann. I never saw her in a film before (or so I think) I thought she was very good and I very much look forward to seeing her in more films. Crain was not very happy that the studio was making her do this film because she had just made the dramatic film Pinky and really liked doing that she did not want to be playing a fifteen year old. Zanuck got to her though by saying that soon no one would be asking her to play a fifteen year old anymore. Crain said she had a great time making the film especially working with Loy who she had adored for years and looked to as an idol.
            Oh, let me tell you why I loved the Montclair, New Jersey location: I went to college at Montclair State University and had many fun nights driving around the town with my roommate and her friends. The main entrance to the campus is on this gorgeous road called Valley Road with all this beautiful houses and a nice little town center. As soon as I saw the house in the film I wondered if it was on Valley Road. Even the houses down the side streets are beautiful. If I ever make enough money to buy a house in Montclair I will definitely be moving up there. Also any New Jersey reference I love, especially in old films and this one even more so because no one was making fun of the state.
            Cheaper by the Dozen is a very well made film with a great cast down from Clifton Webb, Myrna Loy and Jeanne Crain to the youngest kid. I cringed a bit with all the kids because I could never imagine living in a house with that many kids (my great-grandma is the youngest of sixteen!). There are several themes throughout the film but I liked how the family was very close. I loved Cheaper by the Dozen pretty much right from the beginning and I am sure when you see it you will too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kept Husbands (1931)

Kept Husbands is a pre-code film but not the kind of pre-code that I love watching where there is subtle or sometimes not very subtle risqué moments and lines. This pre-code is dull and boring in every way. Shame on me I should have known that a film with this title would be about the battle of the classes and a man who is literally bought by his wife. Almost as soon as the film started I knew I was in trouble but once I start watching a movie I have to see it to its bitter end.
            Dorothea “Dot” Parker (Dorothy MacKaill) is a spoiled rich girl who is always out looking for a good time. Her father owns a steel plant and he invites a young employee with a great future at the plant named Dick Brunton (Joel McCrea). Dot wanted nothing to do with meeting Dick she wanted to go out but as soon as she sets her eyes on Dick she sinks her claws in deep. She bets her friend Charlie that within four weeks she can get Dick to marry her.
            Well in four weeks Dot meets up with Dick, charms him, proposes to him, and he agrees. Her father gives Dick a high position within the company along with a raise. The new couple vacation across Europe on the father’s dime whenever they run out of money. Dick is not happy to be relying on Dot’s father for money he wants to be the man and pay for things not the wife.
            When they come home Dot’s father has bought them a huge house and throws a party for their home coming. At work Dick has nothing productive to do except to look at a book on strategies to play Bridge. The father gives Dick the important job to talk to important men to sell them the idea to build a bridge in St. Louis. Dot is upset with him because she has several engagements coming up including that night where her friends are giving a party for them. She refuses to go to St. Louis and tries to guilt him into not going but it does not work. Upset Dot does not go to the party instead she goes to Charlie’s apartment for some drinks and a role playing game. By two in the morning Dot wants to go home telling Charlie that she has to be on an early train to St. Louis.
            Dick did not make it to the train because he did not want to leave things off on a bad note with Dot while he was away. He called the country club where the party was to be twice and on the second time he is told that the party has disbanded. He hears a car, looks out the window where he sees Dot getting out of Charlie’s car. When he asks where she was she says the party but the morning papers say that the party givers were thrown in jail the night before. Dick tells Dot that he is tired of being a kept husband he has lost his pride and his manhood and she pretty much tells him she does not care and he angrily leaves the house.
            The next day Dick cannot be found. Dot’s father is very upset with her because Dick is a good worker and good man and that she has ruined his pride. Dot truly realizes what she has done when her father knows where Dick has most likely gone. The father catches Dick at the station before the train to St. Louis leaves. When Dick walks into his room on the train Dot is there. She tells him she is very sorry and is willing to be with him no matter what he makes and asks if they can start over again with him this time proposing to her.
            Needless to say all is happy in the end.
            Joel McCrea and Ned Sparks who plays a border in Dick’s mother’s house were the only good actors in the film. McCrea’s acting is not even that great compared to his other films. Dorothy MacKaill was horribly annoying and not a very good actress whatsoever.
            Kept Husbands is films only to see if you are a big Joel McCrea fan other than him skip the film altogether.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Good Neighbor Sam (1964)

“No, I didn't take a shower at Jan... What do you think I am? Some kind of a sex maniac?” 

            Before I start my review of Good Neighbor Sam I must give a huge thanks to Monty over at All Good Things for suggesting this movie. I saw that he was on a Romy Schneider kick so I asked him which of her films I should see and this along with The Trial were the ones he highly suggested. So thank you very much Monty for the suggestion I had a good time watching the movie.
            Good Neighbor Sam has the type of plot I am completely not fond of- mistaken identity and the screw ups that go along with it. Ever since I first saw Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’s film Top Hat a few years ago I have absolutely despised the mistaken identity story. I feel they get so dragged out and just ruin everything for me. I am giving a big “but” for Good Neighbor Sam because I was laughing at a lot of the scenes and I enjoyed all the performances (even though I cannot stand Jack Lemmon… more on that later). This plot was just silly and goofy and completely funny because no one really got mad and broke up over something ridiculous, it came close, but a split did not occur.
            Sam Bissell (Jack Lemmon) lives in a suburban area of San Francisco in a nice quiet neighborhood with his wife Minerva, two daughters, and two ducks. His life is nothing to exciting. Every day he travels into the city with his neighbor where they both work for an advertising agency. Sam works in the art department where he feels after so many years there he is getting nowhere and also feels he should be getting a raise. He asks the office manager if he could speak to the head of the company but that will not work.
            The heads of the company and their yes men are having a problem with their latest client Mr. Nurdlinger (Edward G. Robinson). Mr. Nurdlinger sells dairy products and he is not happy with the way the company has sleazed his company in their ads they came up with. Nurdlinger wants a nice wholesome family man to run the campaign because he feels that is the type of man who will create a wholesome add that the ordinary people will see and associate with. The only man who one of the yes men can think of is Sam. As Sam was asking for his raise the office manager tells him that he is wanted in the boss’s office. Sam is given the account based on his apparent family values.
            While Sam is at work she picks up her old college friend Janet Lagerlof (Romy Schneider) from the airport. The two friends have no seen each other in years. Over lunch Janet tells Minerva that she was married to a man named Howard, “a man every girl should be married to once.” When Sam comes home all happy he walks into the bathroom where he thinks his wife is taking a shower but he embarrassingly finds out that Janet is the one in the shower. The three of them go out on the town for drinks that night to celebrate Sam getting the big account. Sam gets totally wrecked drinking so much champagne.
            Janet has rented the house next door to Sam and Minerva while she sorts out her grandfather’s will with her money hungry cousins. Janet stands to inherit fifteen million dollars from her grandfather only if she is happily married. This news is horrible for her because she does not love Howard at all she hates him. Her lawyers tell her that in California it takes six months to get a divorce so technically she is still married things should be fine for her to get the money. The cousins unexpectedly come by the next morning while all her grandfather’s belongings are being moved into the house. Sam has come by in his pajamas and robe to see where Minerva was since she was not in the bed when he woke up. Janet pretends that Sam is Howard and that they are very happily married. The cousins are still outside in their car when Sam has to leave for work. To make everything look legit Minerva brings Sam his clothes and Janet drives him to work while the cousins follow them. Before Sam walks away from the car he sees Nurdlinger and his bosses outside. They think Janet is Sam’s wife so to keep up appearances they kiss. This image comes back to haunt them when Nurdlinger wants to put their pictures on their billboards since they are a clean cut wholesome husband and wife.
            Things really start to hit the fan the next morning when Janet notices a privet eye’s van parked in front of the house. Also, the real Howard comes to the house looking for Janet.
            All ends well though. Hopefully you have seen some movies in your life that you can guess that Janet gets the money with Sam’s help. In return she gives Sam and Minerva a million dollars for the trouble she caused.
            There were so many funny moments in the movie that I really cannot name just one and I really do not want to give them away. The whole situation never really went overboard it just stayed level and witty and perfectly silly.
            Jack Lemmon I actually enjoyed he usually drives me nuts in his movies but I really liked him here. To me he is too much the bumbling idiot or the push over and after a while that gets to be way too much and I cannot stand that. But his bumbling works perfectly here because that is the character this poor guy is thrown into this complicated situation and he bumbles through it the best he can for a few days.
            Romy Schneider I have kind of seen in a film before. I have to say kind of because I rented a DVD on Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unfinished movie The Inferno (let me just put it out there that the only reason I even rented this documentary was because Berenice Bejo acts out a few parts of the script with another French actor and I love Berenice so much that I just had to see it for her. I am glad I did I would up loving it). Parts of the movie was actually filmed and it survives. It was supposed to tell the story of an older man who married a younger woman and they live in a hotel at a seaside resort. The husband begins to become jealous of anyone that speaks her including women and children and when he was to go in a fit of jealousy the film would go from black and white to color. There are hours of test shots of Schneider showered in glitter, filmed under different lighting and special effects. As a documentary the DVD was fantastic. The movie would have been one of the best psychological movies ever but Clouzot was taking so much time to film the movie and get everything together that production stopped after he had a heart attack in the middle of filming. There was no sound on the film it is basically silent. Schneider in her scenes either from the movie or the test shots looks gorgeous. I had heard of Schneider before I saw this documentary so I figured now that I have seen a little something of her I would like to see an actual movie of hers. Once Monty recommended Good Neighbor Sam and The Trail I immediately found them to view. Good Neighbor Sam was the first one to finish and Monty raved about it so I thought why not give that one a try first. I am so glad I did because Schneider was so adorable and so good. She was so pretty with her blonde hair and incredibly light green eyes. I loved her accent especially when she got angry. She was a very good actress I look forward to watching The Trial and whatever of her films I can find.
            Good Neighbor Sam, though a type of film I would not normally enjoy, I had a great time sitting through it. All the performances were fantastic. The best part is that the plot did not get out of hand or over the top. Good Neighbor Sam is one of those almost perfect comedies or movies (I say “almost” because some parts dragged) that I plan on watching over and over again. I also plan to show some of my friends which I do not normally do with older movies. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Left Hand of God (1955)

“When medicine reaches a point where it never has to walk hopelessly away from a case, then you can criticize the Church because it left some... spiritual illness uncured.” 

            I found the Left Hand of God to be odd. Not odd as in the story or the setting but odd in its casting of the characters. I found this film a while ago when I was searching for Gene Tierney films. When I saw that Humphrey Bogart was in this film as well I did a double take because I could not believe he had been paired with Gene Tierney. I have not against Tierney I adore her but Bogart is usually paired with tough women and in films where he plays a tough guy Tierney, well, she is hard to categorize she was in so many types of films and played so many different characters but she is not the type of actress I am used to see opposite Bogart. You could argue that his pairing with Audrey Hepburn was odd as well but so was the story for him. Anyway, The Left Hand of God was good it was not bad it was just good.
            The film opens on a priest (Bogart) riding on a donkey in the pouring rain. He goes to cross the bridge with the donkey but the small wooden bridge collapses and he falls into the river. We find out that the priest is named Father O’Shea and has come to replace the priest who had passed away. Almost as soon as O’Shea arrived at the mission he is asked by a young nurse named Anne Scott (Tierney) to give the last rites to a dying patient. O’Shea seems a little uncomfortable about doing so but does it for Anne.
            O’Shea is told by the mission doctor that he wants to see the place close down, the people have stopped coming because they do not understand why sometimes their loved ones cannot be saved with modern medicine or how a god can let his priests die. The villagers are very happy to have a priest back at the church they have been waiting to be either married or baptized for a very long time. After his first mass, though, he sees a man enter the gates of the village, he walks over to the man, and beats him. There is no reason at first why he did what he did.
            Anne has been struggling with her feelings for O’Shea. She is ashamed that she has feelings for a priest and that she is committing a sin but cannot bring herself to confess that to him. Beryl (Agnes Moorehead), Doctor Sigman’s wife, can see that Anne has feelings for the new priest and tells her that she should leave and return home to America. Beryl and the doctor also begin to believe there is something strange about O’Shea he does act or think like a priest.
            Jim later confesses to a man in another village that he is not a priest but a man named Jim Carmody who was shot down near the mountains during the war. He was found by a war lord named Yang who treated him well but was still a prisoner. One day one of the men working under Yang killed a passing priest. Jim as captain under Yang was very upset about this especially because he told the other men there was to be no killing unless he said so. When the priest dies Jim sees this as his opportunity to get away from Yang. Jim tells the man he is speaking to that he will write a letter to the bishop to explain what he has done.
            Yang happens to be the war lord who has been threatening the village for some time. When he finds Jim he attacks the village. The doctor wants some of the villagers to fight against Yang but Jim tells him no, that Yang is only coming for him. Jim tells Yang they play the dice game that Yang likes to play, if Jim wins Yang is to let him go and never bother the village again and if Yang wins Jim will work for him for five more years. Well needless to say Jim wins and the people are saved by who they thing is a savior and a miracle.
            The two priests who have come to speak to and replace Jim tell him that he is to leave the village but he must leave with his cassock on so he can keep up appearances. He had told Anne about what he had done the night before. She still feels guilty about falling in love with a priest but feels a bit better knowing that Jim was not really one. Jim leaves the village on horseback to cheering crowds.
            So, not the most interesting or extraordinary story ever but it was not boring and the performances were all very good. Humphrey Bogart, usually a gangster or a wronged tough guy having to prove his innocence, is a character who is good pretending to be a priest. As soon as I read a synopsis of the film I just said “ok” to myself and plugged along. To me it was a little unsettling to see Bogart in a priest’s cassock after seeing him in so many of his gangster films from the thirties and his detective films in the forties. Gene Tierney really has nothing to do in the film besides to add an unneeded love interest aspect that totally does not work. I will say she looked beautiful in color her eyes were so incredibly blue. This is the first time I have ever seen Agnes Moorehead play a character that was not all creepy and strange and that I found weird.
            The Left Hand of God is an alright film. As I said the pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney is a bit odd. It is not a film I would highly recommend tracking down unless you are a big Bogie or Gene Tierney fan.