Friday, May 31, 2013

Born to Be Bad (1950)

“You love only one person in the world Christabel, and it's the love of a lifetime.”

                        Born to Be Bad is a film I have been wanting to see for some time once I found out Joan Fontaine was in it. How could I not see a film with this title starring Joan Fontaine who usually played good girl characters? I had heard it was not a very good film but in quest to see as many films of Fontaine’s as I can (and as I usually do with actors/actresses I like) I needed to see it. I never had high expectations for Born to Be Bad and I am glad I did not.
            Christabel Cain (Fontaine) is moving into a place of her own. Her rich uncle has gotten her a job and is sending her to business school. Her aunt had two people she knows Donna and Gobby (Mel Ferrer) help to set up the apartment before she arrived. Christabel shows up a day earlier than everyone had expected. Donna had planned to go to the theater with her fiancé Curtis Carrey. They were not going to go because they could not get Christabel a ticket but she makes them both go she will be fine.
            Christabel goes to make a phone call but a man named Nick is also trying to use the phone in the kitchen. She goes into the kitchen. Nick is a bit of brute and he is rude. He tells Christabel Donna discovered him he is an author looking to publish his book on China. Later on the two become good friends. She tells Nick that her parents died when she was little and instead of going to live with her rich uncle she chose to live with her poor aunt.
            Gobby has been using Christabel as a model for one his paintings. He gets it out of her that she has dropped out of business school. Curtis called in the middle of the painting session he wants to see Christabel later at night. Nick comes by the studio. He wants to take her out but she lies that Gobby wants her to stay late. Eventually Nick wins her for the night.
            Curtis had wanted Christabel to come out with him to help pick out a gift for Donna. Donna is constantly bringing up Curtis’s money and it drives him crazy. Christabel does not bring up his money. Donna begins to believe that her one time friend is coming in between her and her fiancé. She finally has enough and goes to London for some time. Donna is not happy that Curtis tested her about giving up her rights to his money. She knows Christabel is looking after herself and has no issues with what she is doing to her and Curtis. After Donna leaves Christabel goes into her room and smiles a malicious smile that her plan has worked Donna is now out of the picture.
            Christabel’s uncle is not happy with what she did in breaking up Donna and Curtis. She begs him not to send her home to her aunt there is a ball that night that she wants to go to. She really just wants to see Curtis alone. After the ball Christabel finds Nick at her house when he was supposed to be in Boston. He did not want to leave her. She tells her other former friend that she is marrying Curtis.
            Curtis really loves Christabel but she does not love him. She makes Curtis’s life miserable and becomes manipulative to not only him but everyone around her.
            Eventually Christabel has screwed over both Curtis and Nick and in the end she left all by herself with no one to give a care for her.
            The acting was not bad at all. Joan Fontaine was excellent as this quiet manipulative woman who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. She looked gorgeous in every outfit she had on. Mel Ferrer was perfect as a painter he had the look for it.

            Born to Be Bad was boring. Sure the character of Christabel was bad and had cruel intentions but she was not that bad that the title “born to be bad” should have been given to her. I say give Born to Be Bad from 1950 (not the excellent 1934 Pre-Code starring Loretta Young and Cary Grant) at least one viewing just to the acting. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Three Loves Has Nancy (1938)

Three Loves Has Nancy is one of the funniest most enjoyable classic comedies I have seen. From beginning to end I was so entertained and had such a good time watching it.
            The film starts off with Malcolm Niles (Robert Montgomery) planning how he wants to propose to his girlfriend Vivien. He rehearses all the things he plans to do such as shutting the lights off and how the food is to be brought out. Unfortunately Vivien arrives with her mother and completely ruins Malcolm’s night. The mother says she heard her daughter and Malcolm were engaged and wanted to see what he looked like. Now Malcolm is freaked out he desperately wants out of the relationship. He is a writer and goes to his publisher Bob Hanson (Franchot Tone) to have him sent out on a book signing tour across the country.
            Nancy Briggs (Janet Gaynor) goes to one of the signings with her mother. She tells Malcolm she does not plan on reading his book and totally throws him for a loop. Nancy’s grandmother like Malcolm and even invites him to Nancy’s wedding that night. In the middle of the signing he receives a cable from Bob that Vivian and her mother have left New York.
            Nancy’s fiancé George has skipped town. He just left her a note saying he is in New York City. She thinks he is in trouble and not with another woman like the rest of her family thinks. Her grandfather gives her money to go find George. Malcolm is on the same train Nancy gets on to travel to the city. She drives Malcolm crazy especially when she thinks she leaves her pocketbook behind in a store. Being a nice guy Malcolm goes to try to find the bag in the store the train leaves the station. Once in the city, Nancy goes to the place where George worked. She finds out from the manager that George is believed to have stolen from a customer. She refuses to believe he did it on purpose he must be in some trouble.
            Unfortunately Vivian has come back to New York once she found out Malcolm was coming back from his tour. Bob is not happy about seeing her at all and neither is Malcolm when he finally arrives home. His butler tells him there is a young woman crying in his bedroom. Nancy has come to see him. She has genuinely lost her bag this time someone stole it at the Missing Person’s Bureau. Malcolm goes to kick Nancy out but lets her stay when he hears Vivian say to a friend she and Malcolm will be announcing their engagement soon. He tells his former girlfriend about Nancy when they both hear Nancy and the maid arguing. The maid did not know she was a real guest and tried to kick her  out of the bed. Nancy sees Bob who is literally crazy drunk (he was thinking there as a bird in the house and he was trying to catch it) and brings him his room on the other side of the apartment. When Bob and Nancy leave Vivian tries to make Malcolm jealous by calling another man that she will be over soon. Malcolm is over the moon that she is going to see the other man.
            The next morning Nancy makes Malcolm a nice big breakfast. He asks where his cook has gone and she says she let the cook go because he was not saving any money on the food he was buying. Malcolm is now cranky he does not want any breakfast at all. Bob comes by. He tells Nancy to move into his place. She cooks for him and he cannot get enough. Malcolm comes over to Bob’s. He is writing a story based off Nancy. He finds she is helpful with bouncing his ideas about the characters and storyline off of. Bob keeps calling about what he wants for dinner. Malcolm gets mad at his friend and he tells him he is taking Nancy out for dinner. He does take her out so they can write up some more of the story. Over dinner she tells him that the whole time she has been with him and Bob she has not thought about George.
            Bob is so crazy about Nancy he wants to marry her. Malcolm thinks Bob is crazy and has him go see their old college roommate who has become a shrink. He gets Bob to go by blackmailing him that he will send out notices to find George and he will never see Nancy again. Needless to say the plan backfires especially because to “cure” him will take two years. When he gets home Bob calls his family and Nancy’s family to come to the city to see them get married. When the families arrive there is a class scuffle between them. To make the scene ten times crazier George arrives out of nowhere. Nancy confesses she does not love either Bob or George she loves someone else.
            The last scene is of Nancy and Bob on a train after their wedding.
            All three main actors were absolutely fantastic. Janet Gaynor was ridiculously adorable and wonderful. No other actress could have played the part of Nancy Briggs so perfectly. Gaynor made playing the character who is naïve but know what she wants and is very caring seem so effortless. I loved seeing Robert Montgomery be so flustered. He is usually plays cool, charming characters and here his character did not know what to feel or how to act to this woman who just randomly came into his life. Franchot Tone I am liking more and more whenever I see him in a film. I liked how he played Bob towards the end when he is crazy in love with Nancy. Gaynor, Montgomery, and Tone were all perfect together
            Three Loves Has Nancy is one of those classic comedies that should be more well known. It is not a perfect comedy (even though Franchot Tone is great in this his character was not really needed as much as he was and the story is a bit uneven) but is just fun to sit through. I cannot wait to own Three Loves Has Nancy on DVD eventually.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Deep Valley (1947)

In Dee Valley Ida Lupino plays a young girl named Libby Saul. Libby lives out in the middle of nowhere in a valley no one wants to buy. Her mother claims to be sick and stays upstairs so she will not have to speak to her husband. Libby’s father stays downstairs and works the farm. She has a stammer and her parents are always criticizing her asking why she cannot talk like a normal person. Libby did not always stammer. When she was younger she saw her father hit her mother. Her father and mother have not been in the same room together for seven years.
            To get away from her parents and the farm Libby likes to go out into the woods where it is quiet. She goes down to the edge of a cliff by the water and watches the construction work that is going on. Some of the men working the site comment that Libby has been following and watching them for the last four miles.  Some of the men working on the site are criminals. Libby likes one of the criminals a guy named Barry (Dane Clark).
            Some nights during the week her father has an officer named Barker come over for dinner. Libby’s mother pushes her to be sociable with the officer. She finds out that the criminal she likes is being put back in jail for another five years instead of two because he hit an officer on the work site. Barker likes Libby. He asks her out but she becomes afraid and runs away into another room. Her father yells at her, she talks back, and he hits her. Her mother calls for her. Libby has had enough. Before she goes upstairs to her mother she puts her raincoat on to leave. Libby tells her mother that she is leaving for good.
            That night there is a torrential downpour. The work site turns into a gigantic mudslide. Several of the officers and prisoners have been killed. Since Barry had struck an officer he was put into a small shack while he waited to be brought back to the jail. The next morning Barry cannot be found. The police begin an intensive search for him.
            Libby finds a house in the woods that no one is occupying. She takes a swim in the lake. Barry, on the run from the law, has also found the house. He can see Libby swimming. They are a little wary of each other. Barry thinks Libby will run away and tell the police where he is. She reassures him that she is running away from home she will not tell on him. Barry tells Libby he was sent to prison after he had gotten into a brawl with someone. He does not know if the person is alive or dead. They talk about running away together somewhere where no one will find them. They talk about getting jobs and building their lives together. Barry says if they are to start a new life together he needs new clothes he is still in his prison clothes. Libby agrees to go back home to find some food and to grab a pair of her father’s clothes for him.
            Unfortunately Libby does not get to Barry right away. When she gets home that night she finds her mother has come downstairs and has cooked dinner for her and the father. Libby learns from her father that Barker has put together a posse to go looking for Barry.
            The posse finds Barry in the house in the woods. Fortunately he is able to escape and he makes his way to Libby’s house. Libby keeps Barry on the second floor of the barn where no one will see him. They plan to get away just as soon as everything settles down.
            Of course things do not go as planned for poor Libby and Barry.

            The story of Deep Valley is quite boring the acting by Ida Lupino and Dane Clark make up for it. They were both excellent. I have yet to see Lupino act poorly in a film. She was thirty years old at the time she made this film and Libby was supposed to be twenty-two. Lupino looked like she could have been twenty-two she looked fantastic. She was completely believable in the role. Dane Clark was very good. I do not believe I have ever seen him in a film before, I would not mind seeing him again. Deep Valley is a film I only suggest seeing for the acting by the entire cast because the story is weak. It is worth seeing at least once. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Silent Sundays: Captain Kidd's Kids (1919)

“Man overboard. Send in the janitor.”

This Silent Sunday film Captain Kidd’s Kids starring Harold Lloyd is the shortest silent film I have seen so far and one of the funniest.
            A Boy (Lloyd) has thrown himself a bachelor party in his apartment the night before he is to be married. He got so drunk he slept in a dresser drawer with a bandage around his head and a block of ice under his pillow. The Girl (Bebe Daniels) he is supposed to marry her mother has heard about how out of hand the party got that she refuses to let her daughter marry him. She is taking the Girl to the Canary Islands. The Boy decides to follow her.
            On the boat the Boy’s butler gets seasick. He makes fun of him mercilessly for it until he gets sick himself. He finds a place to lie down. Not too long after he lays down two men come to try to steal his wallet. The Boy puts up a good fight but he gets tossed overboard. The butler tries to throw a life saving tube and winds up going overboard as well. A dog also somehow gets thrown overboard as well. The two humans and the dog are adrift for twenty-four hours. They come across a pirate ship. The ship is not your typical pirate ship- it is a ship run by women!
            The Boy is very happy at first until the women make him work. He starts off with the task to wash the ship but gives up as soon as the mop is placed in his hands. Then he is sent down to help the cook. He and the cook do not get along after he bugs the poor cook to no end. After they get into a big fight the captain of the ship makes the Boy walk the plank. One of the girls likes him. She goes down to the dungeon and lets the other male prisoners they have caught go so they can try to take over the ship. The women crowd around the Boy and the one girl pirate. They get a rope around his neck and try to hang him.
            The women’s ship was all just a dream. The Boy wakes up right where he fell asleep on. The rope he fell asleep on somehow got wrapped around his neck. He sees the Girl and her mother. He gives the mother a piece of his mind and lets her know that they are going to be married.
            Captain Kidd’s Kids was hilarious from beginning to end. Harold Lloyd was so funny. All the things he did were so slick and so quick. I thought it was genius how at the beginning when the Boy was drunk he had a bandage on his head and a block of ice under his pillow his head hurt so bad. Captain Kidd’s Kids is only twenty-one minutes long and is available to view on Youtube

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Return of Frank James (1940)

"If we are ever going to have law and order in this part of the country, we got to take vipers like those Fords and that slimy railroad detective Runyon and shoot 'em down like dogs."

            The Return of Frank James leaves off right where Jesse James ended. Jesse has been shot and killed in the back by Bob and Charlie Ford. Word gets to Frank (Henry Fonda) that his brother has been killed. He let people believe that he has been shot and killed and now he lives in the hills with Pinky and a kid named Clem (Jackie Cooper) whose father was killed in the last bank robbery with Jesse. Clem asks Frank is he is going to go after the Fords and if he can come with him to do so. Frank does not want to go killing the brothers he tells Clem that the law will get the Fords.
            They find out later that Fords were captured and found guilty but were then given a pardon and the reward money that was put out for Jesse. When Frank hears this he decides to go after Bob and Charlie. The Fords were in a bar when the Major (Zee’s uncle from the previous film) walks in. He scares them saying Frank has a way of turning up when they least expect him to. The whole town is upset with the Fords because they were all friends of Jesse’s and especially because Bob shot Jesse in the back when he was not looking. The Fords wind up leaving town.
            Pinky finds Frank and tells him that Clem has run away. Frank decides to steal from McCoy the man who runs the railroad and gave out the reward money. As he was stealing the money Clem walks in. Clem accidentally shoots off his and gets the town in an uproar. The night watchman is accidentally shot and killed by the men shooting outside.
            Frank and Clem make it out west to Denver. They spread the rumor that Frank James was killed in Mexico for trying to steal chickens. Reporter Eleanor Stone (Gene Tierney) hears the news. She works for her father’s newspaper and wants desperately to write a good story that will make her father realize she is not just a woman but a good reporter who should stay on at the paper. This story would be a big scoop for the paper. Eleanor sits down with Frank who is going by the name Ben Woodson. Clem tells the whole story and Frank watches how Eleanor is so excited at what she is hearing. Soon through her father’s paper the story reaches the entire country. Eleanor’s father still thinks she should just go to college and then settle down to a man and marriage.
            The story was a way for Frank to bring the Fords out into the open so he could scare them. The town is putting on a play with the Fords and how they killed Jesse James. Frank gets a spot in the balcony right in their line of sight. When the brothers see him they start shooting. Clem and Frank go after the Fords but they do not catch them.
            McCoy had hired a private detective to track down Frank and Clem. The detective talks to Eleanor and he tells her the truth of who Ben Woodson really is. Eleanor finds Frank and tells him that Pinky has been arrested on charges of having been at the bank robbery. Frank knows what McCoy and the detective are doing they are trying to bring him out in the open he knows that Pinky has never even so much as stolen a chicken in his life. Frank is now determined to find the Fords he has to get to them before Pinky is sentenced to hang. If he cannot find the Fords before that time he will turn himself in.
            Frank is unable to find the Fords before Pinky’s hanging and turns himself in. Eleanor gets herself down to Liberty to be at the trial. The detective thinks Eleanor is there to break Pinky out of jail and the mayor has a fit before she explains that she is just down there as a reporter. The trial is a bit like a circus. A judge from another town with no ties to Liberty or the James or Ford brothers is brought in to preside. The lawyer for McCoy feels personally involved and gets too bias with his questioning. The Major is defending Frank; he used to be a lawyer before he was the owner of the town paper. Eleanor feels like it is all her fault for all of this Frank would have come back anyway if she had not said something.
            Frank is found not guilty by the jury on any of the counts he was convicted of. All the sudden Bob Ford walks into the court room. As soon as Frank hears the sentence he leaps over the divide and runs after Bob. A shot is heard outside. Clem is down on the ground near a tree. He has been shot but he was able to shoot Bob Ford. Ford has gone into a warehouse. Frank goes in there. None of the townspeople get in his way. Frank finds Ford he is wounded and winds up dying from Clem’s shot.
            Henry Fonda was great as Frank. Frank was a character that was calm and had a lot of reserve much like Fonda himself. The character of Frank was very well written he was out for revenge but he was not blinded by it. This was Gene Tierney’s first film. She was so ridiculously adorable and incredibly beautiful. She was only nineteen years old when she made this. I find it interesting that Tierney was so excellent in this film and then in her films after this until maybe Rings on Her Fingers (which also stars Henry Fonda) six films after The Return of Frank James she was so terrible that it is hard to watch her. I am just going to put down he bad acting as the fault of the directors of the films.
            The Return of Frank James I found to be ten times better than Jesse James. I liked this story much better and it moved along at a better pace there were no slow scenes. I also liked how Frank and Eleanor were not a romantic item. According to IMDB the relationship did not happen because Frank James’s wife and son were still alive and the studio did not want to be sued. Good think I liked how Eleanor was concerned for Frank as a friend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jesse James (1939)

“I ain't aimin' to do nuthin'. I'm doin' it. I'm holdin' up this train.”
 “The whole train?”

            Jesse James is a character from American history that has turned into a myth. I have not ever really researched the man but just from the films that have been made over the decades about him it is obvious that America has mythologized this Midwestern outlaw hero. Twentieth Century Fox took a turn at portraying the outlaw starring Tyrone Power as the titular character, Henry Fonda as his brother, and Randolph Scott as the friendly US Marshal.
            A railroad company has sent men out to buy land from families so they can build their new rail line through them. The men that have been sent out are bullies they tell the people they want land from that if they do not buy the land from them they will get the sheriff to settle the matter and just take the land away without payment. They get to the home of Jesse and Frank James. The one man Marsh begins to bully the mother. Her sons are not taking any of his bullying especially against their mother. Frank starts to fight Marsh, Marsh goes to grab a scythe. Jesse shoots Marsh in the hand before he can hurt Frank. Marsh is furious and rides away into town with his posse. He has the sheriff of the town swear him in as a deputy so he can go and arrest the brothers. Frank and Jesse have fled leaving their mother alone in the house. Marsh comes back looking to bomb the brothers to come out of their home. He sees the mother moving around inside. Thinking the movement is coming from Jesse and Frank he throws the bomb. The poor mother dies.
            Jesse and Frank hear of their mother’s death. They find Marsh in a saloon and Jesse shoots him dead. No one is upset with the shooting except for the rail line. To get back at the rail company even more the brothers and a posse begin robbing trains on the line. US Marshal Will Wright has been assigned to find the James brothers. Jesse likes a woman named Zee. Her uncle is the town’s newspaper editor and one of his supporters. He goes to see Zee one night. Will comes over. They pretend not to realize who the other is. When Will leaves he waits outside to see if Jesse will do something. When he does not Will leaves him and Zee alone.
            Jesse and Zee eventually get married. She begs Jesse to turn himself in since Will has gained a pardon from the governor. He does turn himself in but the head of the railroad wants a full trial and Jesse hanged and gets his way when he has Jesse arrested. Frank has a letter sent to the jail that if his brother is not released by midnight he is coming to get him. An old man in the jail tells the head of the railroad that he has known Frank since he was young and that Frank means what he says. Frank gets himself caught. The two men that bring him in are friends of his that were sworn in as deputies that day by Will. The brothers pretty much walk out of the prison.
            Jesse and Zee live out in a cabin in the woods. He is barely home anymore he is always out robbing trains and banks. She gets very upset at her husband when he is not there for the birth of their son. Zee realizes that Jesse will always be an outlaw they will always be on the run and afraid. She does not want to live like that anymore she wants her uncle to take her back to town. When Jesse comes home his wife and child are gone. His servant Pinky tells him that it is better that he does not come back Zee could be happy. Jesse does not want his son to know about him.
            Years later Jesse is a wreck. He is making his men take riskier chances they do not want to take. He plans on robbing a bank in a small town during the day. The men have talked and they do not want to do the job. Jesse is furious with them. Frank has a talk with his brother about what he is doing to his men making them chances that could get them killed. The job winds up going wrong and some of the men are caught.
            Jesse somehow returns to his old home. He crawls up to his bedroom. Zee comes in to take care of him. She brings their son upstairs. Jesse swears he is done with what he is doing. He does not want to be on the run anymore. The Ford brothers from the posse have become double crossers. They go to see Jesse saying that Frank wants to see him in the hills for one more job. Jesse is tempted but he has promised Zee they would go to California to start a new life. The brothers leave but Bob Ford sneaks back into the house and shoots Jesse in the back killing him.

            I am not a huge fan of Tyrone Power but he was excellent in this film. I am so used to seeing him as sweet romantic good guy characters. It was nice to see him roughed up a bit and being bad guy. Henry Fonda was not in the film very much. I think out the entire 106 minute run he was in it for probably a combined twenty minutes if that. He was good though Fonda was just good in anything he was cast in. Randolph Scott I love more and more with each film I see him in. He always played a nice gentleman with this perfect tough side that was totally believable. The actress who played Zee was horrible. I hated seeing her in scenes and could not stand when she opened her mouth. The studio could have gotten someone ten times better for the role.
            Jesse James was a good film. There were some scenes that dragged but for the most part the story moved along nicely. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Three Came Home (1950)

I like watching films from the 1940s when America was involved in World War II. I like watching how Hollywood responded and what types of war films they produced. I especially liked seeing the changed in the types of characters actresses from the 1930s played in the 1940s. Claudette Colbert was one of those tough, hardened 1930s women. She played to perfection Cleopatra in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1934 version. She was sexy and seductive. In the 1940s Colbert and many actresses were given parts of the obedient war wife with children and a home to look after while the men were away or they were war nurses who went through wherever they were stationed. Colbert played a variety of war women in the 1940s during WWII. In Three Came Home she plays the dutiful yet brave and strong and loving wife. Unlike the women on the home front her character is thrown into horrendous circumstances with her husband and young son.
            Agnes Newton Keith (Colbert) is an American author married to a British soldier named Harry (Patric Knowles). Harry is stationed on an island in China. With the world now at war the British regiment wants to send the women and children back home to England for their own safety. Agnes does not want to go back she wants to stay with Harry. The Japanese begin to attack the island. The women and children are told to go to a government house and wait there. Unfortunately the Japanese take over the island and the British government cannot help them at that time. Some of the soldiers go to the government house and keep guard.
            The next morning Agnes is ordered to go with a soldier while everyone else can leave. The soldier brings her to his commanding officer Colonel Suga. Agnes had written a book about the Barneo the island she lives on. The colonel tells her that while he was studying at college in America he read her book and liked it.
            Orders are given that all Europeans living on the island are to be evacuated to a prison camp. The men and women are to be separated. They now live in terrible conditions. Sometimes the men walk by their camp leaving the women with only glances of their husbands. Harry risks dropping notes to Agnes as he walks by the camp, he drops a note one day telling her to meet him by a palm tree where other husbands and wives have met. Agnes barely makes it to the palm tree that night she and her son George have been suffering from a terrible fever. George’s fever is getting worse. One woman Mrs. Summer is watching George while Agnes is meeting Harry. She wants to get some medicine for him so she goes to the commanding officer to see about getting a doctor. The captain wants to see George and Agnes. Fortunately Agnes gets back just in time before the guards come.
            The women are being moved to a different camp. The Japanese allow them to say goodbye to their husbands. Harry sneaks Agnes some handkerchiefs and a letter. Agnes reads Harry’s letter, he wrote to try to keep George alive. Finally the women are brought to a camp after spending ten days at sea. They are forced to work like dogs and are only given one meal a day. The days and years drag on. Agnes and George have not seen Harry in two years she has no idea if her husband is still alive.  
            One night during a storm Agnes gets out of bed to take clothes off of a line. All of the sudden she is attacked by a Japanese soldier. Somehow she is able to get the soldier away from her. When Colonel Suga comes through the next morning she tells him what happened to her and wants protection from him since she signed his book back on the island. A nasty lieutenant does not believe her story he wants her pick someone out. She tells him over and over again that it was dark she could not see who it was that attacked her. The lieutenant wants her to sign a paper that she lied about the attack. Agnes refuses to sign it. The lieutenant has someone come in and beat her to get her to sign. She let go with the promise that she will not talk about it anymore.
            Sometime later everyone sees British airplanes flying overhead. They receive dropped letter from the allies that the Japanese have surrendered and help will be with them soon. Suga calls Agnes into his office. He tells her that his wife and son have been killed in the bombings of Hiroshima knowing that she would understand how he feels. Later in the day he takes George and some of the other children back to his place. He gives them food and watches them eat. As he watches the children he breaks down and cries.
            Finally the allies come to the rescue. They open the gates and bring the men from the other camp to them. Agnes and George patiently wait for Harry. After agonizingly long minutes Harry comes to them.
            Claudette Colbert was amazing. She was perfect for the part because she played women like this before. She played women who have suffered so much yet they fight to live and be happy. What I really like about Colbert in the part is that she did not overact. There were so many scenes that other actresses in the part could have overacted but Colbert played them so well. Patric Knowles was not in the film long but he was great with Colbert. I always enjoy seeing him in a film.

            Three Came Home is a great film. It is one of the better war films about women I have seen. It is a great example how women stuck together during the time of war and through awful conditions. I also liked how Col. Suga was not portrayed as the totally evil or sadistic Japanese soldier. He was cruel yes but he had some kind of heart to him. Three Came Home is a film I absolutely recommend seeing especially if you like Claudette Colbert or films about World War II.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Stolen Life (1946)

A Stolen Life is a film I kind of dragged my heels to see once I found out Bette Davis plays twins. The only time having twins as a plot worked for me was Olivia de Havilland in The Dark Mirror, it worked so well and de Havilland just completely nailed it. I had seen Davis play twins in Dead Ringer and she was alright in that. I gave and watched A Stolen Life once I realized Glenn Ford is in it and I have been on a Glenn Ford kick as of late.
            Kate Bosworth (Davis… yes her name is Kate Bosworth) missed her boat from mainland Massachusetts to an island her family has a house on. She asks a man named Bill Emerson (Ford) who has his own boat to take her. He is not thrilled about the idea but he gives in and takes her. They wind up having a good time together.
            Bill has taken a job at the lighthouse. Kate knows the lighthouse keeper and follows him around to get some information on Bill and to allow her up to the lighthouse. She notices the keeper wants an expensive ship in a bottle. She buys the bottled ship for the keeper and he lets her come up. For the afternoon Kate walks around the lighthouse since she cannot leave due to a heavy fog. Bill confesses he took the job to get away from people. She confesses she came to see him. Bill takes Kate home. He tells her he took a new job somewhere else but he will not be away long.
            When Kate gets back home her twin sister Pat is sitting in her room. While Kate is nice and quiet and keeps to herself you can tell right away that Pat is not very kind to her sister and does not have any good intentions in mind. Kate does not tell her sister about meeting Bill. Unfortunately Pat does meet Bill. He thinks she is her sister. Pat likes Bill too mostly because her sister really likes him. She follows him on a train up to Boston and Kate has no idea. At a dance one night Kate’s uncle says something about her being ahead of her sister for once. It seems that Pat is always stepping all over Kate.
            Eventually Kate asks Pat what Bill means to her. Pat says that she is crazy about Bill and he is crazy about her. Bill and Pat get married. Kate goes to live in New York City to paint and exhibit her work. She goes home one weekend and finds her sister is at the house. Pat talks her into going out on their boat for the afternoon. They get caught in a sudden storm that tosses the waves mercilessly. Pat gets thrown overboard Kate tries to save her sister but the waves are too strong and drag Pat under.
            Kate is found by the lighthouse keeper. They think she is Pat because she has her sister’s wedding ring and keeps calling out for Bill. Kate plays along being Pat because now she is married to Bill. She finds out that not everything in her sister’s life was good. She tries to fix things but all her plans backfire.
            In the end Bill finds out about Kate and they fall back in love again.
            I have a love/hate thing with Bette Davis. Sometimes I think she is brilliant and awesome and other times she drives me up a wall. Davis was alright. I hated her playing Pat, I am sure we as the way Davis played characters like Pat throughout her career. I liked how she played Kate who was reserved and quiet yet had some kind of strength. Seriously I am all over the map with how I feel about Bette Davis as an actress I am sure what I just said made absolutely no sense. Glenn Ford was perfect. I love him as an actor. He was sensitive yet tough.

            A Stolen Life was a crappy two hour Warner Bros. romantic drama. I was bored the whole time. I think the film could have ended sooner than it did there were so many scenes that could have been taken out. Only watch A Stolen Life if you are a fan of either Bette Davis or Glenn Ford.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Squaw Man (1931)

When The Squaw Man was made in 1931 America was still coming out of the Jazz Age and the silent era of films. Studios were still working out sound in 1931 and still looking for fresh new stories. So many films of the 1930s come from novels of either classic or contemporary literature or classic or contemporary theater. The Squaw Man had been made by Cecil B. DeMille twice before this during the very early days of film. His first version was the very first film to be made in what is now Hollywood. The Squaw Man had a run on Broadway at the beginning of the 1900s. Needless to say the story of The Squaw Man, with its Victorian ideas of honor and what was right, were old and tried over and over again. This is a story that is dated even by 1930s standards.
            Jim Wingate (Warner Baxter) and his cousin Henry are from a long line of British aristocracy. They have raised money through their name for an orphanage. Jim loves Lady Diana Kerhill (Eleanor Boardman) but she is Henry’s wife. Jim and Diana have always loved each other. She wants Jim to go away to America so he will not complicate things for the both of them. Henry hears that a man has killed himself over embezzling. He was in on the embezzlement. Henry was going to kill himself when Jim walks in. Jim tells Henry he is leaving for America and that he will take the blame so Henry can stay with Diana and repay the funds. Everyone at the party of course suspects Jim of having taken the money. Someone at the party says that Jim’s leaving exonerates Henry of any blame. Henry, standing on the staircase, has a very guilty look on his face.
            Jim has changed his last name to Carston, moved to the Mid West, and owns a range. His neighbor Cash Hawkins (Charles Bickford) wants to buy his range but Jim refuses. A young Indian woman named Naturich (Lupe Velez) comes into town with her father to sell cattle. Cash wants to buy his cattle really cheap and throw in liquor. Naturich hears about the liquor, comes into the room where her father and Cash are, and tears the contract up. Cash grabs her and does not let her go. Jim comes into the saloon, sees what is going on and saves Naturich. In retaliation Cash has two of his men shoot Jim while he is out riding. Jim is shot in the shoulder. Naturich stays with Jim until his shoulder is healed. The whole town starts talking about them together.
            Henry has been hurt in a riding accident. Diana and their friend Sir John Applegate (Roland Young) have Jim tracked down. They go out to the Mid West to see him. Diana tells Jim that Henry told her that he was the one who embezzled the money. Jim wants to go back to London with them but he cannot leave he is married to Naturich and they have a young son. John cannot understand how Jim could raise a child in place such as where he lives and depriving him of his English heritage. John does not want the boy to be primitive like his mother. Jim tells Naturich about sending their son to England to go to school there. He tells her he has a good heart and that their son must go. Naturich keeps saying “mine” over and over again and will not let their son go.
            Cash had been killed seven years ago. The sheriff comes by with a bag that had belonged to Naturich that had been found in the floorboards in the place Cash was killed. Bullets have been found in the bag. Jim sends Naturich into the woods to her family so she cannot be found by the sheriff. Naturich comes back to the house one night. She sees her son being taken away from her. In a horrible sadness she kills herself.
            I have to admit I fell asleep through much of the film. I was so tired from working all week and the story was getting boring. I could not keep my eyes open. I never fall asleep through a film but I could not help it here.
            I cannot really comment on the cast because they really did not stand out to me. This is the first time I have seen Eleanor Boardman in film. Before this I had only ever seen her in photographs or heard of her when I was reading about King Vidor. I would actually like to see more of her films. This was also the first time I have ever seen Lupe Velez in a film. She really did not talk which I guess comes down to the fact that she mainly spoke Spanish and not English.

            As I said at the beginning The Squaw Man is very dated even by 1930s standards. I do not really like stories or characters that are honor bound they drive me crazy. I really did not like the ending either because it was so sad. I do not have children but I cannot even imagine even thinking about what Naturich must have been going through when she saw her son going away. She had to have known that she would never see him again and that as he grew older he would never accept her as his mother. That broke my heart. I guess I was thinking of my mom and how much she loves me and my brothers and how something like that would break her heart to no end too. The Squaw Man is a film to watch once just to say you saw it. I cannot imagine audiences in 1931 liking this too much, they probably wanted something to take their minds off the economic troubles that were just starting to hit the country. I am sure in context the original silent version is better than this one.