Sunday, June 30, 2013

Silent Sundays: The Bells (1926)

“The next sun shines bright and clear, but in the bosom of Mathias rages the storms of yesternight.”

            A man named Mathias (Lionel Barrymore) owns an inn in his small French village in the mid-1800s. He has ambitions of becoming the local Burgomaster. Unfortunately he is having trouble repaying the loan on his tavern. To make sure he receives votes Mathias gives free drinks and credit to those who come in. He owes money to a man named Frantz who threatens to tell the entire town that Mathias has no money. Mathias also owns a mill and several other businesses. The workers at the mill need to be paid. They go to Mathias to ask for credit and he agrees which drives him further into debt.
            Mathias and his wife Catherine have a daughter named Annette. Annette is in love with a gendarme (police officer) named Christian. Mathias always sacrifices things so his wife and daughter can have nice new things. He dresses shabbily and does not let on how in debt he is. Frantz comes to see Mathias with the offer to marry Annette and all the debts will be forgiven. Mathias will not hear of such an idea. He tells Frantz that if Annette marries it is to someone that she loves.
            A fair comes into town. Mathias sees a mesmerist who claims that he can make a criminal confess and a good man tell of his good deeds. After seeing the mesmerist Mathias goes to a fortune teller. The teller is immediately distraught when she looks at his hand. She sees nothing but bad things in his future. Mathias is confused and upset by the reading he cannot think of what could possibly happen to him that will be so bad.
            On Christmas a Polish man named Baruch comes to the inn. Baruch sits down with Mathias for a drink. They are all alone. When Baruch goes to leave he pays Mathias with a gold coin. Mathias asks the traveler if he is carrying all gold coins and the man replies that he is. On his way out Baruch tells him “Peace be with you.” Mathias follows the man’s sleigh out into the woods and kills him for the gold.
            Mathias is able to pay Frantz off and keep a great amount of money for himself. He gives the story that an uncle of his died and left him all the money. Christian comes in to tell everyone that a sleigh and a glove have been found in the woods and that they are looking for the missing man. Christian later asks Mathias for Annette’s hand in marriage. Mathias agrees and promises to give Annette a dowry of thirty thousand Francs. As Mathias counts the money he thinks he sees the blood of Baruch on his hands and he cannot clean it off. When he turns around he sees an apparition of Baruch and hears the bells from the sleigh.
            Mathias is eventually named Burgomaster of the town. On the day he is appointed a man named Jethro comes searching for his brother Baruch. He brings the Mesmerist along with him because he believes that the Mesmerist can make any man confess. Mathias orders both of them yelling that the Mesmerist does the work of the devil and he will not have any of that in his tavern. His first order as Burgomaster is the case of Baruch. Jethro comes to court again with the Mesmerist and once again Mathias has them both thrown out.
            As time goes on Mathias becomes tortured ever more by his conscious. He keeps seeing Baruch. On the day of his daughter’s wedding he goes upstairs to count the money for the dowry. He dreams he is on trial for the murder with Frantz as the judge. Jethro and the Mesmerist are there. The Mesmerist gets Mathias to confess. He keeps hearing the bells constantly because of his guilt. Out of his dream Mathias is in the room with the ghost of Baruch next to him. Baruch tells Mathias “Peace be with you.”
            The Bells was an interesting film. I liked the idea that Mathias had been a good man but pressure and want and need of money drove him to murder an innocent man. I also liked how Mathias felt his greatest threat was the Mesmerist. He did not want to admit that he believed the Mesmerist could get him to confess he was fighting himself on that belief and that as why he mostly felt so tortured. Lionel Barrymore did an excellent job in this film. He played the character of Mathias just right he did not once overact. The Bells is not a stand out silent film but it is good and is a silent film I suggest taking the time to 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

H.M. Pulham, ESQ (1941)

“They say that you can get over anything in time. I don't believe you can... but given enough time you can put it where it belongs.”

            At heart I think we would all want a great romance in our lives. We want the movie romance not the real life romance… if you say you do not want this you are lying to yourself and need to stop because it is true you know you want a movie romance. We want those impossible romances where both of us are stubborn in our ways and too individual to get along at first then we break up and then we cannot live without each other and find our way back to each other. Those are all pretty much the great love stories we see on the screen or read in books. To me they are tortured love stories but who does not want to have that one true love we cannot live without. Then there are the other romantic stories where the boy or girl realizes too late they let the great love of their lives get away and they constantly think torturously about the other for several long years. The story of H.M. Pulham, Esq. is about the second scenario where the boy and girl let each other go and think about each other for years.
            Harry Pulham (Robert Young) goes to lunch one day with some of his old college friends. His friends want to have a class reunion and want Harry to put together a book of all the classmates’ information. Back at his office as he starts to put together the information he receives a call from his former girlfriend Marvin Myles (Hedy Lamarr). Harry has not heard from Marvin in a long time. She is in Boston on business and would like to see him for some drinks. When Harry enters the restaurant he sees her sitting along looking sad and nervous. He thinks to himself how beautiful she still is after so many years and then how ordered his life is. His thoughts get the better of him and he walks out of the restaurant. On his way home Harry orders two dozen roses and writes a note to Marvin that he saw her across the room and could not bear it.
            When he gets home Harry sees his wife Kay talking on the phone. This makes him think back to the time he met her when they were little kids. After a party that night Kay sees Harry sitting with a lost look on his face. She asks him if he is happy. As he takes the dog out he says to himself that he has been the obedient one always following others. He wonders if he is really happy with his life.
            Harry thinks back to when he was at Harvard. One weekend he brought a friend home. His mother had invited Kay over for lunch. Harry was not happy to see her because he thinks Kay is dull. His friend likes her though. Then he thinks back to when he fought in World War I. After the war he could not face going home for a while. One of his friends got him a job at an advertising firm he worked for. At the advertising firm he meets Marvin. Sometime later Harry and Marvin are teamed together to sell soap door to door. He brings her home that night. A few days later Harry leaves to go to his home in Boston. Marvin asks him if he will be back. He says yes and she tells him to not let his family take him away. His father talks to him about getting married especially to a girl like Kay. His father does not understand why he likes his job in New York City so much. His sister tells him their mother is going to try to make him stay. Harry cannot get back to New York fast enough. When he sees Marvin he tells her he loves her. Harry brings Marvin to a Harvard game. Almost as soon as they get back to New York his sister calls to tell him their father may be dying and he needs to come home. Harry says goodbye to Marvin and she tells him not to say that.
            Harry does not go back to New York. Marvin writes him a letter. She knows she will not see him again but hopes he will come back. He has his friend Bill bring Marvin up to see him one weekend. They have fun going out in the snow. Marvin points out to Bill that Harry has come home for good and will not return to New York. Harry proves Marvin wrong he does return to New York. He tells Marvin he wants to marry her and they can live in his family home while they look for something. She tells him no she will not marry him, they only belong together in New York City. He tells her he has to live where he belongs. Marvin lets him know she will always be waiting for him.
            He sees Kay when he returns home. She points out that neither of them are very happy. She always thought that Bill would have taken her away (she had fallen in love with him when Bill came to visit with Marvin). Even on their honeymoon Kay had pointed out that they do not love each other they just married each other. At breakfast the next morning Harry asks Kay if she wants to go away somewhere that day. She replies she is too busy to just go away on a whim.
            Harry calls Marvin at her hotel. They see each other in her room. She tells him she was married she and he husband divorced. Harry kiss Marvin. They still love each other but their love is not the same as it had been.
            Harry comes home and sees Kay walking down the stairs. She canceled her appointments to go away with him.
            The story could have become a bore after a while. I think it could have gone downhill if Marvin had given in to Harry, married him, and moved in with his family in Boston. From the beginning Marvin talked about how she wanted to be rich and successful. She knew she could not do that if she gave in and moved away. Marvin was such an independent woman and set in her goals she could not move away from the city and give up her dreams. Harry to me was weak he was weak to his family honor and what his family and old friends wanted for him. Of harry was not truly happy with Kay they were forced to marry each other when they were both in love with other people. It was sad not to see Marvin and Harry not get together at the end but at the same time it was great that Marvin stood her ground and was her own woman. It was Harry who missed out and was the one who had the tortured memories and thoughts about her.
            I could not get over how beautiful Hedy Lamarr was and how amazing her acting was. Larmarr and Robert Young had fantastic chemistry they were perfect together. It did not feel like they were acting it was as if they were real people.

            H.M. Pulham, Esq. was a great film. Not for one minutes was I bored watching it. This was a different kind of love story. I liked the fact that the woman was not the one who had the missed opportunity it was the man and he was forced to live with that missed opportunity. Marvin is a great character I can imagine women in 1941 looking up to her and even women today looking up to her (I certainly do). H.M. Pulham, Esq. is not your typical love story and it is a classic film that should be more well known.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)

The Girl in Black Stockings is a mess of a movie. There is nothing to keep your attention except to find out who the murderer is and when you find out you are left wondering where the hell in left field did that come from.
            The movie takes place at a lodge in Utah. At a party in the woods one night two guests David and Beth (Anne Bancroft) come across the body of young woman. For the next few days the sheriff questions everyone at the hotel including the owners sister and brother Julia and Ed. Everyone is a suspect including Ed who is a quadriplegic. The sheriff finds out David was supposed to have gone to the party with the murdered girl that night. He tells the sheriff the girl got drunk before the party and he did not want to go with her after that.
            Sometime later there is another murder. A man named Fred has been drowned in the pool.  
            A few other things happen in the middle that, quite frankly, are not worth mentioning because they were so boring.

            The only redeeming aspect of The Girl in Black Stockings is the murderer. I never saw it coming it was a good twist. The acting was not very good even Anne Bancroft dropped ball and I think she was a wonderful actress. I was bored almost right off the bat with The Girl in Black Stockings. I only recommend seeing this film if you are a fan of Anne Bancroft other than that skip it. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Roughly Speaking (1945)

“Every time I get my ship on an even keel, something goes bang!” 

            That quote seems to be the motto of my life. I am sure it is the motto of so many people. Within the past few months there have been so many things that should have been on an even keel in my life and then they made a very loud bang to the point where I am still working putting myself back together. Roughly Speaking is one of those films that I was perfect for me to see at the time I did. It lifted my spirits and gave me hope.
            When Louise Randall (Rosalind Russell) was younger she was close to her father. She never wanted to be a lady like her mother had wanted her to be. Louise wanted to be her own woman be independent. When her father dies she promises she will aim for the stars as he had always told her to do. Her father left the family in a lot of debt and the mother had to sell their beautiful house.
            Louise went to high school and then onto a college that taught girls how to make their own living, aka, a secretarial school. She does well but the dean does not know why Louise constantly goes against tradition. The dean sends Louise to a shipping company that only hired men. The boss was fresh with her. Louise asks him to take his hat off in front of her and he replies with something snarky. She kicks his hat off and goes to leave. The boss likes Louise and decides to keep her on.
            Louise gets to go to New Haven with her friend Alice. At the time she wants a career and no man to get in the way. She does, however, like a man named Rodney. Louise and Rodney spend a lot of time together and he eventually proposes to her. Rodney does not like the idea that Louise wants to work after they are married. Over the years Louise and Rodney have four children together and she becomes a house wife. During World War I Louise does all the work she can to support the war effort. After the War they move out to the country with their kids. Everyone loves it out there the kids have room to play and they all work to take care of their small farm.
            Rodney is fired from his job. Louise thought something awful had happened she is not upset. She tells her husband to go back to school to be a surgeon. Rodney gets mad at her for not seeming to be upset. Louise tells him she is a bit upset but she is determined. She says she will get two jobs to keep up with the house and children. A few weeks later Rodney gets a job. He comes home one night and tells Louise he met another woman. He did not want to be pitied he wanted to be admired. Rodney thinks they never understood each other and that their life together was a lie.
            The following year Louise goes to a party. At the party she meets Harold (Jack Carson). They have a great time at the party together. Harold asks Louise to marrying him after only knowing her for two hours. They both have the same outlook on life.
            Harold and Louise are happily married and have a son Frank. They are very successful together in their business of growing roses. All the children are happy which makes Harold and Louise very happy. Unfortunately they lose their business but their outlook on life gives them the knowledge that things will get better. Harold wants to buy a plane and fly again. Louise is not thrilled with the idea at first but then gives in. All the children get a job to help buy the plane. They almost come into a lot of money until they read the stock market has crashed.
            Throughout the years John and Rodney Jr. graduate from Yale, Barbara gets married, and the only children who are home are little Louise and Frank. Harold has taken up selling vacuums but he is not very enthusiastic about. Louise finds Harold sitting in a pool hall. She confronts him and is not outright mad. She stays calm and talks to her husband.
            The World’s Fair comes to New York City. Harold has won the bid to plant the flowers at the fair. Their house is not far from the fair. Louise comes up with the idea to use their driveway and backyard as a parking lot. Not long after World War II interrupts peace. John joins the Navy and Rodney joins the Army. Frank is now seventeen years old. He wants to follow his older brothers and help fight the war. He asks Louise and Harold to sign a paper to let him fight at seventeen.
            Louise and Harold sit alone in the station after saying goodbye to their sons. They both plan on owning a farm.
            Rosalind Russell was the perfect choice for the part of Louise. Russell always seemed to play the tough ladies who face life head on. Louise is the type of woman all young women should look up. She was strong and unapologetic in everything she did. Jack Carson I am not a huge fan of. He tends to get on my nerves. I enjoyed him as Harold he was perfect. Russell and Carson had fantastic chemistry you could believe they were two people who loved each other very much and who shared the same outlook on life.
            Roughly Speaking was such a fantastic film. Not for moment was I bored with the story or thought all their ups and downs in life were annoying after a while. I liked how the characters would go through all these hardships and ups and downs but always had each other and their love and knew that things would get better. I like to keep reminding myself that everything I have gone through was for a reason. It sucks like hell going through it but in the end you learn something and you move on you put the past behind you and that is exactly what Louise and Harold and their family did they just went through things and moved on to something else. I would recommend Roughly Speaking to anyone especially to those who need a pick-me-up and a little boost to know that everyone goes through hard times and they manage to survive.