Monday, May 30, 2011

Raiders of the Lost Ark

“The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the Ark before it... is invincible.”

            Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my all time favorite movies. Ever since I was little I have had a great love of history and archaeology, I still do which is why I am an Art History major (this mixes the best of social history, art, and archaeology).
            Indiana Jones is a “Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities.” Indy is the guy that every boy wants to be and the guy all the girls want to date.
            One day his friend and fellow professor Marcus Brody tells him that there are men from the government waiting to see him. They have received a communications from a man named Abner Ravenwood that sounds like a cryptic message. Indiana trained under Ravenwood but the two had a falling out years ago. Part of the message is how the Nazis have found a place called Tanis which is supposed to be the last place the Ark of the Covenant was seen hundreds of years ago.  The two men ask Indiana to find the Ark before the Nazis can get a hold of it because God only knows what could happen if they get their hands on it.
            The first place Indiana goes to for his quest for the Ark is to Nepal where Abner’s daughter Marion is now living and running a bar. He needs to find a medallion  that when placed in the sun at a certain time can give him the location of where the Ark is. Marion is the reason why Indiana and Abner did not talk anymore because he broke her heart. Upon seeing each other for the first time in years Marion gives Indy a good punch in the jaw! Marion claims to not know where the medallion is that if he comes back the following day she will have the medallion he is looking for. When Indy leaves Marion takes the piece out of her shirt where she has it around her neck on a chain.
            A man named Toht who works for the Nazis comes into the bar. He is also looking for the same medallion as Indy. Toht has more persuasive methods to get the piece and soon Marion can no longer hold her own. Toht takes a poker from the fire and brings it close to her face. Luckily Indy comes to the rescue and a fight breaks out in the bar. Of course Indy and Marion make it out of the bar before the whole place goes up in a fiery blaze. Marion yells at Indy “I'll tell you what; Until I get back my five thousand dollars, you're gonna get more than you bargained for. I'm your goddamn partner!” 
            Indiana and Mario fly to Cairo to begin their search for the dig site along with Indy’s friend Sallah. Right away Indiana and Marion are in danger from his archaeological rival Belloq (who is working for the Nazis) and his men. This is the start of the adventure of looking for the Ark of the Covenant.
            Indiana Jones is an amazing character. Harrison Ford almost was not Indiana the role almost went to Tom Seleck (a few other actors also tried out for the part). George Lucas did not want to use Ford since he was Han Solo in Star Wars but since Seleck had to back out Ford came in. I cannot even imagine anyone else being Indiana Jones, Ford is so perfect. Indiana Jones as a character is my idol I wish I could be a daring archaeologist and brilliant historian like him.
            Marion Ravenwood is my all time favorite movie character. She is the ultimate HBIC- Head Bitch in Charge. Right from the moment we first see her Marion wins a drinking game without batting an eye or passing out. When Indy comes walking into the bar she gives him a punch he could never see coming she tells him exactly what he did to her to make her so mad at him. All through the movie Marion is just kick ass she is tough, strong, feisty, and independent. She really is the only woman in the Indiana Jones movies who could keep up and match wits with Indiana. Marion has one of my all time favorite movie lines when she turns around and sees Indiana for the first time:
            “Indiana Jones. I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door.”
Just the way Karen Allen says this line is so good she just put so much behind it. You can tell she is just a bit hurt about seeing him again but says it with a sly, sarcastic smile.
            There was a program on the History channel which explained how the Indiana Jones movies are very true to how archaeology was done back in the 1930s. In the early 1900s there were no laws for explorers and archaeologists they would just go into countries and take what they wanted (almost all the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cypriot art is stolen and the British Museum pretty much stole all the sculptures from the Parthenon). Digs and ruins were and still are dangerous and real archaeologists, depending on where they are, run into gross bugs and snakes.
            What I find interesting is how the movie dealt with the legend of the Ark of the Covenant. It is still a relic many archaeologists and historians are seeking. Biblical archaeology is very dangerous since much of the Holy lands are in very dangerous areas of Africa and the Middle East. I personally believe there is no Ark left. There were so many invaders that came through Israel that it was most likely stolen from its holy temple and melted.
            Raiders of the Lost Ark is definitely my kind of movie. It makes history and archaeology look sexy and fun. The characters from Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood and Sallah and Belloq down to the henchmen and the swordsman in the market were just perfect. The script is smart and witty. Raiders is such a fun adventure that does not let up for two seconds it is one of the greatest action-adventure movies ever made.

Two of the most iconic movie scenes

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Double Indemnity (1944)

“How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?”

            Double Indemnity is considered one of the quintessential Noir films. Everything about it screams Noir.  
            Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is an insurance salesman in 1938. One of his clients is a man named Dietrichson with a bored and lonely wife named Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck). On the way back to his office one day Walter stops by Dietrchson’s house to talk about renewing his car insurance. Dietrichson is not there but Phyllis is and she greets Walter in nothing but a towel wrapped around her. When Phyllis comes downstairs (now fully dressed) Walter is completely taken by her. She asks him about accident insurance without his knowing it because he does not have enough money for it but she does and she can pay it off. Walter sees some shadiness about this plan. The next day he visits the home again and Phyllis tells Walter she often thinks about killing her husband but she never goes through it. Walter is so smitten with Phyllis he tells her he will plan the murder since he knows how they can get the insurance money without making the death look suspicious.     
            The two plan for weeks when finally the perfect opportunity arises: Dietrichson is going on a business trip and he has to take the train. What makes the whole situation even more perfect is that Dietrichson broke his leg they will make it seem he fell off the train.
            The plan works even Walter’s coworker, Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), who is known for his thoroughness believes the accident. But after a while Keyes sees through this death and hits the nail on head saying that Phyllis was working with someone else but he does not know who yet.
            Everything starts to unravel. Phyllis was never in love with Walter she was just using him for his insurance angle. Walter goes to Phyllis’ house where he will settle everything. She also had her own idea to settle things; she shoots Walter in the shoulder. At that moment she tells him now she really loves him but Walter does not believe her and gets his own revenge.
            I am not really sure how I feel about Double Indemnity. It is ranked on AFI’s list of the best one hundred films at number thirty-eight. There are some aspects like the writing by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, Wilder’s directing, Miklos Rosza’s score, the story being told through flashback, and the cinematography can lay claim for it to be a good classic film and as an example of what a Noir film is but not as one of the greatest films ever made. The dialogue and the story was there and the direction was great but I really felt that the acting was not what it could have been from Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Well maybe MacMurray was good he did well going from this nice salesman to falling so hard for a woman that he was willing to commit murder to be with her. Stanwyck I have seen her act better I was not thrilled with her…. and I think I was also really distracted by her awful wig. Just about the only thing I liked about Stanwyck were her clothes which were designed by Edith Head. The only good actor I felt was Edward G. Robinson as Keyes. The question is when did the man ever give a bad performance?
            One scene I did like and thought was genius was after Walter throws Dietrichson’s body on the track and Phyllis is waiting for him in the car. When Walter gets in the car Phyllis goes to start it but the car hesitates and does not start right away. Their faces show their paranoia. My mind started racing as to what would happen if the car really did not start as I am sure was what the characters were supposed to be thinking. That was the only time out of the whole film where I was not sure what would happen next and truly engrossed in the film.
            Double Indemnity is definitely a classic film to watch. Billy Wilder is one of the greatest writers/directors to have graced Hollywood. He made a great film but somewhere it just falls flat. The plot of the story has been seen over and over again but here even though I found the acting was not so great I found it more believable and not as boring because of the actors’ portrayal of the characters. My expectations of Double Indemnity were neither high nor low I really cannot pinpoint exactly why I felt the film was flat. I am sure there is something I am missing; maybe I will give Double Indemnity another chance some time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

La Vie en Rose

“Non, je ne regrette rien”

            La Vie En Rose is a biopic based on the life of the famous singer Edith Piaf. Piaf led a very troubled and stormy life from the time she was young. The movie depicts the singer’s troubles of alcohol and drug abuse and through all her troubles had one of the most beautiful singing voices in the world.
            If you want a full summary of the movie just read a biography of Piaf’s life and you will get the gist of it. The story is told in non-sequential order through flashbacks.
            What I want to discuss most is Marion Cotillard’s acting in the movie. The review in the poster claims the reviewer is is “The most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another I’ve ever encountered on film.” The reviewer could not have summed up Cotillard’s performance any better. If the real Piaf had not died forty-seven years ago you would think you were watching her on film acting out her own story. Cotillard completely dove into the character and gave it her all along with so much more. I did not know who Cotillard was before I watched this in my French class last year (what a shock that I should have watched it there). I was so blown away by this woman’s performance; I could not get over how intense Cotillard was with her acting. This is a performance that almost every actor or actress should do this is their job to make us believe they are really the person or character they are portraying. Another reviewer for a newspaper said that the Academy should not even vote they should just hand the statue to her. I am sure there was a vote but Cotillard walked away with the golden statue and absolutely deserved it without a doubt (this was the first time the Oscar for Best Actress had gone to a French- language role). Cotillard’s performance was so amazing it really restored my faith that there are great actors left in Hollywood.
            La Vie en Rose is a great movie. We are shown glimpses of a life of a woman who was just always troubled. We have seen biopics like this before where a famous person goes off the handle even though they have had a great career and have people around them that care and we are supposed to feel bad for them. What makes La Vie en Rose so different from all the other biopics out there is Marion Cotillard playing Edith Piaf. Without her in the lead role it would have just been another foreign film and another biopic where we did not care that this person who had it all destroyed their life. But we are left caring because Cotillard went so deep with the role we could truly feel the torment and pain the character went through. There are some parts where she looks so ugly that she is scary and I doubt most actresses would be willing to go that far. The more I watch French films the more I find that their style of filmmaking is incredible and more often than not much better than American filmmaking and acting (maybe the French are more passionate about what they do than Americans are?).
            I highly recommend seeing La Vie end Rose. You will have to read subtitles and the movie is a bit long but trust me Marion Cotillard and the filmmaking are worth sitting through. I guarantee you will be left feeling satisfied.

Friday, May 27, 2011

St. Martin's Lane/ Sidewalks of London (1938)

“Everything's luck, see. And good temper. And if you can take a joke. The whole of life's a joke.”

            St. Martin’s Lane better known outside the UK as Sidewalks of London is about a group of buskers or street performers. Buskers were people who would perform outside of London theaters entertaining the crowds as they wait on line to see a show. Charles Stagger (Charles Laughton) is one of many buskers making their living entertaining this way. One day as he is performing a young woman sneaks up and steals his sixpence. She runs away before he can get her but eventually they meet again at a coffee stand. The young woman’s name is Liberty (Vivien Leigh), Libby for short. Also at the coffee stand just happens to be a famous songwriter named Harley Prentiss (Rex Harrison). Libby sees that Prentiss has put down his gold cigarette case without realizing it and she steals the case.
            Charlie sees Libby take the case and he runs after her. He follows her to an abandoned home where Libby seems to be squatting. Libby starts to dance around the large open room. Charlie sees her dance and is taken by her. He blackmails Libby into coming with him so he can turn her in to the police for stealing the case. Charlie takes her back to his place for the night.
            After that night Charlie and Libby become friends. They create a little act along with Charlie’s friends Arthur and Gentry. He never does turn Libby in for the cigarette case but he does have Prentiss come to pick up the case. Prentiss likes what he hears as the busker group practices a new routine. He asks them to perform at a party he will be hosting. On the night of the party Charlie and Libby get into a heated argument over how foolish busking is. Libby goes to Prentiss’s party alone and there that night is a theatrical manager who promises Libby a stage career.
            Charlie waits up all night for Libby. When she comes home he is angry with her but he professes his love for her even going so far as to ask her to marry him. She becomes afraid and once everyone in the house hears her screaming in embarrassment he walks out.
            Liberty becomes the newest West End sensation. Charlie becomes so depressed he turns to drink. He gets thrown in jail for four months after hitting a police officer when he calls to Libby outside a stage door theater and creates a ruckus.
            Libby sees Charlie four months later. She treats him like the dear friend he was to her. She tries to do something good for him by getting him a small audition on a real stage in front of her manager and his people. As Charlie repeats his monologue people keep interrupting. He walks out with Libby chasing after him. She is truly upset that he was not given a proper chance because he is a good actor.
            At the end of the film Charlie realizes that he belongs to the streets. The only place in the world where he belongs is being a busker out on St. Martin’s Lane.
            The performances by Laughton, Leigh, and Harrison are excellent. Laughton I am not really a fan of, I have seen him in other films and was not really impressed. Some of his scenes in this film were way too over the top and theatrical. Vivien Leigh was incredible. You can clearly see she had a great screen presence that the following year would become internationally known. She made Liberty a spunky, feisty, driven character. I loved her cockney accent in some scenes; I just love her British accent in general. The scenes where Leigh was dancing especially the first scene she dances in she was fantastic she was so graceful and beautiful. There was one scene I thought was interesting: Prentiss gets a call from someone saying they want Libby to come to Hollywood. The following year Leigh would be in Hollywood and she would create one of film’s most iconic characters. Rex Harrison all I can say about him is how handsome he was. I am so used to seeing him as the cranky old man from My Fair Lady and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir that seeing him young and not cranky was nice.
            Sidewalks of London is a very good film. I liked the story it was different since I never heard or knew of buskers before this. Each actor right down to the extras give fantastic performances. This is definitely a film to see especially if you are a fan of Vivien Leigh this is one proof that she is much more than Scarlett O’Hara. As of right now Sidewalks of London is available to view on youtube. Take advantage of this available viewing before the film is taken off the site.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Too Hot to Handle (1938)

"You’re the best there is and that’s what’s the matter with you!"

            When Too Hot to Handle was made Clark Gable and Myrna Loy had just been crowned King and Queen of Hollywood in a nationwide poll in the fan magazines. Their crowning came just after they starred together and were perfectly paired in Test Pilot. So of course MGM capitalized on two of their most popular (and money making) stars’ new titles and their previous roles by pairing them yet again in another aviation themed film.
            Gable plays Chris Hunter a newsreel cameraman. He is widely known as the best newsreel cameraman in the business. He is not liked by too many other newsreel cameramen not because he is really good and captures all the action but because he often fakes his works. A rival of his Bill Dennis (Walter Pidgeon) decides to play a trick on Chris along with some other cameramen. The trick is there is supposed to be a cholera outbreak and that there was a shipment of serum sent into China (where they all happen to be to film a war between China and Japan). They are going to capture the flight coming in with the serum and Chris will be left out in the dust without the story.
            Chris somehow hears about a plane coming in and he is out on the landing field. He has the best shot from his car. As he follows the plane the driver gets clumsy and crashes into the plane. The plane catches fire, Chris races out to the plane and finds that the pilot is a woman. He saves the life of aviatrix Alma Harding (Myrna Loy). She tells Chris that there is no serum it was all a lie… unfortunately the camera picks this confession up.
            Alma tells Chris not to send the film back for people to see since it would shame her making her look bad and she would never get a job again. Chris likes Alma enough to destroy the film. Dennis has other tricks up his sleeve to get back at Chris… he manages to get his hands on the film Chris thought he destroyed and Dennis gives the real film to his boss.
            Dennis blackmails Chris and things between them with Alma start to go a little crazy. The film finds its way to Dennis’ boss and all three are left out of a job since they have all been disgraced. Alma is mad at both men especially Chris since they started to really fall in love with each other. Chris does get to redeem himself in the end and I am more than sure you know that Alma and Chris get together.

            I found this film to be excellently acted by everyone there was not one performance I felt was over the top or not well done. Gable and Loy together are so fantastic.
            Loy wrote in her autobiography that she knew how to play against Gable she always played to his tough side and you can clearly see her do so. Alma is an edgy fast talking character but you can see where Loy brings in a little bit more to play against Gable. This was Loy’s third time playing an aviatrix with guts and it never gets old she was perfect. One of the many reasons why I adore Loy as an actress comes up in this film: Chris and Alma are talking and to kind of not fall in love with her he tells her the two of them as a newsreel team are pals like the comic strip Mutt and Jeff. Something comes up a few minutes later and Chris says it may be too dangerous for them to do. Alma is not afraid and she perfectly, sarcastically, coldly says to Chris “What’s the matter Mr. Mutt? Lost your nerve?” Just the way she said that line and her expression was acting perfection. When Loy says “nerve” she gives her lip a curl that even if she tried to do it again she probably could not it was like a real genuine reaction.
            I really enjoyed Gable. The last half hour of the film he was so great in. The ending is where the film gets silly but it gets silly in a good way. I will not give away what happens but I was laughing and it was Gable who was making me laugh. Chris is a character who was not the greatest guy ever he used people to get a good story he even used Alma but I liked him. I guess Gable really did have such charm that you could not help but like him even if he was a jerk.      
      Walter Pidgeon I have never seen in a film before but I really did not like Dennis at all which I guess was the point since we are supposed to be cheering for Loy and Gable to get together. I do look forward to viewing more films Pidgeon has been in I have heard he is a fabulous actor. Marjorie Main plays a secretary in Chris’s office. If anyone has seen her in The Women, Meet Me in St. Louis, or any of the Ma and Pa Kettle films you know this woman is hilarious and she does not let up here. Her humor and delivery is quick and sarcastic and perfect.
            Too Hot to Handle is a great film. There are a lot of funny moments along with some heart stopping action moments. The writing is excellent with plenty of bite and humor which the cast acts out to perfection. The back of the cover declares “Action meets adventure. A Golden Era treasure”; this declaration could not be any more true. Too Hot to Handle is one of the many films which defines 1930s comedy as well as action and drama and why so many people look to the Golden Age of cinema. It is a classic film too good not to be viewed.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

“Genghis Khan comes back! Genghis Khan leads the East against the world!”

            The Mask of Fu Manchu is one of those old “horror” films from the 1930s that is so much fun to laugh at. All I could do while watching this film was laugh.
            Fu Manchu (played by Boris Karloff) wants the mask of Genghis Kahn because it apparently has great powers to where he can take over the world. Some British archeologists from The British Museum have also been looking for the mask. One of the archeologists Sir Lionel Barton knows the exact location but he will not tell anyone where it is.  After he talks with his associates Nyland Smith and Terrance “Terry” Granville he gets kidnapped and brought to Fu Manchu’s palace.
            Fu Manchu tortures Barton by lying him down under a bell without food and water and sleep for days. Barton’s daughter Sheila has been really worried about him. She tells Terry and Smith that her father has told her where the mask along with a sword is buried. Word gets to Fu Manchu that the mask and sword have been found. He sends a messenger to Sheila, Terry, and Smith that he will give them Barton back is they hand Fu Manchu the mask and sword. Terry decides to give the evil man a replica of each artifact.
            Unfortunately Terry has no such luck in fooling Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu has Terry tortured by his sadistic daughter Fah Lo See (Myrna Loy). After she has tortured Terry Manchu injects him with a concoction made of all kinds of venom that will allow Terry’s mind to be controlled. He sends Terry back to convince Sheila and Smith that Barton (who is now dead) now wants the mask and sword moved to a different location.
            Needless to say the three Britons come very close to the end but with a lot of luck and only six minutes left to the film they save the day and kill Fu Manchu and get the mask and sword.
            The plot sounds really good I would go see a film with this plot today but this is part the reason why some old films get a bad rep. The acting was horrible and outrageously overdone especially by Karen Morely who plays Sheila. It was like she was giving her all and it just came out as overacting to the point where it was sad. Of course I had to see this film no matter how corny it was because Myrna Loy is in it and this is when she was still in the vamp/exotic stage of her career. I was cracking up so bad from just seeing her! I will say Loy definitely had the face to play the exotic roles which is funny because she was of English, Welsh, and Scottish descent. What I cracked me up the most with is that Loy is playing a sadistic Asian woman who pretty much rapes Terry by keeping him “entertained.” From the moment Fah Lo See lays eyes on Terry all she has on her mind is having her way with him.  Karloff I have never really seen in any other film besides this but Fu Manchu was a panic he was the corniest part of the whole film. There was one scene in the film where  Manchu was talking about his daughter who is a character not a real person but I was thinking of Loy he was talking to a crowd of people gathered at his palace and he told them to listen to his daughter even though she is “ugly and insignificant.” Then a few scenes later he tells someone that his daughter is beautiful!  With Fu Manchu we know that he is evil because he keeps talking about taking over the world and only leads the captives being carried by one of his followers to their torturous ending but with Fah So Lee we see her sadistic side when she yells for her henchmen to whip Terry and she looks sexualy excited in a twisted way.

            The Mask of Fu Manchu does have some good points despite being really silly in others. Fu Manchu is a very sinister and diabolical character as well as Fah Lo See. Had the script and the acting been a bit better surrounding the two sinister characters the film may not have been so cheesy. The plot is really interesting you can see where Indiana Jones may have been inspired from.
            I say sit through The Mask of Fu Manchu at least once especially if you are really into cheesy ‘30s “horror” films or if you want to see Myrna Loy before she broke out of her vamp stereotype. The film is a great laugh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wild Target

“My name is Victor Maynard, and I am 54 years old and I work as a professional killer.”

            If you live in the US you may not have heard of Wild Target unless you are a big fan of Rupert Grint or Emily Blunt. I was in England last summer and all I saw on the side of buses was posters and advertisements for this movie. I like Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint so I had to see this somehow.  
            The story is mainly about a professional assassin named Victor Maynard. He is a very well known assassin who no one knows what he looks like. Victor comes from a family of assassins. He mother is always on him for his kills and telling him to stay focused.
            Victor gets called for a new assignment: he is to kill a sexy, free spirited con artist named Rose. She has pissed off a man named Ferguson by switching out a Rembrandt painting with a fake. Victor starts following Rose but she knows she is being watched and eventually gets away from him and he says to himself that she is out of control. He comes across her again but this time he actually saves her instead of killing her. Since he did not kill Rose when he had the chance Ferguson sends his body guards to kill her instead. Victor shoots the man who is about to kill Rose. There is another of Ferguson’s men, he has the assassin and the con artist cornered but a kid named Tony comes out of nowhere and shoots the body guard in the shoulder. He lies to both Tony and Rose telling them that he is an undercover detective. He takes an immediate liking to Tony and tells the young man he can be trained to be a “detective.”  
            All three manage to get away. Victor takes Rose and Tony to his house where they will be safe. The three become very close.
            In the mean time Ferguson has hired an assassin who is supposed to be matched with Victor. His name is Hector Dickson and he is all too eager to kill his competitor.
            Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, and Bill Nighy are excellent together. Blunt is so good as Rose she really makes the movie. Her best scene is when we are first introduced to Rose: we see her literally riding her bike across Trafalgar Square not giving a crap about the traffic lights or cars. She then rides her bike across the front of the National Gallery where there is a sign that says no bikes allowed. She lights firecrackers to distract the museum guards and then proceeds to ride her bike THROUGH the museum itself!!! Rose is a very good character I liked her craziness and boldness. Blunt does an excellent job she is one of the only actresses around today who is truly talented in any film she makes. Grint is a panic. From the moment we see him he is a paranoid mess but he is a lovable character. Tony and Rose are always going at it in a brother/sister kind of way that is really cute. Nighy I have never seen in a film before but I liked him he was really good as Victor. Right from the beginning even though he was supposed to be this ruthless killer he still had a heart to him.
            Martin Freeman from the British version of The Office was Hector Dickson. He was really clean cut and put together that he looked really creepy. I found it funny that he played Tim in The Office Jim in the Us Office is based off of and Emily Blunt is married to John Krasinski who plays Jim. Little six degrees of The Office separation going on.
            Wild Target is really funny and very entertaining. I liked the plot of assassins and con- artists. I believe Wild Target is now available on DVD in the US. If you want to see something different than the typical crappy love stories and assassin stories I highly recommend watching this movie.
Wild Target movie poster

Monday, May 23, 2011

Whipsaw (1935)

I always enjoy seeing an actor or actress play a character that we are not used to seeing. In Whipsaw we get to see Myrna Loy play a jewel thief while Spencer Tracy is literally the man chasing after/keeping an eye on her.
            Vivian Palmer (Loy) is a jewel thief who runs a scam with her boyfriend Ed and his friend Harry. The three separate after the heist but now they have another group of thieves looking for the pearls they stole form them. Vivian heads to New York. Word gets to the New York government that Vivian is in town so they send an agent Mac McBride to go undercover as someone looking to get in on a job with the threesome. Mac poses as Danny Ackerman.
            Vivian and Mac try to stay one step ahead of some bad guys who are after Ed. Somewhere along the way Vivian finds out or can tell that Danny is really a government agent. She does not tell him she knows who he is. They both use each other to get to Ed and Harry. The two start to fall in love as well (which should not be totally shocking at all).          
            Ed has hidden pearls from the last time the trio pulled off a heist in the handle of Vivian’s brush. She swears she does not know about the pearls’ location and she genuinely does not know. One night her brush falls and the pearls come out. Mac no longer believes Vivian and arrests her.
            While trying to take Vivian in she and Mac run into the other group of thieves in a small diner. Mac has Vivian go into the bathroom by smudging dirt on her face. After she leaves Mac starts a gun fight here he is wounded and the thieves die.
            You should know the ending: Vivian and Mac fall in love and get together.
              Myrna Loy I have to say was alright. Maybe it was the character who was a bit blah but there was not one moment where Loy smiled or looked happy at all except for maybe the end. It seemed like her character had the weight of the world on her shoulders or like Loy was not enjoying herself making the film. Tracy and Loy definitely save Whipsaw from being outrageously boring. It is odd that after Loy’s success in The Thin Man playing comedy that they put her in such a boring story that really did nothing to show more of her range. It was as if they were still trying to find her type and put her in whatever they could. This was Spencer Tracy’s first film at MGM. Tracy had played the same thing over at Fox before he came to MGM so this was not took much of a stretch from what he was used to playing. The following year he would get his type of films changed and be nominated for an Oscar. Loy and Tracy were a good screen couple though you can see their chemistry. One character touch I thought was nice was how Mac called Vivian by her last name throughout the whole film it was like he was keeping his distance from getting to close to her.
            The story is not too bad but it gets to be a bit much in the middle when Vivian and Mac stay at a farm house. I won’t give it away but one part it was trying to humanize Vivian to show she is not just a crook and has a change of heart about the way she has been living her life.
            Whipsaw is not a bad film. It feels slow in some parts and I found others a little confusing. With a stronger script the film could have been even better. I caught Whipsaw on TCM a few weeks ago but I will definitely be buying it on DVD eventually (come on, by now if you follow this blog you should know how much I adore Myrna Loy so I must get it). Watch Whipsaw for the fact that it is a Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy pairing.