THE DEVIL COMMANDS ( 1941 )

 It’s so hard for me sometimes to explain exactly why I love these ‘old’ movies as I do. I have such a visceral and emotional response to these shimmering ( or murky ) B&W films whether they be “A” pictures or “B” that it’s hard to explain intellectually. Maybe words aren’t needed among us.

DEVIL COMMANDS ( BORIS KARLOFF - II )

I love THE DEVIL COMMANDS.” I love the low-budgetness of its production though well-done. It has a succinctly executed plot thanx to Edward Dymytryk. Once again, BORIS KARLOFF owns the movie he stars in. I find him compelling to watch: the sonorous resonance of his voice, its soft accent, his dark handsome looks. I can picture him with a white dinner jacket against his swarthy complexion dancing at the Mocambo, though I am romanticizing him. He probably was a stay-at-home-bookworm. Also he’s just a darned good actor. I think becuz he mostly starred in the horror genre, he might be over-looked and under-rated as an actor; Karloff has the pathos of Frankenstein’s monster, a kindly scientist and a terrifying, sadistic grave~robber. He can be soft or crazed. Hell…he’s every bit as good as Spencer Tracy.

His pathos as the grieving Dr. Julian Blair in “The Devil Commands” touches my heart. He’s rather the avuncular absent-minded professor in the beginning of this movie. We see his comfortably happy marriage to wife Helen played by Shirley Warde. She’d have certainly done Moms like Henry Aldrich’s and Andrew Hardy’s proud. She made an impression with me…very sweet. She helps him with his experiments and playfully chides him for working so hard. During Karloff’s demonstration before fellow scientists, I just loved the way he quietly asks his wife if her hair is wet when he’s about to strap her to one of his experiments. He was so soft, quiet and tender with her.

This is the hypothesis he intends to prove:

DEVIL COMMANDS ( BORIS KARLOFF ~ I )

“You will be the first people…to see the proof that the human brain gives off an impulse that can be recorded.”

But you know what else we see…we see a man spiraling down…down…down; a man turning his scientific experiments for the good of mankind…into using Science as a coping mechanism for his grief, as his wife has been killed by an out of control car.

With what, at first, could be a scientific possibility, has now gone awry as Karloff discovers that he has heard his dead wife’s voice:

“Well now I know there is a way for the dead to talk to the living.”

Skepticism hits Karloff between the eyes when his fellow scientists begin to scoff and question his sanity:

KARLOFF: “Well I believe that the human brain, the brain that invented radio, is itself the most perfect sending and receiving medium on earth.”

SCIENTIST #1: “But what if you do find a way to pierce the veil between us and them.”
SCIENTIST #2: “And let the world of the dead back in upon the living?”

SCIENTIST #1: “We don’t know what evil may be lurking behind that veil waiting to get through.”

SCIENTIST #2: “What if you let loose on humanity something much more terrible than any fear that haunts us now?”

DEVIL COMMANDS ( KARLOFF & AMANDA DUFF )

Karloff’s goose is cooked and his daughter ( played by Amanda Duff though I longed to see Anne Gwynne in this) and science assistant ( played by * Richard Fiske ) witness his discretization.

DEVIL COMMANDS ( KARLOFF & IGOR )

Faithful man-servant Karl ( played by Ralph Penney ) suggests Karloff visit the medium he uses to talk to his dead mom. ( Wha’? ) Now it’s Karloff’s turn to play skeptic but he humors poor dumb Karl. Karloff meets up with Mrs. Walters, played by the great Anne Revere. Now I might be alone in this, but I find Revere majestic in every role she plays; Mom or Mean. Even as the mother of Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck or Monty Clift, I find her sternly beautiful with a Puritan/MidWestern look and a grand speaking voice. I could listen to her all day. I think Revere would have made a good Mrs. Danvers…or Lady MacBeth. As the Medium, she is debunked by Karloff but he does experience an electrical sensation from her that is the only real part of her act. Could this be love? Hardly.

“This is science Mrs. Walters. There’s nothing of the occult about it!”

Karloff has shunted his daughter aside and adopts Revere as confidante/co-conspirator in his scientific exploits. He uses her for her energy, but Karloff’s motives though pure are wacky. Revere has different ideas in mind; and they have a purely financial bent. Please note the look on her face as Karloff talks of his plan to communicate with the dead. I don’t think I exaggerate that she has a look that is exalted, rapturous and down right ecstacy-filled. But her voice is cold…cold…cold when she says ( in her perfect enunciation ):

DEVIL COMMANDS ( ANNE REVERE )

“If you can do what you’re trying to do, you’ll own the world. You know that don’t you?”

Whew! Her face was intense, her eyes unblinking. I’m telling you, I watched her.

Revere is driving the bus now, taking the reins of the household. And I did think of Lady MacBeth with her control over Karloff, moving him out of town, making things easy for him to just concentrate on completing his experiments…bringing her that much closer to riches she believes await. She doesn’t allow Karloff to get medical care for Karl…now a shell-shocked victim of Karloff’s single-minded determination and experimentation. Revere pulls poor Karloff away from all he knows. When we see him two years later, his hair is unkempt and unruly. He looks disheveled. Bodies are now missing from the town.

His housekeeper Mrs. Marcy is played by the ubiquitous Dorothy Adams. Oh you’d know her if you saw  “LAURA.”  She is prompted by the town’s sheriff to investigate what’s going on in Karloff’s laboratory. ( The whole town’s talkin’. ) It will be the last thing she ever does. That whole scene with her in the lab was great; the music, her fear. Why’d she go inside that room. What the heck is under that tarp?

DEVIL COMMANDS ( I )

Poor Karloff…his single-mindedness endangers his own daughter and puts him back in Frankenstein monster mode where townspeople with torches are after him. What an eerie sight in his laboratory,  to see the bodies of the missing dead trussed up in Diver Dan helmets…the noisy whirlwind of energy centrifically forcing the bodies to lean forward. Revere is eventually and justly hoisted on her own petard, and so is Karloff as it all comes crashing down around their ears.

ISLE OF THE DEAD ( II )The Walking Dead” “The Raven” “The Mummy” “The Black Cat and “Black Friday” are among my favorite Karloff films. And you can read my guest blogger at Fernando’s Corner talk about:  “Isle of the Dead.”

 

 

♦  ♦    ♦  ♦

KARLOFF SUTS

Journeys In Classic Film is hosting the blogathon of TCM’s SUMMER UNDER THE STARS. ‘SUTS’ is TCM’s annual event where each day they celebrate a different movie star by showing a day of their films. Please click the banner above to see the other entries in this great event hosted by Kristen Lopez. There’s a smorgasbord of films to fill the end to summer.

 

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HIGH BARBAREE ( 1947 )

 

AUG 2016 ~ SUMMER UNDER THE STARS ~ TCM

Hi Kiddies! It’s that time of year again. TCM’s annual SUMMER UNDER THE STARS event, where every August, TCM has one full day of programming to celebrate a different classic movie star. 31 Count ‘em 31! This year the likes of Lucille Ball, Hedy Lamarr, Humphrey Bogart, James Edwards, Spencer Tracy, Charles Boyer and many more will be featured. The blog Journeys in Classic Film, helmed by Kristen Lopez, will host the TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon ( or SUTS as we vets like to call it ) where bloggers write about the day’s star. You need only click on Marilyn above, to see the other entries in this blogathon. For my contribution, I’ll be weighing in on today’s star: M-G-M’s VAN JOHNSON on today his 100th birthday. (…And it’s my sister’s birthday today too, but I can’t say the year! Hey Sis! )

♠  ♠    ♠  ♠

HIGH BARBAREE ( MOVIE POSTER )

HIGH BARBAREE is a romantic journey of a young couple in love; in love since childhood…in love since before they knew what “in love” meant. What a sweet movie; sweet but not saccharine…and with some of life’s hard knocks mixed in. 

HIGH BARBAREE ( III )

I’m starting to like Van Johnson the more and more I see of him. He’s attractive, a big beefy guy. I love his voice and boyish good looks. I’m attracted to his earnestness most of all. I don’t know that he has edge, but definitely earnestness. He’s got the perfect partner with M-G-M girl-next-door, June Allyson. She’s pretty as a picture with the right hint of tomboyishness, femininity and yes, sexiness. ( I know…I know: June “PETER PAN-COLLARED” Allyson? Yeah…it’s the husky voice thing. ) I really saw something underneath Allyson’s wholesome sheen: her determination and sex appeal. Now I’m not suggesting they’re Lunt & Fontanne, Leigh & Olivier, Tracy & Hepburn or Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy. And no, they don’t have the sizzle of Ladd & Lake. But Van and June fit each other like a hand in a velvet glove. It is an easy, comfortable to watch in the films they made together: ( “Two Girls & A Sailor”  “Till Clouds Roll By”  “The Bride Goes Wild”  and “Too Young to Kiss” ).

HIGH BARBAREE ( II )HIGH BARBAREE - II

A flashback is used for this story of old Ameri-cana; a bu-colic child-hood from another era. And it was your typical take of a girl and boy in love: he leads, has adventures…and she follows, adoringly – giving him the unending encouragement that he can do ANYthing. No, she doesn’t receive the same support and validation that life is her oyster. He doesn’t prop her up with cries of “You can do it Nancy!” Oh boy, is this ever another time. ( Or is it? ) But it’s all good. Because she’s his cheerleader, he’ll love her all the more. See how that works? Its a win-win situation, no? Hey…every couple falls in love their own way. The fact that she joined the military makes me think there’s some independence to her.

HIGH BARBAREE ( I )  HIGH BARBAREE ( V )

Thomas Mitchell is the very facile and engaging Uncle Thad, an endearing old windbag with a Peter Pan complex, telling tall tales of the sea to his hero-worshipping nephew. I am struck by the character Tangaros ( Al Kikume ). He makes me think of the regal bearing of a Rex Ingram I especially like the Mother ( played by Geraldine Wall ). She wasn’t the apron-wearing type of Mom like Mrs. Hardy. She was cool, calm and collected with a calming voice and a bearing that makes one think she could have had her own life ( read: career ) if she hadn’t chosen to fall for a country doctor ( Henry Hull ). My favorite scene in the entire movie is her playing the piano with her son, played as a youngster by Jimmy Hunt ( before he saw “Invaders from Mars” ). Finally a Hollywood casting agent got it right in picking the right child star to play the adult star as a kid. The little boy’s wonderment of the “G” key of her piano was so nicely done. What does this mean? See the movie.

HIGH BARBAREE ( IV )

I didn’t expect the movie to show the down side of life:

 Puppy love torn apart

“What-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up” dreams deferred
   for “The Good Responsible Profitable Adult Life Of A Grown-
   Up Who Wants To Get Ahead” reality

Competition from a sleek blonde ( Marilyn Maxwell ) – Is it
   only in movie fables that warm apple pie can compete and
   win out over a sizzling tall drink o’ water?

 Burying men at sea

HIGH BARBAREE ( VI )

What is sadder still is seeing Van’s character face reality; he’s carried a tale from boyhood into manhood during a life and death situation. Van Johnson puts across the dramatic moments of the film very well. The camera, steady on Johnson, tears welling up in his eyes… is a great dramatic moment for him. The movie has the bittersweet sensibility of “The Human Comedy.” It’s the kind of movies they did so well in the 40’s. Nothing fancy, no trickery, not auteur-y. Pretty linear. A sweet story of a boy and girl in love.

I don’t know if it all should have really worked at all, but emotionally, I enjoyed the movie. I came away with wanting to give Van Johnson’s career another look too. ( That can either be seen as a good or bad thing; but I like him. ) As a filmmaker, I probably should have been checking out Jack Conway’s directing style. But usually my first impression of a movie is its telling of the story.

HIGH BARBAREE ( VII )

“High Barbaree” is certainly rich in adventures for the young boy to help shape him into the man he is to be. ( That “G-note road” scene between mother & son is small but particularly poignant to me. Even Mom senses something special about her little boy. ) 

HIGH BARBAREE - I

In a lot of my classic movie-viewing, I don’t have to go all-Hollywood with a happy ending but boy, I really hope for one in this movie. Im telling you, see the movie and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

 

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GUEST IN THE HOUSE ( 1944 )

ANNE BAXTER ( SUMMER UNDER THE STARS )

For some reason Anne Baxter stays under my radar. Oh I know, the fault lies within me. I like my stars sparkly and bedazzled and volcanic most times. Well hopefully with TCM featuring Miss Baxter’s films for their Summer Under the Stars series, I can broaden my horizons with her work. My write-up today is part of a blogathon being hosted by Kristen Lopez of Journeys Into Classic Film. Here is where you’ll find other great entries for stars featured this August on TCM. Let me tell you about “GUEST IN THE HOUSE.” No, it’s not one of her films featured today, but perhaps I can pique your interest to seek it out.

You already know Anne Baxter’s Eve Harrington in “All About Eve.” Thank heavens I saw “All About Eve” before this film. If I hadn’t, I might never watch an Anne Baxter movie again. In “Guest In the House” she plays one of the most unsettling, infuriatingly galling characters I have EVER seen in a movie. She’s creepy and insidious and deadly. I despise her.

GUEST IN THE HOUSE ( V )

Evelyn checks out Douglas’ work, while he checks HER out

Anne Baxter plays Evelyn Heath, a recently discharged patient from a mental hospital.
( Pay no attention to the
Red Flag here. ) She is the fiancee to young Dan Proctor ( actor Scott McKay ) the doctor at the institution Evelyn was in. This type of “meet-cute” no one needs. He introduces her to his family; the way she greets them is oddly unsettling. Her affect is kind of off; she’s dramatically breathless. Yo Evelyn! Relax. Sheesh! Evelyn is aware of what she is doing. She keeps a diary, which serves as a great device for letting us know what’s going on in that twisted little head of hers ( via a 1940’s voice-over, of course ). She willfully destroys the peace, tranquility and equilibrium in the household she’s been introduced to.

The Proctor family is a happy bunch, laughing, playful, kibbitzing with each other until this beautiful, wounded, damaged cancer infects them. The family consists of Ralph Bellamy as Douglas Proctor ~ the artist-husband, Ruth Warrick ( playing Ann Proctor ) his wife, and their two kids. Also part of the family is Aunt Martha, played by the indomitable Aline MacMahon. She’s the Matriarch of this whole brood. Mother Courage.

One by one, Evelyn picks off family members. Getting her fiancee out of the way first is a piece of cake. Its wonderfully infuriating to watch her play him like a violin as you do with a man in love. She makes him jealous…gets mad at him becuz he’s jealous…then forgives his jealousy because its so cute how he loves her. ( ??!! ) She convinces him to go away so he can come back to her later. He buys the ruse and leaves her with his family. In fact, she sticks psychological pins in the entire family and revels in watching them twist. She always says something a little left/right of center, or drops an “unintended” innuendo here and there, and then retreats behind a wall to watch, or behind her illness. She makes my skin crawl.

GUEST IN THE HOUSE ( IIII )

For Evelyn’s next victim, we must look to Douglas’ model Miriam. She’s played by the statuesque Marie (“The Body”) McDonald. Evelyn visits his art studio and makes a couple of wisecracks to McDonald. “I would die before I’d pose like that.” The model is free and breezy because she has nothing to hide. Then this little snip of a mental patient comes in, tosses some veiled apsersions and makes McDonald annoyed and upset. It sort of pushes Douglas & her together. He takes Miriam down to the beach to calm her nerves and they go into town to relax and shake off the funk she’s now in, thanks to Evelyn.

But coming home late together and being slightly tipsy heightens all sorts of suspicions of impropriety. McDonald has to quit this gig and leave the house.

For me, Evelyn’s most insidious turn is with the young daughter. When the two meet for the first time on the staircase, the child is taken with Evelyn’s beauty, wants to touch her. But as the child reaches for her, Evelyn recoils as though she were faced with a hot poker. ( What the… ). Its not fair, and downright hateful for Evelyn to twist a young mind like she does. She put thoughts into the child’s head that she hadn’t the maturity to process. Yeah, a perfect victim perhaps, but difficult to watch. Evelyn makes an ally of the child, wooing the little girl into her web. Its discomfitting to watch her ‘groom’ this child. Later when the child adopts some of Evelyns neuroses, Im in utter shock and it’s one of the last straws for Ann.

GUEST IN THE HOUSE ( III )Evelyn’s last point of attack is wife Ann ( Ruth Warrick ). Warrick does not play her usual imperious self in this movie the way she was in “Daisy Kenyon” or “Citizen Kane.” She’s playful and easy-going at the beginning of the movie before Evelyn’s poison courses through her shoulder pads. As the plot progresses, Ann goes from her happy self to doubting suspicions she’ll harbor after little Miss Iago gets through with her. The playful-ness dries up and alcohol starts to flow. Evelyn plays them all so well she’s even driven Douglas into her arms as a Muse to replace Miriam. Ann seeing how chummy these two now are, leaves her home. Douglas new assignment is to paint a mural for the chapel, but the painting is causing him frustration. He can’t get a handle on it. He doesn’t realize it’s difficult to paint evil.

GUEST IN THE HOUSE ( VI )

Evil. Too overblown a word? Naaaaah. She IS evil, and does a wonderful job at turns being coquettish, playing the victim, seductive, sadistic, frightened, manic…straight~up living in a fantasy crazy. I’m just thinking by 1944 have I seen a female be this psychologically destructive in a film? I can’t say as I have. Ill say Anne Baxter does it first…and does it well. Im checking out her filmography and noting the varied roles she played throughout her career. I think she was among the finer, younger leading lady / character actresses from the classic era. Today will be a great day for me to visit her work ~ and put her on my radar.

Click here for TCM’s complete listing of films this month. And now…have a very unsettling experience with “Guest in the House” but, don’t overstay your welcome:

 

 

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Day 1 – HOT AND BOTHERED: The Films of 1932

CHECK OUT DAY 1 of our “HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON: THE FILMS OF 1932.”

Once upon a screen...

WE’RE HERE to bring you the rich, the notorious and the dregs of society.  We offer you high brows and low lives.  We illustrate the worst of the human condition and the high enjoyment of sin.  We bring you attitudes and words that define the pre-code era and Images and characters that ushered in filmdom’s golden age.  We have it all in debauched glory offered by bloggers far and wide for your entertainment.  Prepare to be HOT & BOTHERED.

HOT and BOTHERED Marlene

The HOT & BOTHERED: The Films of 1932 Blogathon is as fun an event as I’ve ever hosted made extra special by the fact that my co-host is the passionate, Theresa Brown of CineMaven’s Essays From the Couch.  Always ready for a classic film discussion, Theresa brings unbridled energy to classic movies at every turn.  Sadly, as is all too often the case of late, I’m really just along for the ride.  The gorgeous…

View original post 473 more words

HOT & BOTHERED: The Films of 1932

🙂 WELCOME. PREPARE TO BE HOT and BOTHERED.🙂

Aurora and I have done our best to put you in that “pre~code” mood. And 1932 is just the year that can do it, too. 

HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON ~ ( Shanghai Express )  HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON ~ ( A Farewell to Arms )  HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON ~ ( Call Her Savage )  HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON ~ ( Sign of the Cross )

I am pleased as punch to have been co-hosting this event with one of the classic-film writers I truly admire. I’ve wanted to work with her since forever but her dance card was always full. Well now I have. Her blog, ONCE UPON A SCREEN, has been involved with such annual stalwart events as the ‘What A Character‘, ‘Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage‘ and the ‘31 Days of Oscar‘ Blogathons. When I told Aurora I wanted to talk about films from 1932, a year we both think was pretty pivotal in the annals of pre~code, she came up with the title of my blogathon and agreed to co~host it with me. If you ever need an Ideas Maven or advice on blogathon etiquette folks, Aurora ( aka Citizen Screen) is your gal. 

HOT POSTER ( WHITE )

If you go to Fernando’s Corner here on my blog, you can read his take on three films from 1932: The Animal Kingdom” “Hot Saturday” and “Madame Butterfly.” 

I realize a blogathon is only as good as the writers who choose to join it. So below is the roster of all the bloggers who participated in our event this past weekend. I’m sending a big thank you to each and every one of them. We’ve got a wide, delectable variety of films from 1932 for you to luxuriate in…but don’t think you’ve got to rush. Take your slow, sweet time. I mean, that’s the only way to be Hot and Bothered, isn’t it.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
AMERICAN MADNESS ( SHELLY BLOG )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
BACK STREET ~ MEREDY'S PLACE
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
BEAST OF THE CITY ~ CAFTAN WOMAN
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
BETTY BOOP ( BLOG OF THE DARNED )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
BLONDE VENUS ( CINEMA CITIES )
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
CALL HER SAVAGE ( TYPO )
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
CYNARA - ( TRUDY RING ~ Guest Writer )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
DANCERS IN THE DARK ( CLASSIC REEL GIRL )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THE DARK HORSE ( APOCALYPSE LATER )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THE DENTIST ( MOVIE MOVIE BLOG BLOG )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
FREAKS ( CRITICA RETRO )
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
GRAND HOTEL ( SECOND SIGHT CINEMA )
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
HORSE FEATHERS ( PILLOW SHOTS )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
HOT & BOTHERED ( %22Island of Lost Souls%22 ~ II )
  
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
LAW & ORDER ( CLASSIC FILM-FLICKERS OF )
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THE MONSTER WALKS!
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
MOST DANGEROUS GAME ( WIDE SCREEN WORLD )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
MOVIE CRAZY ( POST )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
FLAPPIN'
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
NO MORE ORCHIDS ( CAROLE & CO. )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THE OLD DARK HOUSE ( SILVER SCREENINGS )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER ( AN ODE TO DUST )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
RAIN ( THE OLD HOLLYWOOD GARDEN )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
RED DUST ( IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
RED-HEADED WOMAN ( THE BASEMENT TAN )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
RICH & STRANGE ( WONDERFUL WORLD of CINEMA )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
SCARFACE ( AMY'S RIB )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
SCARLET DAWN
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
HOT & BOTHERED ( %22SHANGHAI EXPRESS%22 )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
SIGN OF THE CROSS ( MOVIE MANIA MADNESS )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
SINNERS IN THE SUN ( PHYLLIS LOVES CLASSIC MOVIES )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
MOLLY LOUVAIN ( SHADOWS & SATIN )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
TARZAN, THE APE MAN ~ WOLFFIAN CLASSICS
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
 TAXI! ( BACK TO GOLDEN DAYS )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THIRTEEN WOMEN ( THE STOP BUTTON )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
THREE BROADWAY GIRLS ( A CLASSIC MOVIE BLOG )
   ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
HOT & BOTHERED ( %22Trouble in Paradise%22 )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
20,000 YEARS IN SING SING ( Speakeasy )
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
TWO SECONDS ( BNOIR DETOUR )
 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
UNASHAMED ( NOIRISH )
  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
UNION DEPOT ( DREAMING IN THE BALCONY )
 

 

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TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( 1932 )

For my “HOT & BOTHERED” blogathon contribution, Ernst Lubitsch is the way to go. Why, this cheeky devil was able to slip all sorts of sexy mischief into Pre-Code films like “Design for Living” ( 1933 ) “The Smiling Lieutenant” ( 1931 ) or “The Merry Widow” ( 1934 ). He does so again.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( VI )

Jewel thieves Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins are partners-in crime ( are they even married? I s’pose they’re deliciously NOT in the wonderful world of pre-code ) in 1932’-Trouble in Paradise.” They are a deee-light to watch (…and trust me, no one is more shocked to hear me say that than me ) as they go after the big Kahuna, the raven-haired Kay Francis. Watching Marshall and Hopkins is like watching a tennis or fencing match; they volley’d and parried. Their oneupsmanship was as precise as a Swiss watch. Lying and stealing were compulsive for them. They couldn’t help themselves. Hopkins has to actually sit on her hands to keep from stealing Francis’ jewels.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( II )

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( X )

When I first got a gander of Miriam Hopkins, I got scared. “Here we go,” I thought. “She’s all affected again.” When Lubitsch reveals her ruse, I laugh and relax and realize she’s handling the comedy very nicely. ( Uh-oh, I guess it’s time for me to break out “Design for Living”, huh? Baby steps, please. ) When she plays her scene with Francis, she’s pitch perfect. She’s now the dowdy secretary with horn-rimmed glasses after we’ve seen her in some stunning and devastating outfits. She has to play it cool, but they both understand each other in that way we women do when we’re competing for the same man. In their case, that man is Herbert Marshall.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( XIII )

Who knew Marshall was spry and nimble ( though I know it wasn’t actually him bounding and sprinting up and down those stairs. ) He had a nimble way with the language of ‘sophisticated comedy’ and spoke it well. Why didn’t somebody tell me? His deadpan delivery and erudite diction works surprisingly well here. I say surprisingly because it’s a surprise to me, never having seen him this way. The last two times I saw Herbert Marshall he was:

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( %22Angel Face%22 )

(   1.  ) in a car going over a cliff in “Angel Face”  and

 

 

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( %22The Little Foxes%22 )(  2. ) dying on a staircase in “The Little Foxes”  with Bette Davis’ words: “I’ll be waiting for you to die,” ringing in his ears. ( This right after she confesses that with all her heart she “still loves the man she killed,” in 1940’s “The Letter.” ) That’s the stiff, staid Herbie Marshall I know.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( XIV )Well here, in 1932, he’s nimble and sexy and a fast-talking, quick-thinker who talks his way out of any situation. He’s such a smooth talker, he turns the table on his accuser(s) until they are the ones who flee with guilt. He has a wonderful scene volleying with character actor C. Aubrey Smith. Marshall’s character should have been a politician instead of a thief; this way he could legally steal from his constituents…with their blessing!

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( III )

Kay Francis is no piker in all this. Yes, she’s the “straight man” here; the girl who’s about to be taken. But she’s fallen for the charming Marshall. She puts her complete faith, trust

TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( XX )TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( XXI )TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( XV )TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( XXIII )

and business in his hands. He’s a cad, but why dont I dislike him? She woos him, somewhat vamps him. He thinks he’s out to get her, but she’s two steps ahead of him…and walking towards the boudoir. He’s falling for her. And she’s very smart.

What a handsome woman she is. I was struck by her darkness; black gowns and that jet black hair. She makes me think of sable, or a raven. She’s regal and smoky. She made quite a contrast to Miriam Hopkins soft dewy blonde, who is also quite beautiful in this film. 

( TIP ) KAY & HERBERT TROUBLE IN PARADISE ( IV )

The clothes in this movie are absolutely divine. Breathtaking. I’m not one who pays atten-tion to clothes, but I would have killed for any one outfit of Francis’ or Hopkins’ – especially this black number that Francis wears. I can’t describe it, but I swear, I swooned a little in my seat.  And if fashion IS your thing, a good article for you to read about Kay Francis and clothes in GlamAmor’s blog.

Clothes aside, I like that Francis’ character is oblivious to everything other than getting Marshall, but I think underneath she knows the score, and I like how this plays out. Lubitsch packs a lot of plot and moves things along swiftly. I like how he has a montage of servants responding to Francis, and a later montage of those same servants responding to Marshall. Lubitsch keeps the camera on a clock, and we just hear the voices in the scene, as time moves forward. He takes his time to let a character set up a joke so  when we hear the punchline later in the movie ( “TONSILS!” ) he trusts us to remember, and laugh. Oh he’s got The Touch alright. (( See the movie…find out what tonsils mean. ))

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Last but not least, another find for me are these two: Edward Everett Horton and Charles Ruggles. They were hilarious together, and made perfect foils for each other as they tried to out do each other to win Francis’ hand. Neither stood a snowball’s chance, if tall dark and handsome were on the scene. But it was great fun to watch them try, and to see them annoy and outwit each other.

When the jig is up, the movie ends beautifully, perfectly…justly. The lesson: we are all meant to be with whom we are meant to be with. I learned more than I bargained for from Lubitsch during this movie:

(  1. )  how to tell a story

(  2. )  how to present the story and

(  3. )  how to be a good sport when you lose the thing you
want…that’s not really meant for you. I shall hold Herbert
Marshall and Kay Francis as beacons in that regard. I’d do
well to remember that.

His situation is kind of sort of somewhat similar Rosalind Russell’s Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday. Like her, he too must choose between two ways of life: guaranteed Stability or devil-may-care-Adventure. He’s a jewel thief going after big game: Kay Francis. He becomes enamored of her, flirts with the idea of being in love with her, falls into her lifestyle of the rich. But he’s also in a relationship with fellow traveler, Miriam Hopkins. ( They ‘meet cute’ in a thiefly sort of way. ) Push comes to shove for him and he has to choose between the stability and wealth of Francis world or the exhilaration of the game with Hopkins.  And don’t we all have to make a choice sometimes.

“Trouble in Paradise is my saucy bit of pre-code fluff to contribute to the blogathon I’m co-hosting with Aurora, author of the Once Upon A Screen blog. If you want to continue to be…hot and bothered ~  ( and who doesn’t ) ~ all you have to do is click on the banner below to see our roster of entries of like~minded, pre~code lovin’ fans. Enjoy!

HOT & BOTHERED BLOGATHON ~ ( Sign of the Cross )

 

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