TILL DEATH US DO PART BLOGATHON

Love may be a many splendored thing, but when it goes wrong, honey…look out!! Divorce may be the easier, wiser, safer route. But what classic movie fan wants to see a divorce proceeding.

For this blogathon, I’m looking for a few…good… murders.

I’m slowly but surely going through episodes of the classic film podcast: “Any Ladle’s Sweet…” when in Episode 2 their topic: WIVES IN PERIL gave me the brainstorm for my blogathon. Murder takes place in many settings, but with this theme, I’m specifically looking at the bumpy road of MARRIAGE. Husband plots to kill wife; wife plots to kill husband. The reason? Love, lust or money. What else is there? I don’t care if she does it herself, or gets her lover to do it. I don’t care if the plan succeeds or if it falls apart after the fact. I even don’t mind the era. The theme of this blogathon is:

 “How-do-I-kill-thee, let-me-count-the-ways.”

If it ain’t marriage, I can’t use it.

Now there ARE a coupla caveats with this blogathon ~ ( I’ve learned a few things in my foray as host and co~host ) ~ that I hope you’ll agree to:

  • Since I’m going solo (and MUST be a masochist to go this alone) I’m going to publish everyone’s blog post the same day, Monday ~ July 24th. I won’t drip drab it, and stretch it out over a weekend.

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  • I’d like your submission no later than Thursday ~ July 20th. I’m going to spend that weekend putting it all together so please, no stragglers. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in links.

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  • No duplicate entries between bloggers. No work you’ve published already. Pick a different film. There are many.

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  • Use one of my banners, why don’cha. I spent time and thought creating them for you. Those brain cells are precious when you’re a Baby Boomer.

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Here are the banners. Click on them for a fuller view: 

    

Hope these ground rules are a good guide for your participation. Looking forward to seeing your choices. My choice?  Why it’s HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT.” 

You have until July 10th to enter your submission.

You can post your finished submission here no later than Thursday, July 20th, NYC Brooklyn Time. I won’t be accepting submissions after this date. [ I’ve got socks to darn, dishes to wash, an apartment to straighten up! ]  This post will close midnight morning July 21st. So far we have:

ENTRANTS

“ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS”…………. Cinephiled

“BLUEBEARD’S TEN HONEYMOONS…..……The Motion Pictures

“BODY HEAT” …………………………………. Blog of the Darned

“BLOOD SIMPLE” ……………………………….Top10 Film Lists

“DIABOLIQUE” …………………………………  A Shroud of Thought

“DIAL M FOR MURDER” …………….…….….    Once Upon A Screen

“DOUBLE INDEMNITY” ………………………… Wolffian Classics Movies Digest

“DRAGONWYCK” …………………………..….. Maddy Loves Her Classic Films

“HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL” ……………..  Wonderful World of Cinema

“JULIE” ………………………………………….. Critca Retro

“( The ) KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR” ……..….  Dreaming in the Balcony

“MIDNIGHT LACE” …………….……….……..   Life’s Daily Lessons Blog

“MISSISSIPPI MERMAID” ……………………….  Cinematic Scribblings

“MONSIEUR VERDOUX” ………………….….    Brooklyn Outliers

“NIAGARA” ……………………………..……….  Silver Screenings

“NIGHT OF THE HUNTER” ………..…………   Charlene’s Mostly Classic Movie Reviews 

“NOTORIOUS” …………………………………..  Second Sight Cinema

“OSSESSIONE” …………………………………. Moon In Gemini

“( A ) PERFECT MURDER” ………………….       DB Movies Blog

“PLEASE MURDER ME” ……………………….. Midnite Drive-In

“( The ) POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE”…  Outspoken & Freckled

“( The ) POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE”… RealWeegieMidget

“REBECCA” ………………………….………… Wide Screen World

“SUSPICION” ……………………..………..…… F For Films

“SUDDEN FEAR” ……………………………….. Cinema Cities

“( The ) STRANGER”…………………….……… Caftan Woman

“SUNRISE” …………………………………….    Old Hollywood Films

“TOO LATE FOR TEARS” ……………….……… Shelly Blog

“( The ) TWO MRS. CARROLLS ………….  Love Letters to Old Hollywood

“UNDERCURRENT” ……………………………. The Stop Button

“UNFAITHFULLY YOURS” …………………….  Anybody Got A Match

Thank you to all who are participating. This will make for some interesting reading.

 

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THE NITRATE PICTURE SHOW

Last month, my friend Wendy and I went to the NITRATE PICTURE SHOW in Rochester New York ( May 5 ~ 7 ). She traveled from  Connecticut and I Amtrak’d from NYC’s Penn Station. I might as well make a full confession; I might as well face it…I don’t “get” Nitrate. Nope, I don’t get Nitrate at all. Now if you do, that’s fantastic.  You are like the Man With the X-Ray Eyes who sees all and are getting all the fifty shades of richness of the print. As the curators said, nitrate films are the actual prints screened when a film was originally released for audiences. If I specifically do nitrate in the future, I know the sole draw for me will be my attending based on the films alone.

This trip was a series of firsts for me. First time in Rochester, first time traveling with my friend, and first time at the Nitrate film festival ( this, its third year ). And it was all good…and a little nerve~wracking. I’ll explain our adventure in the dark in the cottage section below. Click on the photos below to get to the nitty gritty of things. And thanks for reading:

  THE FESTIVAL                  THE FILMS                                THE B & B

   
COTTAGE                             TRAVEL SHOTS

 

30 DAY MOVIE CHALLENGE

If you’re looking for me on Twitter, you’d see this. My handle there is @CineMava. What the heck is this Baby Boomer doing on Twitter? Trying to keep up with today’s Social Media.
( Now I just need Instagram and Tumblr under my belt to be almost totally savvy. Dare I explore SnapChat??? )

So while I was on Twitter, I saw that everyone was playing this movie challenge. This 30 Day Movie Challenge. More appropriately: #30DAYMOVIECHALLENGE if you’re on Twitter. Well I like a good challenge, so I took it. I didn’t participate daily. ( Who wants to hear from a Baby Boomer daily? ) So I figured I’d do it all in one fell swoop.

And here’s the swoop. I’m not sure WHY the 30 Day Movie Challenge was held in May, a month with 31 days. Guess the 31st day is a day of rest. Take the challenge my fellow classic film lovers. The month doesn’t matter.

 

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“GILDA” ( 1946 )

Here it is again. There is something blazingly epic and biblical about this shot:

GILDA

Every blogger and their grandmother’s great-uncle Fang has written about this movie. So now, it’s my turn.

I like GILDA but boy oh boy I have to admit it’s an uncomfortable watch. Sex AND punishment … sex IS punishment, sex AS power. Psychosexual shenanigans done 1946-style. It’s a see-saw of power and oneupsmanship between a man and a woman who are, at times childish, and at most, very very hot.

The destructive, dark side of love & romance is reminiscent to some extent of Bogart & Bergman in Casablanca ( Bogie getting the brunt of the heartache ) and even moreso in Notorious  with Cary Grant and Bergman again ( where Grant really acts like a fat-head ). But “Gilda” turns up the heat ten thousand degrees on the sado-masochistic side of “love.” Here, lovers meet up again after a few years. He done did her wrong and now she tears his heart to shreds. Such tough guys Bogie and Glenn Ford and Cary Grant are, but they can be reduced to ashes. Is it a self~imposed misery of their own making?

RITA HAYWORTH had been kicking around for a while in Hollywood by the time “Gilda” came around. ( Her picture before this was Tonight and Every Night” with my bête noire – Lee Bowman and the one after, Down to Earth with the soon-to-be blacklisted Larry Parks. ) She danced with the masters, Astaire and Kelly. She worked opposite Grant and Cagney. Her role opposite Tyrone Power in Blood and Sand might be the precursor to “Gilda” – Woman as Temptress. But Gilda is something else again. I like this movie, it being one of my favorite films of 1946. ( Check out my 1946 list here. ) And I think this is one of the best performances of Hayworth’s career. They finally give her something to work with, so she can paint a canvas with many colors. Here is 28-year old Rita. She dances, she flirts, she taunts, she’s hurt. She’s conflicted. Now on the face of it, psychologically, it’s a sick twisted movie ( c’mon, you know it is ) which is why I like it. Calling it a “love-hate” relationship, as Joseph Calleia does, is too easy. I don’t like to see Gilda tortured, but the back ‘n forth power plays between her and Johnny were sumthin’ else! A couple of reasons why I like this movie:

I was intrigued by the little spy story thread in the movie. Gay, festive…Argentina, the place where Nazis go to hide. Ballin Mundsen ( actor George Macready ), Nazis and the tungsten angle is like Hitchcock’s MacGuffin in “Notorious” ( “Gilda” was released first. ) You know…this scene:

NOTORIOUS - INOTORIOUS - VIINOTORIOUS - VI'%22NOTORIOUS%22 - IIINOTORIOUS - IV

I like the “tension” between Ballin and Johnny. Nah it doesn’t only feel like two guys fighting over the same girl. You’ve seen that a thousand times before in classic movies; this subtext feels a little different. Half-baked idea of mine? No, I don’t think so.  I mean there’s not that much loyalty in the world for a man to marry his boss’ widow, who incidentally was his ex-girlfriend, and then not sleep with her. Who’s being faithful to whom:

“She hadn’t been faithful to him while he was alive. But she was going to be faithful now that he was dead.”

GILDA - V

I was born last night when you met me in that alley. That way I’ve no past and all future, see? I like it that way.

Doesn’t that sound like something from In A Lonely Place? It’s not as intense a ‘hero worship’ as in Desert Fury between Wendell Corey for John Hodiak, but there’s a there there. Whether it was unintentional or a winking, knowing little Easter egg subtly put in, I find it an interesting layer. Don’t worry, Rita will come on the scene soon enough and set it all straight.

I also like Charles Vidor’s direction. It’s good. Unobtrusive. There’s no music foreshadowing emotions. The music we hear comes from the casino’s orchestra. Vidor’s camera work is fluid ~ he has tracking shots or easily swings the camera around people. I like how he sometimes has the leads in shadow when they speak or has them move from shadow into light. No music underscoring things; sometimes deathly silence. The better for you to pay attention to, my dears. But of course, the movie’s about these two crazy kids:

GLENN FORD ( I )RITA ( I )

They’ve got history and proceed to torture each other.

 GILDA - XVGILDA - XIVGILDA - XVIII

And you know hell hath no fury…so, let the games begin.

  • “I was true to one man, once.” 
  • “I’ll look my very best Ballin. I want all the hired help to approve of me.”

Ssssswishhhhhhh! Arrows fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Gilda’s razor-sharp words squarely hit their mark and slash deeper than the blade in Ballin’s cane.

GILDA - X

JOHNNY: “Doesn’t it bother you at all that you’re married?”
GILDA:    “What I want to know is, does it bother you?”

Ballin is silky, suave, smooth, serpentine. But I cannot, in all good conscience, carry my alliteration to include sexy. These types often seem to be asexual ( ACK! ) giving earnest hugs and chaste kisses on the cheek.

BASIL RATHBONE GILDA ( XX ) CLAUDE RAINS ( NOTORIOUS )
   

Hollywood doesn’t want to confuse us by offering sexy villainous-types to compete with our basically good tortured heroes. There is a soupçon of danger and sexiness to Menace. Ballin is smart…observant. He knows. Why else propose this toast that Gilda reluctantly sips to.

GILDA ( XXI )

“Disaster to the wench who did wrong by our Johnny.”

These villains are cultured and wealthy; and they do love their wives, in their own fashion. Ballin questions Gilda about knowing Johnny before. It’s a quiet scene; not a sound. They’re in shadow and Gilda’s self-preservation kicks in ( she says nothing ). Laying on the bed, she rolls from the shadow into the light, the proverbial lightbulb goes off, when she realizes what he is saying. He’s got a beautiful woman ( in her own bed, apparently ) and wraps his golden hypnotic voice around these lines:

GILDA - XII

 

“You’re a child Gilda. A beautiful Child. And it amuses me to feed you beautiful things because you eat with such a good appetite.”

Bone-chilling. Henry Daniell would be proud. Now we know what Gilda’s dealing with. And so does she:

GILDA - XIX

“But hate can be a very exciting emotion. Very exciting. Haven’t you noticed that? There is a heat in it that both can feel. Didn’t you feel it tonight? I did. It warmed me. Hate is the only thing that has ever warmed me.”

 

Gilda and Johnny have a couple of guardian angels looking over them but they still have more damage to do to each other first. ( Never let it be said a good Greek chorus gets in the way of true romance ). Poor Johnny. He’s got it bad…and that ain’t good.

GILDA ( XXII )  GILDA ( XXIII )

Gilda’s got it bad herself. She’s let down her defenses in that lovely quiet moment with Uncle Pio. When Johnny barges in ( somewhat jealous of Uncle Pio being the recipient of Gilda’s attention ) she confesses to him that she was on the rebound. Truce? HA! Naturally, he scoffs at her which leads her to volley this back:

GILDA ( XXV )

Would it interest you to know how much I hate you, Johnny? I hate you so much that I would destroy myself to take you down with me. Now, I’ve warned you.”

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 WHAT IS THIS THING…CALLED LOVE?

I hated her so I couldn’t get her out of my mind for a minute. She was in the air that I breathe; in the food I ate.”

She’s laid down the gauntlet. She’s going for a Pyrrhic Victory. She’s taking no prisoners. Death and destruction in the game of love never looked so good or felt so hot. Johnny gains the upper hand and keeps her close to him to ensure…his own torment. He becomes more Ballin than Ballin in his possession of Gilda. She’s trapped…like a bird in a “gilded” cage and tries to break out in her own way. Uhhhh, no, this is not merely dancing a jig. She grabs the film by its horns:

GILDA ( XXVI )GILDA ( XVI )GILDA ( XIX )

GILDA:   “Didn’t I get even with you for walking out on me by marrying Ballin… Johnny, there’s never been anybody but you and me. All those things I did were just to make you jealous Johnny. There’s never been anybody but you and me.”

JOHNNY:   “Not anybody.”

GILDA:        “Not anybody.”

JOHNNY:   “What about your husband?! If you could forget him so easily you could forget the others too, couldn’t you.”

GILDA:        “But there weren’t any others Johnny.”

JOHNNY:   “When you admit them. When you admit them and tell me who they were.”

ADMIT THEM? He wants details? ( Girls, as your cinematic advisor, I suggest you just give your name, rank and serial number in that situation; men don’t really want details no matter WHAT they say ). There’s more volleying back ‘n forth here than in Wimbledon.

He won’t let her go and won’t let himself love her. So Gilda has the most famous acting out moment in film history. It’s the gloriously show-stopping tantrum when she puts the blame on Mame:

GILDA ( Mamin' It UP! )          GILDA ( XXXI )GILDA ( Mame-IV )GILDA ( Mame )

Rita in black satin, peel- ing off Gypsy Rose Lee gloves, her hair casca-ding like Niagara Falls and everyone going over a barrel with her.

 GILDA ( XXX ) GILDA ( Glenn )

You wouldn’t think one woman could marry two insane men in one lifetime. Would you.

This public display is just too much for Johnny. He finally has to let her go. Or does he? If you think the opposite of love is hate, then you must see how this all plays out. Glenn Ford walks a razor’s edge with his performance, and Rita? Well…she leaves it all out there for the ages. And she is fantastic.

Yes Virginia, there really IS a Love Goddess.


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FIVE STARS BLOGATHON

Today has been designated National Classic Movie Day. ( We classic film fans made this OUR “Executive Order”!!! ) Hosted by the Classic Film and TV Cafe blog, we were given the task to name our five favorite movie stars for the FIVE STARS BLOGATHON. Siiiigh! It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

If you quickly scroll down this page, you’ll see who my favorites are. But I do hope you take a moment to see why they are. I admit, there is no rhyme or reason to my five favorite movie stars. Oh I’ll try to give a modicum of rational reasons for the why of my list…you know, just to appear adult and academic. But my five favorites are my five favorites because of my visceral emotional response to them. Shall I begin?

BETTE DAVIS

Get outta her way!

It’s easy to put her at the top of my favorite favorites list without fear of changing my mind. She’s fireworks and volcanoes. She’s a force of nature. Look over her body of work. She can make you cry in “Dark Victory” or “Now, Voyager” or cut you to shreds with a glance ( “The Little Foxes” ). She commands and dominates the screen. You ARE compelled to watch her. She’s my Queen of Classic Films.

( “The Letter” “Marked Woman” “Jezebel” “All About Eve” )

Recently loving THIS video tribute to Davis:

 

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CLARK GABLE

The King. You’ll take it…and like it.

I ain’t gonna lie, I respond to Gable’s virility. Pure and simple. Cary ~ suave like butter / Flynn ~ dashing, beautiful to look at / Colman ~ gentleman extraordinaire. But Gable? Honey, please. He is alpha male, masculine, confident, take charge, with that roguish smile of his. But I’ve seen him in movies when he can be slayed by a woman < Myrna Loy, Loretta Young, Vivien Leigh > they unleash his vulnerability. Don’t make him mad, though; you’ll have a bear on your hands. Don’t get me wrong, “It Happened One Night” was fun…but c’mon. I think his performance in “Gone With the Wind” is his great one, and it’s tragic he didn’t win an Academy Award for this meaningful, long~lasting work. Because of an annual movie~star poll in 1938 hosted by columnist Ed Sullivan, Gable was good~naturedly named the King of Hollywood. I think his 30~year career in Hollywood bears this out. Clark Gable IS…The King.

( “Mogambo” “Red Dust” “The Hucksters” “Gone With the Wind” )

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DORIS DAY

…And what’s wrong with feeling good?

I love her. Wanna make sumthin’ out of it?!!! She makes my heart smile. She’s sunshine. She has an ebullient, warm, happy presence that uplifts me. Doris Day is one of those rare multi~talented actresses. She could do it all: sing, dance, do comedy, do drama, all pretty convincingly…and with great box office success. She could be the businesswoman in the office or the Mom at home. I do wish the studio cultivated her a bit more in the dramatic tract of things. It might’ve stretched her career just a bit. Can you deny she stood toe~to~toe opposite the great Cagney? But I can’t kick, there were plenty of actresses burning up the screen with their thespian gymnastics. You know Doris Day started off as a big band singer and parlayed that into a movie career. But you can’t just put over a song, you have to put over a characterization in the movies, and Day could do that too. She is one of my two favorite singers ( Ella Fitzgerald is the other ~ one of Day’s too, I understand ). Doris’ voice is a warm sultry maple syrup of seduction. I melt. At the TCM Film Festival one year they showed “Calamity Jane.” It’s not one of my favorites of hers, but I can always see Doris on screen and I was going to sit at the screening with a row of friends who are just as wild about Doris as I am. As much as I already loved Doris, I gained even more respect for her from that film. She literally OWNED the movie. Doris Day is a wonderment to watch. Like I said, she makes my heart smile.

( “Send Me No Flowers” “My Dream Is Yours” “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” “Pillow Talk” )

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CARY GRANT

Put your head on my shoulder.

Is there any doubt he’d be on any classic film fans’ favorites list? He’s gorgeous to look at ( I realize I always lead with the looks. Hey, I got eyes, ain’t I? ); suave, sophisticated…and that brush of an accent sends me. He’s charming. As for his acting he makes it all look so easy, which might be why he’s so under~rated. He handles comedy and drama with equal aplomb. He doesn’t beat you over the head with a sledge hammer. I don’t think many of his contemporaries has as light a touch with comedy as Cary Grant. He could bandy about words ( “His Girl Friday” ) or go all out ( “Arsenic and Old Lace” ). But welling under that good will is the dark side of Cary Grant. Think of him in “Suspicion” or “Mr. Lucky” or “Only Angels Have Wings.” I was mad at him for quite a while after I saw how cold and mean he was to Ingrid Bergman in “Notorious.” He has the ability to laugh at himself; be silly if he has to. Look at him in “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.” He also cuts quite a romantic figure falling head over heels for Deborah Kerr, Carole Lombard or the exquisite Grace Kelly. Ladies…can you imagine walking into a room on the arm of Cary Grant? We’ll start there. I love the look of him, the sound of him, the Capricorn of him ( we share January 18th birthdays ). Yes, I love Cary Grant. He’s one of my favorites.

( “The Awful Truth” “Charade” “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” “In Name Only” “Holiday” )

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BARBARA STANWYCK

She could kiss you or kill you.

She’s Brooklyn, and that might explain everything. The reputation of being from there faintly permeates many of her performances. I adore her. She’s strong, she’s smart, has street~smarts and a tough veneer. She’s tough and gentle. Stanwyck’s approach to acting is very natural. It’s not Acting. She sounds like she’s merely speaking. And she’s kind of an Everywoman. Perhaps not in the way a Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper is, but check it ~ She’s as home on the range, as in a swanky night club or in a prison or in a boardroom. Like the best, Stanwyck can play comedy or drama in equal measure. Her lithe body has a ramrod straight posture which lends to her walking with a purposeful stride, owning the room…the scene. ( Watch Stanwyck’s walk the next time you see her ). Whether she’s getting a man to kill her husband or giving up her daughter for a better life…whether she’s pleading for John Doe NOT to jump off the roof or throws a pair of scissors at Judith Anderson’s face I find her acting natural and believable. She’s very attractive, in an approachable, non~bombshelly way. Her most closely matched contemporary is Bette Davis and I always have them battle it out in my mind for Supreme Diva. But I needn’t compare the two ~ as I almost did for this blogathon; scrapped that entire train of thought ~ there’s room enough for both actresses. I had the pleasure of actually seeing both women in person at two separate events. I saw them with my own very eyes. ( One, at a John Springer event and the other, honored at Lincoln Center. ) Those images are burned in my memory.

When she’s on the screen…the world comes to a halt. At least my world. When I need the courage to walk into a crowded room alone, my go-to gal is Barbara Stanwyck. Maybe it’s the Brooklyn in her.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”  “Walk on the Wild Side”  “My Reputation”  “Meet John Doe” “East Side, West Side” “The Gay Sisters” “Double Indemnity

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One of the things that strikes me about my favorites is that I kind of forget all except Doris Day are no longer with us. Seeing them in the movies, they seem so vibrant and alive and present. I know they are more than the adjectives and cliches I’ve ascribed to them as they loom so large on screen with the best lighting, hair, make~up and clothes. ( Are you sure Cary wasn’t born in a tux? ) No, these are fully formed human beings with foibles like the rest of us. It’s a little hard to think of them as not perfect. It’s a little hard to think of them as gone. But you know what they say…

There are loads of other writers who talk about their five favorite stars. Go on over to the blogathon and check ’em out. And if you have time to drop me a line below on this National Classic Movie Day, tell me who are YOUR five favorite movie stars. Thanxxxx again for joining me on the Couch.

 

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CONSTANCE FORD: A DISH…BEST SERVED COLD

Sexual repression is a villanous thing.

One of the big Kahunas of blogathons is now in its fourth year. The ladies of Silver Screenings, Speakeasy and Shadows and Satin host THE GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON 2017. ( Why do the loveliest ladies come up with the most dastardly blogathons?? )  Villainous behavior of all stripes can be found here in their past three years:

I’ve covered my very small share of baddies for this blogathon. There was my homicidal heroine Annie Laurie in “Gun Crazy” and the Eeeeew~inducing pathological racism of Verne Coolan inThe Devil’s Doorway.” 

   

I usually like my femmes fatale on the hot side ( Ava Gardner / Lana Turner in “The Killers” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” respectively ). Or there’s the cool~thinking customer that is my favorite lethal lady in my favorite film noir ~ Jane Greer in “Out of the Past.” But it’s those blondes like Ann Savage, Leslie BrooksJean Gillie or Helen Walker that a fella has to watch out for. Okay okay, brunettes and redheads should be steered clear of as well. 

For my entry, it’s 1959 and the cusp of the sexual revolution is still a few years away. America inches towards it with one foot in the sexual mores of the post~war Eisenhower era where good girls and bad are separated by a ‘thin membrane.’ The other foot wants to explore its dainty toes in sexuality for sexuality’s sake.

  

America is “Mom and Apple Pie”…at least that’s the image. Mothers are supposed to be a loving, nurturing, guiding force in her children’s lives. They’re to give a good positive view of the ‘facts of life’. I think we can safely discount the psychically destructive maternal instincts of movie moms like Gladys Cooper in “Now, Voyager”, Shelley Winters as Ma Barker in “Bloody Mama” or the bizarrely sensuous performance of Piper Laurie in Brian DePalma’s 1976 hit…“Carrie.” 

We’ve seen cold or lukewarm wives before in movies ( Joans Crawford or Bennett ) busy with their children and committees and house and everything that does NOT have to do with having sex with their husbands ( or DOES

  

have to do with allowing their sons to become mindf*cked assassins. But that’s Xtreme Parenting to say the least ). In my entry’s case, mix in racism…and classicism…and some skewed view of sex and you have a recipe for drama and disaster, a delicious combination. This time I thought it’d be fun ( fun for whom I haven’t figured out yet, but I AM kind of lookin’ at YOU ) to give a side~eyed glance to a sexually repressed villain who rains on every parade of romantic impulse and Ideal of Love. CONSTANCE FORD in Delmer Dave’s 1959 hit: “A Summer Place” is that villain.

Now I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on this blog. But it doesn’t take a hill of Freuds to see Constance Ford in this movie is cold, calculating, puts on airs and is contemptuous of anything that’s not the strictest of decorum. Why? If I hazard a guess she might be jealous of the closeness between her husband and daughter…no doubt precipitated on her having no relationship with her husband at all. Perhaps she really is just in it for the money. Ford squashes every natural instinct her daughter wants to explore because of some deep~seated inhibition in herself. I told you, I’m no psychiatrist…and you’re not getting me to lay on the couch to explore why I love her so. She’s so twisted in this.

Yeah, I’m in it for the crazy.

In this glossy romantic melodramatic we have a two sets of couples whose past history is inter~twined.

Dorothy McGuire / Arthur Kennedy are one set of married couples with a son: ( Troy Donahue )

 

Richard Egan / Constance Ford are the other married couple with a daughter: ( Sandra Dee )

McGuire and Egan were lovers in their youth but class kept them from getting married.

It seems their children will be mirroring their “young love” themselves…loving glances through the window.

As for their partners, I think on some level each of them knows they were second choice in their spouse’s life. Kennedy takes to the bottle to blunt his pain. For Ford…withholding is her way of coping and scheming. One person’s dysfunction is another person’s straight~up villain and Constance Ford is a villain of Love. Lets trace her steps throughout the film and see a couple of examples of how her repression takes hold of a situation and turns it into recriminations and ashes.

* * * * *

We see right off the bat she’s the type that puts on airs, concerned about appearances.

DEE: “Daddy do I have to?”

EGAN: “Have to what?”

DEE: “Wear this midi blouse to shore like a twelve year old. And she said I had to wear this armor plated bra to flatten me out. And a girdle. She says I bounce when I walk. Do I? Do I?”

EGAN: “In a pleasant and unobjectionable way.”

[First of all – first, second and third of all I’m not asking my Dad if I bounce.]

EGAN: “Molly has a lovely healthy figure. Why do you try to destroy that?”

FORD: “I don’t want her stared at.”

EGAN: “So you insist on de~sexing her, as though sex was synoymous with dirt.”

FORD: “When we arrive at the inn I want her to look completely modest.”

DEE: “She means like a boy. Like a pancake. This thing even hurts. And I couldn’t blast my way into this cast iron girdle with dynamite.”

EGAN: “I think we’re past the point of pretending we’re something we’re not.”

FORD: “We charter a whole yacht to arrive in Pine Island in style–”

EGAN: “The yacht was your idea. The point is they’ll be people on the island who remember me when. And I’m not putting on any dog.”

* * * * *

The two couples meet on Pine Island. They say you can’t go home again; especially with the wife. Constance Ford doesn’t realize that to the wealthy Arthur Kennedy, she’s nouveau riche so he’s not really bound to respect her anyway. Besides, her husband was once his rival. He goads her with embarassing sexual innuendo:

KENNEDY: “You’ll find Pine Island a strange place Mrs. Jorgensen. We’re all frightfully snobbish here. We tend to be anti~everything except ourselves. I like to think of the island as a perverted Garden of Eden where the pines and the salt air seem to act as an aphrodisiac.”

FORD: “As a what, Mr. Hunter?”

McGUIRE: “Bart, shall we change the subject.”

[ I love that Constance wears fire-engine red, but she’s not hot~to~trot! ]

* * * * *

There’s a ghastly fight between Ford and Egan about their daughter. All she did was let a boy kiss her, but Ford goes full tilt with accusations. Egan’s salvo lands with such vicious devastating accuracy, I almost felt sorry for her. But as we’ll see, she deserves every blow.

FORD: “Well your daughter didn’t waste any time. She’s let their boy kiss and maul her her very first night here.”

EGAN: “Where were they?”

FORD: “Down below me in the garden.”

EGAN: “If they had anything to hide do you think they’d do it right under your window?”

FORD: “Are you defending her cheap behavior?”

EGAN: “Cheap?! A girl kissing a boy in the moonlight? You know Molly is as decent as this boy seems to be.”

FORD: “No decent girl lets a boy kiss and maul her on the very first night they meet. I suppose it’s your Swedish blood in her. I’ve read how the Swedes bathe together and have trial marriages and free love. I’ve read all about that. Anything goes.”

EGAN: “So now you hate the Swedes. How many outlets for your hate do you have Helen? We haven’t been able to find a new home because of the multiplicity of them. We can’t buy near a school because you hate kids, they make noise. And there can’t be any Jews or Catholics in the block either. Oh yeah, you can’t be anywhere near the Polish or Italian sections. And of course Negroes have to be avoided at all costs. Now let’s see…No Jews, no Catholics, no Italians, no Poles, no children. No Negroes. Do I have the list right so far? And now you’ve added Swedes. And oh yes, you won’t use a Chinese laundry because you distrust Orientals. And you say the British are snobbish, the Russians fearful, the French immoral, the Germans brutal and all Latin Americans lazy. What’s your plan? To cut humanity out? Are you anti~people and anti~life? Must you suffocate every natural instinct in our daughter too? Must you label young love~making as cheap and wanton and indecent? Must you persist in making sex itself, a filthy word!!”

He’s verbally pummeled her and Ford is sent out the room reeling.

To Daddy’s defense and rescue is daughter Dee, probably doing what she’s always done…bargaining and negotiating. Somewhat a surrogate, too?

DEE: “Fight with me if you have to Momma, but not Poppa, please. This is the first real vacation he’s ever had. Lets not wreck it for him.”

FORD: “Look who’s talking. After that disgusting public display in the garden.”

DEE: “It wasn’t a public display.”

FORD: “The night watchman caught you at it.”

DEE: “We weren’t doing anything wrong.”

FORD: “What if he tells everybody. Must you parade before open windows like a, like a strip teaser.”

Is perhaps the goal to have her daughter marry well…be financially set for life? Her motherly advice continues. She’s worried about appearances.

FORD: “The way to get accepted here on Pine Island is certainly not by prancing past open windows and giving away cheap kisses behind the inn. And don’t you ever underestimate the value of a decent reputation. If we’re to be around and allowed to live here it is because we conducted ourselves properly. I’ve got nothing against this boy. Comes from a good family. He’ll undoubtedly inherit this place. You could do worse. You have to play your cards right. You can’t let him think that your kisses come cheap. You’re a good girl, I know that. But you’ve got to use your head. You’ve got to remember that you have to play a man like a fish. You have to make him want you and never betray that you want him. That’s what’s cheap ~ wanting a man. Love should be more than just animal attraction. Now you must promise me that you won’t let him kiss you again until I say it’s time.”

Dee goes into her father’s bedroom to console him. This could be sort of unseemly and I’m trying not to put my 21st century subtext on this. This might be part of the problem, being each other’s confidante. But it’s a good ( if slightly uncomfortable ) father~daughter moment.

DEE: “Why do you and Momma stop sharing the same room?”

EGAN: “She wanted it that way.”

DEE: “She’s anti~sex. She says all a boy wants out of a girl is that and when a girl marries it something she has to endure. I don’t want to think like that Poppa. She makes me ashamed of even having a body. And when I have a naughty dream at night she makes me feel like hanging myself. How can you help what you dream?”

EGAN: “You can’t. And don’t let her spoil yours. Remember this, we’ve got only one great reason for living: to love and be loved. That’s our sole reason for existence.”

DEE: “But she doesn’t love you and she doesn’t love me.”

EGAN: “I think her heartache is she doesn’t know how. And more is I, apparently, couldn’t teach her.”

[ The soft nursery fairy tale music takes the edge off the scene ~ that’s my boy Max Steiner…guiding us through ]

* * * * * 

As is human nature, what our parents want for us…we often do the exact opposite. Donahue and Dee are falling in love. They go sailing and have a boating accident. Coast Guards are called to look for these two kids. Parents are on the beach worried. ( One parent, I think…is seething. )

[ Don’t try it. She will not be consoled or comforted. Constance is pissed! ]

FORD: “What’ve you got to say for yourself?”

DEE: “We capsized and spent the night on the beach.”

FORD: “I imagined as much. Come with me.”

We’ve all had to face the consequences of coming home after curfew; our folks waiting up for us. But the next scene is quite harrowing. Ford shows she does not believe her daughter and will go to great lengths to get “the truth.” It is not truth Mom wants.

FORD: “This is Dr. Matthias. I sent for him from the main land. I want you to take off every stitch that you’ve got on and let him examine you.”

DEE: “But we haven’t done anything wrong Momma. We slept all night.”

FORD: “I’m not asking you for the truth because I know you’d lie. So I’m having him examine you completely and make his own report.”

DEE: “NOOO!!”

FORD: “You have disgraced me enough. Now do what I say.”

This is a really a disturbing scene. It damages their relationship beyond repair. But that matters not to Constance.

* * * * *

Because Egan is out of town he cannot protect his daughter. A number of things ensue in his absence. Ford invades her daughter’s privacy, along with shredding her trust thanks to that GYN report. Dee runs away after her physical exam. Again, we have the authorities involved in these people’s lives ( if not by sea now by land ). The Sheriff tries to piece together what’s happened so everyone is herded into one room like a Nick & Nora investigation scene. There really only is one suspect: Constance Ford.

FORD: “When I insisted on her having a complete physical examination, she became quite hysterical. Obviously I had to find out what happened out there. I had to be sure.

TROY: “We gave you our word!”

[ Getting that GYN home visit was sooooo not the way to go, Ma! ]

FORD: “She’s always been a difficult child. We had words. I locked her in the room and later when I knocked, she was gone.”

SHERIFF: “So you went looking for her. And that’s when you met Johnny here and he threatened to kill you.”

FORD: “That is correct.”

SHERIFF: “You don’t deny that, son?”

TROY: “No Sir.”

EGAN: “I wouldn’t have blamed you if you had.”

FORD: “Of course you wouldn’t. It would make it easier for you to sneak off and sleep with his harlot of a mother.”

Whooft! That is quite a deflection. Ford might have a point…but not at THIS moment when her daughter has run away in shame. B.S. is called on Ford by both McGuire and Kennedy:

McGUIRE: “You seem to have an infinite capacity for hurt. First you try to destroy your daughter. Now our son.”

KENNEDY: “As soon as Molly is found and I’m sure she will be, I suggest you vacate these rooms as swiftly as possible.”

FORD: “Don’t tell me that you’re on their side?”

KENNEDY: “Lets merely say I’m not on yours.”

Do I hear strains of “You, you SHOPGIRL!!” The headlines scream dirty laundry. 

* * * * *

Who hasn’t kept a diary. And who wouldn’t be upset one’s diary of private thoughts was rifled through by one’s Mom. Dee is faced with this:

FORD: “I thought I told you not to write to him. After all, it is rather bad form to write to the sone of your father’s mistress. You mustn’t ever forget what kind of a woman she is. And his father,  although he comes from a good family,  is a drunkard.”

DEE: “Well that’s got nothing to do with Johnny.”

FORD: “Darling, there is such a thing as bad blood. It’s a scientific fact that—”

DEE: “Johnny’s not bad. He’s gentle and good.”

FORD: “He may not show it yet, but if you read between the lines of his letters…”

DEE: “Have you been reading his letters?!!”

Uh boy.

* * * * *

The most famous set-piece is this scene called “Merry Christmas, Momma.” If you’ve seen the movie you know the scene. I’ll let it play out for itself.

 

* * * * *

This goes beyond the usual Mother~Daughter conflicts. There’s something pathological about Constance Ford’s behavior towards her daughter. Could she see her as a rival? Look, we’re all victims, products of our upbringing. Her advice from her own Mother is one laced with how to manipulate the situation for her financial advantage; and one way is to cut out the separate bedroom bit. Constance Ford does all she can to tear down the trust of her daughter with accusations of being a slut, having a doctor check her daughter’s virginity, smacking her across the face where she tumbles over a Christmas tree like a tumbleweed, and just all around trying to thwart her daughter’s having a healthy positive self~esteem. And what’s wrong with sleeping with Richard Egan, I ask you! Even her lawyer talks turkey to her in a way she’ll understand.

FORD: “The very thought of my daughter spending two weeks under the same roof with my husband and that harlot.”

ATTORNEY: “Mrs. Jorgensen let me warn you, the use of that term is no longer legally defensible. She is, in the eyes of the law ‘his wife’.”

FORD: “That does not alter the fact that she IS one. Utterly lacking in morals. Her son will be there too. Heaven knows what kind of license they’ll encourage or permit.”

ATTORNEY: “Mrs. Jorgensen let me warn you, if you attempt to block the court order, your husband might well stop his alimony payments. Are you willing to chance that?”

“It’s as though the court was forcing me to commit my daughter to a, house of sin.”

Unrepentant ’till her last scene.

I like this film. I don’t treat it as campy at all. It deals with issues of finding happiness and being in love. This film was probably for the drive~in crowd but I enjoy the mature love and desire between Egan ( 38 ) and McGuire ( 43 ). The young love between Donahue and Dee was gorgeously angst~ridden against the deep blue sea. And Constance Ford gives a good solid performance. No, she’s not likable, nor is she supposed to be. She plays it well. Always stays within herself. She’s like a coiled snake…and venomous too with her lashing out. I don’t know if she can even help herself.

 

She’s in an emotional trap of maybe even her own mother’s making. ( We might have just a scintilla of pity for her when she’s on the telephone with her mother, whose pretty much a blonde cash register ). I don’t forgive her all her unpleasantness to those around her. All in all, Constance Ford is the fly in the ointment of young love and love rekindled. A good bad counterweight to it all.

If you’re feeling bad about your own life…you need only to read the other entries for this year’s GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON to be grateful that none of the bloggers’ choices are people you know.

(  VILLAINS 2017-Day 1  )  (  VILLAINS 2017-Day 2  ) (  VILLAINS 2017-Day 3  )
(  VILLAINS 2017-Day 4  ) (  VILLAINS 2017-Day 5  )

…and by the way, let’s get our Constances straight

    

[   H O M E   ]

 

ROBERT OSBORNE ~ TCM HOST

I knew this day was coming. We all did. He wasn’t well for a good while. But EXPECTING a thing and actually FEELING the thing is quite a different… thing.

And so we are here today. Today is THE day. Sadly. And what helps me ( sort of…kind of ) is that I’m not alone. Many many fans of Turner Classic Movies mourn today. Whether we saw him in our homes ( via television ) or in person, got to speak to him, were hugged by him…we feel we knew him. He made us feel we knew him because there was no real wall between him and us. We loved him amiably, respectfully…completely.

When I posted this Tweet, I knew I’d be just one of the throngs of people sharing their love for Robert Osborne. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times in my life. Me, a regular person. A non~famous person. A fan.

I got the chance to be a Guest Fan Programmer for TCM’s fifteenth anniversary back in 2009. Me and fourteen other fans were selected to introduce our favorite movies with Robert. Mine was “The Letter.” Nope, I didn’t feel nervous. I should have…cameras, lights, cables, crew. But nope, I didn’t. He was kind and warm with me. I told him of seeing publicist’s John Springer’s shows where he one~on~one interviewed: Myrna Loy, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Sylvia Sidney ( though I missed hers. ) He remembered those outings from back in the 1970’s!!

We filmed our Intro and Outro and were to get our pix taken. I hadn’t dream he’d put his arms around me like you see in this photo. Hmmmm…what a comfy spot it was.

I attended the TCMFF for the first time in 2011. And because of Kyle Kersten, also a guest fan programmer with me, he let the good people of TCM know that I was attending the festival that year. So it was arranged that I do a brief on-air interview with Robert and also announce the next movie for tv fans at home to see. Again, I was lucky to be chosen along with other fans for this brief five minutes of fame. I went to the Roosevelt Hotel lobby to await my turn.


Yep, that speck of blue up front there…it’s me with Robert.

There was a hubbub in the lobby because Robert was interviewing Barbara Rush and Mickey Rooney and Marni Nixon. Finally finally I have my turn. Yes, he remembered me from my Guest Fan Programmer stint. I told him I travelled cross~country via Amtrak from New York to Hollywood to get to the festival. He was impressed ( or maybe agog at how boring that ride might be. It wasn’t. LOL! ) I read the teleprompter and announced the next TCM movie that was up for the folks at home: “They Made Me A Criminal.” In what felt like a blink of an eye…my brief on-camera chit chatty tv appearance with him was done. When it all ended and we were done, I boldly gave him a kiss. < Sigh! > He didn’t leave me hanging. He told the crowd I was a guest programmer and then I held up a pix of him and I showed it to the crowd. I was flattered to be invited to speak on-camera with him again.

I never did get that photo autographed.

I know it looks like I’m stalking him. Well…he wrote a book I wanted. What could I do?

The TCM NYC sight~seeing bus tour was having its launch and again…I was so lucky to be included as one of the fans to go on this tour. And there I met him again. And yes…he did remember me. (( Gaaah!!! )) The tour was fun, but meeting him and Jane Powell was the kick of it all. Thanks to two other fans, I’ve got two fantastic photos of Robert and I that I treasure. ( Click photo above to see details of the tour. )

This is a sad day for all fans of classic films and of Turner Classic Movies. He really was the face and brand of TCM. We still do have these grand old films. But what a way to be introduced…with the sonorous voice and warm, knowledgeable presence of Robert Osborne.

 

~  [   H O M E   ]  ~