About CineMaven

I am a Capricorn and a native New Yorker who has loved classic films for as long as I can remember. My favorite film? Alfred Hitchcock's “VERTIGO.”

JENNIFER JONES

I love the classic film era of Hollywood and I love many actresses from the classic film era of Hollywood. But there are only two who touch my heart: Ingrid Bergman and Jennifer Jones.

How can I explain this to you rationally? If you are a fan, I don’t have to. If you’re not her fan, you won’t understand. This September, TCM features JENNIFER JONES as their Star of the Month.

Yaaaay!!


March 2nd, 1919 ~ December 17th, 2009

For me, Jennifer Jones has a different temperament in each performance. There are no walls to scale and layers to break through. You don’t have to storm the Bastille. Her emotions and sensuality are at the surface. Her underlying essence is warmth, friendliness, vulnerability. And as I feel about Bergman ( …and yes, “Wonder Woman” too ) I want to protect her characters.

Two friends’ whose essays I’ve been lucky enough to feature in my blog ( and a third who’ll I’ll cite below ) have these thoughts on actress Jennifer Jones:

“She is also one of my favorite stars and she starred in my (top 1) favorite all-time film: the haunting, bewitching, magical ‘Portrait of Jennie’ (1948). She was a hard-worker and achieved very fine moments on screen and many of her films are part of my imagery: the awesome dance sequence of ‘Madame Bovary’ (1949); the unforgettable death scene in ‘Duel in the Sun’ (1946); the equally climatic scene in ‘Ruby Gentry’ (1952); the spinterish teacher recalling her life in ‘Good Morning Miss Dove’ (1955); the young amnesiac woman who tries to remember in ‘Love Letters’ (1945); the woman desperately in love in an adulterous liaison in the unjutsly underrated ‘Stazione Termini’ (1954) and many more.” ~ Fernando Silva ( Fernando’s Corner )

♣  ♣    ♣  ♣

“For me, the key to her appeal lies in her childlike way of making everything seem new. I especially like her in the ghostly romances ‘Portrait of Jennie’ and ‘Love Letters’, but enjoy her very much in ‘Song of Bernadette’ and ‘Since You Went Away’ (in which she breaks my heart). Her ‘Madame Bovary’ is wonderful, because we understand exactly where Emma is coming from. She is selfish and vain, but she wants more from life, and who of us doesn’t? And who of us could really stand to be married to Van Heflin. 😀

I really see the connection between Jones and Bergman. At their best, they are both carried by pure emotion…there is something exciting about a woman who can be so taken by a particular mood or feeling. I think the two share an ability to express many fleeting emotions at the same time. With Jennifer, I think she is at her best when she is caught between conflicting thoughts or feelings…her struggle is always fascinating to watch as it plays over her face.” ~ Wendy Merckel

She’s no volcano like Bette Davis, nor is she flinty like Stanwyck or edgy like Constance Bennett. The core strength in Jennifer Jones is her belief in her characters’ own emotions and willingness to live in these emotions or face the consequences of those emotions. I’ll give you a small list of what I think gives you a sense of the different temperament or emotional registers she exhibits.

  Portrait of Jennie” ( 1948 ) Dir. William Dieterle ~ Otherworldly, ethereal.

Duel In the Sun” ( 1946 ) Dir. King Vidor ~ Carnal, lustful.

  
Cluny Brown” ( 1945 ) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch ~ Comical. Has her own ingenuous logic.


The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” ( 1956 ) Dir. Nunnally Johnson ~ Suburban, normal, average. Tamps her sensuality waaaay down. But it’s still there.


Since You Went Away” ( 1944 ) Dir. John Cromwell ~ The glorious, painful emotional stirrings of first love.

  Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” ( 1955 ) Dir. Henry King ~  Modesty.

Madame Bovary” ( 1949 ) Dir. Vincente Minnelli ~ Foolish, vanity. Jumps head first into love’s open manhole.

Click on the photos below to see a couple of essays I’ve lassoed that speak on Jones’ work. I’ve also included a great article from the Self~Styled Siren, AND some CANDIDS from our ol’ Silver Screen Oasis Message Board guru MONGO ( aka Joe Buonocore ). All the photos on THAT page were shared by Mongo to our merry little group.

There are any number of sources you can seek to find out about Jennifer Jones’ troubled private life. TCM is giving us another chance to explore a stars’ film work. I find her ravishingly beautiful, and very under~rated. Now I am preaching to the choir with my post here. But if you’re interested in being converted, well…what are YOU doing every Tuesday night this month?

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MY REEL INFATUATION by CineMaven

  
by CineMaven                 by Fernando Silva

“Olivier admired Jones as well, later in life comparing her to Meryl Streep.” ~ The Self Styled Siren

    
Fernando Silva    Robert Regan     SELF~STYLED SIREN                  

This is pictorial of many of the Candid shots shared by MONGO to members over at the Silver Screen Oasis Message Boards. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Thanx Mongo.

 ♦  ♦  ♦    ♦  ♦  ♦  

TCM STAR OF THE MONTH SCHEDULE

September 5th, 2017
  8:00pm   “Song of Bernadette”
11:00pm   “Love Letters”
  1:00am   “Cluny Brown”
  3:00am   “Duel In The Sun”
  5:30am   “Since You Went Away”

September 12th, 2017
  8:00pm  “Portrait of Jennie”
  9:45pm  “We Were Strangers”
11:45pm  “Madame Bovary”
  2:00am  “Ruby Gentry”
  3:45am  “Beat The Devil”

September 19th, 2017
  8:00pm  “Good Morning Miss Dove”
10:00pm  “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing”
12:00am  “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”
  2:45am  “Indiscretion of An American Wife”

September 26th, 2017
  8:00pm  “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”
10:00pm  “A Farewell to Arms”
12:45am  “Tender Is The Night”

 

[   H  O  M  E   ]

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ANN HARDING

Today is ANN HARDING’s turn to shine brightly.

In August, TCM airs a unique programming feature called SUMMER UNDER THE STARS ( #SUTS ) where each day they feature a full day of one movie star’s films. Today is ANN HARDING’s day. When I first saw Ann Harding I didn’t know I was seeing Ann Harding. It was a “B” movie calledI’VE LIVED BEFORE” where pilot Jock Mahoney believes he’s… lived before. Harding plays the older woman, who confirms that Mahoney is really the reincarnation of her fiancee who died in WWI. Who IS this woman…dulcet voice, so poised, elegant, white blonde hair? I had a passing interest.

I probably saw her again in “THE MAN IN THE GREY FLANNEL SUIT.” There was so much else to pay attention to in this 1956 film, but she had a quiet moment with this other old movie star, Fredric March. (“Hey, there she is again.” I later discovered they first appeared

 

together before in 1929’s “PARIS BOUND” ). Again, my notice was slight, but piqued. To be honest with you all, I can’t tell you when I really truly SAW Ann Harding for the actress she is, but I’m grateful I did. She had an ethereal mien that was distinct from anyone of her time. Yeah, you’ll see the word “ethereal” bandied about a lot below. Her  contemporaries had a different qualities…the great Garbo ~ ( aloof, cool ), Norma Shearer ~ ( fluttery, busy, actress-y ), Harlow ~ ( fleshy, carnal…hotter than the sun ). The actresses who I think are the same ilk as Harding would be a Mary Astor,  Myrna Loy and Irene Dunne. There’s a naturalness, a sincerity, an authenticity is the only way I can explain it. A friend of mine gave me a great description for Ann Harding, [ though her thoughts differ on my comparison ]:

“One thing I’ve always liked about her is her calmness. She’s calm and has this comfortable silence about her sometimes manifested in a confidence. Other times in her naturalness. Just, calm.” ~  Karin Mustvedt-Plüss

Pish posh…enough with the comparisons and explanations. Today is HARDING’s day on TCM and screening today will be:

  6:00am  “Private Affair” ( 1929 )
  7:30am  “Condemned” ( 1929 )
  9:00am  “The Conquerors” ( 1932 )
10:30am  “The Life of Vergie Winters” ( 1934 )
12:00pm  “The Lady Consents” ( 1936 )
  1:30pm  “Witness Chair” ( 1936 )
  2:45pm  “Janie” ( 1944 )
  4:30pm  “Eyes In The Night” ( 1942 )
  6:00pm  “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” (1947)
  8:00pm  “Biography of a Bachelor Girl” (1935)
  9:30pm  “The Animal Kingdom” ( 1932 )
11:15pm  “When Ladies Meet” ( 1933 )
  1:00am  “The Flame Within” ( 1935 )
  2:30am  “Double Harness” ( 1933 )
  4:00am  “The Magnificent Yankee” ( 1950 )

Now while the below directory is by no means all encompassing, I thought I’d give you a little taste of public opinion on her. Below you’ll find several reviews on Ms. Harding’s work. I, of course, will weigh in, as will my friend Fernando ~ who has a quiet little corner on my blog where his pithy reviews are published. My canvassing writers about her didn’t turn up a bushel. But I’ll cite the big Kahunas of bloggers who do give their detailed, full~throated review of Harding films. I’ll even “try” to be mature enough to share a dissenting opinion about her. ( Oh, my aching ‘fair & balanced’ reporting! )

But the most important thing YOU can do is judge for yourself by tuning in to TCM today and seeing some Ann Harding films. Be warned, the stories might creak, but you’ll find her performances quite contemporary. Hey, you’ll either be a fan…or you won’t. But here’s hoping you will.

 ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦    ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

CineMaven’s Essays From the Couch

 

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦    ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

BLOGS ~

DREAMING IN THE BALCONY           SECOND SIGHT CINEMA

  

 

SILVER SCREENINGS                            SPEAKEASY

 

 

SHADOWS AND SATIN

   

 

PERSON IN THE DARK

 

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FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ Bite-sized pithy morsels of thought:

  

      

 

 

 

[   H  O  M  E   ]

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THE BEST of EVERYTHING ~ 1959

The blog: MOON IN GEMINI  is holding its WORKPLACE IN FILM & TV Blogathon this weekend. I’ve clocked in to talk about this 1959 film which I enjoy very much. I admit it’s one of thOse “comfort food” movies because of my familiarity with the movie and familiarity of characters that are pretty much archetypes ( or prototypes…or stereotypes if you wanna be a big ol’ meanie about it! )

What a Character! Ann Doran and Lurene Tuttle

My guilty pleasure is THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.”

From 16 until I retired I spent my working life earning a living in the clerical world of The Office, trying to understand and navigate human dynamics and office politics. I took Civil Service exams to work my way up, had affairs with co~workers, maintained confidences as Secretary to a few bosses, crammed all I could into one~hour lunches ~ more or less ~ (…mostly more ), and cultivated friendships that went past the bounds of 9~to~5 to include some of my best Friday night memories where we went dancing, or hung out at the Blarney Stone with games of Pictionary and glasses of booze strewn across the table by night’s end. ( I remember this time I offered my friends $50 to whoever jumped into the City Hall fountain, but that’s another story… )

The office terrain in the movie is very familiar to me. The dramatics of the life of these secretaries are drastically different from mine. Let’s take a closer look at “The Best of Everything.”

THE DISH:

“THE BEST OF EVERYTHING”

THE INGREDIENTS:

  • One ambitious blonde………………. ( HOPE LANGE )
  • One innocent brunette………………. ( DIANE BAKER )
  • One free and easy redhead….……… ( SUZY PARKER )
  • One sexually harassing boss……….. ( BRIAN AHERNE )
  • One cruelly handsome but brooding, slightly inebriated publishing agent
    ( STEPHEN BOYD )
  • One regretful blonde………………… ( MARTHA HYER )
  • One rich and oily playboy who knocks ‘em up and gets them abortions……………………… ( ROBERT EVANS )
  • One love ‘em and leave ‘em Broadway director………
    ( LOUIS JOURDAN )
  • One tyrannical terrorizing Executive Secretary who is the mistress of the company’s V.P. and accepts any crumbs of his time as he allows… ( JOAN CRAWFORD )

RECIPE:

Gently place all the ingredients into a wide colorful Cinemascopic pan ~ actually baked in New York City ~ stir gently and put in a heated oven. Sit comfortably for two hours and VOILA!!! A delicious soufflé of soap operatic portions is prepared by Chef Negulesco.

There are all kinds of things sort of wrong with this film’s message. It IS sexist. ( Hell, my description of Ingredients is sexist ). But It’s 1959 dumpling, 1959, AND the Dark Ages ( to paraphrase ‘Julie‘ in “JEZEBEL.” The film’s credits trick us into thinking we’re about to enter into the ‘World of Women In the Work Force.’ We see women come off busses and trains,

rushing around the urban jungle of NYC into office buildings, readying themselves for a day’s work; quite the opposite of the suburban housewives of “No Down Payment” or “Strangers When We Meet.” But though the women of “The Best of Everything” are more glammed up than a bunch of 1940’s Rosie the Riveters revving it up in the munitions factory, the Rosies had more of a sense of purpose for work. They were doing it for the cause. And their men were mostly at war. Here, in The Best of Everything,” work is really window dressing. Work is not a reward unto itself but a means to an end; and the be all and end all…was marriage. This is a “woman’s picture” not “Executive Suite.”

SPOILERS ~ Because if you haven’t seen this movie already, well, frankly my dear, c’mon —

Here’s a working girl…who had a boyfriend on the side with vertigo…and didn’t look like she was in a rush to marry

Look at it…wide~open prairie land.

Surveying the land is our first ‘working girl’ in white hat, gloves and pearls. She’ll meet one of the denizens of The Office. ‘Mary Agnes’ is our first intro into the working girl in action. Played by Sue Carson, she makes the most of her brief screen time in this movie. She’s a New York hoot with an accent from Brooklyn.

Plainly put she is the office gossip who’ll give us the lowdown on all the characters. She talks fast and knows the ropes around office life. Besides, she’s caught the brass ring; she’ll be married in a few weeks and will escape. Office gossip, a staple in the world of work.

There is definitely sexism involved…

MR. SHALIMAR: “Are you looking for experience Miss Bender?”  as he fondles her knee. Check.
CAROLINE BENDER: (sternly) “Of a sort, Mr. Shalimar.” She moves his hand from her knee. Checkmate!

Ageism is touched upon…

MIKE: “Don’t underestimate him, Miss Bender. Treat him with respect. Start being 55 and worried about a job that’s not even good enough for you.
CAROLINE: “Why should he lose his job?”
MIKE: “You. Young people like you. Bright young kids with drive and a flair. He’s afraid.”
CAROLINE: “Afraid of me?”

But yo…it doesn’t excuse the sexism. Brian Aherne’s Mr. Shalimar is especially egregious in the sexual harassment area. Diane Baker’s April Morrison has her moment with him in this sequence where this aging wolf (the boss with all the power) creeps up on our Mid-Western girl. She’s supposed to be taking dictation after 5:00pm. Well…

  

Ahhhhhh…bring back the days of “MAD MEN,” said the CineMaven… tongue~in~ cheek.

But director Negulesco gives Baker a nice little moment after the embarrassing scene for her character April. Shalimar’s given her cab money and a sandwich and sends her home. She waits for the elevator and thinks about what’s just happened. She goes from being mad and indignant, to feeling a bit sophisticated by his pass. Like she’s crossed some sort of line of becoming less small~town girl…to big city woman. Yes, it’s still harassment folks, but April’s a sponge soaking in all her experiences in New York City. She’s so sweet taking it all in and accepting it.

Now’s a good time to take a look at the threesome of “The Best of Everything.” Hope Lange, Diane Baker and Suzy Parker come from a long line of cinematic triumvirates:

 ♥   ♥   ♥     ♥   ♥   ♥

BLONDE AMBITION ~ ( HOPE LANGE as Caroline Bender )

Lange’s working until her betrothed ( Brett Halsey ) comes back from a business trip to marry her. But there’s an earnestness to her approach to work. She wants to do a good job, learn all she can. We see her toughness when she squares off against Executive Secretary Amanda Farrow, played

with easy imperiousness by legend Joan Crawford. She faces her with snarky retorts.

MISS FARROW: “Caroline? When I buzz twice it means I want you for dictation.”
CAROLINE: “Excuse me. I didn’t know.”
MISS FARROW: “Makes one wonders what they DID teach you in college.”
CAROLINE: “Guess I forgot to take the course in buzzers.”

Feisty. Lange is easy on the eyes and easy to get along with, garnering two roommates within the blink of a New York minute. And 1959 girl~talk ensues. The sexual revolution is just around the corner:

CAROLINE: “Well I don’t know. If Eddie hasn’t married by the time I’m twenty~six I may take myself a lover.”
APRIL: “Really? At twenty~six I guess you’re right. If you’re that old you have a right to live.
CAROLINE: “If my mother heard me talk about love so casually I think she’d die.”
APRIL: “My mother never talks about love in any way. She’d no more tell not to have an affair than she’d tell me not to go out and steal a car. She knows I wouldn’t think of it.”
CAROLINE: “But you do think of it.”

APRIL: “Think about it all the time.”

She’s attracted to the company’s handsome teen magazine editor (Stephen Boyd) who drinks a lot. Their relationship is rocky because they both want different things for her. He practices armchair psychology with Lange, trying to sway her from a career in publishing to get her back on track to a career that really counts, being a wife and a real woman and maybe be a part of his life.

MIKE: “Don’t you get caught, Caroline. Get out while you can. Work six months, prove whatever you have to prove and marry the med student, or law student and love happily ever after.”
CAROLINE: “I plan to.”
MIKE: “No business career, no fame, fortune? No ambition?”
CAROLINE: “None.”
MIKE: “How wonderful.”

See…no need to worry about her. She’s got a fiancée, plans for her future with him…while working nights to read manuscripts:

Lange is a good solid actress in the Eva Marie Saint mold of reality~based acting. Okay okay, you may think I say this because they’re both blondes, but not really. Lange has three breakdown scenes she pulls off believably without going over the top. As smart as Lange’s Caroline Bender is, she is still kicked in the gut when she finds her fiancée has married someone else:

CAROLINE: “How do you stop loving somebody when they’ve stopped loving you?”

MIKE: “The man you’re engaged to? Well, this calls for old Dr. Mike’s favorite prescription. Two scotches, straight.”

The movie follows her journey and growth.

♠  ♠  ♠    ♠  ♠  ♠

MARY AGNES: “And take your time. Farrow never gets back ‘til 3:30.”
CAROLINE: “She doesn’t?”
MARY AGNES: “Of course not. She’s an executive.”
CAROLINE: “How does she get any work done?”
MARY AGNES: “Executives don’t do the work. The higher up you get, the less you have to do. Unless you’re the top man. Then you have to make decisions. The ones just under the top have the best deal. Funny about Farrow. She always wants someone like you. You know, sophisticated.”

♠  ♠  ♠    ♠  ♠  ♠

THE ( INNOCENT ) BRUNETTE ~ ( DIANE BAKER as April Morrison )

‘April Morrison’ is the nice, sweet, wide~eyed innocent from Colorado who longs for love in The Big City.

APRIL: “It’s wonderful to be in love, isn’t it?”
CAROLINE: “Yes it is.”

APRIL: “I’m in love too.”

CAROLINE: “What’s his name?”
APRIL: “I don’t know. I haven’t met him yet.”

You will honey. You will.

As a secretary…she’s a little scattered, but can do her job. I already showed you how smarmy hambone publishing exec Brian Aherne makes a crude pass at her. He plants a kiss on her and she convincingly recoils from. Her next encounter is something else again. A kiss from an old wolf like Mr. Shalimar is no match to her run~in with a good~looking, smooth~talking, spoiled, oily~haired cad named Dexter Key…played by a good~looking smooth~talking, spoiled, oily~haired young future Paramount producer: Robert Evans. Trouble really enters Diane Baker’s world with this guy.

APRIL:     “Did you ever make a girl pregnant before?”
DEXTER: “Not that I know of.”
APRIL:     “You mean some girls became pregnant and didn’t tell you?”
DEXTER: “Some girls don’t.”

His Dexter is a playa; kisses the girls and makes ‘em pregnant. At least he was gentlemanly enough to get them to a “doctor” before skulking away. I was especially shocked at 1959’s suggestion of an abortion. It’s a painful watch seeing Baker’s sweet naive character go down that well~worn road. She was not alone in 1959. She’s not alone in 2017.

♦  ♦  ♦    ♦  ♦  ♦

“I always have a sandwich with my boyfriend at a mutually convenient place, like Grand Central. While I’m working on the nightgown, he’s saving up for the furniture. French Provincial. Both rooms. See ya later.”

♦  ♦  ♦    ♦  ♦  ♦

EASY BREEZY RED-HEAD ~ ( SUZY PARKER as Gregg Adams )

“All I want is a man who’ll love me. For a little while. My mother was married three times. Each one I’d start calling Dad. Then off he’d go. It was confusing at irst, but then I bean to look forward to the change. And now the only thing I want is to be free. To have no ties. To have, to hold and then to let go.”

‘Atta girl!!!!

I have to admit Gregg Adams ( as played by the gorgeous Suzy Parker ) is my favorite character. She’s an easy breezy fast talker; beautiful, glamorous…and doesn’t really care about her job. ( Things I wish I were ). The job is a means to an end for her real dream: a career as an actress.

Let me capture this sequence for you of how we’re introduced to Gregg Adams.

 

Oh man…look at her!! She goes on auditions during office hours, blows off the director, catches taxis, and her gal pals at work cover for her. What more can you ask for in a glamour working girl. She lives by the skin of her teeth. And when she’s not hired at the audition, she doesn’t care. At least she pretends NOT to care. In a scene that pre~dates “Breakfast at Tiffany” she tells her truth to the alley cat:

“You know something kitty, I wanted that part like hell.”

It’s a facade. Parker has it interesting because she’s playing this character Gregg on a couple of levels. Parker is an actress who plays an actress who can’t act. You might think her descent into stalking is a bit of a leap, but I can buy it ‘cuz she’s like the hunter captured by the game.

FaceBook poster Stephanie Kreps writes on Suzy Parker:

“Yes, she is so beautiful and a pretty good actress. This movie was like watching a 50’s version of “The Devil Wears Prada.” The great difference, of course, was that the women were not yet ‘woke’ to their rights as far as sexual harassment or equality in the workplace. The happy ending was not a better job or moving up in their careers but learning their place and getting married or at least the promise of that. Even the most successful woman, Joan Crawford’s role, was seen as a sad loser because she had no real relationship with a man. Many of the men were users and cads. The woman’s job was to find one who wasn’t and nab him.”

You see, Gregg has an affair with the Broadway director who has turned her down for a role. He’s played by that continental dreamboat, Louis Jourdan. She becomes obsessed with him I s’pose ‘cuz it’s all mixed up with having an affair with your boss. She’s too blind to see he uses ye olde casting couch to bed actresses as fast as he can cast ‘em. The Gregg Adams’ character’s motivation might be explained better in the book, but I take things at face value in movies. I’ll take the leap with you, as long as the ‘shark’ doesn’t jump too high. As I say, Gregg becomes unhinged by her obsession for Jourdan ( attending rehearsals after she’s been fired, going through his garbage… ). It’s painful to see him literally kick her to the curb as she claws to hang on. She seems like the confidant type to bag a millionaire based on her looks and banter. But underneath…vulnerable. And tragic.

♣  ♣  ♣    ♣  ♣  ♣

HE:    Uhhhh, Miss…
SHE:  St. John. Bobbi.

Along with Midge in Vertigo is my other patron saint of working girls, ANN DORAN. She’s all manner of sidekick and Gal Friday. She has a lovely five minute scene with Van Heflin in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” as Kirk Douglas’ secretary. She goes from cynical to interested to concern to skeptical in a seamless blink of an eye. Looks like she can handle anything Heflin or any man throws at her. Ahhhh, if only our three smart girls could. ( I’ll go into Doran’s scene more in~depth at a later date. )  

♣  ♣  ♣    ♣  ♣  ♣

We see the different approaches to work for our three musketeers. Well…to be honest, the different approaches to love. But we do see how work has…worked out for two other women who’s been at the company: Joan Crawford and Martha Hyer. Both of them heads of their department. And both of them in various stages of being/or having been with married men.

Crawford is a bit of a stone~cold bitch in this film but I may have to amend that; is she really a bitch? Isn’t she just as any male boss would be: demanding expectations. She expects her Secretary(s) to be professional. Crawford does seem to have it in for Lange’s character. Perhaps Lange’s is a younger version of herself with potential to replace Crawford in the company. It was great to see this Lange’s moxie in the face of Crawford’s jibes and digs.

Lange not only holds her own with Crawford, but with two love interests as well. Seems her ex~fiancée ( Brett Halsey ) wants to resume his relationship with her.


“I will not become your mistress!!!”

And the second ( potential ) love interest from the publishing company wants her for himself. Or at least warns her of the pitfalls of working for work’s sake. It’s the dangerously handsome Stephen Boyd as Mike Rice, and he keeps trying to dissuade her from working, suggesting she settle down and marry.

MIKE: “Don’t you get caught, Caroline. Get out while you can. Work six months, prove whatever you have to prove and marry the med student, or law student and love happily ever after.”
CAROLINE: “I plan to.”
MIKE: “No business career? No fame? Fortune?”
CAROLINE: “None.”
MIKE: “How wonderful.”

Sheesh! It’s almost as if something’s wrong with a woman who wants to work. They have tiffs about this very thing, but he’s also there for her, in a chivalrous way, when her fiancée breaks her heart and Boyd takes her out for a bender. He’s a good guy; just a product of his time…women should be married.

“I have one small corner of your life. I’ve never asked for more. And I will not settle for less. Now you and your rabbit-faced wife can both go to HELL!”

Is the movie’s underlying message if you stay at a job too long, it turns a woman into a harridan like Crawford? [ She’s a ball buster, but you hear her on the phone with her head-of- the-company-married-lover-asking-for-more-time-together. Been there, done that ]. Martha Hyer is the other example of a working girl. She heads the fashion department, has had an affair with a married man who seems sincerely into her as we watch him look at her longingly, and follow her around to iron things out. Nice wistful romantic music is also played underneath their scene.

SIDNEY: “How’s your baby?”
BARBARA: “Fine. How’s your wife?”
SIDNEY: “Fine, too. She’s in Nantucet for the summer. Have dinner with me.”

BARBARA: “I’m the girl that wants to get married again, remember? The girl for whom an affair with a married man, is not enough.”
SIDNEY: “Have dinner with me. Just dinner.”

BARBARA: “Why Sidney? Because your wife’s gone for the summer?”
SIDNEY: “No. You know that’s not why.”

She has quiet reserve but you can tell this affair has broken her. I understand much of Hyer’s role in the film was left on the editing room floor. A shame. I’d have liked to have seen more of her story ~ home and work. ( Sidney is played by Donald Harron.

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MR. SHALIMAR: “Ahh Miss Bender. I’ve just been talking to Miss Farrow. You are no longer a typist here.”
CAROLINE: “Well I’ve worked very hard—”
MR. SHALIMAR: “You are now a Reader.”
CAROLINE: “A what?”
MR. SHALIMAR: “A Reader. You’ll get a raise. I fought for you upstairs and managed to get you $20 more.”
CAROLINE: “$20 more a week?” MR. SHALIMAR: “No,  not a week, a month. Oh perhaps it isn’t very much, but think of the honor.”

I’d actually think of calling H.R. and find out what the male Readers get ( if there ARE any ) but oops…it’s 1959. She runs into her nemesis Miss Farrow.

MISS FARROW: “I told Mr. Shalimar that you were not qualified, Miss Bender. You’re too soft. I don’t think you could stand up to a writer and say: ‘Your work is no good.’ I don’t think you have the guts.”
CAROLINE: “Thank you for your confidence in me.”
MISS FARROW: “I call them as I see them.”

CAROLINE: “I’m beginning to think you’re right not to like me, Miss Farrow.”

To get Miss Farrow’s respect is a hard row to tow. She might’ve wanted someone like Caroline ( …what did Mary Agnes say: “Funny about Farrow. She always wants someone like you. You know, sophisticated” ). But faced with the person she used to be when she started out, she might just be seeing pitfalls ahead for Caroline.

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Near the end of the movie there’s a big wedding reception for one of the gals ( …the chatterbox from early in the movie ) The brass ring: Marriage. [ An interesting side note: The movie definitely had parts filmed in New York as I recognized. And when Lange and Boyd attend the reception, they’re walking onto the grounds of the public housing development I used to work in, Jacob Riis Houses, along the FDR Drive. When they walk into the apartment…THAT is definitely a movie set. No project apartment is that big ]. What does work mean to a person. It provides freedom and independence and a means to make one’s way in the world.  You’ll see many other entries from bloggers in this blogathon where the crux of the matter is more work~related. I like a post I wrote two years ago on His Girl Friday where we spend the bulk of the film INSIDE the job, and see Roz Russell at work. Admittedly with “The Best of Everything” work is pretty much tangential, the bulk of its story a shiny, glossy microcosm of human relationships dealing with sacrifices, compromises, self-worth, and most importantly…finding love. 

             

I think this is a great idea for a blogathon Debra, and for you folks out there, there are some more bloggers who tackle the Job of Work. Just click on the banner above to read more. Thanks for reading and thanks for including me, Debbie.

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SABOTEUR ( 1942 ) ~ AMERICA HANGS BY A THREAD

The Police. Do they ever get it right? Geez!! The wrong man has been Hitchcock’s theme in many of his movies. And “SABOTEUR” uses it as well. Airplane factory worker, ROBERT CUMMINGS is wrongly accused of setting fire to the plant. We know he didn’t do it, but the police weren’t sitting next to us in the audience, so they haven’t a clue. With just the flimsiest of leads, Cummings goes on the trail for the real saboteur. Cummings is good. He’s clean cut, earnest, all-American and believable. It wouldn’t be a “wrong man” film, if Hitch didn’t have ‘The Disbelieving Girl’ by our hero’s side who comes to believe and love him. And yes, she is a blonde. Fitting that disbelieving bill very nicely is PRISCILLA LANE. She’s shamed by a community of circus folk into giving our hero a break. In fact, Cummings is shown interacting with “just-plain-Americans” giving him just that inch of a break. Hitch shows examples of our American character back then: fair, helpful, giving a fella an even break that’s warming to see.

Hitchcock also gives many satisfying jolts of suspense throughout “Saboteur”:

  • cutting the handcuffs with a car engine
  • police questioning the circus caravan ( include muzzling that weasel who wanted to squeal )
  • escaping a fancy dress ball
  • the pièce de résistance – the Statue of Liberty ( that seam unravelling is killer; I’m sure tailors all over the country were aghast. )

Of course I must give a shout-out to a great Hitchcock villain. I’m not meaning NORMAN LLOYD who was wonderfully serpentine as Frye, the beady-eyed villain you could see coming from a mile away, and who was very menacing by saying very little. ( In real life Lloyd is loquacious indeed, regaling us with his show business tales at a few TCM Film Festivals. ) This time the great Hitchcock villain I’m actually talking about is the capitalist named Tobin played by OTTO KRUGER. Kruger plays Wealth ITSELF, with big house, swimming pool and a network of tentacles that keep his own hands clean. This exchange:

CUMMINGS: “Why is it that you sneer every time you refer to this country. You’ve done pretty well here. I don’t get it.”

KRUGER: “You’re one of the idle believers. The ‘Good American.’ Oh there are millions like you. People that plod along without asking questions. Hate to use the word stupid, but that seems to be the only one that applies. The ‘Great Masses’. The ‘Moron Millions.’ Well there are a few of us that aren’t willing to troop along. A few of us who are clever enough to see that there’s much more to be done than just live small complacent lives. A few of us in America who desire a more profitable type of government…”

Interesting how Hitchcock keeps Kruger in a long shot delivering this speech, as he cuts the camera closer and closer to Cummings bringing us closer to him, not Kruger. I love Otto Kruger’s voice. Yes, he might’ve had a magnificent obsession with Dracula’s daughter but here Hitchcock uses Kruger in all his condescending sibilantly-spoken glory as the villain you don’t see coming ( a la Joseph Cotten, James Mason, Claude Rains or use your own etceteras. ) Kruger may be the kindly grandpa or the well~respected, well~heeled high society guy. But his villainy is more insidious. He not only wants to explode America from the outside with fires and bombs, but he wants it to implode her from within. Hitchcock’s done it again.

From the out of the past of 1942, this movie sounds very horribly current to me.

 

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‘TILL DEATH US DO PART

Oy vey!!! He leaves the toilet seat up. She wears too much perfume. He never asks directions. She’s always late. You want his money. He wants your sister. Poison? Driven to suicide or just a bullet in the brain? Do you do it yourself? Or do you get someone to help you?  Trust is never as important as it is when murder is involved. You must kill her. You must kill him. And if you don’t do it yourself, you must trust your accomplice.  Is love a many~splendored thing?

Hell…what’s LOVE got to do with it.

I got the idea of murder listening to the episode: “WIVES IN PERIL” by the ANY LADLE’S SWEET THAT DISHES OUT SOME GRAVY podcast, hosted by two very lovely ladies: Danielle Smith and Megan McGurk. You can find them on FACEBOOK. I thought this would make a good topic bloggers could really seek their teeth into. Well they certainly did. There are many tried and true favorites here and a couple of new movies I’ve never heard of. Below is the directory of bloggers who decided to write of mayhem and murder and marriages gone wrong. Thank you for reading, and a big THANK YOU to the bloggers who make a blogathon what it is.

And now…MURDER: 

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HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT

Submissions should be flooding in today and I can’t wait to share them with you all on Monday ~ July 24th. With my ‘Till Death Us Do Part Blogathon, bloggers will explore films where spouses attempt to murder each other. Some succeed, some fail, some get off Scott~free, some are caught. Since I’m hosting this shebang, I guess I’ll go first with a film that precedes Julia Roberts’ “Sleeping With The Enemy” by 54 years.

In loving classic films, I approach them two ways: one, with anticipation and the other with obligation. I felt the latter with HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT.” All this time, I was thinking it was some frou frou-y cotton candy confection with Chevalier and MacDonald. You know…singing princesses and cavalier playboys. ( I hadn’t even bothered to IMDB it to see who the actual cast was ). With my obligatory viewing, I entered this screening with, my dumb ol’ pre~conceived notions. I wanted to re~cast it. The unlucky triumvirate to my meddling re~casting were: JEAN ARTHUR, CHARLES BOYER and COLIN CLIVE.

   
Oh Boyer could stay, but I wanted to replace Jean Arthur with Irene Dunne and Colin Clive with Basil Rathbone. As the movie unfolds, I threw away my silly casting notions and went with the hand director FRANK BORZAGE.

 

 

HISTORY IS MADE OF  ( SOME ) SPOILERS 

The movie starts right away, with a note taped to the mirror ( I thought of “BUtterfield 8” ) which explains all we need to know: A jealous husband; a wife who’s sick of him…and she’s left him. I loved the complexity of the story and how “History…” unfolds is seamless. I reveled in the twists and turns and mix-ups and misunderstandings. Yes, I love how the movie is plotted out; a divorce correspondent case cum jewelry robbery cum “meet cute.” The way Borzage goes from damsel-in-distress…to…romance… to…disaster film is masterfully handled. Smooth transitions, nothing abrupt; like I said…seamless. I was totally absorbed and invested in each part of the story. There were a few things I predicted ( which still didn’t spoil what I watched ) and I was surprised by others. There were many points of foreshadowing that were answered throughout the movie. What a pickle the film puts Boyer and Jean in. How will they get the heck out of this. The stories’ weaving made a beautiful, disturbing tapestry.

INSANE IN THE BRAIN

Bruce: “I ought to kill you for this.”
Irene: “Why don’t you. Then I’d never have to see you again.”

Ouch! She knows. He knows she knows. And now she knows he knows she knows. (Mull that one over). Colin Clive is dastardly. He’s utterly galling. Clive plays the part to an infuriating fare-thee-well as shipping magnate Bruce Vail. His obsessive possessiveness need to control was beyond the pale. He wants to control her, make her his. He’s had a portrait painted of her and presents it to her:

Bruce: “Well, what do you think of your portrait? I had it painted from a cherished photograph. I’ll hang it in the Royal Suite of the Princess Irene.”

Irene: “By the neck until it dies?”

OMG! Harsh. Harsh for 1937, and just as harsh eighty years later. I was taken aback by the deadness of her voice and comment. It was devoid of life.

Bruce was absolutely diabolical. He couldn’t be dissuaded by detective or lawyer. I dare you to find…one…redeeming…thing about him other than he loves her. Wait…this can not be love. To consider wrecking an entire ocean liner with hundreds of passengers just to kill her is a Pyrrhic victory of outrageous proportion. Normally I would laud that and file it away in my Rolodex of Villainy, but I just couldn’t here. Probably because the victims were Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer ( in spite of my initial mental “Casting Switch” ). He was mean. Abusive. Sick. Control control control. He grabs her by the neck. Pushing, taunting. He made me sick!!! I hate emotional blackmail. Divorce is not an option for Clive’s character. He would never let her go no matter what. Men like that never…let…go.

What is stunning, like something ironic out of mythology is, Bruce’s fear ~ his wife cheating on him ~ he causes TO happen. And when it does happen, I love her speech about it:

“This time there IS another man. You set a trap to catch me with one, and another came instead, to tell me that he loved me. And for me to tell him I loved him too. And YOU did it. You did it all by yourself. Isn’t that funny? Don’t you think that’s funny? Before he came, I never even looked at another man. But you wouldn’t believe me. So you created one and sent him right into my arms.” 

D’ya think this is a lesson learned? Naaaah.

LOVE AND ROMANCE

Oh….I could swoon at the love story of Paul and Irene in “History…”. Acting~wise, I’m just about a Jean Arthur convert now; of her apple cheeks and unusual hoarse and scratchy voice. Her laughing while crying. Or is that crying while laughing. She’s sensitive, her vulnerability is sexy. She can wear the hell out of those clothes. ( Who DID her costumes? ) And I believe her. I believe her distress. I believe her in love. I see the touch of comic timing here. There is something engaging about her. She’s different here than the light pixie I am used to seeing. Boyer as Paul…Welll….welll now ladies. Can we talk? I mean, can we talk? I know. Not here; too public. But girls…Boyer. He’s got it. I really now see him as so underrated an actor. His name’s not bandied about like other 30’s and 40’s favorites among classic film lovers. I don’t know why…now. Love sick. Hurt by love. Loved by love.
( Boyer in love ):

    

They dance in the restaurant from night ’till dawn. Fall in love without words.

Paul: “Now…it would be okay to say. But I can’t. Unless you will believe it. Will you?”

Irene: “I think I will believe it. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because tonight is what I’ve waited for. Maybe it’s because I’ve needed tonight more than anything in my life. Because I’ve never been happy before. Because…”

 

Boyer’s accent, his dark looks already get my vote. But his ‘Paul’ was a nice caring loving man. But is he similar to Bruce? Both are businessmen, both interested in Irene…but for different reasons: one to possess / one to love. ( Two sides of the same coin? ) What a contrast. Look at him in his restaurant and how he treats customers and waiters. When he’s in New York. Look at him in his new restaurant and how he handles staff; firm but caring. But is he obsessed? After all, he’s taken over this restaurant and left a table permanently vacant in the hopes that one day, Irene will come in. I guess obsession is okay depending on which side of it you’re facing. How hurt he was when he finally sees Irene come into his restaurant…with her husband.

THE DISASTER FILM

An ominous foghorn underscores everything. I am in shock when Bruce gives the Captain the order to go with that speed test. Full steam ahead! Captain, my Captain, you crazy! The ship will break apart at this speed, and does. The S.O.S. montage was well~done. Chaos, fear…perfect. Life boats, jumping sinking ship. Women and children first. And lovers last. If Bruce cannot have Irene, no one will. Only then can he put a bullet in his brain.

“HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT” shows a man consumed by jealousy to insane degrees he will do anything to hold on, even if he has to destroy it. His unreasonable jealousy is ultimately self~destructive. “History is Made At Night” has also made me a convert on a couple fronts. I forgive Boyer for how mean he was in “Gaslight.” I must actively seek out Frank Borzage films with a vengeance. And as for Jean Arthur…Ms. Arthur, will you forgive me?

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Won’t you come back Monday July 24th and check out these bloggers who show you how marriage can be murder. ThanxXx!

 

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