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.




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.


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.


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.


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?

* * * * * * * * *

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


[   H O M E   ]



[ 12 / 22 / 22  ~  9 / 9 / 99 ]

There’s nothing like diving into a series of films in one fell swoop to watch the breadth of a talented performer or director. I did this with RUTH ROMAN. I call her The Mighty Roman. I find her a very commanding presence. Her darkness could be part of it. She’s sable; with a dark touch of Dana Wynter Suzanne Pleshette Gail RussellGail Patrick Jean Simmons / Barbara Rush~thing going on…all rolled up into one fierce package. Someone in my FaceBook group mentioned another actress who did not have the chops to stare a man down. Well Ruth certainly can. My  God its withering. ruth-romanThere’s a touch of danger in her. Her performances are believable and with conviction. I’m not quite sure why she really wasn’t a bigger star. Why couldn’t she truly break out though she’s done 60+ films. Could it be she was more character actress than leading lady?

Well I’m going with that and nudging Ruthies name as a participant in the “WHAT A CHARACTER!” blogathon. To be included in this peren nial favorite, now in its fifth year, is a big deal for my little blog. Hosted by Aurora of “Once Upon A Screen”, Kellee of “Outspoken and Freckled” and Paula of “Paula’s Cinema Club” this blogathon shines a spotlight on those somewhat unheralded in our cozy little classic film community. So let me showcase the Mighty Roman here and later talk about one of my favorite films of hers “TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.”


Ruth Roman is a Yankee, a New Englander born in Revere, Massachusetts in 1922 ( though different sources cite different years for her birth ).  She studied acting at the Bishop Lee Dramatic School and cut her teeth with the New England Repertory Company before heading out to Hollywood. She tooled around in bit parts in ‘uncredited girl’ roles young actresses are wont to do before getting her break by studio head Dore Schary to appear opposite relative newcomer, Kirk Douglas in CHAMPION.”

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Roman plays housewife to dopey Glenn Ford in “YOUNG MAN WITH IDEAS.” She tones it down. For me it’s a crime to see her wearing an apron, running after three kids and puttering around the house, when she seems like she should be in a board room…but I went with it. Next up she’s a glamorous Nancy Drew trying to figure out if Richard Todd is indeed a murderer in “LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE.” I enjoyed this movie. While in my kitchen I heard the familiar voice of that other tigress, Mercedes McCambridge and ran into the living room to confirm it. Yup. It was her. I love that crazy McCambridge and her staccato delivery. Ruth is a good girl in this; falling in love…and then in fear. She’s light, easy…witty and clever with black shining eyes.

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Ruth does another turn as a good girl in Hitchcocks masterpiece of double trouble: “STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.” Ruth doesnt have much to do in this Hitchcock classic but be the supportive girlfriend. And see…she can be that way too. Again I think she tamps it down to make it plausible for Farley Granger to get a girl like her. ( He really is more suited to a Cathy O’Donnell-type ). But thats okay Ruthie. Youre in a Hitchcock film. Hell, what blondes can do, so can brunettes.  

Roman had a real~life drama on her hands when the cruise ship she was on sunk. In 1956 returning to the States from Europe, the Andrea Dorea collided with MS Stockholm. Roman ran back to her cabin to grab her three year old little boy and put in a lifeboat. The boat took off before Ruth could board it. She got on another lifeboat and was reunited with her son via the Ile de France. Dont know if her career could ever compare to that.

If my preference is seeing Roman on the mean side ~ ( hey, what can I tell ya? ) ~ thenINVITATION” satisfies my need. Starring Dorothy McGuire and Van Johnson, Roman plays Johnson’s ex-fiancee ( Maud ) who is dumped so he can marry McGuire. Roman does not suffer loss easily and is a stone cold bitch when she discovers Johnson only marries McGuire because shes dying. Oh yeah, she makes sure she knows this:


“Oh, don’t worry, I just happened to be in the building, and dropped into his office. Oh, he’s still yours, at least for the time being. I told you, remember, the day of your wedding, ‘I don’t give up so easily.’ Remember? I said, ‘The first round goes to you, or your father’s money … You can have Dan,’ I said, ‘for about a year on loan.’ And that’s why you’re really here, isn’t it?  Because the year’s dwindling out fast. Only a couple of months left, and you’re scared to death. Well, Ellen, do you think I have given up?”


I’ve only seen pieces of “THREE SECRETS” many years too long ago. One of my friends has reviewed this film in his cozy corner of my blog. Tell me THIS doesn’t whet your appetite. Roman is comfortable in westerns as proof is in the sasparilla of “BELLE STARR’S DAUGHTER” “COLT .45 “REBEL IN TOWN”, the famed Anthony Mann’s THE FAR COUNTRY” with James Stewart and “DALLAS” with that lovely stalwart tall drink of water…Gary Cooper. Also in the cast, waiting in the wings, is the other side of midnight: Steve Cochran. She worked with the dark, handsome and dangerous Steve Cochran in a film I’d like to look at in detail. “TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.”

TOM'W ( II )

I had never heard of this movie, didnt know what the heck to expect; its better that way. I was pleasantly surprised. TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY reveals a couple of layers I enjoyed.


STEVE COCHRAN plays an ex-con just released from prison. I always liked Cochran…his lush deep dark looks and tough guy persona. But thats not quite what I got in “Tomorrow…” ( no tough-guy, but still killer looks. ) See, hes been in prison for eighteen years since he was a thirteen-year old boy. So his new life on the outside is really quite an adjustment. And Cochran plays his character as slightly emotionally stunted. He never waivers from that, and it’s always subtly evident; this is a testament to his ( very under-rated ) acting. He pulls it off. ( His dark humor in “Deadly Companions was an eye-opener as well. ) There was a boyishness to him in “Tomorrow…”. He is hurt, defensive, mistrustful. There is a sweetness to him that endeared him to me.

Now remember, he was thirteen when he went into prison eighteen years ago. When it dawned on my thick skull what that “really” meant, I confess it quickened my pulse a bit, seeing how good Cochran looks. And the first woman he falls hard for?

Brittle, hard as nails, bottle blonde Ruth Roman. Mama mia!! The poor lug doesnt know what hit him. Sometimes ten cents a dance is a high price to pay.

TOM'W ( V )

Hes socially awkward, and sweet as well; and that makes for an apt pupil. She sees “something” in this young man. Uhmmmm…mostly, she sees a patsy.


Using his prison pay, he buys her a gold-plated watch. She cant let herself be soft; its a hard cold cruel world for a blonde alone. With a twist of fate and Ruthies lies, they are now on the run.



This is some kind of wildly subversive Hitchcockian plot twist. Not only is Cochran, ‘the wrong man’ but he think he IS the man. “Tomorrow Is Another Day” is a unique “on-the-lam” tale because shes tricked him into thinking he must run. He never wants to go back to prison, hes never really ever able to breathe comfortably, he thinks she’s going to tell on him…so hes always on edge. Not the fey-jittery-Farley Granger-edge, but a darker weightier edge. Shes actually kind of holding him hostage with her secret. You feel sorry for him.

The laughs on her when she realizes shes hitched her little caboose to a convicted murderer. Into the frying pan.

TOM'W ( VI )

Theyre on the lam. They change clothes and hitch rides. Theyre not out in the open. They do a lot of walking, and hopping on trains. They talk. Hes a survivor in this environment. They register in a seedy motel as man and wife with phony identities. Ruth still holds Cochran at arms length. “Dont get any ideas, Buster” is easier said than done; shes warming up to him. TOM'W ( I )In spite of herself, she slowly falls for Cochran. In an effort to disguise herself from The Law, Ruth dyes her blonde hair brunette. Yay!!! Finally! Its Ruth Roman, dark and lovely as she should be, like we know and love her. Cochrans man/boy gets plenty of ideas. After all, theyre now married ( if in name only )…it has been eighteen years…and it IS Ruth Roman. Ruth turns girlish, asks him if he likes her new hair color. He does. He likes her. He loves her. The wait is over…they really become man and wife here.



Now a brunette, her glam toned down and her softness revealed, Ruth and Cochran catch a break by helping migrant farmers Ray Teal and wife Lurene Tuttle, one of my favorite character actresses. ( See my contribution about her for the 2014 ‘What A Character blogathon at the Once Upon A Screen blog. )  Ruth has softened considerably and Cochran seems more at ease. She’s toned down her hardness and he takes the lead a bit more in their new life together. Even if she has to scold him she never pulls out the beeyotch card, but does it a maternal wifely way. They live the life of lettuce pickers in a small itinerant California community. Whoa! This is far afield from the bright lights of a 40-watt dim and dirty dance hall, and Ruth takes to it. It was easily and subtly done to watch her warm up to Cochran and gain his trust. He begins to trust. She’s wifey now in a little wooden shack…making dinners, sewing patterns, and pregnant to boot. They’re both able to exhale.



Cochran’s true identity is discovered by Tuttle and Teal ( sounds like an old vaudeville team, doesn’t it? ) and trust begins to break down with everybody. I love Lurene Tuttle’s acting here. Her character is in conflict about a choice some might find easy to make. That she struggles with this choice, is a testimony to her.

TOM'W ( IV )

I have waaay more Ruth Roman films to discover, but I’ve got a good head start. “Tomorrow Is Another Day” weaves a tale of folks trapped by circumstances. Showing the growing love of two distrusting people was an added bonus for me. I heartily recommend this film to you. The Mighty Roman is in good company with other character actors and actresses who rarely get the spotlight. Want to read about ’em? Click onto Aline MacMahon. and Guy Kibbee and read about other great character actors. Start with Day 3 and work your way back to Days 1 and 2:


( HOME )




GLORIA GRAHAME ( Crossfire )

[ November 28th, 1923 ~ October 5th, 1981 ]

CROSSFIRE (1947) Robert Young, Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum, directed by Edward Dmytryk.

The testosterone level is high in this rough and tumble drama. You see those leads? But there’s another piece ot this movie; the girls they left behind.

Vulnerability. Regret. Pathos. This describes the very good performance of Gloria Grahame in “Crossfire.” The blare of a trumpet and a soft focused shot comes into focus announcing the appearance of Gloria Grahame as Ginny. Her Ginny reminds me of a young Joan Blondell. Grahame plays a dance hall girl ( to put it politely ) and the young soldier the police is searching for for murder ends up there. Mitchell is having a hard time adjusting, he’s missing his wife. Grahame could be that pretty girl-next-door, with delicate features and shoulder-length hair softly cascading onto her shoulders he could cry on.

But she’s not.

She doesn’t readily have a sympathetic ear. It’s all about the ca$h. It usually is with the men she meets in this place. He hooks up with her. They talk. She sarcastically tells him she knows she reminds him of the “girl he left behind.” He tells her, in fact, she does, This upsets her. She leaves him at the bar and goes out back to the garden patio.

Gloria’s angry and hurt. Hurt because she is no one’s wife; hurt because being a dance hall girl probably ruins her chances of ever becoming anyone’s wife. As she says: “I’ve been working for a long time.”


She finds him corny but dances with him…close. Very close. Her arms are around him; she looks him squarely in the eyes when they dance. Slowly, softly, tentatively she puts her cheek next to his; her body is pressed up against his. We can see her let her guard down…like a street cat who learns to trust. The hard, cynical edge she’s hidden behind to protect her, is slowly melting. She finds him corny but it’s probably because she misses what she never had…one guy, one steady guy to love her. She’s letting him in. There’s something about this soldier.

She invites the soldier to her place. She wants to cook for him. She gets to play house but in a different way. She gives the soldier a key to her apartment. Director Dmytryk chooses to use a very long dissolve from her face to her apartment building. We linger on the close-up image of her face.


The next time we see Gloria she’s changed into a robe. And she’s cold and hard as the soldier’s wife and detective Robert Young are at her door. They want to see if she can serve as an alibi to the soldier’s whereabouts, but she is unwilling to help. Why? The soldier was sweet and gentle and didn’t want to use her. What’s turned Gloria against him to not want to help?

Well, she could be sore that he wasn’t there when she came back to her apartment. She could be sore that the soldier’s wife is now at her door. She could be sad and hurt at the realization that she’ll never get a decent break with a guy. She could be sore at just being used for information she could provide with no thought to her own feelings. She is all those things. No one could play sad, hurt & defiant in one fell swoop like Gloria Grahame. We see her catch a glimpse of what she could have had: welcoming home her soldier with dancing, dinner and a sweet homecoming. But alas that was not to be.

GLORIA GRAHAME ( VI )   PAUL KELLY ( %22Crossfire%22 )

And who DOES she have? She has a crazy old coot of a lover/husband, played sympa-thetically by character actor Paul Kelly; probably a shell-shocked vet from the Great War, or an officer from this war. We’re not really sure who he is. A delusional man who loves her. It’s very telling she hasn’t sent him away permanently. THAT’s who she has. Grahame does a wonderful job in this mystery, the girl-left-behind in so many ways.

Grahame does a lot with this small but pivotal role. In fact, I can’t think of another actress who could show pain and hurt and vulnerability and hardness and sexiness simultaneously besides Gloria Grahame. “Crossfire” was a good post-war noir film. All three Bobs (Young, Ryan & Mitchum ) were well-cast, ( Ryan – psychotically chilling ) and George Cooper was wonderful as the soldier.

But Gloria Grahame…she just adds that lovely edge of cold sarcasm softened by her vul-nerability. She’s a wonderful addition to this classic motion picture.

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And let me give a brief shout out to Jacqueline White, who plays the Soldier’s wife. I saw her interviewed by Eddie Muller at the TCM Film Festival in 2013 before the screening of her last movie, The Narrow Margin.”  Check out the trailer for  “Crossfire.”


[   H O M E   ]



One of my favorite films is “A FACE IN THE CROWD.” Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and Walter Matthau were wonderful. In fact, I enjoyed every one’s characterizations and Elia Kazan’s message of cynicism was spot on. Power brokers…false prophets… charlatans…snake oil salesmen and demagogues. Oh my. This film is more relevant today than ever before, especially as we head two days from electing a new President.

face-crowd-3a-face-in-crowd-griffithIt was not
hard for me to reconcile
the warm
folksy Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry persona, with the megalomaniac he becomes in “A Face in the Crowd.” Maybe his Lonesome Rhodes was Sheriff Taylor on steroids. Griffith gives a strong performance in this his first film. His lusty heat obliterates all thoughts of
 Opie and Aunt Bee and Barney and Goober/Gomer Pyle, for me. If that big big laugh of his isn’t indicative of a large…a-face-in-crowd-andy-griffithuhm….‘appetite’, then I don’t know my megalomaniacs. Andy Griffith Rhodes wallows in his power; he revels and rolls in it like a pig in  **it. He is besotted with it. But when he gets in the least little trouble he calls for his Marcia again…suckling her for comfort and reassurance.

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But Lonesome Rhodes was also a drug for Marcia! Marcia! Marcia! as well. Behind every great man is a great woman, right? Here, the woman “makes” the man…in more ways than one. Patricia Neal is so good as career girl Marcia Jeffries, who tries to further her  

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career when she finds Lonesome Rhodes in a local hoosegow and has the idea to make him a tv personality. She discovers this diamond in the rough…polishes him and becomes drunk for him. She struggles the further things go along. When success and more powerful men come a-callin’ on Lonesome she is iced out, as women sometimes are. After all her help in creating him ( and sleeping with him ), she finds he’s married a pretty little vacuous majorette named Betty Lou played by pretty as a summer’s day Lee Remick in her first

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movie. It’s a blow to Marcia as though she is the “wife” who has helped her husband through medical school…only to be cast aside like a used Ace bandage, while he takes up with a younger, prettier nurse. Marcia gets him this far and now Lonesome Rhodes is feeling his oats and making decisions. What’s that line in “All About Eve” about the piano thinking its written the concerto? I’m a little torn about this. Why shouldn’t one be in control of their own image? Sure, why not. I do think Lonesome was two steps ahead of those who wished to co-opt him. But he begins to believe the hype and gets drunk with power. You cannot control a heat-seeking missile.


Walter Matthau is Mel Miller, who works with Patricia Neals character, but sees through Lonesome. Hes kind of sweet on her. Hell be her Rock of Gibraltar at the end, but for now he watches her indignities from the sidelines.

Alas and alack ( especially alas ) no one is really indispensable; everyone is  replaceable as we shall see. Lonesome’s elevator ride after his final broad cast was a great metaphor for Kazan to use for his descent. Why, there’s even a new Lonesome Rhodes just waiting in the wings at the ground floor. Not to worry. I’m sure Lonesome Rhodes 2.0 will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Might be human nature at its worst. A shout out to a good smarmy performance by Anthony Franciosa. As press agent hell tell anybody what they want to hear…put em over on the gullible American public and get his 10% for doing so.

I find the movie ends in two beats: ( Spoilers! )

  • Marcia faces her “addiction” to Lonesome with all the strength she can muster. And even with the help of colleague Mel Miller ( a  solid performance, by Walter Matthau ), she still finds it a little hard to leave Lonesome.
  • Secondly, Lonesome screams into the night like King Kong having a tantrum. This time, his call will go unanswered. I loved how Kazan ends the movie with his screams.




We end the movie with Marcias struggle. She walks away a changed woman: battered, bruised, but changed. She learns something about herself and people…while Lonesome remains the same. Rhodes screams into the night air of New York City, the city that never sleeps…the city that ( sometimes ) doesn’t care, the city that swallows his screams and blends it with the cacophony of noises in the night. Lonesome is alone with applause machines applauding his screams, applauding his slide. You know what they say:

“Whom the gods would destroy…they first make mad.”


(   H  O  M  E   )



I gave this movie a chance and I enjoyed it. Yes….there will be tears.

I have to admit A FAREWELL TO ARMS is equal parts Gary Cooper’s performance along with Helen Hayes’ because without Fredric there’s no Catherine and vice~versa. No doubt he is a tall quenching glass of water, but in general I feel Hayes acts rings around Cooper’s halting/hesitant/stilted delivery. I lean towards her, but I believe working with Hayes upped Coop’s acting game.


[ Parting…is such sweet sorrow, and how the heck tall ARE you?  ]



Maybe it was the “First Lady of the Theatre” moniker that put me off her initially; you know…all that “AHHKTING” and stodgy theatrical hijinks I imagined she had. 0R it could have been my first memories of Hayes as that little cotton-topped older lady in “AIRPORT” 1970. But a light switch finally turned on in my brain and out of the darkness of my blindness, entered Helen Hayes.

My silly biases have disappeared watching Hayes play Catherine Barkley, the Nurse in Frank Borzage’s romantic “A Farewell to Arms.” I thought she was very subtle in her acting~style; probably moreso than some of my pre-code faves ( who shall remain nameless in light of Hayes brilliance ). She’s as cute as a button and though she doesn’t have the, shall we say “sensual bling” of a Bow, Harlow or Louise Brooks, still waters do run very deep.


~ Florence Nightingale never covered THIS in the Nurses’ Manual ~

Catherine represents those young women a decade-plus into the 20th century’s beginnings who will bob their hair, seek The Vote and want just a touch more autonomy in their lives. ( Dont worry, they’re still a million and a half light years from burning their bras. ) She’s a little more interesting for me to watch. She’s left her small-town and is out in the world at large. Catherine leaves her provincial thinking back home, too. After all, she’s mending and healing war’s broken bodies. No, it’s not a pre-requisite to throw caution to the wind; but ‘saving’ herself for marriage is something she now questions as she speaks of her dead fiancee:

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d marry him. Or… anything.”

It’s those ‘…or anythings’ that’ll get you every time, girls.

As in Cinderella, the Lieutenant ambulance driver ( Gary Cooper ) and the nurse meet “cute”…during an air raid – Fredric with a veritable “slipper” in his hand.


May I show you something in a Size 3?


When next they meet, the Lieutenant steals the nurse from his buddy, Major Rinaldi (played by Adolphe Menjou) who had his “eyes” on her first. Neither mens intentions were quite honorable toward Nurse Catherine. But Fredric wins out. His gentle, insistent, full court press muffles the cries of protest from Catherine. Resistance is futile. ( Resist… really? A FAREWELL TO ARMS ( II )It’s Gary Cooper for cornsakes…and besides there’s a war going on; it’s practically a girl’s sacred patriotic duty to make hay. ) Afterwards, Fredric is concerned about her “afterwards”, but she is surprisingly resigned to having given up the “coin of the realm”. He seems more concerned than she, though I think she feigns her carpe-diem attitude. ( Note: his concern comes “after.” ) Sent to the front, he drives his ambulance BACK to see her to make sure she understands that this was not a mere one-nite stand. It’s his coming back to her that I think their emotional tale starts.

The young lovers both have BFFs who are adamantly opposed to their relationships. ( Makes me think of Rob Lowe’s and Demi Moore’s best friends in “About Last Night” yes, a decidedly un-classic film which has no business in this post.  )


Cooper, Menjou, Philips and Hayes


When I first saw Adolphe Menjou as the Italian Major and head doctor in charge, I scratched my head. Huh??? Wha’?? What in the name of Central Casting is this? But I must say he did grow on me by the end of the movie, even with his phony baloney Italian accent. And I loved how he called Fredric “bebe.” Rinaldi can’t believe he’s losing his ol’ running buddy to love. When he tries to cheapen Catherine in Fredric’s eyes to get him back, the lieutenant will have none of that. Menjou’s Captain Rinaldi is instrumental in separating the lovers. Sheesh, with friends like this… He later comes to understand their love is true and deep. But Catherine’s good friend is fellow nurse Ferguson never seems to understand. Shes played by Bogie’s ex-wife Mary Philips…who also played Gene Tierney’s mother in “Leave Her to Heaven.” ( How’s THAT for bits of trivia from the CineMaven. ) Ferguson seems so stuck up from the get-go.  She’s deeply opposed to Catherine’s relationship even more vehemently than Rinaldi. ( When Fredric looks for Catherine later in the film, Fergie is of no help at all. Can’t she see that he came back for Catherine? Ack! ) Why is Fergie sitting on the sidelines while “hook-ups” are happening all around her. Is there more beneath her friendship?


It’s interesting to see Catherine and Fredric travel their individual paths on that same road of love. 

Catherine and Fredric are sweet and loving and tender to each other ~ friends and conventions be damned. They’re just so plain cute together without being saccharine. ( Maybe it’s that living-together-thing. ) And when they have to part, even if Fredric has only twenty minutes before train time, he spends it with her. They live a lifetime in their little room. They live a lifetime in each other’s company. “I wish we could do something sinful. Eveything we do is simple and right,” says Catherine. How could loving each
( 1932 ) FAREWELL TO ARMSother be sinful? It’s pre~code. And in whose eyes? ACK! Beats me. But they’re going to pay a terrrrible price for this love. One of the Hayes moments I really enjoyed was her merely reading aloud a letter she’s writing him. She paints a beautiful picture of a house she’s rented and we hear her voice-over while director Borzage pans around the squalid little room. Hayes reads the letter so matter-of-factly without the least bit of an actress-y hint she’s already memorized what she’s supposed to be ‘reading’ to the audience. That small moment caught me. It’s a small thing I know, but it shows something to me of Hayes’ gift.

As Catherine, she’s going to rough it alone, wait for him to come back from the front. When she finds out her letters have never even reached him…

Fredric’s worried about not hearing from her. He knows something’s wrong. What initially started out as just a conquest, quickly turned into love for him. And truth be told, it turns out to be more than just love. It’s some kind of symbiotic oneness they have for each other. Fredric risking every-
farewell-ithing to leave his post to go back to her astounds me. He was like, “I’m leaving the Army and I’m going home.” Huh? What the… Yup, he was just going to leave and go home. See, this is the SECOND time he’s going back to her; he doesn’t care how far away he is from her…he has to get back to her. Simple. And that just plain kills me. Today, girls are wondering why he hasn’t called, texted, Instagrammed or FaceBook’d her, where “A Farewell to Arms” has the Lieutenant going through battle in, literally, the opposite direction of the war, just to get back to her…

Director Frank Borzage has some fantastic camera work, rather unexpected for me to see in the 1930’s when many were just doing long shot ~ medium shot ~ close-up. He also has his finger on the pulse of what is romantic…what is love, viscerally making us feel its ache. He’s well~practiced in it if you‘re familiar with his work. ( Moonrise, History Is Made At Night, 7th Heaven really just to name a few ).  If you read my friend’s thoughts on why this film is one of her favorites for 1932 ( scroll down and read —> here <— ) she gives a nice account of what Borzage captures. 

 farewell-iv farewell-v

“Please don’t die.” 

Here is where IMHO Gary Cooper shines. The praying against all hope that his little prayers would be answered in that big, wide, war-crazed world. A simple request. I was stunned by his tears and the unseeing look in his eyes as he ate his bread in the little bistro. All around him celebrated war’s end, while Catherine lie in a hospital. I can’t truthfully say Cooper touched me like this for the rest of his career.

I wanted a happy ending here so badly, it hurt. My throat was burning. Fate and Hemingway had different ideas.


(   H  O  M  E   )  





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.


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.


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.


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:



[   H O M E   ]



Hitchcock introduces us to Mrs. Paradine.

His camera slowly revolves around her. He gives her a breathtaking close-up which brings us closer to her than personal decorum or propriety would allow. Alida Valli plays Mrs. Paradine, this cool, beautifully austere, unapproachable looking woman. And she is being charged with murder. 


“Mrs. Paradine, I have to use some formal words at this point. I have a warrant for your arrest. And it is my duty to warn you that you need not say anything. But that what you say will be taken down and may be used in evidence upon your trial. The warrant charges you, for that on the sixth of May, nineteen hundred and forty-six, you did willfully or cause to be administered some poisonous substance to one Richard Patrick Irving Paradine, and did murder him.”

There are Alfred Hitchcock thrillers which are wham-bam pieces of cake for me, and when his world goes mad, I gladly go mad with it. But then Hitch had some crises-of-conscience films which are a little tougher for me, and require several viewings before I really get them. I tackled a tough one last March:
I CONFESS which I now understand and admire the bind Hitch puts his protagonist in. For my co-hosting duties for our “ORDER IN THE COURT!” blogathon with Lesley of Second Sight Cinema, the courtroom drama I try to make sense of is one of Hitchcock’s little-heralded films…THE PARADINE CASE.”

My verdict? I like it!

Now don’t get yourself all bogged down in the details of trial procedures in this movie. If you let that be the reason you dont like this film, you’ll miss the forest for the trees. The trial is merely a metaphor for everything. Simply put, the movie is about a lawyer who becomes obsessed with his client; a man who becomes obsessed with a woman. He loses all reason to be able to help her effectively because of his obsession.


This 1947 film is a slow-moving, methodical, procedural affair and I can see why it might present difficulty or boredom to some. It doesn’t for me. I also know Hitchcock had a different cast of actors in mind for this film. But I’m playing with the hand that Hitchcock was dealt and I think this cast ( *A-hem* ) “acquits” itself nicely. Im finding it so interesting in movies to watch someone make bone-headed moves…listen to no one…and not get out of his own way. You learn from other people’s mistakes. In this case, it’s Gregory Peck who is going down for the count.


I confess I do have one teensy weensy quibble…why Gregory Peck? I love him but I have a slight hiccup of concern he is not 100% the right fit for this. They’ve put gray in his hair …he’s a barrister in the British court system…are you American or a Brit. Wassup Greg?

Of course, that being said, I like him in the role of Anthony Keane. I think Peck brings with him the gravitas of integrity his screen persona has cultivated up to now with his movie characters. ( Well…Duel in the Sun” notwithstanding. ) We get a picture of Keane through his encounters with other characters in the film. The judge is not impressed with his tactics, his colleague tries to talk sense into him in their defense of a client, his wife gives him the benefit of the doubt when she finds hes falling for that client, and her best friend sees through his bravado and longs to make him jump through hoops. Keane’s a hot shot lawyer whose hit by a ton of bricks for Mrs. Paradine; it builds slowly his revealing his growing affection for her…after the proverbial ton of bricks drop on him. It’s interesting to watch his legal vision become clouded. And get this…he also, basically, goes AGAINST his clients wishes as to her defense. Whew! Keanes got it bad, and that aint good. I liked seeing Keane with each investigative visit become more and more a pseudo-paramour and less and less a lawyer. What do I mean? Just watch as Keane visits the Paradine country manor in Cumberland. He looks about her bedroom …looking at her personal items.

How Laura is that? Or better yet, is he the possessive Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca?

* * * * * * * * *

MEN TALK ~ Keane is held in slight disdain by Judge Horfield.


JUDGE HORFIELD: “Sometimes I wonder how good you really are Keane.”
KEANE: “Good enough. Or lucky enough.”
JUDGE HORFIELD: “Come, come. No false modesty.”
SIR SIMON: “Not many better, shall we say.”
JUDGE HORFIELD: “Perhaps perhaps, but I’m a Legalist myself and you my dear chap have this habit of overcharging yourself with emotion when facing the jury. I must confess it does not appeal to my sense of what is proper.”

Hitchcock has some interesting representations of Womanhood in “The Paradine Case.” Some are mere satellites of the men in their lives and some, clearly are not. We have The Wife, The Independent Woman and The Femme Fatale.

* * * * * * * * *



Ann Todd plays Peck’s wife, Gay Keane. She is ever ready with the back rub and the perfect martini. She’s the Perfect Hostess.PARADINE ( MARTINIS ) A little too cool, a little too perfect. Dry. Predictable. Not exciting. BUT…she is fiercely loyal. She’s got his back, as a mate should. She gives him enough rope when she begins to suspect that this case becomes a little too personal for him. She teases him about it:


GAY: “I thought it might please you to know I can be jealous.”
KEANE: “It isn’t that. How could you think that I’d be interested in a woman who—”
GAY: “Well of course you’re not interested. But I hope you’re not getting so old that you can’t admire an attractive woman.”

Do you know the moment in movies when a husband or wife suggests they go away for the week-end “just the two of us and the spouse doesn’t want to go?? You know the marriage is in deep trouble, right? Hitchcock shows us a marriage on shaky ground.





GAY: “But I’ve come to a conclusion Tony. I want her to live. I want very much for her to live. And I hope she gets free. Scott-free. Free to kill. Or to take other wives’ husbands. Or anything else that comes into that beautiful head of hers. I do hate her because I want all this business over and done with and an end to being all mixed up. Part lawyer, part-lover.
KEANE: “What nonsense. Nonsense!”
GAY: “Alright. Frustrated lover, then. Yes and part-husband still because you’re not finished.”

Gay is nervous about the temptation, but doesn’t want to him back by playing the ‘Marriage Card’. She wants him to come back because he wants to. Ultimately she trusts their love.

* * * * * * * * *



This is the great Barrymore. Ethel Barrymore. ( Yes, my screen crush from this post ). She’s the Judge’s wife Lady Sophie, and she is as old school as it gets. Shes pretty much wholly subjugated by her husband, suffering from the slings and arrows of his slights and condescension She’s The Wife of the early century. Obedient, does as she’s told. You know…the good old days. It’s tough to watch. She’s so gentle, and is like a beaten-down dog. Think of Patricia Collinge in The Little Foxes. I understand this kind of wife in movies; married a strong forceful young man who moves up in his profession and becomes as overbearing as he can be.


The ‘girls’ are sent out of the room while the men talk. Look at Judy on the right. Shes all covered up from neck to toe, not in a frilly feminine outfit. Does she mean business or what? Theres no one there for her to impress or keep interested. And she doesnt fit in with the wives either. She is off to the background playing piano while the wives talk about their husbands. This moment between the two wives is a bit unsettling to me. Lady Sophie looks like she is in la-la land, but the poor dear has perfected that faraway look, listening to her own thoughts buried deep inside. Theres a bond between these two women. Or at the very least, an unspoken understanding. Sophies said as much as she dares say, without speaking. Could this be Gay Keane’s future?


I think Judy is allowed to straddle both worlds, because she is an Independent Woman. She herds the men back into the drawing room and 20th century. But more on this gal in a little bit.

* * * * * * * * *



Interesting and skeevy is Charles Laughton as Judge Horfield. He treats wife, Sophie,
( Barrymore ) very poorly.


Judge Horfield ( hmmm…theres something IN that name, don’cha think? ) spirits away the group to the other side of the room with a diversion in order to be alone with Keane’s wife …but notice WHO is the last one to join the group and sees what the Judge is up to. I love that Hitchcock throws that in:


Horfield makes a ham-handed attempt to make a pass at Keane’s wife. He’s such a distasteful loutish man. But Gay manages to get out of the icky sticky situation. Ever been in one of those…with your husbands boss?


Here’s the thing. He’s a good judge. During the trial he sees Keane go off the beam as a lawyer. He tries to put him back on track; at one point even questioning Keanes own witness in a fair way when he sees hes getting railroade. Hitch shows the dichotomy of a jurist with somewhat questionable character but IS able to do his job and follow the Law.

* * * * * * * * *



JUDY:             “What’s she really like?”
SIR SIMON: “Fascinating. Fascinating. I’m an old ruin but she certainly brings my pulse up a beat or two.”

I’ve had my ups ( The More the Merrier ) and downs ( Kings Row In This Our Life” ) with Charles Coburn. In “The Paradine Case” I just adore him. He is Sir Simon, the solicitor. He has such a wry delivery. He’s playful with his daughter Judy, and shows plain objective common sense with his friend, Anthony Keane. He clearly sees the position they should take in handling Mrs. Paradine’s case. And here…here is where we see Hitchcock twist the knife in Keane’s heart:


SIR SIMON: “Why not let the Crown have the burden of proof of its accusations.”
KEANE: “But Simi, what possible objections can you have to us proving suicide?”
SIR SIMON: “It’s dangerous. Remember, if we have Horfield on the bench—”
KEANE: “Oh you all have such an unholy fear of Horfield.”
SIR SIMON: “What’s in your mind, Keane? I don’t understand you.”
KEANE: “Blind men have commited suicide before. We have only to decide who helped Paradine to do it.”

Sir Simon wants to try the case the Crown has set up. He makes a good argument for it:



SIR SIMON: “Let’s face it. This wasn’t suicide. It wasn’t assisted suicide. It was murder.”
KEANE: “Are you trying to imply Latour might have murdered him?”
SIR SIMON: “I’m not talking about Latour.”
KEANE: “Who then?”
SIR SIMON: “I’m talking about our client.”
KEANE: “Oh, so you think she killed him.”
SIR SIMON: “It’s what the Crown thinks and what it’ll try to prove. There’s no sense going into court, hurling other names into the case. We have to prepare to answer the Crown on Mrs. Paradine.”
KEANE: “I’ll have an answer.”
SIR SIMON: “With facts?”

PARADINE ( 102 )

Keane is saved by the bell when his wife offers to make the men some late-night drinks. But when she leaves, the argument continues. Objectivity falls on deaf ears and Keane’s true intent comes bubbling out:


SIR SIMON: “I was under the impression that she’d been a woman of very low estate and rather easy virtue.”
KEANE: “Why you’re an insufferable snob, incapable of recognizing genuine character. I only hope the Crown tries to foul her name once…just once!”
SIR SIMON: “I’m sorry. I hadn’t realized the extent to which she had impressed you.”


KEANE: “I’ve talked to her for hours and I’ve done more than hear her words. I’ve seen the decent, lovely woman behind them, and I intend the rest of the world shall see her as I do…as a noble, self-sacrificing human being any man would be proud of.”



Keane is caught hook line and sinker, by his wife and his friend. And he knows it too.

* * * * * * * * *



JUDY: “So you think Tony was taken with her, ey father?” 
SIR SIMON: “Let’s not go on one of your fishing expeditions.” 
JUDY: “Alright, don’t tell me. You know, Tony may be as good a lawyer as you think he is, but how he loves anything dramatic…can’t you just see Tony giving another of his great performances? Riding to the rescue of beauty in distress. How he must relish this.”
SIR SIMON: “Not if the case comes up before Horfield. He’d better not try one of those performances or he’ll be sat upon and properly.”

Smart. Opinionated.  Questions. And pretty. This is Judy, played by Joan Tetzel. ( I want to see more of her in movies. ) When I watched the movie with my friend, ( Hey friend! ) she thought Hitch was going to go someplace with the Judy-character plot-wise. He doesn’t.


And for me, thats ( sort of ) okay. We just need to see her Type in movies. Attractive and smart; a keen mind. She is not the bitter old maid, not desperate for a Significant Other.
( You just know hell come. ) She also serves to help us, the audience, get through the intricacies of trial when that time comes in the movie. She pals around and kibbitzes with her Dad ( 
Charles Coburn ). She’s allowed to think for herself, even if he gibes about her  getting married and settling down:


“I don’t know how you came by this decidedly unfeminine interest in things. Your mother was a simple old-fashioned woman who’d shutter at the thought of…well, I’m glad you’re not going on with this game. You nearly had me.”

I like them together. She knows the score and has marriage…and Keane’s situation all figured out.


JUDY: “I’ve never seen it to fail. Men who’ve been good too long. Get a longing for the mud and want to wallow in it. The best men always end up with the worst women. He’s after her boyfriend. That’s why he’s going to Cumberland ….men Are such horrible beasts. I wish I were married to Sir Anthony Keane for just one hour. I’d make him jump through hoops.”
SIR SIMON: “I wish you were married to someone. Perhaps he could put up with your claptrap better than I can.”


JUDY: “I hope….no I don’t hope they hang her. I don’t like breaking pretty things. But I do hope they send her to prison for life.”

I think she’d be a very worthy opponent for Mrs. Paradine. I’d love to see that match-up.

* * * * * * * * *



KEANE: “You call him Andre? The servant?”
MRS. PARADINE: “I’m not too well-trained in the subtle snobberies of your class.”


She calls him Andre. And I call him drop dead grorgeous. Yes, let me get that out the way first. Louis Jourdan is drop dead gorgeous as Andre Latour, Colonel Paradine’s fiercely loyal valet. I love Hitchcock’s presentation of Latour, keeping him obscured in shadows initially. And then…


…the full reveal when Hitch has Jourdan step into the light. Goodness gracious, is there nothing more comforting than to see that your ( perceived ) rival is an impossibly beautiful Adonis? Keane tries to keep his cool when questioning Latour but his clenched jaw is a dead giveaway no matter his fancy words and upper class bearing. Keane thinks he can kill two birds with one stone:



( 1. ) Make him the fall guy in the Paradine case.
( 2. ) Get rid of a rival.


Latour’s not intimidated and brokers a quid pro quo exchange of information. He’s direct, unvwavering in his gaze. Interesting how Hitchcock has that lamp between them. Is Latour shedding light on the situation for Keane?


Latour fairly spits out his contempt for Mrs. Paradine:

LATOUR: “Excuse me Sir. You have only known Mrs. Paradine since she was in prison. Is it not so?”
KEANE:   “Yes.”


“Then how CAN you know her. If you did I should not need to tell you that only almighty God or only the black Devil himself knows what’s going on in that head of hers. I know what I’m talking about. What I say is true. I know her and I will tell you one thing more. I will tell you about Mrs. Paradine. She’s bad, bad to the bone. If ever there was an evil woman she is one.”

Keane has no answer but to ball up his fists, clench his jaw and throw Latour out like a petulant child. It looks like Keane is going to have to learn the hard way, in court…and from Mrs. Paradine herself.

* * * * * * * * *



“You’ll find her a strange woman with an almost mystic calm.” ~ Sir Simon

Well she’s the raison d’etre of this whole story, isn’t she. She’s everything a Wife is not…to men not married to her. Jane Greer said Jacques Tourneur’s direction to her in Out of the Past was for her to be “em-pas-seeve.” ( Impassive. ) Well Alida Valli is like that in spades as Madelena Paradine. She is like a sphinx come to life. Her stillness, quietness, silence only serves to bring men closer to her. You’d have to look for any little sign that she’d let you in. But you won’t see it if she doesn’t want you to. 


SIR SIMON: “You’ll like him.”
MRS. PARADINE: “That’s not as important as, his liking me, is it.”

And they meet. The meeting goes along okay. Nothing out of the ordinary. I love how they


coach her. The nuances of the Law require just the right parsing and coaching to keep their client from being hanged:


MRS. PARADINE: “Saying I married a helpless blind man for his money. Saying I killed him for his money. And what will they say of Dickie, who makes him out for a fool for marrying me.”
KEANE: “We’ll have answers for whatever they say. You loved him and he needed you.”
MRS. PARADINE: “You know that?”
KEANE: “Weren’t you his eyes?”
MRS. PARADINE: “I was, of course. I had to be.”


SIR SIMON: “Had to be, Mrs. Paradine? HAD to be? Dear dear you must find your words?”
KEANE: “What Sir Simon means that it was a piece of voluntary service. You devoted your whole life to this splendid fellow….freely, gladly.”
MRS. PARADINE: “Yes. Yes, I see what you mean?”
KEANE: “It was a sacrifice. A sublime sacrifice.”
SIR SIMON: “Yes I think it would be better to regard it in that light.”

I love watching how her lesson in Semantics slips into the moment Keane becomes smitten…with Franz Waxman’s musical help.


KEANE: “The more tremendous that Paradine could not understand, could not possibly understand the sacrifice you were making. He’d never seen you. He never, as I say, seen you.”

 We see him see her. And she sees this…with those devastating eyes.


Im reminded of Madeleine Elster in VERTIGO when Mrs. Paradine leaves the meeting and Keane watches her:


You don’t think she knows she is being watched? Yeah, right. The fish is on the hook.


I love how Hitchcock has an ever watchful guard in the scene, looking so disapprovingly at Mrs. Paradine in several background shots. ( Check out the initial interview between Keane and Mrs. Paradine to see her stand guard. ) Mrs. Paradine is direct, forthright but a withholding mien, a bloody lethal combination that keeps one’s attention. This next interview is more tense. She holds herself tightly and bristles when Keane questions her pointedly about her life BEFORE Paradine:


MRS. PARADINE: “My past is no affair of anyone but my husband and myself.  And my husband is dead.”

Keane presses her to talk of her past. She gives him one last warning:


“It will not shock you I assume to learn I’m a woman, what would you say, who has seen a great deal of life.”

He hides behind needing information so as not to be blindsided by the prosecution.  He may lie to himself. But we know thats not true. She knows thats not true either. I can’t help but think she piles it on…this past of hers. I think she knows it will keep him intrigued. Keane presses, not as her lawyer but as a man infatuated. Listen, what Preston Sturges made funny in The Lady Eve ( having Stanwyck give her laundry list of lovers to Fonda on their wedding night ) takes on a different tone more when Mrs. Paradine recounts her past. Keane tries to make excuses for her during her tale. She won’t have it…and he’s uncomfortable:


MRS. PARADINE: “When I was still at school in Naples, it began. I was sixteen, or so I said. Actually it was younger.”

KEANE: “Tragic.”

MRS. PARADINE: “Yes, perhaps. But I didn’t think so then. I ran away with a man. Istanbul. Athens. Cairo.”

KEANE: “He was much older, of course. Rich. He took advantage of your youth.”

MRS. PARADINE: “He was married, respected. I took advantage of him. Then as suddenly as it began, it ended. He wearied of me, I wearied of him. What difference does it make.

KEANE: “There were others?”

MRS. PARADINE:Of course there were others. We cannot hide these things. You said we cannot hide them Mr. Keane. Lets drag them out. Let them hang me for the past and be done with it.”

And get this folks, her husband knew it all. Every detail of her past. How many men would want to know:

“I kept nothing from him.”

To be honest, he cant really take it. He deflects:


KEANE: “I‘ve tortured you enough. We’ll get you free. Trust me.
MRS. PARADINE: I shall. I do.


HA!  Yeah. She’s got him.

THE TRIAL:  It’s time for Mrs. Paradine to face the music…her trial.



Anticipation’s been built up in the courtroom. She ascends the stairs and faces the audience. All the players are in place: The Judge, Jury, Solicitors, Spectators, Matrons, Employees, Friends…Wives. They all get a good look at the woman accused of her poisoning her blind war hero husband. Keane is the only one who does not look at her. Hitchcock perennial, Leo G. Carroll is the prosecuting attorney and makes his opening remarks. The trial begins.  

COURTROOM BANNER ( THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT )Ive done the hard part for you. Ive given you the characters, their agendas and motivations. I really hope you see for yourself how all this weaves and wends it’s way through this trial. Is Mrs. Paradine getting the best defense possible when her lawyer doesnt do as shes asked? And the wife sitting in court watching her husband flail into every trap in the Crowns book because he is not following the Law but following his heart. How about the Crown who is a bit confused by their opponent’s legal tactics. He’s practically winning their case for them. Look folks, this is Alfred Hitchcock. Hes subverting the law the same way he subverted religion. He shows us once again, what happens to women when men don’t do their job.


I’ve been subpoenaed invited to co-host the ORDER IN THE COURT! The Classic Courtroom Movies Blogathon by Lesley, writer of the outstanding blog:  Second Sight Cinema. This topic is her idea and we’ve had some marvelous court entries from pre-code to modern-day to The Three Stooges!! You can find the complete roster of all the entries by clicking on either banner above. Now before I adjourn your leaving my courtroom, I present to you below…The Paradine Case :



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