THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME ( 1947 )

“I discovered what went with orchids was a game  of hide and seek with fate played in off-beat night-clubs, out of the way bars, remote restaurants.  A game I never had a chance of winning.

GREER YOUNG HAYWARD

It’s 1947 and the movie is told in voice-overs and flashbacks. You know what THAT means: our hero’s fate is sealed. He is doomed. This time he’s not the bland and vanilla dad, smoking a pipe and wearing elbow-patched sweaters, dispensing fatherly advice In Father Knows Best. Nor is he the long arm of the law, underplaying his role in Crossfire so much that he almost disappears. Nope. Here, Robert Young is a suave ‘playa’ in THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME.

My review has the teensiest bit of spoilers, but really not enough to ruin the film for you. See the movie, watch how it all plays out. I’m here to help you.

I found him sexy here as the mendacious philanderer, Larry Ballantyne. And I’m as shocked as anyone to write – “sexy” and “Robert Young” – in the same sentence. I first got an inkling of my attraction to him in my tentative baby steps towards liking Laraine Day. ( She appears with Young in Those Endearing Young Charms and he really caught my eye ). But I get the full monty here. In this movie, he’d have been happy to stay married if his wife would just let him do what he wants to do. How unreasonable can a wife be? I couldn’t hate him though. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. ( Maybe movies give me permission to like scoundrels ). Young was like Peck’s Bad Boy, just wanting what he wants. I found him likable even though he treated women scandalously. See the movie and compare him, if you will, to our dear boy, George Sanders. If Sanders had played the part, the women would have been scorched forever, and Sanders is not a very likable cad. Robert Young doesn’t put that kind of a blow torch to these women’s hearts because he doesn’t burn hot like that. But they do get hurt all the same. I kind of chuckle when he describes the “jail sentence” his marriage is:

“I understand alright. It was a contract just as if it had been typed, signed and notarized. No more Sa-turday afternoons, no Wednesday nights. No tele-phone calls, no cocktails at back tables. I was private property, covered with signs marked ‘NO TRESPASSING.” I admit I felt like a heel for a couple of weeks. When I married Gretta I kidded myself I was in love with her. But, by this time, I knew it was the money.”

Oh brother. Poor poor Larry.

Just who are the three faces of Eve in his life that he tries to juggle?

THE WIFE:

      RITA JOHNSON (  as Gretta   )

RITA JOHNSON

“I must have lost my self-respect the day I married you. I can make all the moves but the one that has any meaning.  I can’t walk out, Larry. You’ll have to do the walking.” ~ Gretta

I liked and felt sorry for Gretta. Mostly I was happy that the movie didn’t portray her as a shrilly shrewish harridan as most movie wives are portrayed; come on…you know the type…those shrewish homemakers that movies give us permission to hate to make it easier for us to root for our hero to hook up with his ‘true love.’  ( Johnson kept making me think of Maureen O’Sullivan. Ha! They were both in “The Big Clock.” Don’t you just love movie trivia? ) The Wife is rather understanding…a perfect businessman’s wife who’s attractive, a perfect hostess and non~complaining. She catches him dead to rights several times throughout the proceedings. Her blasé nature about packing his bags for him to go off with another woman made me laugh out loud. Apparently he’s done this before. In fact, I think she outright used reverse psychology on him. MY version of the dialogue is this:

HE:    Hey, don’t put the blame on me if I want to leave you.
SHE: I don’t darling, it’s my own fault. By the way, I bought you a partnership in the family business. You want it?

Next thing you know he’s on a train out west with his wife, and his girlfriend’s been unceremoniously dumped.

Is The Wife passive? Hmmmm, I don’t think so. Enabling? More like it. Does she buy him? Yeah kind of. But he didn’t have to be bought. She does offer him his freedom, sans her money and position. He should have boldly written NO SALE” with his shaving cream a la Gloria Wandrous. But he doesn’t have the character to leave.

< ( Sigh! ) > A girl’s best friend is her palomino anyway. Gretta’s horse was more loyal to her than her husband ever was.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE MISTRESS:

       JANE GREER (  as Janice  )

JANE GREER

I’m no ‘Saturday afternoon’ girl. I’m an ‘all-or-nothing’ girl. ~ Janice
(But is she going to drink that ice cream float?!)

I must’ve dropped a hint or two around the Internet movie groups that I’m a big Jane Greer fan. That’s my girl, folks. And here she is, 180-degrees different from her most famous role as Kathie Moffet. She’s still got those deadly killer eyes, but she’s uses them here for love, not profit. She’s ratcheted down her vamp quotient as Janice, with her upsweep hair-do and just a touch of Mary Beth Hughes-plumpness. She’s a woman in love. She’s a working girl, smart, independent, with a healthy enough self-esteem to walk away from a no-win situation with a married man. ( If only I had been that smart ). I loved that about her; she puts in for a job transfer…takes an extensive vacation tour to get away from what wasn’t going to be good for her. ( If only I had been that smart ). I love her because she was able to walk away even though she cared about him.

When he runs into her many months later, their exchange made me smile:

HE:     I’ve been meaning to look you up.
SHE:   What for?!

D’0hhhh!!! That’s tellin’ him Kathie, I mean Janice! He’s at a loss for words. When I discover he hadn’t taken her calls I thought to myself: Let me add CAD to his stellar character traits.  He’s such a coward. I could even forgive Janice still loving him. But he didn’t deserve her.

MOVIE TRIVIA ALERT: Almost twenty years later Jane Greer appears with Susan Hayward in that lovely soapy potboiler: Where Love Has Gone which you ought to see for some good campy fun. But alas, they’re only in one scene together. Hey, and speaking of Susan Hayward…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE OTHER MISTRESS:

       SUSAN HAYWARD (   as Verna   )

SUSAN HAYWARD ( Believe Me )

She looked like a very special kind of dynamite, neatly wrapped in nylon and silk.” ~ Larry

That she does! She’s a little spitfire. Fellas, I advise you, do NOT mess with SUSAN HAYWARD unless y’know what you’re doing…Or you like playing with fire. OR you are Dana Andrews! She plays the other Other Woman: Verna. She’s another working girl, an efficient, proactive secretary. ( She gets Larry out of a jam with his business partner ). She’s cold and calculating…thinks with her head and bank account.  She goes after what she wants ( …orchids” ) and puts a name on it: “golddigger. If he wants her, it’d have to be on her terms.

But she turns female, just like every other woman does. She switches up. The money doesn’t matter. She wants him… even without his financial meal ticket. She’s pretty much an old-fashioned girl. ( This is the 40’s…remember? ) They run into Janice  in a nightclub and I like how the two women size each other up. They get all the information they need about each other in under thirty nanoseconds. Verna’s on the level, she wants Larry.

He now wants to head for the hills as fast as his *P.F. Flyers can take him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

ROBERT YOUNG ( Trial )

Ultimately, Robert Young’s Lawrence Ballantyne is a coward. A weak, lying coward who sold his heart and self-respect at every turn. I don’t think Jane Greer was the first and I don’t think Susan Hayward’d be the last. He makes me shake my head in disbelief at his actions. He’s such a weasel.

ROBERT YOUNG ( Believe Me )
Character actor Frank Ferguson questions Robert Young

Young’s character’d be content to string a girl along until she gets too demanding; he’d pull the old my-wife-won’t-give-me-a-divorce card and then VOILA! It’s off to greener, prettier and more available pastures. He’s a coward who runs away from facing the consequences of his actions. His actions put baaaad things in motion. I know you know movies. So do I. But I still heartily recommend this one if you haven’t seen it yet.

It will air on Noir Alley this Sunday ( October 8th ) on TCM, hosted by Eddie Muller. It’s not your ordinary run-of-the-mill love ’em and leave ’em drama. There’s enough bobbing & weaving to keep you interested. See what happens when a not-so-bad guy, lies and cheats and is dragged down by what he’s done. See what happens when a man tries to avoid his fate. Robert Young does a very good job as this type of man. And yes, I think he’s sexy.

Cine-Moral #630: When a man’s mistress finds outhis wife is richer than he is, all bets are off. Expect to be dumped.

__________________________________________________________________________

A LITTLE ABOUT THE DIRECTOR AND CAST:

I’ve been thinking about THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME off and on for a few days now, happy TCM is showing it. This was a good solid role for all four main cast members, and it made me curious about where these stars exactly were in their career at this point; the beginning…middle…the end?? I wanted to see what movie came just before and just after “…Believe Me. Success was ahead for some, obscurity for another and cinema immortality for yet another. Info directly quoted from IMDB:

IRVING PICHEL  ( 1891 – 1954 )

IRVING PICHEL ( Director )   IRVING PICHEL

He not only directs, but he’s Dracula’s daughter’s personal assistant.

Pichel does a great job in weaving this tale. Using flashbacks and a voice-over of a man on trial for murder, I love all the twisty turns movie takes. He has Hitchcock’s tv producer Joan Harrison in his corner to produce a wonderful film, well-cast and well-told. Pichel is very capable.

Temptation” 1947
“They Won’t Believe Me” 1947
Something in the Wind 1947

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

ROBERT YOUNG ( 1907 – 1998 )

ROBERT YOUNG ( Older ) ROBERT YOUNG ( Young ) ROBERT YOUNG ( Middle-Aged )

His movie career consisted of playing characters who were charming, good-looking–and bland. In fact, his screen image was such that he usually never got the girl. Louis B. Mayer would say: ‘He has no sex appeal,’ but he had a work ethic that prepared him for every role that he played. His patented shyness and painful insecurity turned his social drinking into a chronic alcohol problem during his MGM years that lasted nearly three decades. He recovered with the aid and encouragement of his wife Elizabeth and through spiritual metaphysics (Science of Mind), not to mention Alcoholics Anonymous. He often held AA meetings in his home. Young attempted suicide in 1991 as a result of a chemical imbalance and while battling Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems. ( You can read about the ‘dark side’ of Robert Young in this Movie Morlocks article by Jeff Stafford. )

LADY LUCK
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 40 y.o. )
CROSSFIRE

…To my shock and surprise whIle I was watching some of Lew Ayres’ films on TCM? I saw Robert Young in “Rich Man, Poor Girl” ( 1938 ) where the actress who plays his sister….is Rita Johnson.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

RITA JOHNSON  ( 1913-1965 )

RITA JOHNSON ( Glam-II )  Rita Johnson-1941-Hers Comes Mr Jordan

Unfortunately, her career came to an end in 1948 when a hair dryer fell on her head causing brain damage. Brain surgery was performed, but  her screen time was still very limited. ( See Frances Gifford ). The doctor noted that apart from her current injuries there were a number of old bruises on various parts of her body. Detectives investigating the injuries, however, reported nothing to indicate it was anything other than an accident. Rumors continued but were never confirmed that she was romantically involved with a gangster who had beaten her. Previous beatings, it was alleged, had caused the old bruises. She died in Los Angeles County General Hospital on Oct. 31, 1965. Miss Johnson was only 52 years old.

MICHIGAN KID
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 35 y.o. )
SLEEP MY LOVE

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

SUSAN HAYWARD  ( 1917 – 1975 )

SUSAN HAYWARD ( Glam-I ) SUSAN HAYWARD ( Glam-II )

In 1958 she gave the performance of her lifetime as real-life California killer Barbara Graham in I Want to Live! (1958), who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. Susan was absolutely riveting in her portrayal of the doomed woman. Many film buffs consider it to be one of the finest performances of all time, and this time she was not only nominated for Best Actress, but won. A two-pack a day smoker with a taste for drink, Susan was diagnosed with brain cancer in March of 1972. On 14 March 1975, after a three year struggle against the disease, Susan died at her Hollywood home. Susan Hayward was laid to rest in a grave adjacent that of her husband Eaton Chalkley in the peace of Carrollton, Georgia where they had spent several happy years together in life. She was 57.

SMASH-UP: A STORY OF A WOMAN
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 30 y.o. )
THE LOST MOMENT

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

JANE GREER  ( 1924 – 2001 )

JANE GREER ( Glam-I )  THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME ( Jane Greer )

As a baby, she was winning beauty contests; as a teenager, with good looks and an attractive contralto voice, she was singing with big bands.She claimed that it was through facial exercises to overcome the paralysis that she learned the efficacy of facial expression in conveying human emotion, a skill she was renowned for using in her acting. Quickly married crooner Rudy Vallee after fleeing a possessed Howard Hughes, who discovered her on a WWII poster and kept her virtually a prisoner during her first few months. An enraged Hughes pressured her and ruined the marriage. She returned to Hughes and her contract. Achieved screen immortality with ‘Out of the Past‘.

Personal Quote:  I love making movies, but I was ready to rationalize being only a mother if my career never got back on track.

SINBAD THE SAILOR
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 23 y.o. )
OUT OF THE PAST

…And one little extra bonus for those fans of the obscure and lost women of Hollywood. Janet Shaw ( YAY!! ) is in this movie for one brief scene with Robert Young. ( You can read about some other Lost Women of Hollywood here. ) Wait…you don’t know her?

                     JANET SHAW ( Believe Me )

                                      Sure you do…see:

                             JANET SHAW ( Believe Me )

Cine-Moral #2: What Kind of Fool I Am“<—– Sammy Davis can tell you. What I would say is:

* Fool me once, shame on you.
* Fool me twice, shame on me.
* Fool me three times, everybody’s gettin’ a beatdown up in here!

Read an enjoyable write-up—> here <—from the blogosphere’s QUEEN of Film Noir, Karen of Shadows and Satin or at Arthur’s CinemaCafe.

Now…enjoy the movie.

( H O M E )

__________________________________________________________________________

PITFALL ( 1948 )

PITFALL ( I )PITFALL ( III )PITFALL ( II )PITFALL ( IV )Husband                     Wife                         Mistress                   Creep

PITFALL is taut tense quiet drama and I like how it plays out. You think it’s going to go one way and director André De Toth takes you in a different direction.  For Dick Powell who plays John Forbes, your average, postwar, 9-to-5, Everyman, Insurance man, what happens outside his marriage comes crashing into his suburban home like a tsunami. (Gosh, insurance guys sure lead fascinating lives; remember Walter Neff?) Powell’s a hero to his son, a good provider to his wife, but his life is in a rut. Then Lizabeth Scott falls into his lap.

PITFALL ( V )RAYMOND BURR is Mac, the private investigator Dick Powell sends out on Lizabeth Scott’s case and he’s developed a hankering for her, to put it mildly. He’s just a guy who can’t take “No.” Basically he’s a one-track minded terminator, obsessed with Scott beyond all rhyme and reason. He’s having that relationship with her all by himself. In fact, Burr spends much of the late 40’s and 50’s not getting the girl. Scott wants no part of this hulking brute. Any girl would take a ten-foot pole and vault as far away from him as possi-ble. Visiting her in the shop where she works, he has free rein to sit and watch her model clothes for him as long as his cash holds out. All perfectly legal. All perfectly “Eeeeew!” I told you he was a creep.

DICK POWELL ( PITFALL )

I like DICK POWELL as John Forbes. He gets all caught up in a web of his own making but I do feel sorry for him. It’s not that he does not love his wife; he does. He’s just frustrated and bored with the routine and predic-tability of his own life. He did not look for this; doesn’t initiate it. Yes, lying by omission is still lying. Yes, he should have gotten a hobby. Yes, he could have said no, but…c’mon.

“I guess I’m a little out of practice. I never quoted anything but statistics. I’m a little unsure of  myself whenever I crawl out of my briefcase.”

WHO’S DRAWING OUT WHOM?

PITFALL ( VII )

Forbes takes inventory of the items Mona Stevens received from her ex-boyfriend who’s now in jail for embezzlement. LIZA-BETH SCOTT plays Mona and if you know anything about Lizabeth in the 40’s, you know she rarely caught a break! As Forbes investigates her, he is strictly about business. Says Mona about her ex:

“He was just too much in love with me. He wanted to do things for me and he didn’t have the money. So he went out and got some…I liked him mostly because he was nice to me. Very few men are. That means a lot.”  

( RULE #1 – HOOK THE HERO WITH YOUR TALES OF WOE )

Forbes warms up to her when he sees she’s not a bad egg; she is not a femme fatale in the strictest sense of the word. She just got caught up in something herself. It’s the begin-ning of getting-to-know-you. Mona offers Forbes a life raft out of his sea of boredom. She lets him have a ride on her ill-gotten gains of a boat before he confiscates it, and he gets a brief glimpse of how the other half lives; a respite from his ordinary existence. I think they recognize they’re each caught up in life’s circumstances. She invites him to a home-cooked meal where one thing leads to another. See…he just falls into it.

GUILT – THE GREAT MOTIVATOR

PITFALL ( VIII )
Maybe moguls got JANE WYATT confused with Jane Wyman due the similarity of their last names. Wyatt did not get all the meaty roles Wyman or Dorothy McGuire were offered, but she was a fine actress as well – ( I love her voice ) and it shows here in “Pitfall” as Sue Forbes, John’s wife. As Sue she is pretty, competent and has a sense of humor; she tries to sensibly cajole him out of his doldrums. She seems like a true partner in that marriage; someone who can go to a PTA meeting or country club, and is probably a good bridge partner. ‘The Wife’ usually is a thankless role in movies, painted as nag, shrew, harpy. But not here. ( Anne Archer in “Fatal Attraction” comes to mind. )  As Sue, she’s not too busy for her husband and accepts her adult responsibility. Yes he strays, but we can see there’s nothing really wrong with Sue.

 

ENDING WHAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEGUN

PITFALL ( IX )

After she accidentally discovers he’s married, he breaks off the affair.

________________

JOHN: “I’ve done something I’m terribly ashamed of. I’d like to make it up to you.”

MONA: “Well if you think I’m going to stand in competition with a wife and child…even I’ve got more sense than that.”

JOHN: “What’s going to happen to you?”

MONA: “What do you care, really. Honestly Johnny, aren’t you a little relieved to get out of it this easily. This is the set up Johnny. This is the kind of girl you’ve always dreamed about. I’m going to let you off without an angle. I could be nasty. But I’m not going to be.”

JOHN: “Why?”

MONA:  “I don’t know. But I’m not going to be…what happens to men like you, Johnny? If I had a nice home like you did Johnny, I wouldn’t take a chance with it for anything in the world.”

JOHN: “I’ll do anything I can.”

MONA:  “Will you really? Alright. Then go home. Stay there.”

JOHN:  “Alright. If that’s the way you want it.”

MONA:  “If that’s the way I want it? Have you got any other ideas?”

_______________

It’s a clean break. A sad one. Hurtful. John gets away “scott”-free. He’s learned his lesson and is now back in the fold, content with what he has at home.

Uhmmm…not so fast.

BLACKMAIL MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

PITFALL ( XII )What intrigues me about this film is that it’s not just your usual married-man-cheats-and-slinks-back-home-feeling-guilty sort of thing. There are tangible consequences, not just emotional ones. His outside actions intrude on his home life ( again, like in Fatal Attraction” ) and in a big way. Big as in RAYMOND BURRThe conflict between the two men is an in-teresting dynamic and it puts Forbes in a pickle. They both like Mona. One offers protection, the other – his obsession. How can John protect Mona against Mac without his wife finding out about the affair? And if pounding  Forbes to a pulp won’t keep him from Mona, ( John has to lie to Sue about why he was beat up… )  Mac decides to create a human heat-seeking missile out of Mona’s ex, Smiley, ( Byron Barr. ) And Smiley heads straight to Forbes’ house after being released from prison. It all comes to a head.

PITFALL ( LOGO SHOT )

Sue tells John:

Conscience? You make it sound like a dirty word. You worrying about your filthy little conscience… you’re not going to the police. You lied once. It came to you easily enough then. You’ve got to lie now. I mean this Johnny, if you drag this family through the dirt I’ll never forgive you!

Lots of compromises in “Pitfall.” Everything is not tied up in a nice tidy bow. That only hap-pens in the movies.

CineMoral: If your husband gets a beat-down and doesn’t report it to the cops…he’s having an affair.

You can read a more in depth look at Raymond Burr in “Pitfall” here: at the Caftan Woman blog that covered his performance in this movie for last April’s GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON hosted by Speakeasy, Silver Screenings and Shadows and Satin.

_________________________________________________________________________

NORA PRENTISS ( 1947 )

How would you like a little film noir in your adultery?  Yes…there will be SPOILERS:

NORA PRENTISS ( I )Nora Prentiss kneels before the ashes of her dreams of  home, hearth and a husband of her own

NORA PRENTISS is really a showcase for Ann Sheridan. Director Vincent Sherman gloriously holds the camera on her many times, to which I, as a Sheridan fan say “Yay!” She’s excellent. As Nora Prentiss, she hadnt sign up for this. Shes not a bad guy; no vixen or femme fatale or Vamp. She wants to be married, have kids, live out in the open. It gets increasingly dark for her too. She soon sees hes not any closer to divorce and this is not working out for her in an open way.

NORA PRENTIS ( VII ) NORA PRENTISS ( V )

The He is played by Kent Smith. At first I was upset with him, the husband character ( Dr. Richard Talbott ). I thought he was a coward. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. I almost couldn’t believe why she even fell for him in the first place. ( Dry, boring, dull. ) But then something clicked in me. (Like first hating reading Willa Cather’s “My Antonia” and then loving reading “My Antonia” in the tenth grade). A switch flipped, a lightbulb went off and I thought “0hhhhhhh, this is a movie about what happens when a man spirals down a devastating path…” Got it. Nora is the object of affection…but the movie is about him; THAT was the examination. Like Tyrone Power in “Nightmare Alley” Kent Smith’s character reached for something, going about it the wrong way…and down down down he goes.

NORA PRENTISS ( VI )

Dr. Talbott’s not fun-loving anymore. He has them hiding in dingy hotel rooms, not going dancing or being seen in public. He’s living like a fugitive; he is a fugitive. Kent Smith does a grand job in the movie. I feel his desperation. He’s like Ray Milland in “The Lost Weekend.” Tattered, torn, unshaven, unkempt; looking like a wild man… irrational. “Don’t leave me!”but not letting her go; making every mistake in the book to do what he has to do to keep her. Getting deeper and deeper into the mess he’s made of his life. Car crash, fire, disfigurement and a murder trial. Kent does a very good job of showing us The Descent. Isn’t that what film noir is about?

There must be something about confessing to an extra-marital fling that is a fate worse than death. In Nora Prentiss” adultery is film noir. The Husband in this drama has much in common with our boy from DETOUR”.  Neon lights, rain-soaked streets, living in the shadows. I don’t mean to constantly compare this film to other movies; it’s just that the journey, the fall is so similar. The look of this film? Awww hell… all praises belong to Master Cinematographer: JAMES WONG HOWE. ( Look him up…you’ll faint at his credits ).

NORA PRENTISS ( James Wong Howe )     James Wong Howe and Vincent Sherman

slacks-sheridan
Vincent Sherman and Ann Sheridan…yeh

 Just a couple of points to get off my chest:

*  Why do Movie Wives ( Rosemary DeCamp in this case ) act like cold fish and then are surprised when their husbands lose interest and get attracted to another woman.

NORA PRENTISS ( IV ) NORA PRENTISS ( II )

*  I love the montage of their affair progressing. Who knew Kent had it in him. I liked that the movie didn’t make Sheridan out to be a gold-digger.

*  I loved Robert Alda waiting in the wings for Sheridan. He plays a nice guy.  Hes on the sidelines falling for Nora as well.

*  John Ridgely is in the movie…as he is in every movie ever made in every studio ever existed.

*  Sheridan puts a lot of emotion into that second song she sings. I love her close-ups. Tears, emotion-choked voice. ( I want to believe that’s Sheridan singing. Does anyone know? )

*  And back at the ranch…Kent’s not eating…pacing around..drinking. It reminds me of Carmen Jones ( here I go again ) when Dandridge is out hotfooting it around town and Belafonte has to stay cooped up in a hotel less the MPs find him. Kent even starts to look like the Geek Tyrone Power played in “Nightmare Alley.” Kent’s downward spiral is a sad fall from grace to see. He doesn’t help keep a girl. He becomes jealous, possessive. No body signed up for this.

NORA PRENTISS ( III )

*  Great car crash.

*  I love 1940’s fashion. ( Whaddya want…I’m a girl ).

*  I love Rosemary DeCamp at the trial.

*  The last shot of Kent Smith in this movie is truly disturbing.

*  FRANZ WAXMANFranz Waxman’s music – dark…doleful…mournful, moving. But that music at the end of the movie is particularly poignant as she walks down the courthouse steps knowing she was leaving her love in the hands of fate. The music’s dirge-like melancholy is beautiful and creates and fits the mood of the film perfectly.

Okay ohkaaaaaaaay…so John Ridgely wasn’t in every movie ever made. But it seems so.

See the movie trailer here:

 

CineMoral: If you need a doctor and he says he’s married…change doctors. And fellas…if you can’t handle the Ooomph, get outta the kitchen.

 

(   H O M E   )

 

________________________________________________________________

 

KISS & TELL: “VERTIGO” and “OUT OF THE PAST”

Cute song, right? But listen…lets get serious about kissing, shall we? See, you have never been kissed until you’ve been kissed by a Spiderwoman … a black widow … a lethal lady. Its intensity is like no other. 0r if Cary Grant took you in his arms, or Ricardo Cortez roughly shook you up, down to your toes as Steve Cochran would. A kiss could be sweetly elegant like Ronald Colman or hot and steamy like being kissed by Jean Peters. You would be like a moth to the flame, going willingly. Happily. Fatally.

BLOGATHON ( A KISS IS JUST A KISS ) 2 : 13 -14 : 2016I bring you Second Sight Cinema’s: “…A KISS IS JUST A KISS BLOGATHON” where we can “…reflect on a movie kiss that always sends you. Or that always cracks you up because it’s so lame. Or a particular actor who puts heart and soul into every kiss, or one whose kisses are weirdly lifeless in his otherwise romantic performances. Or a couple whose kisses heat up the room, or one whose peerless screen chemistry is weirdly absent in the kissing department.” So now that you know this blogathons premise, I bet you can think of some kisses that really send you. I know I have seen my share of movie kisses, and have some old and new favorites. One couple who comes to mind renders that glo-lorious, slo-motion greeting kiss: Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window.”

Screen shot 2015-11-17 at 6.49.04 PM

I like what my friend Ollie once wrote me about Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”:

“But Grace is Fully Human in this role.  Completely human.  Not bashful around her lover. Completely blasé when his pal shows up, too – she knows men talk, or at least wink or nudge. She knows the housekeeper notices. No need for pretenses.  None at all: ‘Now, tell me everything you know.’ ”

We have the confirmation and grateful kiss of Garbo to Robert Taylor in “Camille”…grateful and happy she’s found love. Who can forget the bushel full of small kisses between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in “Notorious” that Hitch broke up and slid past the censors. Are they not two of the most gorgeous people you’ve ever seen? Ever? Kissing Cary Grant. Mmmm, a tough job, right ladies…but somebody’s got to do it! 

KISSING ( GARBO & TAYLOR ) KISSING ( NOTORIOUSLY - I )

KISSING - ( %22THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES%22 )

There’s that wonderfully hopeful kiss at the end of “The Best Years Of Our Lives” between Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews that I simply adore and wait for ( the music swelling, their smiles and their kiss…especially including the fadeout. Oh, and her hat falling too. )  

Might I mention The King? Gable and Astor in Red Dust sends me. And our hostess goes into detail on this with her anatomy of a scorcher that our grandmothers swooned over:

MARY ASTOR ( RED DUST - II )MARY ASTOR ( RED DUST-I )

And here’s my new favorite indoor / outdoor kiss from “The Quiet Man.” Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne heat things up while getting us all soaked to the skin.

KISSING ( %22THE QUIET MAN%22 )

KISSING ( THE QUIET MAN - [ I ] )KISSING - ( THE QUIET MAN ) VI
See CHRISTY’S INKWELLS for the full Monty on this kiss

* * * * * * * * * *

[ SPOILERS ]

GETTING DOWN TO BRASS TACKS: REFLECTIONS ON A MOVIE KISS:

It’s pretty hard to describe a kiss. You have to see it to feel it; hell, you have to feel it to feel it. For my entry in this blogathon, I want to reflect on two of my favorite films which are somewhat darker than your happily-ever-after romantic films. I will have to set things up a little for you. I’ll try and tell you about that kiss of the spiderwoman…at least as far as I can reckon sitting in front of my computer here, nowhere near any body’s lips.

LIAR'S KISS

These kisses happen when two different detectives cross paths with two of the most beautiful femmes fatales in movies. With one, she kills his heart, soul and psyche. With the other…she just kills him. It’s pretty much a toss-up which fate is a blessing. See, each of our detectives falls down on the job he is sent to do, which has dire consequences for everyone involved. Detective Scottie Ferguson ( played by James Stewart ) and Private Eye Jeff Bailey ( played by Robert Mitchum ) are assigned to report on, and bring back women to the men they belong.

It’s a breathtaking moment when we are first introduced to each woman. Kirk Douglas’ character explains in “Out of the Past”:

“Just bring her back. When you see her,  you’ll understand better.”

We see her. We understand. The build-up we’ve been given by the men who want them back does not disappoint.

KISSING ( VERTIGO ) - V

Kim Novak plays Madeleine Elster in Vertigo.” She’s formal and elegant. Hitchcock gives her a great close-up. Madeleine enters Scottie’s view unaware she is watched. She walks right up to the camera, to Scottie…to us, and turns in profile. We, too, get to lingeringly gaze on her. She’s beautiful.

OOTP ( KATHIE ENTERS )

Equally iconic and just as arresting is Jane Greer’s entrance in Out of the Past.” She plays Kathie Moffett, introduced in jaw-dropping, summery silhouette in ( almost ) diaphanous white. Jeff’s voice-over says it all:

“And then I saw her coming out of the sun.  And I knew why Whit didn’t care about that forty grand.”

It’s interesting and clever how the film makes us complicit in all this watching. We see what the detectives see when they first see it. A voice-over takes US into his confidence.

Kathie’s entrance is stunning. She is beautiful, impassive and withholding. She drops enough bread-crumbs to get Jeff to chase her, and lets him catch her. Jeff steps right up to the plate with her, whereas Scottie lays back in the cut…following.

OOTP ( XXV-a )  OOTP ( I Sometimes Go There... )

OOTP ( Jeff & Kathie On Beach )With Jeff and Kathie, their cards are put on the table pretty quickly. They both know who each other are. Jeffs there to bring her back to the man she shot and stole from. Kathie’s tale of woe…tale of why, is explained on an empty moonlit beach, with just the two of them. There was abuse. She escaped. She never stole any money.

OOTP ( Baby I Don't Care )

 Kathie:    “Don’t you believe me?”
Jeff:   “Baby, I don’t care.”

“Baby, I don’t care.” When I saw this movie the first time, that line rattled me. Guess Im used to my movie detectives being down and dirty, but basically upright, stand-up, Dudley Doo-Rights. Saying he doesnt care throws caution to the wind. Woweee! Finally, a man that tells the truth. This most famous line in film noir is delivered perfectly, and does two things neatly and succinctly. IT offers Absolution:

  • It absolves a femme fatale of any real or perceived sins. ( Yay! )
  • It absolves the man from thinking things through.  ( Ooh, I dunno. )

Her beauty and desirability ensures his aid. His “baby, I don’t care” drips with lustful insouciance. Thats the ONLY way to say that line, dripping with it. There’s only 0NE thing HE cares about. (Who wouldnt you kill to hear someone forgive your sins like that?) They begin to kiss, waves crash behind them in the moon’s light. Right here…this is not about love.

When Jeff and Kathie meet again on the beach, they go to her bungalow to escape a sudden downpour. She puts on a record ( that plays the movie’s love theme. ) They playfully rough house drying each other’s hair. Jeff tosses a wet towel which knocks down the lamp. They’re in darkness again. Most of their meetings take place in the dark; they are cocooned by darkness ( as opposed to the open sunlight of Jeff with the girl he left behind…Ann. ) Perhaps Kathies strength and allure lies in darkness. She dims her flame’s light yet he keeps coming.

OOTP ( Jeff Kisses Ann )  OOTP ( NAPOLEAN )
Who wants sweet kisses in the daylight when you can have them dangerously by the moon

He wants her to run away with him. She turns off the record. A heavy blanket of silence wraps them as they speak; no music clouds things between them…and us. Theyre getting down to brass tacks here. Again, Mitchum’s back is to the camera so it’s all on Jane Greer. And boy, can she hold the scene with her voice and eyes. Her Kathie’s eyes are dark pools to drown in. She sits very close to him on the couch:

OOTP ( Desire in the Cabin )

Kathie:    “Jeff I’m glad you’re not afraid of him.”
Jeff:         “I’ve been afraid of half the things I ever did.”
Kathie:   “And this time?”
Jeff:         “I’m only afraid you might not go.”
Kathie:   “Don’t be. I’ll be there tomorrow. Love me?”
Jeff:        “Mmmm hmmm.”
Kathie:  “Poco?”
Jeff:        “What’s that?”
Kathie:  “Little.”
Jeff:        “Mucho.”

They don’t kiss, but she leans across his shoulder for support and love. It’s a quiet scene. Sensuous with these two, in the dark, in the quiet, in their love. Oh yeah, its about love now. It’s a pretty powerful moment in the film, this love scene. The tension is exciting. OOTP ( TAXES )When we get to the third set-piece of Jeff and Kathie together, theyre on the run now to escape Kirk Douglas, the third leg in this triangle. ( No, I just want her back. ) They meet up at a mountain cabin. He pulls into the driveway and his car’s headlights spots her walking up the path to the cabin with groceries in hand:

“It was meeting her some where like in the first times. There was still that something about her that got me. The kind of magic or whatever it was; when I held her and we would laugh.”

It’s a nice scene of boy with girl, the lovely lilting music of Miklós Rózsa underscores the scene as he puts down her groceries and sweetly kisses her. Again, Mitchum’s back to the camera so Greer has to sell it. She’s as pretty as the girl next door. She sells it. She sells niceness and longing. Death is right around the corner.

* * * * *

VERTIGO

JAMES STEWART ( %22VERTIGO%22-II )

“Vertigo” has my other favorite kiss. Ex-detective Scottie Ferguson’s assign-ment is to follow his old college chum’s wife who wanders around San Francisco driving. Where does she go. What does she do. He follows her…she jumps into the bay…he saves her from drowning. Now that they’ve been properly introduced, he can help her in earnest; get to the root of her issues. They become close, wandering together along the Pacific coast. She confides in him, bears her fears to him. He’s fallen for her. She runs from him. He catches her and promises to protect her. The girl needs help. And he needs to help her. 

[ See Clip: ]KISSING ( VERTIGO - IV )

Madeleine: “Oh Scottie. I’m not mad. I’m not mad. I don’t
want to die. There’s something within me that
says I must die. Oh Scottie, don’t let me go.”

Scottie:        “I’m here. I’ve got you.”

Madeleine: “I’m so afraid. Don’t let me go. Stay with me.”

Scottie:       “All of the time.”

They’re on a windswept bluff. Waves crash against the cliff. Bernard Hermann’s lush romantic music swells. Scottie and Madeleine kiss. He’s captured the dream, his dreamgirl. He seals it with a kiss, a deep kiss from his heart…from his soul. He’s not settling ( I’m sorry Midge ) but finally in love. He will keep Madeleine safe.

Scottie’s stint in a mental facility is a brief respite. ( Madeleine has jumped from a church tower with Scottie chasing close behind her, but unable to save her due to his vertigo. ) He recreates a new girl he meets, Judy – who sort of looks like Madeleine – into Madeleine’s image. Isn’t that what we all do in love…recreate the image of loves first imprint on us? After unknowingly recreating the recreation, he has his Madeleine back. You know the scene I’m talking about. Some think it’s twisted, crazy…but I LOVE it. It’s wonderfully delirious. Deliriously romantic. Scottie had lost her, but he now has Madeleine back through his recreating her. When Judy makes that final transformation, she comes to him through the neon mist of time as Madeleine. ( WE practically scream: Its ALIVE!!! ) It’s an incredible scene in context to what comes before.  She walks into his arms, into his embrace. The longing and waiting is over. Scottie can be whole again. How lucky can a guy be, getting a second chance at love…of his own re-making.

KISSING ( VERTIGO - I )
See Madeleine come to life

KISSING ( VERTIGO - II )

They both have what they want. Scottie has Madeleine again through Judy and Judy has Scottie through Madeleine. Does all that take away from this kiss.  Not for me. This IS all too good to be true when Scottie loses her, again.

 

* * * * *

THE KISS-OFF:

Both movies have kisses with a variety of purpose and reasons: lust, love, longing. When the damsels-in-distress reveal their true identity we have the kiss-off and it’s not pretty. First Kathie. Shes had to kill…again. 

OOTP ( LXX ) OOTP ( LXIX )
Paradise lost… But Kathie wants to start all over again with Jeff.

OOTP ( I Am What I Am )  OOTP ( LXXXXVIII )

“I never told you I was anything but what I am. You just wanted to imagine I was. That’s why I left you. Now we’re back to stay…we’re starting all over. I want to go back to Mexico. I want to walk out in the sun again and find you waiting. I want to sit in the same moonlight and tell you all the things I never told you. ‘Till you don’t hate me. Until sometime you love again. If you’re thinking of anyone else, don’t. Wouldn’t work. You’re no good for anyone but me. You’re no good…and neither am I.” 

She seals it with a kiss. A bitter pill for Jeff to swallow.

Judy/Madeleine is unwittingly unmasked but I see her more as a victim. And though not as cold and calculating as Kathie, Judy wants her second chance as well. She hadn’t meant to fall in love with Scottie. But he knows who she is now; he wants nothing to do with her. She pleads her case:

KIM NOVAK ( XXIV )

“Scottie, I was safe when you found me. There was nothing that you could prove. When I saw you again, I couldn’t run away. I loved you so. I walked into danger, let you change me because I loved you so.”

He struggles with this truth amidst one last confused kiss that’s a mishmash of emotions of him wanting her and wanting to kill her and wanting to believe her. Suddenly, a nun appears in the church tower with them, startling them both, causing Madeleine  to stumble.

OOTP ( 97. )   JAMES STEWART ( IV )
“You dirty double-crossing rat.”
          “Why did you have to pick on me? Why me?!

What leads up to a kiss? What happens afterwards? Both ladies are somewhat damaged and need saving. At least, pretend to. The romantic in me believes Kathie and Madeleine/Judy loved these two men. Kiss these femmes fatales at your own risk. But when they build your gallows high, make sure you don’t have vertigo.

OOTP ( 95. )  JAMES STEWART ( %22VERTIGO%22-V )  OOTP ( 98. )
You can see more screen kisses in the Classic Movies – Pumpin’ Blood video created by Saraismyname by clicking on this banner:
KISSING SNAP SHOTS ( I )
 “Kiss Me” – Sixpence None the Richer:
KISSING - ( THE QUIET MAN ) VI
…And Im not the only one kissing and telling. If you click on the banner below, you can read some delectable entries in this blogathon. I want to thank Lesley of Second Sight Cinema for hosting this great idea. And thanks to you for reading my entry. Now……kiss me, you fool:
KISS-A-THON POSTER
[   H O M E   ]
___________________________________________________________________________

PHANTOM LADY ( 1944 )

 

ANTI-DAMSEL BLOGATHON BANNERI saw the announcements for the ANTI-DAMSEL BLOGATHON hosted by Fritzi of MOVIES SILENTLY and Jo of THE LAST DRIVE-IN and my heart skipped a little beat. No arrythmia, nothing serious, nothing to call 9-1-1 about, but it did do a small happy dance. This quote in particular caught my eye:

“Let’s drag out the ‘victimized woman’ and talk about the gals with guts, grit, gumption and genius!” – Jo, The Last Drive In.

There was only one actress in one film who immediately comes to mind. And that was ELLA RAINES in “PHANTOM LADY.”

PHANTOM LADY - X

So many characteristics come to mind when I think of Ella Raines in this film: smart, resourceful, brave, intrepid, relentless, determined, competent,  a little foolhardy, dogged and smart. Did I mention smart? Yeah smart. Yes, even though she puts herself in harm’s way in her effort to prove her boss innocent of murder, I think she smartly follows leads in a way I haven’t seen other actresses of the 40’s do. She goes it alone because the Law takes a blind eye. She goes it alone because she’s a woman in love.

PHANTOM LADY - I PHANTOM LADY - XXXV

When we first see Ella in her upsweep hairdo and straightening her stocking seams, she’s a cool executive assistant, competently taking the reins of her boss’ architectural firm while he’s under suspicion. Once officially arrested, Ella attends his trial every day for months.

PHANTOM LADY - XXV

“You need someone to help you who really wants to. Someone who can’t be beat.”

I suppose I can’t talk about Ella’s intrepidness without somehow describing the look of “Phantom Lady” and the look of the situations she’s put in. All praises to director Robert Siodmak and his D.P.: Woody Bredell for the look and pace of this movie. There’s a full world shown in this movie. Lots of extras. There’s an economy of sets and actions but things don’t look low-budget. At the trial, we never see folks on the Stand testifying. We don’t see lawyers pontificating their side of the case; we hear them, but the focus is on the audience…on Ella. She’s the focal point of the entire movie, and she moves the plot forward.

PHANTOM LADY - II

PHANTOM LADY - XX  PHANTOM LADY - VIII

When Ella visits her boss ( played by the stressed out, puffy-eyed, attractive Alan Curtis ) in prison, there’s a stream of light that feels like a warm hazy blanket over the scene and makes me think of church. It’s a lovely shot. She follows leads into dark and lonely places; places I would not go even with a can of Mace and Mike Mazurki by my side. I must check IMDB but off the top of my head, I think Siodmak is an acolyte of Val Lewton films. Shadows and footsteps and silence stir one’s imagination. The LOOK of the film is seductive. And with Ella in these situations, she’s not running from someone…but FOLLOWING them. D’ya see how that makes her an ANTI-DAMSEL?? ( Huh? Huh? ) All of a sudden she’s there. No set up. No preface. A girl walks into a bar…

PHANTOM LADY - VITHE BARTENDER – Ella walks into the bar, orders water and stares him down. No matter the bar is empty, crowded, rain or shine, she’s there.  Staring. Her eyes dark, unblinking, like a shark; by dint of her stare, willing him to tell the truth of what he saw. She unnerves him. Waits for him outside. Follows him into the dark. But women are afraid of the dark, right? She follows the bartender to a deserted El train station stop. This is the eeriest of the movie’s scenes because it’s in a normal setting. Not the gothic old dark house, but a train platform. I wait on those myself after a night out. Love the pattern of shadows the station lamps leaves. It’s just Ella and the bartender. He looks around for witnesses and sees none. He walks towards her. It does not end well…for him.

PHANTOM LADY - XXIITHE DRUMMER – Elisha Cook Jr. plays the hopped up drummer at the music revue Ella’s boss goes to see with The Phantom Lady. He surely must know something. Ella’s there, and loaded for bear: fishnet stockings, smacking on Bazooka gum ( ok…Wrigley’s ). She looks trampy and gives him the come-on. They go to an after hours jam session in one of the wildest, most sexually-laden subtexts I’ve seen from a movie from the 1940’s.

PHANTOM LADY - VII

She plies Cook with alcohol, and lets him kiss her full on the mouth. See girls, that’s the part that always gets me…it’s in his kiss; his wet, juicy, slobbery kiss. And then what puts me right under the sixteen-wheel bus, right over the edge…is the look of disgust on her face. What I take away from that scene is not only the crazy orgasmic spin on it all, but the nano-second of disgust on Raines’ face before she plies on more lipstick. Hell, she can’t even wipe his kiss away, but must embed it deeper.

This is a crappy clip of it on: YouTube, but it will give you some idea if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

;PHANTOM LADY - XIX PHANTOM LADY - XV

The scene has Dutch angles, quick edits and Ella urging Cook to go faster…faster…fassssster. As if THIS wasn’t enough, she continues to put herself in harm’s way. She goes to the room of this musician, this man…this stranger. The scene plays in the dim room as she sits on his lap and tries to pull information out of him. He’s trying to get what he wants from her but gets rough when he realizes his loose-lips-sinks-ships’ confession reveals some guy has paid him $500 to say there was no dame. Ella is really being put through her paces. Cook mauls her, but she manages to barely escapeShe does now have the Detective on her side. It is fine character actor Thomas Gomez as Detective Burgess who senses ( after the trial is over ) something isn’t right with this case.

PHANTOM LADY - XVII PHANTOM LADY - XI

But see, the actual murderer has been tailing Ella, and pays Cook a visit. He tells him:

PHANTOM LADY - XXVI
She would have humiliated herself to get you to talk.

It does not end well — for our hopped up, hepped up drummer boy. But when did it ever…for Elisha. ( Here is a nice video tribute to Cook. Check it out when you finish page 2. )

ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952)

ON DANGEROUS GROUND - TITLE

ON DANGEROUS GROUND  is a good solid little movie. I’ve read a bit of discussion on “tone” in films; what works…what doesn’t work. “ODG” doesn’t have a big grandiose sweeping story. It has a simple one, in fact. But THIS is a good example of what it looks like when tone is handled right. This movie has two halves and I think they mesh seamlessly and the tone for each half is appropriate.

 ON DANGEROUS GROUND ROBERT RYAN ( ON DANGEROUS GROUND - I )

ROBERT RYANCLEO MOORE ( ON DANGEROUS GROUND ) plays Detective Jim Wilson who works the night shift and catches The Bad Guys by any means necessary. And most times, what’s necessary…is a beat-down. When Jim asks rhetorically, “Why do you punks make me do it?!!!” My answer’d be: “…because you want to do it Jim, that’s why.” And when Jim gets the come-on by blonde bombshell Cleo Moore you just know that their dalliance will not include a bed strewn with rose petals. Jim can work out any uhmm…“kinks” and societal rejections suffered via his line of work, with this soft hard blonde. Who’d have thunk redemption would come to our hero through actually catching a murderer.

Director NICHOLAS RAY  draws us into the second half of the movie with a savage murder in a tight-knit, rural community upstate. He does this slow and easy with a car ride from an urban jungle to a snow-covered bucolic setting. He lets us get our bearings slow and easy, just as Jim gets his. We watch Jim’s heart melt in the snow. His brutishness is washed clean in the face of a blind woman.

ON DANGEROUS GROUND ( III )

My God, IDA LUPINO…I think she’s just fantastic here. Forget her brittle sexiness as the crazed ‘Lana Carlsen’ in They Drive By Night or her conniving manipulativeness as Helen in The Hard Way or her “questionable” prison warden in Women’s Prison. ( Well actually don’t forget it. That’s what makes me Ida…Ida Ida…I idolize ya! ) Here on dangerous ground Ida gives a heart-full performance. She’s as gentle as can be. She has strength… but it’s a different kind; not hard and brassy, but one filled with trust & faith ( “I have to trust everybody. ) And not in a saccharine way either. By the sheer force in her belief and her goodness, she gets tough hard brutal Jim Wilson to make her a promise; a promise to bring her brother, the young girl’s murderer, to justice safely. And he doesn’t commit to this promise easily.

WARD BOND ( ON DANGEROUS GROUND )

As Robert Ryan’s detec- tive’s heart and point of view shifts, we have Ward Bond  as the grie- ving father ( Mr. Brent ) of the murdered girl. Let me tell you, his anger and grief are ferocious. Right off the bat it’s Country vs. City Slicker. Actually, Ward Bond seems like the Detec-tive’s former self: brutal, wild, shoot first and ask questions later…maybe. ( Ha! At that moment I thought the only actor alive not scared of Robert Ryan would be Ward Bond ). Bond is where Ryan used to be. When they tussled, it felt to me like Ryan was fighting his former self. I’m trying not to put any spoilers in my blog post, but your safe bet is to watch this classic before you read my entry. There’s so much that goes on that causes a man to go from that to this and Nicholas Ray eases us through his process. We go through the process too.

 ON DANGEROUS GROUND ( I )  RYAN - LUPINO ( ON DANGEROUS GROUND )

I’m not sure which side of the musical metronome Bernard Hermann falls with you, but my heart strings will always follow Bernie’s violins anywhere. But besides his music, which I think underscores and enhances the plot, I felt I was led by events; …Ryan’s promise to Lupino…Ward Bond’s venge-filled intent…a boy…a chase…a promise.

ROBERT RYAN - IDA LUPINO ( ON DANGEROUS GROUND )

Out there in the cold, white snow…there’s forgiveness and redemption. I think Nicholas Ray handles it seamlessly in “On Dangerous Ground.” As for Robert Ryan..wellllllll, the man is a chameleon. He plays good guys. He plays bad guys. He plays good bad guys and bad good guys. And I might say the same for Lupino to some extent. Ryan’s had such a variety of roles throughout his career. If you want to get a handle on ROBERT RYAN’s screen persona \/  you just have to remember one thing:

ROBERT RYAN IDA LUPINO

He will make you believe anything.

 

(  H O M E  )

______________________________________________________________________

OUT OF THE VERTIGO

Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Knowing and loving Vertigo and Out of the Past as I do, I can’t explain for the life of me, what gave me the idea to juxtapose these two images against each other or think of both movies together. One is a romantic drama by Hitchcock and the other, a classic film noir by Tourneur. Neurons fired in my brain faster than I could transcribe my thoughts.

On the face of it, neither Madeleine or Kathie are what they seem. ( As Tourneur said: “first half good girl, second half bad girl” ). But it was something a little deeper than that. What speaks to me in looking at the combo of these shots is how different both these women approach love.

OUT OF THE VERTIGO
KIM NOVAK
and JANE GREER

Now I use the word “love” very loosely in this little essay of mine. Love’s pre-requisites include understanding, sharing and forthrightness, traits sorely lacking in these two gals. So when I say ‘love’, in the true sense of the word, in the world of Noir and Hitchcock, you’ll cut me some slack. What I see with these two images, is Judy and Kathie both ensnaring a man but they come at love from two different directions. Both get the man’s attention, but one is giving, while the other withholds.

Jane Greer’s Kathie Moffatt from “Out of the Past” uses herself as bait for Jeff; holds herself out as a carrot for him to reach, at least at their beginnings. In their initial meeting she gently rebuffs him, suggests a cantina for him to check out and drops a hint: “I sometimes go there.” Then she keeps him waiting a day or two. Funny thing is they both know he’ll wait. Her walking away makes Jeff want her more. Sure Jeff’s there on a mission, but there’s no law saying you can’t enjoy the mission. She makes him want her by walking away.

  ( 1947 ) OUT OF THE PAST  MADELEINE ( WANDERING )

When I see Kim Novak as Judy / Madeleine in “Vertigo” it’s a different kettle of fish. Judy also knows Scottie before they meet, just as Jeff knew Kathie. In her “Madeleine” persona she plays a mysterious, game of chase. She makes Scottie chase her ( unbeknownst to him ). But Judy’s fatal flaw is she falls for Scottie. When she’s now her real self, she’s in love and wants him to know her. She’s open, she’s willing, she’s giving. No she can’t tell him her whole truth, but that’s besides the point. She integrates herself with Madeleine to become this hybrid of both Judy and Madeleine; and it’s that who comes through the neon haze. She’s walking towards love with her openness and willingness to be what Scottie needs.

JAMES STEWART ( %22VERTIGO%22 - X )    JUDY ( YELLOW BLOUSE )

Sure, the circumstances and goals are different for each gal.

MOFFAT  JIMMY & KIM ( THE NECKLACE )

They both pretend to be something they’re not. But hold on…IS Kathie really pretending?

OOTP ( KATHIE ENTERS-II )    KIM NOVAK ( XXII )

At the time Jeff meets her, she’s on the lam…thinks she’s escaped, lets her guard down; does fall for Jeff. The girl has trust issues ( with good reason ) but was willing to run away with Jeff and keep on running. ( If only his pesky partner hadn’t shown up. Grrrr!! ) Kathie’s forced to go into survival mode. Well….a girl’s gotta take care of herself.

 OOTP ( Baby I Don't Care ) OOTP ( NAPOLEAN ) OOTP ( Kathie Kills Man )

My friend Celia asks: “…how willing is Kathie to let men remake her?”  You got that right Celia. That ain’t happening.

OOTP ( XXV-a )  KIM NOVAK ( VERTIGO-I )

Celia also poses this thought:

“ALTHOUGH….Kathie is fully aware that men are viewing her differently depending on who they are: So Whit creates his own Kathie; Jeff another.”

And this is why I’m friendly with folks who are waaaaay smarter than me. I hadn’t thought of that myself, but what Celia says IS in “Out of the Past”: 

OOTP ( I Am What I Am )    KIM NOVAK ( XXIV )

“I never told you I was anything but           “Scottie, I was safe when you found me. There  what I am. You just wanted to ima-           was nothing that you could prove. When I saw gine I was. That’s why I left you. Now         you again, I couldn’t run away. I loved you so. we’re back to stay.”                                    I walked into danger, let you change me be-
                                                                   cause I loved you so.”

Kathie puts the blame on Jeff; Judy throws herself on the mercy of the court. I started this with the premise of Kathie and Judy/Madeleine’s approach to love; one walks towards it, and Kathie’s walking away, was always…walking away. 

JAMES STEWART ( %22VERTIGO%22-V )    OOTP ( 98. )

“We’re starting all over. I want to go back to Mexico. I want to walk out in the sun again and find you waiting. I want to sit in the same moon and tell you all the things I never told you. ‘Till you don’t hate me. ‘Till sometimes you love again.”

I started with the love premise, and end up here. And so it goes with the sometimes crazy wacky mixed up stream-of-consciousness thoughts of a CineMaven. Everybody loses in both movies because they either loved for the wrong reason or represented themselves in a not honest way. Some things you can’t fix. 

 

(  H O M E  )