“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.


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?


      RITA JOHNSON (  as Gretta   )


“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.

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


       JANE GREER (  as Janice  )


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…

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


       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.

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


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.



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 )


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. )

“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 40 y.o. )

…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.

“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 35 y.o. )

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

SUSAN HAYWARD  ( 1917 – 1975 )


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.

“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 30 y.o. )

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

JANE GREER  ( 1924 – 2001 )


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.

“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 23 y.o. )

…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 )



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.

jacqueline-white-1 jacqueline-white

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   ]


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.


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.


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

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.


*  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.


*  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   )







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

♠  ♠    ♠  ♠


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


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


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


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


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

 Puppy love torn apart

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

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

 Burying men at sea


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

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


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


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


[   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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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! 



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:


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.


See CHRISTY’S INKWELLS for the full Monty on this kiss

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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.


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.


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.


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.

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“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.

See Madeleine come to life


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.


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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. 

Paradise lost… But Kathie wants to start all over again with Jeff.


“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:


“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.

“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:
 “Kiss Me” – Sixpence None the Richer:
…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:
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The Criterion Collection has been opened wide for bloggers to mine their treasures in this mega-blogging event of the century. You think I’m exaggerating? Hey, just look at that roster; there are about 200 entries covering films from the United States, France, Sweden, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc. So for the next six days, our three hosts: Aaron over at the CRITERION BLUES blog, Kristina from SPEAKEASY and Ruth of the blog SILVER SCREENINGS will host the Criterion Blogathon celebrating their celebrated titles.

The racial and sexual politics of America would never have allowed my selection to be made in 1947 Hollywood without beating us over the head with A Lesson or A Message. And even with the lessons some thing would STILL be lost in translation. Let me take you into my thoughts on director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s QUAI DES ORFÈVRES.”


Henri-Georges Clouzot is best remembered for two towering classics: “Wages of Fear
( 1953 ) and “Diabolique” ( 1954 ). The French government banned him from filmmaking near the beginning of his career for making “Le Corbeau” ( 1943 ) a film very critical of the government. Four years later Clouzot’s comeback film was 1947’s “Quai Des Orfèvres.”

QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( Poster )WHAT A GREAT MOVIE!!! STILL! ( I watched it recently after not seeing it for years. ) It held up to my memory of it. The plot was full, detailed and gives a good sense of post-war French culture. By the time the movie ended I thought I WAS French. Watching it made me feel like I was wrapped in a 5000-thread count sheet. Ahhhhhhhhhh so satisfying. “Quai Des Orfèvres” has the same sensibility to me as “Fallen Idol”; love, loyalty, betrayal and a police investigation narrowing and tightening a noose around people we’ve come to care about. The movie also makes me think of “The Earrings of Madame de…”. Not just because it was French, but because the movie felt so full, real, tactile. Chock-full of detail. I can ‘feel’ the characters, all fully fleshed out. I can ‘feel’ the film.

Now I admit…this is my preference in French pastry:


But a girl can change her mind, can’t she? Our prerogative and all that sort of thing…

QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( The Detective )                                                       The Detective – Mmmm!

“Quai Des Orfèvres” has Gallic charm with shades of Hitchcock and O. Henry and “The Big Clock” thrown in for good measure. We visit two distinct worlds in the movie and Clouzot takes his own sweet French time in each of them. The first half of the film deals with the backstage world of show biz.


And here is where we’re introduced to the battling Martineaus. Wife Jenny Lamour ( played by SUZY DELAIR ) sort of looks like a sensuously, slightly zaftig version of Angela Lansbury.


Jenny’s a harmless, shameless, incorrigible flirt and tease. She’s a headlining chanteuse at the local music hall and soon appears in café society due to her singing, sex appeal, drive, ambition and self-promotion. She seduces the audience and co-workers alike. To her husand I say why fight? How can you stay mad at her? You know she’s got you wrapped around her finger.

Her husband is Maurice ( BERNARD BLIER ):

    QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( Jenny & Hubby )

“It sounds nuts but Maurice is my flame. He may not burn
bright, but he lights my way.”

…Her very jealous husband, I might add. He might look kind of mousy, but he’s passionate and has a temper. A co-worker calls him Othello. Maurice is besotted by Jenny. I don’t think he begrudges her a career; if only she were honest with the men who could help her, by telling them she’s married. But then they wouldn’t help her. What a pickle this is…for Maurice. I liked him. He was passionate. He would fight for her…fight anyone. I liked his obsessiveness. Poor little sad-sack.

Lesson No. 110: Remember, don’t get in-between a married couple. You’ll lose. They might fuss and fight, break up and make love, but they’ll side with each other always. I like the way Clouzot shows Jenny & Maurice fighting; the fight spans from one location to the next. I like how he cuts through time. For example, we see Jenny practice her new song from rehearsal studio to practicing in her house, to rehearsing onstage to actually putting on a full out performance for an audience, each stanza in a different location. Cleverly done.

This is Dora:


Dora Monnier  is played by the beautiful SIMONE RENANT. Yeah I have to lead with that because she is beautiful; she is statuesque with chiseled features. But she does have an actual job. She owns her own business. She is a photographer. She is no nonsense. And she’s in love with Jenny. The French don’t make a big deal about this. It’s not scandalous. She doesn’t have two heads. She’s not the butt of derision or going to hell in a handbasket. Nor is she judged ( as she would be in a Hollywood movie ). She’s merely, in love with her childhood friend. And it’s painfully unrequited for Dora. The dialogue speaks refreshingly frank with no muss, no fuss.

This is my favorite shot in the entire movie. I like the way Clouzot unfurls this triangle in a linear fashion:


Here is the triangle of ( L-R ) Jenny, Maurice and Dora. Dora and Maurice are in love with Jenny  – see how they both look at her – and Jenny is in love with Jenny ( and even with that, Jenny is looking into THREE mirrors. O Mon Dieu! ) Jealousy and love makes a person do crazy things like publicly threaten your wife’s suitor or walk into a murder scene. And that’s exactly what Maurice and Dora do…for love of Jenny.


The lecherous little gnome Brignon ( CHARLES DULLIN ) is murdered and his death is the catalyst for everything to follow. Director Clouzot now moves us into the police procedural aspect of the story with Inspector Antoine there to unravel it all.

LOUIS JOUVET as Inspector Antoine:

QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( Detective & Son )

We find out all we need to know about him as he readies himself for work. He’s a single parent and leaves his son to take on this investigation. His son is bi-racial…again, no fuss no muss, just facts; or matter-of-fact. I even feel a little guilty pointing it out to you. He’s so loving to the boy, just the way he kisses the sleeping child goodbye. Awwww!

The inspector is methodical. Clouzout takes us into the Inspector’s world of witnesses, informants, third degrees, beatdowns, reporters, police photographers. The police station is as cacophonied a world as the backstage goings on of Maurice’s burlesque hall. We weave in and out of both worlds. I fell in love with the dour, unstoppable Inspector Antoine.

* * * * *

QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( Det. Questions Hubby )  QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( Det. Talks )

I…held…my…breath as Clouzot shows us potential witnesses who:

  • don’t talk
  • burn and destroy evidence

What we ( the audience ) are shown to be clues in the beginning of the movie, are thrown away before our very eyes. And we’re actually happy about that. We hold our breath even more when Inspector Antoine start to really pick up on things. Doesn’t it remind you of “Fallen Idol”? Like Hitchcock, Clouzot builds the suspense by showing us what Dora does and what Maurice does, all in their effort to protect Jenny. We hear Jenny’s story of how grindingly poor she was, which helps us understand why she wants to make it so badly. She’s not just a flibberty gibbet coquette. Jenny wants to confess; but then Dora doesn’t want her to, b’cuz the cops’ll send Jenny up the river ( the Seine ) and Dora will lose her. Jenny and Maurice in some twisted twisted O. Henry plot point both hide something from the police AND each other to complicate things a little more. ( It will make sense if you just see this movie like I’m telling you to do ).


Of course my favorite character is Dora. She’s independent, she’s the holder of Jenny’s and Maurice’s secrets. When Dora is hauled into the station with other blondes who are suspects, she sits stone-faced as she faces a cabbie who can possibly identify her. She doesn’t look indignant, she doesn’t feign flirtatiousness, she doesn’t look scared.  She just looks straight on. And the Inspector. Inspector Antoine is also my favorite for his doggedness. He will not be put off. And he’s funny in a droll Frenchy kind of way.

Clouzot doesn’t beat us over the head with things. Very subtly he shows us:

  • Dora’s tears when she sees Maurice and Jenny have made up, once again.
  • Inspector Antoine kissing his sleeping son goodbye. Or being told that his son has failed his Geometry exams.
  • Does Maurice suspect Dora’s feelings towards his wife? I’m not quite sure. Aaaaah but then again he’s French; he probably does but doesn’t feel threatened. Besides, Dora is his confidante…there’s a healthy respect Maurice and Dora have for each other, even if they are ( sort of ) rivals for Jenny’s affections.

Clouzot does a masterful job showing me o’ what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to take the fall for someone we love.

QUAI DES ORFEVRES ( Dora & Jenny )

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And I’d like to take this time to say THANK YOU to the judges of the #CRITERION BLOGATHON for awarding me not only Day 2’s selection for most humorous blog post on the second day of the blogathon BUT its BEST IN SHOW award for having the most humorous blog post of the blogathon. I’m flattered and honored!!! 🙂

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This blogathon ain’t over until it’s over. As the blogathon continues I’ll link up access to the other great entries for Criterion for each day. Just click on any of these banners.


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DAY 4 ~ 11 / 19 / 2015                  DAY 5   11 / 20 / 2015               DAY 6 ~ 11 / 21 / 2015



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