“GILDA” ( 1946 )

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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



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

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


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


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


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


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

* * * * *


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

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


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

JOHNNY:   “Not anybody.”

GILDA:        “Not anybody.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 GILDA ( XXX ) GILDA ( Glenn )

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

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

Yes Virginia, there really IS a Love Goddess.

 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   ]



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.

* * * * *



“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.


* * * * *


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:
[   H O M E   ]



LOVE LETTERS” ( 1945 ) Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones. Directed by William Dieterle. What can I say. I am a h0peless, c0ck-eyed r0mantic. And I lay this at the feet of both stars of this romantic drama.

If you are not inclined to like either Jones or Cotten, you can skip to my Lou to another post or blog. No hard feelings. This essay contains spoilers, my admiration for Joseph Cotten and my unabashed love for Jennifer Jones

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We see the love of a friend; the love of a guardian; the love of a lover. “Love Letters” touches on so many ideas:

  • lost, longing, protection,
  • who we love,
  • regret.

“Love Letters” is the Cyrano de Bergerac tale taking place in a post-WW2 setting. These themes are inter-woven in the story of a man who’s in love with a woman he’s never met, but writes to, for a friend.

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Cotten plays Captain Allen Quinton, a lost and sad soldier who pours his heart and soul into ghost writing love letters for a fellow soldier named Roger Moreland ( played by Robert Sully. ) He wants to quit the letter-writing campaign: ( “She’s in love with a man who doesn’t exist.” ; “She’s a pin-up girl of the spirit.” ) Allen makes this his last letter. Allen is betrothed to Helen Wentworth played by the exquisite Anita Louise. ( Why wasn’t she and


brunette counterpart, Marsha Hunt, bigger stars? ) But there’s something missing for Allen; a deep, true, soul-quenching love. There will be an amicable break-up between Allen and Helen, reminiscent of Robert Young and Hillary Brooke conveniently breaking up in “The Enchanted Cottage.” Helen and Allen both realize they are not really right for each other. Allen longs for and misses something he’s never had. He’s poured it all out in his buddy’s letters and is saddened by the news that his cad of a friend actually married  the girl of the letters. Allen is, also, that soldier who has come home from the war changed, aimless, no direction.

We get the sense of Allen’s romanticism by his writing, which we hear read aloud, and in the scene where he goes through his childhood memorabilia, discovered in a treasure chest in the country house he’s been given by his late aunt. ( Whew! What a sentence. Are you still following me? Good! ) JOSEPH COTTEN ( BOY )Usually in films, men would rummage and run. But Allen slowly pours over everything. ( I like director Dieterle not rushing through that scene. ) I loved the fact that they used Cotten’s actual boyhood photograph in that scene. It was also used in “Shadow of A Doubt.” Yes, this same Hitchcock villain, could be a troubled romantic hero. There are some gold sovereigns also as part of his loot past. This scene says to me that here is a man comfortable with the past. His loneliness is exacerbated by the guilt he feels for the death of his soldier buddy, Roger, and that he was liking his girl. Hes a romantic broken man. If unchecked, untreated…hed be crazed and brooding as he was in Niagara.”

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The B.F.F. of “Love Letters” is a dilly. Actress Ann Richards plays Dilly Carson. She has a great way about her. There is a quiet elegance and eloquence in her; an understated sexuality too. What a great voice she has. I love listening to her. In fact you can close your eyes and listen to this movie and the voices of the gravelly soft drawl of Cotten, Jones alto-ish voice, the brogue of Cecil Kellaway and Gladys Cooper’s British elocution later on in the film. Back to Dilly, she is loyal and fiercely protective. I think Dilly had her eye on Allen for herself. She is quite attentive to him at the party at her house:

DEREK: “Well, Dilly here’s my brother Allen in person and at your own risk. You asked for it, now take the consequences.”

DILLY:   “I’ll take them. How do you do?”

ALLEN:  “How do you do. Why all the flattering interest?”

DILLY:   “Oh for obvious reasons, some not so obvious. I don’t mind sharing you with the others to begin with.”

She’s not coquettish, but straight-forward, smart, genuine with a winning smile, and understanding. Allen even makes a small pass at her by the curtains near her front door. He might’ve been attracted to Dilly…if he hadn’t met Singleton.

* * * * *



Lounging apart from the other party guests is Singleton. Yeah, Jennifer Jones does seem kind of posed the way movies used to do when first introducing the star into the proceedings. We see her briefly at the party but in earnest when Allen re-visits Dilly’s place later.  Singleton is charming, forthright, guileless; she doesn’t filter what she says. She says what she means: I don’t like people to try to be what I want them to be.” Her voice is kind of childlike, but check it out…her voice drops a register during their conversation: ( It’s no use when others tell you what you don’t really remember.” )  I like the way she looks off into LOVE LETTERS ( XIV )the distance. She even wheedles out of Allen that he’s in love with Victoria Moreland before he’s ever really admitted this to himself. She’s gooood. I loved when, off-camera, we hear Allen ask “What’s your name, what’s your first name?” We and Singleton think he’s talking to her when she answers she has no memory of her full name. But we see he’s really talking to the little cat…and then he realizes what she says. There is something lost about someone who has no memory. You want to protect them.

* * * * *


LOVE LETTERS ( XII )When Dilly returns to her flat she sends Singleton to the store and we get the requisite exposition of Singleton’s story. Dilly tells Allen he’s been talking to Victoria Moreland for the last fifteen minutes. Wha’?! And via flashback, with that lovely voice of hers, Dilly tells how she found Victoria with a knife in her hand, blood on her blouse and Roger dead at her feet. The shock robbed her of her memory ( hence ‘Singleton’ is born ) and doctors suggest she must be allowed to regain her memory naturally. Allens dreamgirl’s right there within grasp but with all her issues, and his guilt, he must leave her. As he sadly prepares to leave the little flat he also dashes any hopes Dilly might have had of being with him by leaving her this message for Singleton:

“Tell her I’m in love with Victoria Moreland.”

…And this gives Dilly her answer too. Poor girl.

* * * * *


So who shows up at Allen’s house…….SINGLETON!!!!!!!!!!

YAY!!!!! She’s hiding on the couch and pops her head up like a brand new puppy. And though Allen tries to keep his cool, it’s really impossible to do so with her ( Jones’ ) disposition and those apple cheeks when she smiles. Her forthrightness is disarming and he’s taken off-guard ( in a good way. )


“You don’t have to be afraid to speak of that Allen. It’s no secret. I know I have no memory.”

Wha’??!! Memory seems to be used to good advantage in a number of films, i.e. “Random Harvest” coming to mind. Singleton’s stockings are torn from walking in the fields from the train station to his house, which merely engenders his protectiveness towards her. Singleton prevents Allen from calling Dilly to let her know where she is. Their hands meet on the phone. They look at each other, smile, hold each other’s gaze. That’s it folks. That’s love. Theres a genuineness of that moment; I recall reading Cotten and Jones genuinely liked each other during filming. You feel it. Allen’s a goner. He can’t fight his feelings…he can’t fight his longing…he can fight no more forever. Singleton sits at his feet by the fireplace looking up at him. I think here, Jennifer Jones uses her real voice. He’s making confessions and everything. Such longing, so poignant. She asks openly of Victoria Moreland:

SINGLETON: “You love her very much?”
ALLEN:            “Desperately and hopelessly.”

Singleton speaks plainly, calmly, with acceptance of her situation:

“I’ve forgotten, and you don’t want to remember. That’s the only difference between us.”

She doesn’t realize the girl hes talking about…is her.

* * * * *


Allen has to take Singleton home and I LOVE THIS SCENE: Her heel has broken, he carries her onto the carriage. There’s a medium shot of her hand on her broken heel, the camera slowly pans up with her hand going across her torn stockinged leg, going up as her arm goes around Allen’s neck and they are already in a kiss. < SWOON! >

You know, that’s the difference between us. You’re happy because that can never happen again. And I’m happy because it’s happened once.”

A little bit of polar opposites emotionally. And that’s the kind of plucky ethereal spirit that makes a romantic picture: two opposing ideas meeting, wanting different things, having different objectives; the glass half empty meeting the glass half-full. Allen has no choice but to move forward with the relationship despite Dilly’s Cassandra-like admonitions. He wants to marry Singleton. And on a moonlit London Bridge, he asks her to marry him. 


SINGLETON: Oh Alan, if something in my past, I don’t know what it is. Something horrible. Allen if I remembered someday, it might hurt you.”

ALLEN: Singleton, nothing could hurt me except to lose you…we have to face the future in the past. That’s the only difference.”

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Allen visits Victoria’s Aunt…Beatrice Remington, in a nursing home. Played by the great Gladys Cooper, she is a far cry nicer here than she was as Bette Davis’ mother in “Now, Voyager.” Beatrice has had a stroke, beaten down by regrets. Her eyes are beautiful…in fact, even with her age I thought Gladys Cooper looked very beautiful in this movie. Beatrice’s connection to Victoria is having found her in a foundling home as a baby, and showered her with love and affection. A foundling home. Victoria has been on her own for a long long time. Beatrice couldnt testify at Victoria’s trial because of her stroke. And without that testimony, Victoria had to do time in jail. Beatrice, too, is fiercely protective of Singleton, Victoria and wracked with guilt:

Young and reckless. She’d never been hurt. I swore she never would. I guarded her as I would guard my own life. I wanted her to have all the happiness I’d missed. But that was wrong. You can’t find happiness through another person. You finish by destroying the one you love. I tried to protect her, but I couldn’t save her from myself…The girl you call Singleton is not alive. Not a woman. Not herself yet. She may never be…You’re proposing to marry two different women at once.”

I thought Cooper quietly tender and wonderful in this film.

I love Cotten’s line reading when he tells Mrs. Remington he’ll take the risk to marry Singleton. He sounds like a zombie, a slave to his feelings as though he has no choice but to follow his foolhardy heart when he flatly says:

I ask myself those very questions. There are no answers. I simply have to take the chance. I love her.”

When Allen and Singleton visit the vicar to get his blessing I enjoyed watching Singleton very child-like be distracted by all of the things in the vicar’s office, rather than intently focusing on the questions she’s being asked. She’s so cute here. Forthright but distracted. Still truthful, nothing to hide. There’s nothing the vicar can do but offer his blessings.

* * * * *


Dilly is ever watchful during the wedding ceremony. Allen damns the torpodoes and its full steam ahead with his life with Singleton. The heart wants what the heart wants. It’s their wedding day.  So now we know what Allen knows:

  • Singleton is really Victoria Moreland
  • She’s gone to trial and prison for murdering her husband
  • Allen is NOT to bring up the past

Life should be a bowl of cherries.

It’s a shame we won’t see Dilly anymore in the movie. I liked her presence and she cared as much for Singleton as Allen does. Singleton brings that protective spirit out in everyone.

Singleton is selfless. This word comes to mind in two respects:

  1. Giving of one’s self and
  2. Having NO sense of self.


Singleton can read but she can’t write.  There’s something about receiving letters scares her.  She wants to learn to write but he says she doesn’t have to. That comment of Allen’s put a little tickle in the back of my throat. Hold up…wait a minute. Is he trying to help her or is it his own self-interest he’s looking out for?? You know, the thought passed through my mind that him not allowing her to learn to write is akin to keeping her barefoot and pregnant. 


Her learning to write AND her recognizing his handwriting when he writes a love note to her that reads: “I LOVE YOU” causes her to struggle to remember something. Do you pick a damaged woman so you can re-create her / mold her into what you want her to be? Wasn’t Scotty hot for recreating Judy into Madeleine in “Vertigo? Is that a man’s dream…to have a full-blown woman who is really childlike so he can teach her everything she needs to know ( or everything HE wants her to know. ) Singleton’s determined to learn to write by her birthday but she doesn’t remember her birthdate. ( Now THAT may be every woman’s dream…to NOT know her own true age. ) She wants to do this to be worthy of Allens love. She wants to do this to become whole again for him. But the thing is, her becoming whole again and finding out Allen wrote the letters that caused her to fall in love with Roger Moreland will turn her against Allen. It’s a Catch-22 all the way ’round.

When they come home from visiting her old cottage ( – which she doesn’t remember is her old cottage with Mrs. Remington – ) she playfully walks on the bricked wall outside the garden ( in heels, no less! ) It’s a lovely “movie” moment when she swings around the tree and he wants her to stop so he can look at her. She’s so pretty there. But then a memory comes flooding back to her as the camera slowly dollies towards her:


I think of you my dearest as a distant promise of beauty untouched by the world.”

* * * * *


I love  the push-pull of things “Love Letters” brings:

  • Singleton wants to learn to write again……Allen says she doesn’t have to
  • Singleton wants to remember……………..Allen doesn’t really want her to
  • Aunt Beatrice wants to speak at her trial…but suffers a stroke
  • Singleton at her trial he swears to tell the truth…but truthfully says she doesn’t want to remember

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By the last time Singleton is out in the garden you can see that this not remembering issue is no picnic for her. It’s debilitating. She looks beaten down. When she gets fruit stains on her hand which reads like blood, she screams. It’s shocking, sad, painful and heartbreaking. She’s at her most vulnerable, her wits end. She’s totally breaking down. She’s hysterical. Memories painfully flood back. Something’s got to give. And it looks like its going to be her.




I’m trying to leave you something, but my hope is that you already know this film, hopefully seeing it tonight on TCM. And if you’re with me this far, I might as well go all the way. Let me try to tiptoe here. Singleton sits on the floor by the fireplace with knife in hand and bloodstains on her blouse. She gives a sidelong glance to the letters in the fire as they burn. That shot of Jennifer Jones giving that glance as the camera pans down to the letters is wonderful. Victor Young’s music is a touch overwrought…but I don’t really mind it. The music underscores the scene playing out in this flashback. Her reaching in the fire for those letters just about kills me, I gotta tell ya. Her cries of “My letters…my letters” hurts.  


Love Letters” is one of my favorite movies of the 40’s. I prefer it to Portrait of Jennie” which is another romantic classic. ( Have you read my friend Fernando’s write-up on “…Jennie”? ) Who do we love? And how? Is it really love if you keep someone trapped in their sickness than helping them break through, even if it means you lose them. Can you fall for someone because of the way they write? I love this film for the aching romance of it. If you IMDB Dieterle, you’ll see this is not his first time at the rodeo of romance ( A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, I’ll Be Seeing You”  and the iconic Portrait of Jennie.” ) He has a soft touch. I love seeing Joseph Cotten in love. He really portrays a man torn by his love;  But mostly, I love the movie because of Jennifer Jones. She carries the film. You care about her. I believe her. Shes not cloying or annoying. Shes a lost woman you want to help and Jones puts that over wonderfully.

I can see why poor Robert Walker and David O. Selznick lost their hearts.


[   H O M E   ]



Dagnabit, I’ve been Ophül’d again….recklessly.


Mesdames et monsieurs, this is the second blogathon of the new year and were heading all the way to France for it. Serendipitous Anachronisms is hosting her first-ever blogathon and were in the country of wine and cheese and all things French. Please, click on the banner and peruse all the entries that are spread out over the next two days. I will tackle one of the great romantic dramas of classic film.

I enjoy “THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE” This ironic tale with Max Ophüls’ famed camera work sweeps me up in a tide of emotion that carries me through this sad love story. A little white lie metastasizes into love…into a love triangle. I’ve seen love triangles before. We all have. But I can’t remember ever feeling sorry for all three points of the triangle. Someone is usually the villain. Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica perfectly depict the role of Wife, Husband and Lover. And earrings will be Madame de…’s downfall.

Are you up for taking a journey with me through the busy dizzying love-soaked world of Max Ophüls? I hope you are. It will be a little lengthy. Read me on your ride to work, waiting for your doctor’s appointment, noshing in your favorite little coffee shop. I hope to help you enjoy the ride. There will be spoilers.


“I answered all your letters, my love. But I never had the courage to mail my replies.” Madame de…


Max Ophüls, I must love you for allowing myself to be entombed cocooned in the world of the Baroque; the frou frou world of fussbudgetry filled with ornate surroundings and bustles, top hats and horse & carriages. Its so not my thing, so I had to make sure I settled my mind quick with that, b’cuz I was going to spend some time in that world. Ophüls shows us a life teeming with the hustle and bustle of activity of maids and butlers scurrying amidst the high society set. It looked like a cast of millions with the activity of a Grand Central Station’s five o’clock quittin’ time. There are fancy dress balls, government settings, railway stations and military field work with lots of folks milling about, engulfing these three tragic people.



DANIELLE DARRIEUX ~ As The Wife, Madame Louise de… . She’s kind of like a Gallic Scarlet O’Hara. Not that she has much of Scarlett’s strength and fortitude, but she does fiddle dee dee her way through life. Madame de… is the belle of the ball. All the men swoon over her. All the men want her. She’s got closets and drawers of things; oodles and oodles of furs and jewelry and…things. Zomeone has been taking very good care of zee Madame. She’s vacuous, walks through life like a zombie. Is she even aware she is flirting? Poor gal’s not even really in touch with her own feelings. She thinks in the moment. And in this moment…she must pawn some earrings to get some cash. In another moment, she’ll fall in love.


CHARLES BOYER ~ As General Andre de… – The Husband. I must admit, I’m still a little gun-shy when it comes to Boyer, what with the way he treated Ingrid Bergman in “Gaslight” but I can hear you all loudly say: “Get over yourself, M’Ava! Chill out.” Alright, alright…I’ll let that go. (Sheesh!) Guess he got his romantic street cred back with “History Is Made At Night.” When the General’s told her earrings are missing, his search for them at the concert hall made me increasingly uncomfortable. Ophüls takes a good five minutes of screen time to follow him searching for these baubles. Five-minutes is a long time. Just think about Hitchcock having us watch Norman Bates clean up that motel bathroom his mother went berserk in. So the length of time we spend watching the General was uncomfortable. Not only was I fearful that Madame de… would be caught in a lie, but I felt the General was the possessive/obsessive-type. The diligence and detail of his search brought to mind Inspector Javert in “Les Miserables” or Lt. Gerard in “The Fugitive.” He does not give up until he finds what he wants. It’s not till later we see how devoted and in love he is with her.


VITTORIO DE SICA ~ As diplomat Baron Donati – The Lover. He is so elegant, so dashing, so handsome…so courtly. I must correct myself. I earlier wrote that it took one moment for Madame de…to fall in love. Thats not quite right. ‘Twas The Baron who falls instantly when he sees her at the railway station’s Customs Section. I think Madame de…is merely intrigued by his attention at that point. Attention was her “key light.” Fate went the Baron’s way, when their carriage wheels entangle. They meet yet again at a ball and here is where love begins in earnest.

Strange as this may sound, I think we are seeing three people helpless in what they feel.

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Anthropologist Helen Fisher says: “People live for love. They kill for love, they die for love. They have songs, poems, novels, sculptors, paintings, myths and legends.”



Next month, the “What A Character! Blogathon” will be in full swing and I’ll be writing about Peter Lorre. Last Friday, TCM showed “Mad Love.” In it, Lorre plays a surgeon who is in love with a married woman who needs his help…and nothing else. He’s got it bad for her, and that ain’t good. I found this scene disturbingly moving between Frances Drake and Peter Lorre. And as usual, Lorre plays on my pathos:


F.D.:  “He’s my husband. And I love him.”
P.L.:   “Is there no room in your heart…pity, for a man who has never known the love of a woman but who has worshipped you since the day he walked by that absurd little theatre.”
F.D.:  “Dr. Gogol, please!”
P.L.:   “But I can’t be silent any longer. You’re a woman. You must have known—”
F.D.:  “Yes yes I knew of your feelings for me. I traded on it. And since you saved Stephen I feel a deeper friendship for you than anybody. But I can give you nothing else in return.”
P.L.:  “Nothing?”
F.D.:  “Nothing. Even if I didn’t love him, there’s something about you that-”
P.L.:  “Repulses you.”
F.D.:  “Frightens me.”
P.L.:   You are cruel. But only to be kind.”

I felt so bad for him. The sad sad look on his face of rejection. Of course when he goes too far with buying a wax figure of her,  and his crazy get-up ( see the picture next month ), and then purposely sabotaging her pianist husband with a killer’s hands…I have to call a taxi to drive me off of this picture.

The way my cinematic stream-of-consciousness works, seeing this scene makes me think of other movies where love doesn’t quite go smoothly for the parties involved either because they just couldn’t help how they felt or couldn’t take “No” for an answer. Here are a couple of examples where this happens in films…and some advice I offer the cinematic Love-Lorn, which you may take…at your own risk. ( Titles are hot-linked for further information on each film ):

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UNREQUITED ( GONE WITH THE WIND )Vivien Leigh & Leslie Howard ~ The movie is just one big daisy chain of regret and unrequited love. Belle Watling loves Rhett, Rhett loves Scarlett, Scarlett loves Ashley, Ashley loves Melanie. (Mellie loves ev’rybody). Scarlett can have any man she wants except the one she wants. And Gable she has waiting in the wings? The wings!!!  Oh brother!

CineMaven’s Advice: Scarlet, ( and ladies reading this ) if you can’t get a straight clear-cut answer from your Ashley, run…don’t walk to the nearest Cap’n Butler. Don’t you know there’s a man shortage in Atlanta? It’s 1863 darlin’. 1863! You don’t need someone who’s on the fence.  Men like Rhett don’t grow on peach trees. Scoop him up!

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UNREQUITED ( RECKLESS MOMENT )Joan Bennett & James Mason ~ Mason is there to collect blackmail money from Bennett for her daughter’s indiscretion. But things backfire. Bennett’s thoroughly ensconced in suburbia. But something about her makes Mason want to help her. Oh I know what it is…he actually falls for her.

CineMaven’s Advice: She’s hunkered down in home and hearth. She’s got a lot of responsibility. And though she’s developing a little feeling for you too, you and I both know this is never going to work. She’s out of your league. But at least you know what to look for in a girl. Hey, It’s a good stretch for a man’s reach to exceed his grasp. ( Wear lifts….and get that girl! A different girl, though. )

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

UNREQUITED ( GREAT FLAMARION )Erich von Stroheim & Mary Beth Hughes ~ Nightclub sharp shooter von Stroheim has a successful act with Mary Beth as his assistant. Mary Beth wants von Stroheim…for his money when she’s really attracted to Dan Duryea, who’s really attracted to von Stroheim’s money. You think this is going to end well? Don’t you watch classic films?

CineMaven’s Advice: You had your heart closed off and just dealt with your career. But then you let her sweet talk you. You didn’t know any better; you’d never been in love. You broke me down when you were waiting for her for days like a school boy for that hotel rendezvous. You waited and waited and waited. Girls like her don’t fall for boys like you. But if it’d make you feel any better you can shoot Danny boy and the man she’s two-timing HIM with. Or just leave altogether; take a job in South America and don’t talk to any woman who speaks English.

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

UNREQUITED ( LETTER-UNKNOWN WOMAN )Joan Fontaine & Louis Jourdan ~ A young girl falls head over heels for a pianist. It’s love at first sight. But only for her. It’s a one-way street. OUCH! Didn’t see that coming, didja? And you thought a one-way street was safer.

CineMaven’s Advice: Listen, don’t live your life as if it’s a dream. If he doesn’t know who you really are, or doesn’t want to know who you really are, then walk away. Yeah that’s right. Even if he looks as drop dead gorgeous as Louis. Unless you can hit it and quit it, you can always stare at him as you moonwalk away. Being the narcissist that he is, he is probably looking at you from his rear-view mirror any way. Good riddance. Say ‘Au revoir’ ladies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

UNREQUITED ( WRITTEN on WIND )Dorothy Malone & Rock Hudson ~ Dot plays a girl in love with a man who’s not in love with her. She’s determined to have him. It always works out when you try to make someone love you…said no one EVER!!

CineMaven’s Advice: She’s the life of the party, but it’s only to hide her unrequited heart. Be self-aware, ladies. Recognize the signs, gals. I don’t know if the best way to go about easing a broken heart is by sleeping with every other man in sight. First accept that he doesn’t love you. Then love and value yourself. And then sleep with every other man in sight until you find the right one. See, that’s the ticket. Don’t you feel better washing that man right outta your hair?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

THE THIRD MAN” ( 1949 )
UNREQUITED ( THIRD MAN-II )Joseph Cotten & Alida Valli ~ Cotten learns a few lessons when uncovering the mystery of his long-lost friend in war-torn Europe. And he meets a girl who’s a mystery herself. Happily ever after? Uhhh…don’t count on it.

CineMaven’s Advice: Fellas, with all the girls out here you’ve got to go fall for the girl who likes your friend? No. The girl will never like you. Set your net for other fish in that great big, blue, unattached, unobsessed, environmentally-protected sea.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

UNREQUITED ( PARADINE CASE )Gregory Peck & Alida Valli ~ Hitchcock has got the court system by the throat. Peck defends Mrs. Paradine ( Valli ) accused of murdering her blind, older, rich husband. An open and shut case, wouldn’t you say?

CineMaven’s Advice: A lawyer doesn’t need to believe his client’s guilt or innocence in order to defend her. But you think falling in love with her is good juris prudence. You’d be wrong Counsellor. You’d be very wrong. Get another case; even if she is beautiful…and…mysterious…and withholding…and has dead eyes. I know, I know…but catnip does not an acquittal make.

Men want to save her, but just do yourself a favor and stay away from Alida Valli. Sheesh!

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THE BIRDS” ( 1963 )

Suzanne Pleshette & Tippi Hedren ~ What starts out as one thing, turns into something else. Don’t you hate when that happens? A cute little prank with lovebirds out in Bodega Bay wreaks all manner of unexplained ornithological havoc. That’s Hitchcock for you. That’s all you need to know. All I know is handsome Rod Taylor has mommy issues and ex-girlfriend issues when ice blonde Hedren ‘tips’ into town.

CineMaven’s Advice: This shot says it all re: the scales tip, weighing in favor of potential new girlfriend while the ex-girlfriend is being replaced. The rug is pulled out from under your heart. Yeh, my heart breaks for Suzanne here, suffering in silence; staying in the town after the romance is gone. If that phone call doesn’t do it, nothing will. But if you have any solf-respecting strength left, fly. Just fly away. There are teaching jobs everywhere. And trust me, you won’t have problems finding a man. You’re smart, attractive and employable.

Let me get a “Whoot! Whoot!” for Hitch while you pack your bags.

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

Edward G. Robinson & Joan Bennett ~ A meek little man gets in the path of a steam rolling vixen…and is ground to dust. Eddie G. is like a moth to Bennett’s blow-torching sexuality in this dark Fritz Lang tale. He gives in to her in ev’ry way until it costs him everything. ( Uhhh boy, see “The Great Flamarion” above ).

CineMaven’s Advice: Men…be honest with yourself. Do you really think you can pull a gal like 1940’s Joan Bennett? If you do, more power to you. ( I’m scared-o’ you! ) But if you have the least little inkling…the slightest doubt that she doesn’t care for you, head for the hills. That guy she says is just her “friend” is really The Other Man. Wait a sec. YOU are The Other Man. And the patsy. Now get out of the way and go get a hobby or something. But if you find contempt and disdain suitable aphrodisiacs, go for it!

If you see Dan Duryea or any facsimile of a Dan Duryea ANYWHERE on the scene, you have to walk away. It’s like this; if the girl you like, likes Dan Duryea…she’s just as blind as you, and who needs the blind leading the blind? Eddie G. should have listened to that ‘little man’ inside him. I taught him everything he knows.

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James Stewart & Kim Novak ~ Kim’s role-playing gets her into all sorts of trouble. See, she can’t get Jimmy Stewart to love her for her real self. So she’ll change back to…oh, just see the movie.

CineMaven’s Advice: If I could talk to Judy I would tell her that she should only love some one who loves her for herself. But then again, who are we, anyway? If she gets the man she loves by pretending to be someone else for him, who does it harm. She’s still got him, the man she loves. Besides, SHE knows she’s Judy. Know thyself. You are still you, even if you do dye your hair. ( But honestly ask yourself: do those shoes really go with your outfit??? )

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Celeste Holm & Gregory Peck ~ Peck is a journalist who pretends to be Jewish to get the full Monty on what this anti-Semitism thing is all about. The bad thing is, everyone around him is touched by this story in one way or another. They all didn’t sign up for that…

CineMaven’s Advice: Celeste Holm is a doll in this! She’s a stylish, smart, working gal. She has a quip and a martini always at the ready. But being such a wiseacre only ensures her adding five more years of her life to being single. Smart girls never find love. Even when they share the same world-view as the Man in question, they never find love. Some men like shiny pretty objects, so he might not pick you. But check it…the smart man will find you. And you will find him. Now remember, you’ve got a dead-line to meet, some martinis to make and a dinner party to host. ( Smart girls can multi-task! )

A well-deserved Oscar for Celeste Holm. Her self-possession was a sexy sight to behold!

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Fay Wray & King Kong ~ Fay plays a small-time actress who goes with an indie producer on a film shoot…to an unchartered island…where the islanders use human sacrifice…for a gigantic ape. And the ape takes a liking…to Fay.

CineMaven’s Advice: Aren’t these two photos just a sad metaphor for Love? First, you’re in control of the situation, though I don’t recommend tying up the girl ( or man ) you love
( without having a “safe” word ). But you’re in control…or at least in control of your emotions; you have the upper hand as it were. And then later…in love… you’re hog-tied, put on display, trussed up for the world to see…he’s mine. What good is being the Eighth Wonder of the World, if you cannot have the girl you want? To all you Kongs out there: Stay away from humans! You can’t trust ’em!

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UNREQUITED ( ATTACK OF FIFTY FOOT WOMAN )Allison Hayes can’t alleviate the heartache of knowing her husband ( HARRY! ) is unfaithful to her and wants her just for her money. ( She picked him, which is what Judge Judy would say ). While drowning in alcohol and driving in day-for-night shots, she is attacked by an extra-terrestrial alien (who looks suspiciously like the fifty foot man) who swoops down on her convertible and steals her pearls. The kerfuffle with the giant causes her grave injury. She starts growing…

CineMaven’s Advice: Who says big girls don’t cry. They do. But they also get angry, and when Nancy Archer ( Allison Hayes ) cries me a river, it’s pretty much Niagara Falls. My advice to Nancy is to forget Harry.  Get yourself another… no, that’s not going to happen. You’re a statuesque thing. You can do anything you set your set mind to. #ALLGIANTSMATTER!

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UNREQUITED ( NOTTI BIANCHE )Marcello Mastroianni & Maria Schell ~ Is this movie just a fool-hardy exercise for how we love? Fall IN love? Maria’s got her sights set on a man who may or may not ( does he even exist? ) ever come back to her. And Marcello falls in love with her; or is it her vulnerability and sadness that attracts him. He gives it the good ol’ college try to win over a girl who loves someone else. Tsk! That’s going to hurt like walking into an open manhole. ( SMH )

CineMaven’s Advice: Here’s another case of being the savior, protector, the caretaker. He wants to SAVE her. I wonder if humans just simply WANT the thing they can’t have.
<<< Sigh! >>> I see this time and time again in movies. In “Le Notti…” we see what faith in love looks like when it works…and when that is all wrong and misguided. If she loves somebody else, you really have to sadly walk away. It’s Fool’s Gold you’re pursuing if you stay. Read Fernando’s review here.

(( Good movie suggestion, Karin. ))

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NOTORIOUS” ( 1946 )

Claude Rains ~ I’ve heard it sang that it’s a fool that plays it cool. So which is better? To be a good guy and not tell the girl you love her, or be a berry berry berry bad man and be in love with the girl. That Nazi sympathizer thing…few women understand that. And then there’s your Mother.  << Horrors! >>

CineMaven’s Advice: This is Claude Rains’ dilemma. And I pity the guy. But maybe that’s just the majestic power of Claude Rains that makes me feel sorry for him. It’s tough, but he has to walk away. I know, who can walk away from Ingrid Bergman? ( Everyone is not Bogie who has to see the big picture!  ) But you have to. She’s really NOT the girl for you. First, you’re competing with Cary Grant, and that’s just shooting fish in a barrel. ( Pssst! YOU are the fish! ) And though it’s important that you love the person you love, it’s equally important that she loves you. Without that, you’re pretty much out for the count. She’s just not that into you. And I think you know that.

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 “CITY LIGHTS” ( 1931 )    A TALE OF TWO CITIES” ( 1935 )


I haven’t seen these two movies in their entireties, but I know of them and Chaplin and Colman seem to be in the same boat of trying to help a girl they love, who just doesn’t love them the same way. ( Thanks for the movie suggestions, Wendy. )

No doubt it all just plain hurts. If you have any sage advice for these love-lorn, please leave a comment below. Thanx!

[ See this TED TALK by anthropologist Helen Fisher about what is ROMANTIC LOVE. You’ll be surprised. ]

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When Lauren Bacall looks at you, or gives you her side-eye glance, brothers and sisters…you  are  done! Her eyes are scorching laser beams, slicing through you like butter. Her gravelly voice can be commanding, withering or mesmerizingly sultry. When she died last August 12th, 2014, it was a shock to all in the classic film community. She seemed so indomitable. She could glare death into submission. What was I thinking. It truly sunk in as I bought several New York newspapers the day her passing was announced:


That’s just me; being romantic again about the power these film stars hold over me. Here in the cocoon of this blogathon, I can speak of one of my favorite performers when Crystal’s blog: In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood presents THE LAUREN BACALL BLOGATHON. My “Bacallathon” entry will be Douglas Sirk’s 1956 film WRITTEN ON THE WIND.


Lauren Bacall gives a subtle quiet performance as Lucy Moore in “Written on the Wind.” She starts off with edge, sharpness; after all, she’s an Executive Secretary for a top advertising agency in NYC. The film’s opening shorthand gives us the score on her.


She wants a career. Picture her at 21 with a martini in one hand, witty repartee in the other and fending off Madison Avenue Casanovas with the other other hand. She says so:


          STACK:      “What wouldn’t bore you?”
          BACALL:   “My career.  Advertising.”
          HUDSON: “Bravo, as they say in Texas.”
          STACK:      “Where did you learn the advertising game?”
          BACALL:   “With the Sheridan Agency.”
          STACK:      “Top drawer, huh?”
          BACALL:   “One of Madison Avenue’s finest.”

By mid-point in the movie, we are in the SAME predicament as Bacall:

“How the  *$^!#@*&  did we get here?”

The movie is actually told in flashback to show how we ALL got to this point. And for the sake of full disclosure, I must admit I don’t understand her character’s psychology in even marrying Robert Stack in the first place. The why of her marrying him is the crux of the story and sets a lot of things in motion…check out this clip:

So…you tell me. He never blinks, and has a glassy glazed intense look on his face. If I question her motivations for marrying this guy, the movie might be over in 20 minutes, and you might not want to read about her any further.  It does naggle at my brain. But lets just take it as a given.

( Temptation )

WRITTEN ( XII )WRITTEN ( XXXIV )Now even though we   all do know
Bacall has edge, her panther-like persona is not brought to this role. She is rather demure I’d say ( often casting her eyes downward. ) She is partly an observer…a conduit of the crazy goings-on of this waaaayward family of the rich and neurotic she’s married into. She’s warm. She exhibits a calming kindness and understanding. Of course all bets are off when it comes to dealing with her new sister-in-law, played with fire and pizzazz by Dorothy Malone. Malone plays Iago to her brother,

( Tell me lies…tell me sweet little lies )

dropping innuendoes and sarcasm like bar-bells. If he had any self-esteem he wouldn’t believe her but, well…therein lies the rub. When she belittles him to his new wife, Bacall steps up to the plate in his defense, swatting down her dear, heat-seeking sister-in-law:


MALONE:   “Anyway, about your marriage. You have my condolences.”
BACALL:     “Pardon me if I seem to be brushing you out of my hair.”
MALONE:   “Darling I’ll send you some of my towels. I believe you’re still wet behind the ears.” 

I love their exchange. Bacall’s no patsy. She doesn’t show fire, but the sharpness is there. What’s more, she tempers that edge, which is what I like about her performance in this movie. She has a nice scene when she meets her father-in-law, played by Robert Keith; he senses she’s no gold digger – she has a down-to-earth personality and a direct gaze. Though his manner is avuncular, he’s got his issues too. He IS the Dad who put his friend’s son ( Rock Hudson ) above his OWN son ( Robert Stack ).


STACK:    “Mitch’s old man was my Dad’s boyhood pal. His idol, I guess. He’s a small rancher. Kind of a legend in our country. A great hunter. Sort of a throwback to Daniel Boone. I used to wish he were my father.”
BACALL:  “Is your father aware of this?”
STACK:   “Dad’s a big man. So big he and I know I can’t fill his shoes. Even come close to it.”
BACALL: “Can anybody?”
STACK:    “Yes.   Mitch.”

This is one of the things that makes Bacall sympathetic to Stack. With her influence, she makes Stack want to be a better person. And though I STILL see no visible means of his being a tangible asset to the family oil business, he’s laid off the booze and has gotten rid of the gun he sleeps with underneath his pillow ( RED FLAG #1 or #5,374 ). Sirk leaves no foreshadow unturned, heralding it with dramatic music. But can one person prop up another person’s life? Bacall’s about to find out it’s an impossible job.


Back In the Friend Zone is Bacall’s ‘Rock’. Rock Hudson did see her first at the ad agency


but faint heart never won fair maiden. His pal ( Stack ) swoops in with his charm and millions ( and unwavering gaze ) – probably their dynamic since childhood. With Bacall marrying Stack, Hudson sort of stands watch over her from the sidelines. He’s a comfort to have around even if they don’t act on their feelings. Oh yeah, there are feelings. She definitely shows us she’s attracted to him; they’re shy around each other. And Stack is as territorial as a dog with a mailman’s leg. She’ll need Hudson more than ever now.




Her father-in-law has just keeled over dead from a heart attack in the classic Mambo of Death dance scene ( click Malone above for her dance scene and here for her Oscar-winning speech ). Bacall’s reaction is a combination of horror and numbness. Keith’s death leaves her alone with a nymphomaniac sister-in-law and an alcoholic husband. Hudson’s sort of an enabler in all this, not definitively putting his foot down. So NOW, he’s had enough?


“To Hell with the Hadleys!!”

He’s going to a safe place ( Iran!!! ) to work for another oil company and get away from the lot o’ them. I like how subtly torn Bacall shows us here; her body language leans slightly forward…anxious to stop him, but stopping herself ‘less she looks like she wants to stop him…which she does.

WRITTEN ( XXXXXXXI ) WRITTEN ( XXXXXXVI )     ( Lets just kiss…and say goodbye )

BACALL:     “Will you pick me up at the drugstore in about an hour please?”
HUDSON:   “Better take a taxi.”
BACALL:     “Am I that much trouble to you?”
HUDSON:  “You don’t know how much.”
BACALL:    “I’ll be waiting for you.”

The soft sweet pain and yearning of unrequited love.

The descent begins in earnest when Stack believes he can’t father children and Bacall tells him she’s pregnant. He goes from zero-to-sixty…downhill. All Sirkian Hell breaks loose.


And Bacall is caught in the cross-hairs.


WRITTEN ( XXXXXXXXXVIII )Many times Sirk positions Bacall in scenes in the middle between Hudson and Stack, or puts Stack between Hudson and Bacall. She plays calm and understanding. She’s fearful. She is a woman in trouble in a troubled marriage using coping mechanisms to survive this. She IS a damsel-in-distress but doesn’t go big or showy. Bacall is usually a cool customer; calm, smoldering and collected. I see her maturity as an actress through quietly shifting emotions to weather this soap op’ry storm with a good message…even a smart gal like Lauren Bacall can get in trouble.

You can get all manner of Lauren in this BACALLATHON. To see one of her other screen personas all you have to do is put your fingers together, and click. Click the banner for other blog entries. Click the YouTube thumbnails for a nice tribute to Written on the Wind accompanied by a Britney Spears song ( yes, Britney! Give it a chance ) – and for the film’s official trailer below. Thanks for reading. Lauren Bacall, you made your mark. It’s your birthday, but you’ve given us the gift. YOU.



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