SABOTEUR ( 1942 ) ~ AMERICA HANGS BY A THREAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

[   H  O  M  E   ]

___________________________________________________

‘TILL DEATH US DO PART

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

Hell…what’s LOVE got to do with it.

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

And now…MURDER: 

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

 

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * *

 

[   H   O   M   E   ]

 

_______________________________________________________________________

HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT

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

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

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

 

 

HISTORY IS MADE OF  ( SOME ) SPOILERS 

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

INSANE IN THE BRAIN

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

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

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

Irene: “By the neck until it dies?”

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE AND ROMANCE

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

    

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

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

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

 

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

THE DISASTER FILM

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

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

 

[   H O M E   ]

________________________________________________

TEXANS TALK TURKEY…ABOUT CLASSIC FILMS

As I prepare to write my big Kahuna of a post ~ my experience at this past April’s 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival ~ I go over my notes and pictures and memories from the festival earlier this year. People come from all over the country ( and the world ) to get their classic film fix there in Hollywood, and as I’m meeting and greeting people, it’s dawning on me that a lot of the festival~goers I’ve met come from Texas. Now though I’m a native New Yorker, I always throw out the same FYI when I meet a Texan: “My sister lives in Killeen. She used to be in the military.” Maybe that’ll give me some street cred with them. The Texans politely smile. 😉


I have States’ pride. I love being from the neon~lit, asphalt jungle of New York City. But I imagine being a Texan is a whole ‘nother animal altogether. How could it not be, when one comes from such wide open spaces. Texas, at 268,000 square miles is the largest state in the Union after Alaska ( …it has 570,665 square miles ). Texas has the Rio Grande which makes our NYC Hudson River look like a creek. Texas had cowboys and Indians and warring with Santa Anna in another country, and ranches the size of Manhattan. Okay, I confess, all I know of Texas is what I see in “
Giant” “The Last Picture Show” “Urban Cowboy” tv’s “Dallas” or HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” which is filmed in Waco. It got me wondering if being from any particular region of our country…or of the world, plays any part in our liking or choosing certain classic films. I’ll make this blog post my Texas issue, and I’ll be asking five Texans a couple of questions to get an idea. It seems as there are as many differing views of Texas as there are Texans. And no doubt ( at 268,000 square miles ), Texas is big enough to hold a wide variety of views…of Texas.

Meet . . .

Wendy, Ollie, Christy, Kelly and Theresa

   

[ Movie titles, photos, names of places have been hot~linked for further info. ]

1. HOW TEXAS ARE YOU? ARE YOU BORN AND RAISED HERE? PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS? WHAT CITY DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN IN TEXAS?

WENDY MAHAFFEY 

I moved from northern Indiana to Texas when I was 10 years old, so not a native Texan, but not too far off.  And I’ve lived here ever since, most of the time in the Ft. Worth/Dallas Metroplex area, and specifically in Grand Prairie now. 

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE W.

Born and raised in Austin, on the “wrong side” of a family with ranches that once covered hundreds of miles of Texas. There are family-names across various buildings, parks and streets although not in Austin itself. (Whew!)

Dad’s father was a child of the family’s civil war, splitting branches into Rich Complacents vs. Do-It-Yerself’ers that never reunited, so claims to those buildings and streets take on a Rooseveltian Oyster Bay vs. Hyde Park sneer for those of us on “the wrong side.”

I left Austin in the late ’80s for twelve years of almost constant world travel, and returned with a wonderful wife to raise a family simply because our neighborhood seemed to offer many ideals for child-raising a park just beyond the backdoor, a constant presence of wonderful neighbors and a lot of pets.

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY PUTNAM

I’m a native Houstonian, but I’ve lived in New Orleans, Tampa, Chicago, New Jersey, several parts of Texas, several states in Mexico, and currently reside near Houston. My maternal grandmother raised 18 children here in Texas; 6 of her deceased sister’s children, and 12 of her own. After her husband died, she lost the farm during the Depression and moved into town to run a boarding house for day laborers and Aggie Corpsmen. My father’s family were from Cullman, Alabama, and were jostled around quite a bit and finally ended up in Longview, Texas, around the time Bonnie and Clyde were doing a little banking business.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY J. KITCHENS WICKERSHAM

I am pretty darn Texan. I’m a fourth generation Texan on my Mom’s side. I was born in Fort Worth, moved to El Paso when I was almost 10, then we moved to Houston when I was 12. Once I graduated from high school in Houston, I went to the University of North Texas in Denton, which is just north of Dallas and Fort Worth about 30 miles or so.

After college, I made the natural migration down to Dallas and have been in this area ever since. Once Mark and I married in 2006, we moved to the nearest suburb of Dallas called Richardson. We love it here.

♦♦♦♦

THERESA MADERE BARRERA


I am definitely a Texan baby! Proudly! I was born and raised in
Austin, though I’ve lived in four different cities in Texas so far. Recently my husband and I bought a house in Leander. My whole family lives around us. My parents reside in Burnet and my grandparents all live right outside Austin. So we have rootin’ scootin’ Texas times together.

* * * * * * * * *

2. WHAT MAKES YOUR AREA UNIQUE FROM OTHER PARTS OF TEXAS?

WENDY: To me, the Metroplex is unique because it has the best of two totally different aspects of Texas.  Ft. Worth has the history and heritage side of the state, with the Stockyards and cattle and the old-time small town feeling.  But Dallas is the big, bustling sophisticated city side of the state. I live right in between the two, so I get the best of both worlds.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Downtown Austin offers a pedestrianism that is comparable to the largest cities, plus a music scene that has been fairly rabid since the mid~‘60s. It has a large public university (University of Texas) which is the heart of its free-living attitudes.

But it also has Life’s Rectum because it’s the State Capitol, full of society-hating cowards known as Republicans, most of whom claim residency far from Austin and claim to constantly hate it – but they’re always around, as indicated by their constant stream of arrests for assaults, property crimes, public lewdness, urination, prostitution, drugs and child-porn. Pretty much the standard GOP lifestyle.

Geologically, Austin has a giant fault running north-south thru it, separating flat black-soil East Austin from rocky, hilly West Austin. The fault creates scenery and recreation on the west side, and great gardens and farming on the east. And our house and park are smack-dab in the middle of that fault line.

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY: Some of the best seafood in the entire Gulf Coast area, the best Tex-Mex food, several first-class museums (with excellent film screenings), home to well-dressed jet-setting doyenne Lynn Wyatt, friend to the rich and famous. (I once met Wyatt and Lauren Bacall at the River Oaks Theatre here in Houston.) We also have the best medical center in the world. When the world’s rich get sick, the fancy hotels around the medical center area fill up, and M.D. Anderson Hospital is the mecca for oncology.

KELLY:   Well, each of the areas of Texas I have lived in, especially the Fort Worth to El Paso part (which was like moving to a foreign country) and then to Houston, are vastly different.

In Richardson, where we are now, is very similar to Fort Worth in climate. We are lucky here that when it rains, it usually cools off afterwards; unlike Houston, where it just gets hotter and stickier after it rains.

We’re lucky to have mature trees in our neighborhood and green grass. In El Paso, many of the yards are filled with rocks because it is hard to get grass to grow.

Richardson is also a very racially and religiously diverse area of town, and Mark and I love living in the middle of it all. We have a sweet Muslim family next door on the right, an African-American grandmother directly across the street with all of her kids and grandkids constantly visiting her, a young Hispanic couple next to her, and a Lesbian couple down the street with 4 kids (3 of whom are adopted). Asians, Mexicans, retired white people, gay couples, Muslims, Jewish, Christians – all living in great harmony. We prove it can be done!

Richardson is known as the Telecom Corridor with Texas Instruments around the corner from us. TI is where the transistor radio was invented in the 1950s.

♦♦♦♦

THERESALeander is just outside of Austin, which is where I was raised. Austin is the capital of Texas and they say, “Keep Austin Weird” for good reason. We’re an odd bunch! This city is very artistic and simply teeming with musicians left and right. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”, it doesn’t let you down with concerts all over the city every night of the week. 

* * * * * * * * *

3. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF… WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?

WENDY: I’m a legal assistant in the corporate/securities section of a law firm in downtown Ft. Worth.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: I’ve been a performing musician since age six, graduating from high school and joining eight different performers on national tours in those first two years.  Back in college, I fell in with a bad group of engineers and we developed circuitry, software and equipment to create that circuitry. I continue with both endeavors, although “wife and kids and neighbors” consumes a wonderful portion of my time. 

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY: I write, teach, consult and play the piano. I work as an English professor at one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country with college students from at least 40 different languages. In the last two years, I’ve worked with many Nepalese students who were victims of the April 2015 earthquakes. Many emotional tales of woe from that tragedy came to my desk from those bereft students. I’m close to the Kemah Marina and Galveston Island, always an entertaining getaway from the rigors of the 9 to 5 doldrums. I currently am working on a biography entitled “THELMA RITTER: HOLLYWOOD’S FAVORITE NEW YORKER,” to be published in the latter portion of 2018 by the University Press of Mississippi’s Hollywood Legends Series. As author of the Sue Sue Applegate columns on the TCM Message Boards and The Silver Screen Oasis website and my blog Christy’s Inkwells I’ve had the privilege of writing about all the TCM Film Festivals since 2010.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY:  On April 1st, I celebrated 22 years of having my own business. I am a former journalist – editor, film critic, arts and music writer, etc. who left the arts and entertainment weekly guide I helped start – to switch to the other side to become a publicist.

I consider myself more a media-relations expert. Basically, I’m the liaison between my clients (filmmakers, film festivals, film venues like Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in DFW) and journalists (which includes traditional media: TV, radio, and print as well as bloggers, podcasters, any online outlets). All that to say, I am a film publicist working full time for 22 years in Dallas, Texas!

♦♦♦♦

THERESAI have my own little business called Lady Butterscotch Co. I carve rubber stamps and craft handmade cards in bulk for others, including small businesses, to give their clients custom thank you cards for that personal touch. I also make wedding/party invitations by the dozens. I didn’t expect so many people to like this idea, but it’s really taken off! I love it! Perfect for being able to also take care of my newborn.

* * * * * * * * *

4. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS ONE MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE LONE STAR STATE THE REST OF US FORTY~NINE STATES HAS OF TEXAS?

WENDY: The perception is changing, but in the years I was growing up here, folks outside of Texas seemed to think we all were involved in the oil industry and wore cowboy boots and hats (and that all the women had really BIG hair!). For many years, whenever we traveled outside Texas or the United States, when people found out we were from the Dallas area they invariably answered, Ah, yes! J.R. Ewing.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Distance. The phrase “Everything’s bigger in Texas” is a cliché, but driving distances seems much much further because the State’s topology and geography takes 3-4 or even 8 hours to cross from one to another. Every drive can seem long, Long, LONG. And many of those drives are just as scenic in the dark – even more so! – than in the light of day. (Hint! Hint!)

Texas has five distinct geographic zones, and it takes hours to cross thru even one of them.  Classic film fans that want to ‘see Texas’ are usually left dragging their tongues – “The drives are so long and soooo boring!”  Yes. 

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY:  MYTH #1 occurs when citizens from Texas are perceived as ignorant because they have an accent with long vowel sounds different from an accent of citizens in colder climates or different regions of the country with shorter vowel sounds.

So turnabout is fair play…

MYTH#2 ~ Texans feel that citizens of colder climates or other regions of the country who have accents with short vowel sounds and speak more quickly than we do are untrustworthy.

It is obvious to me that both attitudes are misinformed. I don’t believe that judging someone on appearance or listening to someone for a short period of time can determine the worth of a human soul.

♦♦♦♦

KELLYA common misconception about Texas is that we are all conservative, rednecks who wear boots all the time. As a 4th generation Texan, I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots. And of the 60~plus hats I own, not one of them is a cowboy hat. 

     Kelly in her go~go boots

I do, quite proudly at that, embrace Texas standard vocabulary words, like:

              y’all =   (plural: all y’all; possessive: y’all’s),
              fixin’ =  (meaning: getting ready to start),
              tump = (meaning: tip + dump = tump.)

Example in a sentence:

“The wind and waves are fixin’ to tump the sailboat over, and y’all will land in the water!”

♦♦♦♦

THERESA: People ask me all the time if Texans really wear cowboy boots and ride horses to work. It always makes me giggle. Yes, we still live in the year 1889. Ha! 😉 There are horses all over the state, however, they are mostly outside the big cities and people drive to work in cars like normal people of this century. 

* * * * * * * * *

5. OUT WHERE THE WEST BEGINS, HOW DID YOU BEGIN YOUR LOVE OF CLASSIC FILMS? DOES BEING FROM TEXAS SHAPE YOU IN ANY WAY FOR CLASSIC FILMS OR DOESN’T THAT MATTER.

WENDYMy love for classic film started after seeing “GONE WITH THE WIND” when I was about 11 years old or so.  I don’t think being from Texas really shaped that.  I remember “THE ALAMO” with John Wayne being shown to us in middle school for Texas history class, but I don’t recall falling in love with it as a “classic film.”

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Most cities under a few hundred thousand people in the ’50s and ’60s had limited TV options. When movies came onto the Single TV Station in Austin, everyone watched. Or didn’t. And everyone talked about them. Or why they didn’t watch. TV and movie reviews, book reviews – those were constant topics.

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY: My mother took me to the movies, the drive-in, and we watched films on television. I think the first film I remember seeing with her was “HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON.” I was frightened to death when the rat began crawling on Robert Mitchum when he was hiding in the supply tent. And then my mother’s fascination with Ray Milland’s sexy self and Ginger Roger’s fashions in “THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR” captured my attention.

I think one of the first films I remember seeing at the drive-in was the Burt Lancaster/Audrey Hepburn film “THE UNFORGIVEN,” before Clint got an Oscar for the newer title. Hepburn draws a line on her forehead with some makeup or mud, and the next day when I was home, I wanted to be Native American, too, and found my mother’s pancake makeup and did the same.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY: I remember when I was 3 or 4 looking forward to the yearly TV showing of “THE WIZARD OF OZ” and “GONE WITH THE WIND” in the ‘70s. But it was when my Mom took me to a revival screening of “THE SOUND OF MUSIC” at a beautiful old movie palace in 1973 that I truly fell in love. I remember it so clearly as I was the same age as the youngest girl in the film, Gretl. We were both 5 years old. I remember feeling so connected to her and the film that when we got home, I discovered the soundtrack in our album collection. I played that album over and over and over again. I sang and danced playing every part. 

My Dad loved John Wayne films. So it seems that there was a Western on every Saturday. I kinda grew up thinking that John Wayne equaled Texas because of my Dad.

♦♦♦♦

THERESAI began my love for classic film at the age of 2 or 3 while my grandmother baby~sat me. She has this massive library of classics in her collection. Every time I went over there, she would sit me in her living room and put on one of those many beautiful old films I now consider my favorites. 

  
My Grandparents


I do think growing up in Texas made an impression on which films my grandmother put in front of me. Memories of watching them, all cuddled under a fuzzy blanket with my grandmother, are some of the best that I have. Whether it was “
THE YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS,” “GIANT,” or even the later film “SUGARLAND EXPRESS,” I just marveled at these masterpieces that showcased my beautiful state in all its glory.

* * * * * * * * *

6. NAME THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE CLASSIC FILMS WHETHER RELATED TO TEXAS OR NOT…AND WHY YOU LIKE THEM.

WENDY:GONE WITH THE WIND” is my all-time favorite movie, no question about it. There’s a reason why it’s considered the most popular movie ever made: it’s got everything! And it really started my love of classic film, so that makes it even more special to me.

My second favorite would be “WIZARD OF OZ.” I grew up on it, eagerly looking forward to its once-a-year showing on television (remember those days?) I adored Judy Garland and was just fascinated by her when I was a little girl.

I don’t have a clear favorite third film, there are too many to choose from that I love so much, in just about every genre. There are literally dozens and dozens of movies I adore.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Bogart’sMALTESE FALCON” is a favorite because it has stood the entertainment test of time – “Can I stand to see it again? YES.” The finale of martial music with the elevator’s bars pasting shadows across Mary Astor’s

face…the first encounters with “Joel Cairo“… the great performance by Elisha Cook Jr… and has any actor had a better opening film performance than Sydney Greenstreet?

THE WIZARD OF OZ” (1939) gets my vote for Most Important Film in Hollywood History because of the special effects, the cast & characters, the sets, the filming techniques and music. I can’t name any other film that has every song as a standard. Or so many lines of dialog that are clichés, all deservedly so because they’ve been used millions and billions of times. And will be. I can’t think of a more influential set of characters in any film across all walks of life. The Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Munchkins, Toto, Kansas, Ruby Slippers, Yellow Brick Roads, the Wizard and those flaming head special effects, and of course the ultimate villain, the Wicked Witch Of The West. I won’t even mention the number of people who confess that flying monkees are a lifelong nightmare.

SAFE IN HELL” (1931) with Dorothy MacKaill is influential because it’s about a woman’s struggles when men have forced their demands and pleasures onto her. And though she has a Good Man around sometimes, he doesn’t understand the brutality that other men inflict on women… on her. He’s busy with work. She’s busy trying to survive.

This is not a film to like. It’s a hard HARD film and it has preyed on my mind since the first time TCM showed it. 

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY: HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON Two actors, one beautiful location, and the misery and fear of what might happen to them because of World War II and because of their feelings for each other.

PATTON I loved watching this film with my father when he was alive. It would be one of the few times he would share experiences of World War II and the European Theatre, and being part of Patton’s Third Army for a time.

 

 

NOTORIOUS Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, an entertaining script, a captivating love story, and…a bottle of wine, Chateau LeCaught.

 

One of the films I still have a childhood fondness for is “BELLS OF ROSARITA,” a Roy Rogers and Dale Evans film that features a lovely story about Dale Evans and her grandmother. Now it’s not set in Texas, but it showcases our Texas affinity for family stories about the “olden days.

 

CineMaven Side Note:

“ ‘Cowgirl’ is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear.”

♦♦♦♦

KELLYTHE WIZARD OF OZ” is my all time favorite film from when I was like 3 or 4. Why? Judy! 

A STAR IS BORN.Why? Judy! 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.Why? Judy!



You’re probably seeing a theme here.  😉 

♦♦♦♦

THERESA:  TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE” (1950) is the very first classic I remember seeing as a kid. I have to say, it has stayed one of my very favorites, because it never grows boring. It’s just such a cute film that makes you feel good even when you are feeling at your worst. I think some of that is also a nostalgic feeling, but I love that I still have that memory.

RANDOM HARVEST” is also in my top three. First, I have to say that Greer Garson is my favorite actress, so that has a lot to do with this choice. I just love the intense emotion encased in this one film. It gives you feeling and makes you question. To me, that’s part of what makes a great film…not to mention, the beautiful Ronald Colman costarring. You just can’t go wrong.

My third choice would be “FUNNY GIRL.” I mean, it’s Barbra! Do you really need another reason? I think I related to her in this film, as a kid, because of her struggle with self-image and her confident drive to live her biggest dream.

* * * * * * * * *

7IS THERE A CLASSIC ICONIC FILM FEATURING TEXANS THAT PORTRAYS THE TEXAS CULTURE ACCURATELY OR INACCURATELY?

WENDY: I think “GIANT really captures a lot of the Texas spirit. The huge expanses of land (seriously, you can drive almost 800 miles in a straight line and never leave the state!), the feeling of being on the Western frontier in much of the state, the Texas swagger and pride in the state, and the attitude toward and treatment of minorities. Obviously, a lot has changed in the 60+ years since the movie came out, but I see a lot of Texas today in it, too.

   

OLLIE: I’ve never seen an accurate portrayal of a Texas lifestyle in a film, although “VIVA MAX” (1969, Peter Ustinov) has a Mexican general deciding to re-capture the Alamo in a “Mouse That Roars” concept, and at least some of the San Antonio residents cheer him on. This was, after all, the beginning of the Republican destruction of society – i.e. the first term of Nixon.

I simply don’t believe there’s a film that portrays “Texas.” There are films that portray towns well enough (a decade-younger Archer City in “THE LAST PICTURE SHOW” but just about every small town had been or would be facing all the same forces). Carthage, Texas (northeast Texas) was slightly portrayed in Richard Linklater’s 2011 film “BERNIE,” but most of the filming was 150 miles away in the BBQ Capitol Of The World: Lockhart, which is smart. If every town’s about the same, why not have the greatest selection of BBQ nearby?

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY: Well, “GIANT,” because there are so many lessons intrinsic in its development that make it iconic, and I think it showcases James Dean’s best performance. Jane Withers’ story about Dean leaving his pink shirt with her to wash for him when he returned from his trip endears me to the film. At last report, Withers’ still owns the shirt. Also, the documentary “The Children of Giant,” is an important coda to the impact of the original film.

I enjoyed seeing “Giant” on TCM during Billy Bob Thornton’s Guest Programmer appearance, and thought Thornton had some relevant comments, but he and Ben Mankiewicz neglected to add that one of the serious issues dealt with in the film was Leslie’s feminist attitude toward those “cave men” points of view. If they mentioned it, I missed it. Thornton also does a “spot-on” imitation of Robert Duvall.
 

I enjoy “CONAGHER,” although it was filmed in Arizona, but it’s a Louis L’Amour tale that rings true. People sometimes would ride off and never return. Nobody every knew what happened to them, and they would have to move on with their lives no matter what. I like “HONDO” for some of the same reasons: the characters, the scenery, and the romance. Some of the Westerns, while not set in Texas, reveal the attitudes that Texans espoused at one time. Texas is a “Maverick Nation” of many different cultures and peoples. See this link to the Institute of Texan Cultures.

For me, the best film about Texas has to beLONESOME DOVE,” because it’s also one of the best books about Texas. Men and women with vision and persistence. Plus I have some very personal connections associated with it. ‘Nuff said.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY:  Most of them are over the top with Texas culture. The one that comes to mind that is pretty accurate (especially for its time) is “STATE FAIR” (1962). 

In Texas, we LOVE our State Fair. It is FULL of fun and history with the livestock judging and auctions, and Mark’s Dad’s pickles have won countless food competitions at our State Fair.

♦♦♦♦

THERESAI think “GIANT” is a remarkable example of an iconic film that portrays Texans in a surprisingly accurate way. The different personalities in the film are very much a product of the historical culture in Texas. Most people I have known and met, have that tenacious drive to fight for what they believe in and what they want in life. As they say, “Everything is bigger in Texas!” Personalities included.

 

* * * * * * * * *

8.  HOW DO YOU THINK CLASSIC FILM HAS AFFECTED OTHERS’ PERCEPTION AND YOUR OWN PERCEPTION OF TEXAS.  AFTER ALL, YOU LIVE HERE.

WENDY: I think classics like “GIANT” and “WRITTEN ON THE WIND” have certainly fed the perception that most people in Texas are in the oil industry (really, folks, I don’t have an oil rig in my back yard!), that we all have the Texas twang and wear cowboy boots and ride horses. I know before I moved to Texas as a child I certainly expected the boots and horses thing (no, that didn’t happen), because that’s what I saw in movies and on television.

As for my own perception of Texas, I see films like “THE ALAMO and so many others that recount the battle there and it totally makes me understand the mindset of so many Texans. They are very proud of their history here and the sacrifices that occurred. They are fiercely independent and hate authorities who try to dictate to them. John Wayne is the biggest movie hero of all in this state, and I think much of that is due to “The Alamo,” and his role in the film, and of fighting and resisting authority and perceived injustice.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Classic Westerns often claim Texas as a theme but I don’t know if any of them were filmed in Texas due to its distance away from NYC or Hollywood, the very low population densities (i.e. few even untrained helpers) and remoteness. Southern California has scenery much closer, and film professionals readily available. The same could be said, to a lesser degree about skilled workers, in Arizona, and even Monument Valley and Moab, Utah (just across the borders from Grand Canyon has even more).

The Red River Valley is a pretty song, but that’s an eons-old flood valley that’s forested, pretty hilly and it must have been tough to drive cattle down a 40-mile slope to a wide or deep river, and then back up the other side for a 10-mile climb. Doing it on film would have been, well, impossibly expensive. Arizona was nice, relatively flat with enough mesas in the background to provide the American Southwest setting – that’s whereRED RIVER” was filmed.

RIO GRANDE is a great name for a film. Contrast that to its locations around Moab. If the film had been named MOAB, what’s the likely reaction? “What’s MOAB? Is this something about a whale-chasing captain’s very lost brother?  I’m not interested in a Western featuring some sailor who can’t find the sea!”

CHRISTY: Well, everybody seems to like our myths about ourselves. I stopped traffic in Newark Airport in the 1980’s when I went to visit my best friend from 6th grade. She wanted me to wear my cowgirl hat, my jeans, and my boots when I arrived at the airport. (In truth, the only time I would wear that ensemble would be on ‘Go Texan Day’ at the beginning of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, or when I went out in the country to visit friends on their ranches or went line-dancing.) At the airport, one of the security guards screamed:

“Look! It’s a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader!”

I enjoyed that ‘fer sure. Then, when my friend took me around to meet her family and friends, she wanted me to tell the same joke over and over – “If they drill one more oil well on mah Daddy’s property, I’m a gonna hafta move!” They all screamed whenever I said that. Don’t ask me why. We never had any oil wells, and we weren’t rich. But you always want to keep the mineral rights to any property you purchase. ‘Memba that, honey.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY:  The thing I love about Texas is that it embraces others’ perceptions of it wholeheartedly! Meaning – that Fort Worth really IS where The West began, and there is a Longhorn cattle drive through the Historic Stockyards twice a day:

On the other hand, I have to totally agree with Jim Parson (“Big Bang Theory”) and his assessment of Houston in a Visit Houston campaign. I lived in Houston from the time I was 12 until 22 (when I wasn’t in college in Denton), and he phrased it perfectly:

“I saw more art in Houston than I’ve seen in NY. And I saw more horses in NY than I saw in Houston.”

 

It is fun to play with perceptions and to mix them in and mix them up all at the same time!

♦♦♦♦

THERESAEveryone knows the history of Texas to be all about the Alamo and cowboys, but there is so much more to the culture of this state. I definitely think classic film had a lot to do with that. There are so many films that depict the wars and battles fought on this land. I think that has made many others see Texas as only a gun-toting, no-nonsense place, and it isn’t. We are such a welcoming state, full of good southern hospitality! 

* * * * * * * * *

9. WHAT, IF ANY, FILM FESTIVALS HAVE YOU ATTENDED?

WENDY:


THE PLAZA THEATER THEN AND NOW

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the El Paso Plaza Classic Film Festival and the Kansas Silent Film Festival. And the gold standard in classic film festivals: the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood as well as the TCM Cruise.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Cannes 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2002 with my wife. Austin has a dozen formal film festivals but 40 and 50 weekends a year are filled with “weekend festivals” put on by friendly citizens who supply films (or at least themes) and supportive advertisers to several theaters for all kinds of classic (and not-so classic) films. There were festivals in Berlin I attended in 1992 and 1993, which was my introduction to the crowd working Cannes because they were my business clients for PA and new sound systems for their theaters. It helps to know the insiders; even better when they trade access-passes for some additional service. AND it didn’t hurt that I was helping to supply a rock band for their evening parties. Ahem…

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY: I’ve been to all the TCM Film Festivals, the McKinney Classic Film Festival and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY:  I have been to all eight of the TCM Classic Film Festival and the last Kansas Silent Film Festival. We hope to go more festivals that are not work-related. I’ve been working (in some capacity) some sort of film festival every year since 1993. And in many cases, I’ve worked between three to seven film festivals in a year.

By the way, my husband Mark and I MET at a film festival. That’s right ~ it was at the 2005 Deep Ellum Film Festival. They were one of my clients and Mark volunteered (which he continues to do with all the film festivals I work.) The rest, shall I say, is history. 

♦♦♦♦

THERESAFrom 2013-2016 I went to the TCM Classic Film Festival. I’m hoping and thinking I can go to next year’s fest. I’ve also been to the Austin Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival also in Austin.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

10. WHICH FILM MADE IN TEXAS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO OTHER CLASSIC FILM LOVERS TO SEE?

WENDY:GIANT,” of course. And while it wasn’t actually MADE in Texas,RED RIVER” with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift is a wonderful movie with a great feel for Texas. And “HUD,” with Paul Newman has great Texas flair, too.

♦♦♦♦

 

OLLIE:  The only film I could recommend “about Texas” would be the slapstick melancholy ofTHE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN” (1972) that takes as many tall-tales and rolls them together. The film stars Paul Newman, a great supporting cast AND Ava Gardner. It was filmed in Arizona with a passing shot of the ‘old historic towne’ at Langtry, a very small, half-maintained tourist trap. As a 14-year old, that film impressed me for one reason: it has a couple of beauties (Victoria Principal, for one; and hardly no other actress was hotter in the 1970’s than Jacqueline Bisset). But when Ava walked onto the screen, I knew the difference between the temporary hotness and A Real Classic Woman.  Accept no substitutes! 

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY:  Again, “LONESOME DOVE,” and films by Austin’s Richard Linklater. “BERNIE” entertains with a fascinating story, andBOYHOOD” is transformative. (Wes Andersen is from Houston and his films are also a must likeRUSHMORE.)

Other films include: “BONNIE and CLYDE.” (My grandfather paid a nickel to see their bullet-riddled car on display in Longview shortly after their capture.) PLACES IN THE HEART,” filmed in Waxahachie, has some of my grandmother’s story wiggling around in the narrative. “TRUE GRIT” (1969) because it’s so iconic, but it wasn’t filmed in Texas. I also enjoyed “TRUE GRIT” (2010), and much of it was filmed here in Texas, so the scenery was familiar, and it was more faithful to the book in some ways. “THE SEARCHERS” ~ set in Texas but not filmed here ~ is also a favorite, inspired by the real-life travails of one of the saddest tales in all of Texas history, Cynthia Ann Parker. (I once worked with Parker’s nephew on a biography of her woes.) Ethan’s role in the film hearkens to how we Texans sometimes choose to be the outsider or relish our role as brooding, unconventional mavericks. We do love our eccentrics, bless their l’il hearts.

Others include: “THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, John Wayne’s THE ALAMO” (because like it or not, he got some of the facts right, and it’s ‘purdy’ on the screen), the genius of Bogdanovich and McMurtry in “THE LAST PICTURE SHOW,” “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” and I would be remiss if I didn’t include Horton Foote’sTHE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL” with the fabulous Geraldine Page to my Texas recommendations. Can’t believe I ‘fergitted’ it. (Little kids say that all the time around these here parts.)

 

♦♦♦♦

KELLY:  I work on an annual fundraiser with the Dallas Producers Association called “It Came From Dallas,” and people would not believe how many films have been made in Dallas as far back as 1916. Many of those early shorts are lost to the winds of time, but there are important films that were made in Dallas that I think are very important films for Classic Film Lovers to seek out: Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection.

Spencer Williams, best known for his role as actor in “Amos & Andy” on early TV in the 1950s, was a filmmaker in Dallas. He made Race Films that played at black theaters and churches showcasing life of African Americans in the 1940s. The amazing thing about these films was that he hired an all Black cast and an all Black crew except for one: the cinematographer.

He had to have a white cinematographer in order to get film stock. And even then, they were only ever able to acquire the ends of unused reels that others would have thrown away. This made each filmed scene very precious, in that they lacked the ability to reshoot scenes multiple times. So the majority of Williams’ films are one-take films. Watching them with this in mind helps viewers of today have a bit of grace in the performances that can be a bit rough but have an authentic feel to them.

Experimental Art filmmaker, Thom Andersenmade a short film called “JUKE” which uses passages from Williams’ films that show “…the dignity of black life and the creation of dynamic culture in the segregated society in small-town north Texas.”

My runner up film that all Classic Film Lovers should see when they are in a campy mood is “MARS NEEDS WOMEN” (1967). “Mars Needs Women” was shot in Dallas at the same time as another film on the other side of the film ratings spectrum was being shot: “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Star Yvonne Craig (yes, TV’s Batgirl!) was asked out on a date by Warren Beatty. (That date never happened, however, because Yvonne was mugged on her way to meet Warren. Can you imagine?)

Mars Needs Women” is so much fun with a grown-up Tommy Kirk (of Disney fame in “OLD YELLER” and other Disney live-action films) playing a Martian on a mission to “transpond” Earthling women to help populate Mars! Seek this one out!! It is Mystery Science Theater 3000 fun.


Speaking of MST3K, there were several other Dallas made films on their roster:
THE KILLER SHREWS,” “ATTACK OF THE EYE CREATURES,” and “THE GIANT GILA MONSTER.” Amazing fun films made in Dallas!

♦♦♦♦

THERESATHE SEARCHERS”!

 

John Wayne portrays the quintessential determined Texan with a “never-quitting” stance on life. It portrays the tension and difficulties of Native~Americans vs the new settlers so incredibly well! It’s just so beautiful, everyone should see this film!

* * * * * * * * *

11. ANY PARTING COMMENTS FOR THE REST OF US NON~TEXANS?

WENDY: Yes, y’all come visit Texas some time!  There is so much to do and see here, from the arts and culture scene in Ft. Worth and Dallas and Houston to the classic-film loving city of Austin and the beaches on the Gulf. And El Paso, Texas has a wonderful classic film festival for two weeks every August. It may be 100 degrees outside during the festival, but the air~conditioning works just fine in the beautiful old movie palace called The Plaza.

♦♦♦♦

OLLIE: Like most places, Texas is full of city rivals. Houston hates Dallas, Dallas hates Houston, every city hates Austin – usually because it’s the center of politicians AND usually the center for civil disobediance – i.e., the center of attention-getting. But any two towns, 30 or 60 miles apart, are rivals.

Texas easily has five distinct geographical zones, and spending time in one or two clearly gives a mistaken impression of all others.

I could spend two weeks crossing Texas – even knowing it very well – and still not see half of the basic must-see spots. My first direction would always be “avoid the big cities. Fly in, and drive away on small roads.” Fly into El Paso, head east and south into the Big Bend area. Fly into San Antonio and head south to the Rio Grande Valley. Fly into Houston and drive east and north into the piney swamps.

And stop any State Trooper or County Sheriff and ask for recommendations and directions. They can be the BEST tourist guides. 

♦♦♦♦

CHRISTY:  Have fun with the myths, embrace your friends, and share what you have with those less fortunate. Texas is the friendly state.

We all still miss Ann Richards and Molly Ivins.

♦♦♦♦

KELLY:  Don’t judge us Texans too harshly. We know when people are trying to make us look bad (our legislators, Hollywood and “reality TV”), but most of us take it all in stride and try to have fun with the stereotypes. We love it when people are pleasantly surprised to find out Texas has events like the biggest Art Car Parade in the world.

Hands down we are welcoming and friendly. Did you know that the meaning of Texas (or Tejas) is “Friends”? Come and visit us; we will offer you a room and show you all the things that *we* love about Texas! We have a spare room just waiting for friends to fill. 

♦♦♦♦

THERESA: There will always be a little bit of western cliché coming out from the shadows of the Hill country. I love being a Texan and rather enjoy that everyone thinks we dress and act like cowboys, because of people like The Duke and Gary Cooper. It makes for great classic film conversation. Always!

 

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

CineMaven ~ May I please add a note here:

My friend Sheila Schlesinger is a San Antone girl brought to the wilds of Brooklyn, New York at the age of five. I hadn’t included her because she’s been in New York most of her life. I was gently chided by her via text this morning:

GULP! Let that be a lesson to me ( and YOU! ) Another time, I’ll let Sheila tell you the story of actor Leo Carillo being her babysitter back in Texas.

I can’t tell you what a fun exercise this was for me. It certainly has been my pleasure getting to know these Texans either by hanging out with them at the festival, or reading their work, and getting this glimpse into knowing what makes them them. I learned much more about what it means to BE Texan. Seems to be a Texan is to be a myriad of different things. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed the read as much as I have of putting this all together.

Now y’all come back to the couch real soon. Thanks again!

 

[   H O M E   ]

____________________________________________________________

THE NITRATE PICTURE SHOW

Last month, my friend Wendy and I went to the NITRATE PICTURE SHOW in Rochester New York ( May 5 ~ 7 ). She traveled from  Connecticut and I Amtrak’d from NYC’s Penn Station. I might as well make a full confession; I might as well face it…I don’t “get” Nitrate. Nope, I don’t get Nitrate at all. Now if you do, that’s fantastic.  You are like the Man With the X-Ray Eyes who sees all and are getting all the fifty shades of richness of the print. As the curators said, nitrate films are the actual prints screened when a film was originally released for audiences. If I specifically do nitrate in the future, I know the sole draw for me will be my attending based on the films alone.

This trip was a series of firsts for me. First time in Rochester, first time traveling with my friend, and first time at the Nitrate film festival ( this, its third year ). And it was all good…and a little nerve~wracking. I’ll explain our adventure in the dark in the cottage section below. Click on the photos below to get to the nitty gritty of things. And thanks for reading:

  THE FESTIVAL                  THE FILMS                                THE B & B

   
COTTAGE                             TRAVEL SHOTS

 

30 DAY MOVIE CHALLENGE

If you’re looking for me on Twitter, you’d see this. My handle there is @CineMava. What the heck is this Baby Boomer doing on Twitter? Trying to keep up with today’s Social Media.
( Now I just need Instagram and Tumblr under my belt to be almost totally savvy. Dare I explore SnapChat??? )

So while I was on Twitter, I saw that everyone was playing this movie challenge. This 30 Day Movie Challenge. More appropriately: #30DAYMOVIECHALLENGE if you’re on Twitter. Well I like a good challenge, so I took it. I didn’t participate daily. ( Who wants to hear from a Baby Boomer daily? ) So I figured I’d do it all in one fell swoop.

And here’s the swoop. I’m not sure WHY the 30 Day Movie Challenge was held in May, a month with 31 days. Guess the 31st day is a day of rest. Take the challenge my fellow classic film lovers. The month doesn’t matter.

 

[   H O M E   ]

______________________________________________________________

“GILDA” ( 1946 )

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

GILDA

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:

NOTORIOUS - INOTORIOUS - VIINOTORIOUS - VI'%22NOTORIOUS%22 - IIINOTORIOUS - IV

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.”

GILDA - V

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:

GLENN FORD ( I )RITA ( I )

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

 GILDA - XVGILDA - XIVGILDA - XVIII

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.

GILDA - X

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.

BASIL RATHBONE GILDA ( XX ) CLAUDE RAINS ( NOTORIOUS )
   

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.

GILDA ( XXI )

“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:

GILDA - XII

 

“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:

GILDA - XIX

“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 ( XXII )  GILDA ( XXIII )

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:

GILDA ( XXV )

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.”

* * * * *

 WHAT IS THIS THING…CALLED LOVE?

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 ( XXVI )GILDA ( XVI )GILDA ( XIX )

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  ]

_____________________________________________________