WHO WEARS THE PANTS…


I’m going to steal, plagarize, imitate ( yeh, that’s the ticket… ) ~ …no, better yet: PAY HOMAGE to a feature from one of my favorite bloggers’ set-pieces: FRIDAY FOTO FOLLIES. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope my friend approves.

What Aurora over at ONCE UPON A SCREEN does, is post a lot of photos that illustrate a theme. She does all manner of these. Click on Audrey and see what I mean.

We have seen some of the most beautiful women in classic Hollywood wearing designs fit for a Queen…gowned by Edith Head, Irene, Givenchy, Orry-Kelly, Yves St. Laurent et al. But I’m a jeans and boots girl. Casual is my speed. I think slacks are the most comfortable, freeing thing to wear. Taking a page from Once Upon A Screen, my post is self~explanatory: WHO WEARS THE PANTS. Here are some of my favorite actresses in outfits either from a movie, photo~shoot or just lounging around. Some of you might think this look is very unfeminine. But you’d be wrong.

I’ll start with the Patron Mistresses of Pants…Dietrich and Hepburn. And Garbo. Can’t forget Garbo. Comfort Queens.

  
Dietrich                                                     Hepburn


Hepburn wears this beautiful smoking jacket lounging outfit in “Woman of the Year
( 1942 ) and it’s one of my absolute favorites.

  

Androgyny, much?

   
Top hat, white tail and tails. No one wears this better. Alright…if you must count Fred Astaire.

The Great Garbo

Ninotchka” “Anna Karenina” “Queen Christina” and for me, her greatest performance… “Camille” ~ Garbo reigned supreme in classic films of the silent and talkie era. Her mystique is unique. She wore a lot of exotic styles in her films and could carry them off. Not glamorous here, but I love her casual look:


Comfort over style

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Here are some other actresses wearing the pants off…pants.


When I was a kid and watched her in tv’s “Bewitched” I probably had little idea of the fabulous career she had as a leading character actress. My favorite performances of AGNES MOOREHEAD are “Dark Passage” “Caged” and “Magnificent Obsession.” She can cut you to the bone ( “Citizen Kane” ) ~ She wasn’t afraid to be what her character needed her to be. But she also could be a friend. Doesn’t Aggie look marvelously relaxed and youthful here?

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She didn’t care for the name, but ANN SHERIDAN was the Oomph Girl and with good reason; she had it in spades. She was Warner Bros’ glamor girl, but if they gave her half a chance, she showed ’em she could act. Whether comedy or drama, Sheridan could handle both with equal aplomb. She’s pictured here with her director Vincent Sherman, who did two pictures with her: “The Unfaithful” and “Nora Prentiss.” Look at those shades and the hair…do a pair of slacks look like it deters Vinnie? He’s at her feet. 

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Here’s my petite Force of Nature…the Queen, BETTE DAVIS. She built many a soundstage at Warner Bros. from the box office success of her films. Seeing her in pants was such an unusual thing because it’s all about dresses for women back then. I like her riding outfit in “Dark Victory.” For me, that look is prognosis positive. Oooh look, Cora Witherspoon who could play to the manor born or W.C. Fields’ wife. I also like Davis’ outfit in “The Great Lie” when she was keeping Mary Astor company while waiting for “their” baby to be born.

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CAROLE LOMBARD ~ 1930’s icon. She was much more than a screwball comedienne. See her in “Vigil in the Night” “In Name Only” or “Made for Each Other.” But gosh darn it, it’s “My Man Godfrey” and “Twentieth Century” that cements her in our memory almost ninety years later. Looks like she’s talking to the great Lubitsch and comfortable doing it. Could it be… or not to be?

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CLAUDETTE COLBERT could wear the hell out of clothes with that petite little figure of hers. ( Her wedding gown in “It Happened One Night” is to die for! ) She had a great career in film ( “The Palm Beach Story” “Midnight” and “Since You Went Away“…to name a few ) but look at her here at home, chilling out…just as you’d expect from Cleopatra.

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One of my all~time favorite movie stars is DORIS DAY. I am just over the silvery moon about her. Pretty nautical here in her decidedly 1940’s stylized look. What a career she’s had ( comedy/drama/sing/dance ) working with some of the great leading men in Hollywood like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, David Niven, Jack LemmonKirk Douglas…and three guys name Jim: Garner ~ Cagney ~ Stewart. She could also wear her clothes, without them wearing her, whether she’s Calamity Jane or a suburban housewife.  She could do anything. Really. 

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There she is, A girl’s best friend. The great EVE ARDEN who comes in a movie with five minutes of screen time and out she memorably exits, screen left. Here she is in her “Stagedoor” chill. The woman can wear anything. She’s as statuesque as a super model and as sharp as a laser beam. See “Mildred Pierce” if you need proof.

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GINGER ROGERS ~ She could do comedy, drama and dance her *** off. She can put on the glam with the best of ’em ( have you seen her outfits w/dance partner Fred Astaire? ) Doesn’t she look great in these wide legged pants? I always found her to be a natural onscreen.

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HARLOW in satin…is a dream. In slacks…sort of like you and me. I mean, if you and me were glamorous movie star bombshells being relaxed. My favorite films of hers are “Bombshell” and “Libeled Lady” and of course, “Dinner At Eight.” Harlow…you were gone too soon.

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This is my favorite look of IRENE DUNNE’s. She’s on set of “A Guy Named Joe.” She had a nice slacks outfit in “The Awful Truth” too. Never over the top, her talent is always under the radar.

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JENNIFER JONES looks rather pensive. A far cry from her “Portrait of Jennie” “Duel in the Sun” “Madame Bovary” looks. People blow hot or cold over Jones, but I think she’s a fine underrated actress able to exhibit wells of emotion. Her trying to retrieve her love letters from a burning fire brings me to tears. xoxoxo these pants and boots!

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JOANS ~

   

Blonde in the 30’s, brunette in the 40’s. The great underestimated JOAN BENNETT. She can fit any place: on safari or a scarlet street or be the mother of a bride. Yes her sister Constance is known as THE fashion plate. But little sister Joan’s not bad. She’s stylish as diamonds with attitude for days. Whew!!

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She looks like she stepped out of 2018 with those shades and jumpsuit. What can I say about her. No one wore clothes like her. They say no one loved being a movie star more than JOAN CRAWFORD. Well if you’re going to be good at something…

Her career spans decades. I’m partial to her Oscar-winning role in “Mildred Pierce.” But she was good in “Rain“, “Daisy Kenyon” and with Gable. Hell, she’s a STAR!

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“THE LOOK”

You know how to whistle don’t you? LAUREN BACALL is worth whistling for. She was known as “The Look” in her modeling days, and boy she had it. She was never the frilly feminine type. Very tailored. Pants suit her, don’cha think? I like her in “Dark Passage” and “Written on the Wind.” I dunno…I kind of think she was never really given a chance to bloom as an actress. Perhaps not getting good scripts. Perhaps overshadowed by her more famous husband. Perhaps there was more to Life for her. In movies, she always seems down~to~earth, no nonsense; a little intimidating. If you approach her, you’d better bring it. 

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You can’t get more doe-like, more feminine than Loretta Young. Even in this staged photo shoot, she’s a vision. ( Pssst! See her strong performances in “The Stranger” and “Midnight Mary.” )

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For this flaming redhead, comedy or drama, gowns or slacks…LUCILLE BALL could do and wear it all with ease. Yeh, I love Lucy.

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This is MERLE OBERON playing George Sand in “A Song to Remember.” And I have to tell you, I’m floored by this costume. Isn’t it smart? Merle, a unique looking beauty, hasn’t made movies were so memorable other than the towering “Wuthering Heights.” ( I personally like her and Dana Andrews in “Night Song” ). My claim to fame is when I went to see the throngs of stars attend the premiere of “The Godfather” ( 1972 ) back in NYC, I saw Merle Oberon with Robert Wolders. Very few people were excited by seeing her. Boy, I was.

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One of my favorites…PAULETTE GODDARD walks with her beau, Charlie…swinging her shades. Looking sassy, stylish, comfortable and nonchalant. I understand her collection of jewels and paintings is unparalleled in Hollywood. Another actress with not a stellar filmography, her role in “The Women” is a standout. My friend Wendy writes a wonderful essay for my blog on Goddard I urge you to read.

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The Love Goddess is looking mighty casual here in a pair of slacks. Hell, I confess…I don’t care WHAT  RITA HAYWORTH  wears.

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MY STANY!!!!

These are my two favorite fotos of Stany. One she looks younger than one remembers her, and the other she’s so disheveled in “My Reputation” ( 1946 ), her hair and plaid jacket just kill me. 

    

But the theme is pants…

Her career is legendary. But get a load of that blouse, the belt, those leopard print shoes, her attitude. That’s BARBARA STANWYCK alright. See her hand in her pocket? Damn, she’s ready to kick ass, and she ain’t takin’ names either. Elegant.

     

Thank you all for perusing my Friday Foto Follies. I might try this again in the future with another theme I’ve gathered along my way. Once again, I tip my hat to Aurora over at Once Upon A Screen who can REALLY show that a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out her photo galleries by clicking on this photo of 40’s horror Queen, Evelyn Ankers:

…and this?  Oh…it’s just my indulgence. I’m an Evelyn Ankers fan:

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JOAN BENNETT: UNDER THE RADAR

JOAN BENNETT ( I )February 27, 1910 – December 7, 1990

“The ‘Golden Age’ is gone, and with it most of the people of great taste. It doesn’t seem to be any fun any more.”  ~  [ Joan Bennett, 1984 ]

 

All eyes are on Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride” ( 1950 ). Naturally. They always are. But a friend told me I should play closer attention Joan Bennett next time ‘round. Yeah, Bennett could conceivably be Taylor’s mother; both share the same birth date, and Bennett and Tracy appear together in 1932’s Me and My Gal.” Alright, so next time “Father of the Bride” comes around, I’ll pay attention to Joan Bennett. I did.

Elizabeth who?

I mean Elizabeth is cute…pretty and everything. But, she’s no Joan Bennett.

Yes, Spencer Tracy may be the star, and Taylor is definitely lovely to look at. But Joan Bennett is beautiful, and has the hardest job…she quietly supports. She’s the glue that holds things together. She swats the great Tracy down with a gentle word or a knowing glance. She stands toe-to-toe with him with little outward effort at all. Joan Bennett has to be one of the most underrated actresses from the classic era.

JOAN BENNETT ( %22GAL%22) JOAN BENNETT ( %22...BRIDE%22 )

You know how it is when you can’t UNsee a thing? Well that’s me with Bennett now in “Father of the Bride” and with any of her movies now, frankly. ( Thank you Karin. ) When I was in junior high school, all I had to do was come home straight from school, turn on WABC and see her in Dark Shadows.” But that show was not my thing. ( Youth…wasted on the young. Thank God for DVDs. ) Yes, now I have eyes wide open to Joan Bennett. If you want someone who doesn’t telegraph her emotions, who can silently relay those in-between emotions of contempt, resignation, mocking, worry etc…Joan’s your girl. She could drop-kick a line over the goal post or a give you a withering glance with the finesse of Toshiro Mifune with a Samurai sword.

Ive invited a few friends to weigh in on how they feel about Joan Bennett, just so you won’t think I’m alone and crazy in this:

     ( KAHUNA ) BENNETT ( IV )   ( KARIN 0 JOAN BENNETT

“Joan was adorable throughout the thirties, but in the forties she became as good as an actor can be. The dark hair gave her more gravitas, her maturity gave her more insight, and working with Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Zoltan Korda, and Max Ophüls didn’t hurt a bit. So much of her forties work was outstanding, but the two characterizations that leave me awestruck are in ‘The Reckless Moment’ and ‘The Macomber Affair.’ But then there are ‘Scarlet Street’ and ‘Woman on the Beach.’   And…..” – Robert Regan

  JOAN BENNETT ( as a child )The Bennett sisters ( left to right ), Constance ( 1904 ),    Daughters: Constance, Joan 
Joan (  1910 ) and Barbara ( 1906 )                                 and Barbara with their parents


Joan is used to being in front of an audience, her father was famed Broadway star Richard Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison. She had two beauties for big sisters: Barbara and Constance Bennett. Joan’s been before some camera or another since she was a child. If I’m being honest, looking over her filmography early in her beginnings, a lot of her movies are pretty “Meh” and she played nondescript ingenue roles. I don’t mean this as a put-down, believe me; but it is what it is. She just didn’t have films that brilliantly distinguished her like a Bette Davis or a Stanwyck; not consistently, anyway. She was a working mother, having daughters in 1928, 1934, 1943 and 1948 which might have shaped her drive. And I get the impression she didn’t live, eat and breathe the movies, but Lived Life. I’d like to read her autobiography The Bennett Playbill and fill in my gaps on her life. ( Joan was a star in her own right, but  let me toss a little Constance on the barbie for you from my friend Wendy: )

JOAN & CONSTANCE BENNETT

“I’ll literally watch her in anything. To me she represents the 1930’s, a real STAR, she’s so glamorous. Others also represent the 30’s, but to me, Connie represents the GLAMOUR … the unreality, the studio concoctions, the beautiful unreal crazy HOLLYWOOD side of the movies that got into full swing in the 30’s. You know, she’s like the Cary Grant of women. So completely out of reach, elegance-wise. Whenever the girl in the movie theater in “Singing in the Rain” says: “She’s so refined. I think I’ll kill myself,”  I think of Constance Bennett.

Joan is more real, more tangible, more the actress. Constance is a star… first and foremost. Shes got something that makes you want to watch her…theres something rather free about her that I really love; that, not-caring-a- damn-what-people-think, attitude. – Wendy T. Merckel

stephani-joan-shelley-bennett_opt

If her work is kind of spotty, things take a turn for the better for Ms. Bennett when she becomes a brunette. This happens in 1938’s Trade Winds with Fredric March.JOAN BENNETT ( TRADE WINDS ) It gives her career a different trajectory. Hey, it’s not that she changed her subtle acting style. She’s still easy breezy. It’s probably moreso a dulled public finally woke up to her charms. She worked with some of the greats: SpencerTracy, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Walter Pidgeon, Eddie G., Gregory Peck, Paul HenreidRobert Ryan, JOAN BENNETT ( ON BEACH )Michael Redgrave. Her work with Fritz Lang and Max Ophüls gave her career some edge. It’s Bennett playing the femme fatale that contributes to her being remembered. Scarlet Street” “The Woman on the Beach The Macomber AffairandMan Hunt are among my favorite films of Bennett. But I know there are so many more to discover.

JOAN BENNETT #2 JOAN BENNETT ( WOMAN BEACH )

“She’s an American girl, but not any American girl. She is sophisticated in every sense of the word. I’d say Joanie is the most sophisticated, continental or European actress of the American cinema. She was the toast of the European directors: Renoir, Korda,JOAN BENNETT & FRITZ LANG III Ophüls, Lang; these European emigres loved working with Bennett, perhaps because she conveys a world-weary je ne sais quoi. And she is the intellectual’s dream come true. She exudes sex; intelligent, clever, sexual allure. It’s not in your face like Marilyn or Ava. Her mind comes first and then her looks.” – Fernando Silva

JOAN BENNETT ( %22SCARLET%22 ) copyWOMAN ON THE BEACHTHE MACOMBER AFFAIR ( JOAN BENNETT )

THE RECKLESS MOMENT ( JOAN BENNETT ) THE MACOMBER AFFAIR 

STANWYCK & BENNETT - III thought she was wonderful in “The Reckless Moment” as a woman rea-lizing just how trapped in suburbia she is when she has to step OUT of it to save her daughter from a black-mailer. And in this journey, an unexpected attraction develops… Stripped of being a glamor puss in this 1949 film, if that distracts you, ( uh, meaning me ) you can see what Bennett’s made of, acting-wise. ( Here is my review but please do see this film. ) I write of The Macomber Affair as well and very highly recommend it.

JOAN BENNETT ( BLONDE - I ) JOAN BENNETT ( XXX ) JOAN BENNETT ( BLONDE III )

JOAN BENNETT ( WRITING )JOAN BENNETT ( BLONDE )JOAN BENNETT ( SLACKS )

She’s smart – no fool, Joan. She’s got a wicked sense of humor, most on display in ‘Scarlet Street.’ She’s beautiful but never acts it. She’s down to earth, as all my favorites are. She knows the tone of a piece and plays to it. She can be relaxed or arch, depending on the piece or her co-stars. I like her voice, which is an odd mix of highbrow and New York swagger. She looks as good as a brunette as she does as a blonde. Oh my gosh, what’s NOT to like about Joanie? I can’t think of a thing I DON’T like about her.”  – Wendy T. Merckel 

MISS JOAN BENNETTOne might think of other actresses first before you’d get to her name. And you’d be ( sort of ) forgiven because the bench ran deep with talent in the Golden Age of Hollywood. But when you do get to her name, pause, check her out, visit with her. She can toss a line with the best of ’em, and her glance speaks volumes. She’s wonderful to watch…and look at, quietly holding her own. I didn’t always know that, but thanks to a couple of friends, I know it now. And isnt that what counts? Its been twenty-five years since Joan Bennett passed away. I didn’t want to forget her today. And I wanted to remind you.

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The Scar ~ “Trade Winds ~ “Scarlet Street ~ “The Woman in the Window” ~ “Confirm or Deny ~ “Father’s Little Dividend ~  “The Reckless Moment

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THE MACOMBER AFFAIR ( 1947 )

“And you’re a coward.”

JOAN BENNETT ( I )
Robert Preston, Joan Bennett and Gregory Peck

It’s a jungle out there.

1947 BLOGATHON

  • I believe there are a couple of banner years for classic films. 1939, of course, is the Gold Standard. I’m finding 1932 a pretty special year as well ( pre-code, baby. IN FACT…I co~hosted a blogathon with “Once Upon A Screen” talking about that very year, which you can find HERE ). But you’ve got to take a gander at 1947. Now this is my own list of personal favorites for this year. But I’m here to share the love of 1947 with others by participating in The 1947 Blogathon. It’s being hosted by Karen of Shadows and Satin and Kristina of Speakeasy.

Our Hollywood-American movies have a strong moral code: THEBADMUSTPAY. And bad women must pay…dearly. Whether the law metes out justice for our deeds or what’s in our hearts ( The Postman Always Rings Twice” “A Place In the Sun ), the Moral Code in movies is inescapable and apparently, essential. It runs through our American cinema, literature and souls like an artery to the heart.

I was stunned by THE MACOMBER AFFAIR.” I first saw it at the 2012 TCM Film Festival and it stayed with me throughout the rest of the festival. Now, I might not have the right words to describe how I feel about this movie ( my heart is so much more eloquent than my brain ), but here are the words I managed to pull from my heart’s brain:

I…love…this…movie.

Hemingway gives us the story, and director Zoltan Korda takes us inside the disintegration of a marriage by using the safari as metaphor. Hey, this marriage is over long before any lions come on the scene. GREGORY PECK plays the great white hunter, Robert Wilson. The movie’s story unfolds in a flashback which plays out as Peck ponders what to put in a police report. I like the inexorability flashbacks give to events. No going off the beaten track. No forks in the road. What happens happens. You’re riding this trolley to the end.

MY MACOMBER IS SPOILED – IT WAS SITTING IN THE HOT AFRICAN SUN WITHOUT A HAT! SPOILERS AHEAD

Marriage is a partnership of love, support, desire and respect. ( You can prioritize the order of these qualities as you see fit. ) The Macombers look good on paper. They are an attractive, successful and wealthy couple. ( Hey, safaris ain’t cheap. ) They have that good-natured ‘Nick & Nora’ repartee thing going on in the beginning. They are played by JOAN BENNETT ( Margaret ) and ROBERT PRESTON ( Francis Macomber ).

When Peck compliments Preston on his attractive wife:

MACOMBER AFFAIR ( X )

MR. MACOMBER: “Wilson, you don’t know what it does to a man’s ego to constantly be reminded he’s married to a beautiful woman.”

MRS. MACOMBER: “Usually what it does to yours darling, air does to a balloon.”

GREGORY PECK ( MACOMBER AFFAIR - I )Things start off well amongst the three of them. Francis Macomber ( Preston ) is confident and deferentially concedes to Wilson ( Peck ), willing to learn from his safari guide. I liked the details of safari-ing; the talks of the types of guns and all the verbal attention to details. My guess is the attention to details is due to Hemingway’s passion for hunting. I liked the aplomb and believability Peck delivers as though this La Jolla, California native was to the safari born. Macomber is so boyishly cute as the African air and the thrill of the kill rekindles his attraction to his wife:

“I believe I’m in love with you again.”

Maybe there was a touch of hero worship from Macomber to Wilson. I’d say there is definitely an attraction between Wilson and Margaret Macomber. I think the flirtation is somewhat harmless; maybe part of the whole travel package of the safari – the charm Wilson thinks wives expect out there in the jungle while their husbands prove their manhood against lions and tigers and impalas, oh my! I like how Wilson calls Margaret “a beautiful sensation.” 

But when things go down hill, they go down like a water buffalo.

THE RECKLESS MOMENT ( 1949 )

RECKLESS ( I )

A daughter’s reckless moment wreaks emotional havoc on her mother in  Max Ophüls THE RECKLESS MOMENT. Even blackmail has a silver lining.

RECKLESS ( BENNETT )   RECKLESS ( MASON )

Joan Bennett plays the incredibly taut mother who must deal with blackmail…and a dead body.

RECKLESS ( X ) RECKLESS ( XII )

It’s interesting to see the daughter ( played by Geraldine Brooks ) fall apart at the seams as Bennett tries to keep it all together. Funny to see Brooks talk to Bennett about how old- fashioned she is in not understanding her thing for this older man, ( she wouldn’t? ) while I think about Bennett in the movies back in her heyday. Please indulge me for a moment:

JOAN BENNETT #3  JOAN BENNETT ( I )  JOAN BENNETT #2  JOAN BENNETT #4

Though she keeps her house running like a well-oiled machine as Ophüls shows us with his tracking shots of her, you can also see how restricted her life is every time she leaves her family’s sight. She’s questioned, pulled and prodded at every turn by her family. She’s constantly bzzzzing around like a bee. Poor lady, couldn’t get access to anything on her own b’cuz being married back then meant your husband had financial control over everything. Oppressive? Not really, but she is in a gilded cage. A boxy cage. The house was such a maze and series of boxes; a manifestation of the box Bennett’s character finds herself in.

RECKLESS ( XI )

RECKLESS ( VII )She may not be able to get a loan under her own name and has to pawn jewelry for cash, but for a woman who is being blackmailed, Ben-nett  comes off a bit ballsy, striding into a low rent joint making her own demands, and dealing with Mason. If she can’t do something, she says it, and not meekly either. She deals with all of this on her terms. I have to say I was more astounded by her lack of control over her own finances and the judgement from bankers than I was in her having to deal with blackmailers. ( Girls be smart… have your own money. )

RECKLESS ( XXI )You know, running into James Mason might have been the best thing that’s happened to Bennett. His task is to get her to pay blackmail money in return for incriminating letters her daughter wrote her dead ex-lover. Mason looks great, and does a touching job of walking that fine line between good and bad. Bennett’s husband is away on a long business trip, and the weight of the family is on her lonely shoulders. Mason becomes smitten with her, his reach exceeding his grasp; he knows he’s not in her league. She talks to him rather gruffly. Bennett and Mason do a great job of moving towards each other while not crossing any boundaries.

RECKLESS ( VIII )

Methinks they’re both trapped in their place. Mason’s soft and tender with her. You might think I’m reaching here…but there’s something Brief Encounter-ish about their relation-ship; the hopelessness of their ever even being together ( in this case more for him than her. ) I like the moment when he goes with her on an errand in a pharmacy that mirrors domesticity as he carries her parcels out the drugstore. He admires her maternal concern. Bennett tells him “Everybody has a Mother.” He says nothing…which says everything.

RECKLESS ( XIX )

Sybil, the maid, is so refreshing. She’s played by Frances E. Williams who appeared in 1947’s Her Sister’s Secret ( Edgar G. Ulmer ) also as a maid, but as a treasured member of that family as well. ( Read Moira Finnie’s review of that movie here and my thoughts here. ) In “Reckless…” Ophüls allows her the humanity to be a real person. She seems to be the only member of the house who really sees Bennett…concerned for her needs… watching over her,  ever hovering in the periphery. And Bennett treats her respectfully as a member of the family. Remember she scolds Brooks NOT to talk Sybil in that rude manner.

  RECKLESS ( IV )  RECKLESS ( XV )

I must say my jaw dropped when Sybil takes the wheel of the car at a pivotal point in the movie. Whoa! …And Bennett’s not being “chauffeured” but sits in the front seat, side-by-side…as equals. And with her coat on, we can’t see Sybil’s maid uniform, so in my mind it made Sybil seem even more like a friend. A nice, and a bit shocking touch for an American film of the time. But then again, Ophüls ( and Ulmer ) are not American, which might explain their sensitivity and not following the racial rules and regulations of the time.

RECKLESS ( II )  RECKLESS ( XVII )

Ophüls carries us along on this journey against time ( blackmail money, police investigation ) and watching two people tentatively reach towards each other; developing feelings. There are two touching moments for me in this film. After a car accident, Mason tells her to leave him. He wants her out of trouble and danger, sacrificing himself for her. The other moment comes when Joan is sobbing in bed. You feel her deep loss. See this to know exactly what I mean.

RECKLESS ( IX )

Without spoiling anything, this is the last shot of the movie. Her grief ( guilt ) spills into the happiness of hearing from her husband again. The movie ends abruptly. What I mean by that is Ophüls pulls the band-aid off the wound quickly; he doesn’t allow her or us to wallow in her sadness too long because she still has a family to take care of.  I’ve been developing a new appreciation for Joan Bennett myself and how she colors her performances into fine shades of gray. I love her bad in Scarlet Street but that’s easy. I love femmes fatale  in the movies. She played wives  trapped in The Macomber Affair and The Woman on the Beach. But there’s her light touch in Trade Winds and Me and My Gal. And Bennett in the 1930’s, sort of virginal, nondescript. A friend told me to focus on Bennett in her next movie after “The Reckless Moment”: Father of the Bride.” Whoa! It kind of makes the movie feel different when not focusing on Elizabeth Taylor. Loved Bennett’s gentle chiding of Tracy throughout. It’s 1950 and she’s still got it. “The Reckless Moment” has been re-made ( The Deep End ) but I don’t think there’s any need to check it out when we have this classic, is there?

CineMoral: If you can’t get your daughter to clean up her room, at least you can clean up her murder. Just make sure she leaves nothing in writing. ( And that includes texts or FaceBook in today’s fast-paced 21st century world ). Kids!

( H OM E  )

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