Friday, June 29, 2007

Blonde Bette Davis: Marked Woman

The virtues of a blonde Bette Davis are many and go largely unacknowledged. Most know Bette Davis as a wide-eyed brunette; fiesty and domineering. The films she's best known for are all in her brunette period [Jezebel (1938), The Letter (1940), Now, Voyager (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), All About Eve (1950)]. These are wonderful in their own right and I do not disagree at all with those who say that these are her best pictures. However, just because Bette Davis made wonderful films in her brunette period doesn't mean that her blonde period should be forgotten.

You'll find me talking about blonde Bette Davis often here. This selection of films, pre-Jezebel and spanning roughly 7 years are some of my absolute favorites. My top favorite being Cabin in the Cotton (1932) where Bette Davis utters one of her most famous lines: "I'd kiss ye. But I jus' washed ma hair."

I was very lucky to come across another blonde Bette Davis jewel: Marked Woman (1937). It bridges between the blonde and brunette periods. Her hair is significantly darker but she is often referred to in the film as a "blonde". Plus her role has that youthful vivacity that is juxtaposed with her burden of worldly knowledge that is so reminiscent of blonde Bette Davis characters. I find that her brunette roles lack that youthfulness and sprite and are either jaded or feeling the weight of the chains from living a hard life. Marked Woman is a sad drama but Bette Davis is still quite vivacious. She plays one of many prostitutes that work for a gangster at his nightclub. Betrayal is either punishable by death or a cross-mark on one's face. It's quite good and watchable to see Davis as well as a very young Humphrey Bogart. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I Heart Bobby Darin: Pressure Point

I must share my love for Bobby Darin with you... with the world. When most people hear his name, they automatically think "Splish, Splash", "Dream Lover" and Sandra Dee. My mind's image of him is far more complex. To me he was an amazing actor, singer and comedian. Did you know that he was nominated for four Golden Globes (winning one) and an Academy Award and that he could do a really great impersonation of Robert Mitchum? No, of course you didn't. I truly believe that Bobby Darin is highly under-rated as an actor in his own right. The man was multi-talented, highly ambitious and hard-working. I always have the utmost respect for people like that.

I came to watch Pressure Point (1962) to see Bobby Darin in a dramatic role. I was ready to see a rough, mean and pyscopathic Darin. There are a couple of noteworthy scenes in this movie. The first one taking place in jail when Darin's American-Nazi character, while alone in his cell, sees a minature version of himself desperately trying to climb out of the sink's drain. The mini-Darin is not thwarted by the larger-Darin's attempt to flush him away. It's quite a powerful scene, representative of the character's descent into his madness.



The second scene is comprised of a sick and twisted game of tic-tac-toe. Darin's character is drunk and violent and with the help of other drunks, proceeds to cover the walls, ceiling, floor and furniture of a bar with tic-tac-toe grids. It ends with a final round done with lipstick on the barman's wife's face and back.
Darin truly steals the show. Poitier gets top billing and is the central character and narrator, but one cannot be but captivated by Darin. Wonderful stark visuals and harsh clangy music, and this film will by far deconstruct any preconceived notions you have of Bobby Darin.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Dick Cavett Show ~ Hitchcock Edition

If you haven't watched The Dick Cavett Show yet, shame on you! For the classic film fanatic, it is absolutely essential to watch. Where else will you see amazing one-hour interviews with film legends? The best part is that during the late '60s and '70s, most of these stars had already gone through the best moments of their career and you get to hear wonderful stories. An added bonus - Dick Cavett knew how to showcase these film legends at their best.

There is no excuse not to watch it. It's on DVD, and available to buy or rent. They've been aired on Turner Classic Movies and perhaps might be in the future (pretty please good folks at TCM!). You get to see Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Groucho Marx, Orson Welles and other greats. One of my personal favorites is the witty Alfred Hitchcock. It opens with a very amusing sequence and I thought I'd share some screenshots so maybe you'll be enticed to watch the show. Here they are...





Friday, June 15, 2007

Welcome

Welcome to my classic film blog. This is a new venture for me, as my devotion to films started just as a budding interest and has now developed into a full-fledged passion. This won't be your boring ole run-of-the-mill movie review blog. Oh no. This will just be a forum for me to talk wildly about anything film related. I'll discuss films I've seen, actors and actresses I like and related books and biographies. Here you'll learn about my interest in blonde-Bette Davis films, my love for Robert Mitchum, Dennis Morgan and Richard Barthelmess, by supreme admiration for Norma Shearer, my love of Hitchcock films and 30's slapstick comedies and my fascination with Turner Classic Movies.

I'm a voracious watcher and although I try to be chosy about which films I devote my time to, I am really up for anything. I'm a curious creature by nature so I gobble up biographical information and I love to learn about stars' love lives. It's all in good fun and I'll always try to be good-natured about it. So please come back and visit (often!). I watch a lot of films and always have lots to talk about so I hope that translates into frequent entries! Enjoy!

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