I hope you'll take an opportunity to read my review over at Steve-O's wonderful Film Noir of the Week blog and watch Mystery Street (1950) for yourself. It's a wonderful jewel of a noir that shouldn't be missed.
It's an interesting dynamic watching a favorite classic film with friends (and with strangers) in a theater. You never quite know what to expect. I always find myself getting really self-conscious when I bring friends to see a personal favorite of mine. I get very worried that they will not like the film, will question why I dragged them to the theatre to see it or even worse, will think less of me after the experience (what's wrong with her?!). This never really happens, but I'm always scared that it will. This fear changes the way I watch the film in the theatre.
In the case of Leave Her to Heaven, I became very conscious of how over-the-top, or to use a modern colloquialism "cheesy", the film can be. It's as though we are supposed to be in a trance with Gene Tierney's red pouty lips and the gorgeous scenery, that we wouldn't be overwhelmed by the melodrama. Also, I noticed how weak the dialogue seemed to be at different points in the movie. There is one particular scene in which Ellen (Gene Tierney) and Richard (Cornel Wilde) are having a conversation after Ellen's swim. The conversation is filled with short questions and directly answered short replies. From what I understand about screenwriting (from taking a screenwriting class in Grad school) answering a question with a direct response results in boring dialogue. Here is an example: Q: Are you going to the movie? A: Yes or Q: Are you going to the movie? A: If I don't get hit by a bus first... . In this particular scene, I can see how the direct question and answer sequence can work. Ellen's character is intense and her constant questioning can demonstrate her inquisitiveness. She has to know everything about Richard in order to posses him. Yet I feltthat it could have also been done differently with the same effect.
However, none of this lessened my opinion of the film. It just changed the way I saw it. This is still a superb film and I even have the inkling to watch it again at home by myself (too bad I don't own the DVD!). Very few can walk away from this film without some appreciation of it. All of my friends and Carlos seemed to enjoy the film and I'm so grateful for that. While we were outside of the theatre, we partook in some post-show bonding and I brought up the fact that Kate Gabrielle (of Silents and Talkies fame) did a superb painting of the famous boat/drowning scene that makes this film so iconic. Kate did a wonderful job capturing Gene's cold facial expression and the vibrancy of the scene.
When a new person comes into your life in a significant way things inevitably change. If you are lucky, that new person improves your life and your outlook on it. This is what I call the "new-person dynamic" and so many great stories in literature and film are based around this concept. Personally, I have found that this dynamic always proves to be enriching. Everyone brings their own perspective and one can't help but see things differently when exposed to that other perspective. Think about the important people in your life that were introduced to you at one point and how they changed your life afterwards. Now think about your favorite film and how the new-person dynamic was a catalyst for the story. Kind of eye-opening isn't it?
And just look what they had in their window display. A Gone with the Wind (1939) lunchbox! It was so endearing I just had to snap a picture of it.
TCM will be airing a documentary called "1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year". It will be on again July 31st and it's available On Demand for Comcast customers. This year produced many superb films, GWTW and The Wizard of Oz just to name 2 biggies.
So what 1939 film would I like to see in lunchbox form? A Norma Shearer film of course!
Idiot's Delight (1939) - Image - Clark Gable being carried away by his blonde entourage after singing Puttin' on the Ritz. Elegant wigged Norma Shearer is in the background smiling.
What is your favorite 1939 film? What film would you like to see on a lunchbox? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Malden is famous for being "that guy" in films like A Streetcar Named Desire (1952), Gypsy (1962) and On the Waterfront (1954). And that's only the tip of the iceberg. If you look at his filmography, you'll see he's been in numerous top-notch films.
There are three Malden films that I especially enjoy because of him specifically....
Baby Doll (1956) - Malden plays Archie, the frustrated cotton gin owner that just wants to consummate his marriage, but goes crazy because he can't. You can see the frustration popping out of his veins!
Parrish (1961) - Malden plays Judd Raike, the cold-hearted greedy Tobacco tycoon. Read my review of the film here.
Come Fly With Me (1963) - Malden plays Walter Lucas, a widower flying coach to Europe, who falls in love with a beautiful young stewardess. The stewardess, Bergie, falls in love with him before she finds out he's a millionaire. I don't blame her for falling in love with him, because I did a little too.
God Speed Karl Malden....