Saturday, June 30, 2012

In This Our Life (1942)

“Why not? You're afraid aren't you? Afraid of yourself. Afraid of what you might feel if you let yourself go. Why don't you admit the truth Craig? You've never gotten over me and you never will. You'd like to put your arms around me right now, wouldn't you? You'd like to kiss me, wouldn't you?” 

            I chose to watch In This Our Life today in honor of Olivia de Havilland’s 96th birthday tomorrow (Silent Sundays posting tomorrow that is why I am writing about her today). Olivia is still alive and living in France. She and her actress sister Joan Fontaine are two of just the little remaining actresses still alive from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Like probably most people the first time I ever saw Olivia in a film was Gone with the Wind. I did not think too much of her at first because, after all, the film focuses on Scarlett O’Hara and how could anyone keep their eyes off Vivien Leigh. The next film I remember seeing of hers was My Cousin Rachel because I had just finished reading the book by Daphne Du Maurier. As time went on I found more of Olivia’s films by coincidence because other actors I liked were in the films. The more I saw of Olivia the more I fell in love with her as an actress. The woman was truly versatile with her acting; she could play flat out comedy where her characters are love sick little girls (It’s Love I’m After), swashbucklers where she needs to be saved (any of her films with Errol Flynn), a woman who suffers great heartbreak or distress and comes out stronger (To Each His Own, The Snake Pit), a set of twins with one evil sister and one good (the fabulous Dark Mirror), or a sinister woman trying to drive her cousin mad to get her money (Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte). Even when she was trying to do her worst in Government Girl because she did not want to make the film, Olivia was still brilliant and incredibly funny convincing me that there is no way she could ever act poorly it is truly impossible. The two things I truly adore about Olivia de Havilland is how she was such a lady in her films even when she was playing bad characters she still had such a graceful, ladylike demeanor about her and how she never overacted in any of her films I have seen. Never am I more excited to sit down and watch a film when I know that Olivia is in it. So Happy Birthday to Olivia de Havilland, an actress I admire more and more with every film I see her in.
            In This Our Life is a story of two sisters named Stanley (Bette Davis) and Roy (de Havilland) Timberlake. Their father Asa has just been bought out of his share in the family company by his brother-in-law William (Charles Coburn) forcing the family to move out of their large ancestral home to a smaller one on the outskirts of town. Stanley, the wilder of the two sisters, is engaged to be married to a man named Craig Fleming (George Brent) but the first time we see Stanley she is walking home with Peter (Dennis Morgan) Roy’s husband. Stanley and Peter plan on running away together that night. Roy sees Peter go up to their room. She sees he is not happy and worries. Peter is a doctor so he tells her he has a consultation at another hospital out of town. Roy tells him that when he gets back they will move out of her family’s house and get their own place. Craig comes by that night to take Stanley out. Stanley comes downstairs and makes the excuse that she has a headache.
            The following day Asa goes to William’s house with Craig looking for Stanley since his daughter and William are very close. William almost has a fit when hears that his beloved niece cannot be found. Asa says that he is not worried about Stanley because this is something she would impulsively do anyway; he more worried about Roy because Peter cannot be found. Soon the family finds out that Stanley and Peter ran away together. Hearing the news Roy decides to live her life she does not want to be like her father who let people walk all over him.
            After his divorce goes through, Peter marries Stanley. The night they are married they go out to a small club. Peter wants to leave after a woman has been friendly with them and sits on their table. He says he needs to go home because he needs to be up early the next day. Stanley does not want to leave she wants to stay and dance and drink with her new friend. She argues with Peter and tells him to leave. Peter does leave but then changes his mind but ultimately decides to go home. When he walks in the door he hears Stanley call for him from the bedroom she got home before him with her car.
            Roy sees Craig sitting on a bench by himself one afternoon. He is all disheveled and has not been to his office in days. Roy tells him to move on there is nothing he can do. Eventually Craig gets up and the two set a date to go out for dinner one night. Soon Craig asks Roy to marry him, she is hesitant at first because of what happened with Peter but soon she is asking him if they can get married right away. Their happiness is short lived when Asa gets a call saying that Peter has killed himself.
            Roy still has not completely over Peter and is very upset when she hears that he has died. To make amends she goes down to her sister in Florida. Stanley cannot get a hold of herself she feels completely responsible for what happened to Peter. She tells her sister that she loved Peter very much. You can see on her face that Roy is hurt is Stanley tells her that.
            Stanley moves back home and not too long later begins to go after Craig again. She knows that somewhere in him he still has feelings for her and she plays on that big time. She wants to get away but everyone she goes to says no they either do not have the money or does not want her to go away again. She goes to Craig to see if she can borrow one thousand dollars and repay it once Peter’s life insurance comes through. Stanley writes down in Craig’s date pad to meet her at a small club for dinner around seven. She waits for him but he never shows and she leaves. On her way home Stanley has trouble seeing in the dark. Rounding a corner too fast she hits a mother and daughter and rather than be caught she drives away.
            The police come to the house the next day to say that they found Stanley’s car in an alley with blood on it. She tells the police and her sister that she had let their maid Minerva’s (Hattie McDainel) son Parry Clay take the car to get it clean and that she cannot believe that he could have done something like that. Parry is of course arrested on the spot when they pick him up at his mother’s because he is black. Roy knows her sister was the one who had the car because she likes Parry he is a smart young man studying law and wants to better himself. She especially knows that Stanley is capable of doing something like what she did and blaming someone to cover herself.
            Craig eventually gets Stanley to confess but before he can bring her in she escapes and gets what is coming to her.
            The cast was brilliant and worked perfectly together and in their parts. Bette Davis always played the wild spoiled girl who always got what she wanted. Some reviews I have read claim that this is Davis’s bitchiest nastiest role she ever played. Well I do not think she was that bitchy or that nasty she was just spoiled and living her life for herself and nobody else. The more I see Davis’s films the more I see that she was a very good actress. You can see her determination and strength in every character she played which I feel gave her characters a bit of a boost. You are left feeling bad for Stanley in the end because she is so spoiled and wanted her way. Olivia de Havilland was very good as usual. She always plays the woman who gets wronged but that never gets old with her because she was so good at those characters and managed to put a twist on them. I like to think that de Havilland got her revenge on Bette Davis in Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte haha! De Havilland was nicely paired with George Brent they looked good together. I enjoy seeing Brent in films he was a very good actor who I feel is very underrated. I also love seeing Dennis Morgan in a film but it was so weird to see him angry and upset I am so used to seeing him as the sweet guy who is hopelessly in love with the leading lady. Billie Burke plays Lavinia Timberlake the girls’ mother. In the films I have seen Burke in she is always flighty and ridiculous and I can never comprehend how people could say she was a good actress but in this film I can see what they mean. Burke although her character was an invalid and a nervous wreck was excellent.
            In This Our Life did not do very well when it was originally released. I think it is a very good film with excellent acting and a good story for the actors to sink their teeth into. Much mention and praise go to John Huston who directed this film and Max Steiner who created one of his best scores. In This Our Life is a classic film that was perfectly made and should be seen by film fans. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

“I ain’t living with you I’m living in the same cage with you.”

            Tennessee Williams’ plays are not some of my favorites. Most likely due to when I took a theater class in college the whacked out teacher I had made up find a Tennessee Williams play, pick a monologue, and act it. I remember not having very good luck finding a decent part I liked because I did not like any of the stories. I cannot remember which dialogue I picked nor the play I got rid of the book I bought. I especially did not like sitting through A Street Car Named Desire but I think it was because Marlon Brando gets on my nerves so bad. I wanted to watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof because I needed to watch something different even though it was based off the Tennessee Williams play and Elizabeth Taylor who I cannot for the life of me stand was the main actress. Well, I must say I was pleasantly surprised with this film, I actually liked the story AND Elizabeth Taylor’s acting.
            Maggie (Taylor) and her husband Brick (Paul Newman) are not happy in their marriage. They are visiting his family home for his father’s birthday. Brick refuses any advance Maggie tries to make he tells her he is disgusted with her. Maggie is very upset with Brick because he has been drinking a lot. The night before he drunkenly went to his old high school track field and broke his ankle trying to jump hurdles. Maggie is also on edge because Brick’s father Big Daddy (Burl Ives) is dying and she is afraid with Brick’s drinking they will be left nothing and Brick’s brother Gooper and his annoying wife Mae with their six “no-necked monsters” will get everything.
            Maggie drives in her own car to meet Big Daddy and Big Momma (Judith Anderson) at the airport. Big Daddy went to a well known hospital to have exploratory surgery to see what was wrong with him. Big Daddy and Momma get off the plane and tell everyone he is going to live there is nothing wrong with him there is no cancer. Instead of driving home with Gooper and his brats he wants to drive home with Maggie whom he really likes.
            Brick refuses to come downstairs to the party he just sits up in the room and drinks. To make matters worse for him the family doctor came up to speak to him about Big Daddy, his father is not alright he is dying but the doctor did not tell him. Maggie comes up sometime later to bring Brick food and she sees him packing his things to go home to New Orleans. They have an argument and she makes things not any better when she brings up Brick’s best friend Skipper who died. Brick thinks Maggie slept with the friend which is why the friend killed himself. One of Gooper’s kids bursts into the room and starts making noises. Maggie flips out on the kid but the kid says she is just angry because she cannot have any kids. This makes her miserable since she cannot stand Gooper and Mae and the fact that they talk about she and Brick not having any kids yet. Maggie tells Brick that there is nothing wrong with that they can have kids but he responds that that will be a bit hard considering he cannot stand to be with her. During this time Brick tells Maggie about Big Daddy.
            Brick has enough of Maggie and goes downstairs to get more alcohol. Big Daddy walks into the living room where Brick is. He begins by saying he is sick and tired of people sneaking around getting into other business and reaches around the corner of the door and pulls Mae out and tells her to get out and mind her own business. Big Daddy wants to know why Brick started drinking and calls Maggie down. Brick blames her for killing his friend he says that she got him drunk and slept with him. Maggie says yes that had been her plan because she was mad and jealous that Skipper was getting in the way of their marriage that he came before she did. Her plan was to sleep with him to drive a wedge between Skipper and Brick but then she backed out because she would have driven a wedge between her and Brick instead. The truth is that Skipper killed himself because he had called Brick and Brick hung up on him and Skipper could not take that from his best friend. After that Brick has had enough he leaves in his pajamas during a storm to his car to drive back to New Orleans. Big Daddy follows, Brick just wants to be left alone to leave and he accidentally slips and tells his father that he is not well.
            Big Daddy runs to the basement to hide from everyone and to get his head around what he has just heard. Brick goes to his room to change. Big Momma is awfully upset and scared over the news. She yells for Brick and says in front of Gooper that Brick is her only son and needs him. Brick comes downstairs and hears Mae bashing him and Maggie defending him. Mae is an awful pain even her husband tells her to shut up. Maggie almost smacks her. Brick goes down to the basement to his father. They talk about things in their life and air their grievances. Brick tells his father that he, Gooper, and Big Momma wanted in life was to be loved by him and he never did.
            The talk really helped both father and son. They go back upstairs new people with different outlooks. To shut everyone up Maggie tells them she is having Brick’s baby even though it is not true. Brick, Big Daddy, and even Gooper back her up but Mae has a fit and knows Maggie is lying. Gooper tells his wife to just shut up. Brick calls Maggie upstairs and they make up.
            This is one film I have seen with Elizabeth Taylor where I thought her acting was fantastic. I sat there going “damn you Liz Taylor you’re actually really good in this film.” Really I loved every scene she was in when she was not in a scene I looked forward to the next one with her in it. The entire cast was just flawless. Paul Newman was hot as hell he was so gorgeous. He was wonderful as this moody depressed person. With Burl Ives it was so odd to hear him so mean since I am so used to hearing him sing Christmas songs and voice the snowman in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Ives was excellent he played the same role in the stage play so he knew the material and what to do with the character. Judith Anderson was amazing. I am so used to her as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca and Anne Treadwell in Laura where she was these dark characters with twisted motives and here she was this sad unloved woman. I was floored with her acting she was great I will look at her much differently now in the two aforementioned films.
            Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was a film I was not expecting to like at all but I found myself enjoying it and the performances. The story was not too bad but having read or seen Tennessee Williams’ stories before it is a typical storyline from him. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a stage play and you can clearly see in the film from the limited number of sets, the staginess, and all the dialogue that is definitely originates from the stage but I did not find it unbearable like some stage-to-screen films. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a classic film I highly suggest seeing to everyone. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gunga Din (1939)

"Though I've belted you and flayed you / By the living God that made you / You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din." 

Gunga Din, based very loosely on a poem by Rudyard Kipling, was the second highest grossing film of 1939 behind Gone with the Wind. Although not as epic and awesome as Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din is still an excellent film and I can see why it made so much money. It is a mix of drama, comedy, action, and suspense. Also it has an excellent cast with Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Fontaine, Victor McLagen, and Sam Jaffe.
            In Imperial India the British army is having issues with the resurgence of the evil Thugee cult who worship the blood goddess Kali and go on murderess rampages. A whole village was wiped out by this group. The colonel sends his best sergeants- Cutter, MacChesney, and Ballantine- to inspect the village. The sergeants are more like school children when we are first introduced to them. Cutter (Cary Grant) bought a map to some buried treasure but then found out they were swindled. MacChesney (Victor McLagen) and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) join in on the fight.
            The three sergeants arrive at the village. All is quiet and eerily still. Soldiers that had been assigned to posts either on roof tops or cliff tops disappears by the hands of Thugee assassins. Ballantine finds a group of Thugees hiding in a building. At first everything is under control until more of the assassins come and a small battle breaks out. The three friends make it out of the battle unharmed.
            Once back at headquarters Ballantine tells his friends that in a few days when his time in the army is over he is getting married and working in the tea business. MacChesney and Cutter are not happy about this news whatsoever and give Ballantine a very hard time. They see Ballantine being affectionate to his fiancé Emmy (Joan Fontaine) in the street and they just stare him down until they move around the building. At their engagement party Cutter and MacChesney get the replacement officer sick so Ballantine will have to go back to the village with them the next day. Their plan works and neither Ballantine nor Emmy is very happy.
            On the last day of Ballantine’s duty as a soldier, Cutter is thrown into the brig when he tries to get MacChesney to follow Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe) to a palace made of gold. MacChesney went through the same thing before with the map and wants none of Cutter’s nonsense but Cutter is drunk and keeps annoying MacChensey so he gets thrown in the brig. Gunga Din is friends with Cutter and with the help of an elephant name Annie gets Cutter out of his cell. Din takes Cutter to the palace of gold which happens to be the headquarters for the Thugee cult. Cutter creates a distraction while Din gets away to tell MacChesney and Ballantine they found the Thugee’s leader and hide out.
            Instead of bringing the whole cavalry only Ballantine and MacChesney arrive to save their friend. They are held hostage by the Guru of the cult on the roof top. He tells the three men that he is their shield without them they will die and also of his plans for when their regiment comes to rescue them. He plans a surprise attack by his highly skilled mountain fighters. The regiment draws closer and closer. Gunga Din and Cutter have been stabbed and MacChesney and Ballantine have had their mouths gagged. Gunga Din with the little strength that he has finds a bugle and sounds the signal for the regiment to get into fighting mode.
            The English army winds the victory and puts an end to the cult. Gunga Din died when he was shot down on the tower as he was blowing the bugle. The colonel posthumously makes Gunga Din a corporal and gives him full military burial and recognition for his heroic deeds.
            Grant, Fairbanks, and McLagen were excellent together. They were each funny and entertaining. Cary Grant was hilarious he put on his cockney accent and was such a nut. McLagen I do not believe I have ever in a film before this he was good but he was the tough guy who ran the regiment. Fairbanks was so handsome. I liked him as the straight man. Joan Fontaine was barely in the film but she was adorable. It is funny to see Fontaine in her early films in the thirties because she looks and sounds so much like her sister and after the thirties you cannot even tell they are sisters they changed so much in appearance (yet another parallel with the sisters: Olivia was in Gone with the Wind which was the highest grossing film of the year and Joan was in the second highest grossing film of the year). Sam Jaffe was of Jewish decent but he pulled off playing an Indian very well. His performance borders on the cute to the really creepy. The creepy coming from the brown makeup the makeup department put on him as well as some of his faces.
            Gunga Din is a great entertaining film I enjoyed sitting through it so much. Gunga Din is without a doubt one of the best films to have been released in 1939. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Never Let Me Go (1953)

Films during the 1940s and into the 1950s screamed America and American morals and values. Sometimes I really do not mind them I understand the time periods I know that in the 1940s we were in World War II and American moral was very high and then during the 1950s we entered the Cold War with Russia. Other times I want to scream bloody murder and say “ENOUGH ALREADY!!!”. Never Let Me Go with Clark Gable and Gene Tierney could have been one of those American moral film against the Russians from the 1950s that would have pissed me off but the story was very good and very moving that I found myself liking it.
            Philip Sutherland (Gable) is a news correspondent who has been stationed in Russia since the end of the War. He has met and fell with a Russian ballerina named Marya Lamarkina (Tierney). She has fallen in love with him and learns English just for him. They truly love each other and want to get married. They do marry but they are immediately put to the test when it seems like they will only have six months to live together because the Soviet Union will most likely not issue Marya with an exit visa.
            On their honeymoon they meet a former British tank officer named Denny and his Russian wife Svetlana who is also friends with Marya. Denny gets deported because he took pictures of his wife on the coast of a beach and Russian officials did not like that. Svetlana and their infant son are left behind because they could not get exit visas. Philip and Marya take care of Svetlana and the baby. Before too long Philip is sent back to the United States. After much begging, pleading and searching he finds someone who gives their approval for an exit visa. Marya and Philip are about to board the plane when Marya is held back as the plane takes off.
            Philip’s situation is not the only one several other men who have Russian wives are trying everything they can to get them into the United States with them. Philip is sent on another assignment to England on purpose because a Russian official will be there. The official does not even want to meet with Philip and all seems lost. He visits Denny at his home in Cornwall. He patiently waits for his wife and son to come to live in England with him. They have a friend named Steve who runs a radio broadcast in Russia. Steve has been sending Denny and Philip their wives letters.
            Philip gets an idea to learn how to captain a boat to sail into the coastal town of Talinn to get Marya and Sveltana. At first Denny does not want to go because he has his son to think of but then he gets a letter saying that his son has died and he never got to see him. Philip, Denny, and a sailor named Joe take a sailboat and sail to Talinn. Steve gives them messages through his radio program about where Svetlana and Marya will be. In a slip near Talinn the men are almost caught and arrested by Russian officials but they manage to get away when they out drink the officials.
            At the barge where girls are to meet their husbands only Svetlana arrives. She tells Philip that Marya could not give away she had a performance she could not get away from since the General was to be at the show that night. Philip desperate to get his wife back, swims to shore steals a lieutenant’s uniform, and walks to the theater. He gets in touch with Marya telling him he will take her away after the show. The plan almost works until one of the other ballerinas recognizes him and informs the police.
            It is a close chase and getaway but they manage to get back to the boat and away from Russia.
             I really liked all the main characters and there truly was not a bad performance by any of the actors either main or extra. This was probably one of my favorite Clark Gable roles. He was not the macho man who needed to learn how to love or teach the woman how to be a woman he was just a regular guy who wanted his wife back and did all he could to see her again. He was older by this time but he was still a great daring leading man he did a great job. Gene Tierney was nothing but gorgeous and perfect. To make her character even more believable the director/producer/studio allowed her speak with a Russian accent (back in the 30s and 40s studios would not let their lead actors/actresses speak with accents for their characters). Tierney did a great job as well. Gable and Tierney had great chemistry together in their few scenes they were very believable.
            Never Let Me Go was a very good film. The direction by Delmer Davis and the cinematography were excellent. I was afraid once I found out the plot of the story that it would get on my nerves since it is such an American view but it leaves you feeling terrible for the husbands and the wives as well that you want them to get out of evil Russia. What  Philip and Denny could not grasp was how could a government come between a husband and wife and not let them be together and that is what I liked about the story because I cannot even imagine going through that and the thought of the husbands and wives being separated like that is so sad. Never Let Me Go is currently available on Youtube and I highly suggest seeing it as soon as you can. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)

 “Where do we report to?”
“Down on Jump Street. 37 Jump Street... wait, that doesn't sound right.”

21 Jump Street was a movie I never really intended on seeing. First off it is a take on an old Johnny Depp TV show and two things are wrong with it already- it is a remake or excuse me a “reboot” and it is of something Johnny Depp was in. Second Jonah Hill is in the movie and I do not find him funny at all.  I only watched it today because it was my brother’s birthday and he wanted me to watch it with him and the rest of our family. Never let it be said that I am a bad sister.
            So pretty much Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are idiot big headed cops. They went to high school together where Tatum was the popular jock who was dumb as a stick and Hill was a nerd who was trying to look like Eminem. After school they went into the police force together and became friends. Instead of being put on the tough beats where they think they will be taking down criminals they are put on bike duty in a park. They see some gangsters smoking pot in the park, chase after them, but Tatum does not know the rights and the guy gets out of jail. The head of the department sends them to 21 Jump Street to work undercover as high school kids to bust a drug ring. Hill and Tatum face high school again each learning something about themselves and learning new things.
            Blah blah blah blah blah. And yes they get the bad guy who was right under our damn noses the whole time.
            Now I appreciate dirty humor some of my favorite comedy movies have some of the dirtiest humor ever but I did not find 21 Jump Street funny at all (alright well there was a funny scene at the end of the movie that I was like crying at but that was it). I HATE comedies that deal with high school, they are so unbelievable and stupid and this was one of them. The acting sucked beyond measure too. I really cannot stand Jonah Hill the guy is not funny whatsoever I try my hardest to avoid any movie he is in. Channing Tatum is excellent eye candy and I have seen him in other movies so I did not find him bad I actually found him funny and the only one that was.
            21 Jump Street is good for one viewing if you are really dying to see it. With movies like this I do not think I wasted my time because now I can have an opinion on it and my opinion is that it sucked. New comedies to me are just so not funny they try too hard to be funny and they just come out crude and ridiculous.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Joy of Living (1938)

“But I'm not a Garret, I'm a Brewster. And we Brewsters do what we want to do when we want to do it.”

            No Classic Hollywood film can ever go wrong when Irene Dunne is playing the lead. The woman was uber talented making any role she played whether it be dramatic or comedic look effortless. My favorite Irene Dunne films are her comedic ones like The Awful Truth or Theodora Goes Wild because usually she has a scene where she falls apart a bit but still manages to look like such a lady. I can now add Joy of Living to my favorite Irene Dunne comedies.
            Maggie Garret (Dunne) is a successful Broadway, movie, and singing star. She cannot go anywhere without being mobbed by adoring fans and most especially her mooching family. Maggie has a very nice apartment where she lets her family consisting of her younger sister Salina (Lucille Ball) and her husband and twin girls and their parents. The family guilts Maggie into everything and everything by saying that if she does not support them she is being a bad daughter/sister.
            After a show one night she meets a smitten fan named Dan Brewster (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). He follows her but she sees him more as a nuisance and has an officer take him away. The officer turned out to be a friend of Dan’s so nothing happens to him. Dan can clearly see Maggie’s problem with her life… she does not live it she just goes through with it mechanically. She does nothing for her own sake.
            Dan once again finds Maggie only he is tailing her by hitching a ride on the back of her car on the way to rehearsal. This time she has had it she has the driver pull up to the police station and wants him arrested for bothering her. The police officer is yet again the same friend from the other night. Maggie satisfied she thinks she has finally gotten Dan leaves. The officer tells Dan he is turning his back so he can say that Dan got away but Dan will not go he wants to get arrested. Since Dan has been brought up on charges it means that Maggie has to appear in court. The judge rules that either Dan goes to jail for six months or is put on probation. Maggie does not want him to go to jail but she does not want to be the one Dan reports to for his probation since he does not know anyone personally to report to in New York. Maggie reluctantly agrees to be Dan’s probation officer so he will not go to jail.
            On the way home from court Dan has Maggie drop him off at his ship that he runs. He tells her that his family are all bankers but he did not want to get stuck doing what they did he wanted to live his own life and do what he wanted so he runs a cargo ship. He wants Maggie to do the same thing he wants her to get away from her family and live for herself. Maggie is blind to that idea and goes away.
            Dan finally gets Maggie to go out with him after he saves her from autograph hounds outside the theater where her show is. He brings her to a beergarten. The proprietor calls Maggie out but Dan defends her and says he has the wrong person Maggie is not really Maggie Garret just some lady. They are left alone for the night until Maggie is hilariously drunk and they get thrown out of the place. The night gets even more crazy with Maggie drunk on both beer and fun. Dan bring her to a roller rink which turns into a near disaster. Near the end of the night Maggie manages to get Dan drunk and when they start dancing they start slapping each other.
            The next morning Maggie’s nieces find Dan sleeping on the couch in the sitting room part of her room. The girls rush to Salina and their grandparents to tell them Aunt Maggie has a man in her room. The family is in arms because they just think that the man is after Maggie’s money and that he will take her away from them. Maggie defends her family when Dan tries to tell them the truth and he leaves angry with her. Later on with some nudging from her maid Maggie finds Dan ready to ship off but she stops him and says she wants to get married. That night they get married. He wants to take her to his island but she wants to continue with her show since she has a contract. Dan is upset because he felt Maggie was finally letting go and living but she was not willing to give up her work. Back at the house the family belittles her saying she was not thinking of them and they were afraid they would not look after them anymore. Maggie finally grows some nerves and tells her family they can get along with her. On her way out she gives her shoes to Salina saying that she always wanted to walk in her shoes and now she finally can. Maggie runs out in the rain barefoot looking for Dan who was standing right by her door waiting.
            Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are incredibly adorable and charming together. Dunne playing a drunk scene was one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen. As I said even when her characters were falling apart a bit she always looked like such a lady and even stumbling drunk Dunne still looked like a lady. I was dying in the scene when they leave the beergarten because she was doing this drunken swagger walk and her face was so funny. Then at the door she started doing this dance she saw and Fairbanks just pulls her away. You would have to see it I was cracking up. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was nothing short of incredible handsome and charismatic. I wish Dunne and Fairbanks had made more films together they had great chemistry… but then again who did Dunne not have great chemistry with?
            Lucille Ball plays Salina. She is not in the film for very long just bits of scenes here and there. Her character was a brat and we are not supposed to like her. I love seeing early Lucille Ball before she became Lucy Ricardo since everyone is so used to seeing her as this screwball and several of her early roles were serious or sarcastic.
            Joy of Living is a very cute film. The story is not that strong but Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. make up for it. Joy of Living is fun to watch and I have to say it does motivate you to live a little more and hand fun with your life. Hey if Irene Dunne one of the greatest sophisticated ladies of Classic Hollywood can let go with her characters why can’t I. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Silent Sundays: The Iron Horse (1924)

“He feels the momentum of a great nation pushing westward he sees the inevitable.”  

            The Iron Horse is a film where the direction is excellent in every single way but the film itself is not entertaining or very good. I am not a fan of westerns as I have mentioned several times whenever I have actually watched a western. Sometimes depending on whom the actors are in the films they have not been so bad but this one I could not get past it being a boring western.
            The film takes place in the mid-1800s. A man named Brandon has a dream of surveying the west to help build a railroad that will stretch through the whole country. He has a young son named Davy. Davy and his friend Miriam pretend to survey on the day that he is leaving with his father. Their parting is sad because they were best friends. Sometime later in the Cheyenne territory Davy’s father is killed by Indians. One of the Indians is a white man with two fingers.
            Years later Davy and Miriam have not seen each other since the day he left. Miriam has traveled with her father out west where he has been helping to build the great railroad that will connect the country. Traveling by train to another town Miriam and her father see a pony express rider being attacked by Indians. The rider manages to get to the train safely. The rider is Davy and he realizes who Miriam is.
            Davy has become a surveyor like his father and has dreamed of laying the tracks for the railroad in a pass for his father ever since he was killed. He volunteers his services to Miriam’s father Mr. Marsh. Marsh’s other surveyor and Miriam’s fiancé Jesson has been tempted with more money by another man named Bauman not to lay the tracks down through the pass. He goes out to the pass with Davy and cuts the man’s ropes as he travels down a mountain side. Davy does not die he landed in some tree branches. Jesson travels back to tell Marsh that Davy has been killed. Now the tracks will have to be routed around the pass.
            Davy comes back and asks why the tracks are being rerouted. Bauman is not happy that Davy is back and neither is Jesson.
            To make a long story short- Bauman was the white Indian with two fingers who killed Davy’s father and is killed by the young man, a big time battle between the workers and the Indians breaks out and of course the Indians lose. Davy and Miriam get together.
            I have been finding with the silent films I have been watching lately that they are very long and very drawn out. The main stories are always broken up with comedic scenes from the supporting characters and to me they take away from the main plot of the story and are only distractions. If they were truly funny and worked with the plot they would not bother me but the scenes are not funny and they bring the films down.
            The Iron Horse was a very slow film and a western which I am not crazy about but it was still very well made and even acted. John Ford made some brilliant shots and really captured the essence of the west in that time period. Sure it is not historically accurate as it claims to be in the beginning but what film ever is. I would recommend seeing The Iron Horse but do not go crazy looking for it.