Break of Hearts sounds like a soppy romantic melodrama and it is. Charles Boyer is an orchestra conductor named Franz Roberti. He is a notorious playboy who can get any woman he wants and it is no secret that he does. At the home of a friend he meets a young woman named Constance Dane played by Katharine Hepburn. Constance is a musician herself and idolizes Franz. She tells him she has sent him numerous works she has composed but he rejected them. He likes how simple and sweet Constance is. In typical old Hollywood style it is not long before Franz proposes to Constance.
Constance and Franz are very happy together. They travel throughout Europe on their honeymoon until he is called back to begin rehearsals for a new show. Back no longer than a few weeks Franz is up to his old womanizing ways. Constance goes out with a friend of Franz’s to the Ritz and she finds out while sitting in the ladies room with the other woman that her husband is not faithful to her. That night Constance leaves Franz and both become lost without each other.
Of course in the end Hepburn and Boyer get back together and live happily ever after. Nothing shocking there.
Although this is not considered one of Katharine Hepburn’s greatest films and is quite forgettable I will say it was one of Hepburn’s better acted films. I thought she was perfect in Break of Hearts. Since RKO was having a hard time with Hepburn by this film and trying to find out what the audiences liked with her they stuck her in a romantic melodrama. Needless to say the film did not do well because she was still labeled “box office poison.” The role definitely did not suit Hepburn but I really liked her in it. I sometimes find Hepburn to be over the top and annoying but here she was excellent. She was calm, it felt like she was not trying to be the best actress ever she was just acting. This is where I can see why Katharine Hepburn is considered the best actress ever but I cannot as far as her other films (I recently read a book about the actress and I have some issues with her). I do not know how well I did explaining Hepburn’s acting but trust me she was excellent and is the main reason to sit through the film. I guess it comes down to her character not being the independent type she always played but a common girl who is awed by a man and her love and world revolve around him. It is something different than what we are used to seeing from her and I liked it. Charles Boyer was Charles Boyer. Franz is the type character and a role that he played over and over. I liked him paired with Katharine Hepburn though it was different and interesting.
There were several good scenes. Constance wanted to get a ticket to see Franz and his orchestra. The show was sold out but she heard them in rehearsal and snuck in. She is so inspired and awed by the performance. Franz hears her and gets to her before she runs out. Then in an apology he has the orchestra play something for her and when the arrangement is over they all stand up and bow to her. That night Franz takes her to his apartment for dinner. He asks her if it is the first time she is alone with a man in his apartment and some other things. The next night Franz is over her place and as she makes him a sandwich she asks mockingly the same things he had asked her.
Famed RKO costume designer Bernard Newman made Hepburn’s clothes for the film. Now if you have ever seen any of Ginger Rogers’s films with Fred Astaire you will know that Newman’s costumes are very whimsical and over the top at times and they perfectly suit Ginger she had the look and the figure for it and she was just glamorous. Katharine Hepburn was a twig and one of the most unglamorous women (but not ugly) in Hollywood. Her plain costumes at the beginning were perfect but once Constance married Franz and her wardrobe became elegant the costumes just completely took her over and became distracting. Some costumes in the rest of the film I admit were very nice on the actress but for the most part they were wicked because she was so skinny and as I said unglamorous. Just some of the costume choices I did like several of her hairstyles and many were unflattering as well.
Break of Hearts although a typical 1930s melodrama is not a bad film. It is only an hour and a half so it is tolerable and straight to the point.
“You know, I had a dream. I dreamt I was home. I’ve had that same dream hundreds of times before. This time, I wanted to find out if it’s really true. Am I really home?”
“I dreamed I was gonna have my own home. Just a nice little house for my wife and me out in the country… in the suburbs anyway. That’s the cock-eyed kind of dream you have when you’re overseas.”
Last summer I went to England for a month as part of a study abroad program. I missed home a lot I really missed my brothers and my parents I emailed them and my grandparents every day. What really hit me and made me miss them even more was when I visited the Imperial War Museum. The museum really struck a nerve in me because I kept thinking after seeing and learning about all the fighting the British soldiers and men all over the world and women as well did put things in perspective. I visited the museum twice and each time I thanked God that I knew I was going to see my family in a few weeks times but I could never help feeling guilty when I knew for certain that I would be back home with my family. I felt guilty because so many service men sacrificed their lives even the ones who did return home sacrificed so much of themselves for their country, they missed their families and their families missed them and they never knew when they were going to see each other there was no certainty for them like there was for me. I cannot even tell you how bad I missed my family after seeing the museum’s Holocaust’s exhibit and there was this one recorded interview with a prisoner from Auschwitz who said that she could have imagined life without her brother if she had to but she could never live her life without her mother. But again that experience in that exhibit definitely put things in great perspective and again made me feel a bit guilty.
As I said I was only away for a month and it was tough it was the longest I had ever been away from home but I cannot even begin to imagine how the men fighting in the European and Pacific Theaters of war felt being away for years at a time. William Wyler in is 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives tells the story of three servicemen returning to their small hometown after the war.
Al Stephenson (Frederic March), Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and Homer Parrish return to their small hometown. Homer is the youngest he lived with parents before the war and had a girl named Wilma. He is at first excited to see home but once he is there he is unsure of how he will be looked at. Homer lost his hands when his ship he was serving on was hit. His parents are happy to see him and so is Wilma but he cannot hug her back. Al is next to go home. He returns home to his wife Milly (Myrna Loy), his daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright), and son. His wife and children are all more than happy to see him. Fred returns to his parents’ home where he expects to find his wife but they say she moved into her own apartment. When he gets to her place she is not there.
That night they all run into each other at Homer’s uncle’s place Butch’s. Al wanted to go out so he dragged Milly and Peggy all over town from one bar to the next. Fred is a mess because he cannot find his wife. Homer is upset with the way his family treats him and looks at his hands he says they look guilty because they have hands and he does not. Fred is so drunk that Milly and Peggy wind up putting him in the back with a drunken sleeping Al and taking him to their place for the night.
The rest of the film tells how each one adjusts to be home again dealing with their new surroundings and the changes that have happened to their families. The film is so amazing I do not want to say anymore about it than what I have already written.
I may have said many of the films I have seen are perfection but with The Best Years of Our Lives I sincerely mean this the film is just perfection in every single way. Unlike today where every film and TV show wants to get things down to the nitty gritty real life issues of the world in 1946 the real life and its issues was not really shown. Al, Fred, and Homer were three men rehabilitating to being back in their old lives that had dramatically changed while they were away: Homer with his hands, Al with his children all grown up and now he is drinking heavily, and Fred with a wife that pretty much just married him for a thrill and expected that thrill to return when he did and she cannot understand how he suffers mentally when he has his PTSD dreams at night. Many people in Hollywood felt Sam Goldwyn was crazy for doing a story such as this since it was so real.
Goldwyn and Wyler went for broke on the realism by having the role of Homer Parrish played by a real war veteran named Harold Russell who lost his hands in boot camp in an accident. Wyler wanted the clothing to be realistic so the designer went out to shops and bought clothes instead of making them herself. Each room was made smaller than normal for film sets. The story is based off an article that Goldwyn and his wife had read in Time about returning servicemen that was then turned into an original story by MacKinlay Kantor and written as a screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood. The realism just adds so much of to the film it makes the characters and story more moving, sympathetic, and heartfelt. I can see why the film was so highly praised when it was released because so many people could absolutely relate to what the characters were feeling and going through.
The cast is one of the greatest I have ever watched in a film. Much of the great acting credit goes to Dana Andrews, Frederic March, and Myrna Loy. The more I see of Andrews the more impressed I am with him and the more I see how versatile he is. Besides Homer, Fred was the most realistic character of the whole story and Andrews just knocked his performance out he was so good. March was great especially when he was in scenes with Loy because they were both knew what they were doing and were seen as great actors even by this time. Wyler stated “When… you work with two people like Freddy March or Myrna Loy, a director might improve their work, but he certainly can’t make a performance because they are too knowing.”
Myrna Loy gets top billing even though her part is small because she was the most successful female star of the time. At first she was afraid to take the role because she had heard that Wyler liked to do many takes and could be tough but once filming started they became good friends. What I want to know is why Ingrid Bergman can win years later an Academy Award for her role in Murder on the Orient Express when her only big scene was five minutes long and Myrna Loy cannot even be nominated and she had more screen time (nothing against Bergman she was fabulous in that role this is against the Academy). Milly’s role in the story had originally been smaller but once the film got moving and Loy was cast the role expanded. Loy tells in her autobiography that Goldwyn pitched the role to her pretty hard because it was small but she said she liked the story and would have taken it no matter what. This is just one of the many roles why Myrna Loy as the reputation as the perfect wife because she played the perfect wife like no one else could. Her facial expressions and mannerism are unequaled. Years later Wyler was amazed how in one scene Loy actually cut out one of her lines for the sake of a good scene and praised her for her intelligence for choosing a picture instead of a part. Loy made her part bigger than it was because she was just good.
I could go on and on about Myrna Loy in her part because whatever praise she was or is given she deserves it.
There are so many fantastic scenes it is hard to pick just one. Peggy and Milly drop off Fred at his wife’s place but she does not answer and he falls down drunk and sleeping. The two women pick him up and put him in the back with Al. Fred puts his arm around Al and Al takes his hand and Milly says “They make a cute pair” (something along those lines). When they get back Milly puts Al to bed dressing him and tucking him in. She tries to get him on his back so he will not snore and his arm in under him so she takes his arm and flips him over. The next morning Milly brings Al breakfast in their room and he just takes her and they kiss (Teresa Wright excellently explains her feelings towards the scene: “To me their scenes still stand as the epitome of married love on the screen. You can take all the erotic pictures of the world and they won’t compare with the bedroom scene the morning after. She brings that breakfast tray in and he looks at her and sets it aside. It’s a marvelous moment because you’ve seen them the evening before dancing and coming together with the beautiful subtle things that both of them did. What’s being felt and played underneath is exciting”). The one scene I found very moving is when Homer has Wilma come up to his room when he about to go to bed. He has been telling her to let him go because he himself cannot cope with his hands and he does not want to burden Wilma. After he takes his hands off and she buttons his pajama top he finds that she still loves him and wants to be with him no matter what.
William Wyler shot the film so wonderfully and so raw. There are so many scenes that were filmed so brilliantly. In several shots he used deep focus and these were greatly enhanced by Gregg Toland’s Academy Award winning cinematography. If you have seen Citizen Kane you know how incredible Toland’s cinematography is.
The Best Years of Our Lives won the Academy Award for Best Film in 1946. The film’s depiction of real issues of America and servicemen returning home after war was never seen before. Private issues like PTSD and alcoholism as an after effect of war were never shown before and were a taboo subject. By this time Americans did not want to see rich people fluttering around society and worrying about their rich love problems they wanted to see people like them who had lost someone or something and saw the world as not all butterflies and rainbows with happy endings. The Best Years of Our Lives appealed to the common viewer they could connect in some ways to the characters. The film was so popular it became the biggest success since Gone With the Wind and is today ranked number thirty-seven on AFI’s Top 100 Greats Films.
The best and one of the worst times in American history was during World War II. During this time everyone came together to help out one another and everyone was patriotic. The Best Years of Our Lives captures the American dream, the American life, and when we really feel like it the American way of coming together and helping out others. The film tells the story of returning men struggling and coming to terms with what they went through but also knowing that with someone to love them and care for them they can survive and get through life. Al, Fred, and Homer also know that they each share a bond that will last and that bond will keep them friends for the rest of their lives.
Do not miss out on any opportunity to see The Best Years of Our Lives
“A man fights for what he believes in”
When I reviewed The Snows of Kilimanjaro I said I will never have a desire to read an Ernest Hemmingway story. Well let me back track and say that I am maybe now willing to read one of his stories after watching For Whom the Bell Tolls. My new open mindedness to read a Hemmingway story is most likely connected to the fact that Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper excellently played the lead characters.
Many of Hemmingway’s stories have their plots set during the time of or taking place in the Spanish Civil War. For Whom the Bell Tolls has an American man named Robert Jordan (Cooper) who works with the International Brigade to help republican guerillas in the mountains. He is given an assignment to blow up a bridge since he is an expert in the use of explosive. Robert, or “Roberto” as the Spaniards call him, is lead to a republican hideout in the mountains where he is to wait until he feels it is the right time to blow up the bridge.
Many of the men take to Robert right away. The one person who has greatly taken to him is a young woman named Maria (Bergman) and he feels the same toward her. They fall in love even though they know there is much danger ahead. One person who poses great danger is man named Pablo who is hostile towards Robert and nasty to the other fighters around him. Even Pablo’s wife Pilar is not happy with him at all. Pilar is a strong woman with more courage and more fight in her than all the people around her.
Robert plans for weeks on how and when to blow up the bridge. Just a short time before the day the bridge is to be destroyed the loyalists send troops around the mountains. The guerillas begin to fight drawing attention towards them. The fighting threatens the plan of the explosion. A paper is confiscated off one of the dead republicans that Robert had drawn of the bridge and given to one of the generals. The bridge does explode and almost everyone makes it out.
One of the central themes of the story is death. Many of the characters including Robert contemplate death. Robert knows that by taking the mission to blow up the bridge he is going to die. Every one of the characters have a very tragic encounter with death during their country’s Civil War. Maria’s parents were killed, she was taken prisoner, and her head shaven (her short hair represents the three months it has been since her hair was shaved). A character named Joaquin lost his family as well and follows an older man who is like his father. Maria and some of the other characters surround Joaquin and tell him that they are his family. Although the plot and story are grim like many of Hemmingway’s other stories it is very good and the characters are very well written
There is nothing awful with any of the performances in the film they are all incredible. Ingrid Bergman is just total perfection as always the more I see of her the more I am convinced she never ever gave a bad performance. She was just acting perfection. Maria is supposed to be a young, tragic girl in love and Bergman just nailed it. I like Gary Cooper but I have only ever seen him in bits and pieces of films before this. Cooper was also a very excellent actor I cannot pin down what makes him a great actor he just was. Bergman and Cooper made a great couple they looked and acted so amazing together. For Whom the Bell Tolls was filmed in Technicolor and I cannot tell you how gorgeous Cooper and Bergman looked in color. Their eyes were gorgeous and the glamour lighting on Bergman just made her even more beautiful.
One very interesting trivia about Ingrid Bergman for this film is that she had to cut her hair really short which Hemmingway told her and she said “To get the part I’d cut my head off.” She was pretty safe because the author insisted that she get the role along with Gary Cooper. There became a problem though because Bergman had just finished filming Casablanca. Warner Bros. wanted to take out “As Time Goes By” and in order to do that they would have had to cut out the part where Bergman asks Sam to play it and she hums it. Well thank goodness her hair was cut because there would have been an issue with continuity even if she had a wig. I cannot even imagine Casablanca without “As Time Goes By” so I highly thank Hemmingway for having created his lead female character with short hair and insisting that Bergman play Maria.
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a very good film. I was not sure if I would like it even if Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper were the leads. But once the film started and I saw how pretty it was in Technicolor and once they story got going I liked it. This is a fabulously made classic film from the direction, acting, color, and scenery. For Whom the Bell Tolls is a classic film not to be missed.
Sabrina is a cute, light film. It is a great classic film which I cannot see why because of the boring, overused plot and the casting but I would not say to blow it off and never see it.
“Honey, we all got to go sometime, reason or no reason. Dyin’s as natural as livin’. The man who’s too afraid to die is too afraid to live.”
If you have ever heard of The Misfits it is probably because it is surrounded by so much legend and for a very morbid reason. This was the last film for Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Gable died of heart attack before the film was released and Monroe died a year later. Montgomery Cliff had been in his disfiguring car accident five years previous and I have to say I barely even noticed him in his first scene. Cliff would die only five years after the film was released. Yeah, so death and doom just lingers around The Misfits.
The film starts out with a woman named Roslyn Taber (Monroe) getting a divorce in Reno. She helped out by her friend Isabelle (Thelma Ritter) who gets her to the courthouse on time and tries to cheer her up later on with a drink. While getting a drink the two women meet an old cowboy named Gay Langland (Gable) and his friend Guido (Eli Wallach). Roslyn has nowhere to go so she and Isabelle go out to Guido’s unfinished house for some fun.
Gay and Guido offer Roslyn a place to stay since she has nowhere else to in life. She stays and lives with the two men. One day Gay and Guido decide to go looking for some mustangs out in the Nevada desert to sell. They gain the help of a horse and bull rider named Perce (Cliff) who works in a traveling rodeo.
They all have a good time together no matter how tortured and lost they are all in their own ways. Out in the desert things begin to fall apart for the four lost souls when they go out wrangling mustangs known as misfits.
I had a hard time getting into the story and understanding it as I was watching it but after researching it a bit I understand the characters better and what the story was saying. Arthur Miller, who was once married to Monroe, wrote the film while out in Reno waiting for his divorce from the actress. It is sad to see what is a mix of truth and fiction about Monroe and what was going through Miller’s mindset at the time. All the characters are misfits of society with sad and tragic happenings in their lives to make them the way they are: Monroe is a divorced, sad, lonely, and emotional woman; Gable is an old cowboy who has not gone out with the old ways of his kind; Perce has lost out on his inheritance his father has left him when his mother remarried and is left wandering around as a rodeo entertainer; Guido lost his wife who he knew since they were both seven and fought as a fighter pilot in the war. The three men make life a little bit harder for Roslyn as they try to win her love. At the end their chasing comes to a head with Roslyn already very emotional.
Every one of the actors gives such amazing performances. I am not a huge of Marilyn Monroe she really does nothing for me if I ever sit through a film of hers. I actually really liked Monroe she was so good. It is sad to see her in this film not only because it is her last film but because she gave so much to this role and really knocked it out and this is what we could have seen more from her had she lived. There was one scene in the desert where Roslyn runs away from the men out in the desert and just yells and screams. Monroe was fabulous in the scene to me there are no words to describe it as well as it can be it just needs to be seen. This has to be my favorite Clark Gable role I have seen of his so far. He was the tough guy but had a heart and really cared for Roslyn. His best scene in a film is when Gay sees his kids after not having seen them in a year he had gone out to get Roslyn so she could meet his kids. When they walk back into the bar his kids are gone. Drunk and out of control he gets angry and yells and falls all over the place. Again, no words to describe how amazing the scene was. I barely even recognized Montgomery Cliff when he first shown he just looked so much different. He was good too but I cannot understand why he was third billed when Eli Wallach was in it more than him. Wallach I have never seen him in a film before this and I found him very good.
John Huston was an amazing director. The entire film was just shot beautifully. He brilliantly captured the desert surrounding the characters when they were out there.
The Misfits is a beautiful film. I will admit, like I said, I did not understand it until I researched it and before that I did not really know what to think of the story and the characters. Now looking back at it everything about The Misfits is great. There is a wonderful mix of beauty and sadness in The Misfits. Do not just watch the film as the last film for Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe and all the doom and death that surrounds it looking at it that way will only be a distraction. Look at the characters and really pay attention to them as lost, wandering people. The Misfits is a film that should be seen by all movie lovers no matter what era/eras you enjoy, it is a cinematic gem.
There have been so many cop films made that they all begin to get boring after a while. I always like the ones where we as the audience know who the killer or thief is and the cops/good guys do not know. To me it makes the suspense and action more exciting and watching them trying to get to something we know is enjoyable. Vice Squad is just the kind of cop film I enjoy seeing.
Captain “Barnie” Barnaby (Edward G. Robinson) has a new case on his hands: a cop was shot while trying to stop a car robbery and died. The whole bureau is on the hunt for the man who had the nerve to kill a good man. There is a witness but the man does not want to talk because he saw what happened as he was coming out from seeing a call girl at her apartment. Barnie knows the man is not saying all he knows and that he has something to hide. Through some trumped up charges Barnie keeps having the man brought back to jail which we learn at the end was so the man could identify the shooter.
Barnie is calling out all the favors he can. He and the vice squad are very familiar with a woman named Mona Ross (Paulette Goddard) who runs a barely legal escort service. Whether the cops are familiar with Mona as clients or just for information is unclear. Apparently Barnie and Mona are on close terms. He has a feeling one of her girls was around the night of the murder but cannot be sure.
In the middle of finding the shooter and the other robbers Barnie takes on smaller police matters such as a fraud case and being interviewed for a TV show. These smaller cases add a little more, not so much chaos but a nice touch. They let the audience get their tense nerves in order for a few moments. Also, in the mean time, Barnie gets word from an informant that there will be a bank robbery so he has people on guard at the bank. The same group who ran the car robbery are running the bank robbery. One of the robbers grabs a young bank clerk on his way out.
The way the case unfolds and how the robbers are found is very good. At the end you can see how all of Barnies dealings during the film come together and work out.
Edward G. Robinson is playing his same old tough guy but he is so good at it that this kind of role for him does not get old. Paulette Goddard at this time in her career was beginning to wane only played a minor part even though she is topped billed. This does not mean she was anything but great. She was perfect as the madam of an escort service. Robinson and Goddard made a bit of an odd pair to be billed together but they worked out nicely in their scenes together. I am just happy they were not a romantic item that would have not gone over very well I feel.
Sitting through Vice Squad at first I was a little bored but looking back I see it as an interesting film. What really makes the film very appealing is the use of location shots and the cinematography with great it’s use of light and shadows that give the film a small Noir touch. There were some moments where I really liked the direction and the plot was very well done.
“Well, then. Now. I’ll begin at the beginnin’. A fine soft day in the spring, it was, when the train pulled into Castletown, three hours late as usual, and himself got off. He didn’t have the look of an American tourist at all about him. Not a camera on him; what was worse, not even a fishin’ rod.”
There are so many stereotypes against the Irish it is difficult to count. The main ones being they fight a lot and drink too much and have quick tempers. I know from having a bit of Irish in my family what these are like especially the quick tempers (I am Italian, Irish, German, English, and French. The first three are the worst combinations ever!!). The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara is chock full of Irish stereotypes (all carefully and lovingly portrayed) mixed with a very entertaining story.
Sean Thornton (Wayne) leaves America to settle in his family’s hometown of Innisfree to reclaim their farmhouse and land. His family left Ireland when he was young and many people in the town remember them. Sean is welcomed by the town except for a man named “Red” Will Danaher whom Sean outbid for his land. Red is ready to fight Sean at the drop of a hat but Sean just blows him off and does not bother with him.
When Sean was being brought to his home he passed a beautiful young woman who he later learns is Mary Kate Danaher (O’Hara) the younger sister of Red. Red becomes even more furious with the American after he hears the man has a soft spot for his sister. Mary Kate thinks Sean is nice and handsome and would like to see him. Red will hear nothing of the kind. The townspeople including a priest conspire a plan to get Red to become interested in marrying someone and putting it into his head that Mary Kate will have to marry and move out for it will not be right to have two ladies in the house. This plan goes perfectly until the day of Sean and Mary Kate’s wedding when Red learns of the plan. Now he will not give his sister the dowry she was promised when she married.
The dowry represents independence, freedom, and pride to Mary Kate. Sean cannot understand her obsession to gain her wealth and possessions that were promised her and because he cannot understand her stubbornness over things it causes a rift between the married couple. Mary Kate sees him as a coward because Sean will not stand up to her brother and demand what are hers and theirs.
The last half hour of the film is so good and so funny.
There are so many funny and good moments throughout the whole film. My favorite part is probably the one that is most well known when Mary Kate speaks Gaelic to the priest when she wants to tell him what is happening between her and Sean. At one point she says “sleeping bag” so you know what she is talking about. I was just cracking up because the poor priest is relaxing and trying to get this fish he has been trying to get for ten years and it is finally on his line. Mary Kate starts yelling and getting excited too yells “get it you fool” or something like that and when the priest does not get it her face drops and she runs away. Another scene is after Sean and Mary Kate get married. She is upset that her brother did not give her her dowry so she tells Sean he is not to touch her. She runs to the bedroom and locks the door but he kicks it down, corners her, kisses her, and then throws her on the bed breaking it. In the morning their friends come bring Mary Kate’s furniture with one piece being a cradle. They tell one of their friends who is an older man to put it in the bedroom so he does and when he sees the bed broken and a mess his reaction is perfect.
John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara were perfect together. This is the first time I ever really sat through a Maureen O’Hara film even though I have seen bits and pieces of several of her other films. I enjoyed her so much I loved all the scenes when her quick Irish temper comes through. There was a scene where Mary Kate and Red are fighting and they go throw things at each other and she picks up a vase, the look on her face is so good. I love John Wayne in his roles that are not Westerns. I thought he was fantastic in this film I wished I could go run up to him and give him a big hug haha. Wayne and O’Hara had such good chemistry it is not surprising that they made five films together.
John Ford directed the film as he did with several John Wayne films. I like Ford he always made great films. He was known for his action films like Wayne was as well so this was a big departure for both director and actor. They both did fantastic and the shots that Ford was able to capture are beautiful.
The Quiet Man is a fantastic film. Right from the moment I started watching it I wanted it on DVD so bad. I can remember seeing the DVD when I worked at Best Buy a few years ago… if only I had liked it then! Everything about The Quiet Man is so good I do not have one complaint about it. There are great dramatic scenes and plenty of funny moments. Entire cast down to the villagers were perfection.
The Quiet Man is a classic film that should be watched by every film lover.
The story is without a doubt a melodrama and worse a melodrama about a little girl’s infatuation with an older man that never dies…. Oh wait a minute, does this sound kind of familiar? Scarlett O’Hara anyone? For some reason the plot really works and does not get unbearable (well to me anyway). Both characters have many faults- Lisa has either a mental or moral weakness which never lets her get over Stefan and Stefan just floats through life never committing. For one it works so well because of Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan in the leading roles. Fontaine is amazing this is one of her best roles (apparently this is her favorite film she made). Besides the voice over she does not really say too much in the film but she does not have to she could always say so much just through her facial expressions. Jourdan was perfectly cast of a man who is surrounded by women and cannot settle in his life even giving up on being a concert pianist. The second thing that makes it work is the writing. The screenplay was written by Howard Koch who wrote such films as The Sea Hawk, In This Our Life,Sergeant York, and my all time favorite classic film Casablanca. The characters and story come from a novella of the same name by Stefan Zweig. I am not sure if it is the same in the novella but I liked how there was great meaning given to trains in this film they are sentimental and heartbreaking.
Letter From an Unknown Woman is a very good film and a good story no matter how melodramatic it is. Lisa Berndle was a girl at an impressionable age when she first laid eyes on Stefan Brand. Her first impression of the man stayed with her all her life. I guess I am a sentimental at heart otherwise I would have laughed off a story like this but I did not instead I found myself thinking of the film long after it was over. In many ways Letter From an Unknown Woman is heartbreaking it is heartbreaking in the fact that Lisa was so infatuated and obsessed with this one man and while she practically lives for him he never remembers her and he is made to seem like he never cared for her. I really cannot explain why I was left thinking of the film later on but I was. It is not incredible or life changing it is just very well done all around.
“My dear girl, you cannot keep bumping your head against reality and saying it is not there.”
Psychoanalysis is a subject/plot device we often see in thrillers. There is nothing more thrilling and scary then getting into someone’s mind probably because they have either been some or all based on real cases. No other filmmaker was better at psychological thrillers than Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was the master at creating mind bending stories that reached and took hold the minds of the audience. Hitchcock delves into the mind and psychoanalysis head first in one of my favorite films of his Spellbound.
Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychologist at Green Manors. She is (apparently) the only female doctor in a facility dominated by male doctors. She is young, brilliant, and very attractive. One doctor tries to pull the moves on her but as he says “It is rather like embracing a textbook.” Looking at it Constance is very dedicated to her studies and her work that she has worked to earn.
The head of Green Manors, Dr. Murchison, is about to be replaced by Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck). When Edwardes arrives Constance is surprised to see a very handsome, young man and is taken with him the moment she meets him. Constance takes Edwardes around the grounds of the institution for the afternoon. The two doctors get along very well. Later that night at dinner the other doctors take great notice that Constance is very much taken with the new doctor by her demeanor and her appearance.
Constance cannot stop thinking of Edwardes. She goes to his room in her nightclothes and robe. The two talk and while talking Edwardes walks up to Constance embracing her and kissing her. Her mind is now fully open to love as we see through the symbolization of the doors of her mind opening to the fact. A few seconds later something goes wrong with Edwardes when he sees the lines on Constance’s white robe. He gets an attack of nerves and backs away from her.
After another incident with Edwardes where he passes out in an operating room Constance gets to thinking. She takes out a book by Edwardes that has been signed by him and compares it to a note written by the man she knows. The signatures are completely different the man she is watching over as he sleeps is not Dr. Anthony Edwardes but an imposter. When the man comes to, Constance asks him who is but he cannot remember he is suffering from amnesia. The man thinks he may be the one who could have killed the real Edwardes and taken his place. Taking out one of his belongings they see his initials are JB.
The next morning JB has left leaving a note for Constance apologizing for what he has done and where he will be. Constance goes after him to help him overcome his condition. Now JB and Constance are on the run from the police and it becomes a race to find out his identity and what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes.
The story of Spellbound was inspired by the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes by Francis Beeding. I have read the novel and the only thing Hitchcock took from the novel was JB taking over as Dr. Edwardes but even that is extremely loosely based on the character in the novel and even the character of Constance is as well. The novel is pretty extreme with portraying the insane people of a psychiatric home somewhere in Europe. Constance has just arrived as a new doctor to the home. Hitchcock most likely liked the idea of someone talking another’s identity but obviously, as he told Truffaut, he wanted “… to do something more sensible, to turn out the first picture on psychoanalysis.” He did make a sensible picture even if he and writer Ben Hecht took some liberties with the science. I am not about to explain all the psychological aspects of the film but if you have ever taken psych classes in your life you will understand most of what is going on since the film (like all films) has to cater to an audience and needs to be understandable. At this time the press was preaching how psychological counseling was a great advantage to returning GIs from World War II. This went perfectly with Hitchcock’s wanting a sensible story and Selznick and Hecht had been in psychoanalysis and added their own touches to the film.
The most original, creative, and amazing dream sequence can be seen in Spellbound. Hitchcock did not want a “traditional way of handling dream sequences through a blurred and hazy screen” so he went to Selznick and asked to have famed Surrealist artist Salvador Dali create the sequence. Selznick thought it was a publicity ploy but it was not the director “…wanted to convey the dreams with great visual sharpness and clarity, sharper than the film itself. I wanted Dali because of the architectural sharpness of his work… the long shadows, the infinity of distance, and the converging lines of perspective.” As an Art History major I have studied Dali and the Surrealists and no one art movement or artists could have been better suited to help make a Hitchcock scene. From paintings to photography the Surrealists were interested in dreams and interpretation. The dream sequence in the film is incredible it was so well made and just fit so perfectly with the story. Whenever I see the film and this scene comes on I get so excited because I understand it and I can truly see why Hitchcock was such a genius he knew what would work. I will admit Surrealist art is a bit unsettling and the scene with the eyes is somewhat unsettling but it is just so cool.
There are many other scenes in the film that were excellently filmed or created. One scene I really like is when Constance and JB first kiss. As I mentioned when they kiss the doors to Constance’s mind that had been closed to love open. This “unlocking” is very important to the film it could be the third point of the plot with JB’s mind needing to be unlocked to find out who is and what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes. At the end there is a hand with a gun that the person holding it turns on themselves. The hand is fake otherwise there would not have been a way to film it correctly but it is Hitchcock and fakeness of the hand does not matter. When the gun is fired the screen turns red. In the middle of the film Constance takes JB to the home of her former teacher Dr. Burlov. JB awakens in the middle of the night and goes into a delusional state after seeing white and parallel lines. He goes downstairs with a shaving razor in his hand and Dr. Burlov is awake, working at his desk. The doctor hands JB a glass of milk. The milk almost looks like the milk glass in Suspicion but instead of only seeing it on a tray or in a hand we get JB’s view of him drinking it. Burlov saw the razor in JB’s hand and gave him milk with bromide in it.
Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck were perfection together they were both such amazing actors in their own right but together they just light the screen. Bergman no matter what she was in was perfection and she suited Hitchcock’s style of filming very well. She added warmth but this warmth gets taken advantage of and Hitchcock/Hecht make women look stupid when they are in love. Sure stupid things can be done when someone is in love and yes Constance can be seen as unprofessional but I think the director and writer took Constance’s love a little too far and depending on how you look at it she can seem like the dumbest character ever. I look at Constance as being really truly in love for the first time and she was willing to risk everything for it. Only Ingrid Bergman could play characters like this and not make the character look stupid. Hell she played this type of character to certain extents throughout her career. As much as I admire Peck in this film I will have to agree with Truffaut in his statement “Whereas Ingrid Bergman is an extraordinary actress, ideally suited to your (Hitchcock) style, Gregory Peck isn’t a Hitchcockian actor. He’s shallow for one, but the main thing is the lack of expression in his eyes.” I will absolutely agree with his lack of expression with his eyes. I find classic actresses were way better at expressing emotions through their eyes or facial expressions than the actors. If Peck does make any expressions it is not good. I feel that with Peck in this film he is holding back from something but I think that can be put down to Bergman giving her all like she did in all her films.
Miklos Rosza created an amazing score. It has to be one of the most intense film scores that can be heard in a film. To create the paranoia of JB whenever he saw white and parallel lines Rosza had the theremin. This was the first time a theremin had been used in a film score supported by a full orchestra. Rosza won his first Academy Award for Spellbound and it is considered a landmark in film music. Unfortunately Rosza was not a fan of this score he preferred his score for The Lost Weekend (in which he also used the theremin) and I am sure that had a lot to do with the fact that he did not get along very well with Selznick or Hitchcock. Producer and director did not say very much in how they wanted the music to be. Also this happened: “Selznick’s office phoned after the premier of The Lost Weekend asking him if it were true that he had used the theremin in The Lost Weekend as well as Spellbound (as though Selznick had a monopoly on the use of the theremin). Rosza, not to be outdone by Selznick responded with, ‘Yes, I had used not only the theremin, but also the piccolo, the trumpet, the triangle, and the violin… Goodbye!’” Rosza’s score is perfect it fits the characters and the storyline so well.
Truffaut and even Hitchcock did not particularly care for Spellbound. They say there are confusing moments and certain issues with the acting and filming but I cannot disagree more. Spellbound is such an original film from the story (even if it is based off a novel) to the way it was filmed. What truly makes this film so amazing is the way Hitchcock used sexual desire and love to create suspense (he did this in many of his films but never, in my opinion, did it work so well than here) No matter how many times I watch this film I am completely taken by it. As with most Hitchcock films I am always sitting on the edge of my seat.
Spellbound is classic cinema and Hitchcock at their best. This is the original psychological thriller that set the precedent for all to come.