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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
May. 18, 2005 | 2:23 AM
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Double Bill - THE SIN OF NORA MORAN & THE POWER AND THE GLORY

If you haven’t attended the Wednesday night Film Preservation series at UCLA—you MUST!  It is an excellent evening and always provides great insight into the process (both creative and technical) of restoring a film.  They also tend to show really rare hard to find gems which makes it all the more worthy. 

This particular evening, the screened a double feature of 2 recently restored prints. 

THE POWER AND THE GLORY (1933)

First up was THE POWER AND THE GLORY which is the film that launched Spencer Tracy into full blown stardom.  Before the film UCLA’s Robert Gitt explained that the film was actually the forerunner of CITIZEN KANE in terms of its storytelling style.  He said that the film was so influential that countless writers and directors screened it for years and considered it a great inspiration.  The film was written by the great Preston Sturges and is not just good—it was GREAT!  The story chronicles the rise and fall of a railroad executive named Tom Garner (Spencer Tracy) and is told through a series of flashbacks.  The characters are complicated, flawed and incredibly interesting.  Silent star Colleen Moore plays his long suffering wife in the film and she is excellent!  She is really the heart of the film and it is because of her encouragement and strength that the Spencer Tracy character succeeds.  Unfortunately he finds out that his success comes at a price.  The power and status he has achieved slowly start to destroy his life and the lives of those around him.

The dialogue crackles and this film is simply electrifying.  It has such a tremendous amount of energy and momentum behind it.  The fact that the film is still around is something of a minor miracle.  Robert Gitt explained that the original negative was destroyed in a fire and they had to call upon multiple sources to restore and preserve the film.  The main and end titles had to be recreated as well as parts of the score. 

Fortunately due to these efforts, the film is alive and well.  I really hope this gets a DVD release.  We are so spoiled living here in Los Angeles to get to see rare films like this on the big screen, but there are so many film lovers who aren’t so fortunate.  This film is incredible and really deserves to be available to film lovers in every corner of the world.

THE SIN OF NORA MORAN (1933)

Based on the title alone, I was VERY interested in seeing this film.  This film is told in flashbacks, flashforwards and flash backs within flashbacks.  The narrative goes far off the rails, but it didn’t matter much because I was so enraptured with the film that I was willing to go along for the freefalling ride.  The UCLA Program notes described this film as, “Haunting, hallucinatory, artistic, exploitive?THE SIN OF NORA MORAN may be the best B-picture of the ‘30s.”  I complete agree.  This is without question the most avant garde narrative film I have ever seen.  Being a low budget B-movie, it makes incredible use of stock footage!  When Nora Moran is walking down the street you see this barrage of city skyscrapers, a woman’s feet walking, cigarette smoke and images of dingy nightclubs and jazz musicians.  That montage alone explained so much about the gritty, seemy, yet strangely seductive world that Nora Moran was inhabiting.    Zita Johann played the title role and she was really excellent.  She played Nora Moran not as a heartless vixen, but with a great deal of sympathy.  She was best known for co-starring with Boris Karloff in THE MUMMY, but she would only make one more film in 1934 before retiring.  That is a real shame because she clearly had talent and could have had a long career.

As far as this film being a Pre-Code, well ALL the proper elements are there.  The film contains rape, murder, lying, cheating, scandal, the electric chair and death row! 

Yes, this film is a real pot boiler and is well worth checking out…which you CAN.  It is available on DVD!


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
May. 15, 2005 | 10:30 PM
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CRASH

In my effort to mix up my film-going, I went to see the new film CRASH written and directed by Paul Haggis.  I must admit my expectations were very high given that I loved MILLION DOLLAR BABY (which he wrote) and I really like the cast.  The film was very well made and Haggis seems to have a great understanding of desperate working class people in Los Angeles.  The problem I had with the film is that it didn’t dig deep enough into the characters and flesh them out in a more 3 dimensional way.  In watching this film it is obviously in the similiar vain of MAGNOLIA, for but some reason I found that MAGNOLIA packed much more of a punch.  It had more of a jagged, eccentric edge and it showed you a clearer portrait of the characters and their inner workings before it cut to the quick. 

The story that seemed to be the most effective was the one with Matt Dillion as the racist cop.  At first we see what a horrible vile person he is and then later in the film we find out why and where his hatred and attitude stems from.  Dillion is great in the role and you really get a sense of his frustration, rage and desperation.  I also really admired the work of Don Cheadle.  He just makes every movie he is in better by his presence.  I’d honestly pay $12 to watch him read the phone book.  He is equally effective in the film, but again I wish I would have seen more of his character and learned more about his character’s perspective.  Sandra Bullock does well in her role, but she is given little to do.  We never find out much about her or what is driving her to feel the way she does. 

There were also some character twists that bothered me.  It seems that almost every character in the film is extremely racist, yet for some of the characters that doesn’t seem to fit.  For example the cop played by Jennifer Esposito gets outraged and makes racist comments towards an Asian woman who collides with her in a car accident, YET later on when Don Cheadle’s character makes a racist remark about her being Mexican she takes such great offense.  Her character seems to have the attitude that racism is ok as long as it is not about her.  That just didn’t ring true in the scipt or to her character. 

Overall, CRASH is an interesting portrait of racism in Los Angeles and it is worth seeing…but at the end of the day I’m still harboring mixed emotions because I felt it just didn’t dig deep enough to get to the core of what causes it in the first place.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
May. 12, 2005 | 1:59 AM
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THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1929)

Tonight I went to the excellent UCLA series “Out of the Past: Film Preservation Today” to see the 1929 version of TAMING OF THE SHREW.  I was very curious to see this film for a variety of reasons.  Firstly because it is very rarely shown and secondly because it led to the ruin of stars Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and director Sam Taylor.  I kept wondering how a film could be so awful that it destroyed 3 careers!  I had to see it and find out why.  I went into the film with very low expectations.  I was ready for a train wreck.  Surprisingly, it didn’t pan out that way.  The film is actually not too bad.  At a running time of 63 minutes, it didn’t exactly stay faithful to the play, but in many ways that didn’t matter.  The UCLA preservation person spoke before the film and told us that only 20% of the film was actually taken from the play.  Apparently in 1929 they made a silent version of this as well since many theatres around the world were still not equipped for sound.  In 1966 someone decided to restore the film and re-release it to dovetail the upcoming Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton version.  In doing so in 1966, this person edited the film down, laid in new music and really bad sound effects.  What we saw was this 1966 version.

At any rate, back to the film itself…..it’s actually NOT half bad.  Douglas Fairbanks really seems to be having fun with is character and is actually quite good.  Mary Pickford seems a bit ill at ease in certain aspects of the role, but overall she manages to hold her own.  Watching these 2 world famous silent film stars act for the first time together, their chemistry is clearly apparent.  At the time this film was made they were having problems in their marriage, but you seen any evidence of that in this film.  The direction is not too bad either.  The camera moves around quite a bit considering this is an early talkie.  They had a top notch A-list crew including cinematographer Hal Rosson and set designer William Cameron Menzies. 

No, this film was not a disaster AT ALL, which made me wonder why it has such a bad reputation and why it has been blamed for the collapse of 3 careers. 

In my opinion, I don’t blame the film….just the timing.  Pickford and Fairbanks were both having great career difficulties before this film was made.  Their images and popularity was so directly tied to silent cinema that when talkies began it was clear that the public was ready for new stars in what was essentially a new medium.  Buster Keaton, Clara Bow, John Gilbert, Lillian Gish, Louise Brooks, and countless other talented stars met a similiar fate.  Ensuing decades have proven their talent to be timeless, but right then….right there…they were simply relics of the 20s.  They were sort of frozen in a certain era that the rest of the world was soon to leave behind for a new one. 

I was honestly surprised to find THE TAMING OF THE SHREW was not at all what I was expecting.  I love it when I my expectations are overturned.  That is one of the things that makes movie-going interesting.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
May. 10, 2005 | 5:37 AM
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LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF

Tonight I went to the Egyptian Theatre to see LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF which is an amazing documentary about how Los Angeles is portrayed in films.  It covers many aspects of the city and how it has been used and misused as a cinematic backdrop.  The span of the film covers the 1930s through 2001.  There is so much amazing footage in this film and it gives you a real sense of how Los Angeles has evolved as a city over the years.  The theatre was completely packed.  That’s pretty impressive considering the film is a 3 hour documentary playing on a Tuesday night.  There are a ton of inside jokes that everyone was laughing at.  Seeing the film in such a crowded theatre really made it a great community experience. 

There was one section of the film that just covered LA architecture and showed the homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra and how they’ve been used in films.  What interested me about the film was how it addressed the disparity between “Hollywood” and Los Angeles and how they exist in the public perception.  The film even covered racial issues and how racism and stereotyping has been often a staple of movies and of the culture of Los Angeles itself.  The ending of the film discussed the Neorealist movement of the late 60s and early 70s brought about by the efforts of many great African American filmmakers.  The film also delved into issues of class and how the lower class in particular has been falsley portrayed in films.  There were so many little points that were made and things that were addressed that I never really noticed before.  The director of the documentary narrated it as well and his delivery is dry, flat and lifeless.  At first this really annoyed me, but as the film progressed its tone became much more sarcastic and the narration seemed much more in tune with the film. 

Another chapter of the film covers various directors and their relationship to Los Angeles.  That was also an incredibly interesting approach.  It was a documentary about a city reflecting on directors and how THEY see the city. 

LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF is really fascinating in its portrait of the city as a symbol, a location, an urban battle ground, a myth, and ultimately a complicated and misunderstood city where real people live, work and struggle to survive.

I find myself wanting to watch it again… and again.  This is one of those films that you can get something new and fresh out of with each viewing.

Due to the sheer number of movie clips used in the film, I highly doubt it will ever get a VHS or DVD release so please make sure to see this film.  It is an important piece of work and well worth 3 hours of your time.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
May. 7, 2005 | 1:30 AM
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DOWNSTAIRS

Given my newfound fascination with silent star John Gilbert, I found a friend who gave me his rare pre-code film DOWNSTAIRS on VHS.  The film is about a chauffeur who arrives to work in a new home and in the process seduces the wife of the head butler, blackmails the lady of the house, and embezzles money from the elderly cook.  He is an evil cad through and through.  The film is a brisk and entertaining piece of Pre-Code filmmaking.  John Gilbert is great in the lead role and his voice is great too!  I think the problem he had with this film is that audiences didn’t want to see him playing such an evil unrepentant character.  Many film stars (of silents and talkies) became trapped in many ways by their images and in the process weren’t allowed to stretch artistically.  When some of them did, their films failed and then it subsequently hurt their careers.  Their fame and success became quite a double edge sword.  In any case, John Gilbert actually wrote the story that DOWNSTAIRS is based on.  I’m currently reading the biography about him entitled DARK STAR.  I highly endorse the book.  It is a really excellent account of not only his career, but of the struggles of establishing and maintaining a career in 20s and 30s Hollywood.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
May. 4, 2005 | 1:22 AM
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KILLER OF SHEEP

Let me first being by saying if you haven’t been to the UCLA film series entitled “Out of the Past: Film Preservation Today” on Wednesday nights….PLEASE go to this in the future.  The series is FREE and it is a great way to learn about the decisions and the process that goes into restoring a film and making it live again.

The feature shown tonight was KILLER OF SHEEP.  I knew nothing about this film going in except that I really liked the title.  I’ve actually purchased many books simply because I liked the title or cover art and so far doing that has never steered me wrong. 

KILLER OF SHEEP was made in the early 70s by UCLA grad student Charles Burnett.  The film was shot on location on the streets of south central Los Angeles, but if you are expecting something like BOYZ IN THE HOOD, you won’t find it here.  Burnett’s film is a thoughtful meditation on an impoverished family whose members are doing the best they can to survive.  The UCLA program notes referred to this film as “a stunning example of American urban neo-realism at its best.”

I would call it a non fiction version of A RAISIN IN THE SUN.  The film is not a plot driven piece but is one that is guided by quiet moments that speak louder than pages of dialogue ever could.  There is one scene where a husband and wife try to have a romantic evening. Judging by the look in their eyes, it is clear that the woman is far more interested than the man is.  He is hesitant even reluctant to be there with her.  It is obvious his mind and possibly heart are elsewhere.  He finally walks away from the dance leaving the woman to look after him with an expression of heartbreak and disappointment in her eyes.  Words aren’t necessary, in fact it would spoil the moment if anything was said in the first place.  A later scene re-affirms the man’s lack of interest when he lights up and becomes animated in the presence of their daughter.  He comes alive briefly for her in a way he never does for his wife.  Again, no words are exchanged here but she knows…..the pained look in her eyes says so.

Another scene that works really well in the film is when two men try to purchase a motor and put it in a truck.  Their struggle is reminicent of a Laurel & Hardy short as they haul it into the truck only to have it fall off and break in the street.  It seems that motor is a symbol of something larger (like their dreams) failing to sustain any momentum. 

The score for the film consisted of a bunch of terrific jazz tunes.  They fit the emotional beats of the film perfectly.

Overall KILLER OF SHEEP is a haunting and beautiful portrait of people struggling against not only poverty but each other.  This film captures a place, a group of people and a time in history that is every bit as potent now as it was 3 decades ago when the film was made. 


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 30, 2005 | 2:07 AM
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GUYS AND DOLLS

This weekend I wound up house sitting and dog sitting for my friend Jeff who was out of town on vacation.  Jeff has an AMAZING collection of DVDs, cable and TiVo, so sufficed to say I didn’t leave the couch the entire weekend.  Hell, I didn’t even inconvenience myself to leave the house for food.  I just got the phone book and ordered everything in.  Fortunately Turner Classic Movies was running a series of musicals and I finally saw GUYS AND DOLLS, which amazingly I had never seen before.  I loved it!  Before the film Robert Osbourne said that Frank Sinatra was unhappy with the film and felt that HE should have played the role of “Sky Masterson” instead of Marlon Brando.  With all due respect to Mr. Sinatra (and believe me there’s plenty) I think he was far better suited for his role as “Nathan Detroit.”  The casting was exactly as it should have been.

Since “Sky Masterson” has to seduce a prim uptight missionary into running off with him to Havana, the role calls for every bit of sex appeal that one actor can muster.  That’s why Brando fits the bill.  The woman is such a cold and harsh person that it must take a man of supreme charms to melt her heart and win her favor.  It is a tough task and “Sky” proves he is more than up to the challenge.  Meanwhile, “Nathan Detroit” is caught in the middle of trying to set up the city’s largest floating crap game AND to keep his neglected fiance “Miss Adelaide” from finding out about it.  We find out that “Nathan” has been engaged to her for about 13 years or so!  Naturally she is frustrated and eager for him to finally marry her.

The film features excellent musical numbers such as “Luck Be A Lady,” “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat” and “Take Back Your Mink.”

Plot complications ensue and the characters finally get their happy ending in the form of a double wedding.  The film is colorful, fun and entertaining.  It was directed by the great Joseph L. Mankiewicz and it wound up being the only musical he ever made.  If you are looking for a classic grand scale Hollywood musical, this is it hands down!


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 25, 2005 | 1:26 AM
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The Film Noir continues with LARCENY & JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON

Yes I fed my noir addiction yet again! 

JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON (1949)
This low budget noir directed by William Castle features Dan Duryea as a criminal who gets sprung from the big house in order to help crack a heroin smuggling ring that is taking over a western restort town.  Naturally there are complications…many of them as it turns out.  The films co-stars Howard Duff and Shelly Winters who was still in her sexy bombshell phase.  This film was fun and entertaining but it wasn’t one of the more memorable noirs. 

LARCENY (1948)
Dan Duryea once again plays a shady character, this time he’s a hustler out to bilk a grieving war widow (Joan Caufield) out of her money.  This is film was everything a noir should be!  It had an evil femme fatale (a lusty Shelly Winters packing a pistol), snappy dialogue, and a rotten to the core scheme.  The plan becomes complicated when Duryea starts to make the war widow believe he’s in love with her.  Seeing her character with such trust and vulnerability set against such bad intentions makes for a great story and an excellent noir. 

Dan Duryea was never a giant star like Cary Grant or Clark Gable, but he could always be counted on to give a rock solid performance.  Many low budget noirs were made far greater by his acting.  He always delivered and brought a great deal of talent to the table.  He was like the John C. Reilly of the 1940s and 50s.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 20, 2005 | 1:57 AM
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MAJOR DUNDEE-The Extended Version

Whenever there is a restoration, director’s cut or extended version of ANYTHING, you can pretty much bet I’m going to be front row center.  I’ve always greatly admired the work of Sam Peckinpah.  Whenever people ask me to list my most favorite films I almost always mention THE WILD BUNCH.  I’m also a fan of RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY.  There is just something about Peckinpah that I respond to.  His work has this sort of electric raw energy pulsating through every frame.  Since I had never seen MAJOR DUNDEE before, I was very excited to discover the film and to see it on the big screen.

The film chronicles the exploits of MAJOR DUNDEE (Charlton Heston) an iron willed Army officer who rounds up a rag tag group of prisoners and Confederate soliders (including Richard Harris) to chase a group of Apaches. 

While there are moments in the film that are pure Peckinpah touches, overall MAJOR DUNDEE is really lacking in focus.  The film was taken out of Peckinpah’s control in the editing room and recut so that much of the character development was deleted from the most important section of the film.

The problem that I had with the film is that it drags and fails to keep your interest.  Manohla Dargis of the NY Times said, “It’s amid the dust and desperate festivities that ‘‘Major Dundee’’ wanders beautifully off point, and the lack of narrative focus matters not a whit.”  With all due respect to Miss Dargis, I disagree.  It DOES matter….at least it mattered to me. 

I was disappointed by MAJOR DUNDEE and I was expecting it to be much more, HOWEVER I’m still glad I saw it.  The film is important to anyone studying Peckinpah’s work and how this film fits into the larger puzzle of his cinematic universe.

To read more about this film in the NY Times, click here.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 16, 2005 | 1:14 AM
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Garbo Talkies—and thoughts on John Gilbert

QUEEN CHRISTINA (1934) MGM
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

By this point in her career Garbo had a considerable amount of power.  She personally chose Rouben Mamoulian as her director and insisted that her ex-lover John Gilbert be cast in the male lead over Laurence Olivier no less.
The result is a lavish and entertaining historical drama that showcases the MGM artisans at their peak.  From spectacular costumes, ornate sets to perfect lighting, this was a first class production all the way.

I’d like to go off topic for a moment and discuss John Gilbert instead of Garbo.  I’ve fallen madly in love with him in the past few months and so has one of my close friends.  We’ve seen him in THE MERRY WIDOW a few months back at LACMA and in THE BIG PARADE which had a recent showing at the Academy.  This man has an amazing presence and is a flat out excellent actor.  He is so handsome and charming and likeable.  I’ve started reading up on him and it is so tragic that his career fell apart with the dawn of sound.  There have been many reasons and theories as to why this is.  This has been blamed on a variety of things from his bad relationship with Louis B. Mayer, his voice, his drinking and the changing audience tastes.  I agree with historian Jeanine Basinger who said that sound simply diminished him.  His romantic image when put with words….all of the sudden seemed silly and was ultimately rendered powerless.  He certainly wasn’t the only one.  Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Buster Keaton and Clara Bow all suffered greatly and were ultimately undone by sound.  Gilbert wasn’t alone by any means.  What saddens me is that he has become such an underappreciated and underrated actor and often times is regarded as a mere footnote in Hollywood history, particularly when one is discussing Garbo.  In truth he starred in many silent masterpieces, worked with the top directors and actresses of his day and deserves to be much more highly regarded than he is.

He was by far the BEST leading man Garbo ever had.  That was driven home very clearly watching Frederic March star opposite her in ANNA KARENINA. Don’t get me wrong, March is a fine actor, but he didn’t have the chemistry with Garbo that was really needed to make the story take flight. 

Watching QUEEN CHRISTINA made me realize that there was nothing wrong with Gilbert’s voice.  It was a fine voice and he is great in the film.  His final death scene seemed almost like a foreshadowing since this was to be his second to last film….and his last as a romantic lead.  When he closes his eyes and dies in Garbo’s arms….it seemed like more than just his character died.  His inner fire, his passion and his romantic screen presence died too. 


ANNA KARENINA (1935) MGM
Directed by Clarence Brown

This was Garbo’s second time to play ANNA KARENINA (her first time was in the silent film LOVE in 1927).  This retelling of Tolstoy’s classic 19th-century Russian novel once again gets the full MGM treatment.  From amazing costumes, decor and technical elements, the film is lovely to look at, but for me something was missing.

The story tells of Anna’s loveless confining marriage to Karenin (Basil Rathbone) and her doomed affair with Count Vronsky (Fredric March).  The problem for me with this film was the chemistry between Garbo and March.  I didn’t buy it.  As I said earlier, I love Frederic March as an actor…but I felt he was miscast in this.  I may sound petty here but he really didn’t look good in his uniform.  You just can’t have a romantic lead who is in the military who DOESN’T look good in his uniform.  March just looks shapeless and out of his element.  In order for a romantic film to work, it is CRUCIAL that you believe the chemistry between the two leads.  Otherwise, you have nothing.  Think of all the romantic films past and present and why they do (or in many cases don’t) work.  It is all about chemistry.  Of course that chemistry is hard to create and even more impossible to clearly define.  It is either there or it isn’t.  When it’s there….my gosh…how it works.  When Garbo and Gilbert first meet in FLESH AND THE DEVIL, you know there is chemistry.  It is palpable.  It is undeniable.  That can’t be forced or manufactured. 

In spite of the problem I had with the film, it was still great to look at on the big screen.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 10, 2005 | 4:39 PM
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A brief rant about audience etiquette

I forgot to say this in my last post…..

I was shocked at how rude the audience was at the Garbo films last night.  During THE TORRENT this one man’s cell phone rang.  He not only let it ring many times, but he ANSWERED IT and took the call right there in the theatre!  I lost my temper and took off after him, but my friend stopped me.  I seriously wanted to hurt him….although given my small stature I doubt I could have done too much damage.  I did scream, “No cell phones!” at him.

Then the couple sitting next to me kept laughing the entire time.  They thought every single thing was funny.  Garbo would just walk into a room and they would errupt in laughter.  It made me so mad! They had no respect for the film or the other audience members around them.  Maybe this is just my inner film geek speaking here, but when I go see a movie that was made in the 1920s, I look at it through 1920s eyes.  I don’t even attempt to compare it to things being made now in 2005.  It’s not fair to do that.  For example there is a flood scene in THE TORRENT and for 1926 this was a really groundbreaking special effect!  It is not fair to compare it to THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW for example and laugh at what an antique it is compared to that!  Their laughter really distracted me and was extremely uncalled for.  Then this man in front of my started belching….loudly I might add.  These old ladies started talking in the row behind me.

I wonder why audience behavior has gotten so bad.  I suspect maybe it is because of the home video DVD revolution.  People watch stuff in the privacy of their homes and I’m sure they think nothing of talking loudly, chatting on the cell phone or whatever.  I guess they just think this is acceptable in the public as well.

I’ve got news for them…..IT IS NOT!  I wish I could get some brass knuckles that say “SHUT THE” on one hand and “HELL UP” on the other.  Then I could walk up to rude audience members and explain to them the story of SHUT THE and HELL UP and how they are going to make quite an impression on their face….sort of like what Robert Mitchum did in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.

I did call UCLA and personally ask the Archive to make a no talking and no cell phone announcement before the films in the future, which they did.  It’s a good thing too.  I’d hate to get kicked out of there for beating someone up….although you never know.  It still might happen.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Apr. 10, 2005 | 2:56 AM
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Joan Crawford and Ida Lupino-The Queens of Noir

POSSESSED (1947) Warner Bros.
Joan Crawford racked up another Oscar nomination (she won for MILDRED PIERCE in 1945) for playing a woman driven to insanity by her obsessive unrequited love.  Van Heflin is the lover who rejects her and tries to move on with his life.  This is really a great performance from Joan Crawford and this particular film is rarely screened. 

The sad truth is that due to “Mommie Dearest” Joan Crawford is only remembered as an alcoholic abusive mother.  While I certainly don’t claim to know about her home life, I know that there was much more to the woman than the charicature she has become.  She was hard working and talented.  One film critic said, “You will NEVER find a single piece of film with Joan Crawford slumming.”  He’s right.  You won’t.  She always gave 100%.  She also managed to have a career that spanned from the silent era starting in 1925 until her final role in 1975.  That’s a 50 year career!  She managed to evolve and change with the times. She outlasted almost all of her contemporaries.  She worked with some of the greatest actors and directors in Hollywood history.  Joan Crawford deserves to be remembered for her professional accomplishments and not her personal problems.  Just my opinion though.


THE MAN I LOVE (1946) Warner Bros.
Directed by Raoul Walsh
As a lonely torch singer, Ida Lupino sizzles amidst the smoky nightclubs and romantic backdrop of post WWII Los Angeles.  This film is part noir, part melodrama, part romance and pure Classic Hollywood at it’s best.
Ida Lupino’s character comes to town from New York to visit her family and manages to solve all of their problems but creates her own in the process.  She falls in love with a fellow musician and their doomed affair sends her back on the road.  According to the program notes, this film inspired Martin Scorsese to make NEW YORK, NEW YORK.

I love both Ida Lupino and Joan Crawford.  They were tough smart women who can still light up the screen.  They were made for noir.  Fortunately due to the efforts of film preservation, their faces will continue to brighten up the back streets, dark alleys and smoky nightclubs forever frozen in time as the ultimate dark city dames.

 

 


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