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James J  Cremin Written by James J Cremin
Apr. 8, 2010





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Film Noir:  Andrew Stone Double Feature

FILM NOIR - Andrew Stone Double Feature

Film historian and Film Noir Master of Ceremonies Alan Rode two rarely screened films that were written and directed by the almost forgotten Andrew Stone.  STORMY MONDAY (1943) is probably is best known work of his, showcasing the top African-American performers of the day.  He also enjoyed a strong working relationship with his wife who co-edited and very probably co-created many of his films.

In fact, the first movie shown, JULIE (1956), was the only time Stone was nominated for an Academy Award,  Best Original Screenplay.  The title song sung by Doris Day was also nominated.  Neither won.  The movie was produced by Doris Day’s husband, Martin Melcher.

Doris Day is the main character and ultimately the heroine of the story.  The antagonist is a talented concert pianist who’s completely obsessed with his wife.  As played by Louis Jourdan, he’s quite a formidable foe who actually confesses his past murder while in bed together.  Not quite the pillow talk Doris likes to hear.

Even her ally Bally Fitzgerald can’t stop him, getting out gunned and outwitted at every turn.  Eventfully, Ms. Day must return to her job as a stewardess.  Made before ZERO HOUR (1957), the movie AIRPLANE! (1980), the stoic stewardess is called upon to land the plane, saving everyone on board.  The husband conveniently dies from a shoot out with the pilots, one played by Jack Kelly, future tv star of MAVERICK.

When this movie was over, Rode introduced Anne Robinson on the stage.  She played a small but pivotal role as the second stewardess in the climatic scene.
She confirmed that the Stones strongly preferred going on location as opposed to just going to studio sets and that they were usually together.  She remembered going to San Francisco and Carmel and that an actual plane was used but no actual flying.  She got along with everybody and that Doris Day was quite the trooper.  Jourdan was a bit aloof bit Anne joked he was either in character or just being a Frenchman.

Rode reminisced with Ms. Robinson the movie she is the most remembered for.  In fact, the Egyptian hosted the 50th Anniversary of George Pal’s WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) to a sold out house.  On that night, she and co-star Gene Barry received standing ovations and she spoke about helping Gene get out of his depression from losing his wife. Anne had nothing but good things to say about Steven Spielberg, who produced and directed the 2005 remake.  According to her, the hand over the heart scene that the boy and the alien had in E.T. (1982), Spielberg dedicated that scene to her.  She did appear to have a really good time.

The second feature was A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER (1953), which co-starred Joseph Cotton with future Howard Hughes wife Jean Peters.  Third billed and not really given much to do was Gary Merrill, then married to Bette Davis.

Besides the director, both movies had many of the same supporting players such as Jack Krushen and Mae Marsh, in spite of the fact the first was made for MGM, the second for Fox. Also,  the main characters in both had constant voiceovers, though in Cotton’s case, very reminiscent of perhaps his most famous starring role in THE THIRD MAN (1950).

For this film, Cotton’s investigations lead him to Peters as the prime suspect.  So, it’s not really a matter of who but how Cotton will force Peters’ hand in proving she murders for money.  They have their final confrontation on an ocean liner that’s actually a bit illogical.  But on the plus side, the performances are good and Peters was very beautiful.

This was one Stone did not edit and his wife is nowhere on the credits.  Thanks to the Film Noir Festival, he at least gets paid rare tribute along with a bygone era.

 


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