Forums

Welcome Guest 

Show/Hide Header

Welcome Guest, posting in this forum requires registration.





Pages: First << 46 47 48 [49] 50 51 52 >> Last
Author Topic: FilmStruck
Timothy-
Lane
Moderator
Posts: 908
Permalink
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 9, 2018, 16:19
Quote

I guess the fact that Quigley didn't kill anyone himself has a lot to do with his being allowed a happy ending. Never mind all the burglaries --- they were all rich people, so many Hollywooders even then wouldn't care about them. And with FDR coming in, not just them.

If you want an interesting ending for Cagney in a movie, check out his Cold War comedy One, Two, Three. Delightful. One of the Russians he deals with is played by General Burkhalter.

Brad-
Nelson
Administrator
Posts: 1187
Permalink
Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 10:50
Quote

Timothy, you're right about the comedy, One, Two, Three. It's a good one. I saw that a couple years ago. I could certainly watch it again.

Now, hang onto your armrest, I’m going to take you for a rough ride. I’m going to diss an Academy award winner:

I watched part of 1938’s Jezebel, with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, on FilmStruck last night. It started out fine but then my eyes started to glaze over. It first got relegated to the background as I surfed the web a bit waiting for something interesting to happen and then it eventually just got shut off.

Long story short: Forget about this one. Watch Gone With The Wind instead. I became quickly bored with this one, primarily because Bette Davis is so awful in it. Thank the Movie Gods that she did not get the part of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With The Wind as very nearly happened.

But when you read the reviews of this movie, they are all glowing. All but one. I’m just going to post the review because it says it all:

I realize I will be placing myself in a much-despised minority for saying so, but I think Jezebel is one of the most over-rated movies of all time, and Bette Davis' Accademy Award winning performance in the same class. Bette Davis expressed much public pique that she was not picked to play Scarlett in Gone With The Wind, which is perhaps one of the reasons Barbara Stanwick called her "an egotistical little bitch". Probably not the only reason. In any case she demonstrates in Jezebel what an awful Scarlett she would have been and would have therefore ruined that unassailable center piece of Hollywood's golden era. The most perfect movie of all time would have just become another Bette Davis vehicle, and probably not one of her better ones. Don't get me wrong. I love Bette and most of her movies from this period. She had a wonderful range as an actress -- from hard-bitten floozy to noble, self-sacrificing old maid school teacher to Queen of England. But Jezebel showed that Southern belle was a number that wasn't in her scope. Her Southern accent was a total flop with her brittle New England accent frequently breaking through. Except for the occasional eye flutter, she never mastered the demure facial expressions or ethereal body language that the honeysuckle dames use to cover up their razor-edged ruthlessness. The scene of her sitting on the porch steps after the ball with a goofy, dreamy, self-indulgent expression while her black slaves gathered to sing and dance jigs for her was high embarrassment. Accademy Award? She should have gotten a booby prize!

Henry Fonda was even worse. Both his flat speech and his brusque manners displayed his Midwestern origins, his only concession to a Southern accent saying "Suh!" at the end of every address to a male character. I'm not so sure there wasn't some instance in which he slipped up and said "Suh!" to one of the females. Irish George Brent's interpretation of a Southern blade was to punctuate every sentence with wide-eyed eyebrow lifts and walk with ridiculous bounce in his step. The only actors with major parts who believably captured the Southern persona were Fay Bainter, a real-life southerner, and the ever-reliable Donald Crisp. Even the slaves didn't seem like real southern afro-Americans. They came off more like bored Kansas City factory workers. And what about French accents -- southern fried French, that is. This movie was supposed to be set in Lousiana. The speech of some of the characters, both white and black ones, should have showed a Gallic taint.

The script that they and usually inspired director William Wyler were handed probably did not help. Everything about it was unbelievable. There was no sensible reason any woman, even a spoiled southern belle would behave as Bette's character did in the red dress incident. The duels and the continuous challenges to same were quite inauthentic. Dueling was common in the South then all right, but challenges and actual bloodshed not nearly so much so as portrayed in Jezebel. Before the principals would ever meet on the "field of honor", there was a long process of exchanging letters and messages carried by the seconds in an attempt to reach a "satisfactory explanation" that would avoid the confrontation. Exchanges of fire with shakily held smooth-bore pistols were infrequently deadly. Often after one nonlethal exchange, the seconds could talk the principals into saying that each's honor had been satisfied. Had the Southern gentlemen had been as touchy and have dueled as frequently and as lethally as portrayed in this movie, they would have all killed each other off in short time. Then there would have been no ready-made officer corps to lead the Confederate Army, and it wouldn't have taken you Yankees with every advantage in numbers and material so long to subdue us in "the late war".

The script was bad from beginning to end, but worst of all was the end. Now watch out! this is the "spoiler". I felt humiliated putting the necessary "spoiler alert" at the beginning of this review, because the end of this movie spoils itself. That's right. It is "The Lady or the Tiger" ending. In other words there is no ending. The viewer is just left hanging as to the fate of the leading characters! Hardly any publisher will publish a story or novel which ends this way. Most readers upon finishing a novel with such an ending will never read another by that author. I'm glad I had previously seen some of Wyler's fine work like The Best Years of Our Lives and The Westerner. Otherwise I would have never wanted to watch another movie directed by him after seeing Jezebel. It is little wonder the play Jezebel was based upon flopped in only a few weeks. The wonder is that Warner Brothers would have wanted to waste talent and money turning it into a major motion picture.

To sum up Jezebel's main problem: neither the script writers, nor the director, and few in the cast had any idea how to portray Southern culture, manners, and characters, which is what the show was supposed to be about. They would have been much better off to have relocated the time and setting to New York in the early 1800's. New York then still had slavery, still had frequent dueling, had frequent yellow fever epidemics, and had a snooty, aristocratic upper class who dominated everything. Little about the story would have had to have been changed. Then all of the Yankee actors and actresses involved in this over-cooked turkey wouldn't have had to embarrass themselves and the rest of us with their phony Southerner imitations.

Listen, I know movies and even individual performances can be a matter of taste. But Bette Davis is so self-consciously and melodramatically over-the-top in this one, it’s not even close. This is BETTE DAVIS acting the part of her acting a Southern Belle. You never forget that it’s Bette Davis putting on a show, and it’s an over-done one even for her. But I guess because she’s playing a ball-buster, she was the darling of the liberal Academy even back then, voting not for quality of performance but for the political or social message, or so I assume, because there’s no way that performance deserves a vote.

Davis’ character is so overwhelming unlikeable and annoying, it makes no sense in this picture, especially one set in the Old South.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, on the other hand, is fully lost inside the character. You never see Vivien Leigh acting. You only see this extraordinary character who is both unlikeable and charming at the same time. (There’s a reason Rhett Butler was attracted to her, and a reason he eventually walked out that front door.) She’s got pep but other attributes as well (good and bad). She’s not just a rat-a-tat-tat brattish Southern Belle pressing all the boundaries just for the sake of doing so as we see in the Davis character. Scarlett is an individual. Davis plays little more than a stereotype.

But, anyway, history has spoken. But I’ve got to hand it to that one lone voice of that reviewer. Despite all the obsequious praise for this film and for Bette Davis, he calls it right. There’s a lesson in that.

Timothy-
Lane
Moderator
Posts: 908
Permalink
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 11:19
Quote

According to wikipedia, Davis got the role in compensation for David Selznick never seriously considering her for Gone With the Wind. Evidently the reviews weren't as enthusiastic then as one might think, though the aspect of no one knowing anything about the antebellum South didn't get mentioned. (No doubt the critics, like the Academy and everyone involved in the film, were equally ignorant of the culture portrayed.) Interestingly, Tallulah Bankhead was initially chosen for the play, and would have been a great choice -- as the daughter and niece of leading Alabama politicians (one a Senator, the other Speaker of the House, and at the same time to boot), she knew the culture.

Even with modern weapons, duels often weren't all that lethal. I recall reading about one in April, 1863 in Lee's Lieutenants between two staff officers to Evander Law and some North Carolina officers who considered themselves insulted. ("Here's what I will say. If your men had orders to retire in the face of the enemy, they obeyed damn promptly last night.") One actually took place, and the 2 duelists both suffered very minor wounds, even with modern weapons (one of the 4 chose the Mississippi rifle as his weapon).

On the other hand, a couple of months later, John S. Marmaduke killed Lucius Walker (both were Confederate brigadier generals and even West Point graduates) over a perceived lack of support in the July 4 attack on Helena, which was a costly failure. They could be lethal, but not always.

Brad-
Nelson
Administrator
Posts: 1187
Permalink
Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 18:33
Quote

Timothy, I actually bailed on the movie before an actual dual took place. But I saw one challenge to a duel set up.

The best part of the movie was when Henry Fonda was telling his fellow Southerners to show a little more clear-sightedness. He was accused of being a Yankee sympathizer for saying that he thought any war would be a technologically one, eventually won by the North who would be facing a lot of low-tech slave labor.

For a pre-war movie, I think this film would have gain more interest for me if there had been more exploration of these attitudes — and particularly the vast arrogance of the South. They were setting themselves up for a fall, and fall they did. It was completely avoidable.

Dueling must have been quite an event.

Timothy-
Lane
Moderator
Posts: 908
Permalink
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 18:48
Quote

Well, Fonda's character sounds like a (presumably) honorable Rhett Butler, who was similarly concerned about the strength of the North and the arrogance of the South. There were Southerners like that, including the notorious Hilton Helper, who wrote a book detailing the problems created by slavery. A lot of Republicans endorsed it, but Southerners in Congress were NOT pleased by it. As I recall, this led to a lengthy balloting for Speaker in 1859 because the GOP choice was one of those who endorsed it, and so was rejected by Southern Whigs who held the balance of power. In the end they compromised on some Republican non-entity.

Brad-
Nelson
Administrator
Posts: 1187
Permalink
Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 19:44
Quote

The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It

One can find that book here in multiple formats. An Amazon review recommended reading the first 50% of the book because it tends to become dull and repeat itself from there. I’ve installed it on my iPad and may try a few pages tonight…after or before another Bette Davis movie titled Fog Over Frisco.

Timothy-
Lane
Moderator
Posts: 908
Permalink
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 20:09
Quote

According to wikipedia, Davis took a relatively small role here (apparently most of the movie is a search for her after she disappears) in a successful effort to get a role she wanted in Of Human Bondage.

Brad-
Nelson
Administrator
Posts: 1187
Permalink
Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 23:20
Quote

I read about 20 pages of that book tonight. The OCR in it is so bad, it’s not really readable. But you can get the gist of the book. This is a fairly frank accounting of the failure of the South. The author starts the first chapter comparing then (at the formation of the country) and now (1850). In all categories, the South was in the lead in 1789. But by 1855 the North had become a giant and the South decrepit.

One may think the South boasted at least agricultural might, but even the northern manufacturing states did much better. The author blames one thing for the South’s fall (or just its failure to advance): slavery.

Here’s a short passage, the OCR corrected so I don’t torture you:

In Pennsylvania, in 1850, the annual income of public schools amounted to $1,348,249 ; the same in South Carolina, in the same year, amounted to only $200,600; in the former state there were 393 libraries other than private, in the latter only 26 ; in Pennsylvania 310 newspapers and periodicals were published, circulating 84,898,672 copies annually ; in South Carolina only 46 newspapers and periodicals were published, circulating but 1,145,930 copies per annum.

That sounds very much like the decrepitude caused by Islam. The South was sick, very sick. It was economically and culturally a shambles compared to the North (and dependent upon the North for just about any material good) or to any other modernized country.

The author — himself from a family with over a century of roots in the South — doesn’t mince words:

And now to the point. In our opinion, an opinion which has been formed from data obtained by assiduous researches and comparisons, from laborious investigation, logical reasoning, and earnest reflection, the causes which have impeded the progress and prosperity of the South, which have dwindled our commerce, and other similar pursuits, into the most contemptible insignificance ; sunk a large majority of our people in galling poverty and ignorance, rendered a small minority conceited and tyrannical, and driven the rest away from their homes ; entailed upon us a humiliating dependence on the Free States ; disgraced us in the recesses of our own souls, and brought us under reproach in the eyes of all civilized and enlightened nations—may all be traced to one common source, and there find solution in the most hateful and horiible word, that was ever incorporated into the vocabulary of human economy— Slavery!

Brad-
Nelson
Administrator
Posts: 1187
Permalink
Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 10, 2018, 23:47
Quote

According to wikipedia, Davis took a relatively small role here (apparently most of the movie is a search for her after she disappears) in a successful effort to get a role she wanted in Of Human Bondage.

It was a great deal for Davis then because Fog Over Frisco is a totally forgettable film. One reason I watched it is because I like the look of Margaret Lindsay, but I can get a glimpse of why she never took it to the next level. Her acting is a little artificial at times. But, overall, that could have been corrected. She’s got a great voice and good looks.

But this film had the feel of a Charlie Chan film (and I’ve seen more than a few of those) with slightly better (and only slightly) production values. The stories were similar (rambling and sometimes goofy). The cream of the crop here (and his role is strictly subsidiary and infrequent) is Alan Hale as Chief O’Malley. He beats the lot of them — including Davis — for injecting a little personality into a believable character.

Davis is okay in this. But the wandering, non-tight script would be hard for anyone to look particularly good in.

It starts out well enough. Davis is engaged to the son of the man who is the president of a bank. Davis is using him to steal securities and other paper valuables. But then this core story gets diluted in a never-ending shift of other characters and side motives. They should have stuck with the basics and fleshed it out more. One gets the distinct impression none of these guys (or gals) were accomplished writers and they were just trying to throw spaghetti and the wall to see if something stuck. Nothing really stuck.

Timothy-
Lane
Moderator
Posts: 908
Permalink
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: August 11, 2018, 08:02
Quote

I don't think I've seen a Charlie Chan movie since I was young. For a long time they were called racist by goodthinkful whites, though the Chinese rather liked them because the hero was Chinese. (I checked wikipedia on Gone With the Wind over the Bette Davis question -- she doesn't seem to have been among the 31 women who tested for the role of Scarlett O'Hara, the early favorites having been Alabama's Tallulah Bankhead and Georgia's Miriam Hopkins. It turns out there were interesting discussions among blacks about the movie, including Hattie MacDaniel who won the first Oscar ever won by a black for her performance as Mammy. MacDaniel was rather scathing of the fact that a leading critic of her was an octoroon claiming to speak for blacks, indicating that this is an old problem. MacDaniel said she'd rather get $700 a week playing a maid than $7 a week being one.) Chan was also based on (or inspired by) an actual Chinese-American detective in Honolulu.

Did you actually watch the whole movie? Did they find Davis's character in the end? If so, in what condition? (Given your review of it, I doubt you have to worry much about a spoiler alert here.)

Pages: First << 46 47 48 [49] 50 51 52 >> Last
Mingle Forum by cartpauj
Version: 1.0.34 ; Page loaded in: 0.285 seconds.