This musical romance has a light, melancholy tone and features charming performances by Davies and Powell, as well as great support from Charles Ruggles, Rains, and a host of excellent character actors. The cinematography by the great George Folsey is lush and dreamlike, as one would expect in a romance directed by Frank Borzage, who never made a bad film. Some of said Davies was too old for the role, but I disagree. She was radiant, youthful, and charming in every scene. I also disagree with the reviews that cited her as better in comedies. This film is light in tone, and has many comedic sequences. Davies seems right at home in these early American settings and Orry Kelly's beautiful period costumes.
I agree with the reviewer who wrote that this was "three quarters of a very good film." The cast is marvelous. Kidman brings movie queen presence and guarded vulnerability to her role, as only she can. The icy, remote, sparse atmosphere of the film is noteworthy, but somehow creates a detachment from the raw emotions of the story. The plot unfolds in an efficient, generally satisfying manner. However, the film is sober, where it should have been flamboyant, and safe where it might have been edgy. In the end, I was wishing this had been filmed with panache, by a stylish and adventurous director. Atmosphere and character developments might have been richer and more complex. As it stands, it is a solid, classy, well-acted potboiler.
This is quite an enjoyable film. The cast is first rate. The comedic skills of the supporting players, Robert Montgomery's charm, Robert Powell's sophistication, and Joan Crawford's glamour really sparkle with the help of the polished MGM production, costumes, and 1930s elegance. The plot is tight, the dialog and social interactions are nuanced and consistently amusing. The themes of the story regarding social class and disillusion were relevant during the depression and still today. Crawford is especially effective in a role that allows her to be calculating, disillusioned, and ultimately sympathetic. Crawford was always strong when playing characters with an intense drive, but she also does surprisingly well in scenes that require her to demonstrate charm and wit, which up against pros of the genre like William Powell and Robert Montgomery is no small feat.
At one point in the film, a character professes to Hedy Lamarr, who plays an actress: "I always thought you were a better actress than the roles they gave you." The character might as well have been speaking about Lamarr herself, because this film typifies the substandard material that the actress was handed throughout most of her career.
While there were some highlights in Lamarr's career, such as the wonderful H.M. Pulham, Esq., The Strange Woman, and Dishonored Lady, there was also a lot of fluff. It seems Lamarr was always treated as a glamorous beauty rather than a great actress, although she was smart and talented.
The Female Animal was one of those fading star vehicles that Universal seemed to specialize in at the time (others included Female on the Beach with Joan Crawford, and The Price of Fear with Merle Oberon). By 1958, Lamarr had not been the leading actress in a film for a few years, but she was still youthful and beautiful. It's curious that she was not offered more roles, although back then the shelf-life of a glamorous star was even shorter than it is today.
The Female Animal is a somewhat trashy and sordid melodrama. It is perhaps the only film I have ever seen in which Hedy Lamarr was not the object of desire. Here she plays a more aggressive woman who is not ashamed to take in a house boy. The idea that Lamarr, even at the advanced age of 45 (*eye roll*), would need to pay for handsome male companionship is beyond absurd. She was still very sexy and could have probably had her pick of men. I agree with the other reviewer who said, to some effect: "Hedy past her prime was any other woman's peak." She is widely considered the most beautiful actress of all-time (interchangeably with Gene Tierney).
The film overall leans more toward camp classic than art house. You have drunk ladies, aging starlets out "hunting" for young studs, and of course glamorous Hedy, who has trouble speaking some of her lines. It's all kind of a mess, but it somehow hangs together, and it's a lot of fun. Jan Sterling is entertaining in a supporting role.
The ending redeems the film. Lamarr gives a rather poignant speech about determination, and we are reminded of what a remarkable actress she was. We think about how sad it is that her career was cut so short by...ageism.
Fairly solid, well-polished thriller and star vehicle
Merle Oberon stars as a beautiful, glamorous business woman who is motivated by fear to do some despicable things. Guilty of a hit-and-run car accident, she must frame the man she loves in order to get away with murder! Along the way, she becomes involved with gangsters and detectives, and becomes ever more deeply mired in a chain of incriminating events. This is the type of role we are used to seeing Barbara Stanwyck fill, and Oberon does a beautiful job, but plays it her own way -- not as a tough dame, but as gracefully refined and secretly cunning. Sadly, this would be one of Oberon's last starring films. Clearly, Hollywood stopped offering her work too soon, but those were the days when glamorous female stars were phased out after 40.
This film is now available on DVD as part of the TCM Vault Collection's "Women in Danger: 1950s Thrillers" Collection (all Universal films). The quality is very good and this is a set worth adding to your collection.
Hard-headed Stanwyck goes down in flames unearthing family skeletons!
This is a great movie about trust, and how suspicion, cynicism, and paranoia can influence our impressions of people. From the start, the characters played by Stanwyck and Flynn (both giving remarkable, nuanced performances) have an essential distrust of each other. Stanwyck is investigating the death of her husband, who she freely admits she did not love, in order to collect a large inheritance. Thus, Flynn's impression of her character is not very high. Stanwyck, on the other hand, begins to suspect Flynn as having a role in her husband's death (or is he still alive, lurking around in the mansion late at night?).
There is a great scene in which Flynn kisses Stanwyck, which she accepts eagerly in spite of the negativity between them. "Why did you do that?" Stanwyck asks. "It was the scientist in me," he said, "I wanted to test if my first impression of you was correct." Zing! Of course that is followed by an iconic Stanwyck slap.
One of Stanwyck's first lines is, "I am not a placid woman," and throughout the film the behavior of her character proves that stubbornness her downfall. Her curiosity leads her to ever more risky explorations of Flynn's lab, as well as sneaking around and learning whatever she can about what goes on behind closed doors. This creates the suspense, and it's a role that seems tailor-made to Stanwyck's independent personality.
Flynn is equally impressive in a role that calls for ambiguity. The viewer is left to guess whether Flynn, who seems rigid and controlling, is the villain. Flynn succeeds in providing the character with a sufficient amount of depth and stability to have the viewer, and Stanwyck, questioning his intentions.
The production is first-rate. Of particular interest is the fine score and cinematography. The ending ties up all the loose ends in memorable and satisfying fashion. The last line, "I didn't trust you, either," seems to describe the wall of doubt and distrust that can be forged between two people when the worst of human nature is assumed.
Constance Bennett's career seemed to be on the skids by the 1940s, which saw her appearing in B-movies and supporting roles. By 1948, she was producing her own films (she also produced Paris Underground in 1945). Both of these films are well-made late career entries for a fading star.
In Smart Woman, Bennett is supported by a strong cast, which includes Brian Aherne and Barry Sullivan, plus a host of reliable supporting players such as Otto Kruger (whom I remember as the older man opposite Joan Crawford in Chained) and Selena Royle (also opposite Joan Crawford in Damned Don't Cry).
The script is intelligent if not a roaring success. The chemistry between Bennett and her co-stars does not run particularly hot, but Bennett does get a chance to wear some gorgeous Adrian gowns and prove she is still a good-looking woman at the (then) advanced age of 43. The photography is polished and Bennett seems to be lit and photographed very, very carefully. There are even some noirish camera angles and shadow play. Bennett's performance is strong and does not appear dated with any evidence of her days as a silent film star. Her style seems contemporary, although Bennett is no longer the hypnotic beauty of her precode heyday.
As Bennett's second production effort, it is a solid vehicle for her, and an interesting film overall, but it was just not powerful enough to give her career any boost. After this, it was all supporting roles. But the film can easily be recommended as a glossy, well-made women's picture. If the film had a low budget, it's impossible to tell.
Another unheralded gem from Hollywood's golden age
This is a film to be cherished for its lush cinematography, exquisite and picturesque settings, character development, and fine performances. While the story is on the surface a love triangle, there are complexities among the characters, and in their relationships with each other, that make the film compelling in spite of being typical Hollywood romance. The film shines with Cukor's touches throughout, although he was uncredited as director. The production values are first class, and appropriately polished.
While DESIRE ME is generally perceived to be one of classic Hollywood's biggest turkeys, public perception is often misleading. For those of us who are fans of the genre, of Hollywood myth, melodrama, and romance, this is a lovely, lovely film. But it seems even less likely that such a film would be appreciated in these times than in 1947.
This wonderful film contains a warm, nostalgic look back at the life of an ailing school teacher. As time and her illness progresses, Miss Dove, best known to the small town as a rigid and stiff disciplinarian, realizes the positive effects she has had on the people around her, and their love for her. Never married, childless Miss Dove finds purpose and contentment in her duty -- to repay her father's debt and thereby avoid a scandal, by working as a teacher, instead of marrying the man she loved.
The film has especially fine direction, performances, and an intelligent, multi-layered script. While Miss Dove appears a one-dimensional, humorless snob at the beginning of the film, the many layers of her story and personality are revealed throughout the course of the film. By the end, you realize why everyone is so fond of her.
Thinking back over this film, I was struck by the image in my mind of an America that seems to no longer exist. Healthy, proud, and affluent small towns, the belief in following one's duty in life instead of whims, and the sense of personal responsibility among these characters are so unusual to see in a modern film -- or modern life. There was a scene in which Miss Dove helped a bank avoid closing, a selfless, altruistic act that seemed so different than anything that could have occurred in the recent banking crisis.
Growing up in the 1980s, I think I was seeing the last of this generation fade away. Perhaps I still am. I remember writing a fan letter to Jennifer Jones years ago. I loved her then as I still do. I never considered it odd that she did not reply. She was a symbol of the grace and dignity of a long gone era. Noticing that she just passed away, I can't help but feel she passed away with the unfortunate changing of our culture, to the violent, seedy, and irresponsible. But what an enduring, magical film legacy she left behind.
Forget the plot, as it's the typical 1930s love triangle. You've seen it all before, probably, but Clarence Brown adds his usual sure touch, and the plot unfolds satisfyingly. Crawford is at her most beautiful and glamorous in the role of Diane Lovering. Each scene is like part of a fashion show, with Crawford modeling the latest and greatest of 1934 fashions by Adrian. She is given the full MGM star treatment here, ala Garbo or Shearer. It was said that this was the film in which the cinematographer, and Joan, learned of the lighting which produced what we recognize now as the Joan Crawford face. The viewer can certainly tell in the stunning closeups. Gable is again playing dashing, robust, virile, and has plenty of clever dialog. It's not a standout role for him, but Crawford and Gable always create plenty of sexual chemistry to keep the viewer interested. Overall, CHAINED is an entertaining film, thanks to gorgeous art deco sets, costumes, fine performances by the entire cast, and the usual Gable-Crawford chemistry. The big stars, sex, and glamour manage to carry a fairly routine script.
Norma Shearer's last film is a breezy romantic comedy directed with precision by Cukor and brought to life by a marvelous cast, including George Sanders and Robert Taylor, all pros in the romantic comedy department. The script is full of amusing observations on the complicated nature of power and pride in relationships. The sharp, witty lines uttered by Taylor and Sanders make for quite a few chuckles, as do the scenes of broad situational comedy, one of which has Taylor dangling off a balcony, and another involves Taylor and Shearer battling viciously one minute and caressing each other the next!
Of course, it's all farce and not to be taken seriously, which probably made it seem dated at the time of release, but the theme is compelling and the finished product just plain fun. Shearer, in particular, gives a full-bodied comedic performance and has many funny moments. Never did she look more radiant and glamorous than she does here, ironically her final film, when it is clear she could have continued acting successfully for at least another decade!
"As if one remembered an emotion after he no longer felt it.."
Fascinating, richly-textured morality play by the great Somerset Maugham, acted to perfection by a first-rate cast including Constance Bennett at her absolute peak. George Cukor directed with a master's touch, Max Steiner provided the score, and David O. Selznick's production was polished. Constance Bennett plays the disillusioned American wife of a British aristocrat, who finds out on her wedding day that her husband married her only for her money. She decides to take life on their terms, and becomes a cunning seductress among a large group of wealthy and cynical people. Her scheming, combined with the sharp, cynical dialog worthy of Oscar Wilde, and the general irony of the whole affair, makes for an amusing and intelligent film. The witty one-liners are to be cherished, as are the fabulous gowns, and the glowing beauty of Constance Bennett. The film was also one of the first to feature an openly gay character. It's a great treat to view the film 75 years later. Although society may have changed, human behavior has not.
Katharine Hepburn stars in an early feminist melodrama co-starring Herbert Marshall. The film is noteworthy for not only its lush production and excellent performances, but also the ahead of its time, and novel, depiction of women's rights and suffragists of the 19th century. Hepburn is so good she lights up the screen. Marshall, as always, delivers perfect support. The story is interesting, the cast is appealing, the sets and costumes are magnificent, the direction and cinematography are sublime, and the screenplay is intelligent and literate. Unlike many films of the 1930s, this one doesn't have a tacked on sexist ending. It's true to the women's rights cause through and through. Of all of the historical melodramas I have seen, this ranks with the best. It rises above the (condescending) 'women's picture' genre because of the timelessness of its theme.
Luscious Lana Turner stars as "Kit," a lovely yet jaded socialite with a few million in the bank, a private yacht, a house in every port, and a hunky husband played by Cliff Robertson. They are currently staying in Acapulco, where Lana is being pursued by a virile gigolo (O'Brian) much to her husband's jealousy. Tables turn when Lana notices her husband's affections are turning to a seemingly innocent young woman played by Stephanie Powers.
The plot is mostly concerned with Lana and her jaded friends playing the field, drinking drinking drinking, changing outfits (Lana has several knockout pieces designed by Edith Head), and spouting cynical yet often profound dialogue. Contrary to what has been said, the film is remarkably subtle in its storytelling approach. The visuals are grand, the performances are sound, and the dialogue priceless.
Lana's character, who by all outwards appearances seems a heartless vamp, actually has a deep core of vulnerability which is gradually exposed throughout the film. Her husband is sensitive but it takes him some time to see his wife for what she is inside -- and not the shallow playgirl she pretends to be. There is one fabulous line in which Lana explains to Stephanie Powers how she met her husband. It was in a hospital -- Lana was ill and wanted to 'buy his blood,' setting Lana up as the ultimate vampire.
The climactic bull fight scene is vivid and highly dramatic. The colors and cinematography in many scenes, including this one, are inspired.
This is one of Lana's most interesting, and solid, films. At 45, she never looked more beautiful.
I rarely review these old movies, but in the case of THE TOY WIFE not only do I feel the film is underrated, but also misrepresented.
The basic plot concerns a successful lawyer (Melvyn Douglas) in 19th century Louisiana, who chooses to marry Frou Frou, the spirited and lively sister of more wholesome, reasonable Louise. Although Louise is in love with Douglas, she advises her sister to marry him. Their marriage starts off well, but soon Douglas resents his wife for not being an adequate homemaker, as Louise would have been (Frou Frou is 'too nice, and not strict enough with the slaves'). He soon has Louise coming to live with them and taking over the normal duties of his wife.
Frou Frou gradually realizes her place in the home is nothing more than as a 'Toy Wife,' someone for her husband to make love to while Louise takes her place in the home as mother. This causes her to look for true love elsewhere, and finding it in another suitor (Robert Young). This has disastrous repercussions for everyone involved.
It would be unfair to label Frou Frou a femme fatale. She is too kind, too loving, and much too wise. The true villain of the piece is Melvyn Douglas, who wants it both ways. He wants a reasonable, hardworking woman like Louise to take care of the house and Frou Frou to take care of the sex. At one point in the film, Louise confronts him and says so, and thus he is finally able to question the kind of husband he has been.
The acting in the film is variable. Douglas is good as the fickle husband, who only finds error in his wife instead of looking within himself. Rainer has moments of brilliance but her acting style is difficult to get used to, and is glaringly different from the more restrained performances from the other actors.
The production, however, is a first class star vehicle for Rainer, who was usually not given the attention two Oscars warranted. Overall, an interesting and, at times, moving melodrama with a central character who was basically good and should not be dismissed as a femme fatale.
This is why I watch old movies. Every once in a while you find a completely neglected, undiscovered gem. That is the case with Lilly Turner, in which Ruth Chatterton gives one of the finest performances of any of the '30s era leading ladies. Her performance is so full of nuance. She was a great actress. The story leaves nothing to be desired. At a brief 65 minutes, it hits all the bases and leaves no aspect of the (moving) story unfinished. Lilly is a woman who is married to a polygamist. She doesn't learn of this until she is already pregnant; she loses the child but receives help from a fellow carnival performer. Together they bravely make their way in a sort of underworld of crazies and carnies. It isn't until she meets a taxi driver (Brent) that she finally finds love, but the question is will he be able to accept her.
This film highlights everything I love so much about classic films: exploration of human emotions and complicated situations. There is also the aspect of being redeemed by love which I find so beautiful in the older films. Although melodramatic, it is not a completely unbelievable story. There is as much truth as fantasy in the story. The fantasy takes us out of our own lives, while momentary grains of wisdom in the dialog keep us tuned in and, in my case, amazed.
The plot involving Brent is most interesting. He has a college degree but can't find a job, so he takes up a job in a carnival. Some might laugh, but only if taken out of the context of the great depression. Interestingly enough, I graduated college a year ago and have not found work in my field. The parallels in this movie peaked my interest and held meaning to me.
I am constantly surprised by the low ratings of pre-1940s films on IMDb. It leads me to believe most people do not appreciate the real classics, or at least the undiscovered ones.
Joan Crawford was the top box office star of 1930. That year she made three films: Montana Moon, Our Blushing Brides, and Paid. Even though these films were hits in their day, none have ever been available on home video. That is a shame, because they are all enjoyable.
Our Blushing Brides was the third and last of the "Our" series of films, which started in 1928 with the success of Our Dancing Daughters. It is also the best of the three, with an intelligent script, fabulous art deco sets, and terrific performances.
Joan Crawford stars as Gerry, who works in a department store and lives in an apartment with three other young women, played by Anita Page and Dorothy Sebastian. Each of these women is being pursued by rich men.
Sebastian is out for money. She marries a rich man on their first date, after he promises her that she will never have to wake up to an alarm again. Page is in love with the wealthy son of the department store owner, who is in love with her but will not marry her. Crawford is disillusioned and does not trust men. She is the most independent of the three, but even she has trouble resisting the advances of a young and handsome Robert Montgomery, also a son of the department store owner.
When Crawford discovers Montgomery's intentions are motivated purely by lust, after being lured to his art deco tree loft for a midnight rendezvous, she walks out on him and keeps him guessing. Meanwhile, Page and Sebastian find out their men are cads, using them for sex and going out on them behind their backs. Sebastian's husband is arrested, and Page's beau marries someone else, prompting her to swallow poison.
Crawford, in a fit of rage, rushes to the wedding and orders Page's former beau to return to her until she gets well. Montgomery, sensing the reason why Crawford distrusted men, loves her all the more for it. But what will become of Page and Sebastian, and will Montgomery finally be the man Crawford can trust and love? This is an excellent pre-code, with moments of funny comedy and tearful drama. If you want to see a set of actors at their vibrant and youthful best, you have to give this little-known film a chance.
I am sentimental about Torch Song because I can remember being an adolescent who absolutely idolized Joan in this movie. This movie presents her as a goddess for the audience to worship. Truth is, Joan was as beautiful as ever, and her gowns and jewelry are achingly glamorous. Her closeups, even at this late stage, could still rival Garbo. Crawford possessed one of the best faces in cinema history.
The best thing about Torch Song is the use of color. It is a character in itself. Soft blue is the dominant hue.
If you watch Torch Song in the right frame of mind, and prepared to appreciate instead of criticize or laugh, it is possible to come away from it as deliriously enraptured as I was the first time I saw it-- at the age of thirteen (in the '90s). Joan herself loved this movie. It represents complete escapism, but requires that essential suspension of thought. This is territory of glamour and romance, not film analysis.
From a film critic's perspective, and not necessarily a fan's perspective, it is possible to come away from this film viewing it as a dreary, poorly-produced and performed relic. It is not exceptional, technically, in any aspect. Yet, if allowed, the film will hold a spell over the viewer. But it requires a young, indiscriminate mind, able to see freshness in some things which upon closer examination are not original.
The Warner Bros. DVD, unfortunately, does not capitalize on the film's strongest asset -- color. Therefore, it is recommended that you adjust the color and tint level of your television to the highest level before viewing TORCH SONG. This will compensate for the washed out colors of the print, and return Joan's hair color to the appropriate shade of bright apricot, and her lipstick to bright red.
Garson a bit long in the tooth in dated dud of a remake
The Law and the Lady is an unnecessary remake of The Last of Miss Cheyney, which was filmed twice before (there is a Norma Shearer version and a Joan Crawford version, both of which are superior). This was resident MGM queen Greer Garson's turn in the role, in which she is miscast as a lady jewel thief. Although Garson was a beautiful woman and aged extremely well, she is slightly too mature for the role. At 46, she is still very pretty, but not effective at playing a mysterious and alluring femme fatale. As a poor woman masquerading as a lady in turn of the century San Francisco society, she is just a little bit too convincing as a lady. Greer Garson was perhaps unable to portray women of the lower class. She is entirely too classy to make this character work.
Furthermore, this appears to be a low-budget production, tailored for a fading star rather than a brilliant one. It is shot in black and white, the sets are nothing too extraordinary, and it has a shot-on-the-studio-lot feel to it, which makes it seem both dated and stuffy. This story had been around a long time by 1951, and it comes to the screen as tired as one would expect.
The writers apparently tried to inject some life in it through rewriting the script and changing some story elements, but overall it's nothing new. It's a mediocre film with mostly mediocre performances, even by the usually radiant Garson. One bright spot is Marjorie Main--she is indeed a hoot.
The Law and the Lady is, however, not a complete waste of time and if taken as light entertainment is a somewhat enjoyable movie for a rainy afternoon.
Joan Crawford stars in The Gorgeous Hussy, often referred to as her only historical drama. This is a myth. During her silent years, Crawford was the star of other historical films (Across to Singapore, Rose Marie) and westerns. She also went on to star in Johnny Guitar in 1954, set at the turn of the century, which became one of her most famous films. When reviewers say Crawford was too modern for historical pictures, they conveniently forget the terrific reviews she received for Rose Marie in 1928, now a lost film, and her electric presence in Johnny Guitar.
The Gorgeous Hussy is not a popular film. Many writers claim that Hussy was a disastrous box-office flop, which is not true. It actually made back all of its huge production cost (Hussy was an MGM prestige picture) and turned in a small profit. A lot of people went to see Gorgeous Hussy in its day--more people than saw other films referred to as hits, such as No More Ladies, and yet the high production did not allow it to make a significant enough profit to be considered a hit.
I'm going to overlook a few minor flaws this film had and conclude, overall, it was great. It is a story of the unselfish love a 'Little' Busboy (Fonda) has for a beautiful and extremely popular nightclub singer (Ball). Ball initially has every rich man in town at her feet, from a powerful gangster to a wealthy glamor boy who she plans to marry. Her defining line of dialog is, "A girl's best friend is a dollar." She is somehow both cruel and yet sympathetic. She is fair to the busboy who saves her dog, thanking him and getting him a job, but then does not give him the time of day. She lives by the customs of society--and that does not include mixing in certain circles of 'little' people, such as busboys and maids.
I think the more sensitive audiences will pick up on Ball's vulnerability. Why is she so concerned with money? Why does she snub people who are kind to her? If you follow the movie closely enough, the answers become apparent.
When Ball's character is struck down by the gangster after she chooses to leave him, she is paralyzed from the waist down. It is revealed to the audience that she has no family or loved ones besides her dog that are willing to care for her. A sensitive audience would notice that detail and immediately understand her character. She has no one--that is why she is so hard. She is playing the social game to win--to snare a wealthy husband so she doesn't have to be frightened any more.
The man she had her eyes on, after her accident, no longer had any interest in her. This is one of the most brutal and sad scenes in the film. We understand then why Ball was so eager not to be seen with the 'little' people; it was part of the social game she needed to play. When that same young man sees her with a group of her lowly friends, and in a wheelchair, a look of disgust enters his face, and Ball's heart shatters into a million pieces. As noted in the film, "That glamor boy doesn't have a sympathetic bone in his body." All of this is by way of countering arguments made by subsequent viewers that Ball's character is completely unsympathetic. Just the opposite is true. Her character is complex, deep, and vulnerable to the carelessness of the world around her. A world in which she has no family and no one loves her--that is, except Pinkerton (Fonda).
Another magical scene occurs at the end of the film where it is revealed Ball can actually walk. The society that had judged and forgotten her so harshly because she was no longer able to walk stares on in amazement. But the fact she can walk proves she didn't need their acceptance at all. They were a superficial lot of people who didn't care about her at all.
It is a magical and moving love story for the ages. A+ She
Television movies generally do not come any better than this. Kirstey Alley takes over from Judith Light in the role of queen of the TV movies, and in that role she is a highly entertaining actress. Her comedic skills are among the best, and she is also competent in dramatic scenes. Graeme Clifford is a very talented veteran director who is responsible for at least one of my favorite films, "Frances" (1982), starring Jessica Lange. It was less of a shock how good this film was when I realized he directed it. The writers were also on top of their game, with many tongue in cheek references to classic films that probably half of the audience will miss. It enriches the film, though.
The film is funny and there are moments when you will laugh out loud, or simply be enraged by how snobbish and ageist some of the 'suits' in the business are. In that respect, and in many others, this film is true to life. The representation of the job market, and how some employers fail to see the strengths in certain people, seemed accurate. The character development and performances were top notch, and the score was very nice.
It is likely that the viewer's main interest in the film will be Gloria Swanson, and this is her only film appearance from the 1940s. That said, she is not photographed at her best, and appears in need of an image overhaul. Her lipstick is dark, and formed into a 1920s-looking pout. Her face has aged considerably since her heyday just a decade earlier. Her hairstyle is unflattering as well. Her comic timing and talent, however, seem to be somewhat intact, but it's hard to tell under such feeble direction.
It is a mildly amusing comedy. It has moments that absolutely work, and other moments that are of their era and rather dated. Some of the situations, such as Swanson giving up her career for marriage, will not be taken lightly by feminists. Yet other scenes point in a more modern direction. The dialogue is hit-or-miss. Certainly, you will find yourself chuckling now and then! The performances are adequate, yet ordinary. Even Swanson, one of the greatest actresses, is below par. However, the film is a curiosity and is not by any means bad or unwatchable. It is worth viewing.
Joan Crawford was an underrated comedic actress. In the 1920s and 1930s, some of her biggest hits were comedy films, including UNTAMED (her first talkie) and FORSAKING ALL OTHERS. She also went on to give a classic comedic performance in THE WOMEN as man-eater Crystal Allen, and played very well in the underrated all-star comedy hit WHEN LADIES MEET. Most of Crawford's comedies were extremely popular, which is why it's a little surprising that she is better known for her dramatic post MILDRED PIERCE work.
THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE is a breezy, fun movie, in which the leading stars and supporting actors all shine. The story engaging, yet light and airy. Crawford is photographed and performs beautifully, and Melvyn Douglas is at his peak as a charismatic romantic lead.
The film is not a major classic, but it's the enjoyable kind of old Hollywood fare that anyone who loves older movies can appreciate. It is an optimistic and happy movie that will appeal to people looking for a dose of positive inspiration and '40s pop culture.
Great insights thanks to Oscar-nominated screenplay by Paddy Chayevsky
How some people can view THE GODDESS in the aftermath of Anna Nicole Smith's tragedy is beyond me. The parallels, not only between Smith but also Marilyn (and Jayne Mansfield) are astonishing! The film is utterly moving and, contrary to other reviews, inspires much empathy for the main character!
The film has a deep and profound insight into the mind of those famous starlets--and the rest of us, as well. This is NOT a Hollywood story; nor is it even the story of a famous woman. It is about suffering and insecurity. From a very early age, the girl is alone. Her mother doesn't want her and the men in her life are only looking for sex. She reaches out desperately for love, and yet she herself (possibly because she has been hurt so many times) is unable to give it back.
By the end of the film, she is completely alone; not able to give or receive love from others, including her daughter, and there is that great line by her first husband: "Life is unbearable if you don't love something." Her secretary tells him, "She will go on making pictures, because that is all she can do."
Hollywood. The dream factory. Places where lonely people go seeking fame--that great idea of being loved by everyone. Only it doesn't solve anything. Not for Joan. Not for Marilyn. Not for Anna.