Movie Resolution: Week 25

June 17: Albert Nobbs

I looked forward to this film long before it was released in theaters, but because I never make it to the cinema, I had to wait for it to be released on DVD and then sent to me via the magical Netflix service. I enjoyed the film, yes, but it was not what I anticipated. It was sad and gloomy and there was never a really a glimmer of happiness, not quite what Glenn Close had led me to believe in her television appearances–or perhaps I wasn’t listening. Glenn plays Albert, a curious man who is physically a woman, but is fully a man in his mind. This was his terrible secret that kept him from living a truly fulfilled life. Though, he was better off in 1800s Dublin as a working man than as a woman, life was hard. Albert meets Hubert Page, a painter, who comes to the hotel to do some work. Accidentally, it is reveled to Hubert that Albert is a female. Albert is horrified that his story will be revealed and he will be ruined. Hubert isn’t cruel and soon shares that he too is a woman. I took issue with this development. How likely is it that two disguised women would be brought together in that era? It is unimportant, though. Hubert helps Albert realize that he can have a full, rich life. Albert wants to marry Helen, a maid at the hotel and open a tobacco shop. He starts stepping out with Helen, but she is not serious about him. She is in love with Joe, a troubled young man who is trying, but seriously failing, to turn into his father. As Albert saves money and continues to see Helen, he learns more and more from Hubert about what life can be. They go, as women, to the beach, and it’s so joyous and bizarre. You are completely convinced that they are men that they look unnatural as women. Albert is hit on the head defending Helen and he dies. His secret is revealed and his money stolen by the hotel proprietress. Tragic really. Helen names the baby that she conceived with Joe (who abandoned her) Albert and will probably be saved by Hubert. Odd film, it has an ethereal quality. It’s not real. (My Rating: 7/10]

June 18: The Women

This is one of the major Joan Crawford films that I hadn’t yet seen. She’s famous for playing a super bitch named Crystal Allen, and I can’t believe that I took so long to watch! I bought this on Laserdisc at the Half Price Bookstore ages ago and then forgot all about it. I do this often. I don’t consider it a character flaw–I look on it as constantly hiding treasures to find later! Anyway, the film was sharp, witty, and very good. Very much of it’s era, too, it would be very dated today and that’s why I think the modern remake failed. That and because Debra Messing was suffering from preemptive karma for not sending me a thank you Tweet about the notice I put in Entertainment Weekly, a magazine with nearly 2 million subscribers. Whatever, I’m not bitter. The main character is Mary Haines who might be the only person on the planet  unaware that her husband is carrying on an affair with Crystal, a perfume girl from a department store. Mary finds this out from friends who found out from the manicurist at the spa they all frequent it. Mary doesn’t want to bring it up, but she finally does and her husband and she decide to divorce. This is hard on her and on her daughter, but they must. So, she boards a train to Reno. I guess back then that was a thing, I’m not fully aware of the specifics. I should Google this…hold on. Now it’s clear. Reno was a place for quickie divorces. You had to live there for six weeks to be considered a resident and then could file for a divorce, which was considerably faster than elsewhere in the country. It looks like everybody who was anybody got divorced there. Mary meets the Countess and her acquaintance Peggy (played by my friend, Joan Fontaine…more on that in a few weeks) on the train and they strike up a friendship before heading to what was apparently a “Divorce Ranch.” It was odd. Before long, another friend, Sylvia (played by the wonderful Rosalind Russell) arrived to wait for her divorce. Everybody’s marriages were falling apart. Back in New York, Mary’s daughter isn’t getting on at all with Crystal. Joan is truly wonderful at playing a bitch! I adore her. She is actually cheating on the husband she stole away from Mary. Quel petit monde, hein? Once everybody is divorced, they return home to live their lives. A few years go by and they are adjusted, but Mary still loves her husband. Finally, Crystal is caught scheming to make a richer marriage and Mary is free to go back to her love. Happy ending, but I would certainly have a hard time forgiving my husband if he had dumped me for three years (more or less). Both of my Joans were fabulous and it was a very amusing picture. [My Rating: 8/10]

June 19: Haunted Honeymoon

The married sleuth genre is one that is no more and I miss it terribly. Back in the 30s and 40s, attractive, comedic lovers would solve clever murders without breaking a sweat and making us laugh. Today, if the genre were revived, surely they would be shooting up in every other scene and in the other scenes they would be having sex in every imaginable way. Today’s cinema isn’t as bad as I make it out to be, but it does not have the luster of the old days. Anyway, this is about Haunted Honeymoon not the generalizations I make of the state of modern film. Lord Peter Wimsey, a detective, and Harriet Vane, a crime novelist, are married and decide to retire from their lives of crime research. This was illogical and nonsensical because they both love it so much, but no matter. They decide to retire to the country, where, of course, they are thrown into the middle of a murder mystery. The former owner of the home they bought was suddenly killed and found in the cellar. To get their peace back, they decide that they simply must solve the murder. The method of killing was very clever, too. I’d give it away if I told you anymore. [My Rating: 5/10]

June 20: Father Takes a Wife

Gloria Swanson! I love her and her mole. She is marvelous. If you haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard, yet, shame on you! Gloria did not get the respect she deserved after the 30s, she was unjustly pushed to the side. This was her first picture in seven years and it wouldn’t be another nine until her next feature. Madness. I don’t understand it, she was a woman of such amazing talent. You simply must read her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson. It’s magnificent. I devoured it when I was vacationing in Villefranche-sur-mer, in the South of France, as I tanned in a chaise lounge on a balcony with a stunning view of the Mediterranean. That was unnecessary all that, I was just showing off. Great book, I hope my autobiography will one day be a quarter as good. In this film, Gloria plays Leslie Collier, a Broadway actress who falls in loves and marries Frederic Osborne Senior, a shipping magnate. Once he’s in love with her, he acts like a kid and passes off the business to his more stern and uppity son, Frederic Osborne Junior. Leslie and Freddie, as the Senior Osborne is called, fight comedically before their marriage, but resolve their issues before setting sail for a whirlwind honeymoon all over the place in a personal cruise liner. Oh, to have that money! As they are sailing about, Carlos, is discovered stowed away on board. He is a famous Cuban singer who is very vain and very full of himself. Remind you of anyone? Ricky Ricardo? Imagine that. Desi Arnaz plays Carlos, too. It’s like a younger Ricky. It’s a carbon copy of him. Just as annoying, sings even louder. I swear he’s trying to sing my head off. I felt like Emmet on Keeping up Appearances each time he was on. His discovery is a catalyst for the rest of the picture. Leslie sees potential in him and decides to make him a big star in America, too. So she does, but much to the annoyance of her husband who is jealous of all the attention and time Leslie devotes to Carlos. This leads to all sorts of comedic situations between the characters. Finally Frederic Senior and Junior together get rid of Carlos and happily settle down into their respective marriages, as both Mrs. Osbornes are expecting. Charming and very funny. [My Rating: 9/10]

June 21: The Long, Long, Trailer

I wanted to love this. I didn’t love it when I was younger and I was hoping that perhaps it was just a childhood thing, but my aging hasn’t helped it. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are so tragically typecast that they have an inability to play anything but Lucy and Ricky. Lucy plays Tacy (a bizarre name) and Desi plays Nicky (my favorite name for men, I’m thinking of calling myself it from now on. Cary Grant’s done it, everybody’s done it. And, I don’t know any Nickys.) Tacy and Nicky are newlyweds and are trying to decide what they will do with their lives. Nicky wants to save for a house, but Tacy has a bizarre dream of living in a trailer. I understood her desire, but goodness, I could NOT live in a trailer! Tacy wins and they buy a beautiful trailer with checkerboard floors, full kitchen, lovely dining room and everything. It was stunning, but the trailer was just too much trouble for them. The comedy all revolves around the trailer. It was the only funny thing in the film. Lucy and Desi fell flat and their romance was unconvincing. I felt they were wrong for each other. That’s just me, though. I didn’t really care for this at all. [My Rating: 3/10]

June 22: Inside Daisy Clover

This started off great! Daisy Clover is a poor tomboy who dreams of being famous. She loves to sing and she’s quite good at it. One day, she has the opportunity to audition for Raymond Swan and from then on she was on a meteor to fame. I was jealous. I want to be famous. I loved the studio system and how they decided who was to be famous and how famous and what they would be famous for. There is no love for the studio system here, though. From the moment Daisy becomes famous, she can’t stand it. She constantly rebells for no reason–she’s a real brat. She falls in love with a gay actor, Wade, who marries her for reasons I don’t understand. Not only was he gay, but she was a pain. The marriage was doomed to fail and it didn’t last but a few days. Daisy goes on and on being a bitch and acting in the strangest movies. I wasn’t a fan at all. She tries to kill herself a number of times in the end of the film before blowing up her home for reasons that are never explained. Too bad, because the beginning had such promise. [My Rating: 2/10]

June 23: Love Me or Leave Me

It took me a long time to get around to this picture. I’ve had it taped for ages, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it. I’m sappy and I was worried that I would burst into tears when Doris sings the beautiful ballad, “I’ll Never Stop Loving You.” That gorgeous song and I have an unpleasant history that started beautifully. In the late Summer last year I was sitting in a little chocolate shop, nibbling on delicious things and drinking espresso. There was an elderly woman playing piano to the crowd (which was just me.) She played the most gorgeous melody, the rhythms and the phrases spoke to me. I didn’t know the song, but I could understand it without the words. Before I left the shop, I had to talk to her, so I went over and we spoke about music for probably half an hour. She played the song for me again and hummed the melody–it was straight out of a movie (the song and the moment.) I read the words and sighed, they’re so lovely.

I’ll never stop loving you
Whatever else I may do
My love for you
Will live ’til time itself is through

I’ll never stop wanting you
And when forever is through
My heart will beat
The way it does each time we meet

The night doesn’t question the stars
That appear in the skies
So why should I question the stars
That appear in my eyes

Of this I’m more than just sure
My love will last and endure
I’ll never, no
I’ll never stop loving you

[Instrumental Interlude]

Of this I’m more than just sure
My love will last and endure
I’ll never, no
I’ll never stop loving you

Of course, back then I was madly enraptured with love and the passion of the song swept me up. I’m really quite a pathetic romantic. I thanked the pianist profusely, we hugged, and I went back out onto the streets. But that song haunted my mind in the most pleasant way, so I found a copy on eBay and learned to play it. I loved to play it, I loved to sing it in my mediocre voice. I had it nearly memorized and that is not something that comes easily to me. But then, Autumn arrived, and with the changing of the seasons and all the horrors of the death of Summer, my love who was in every way my best friend, decided to end it. I was crushed, and in darkness I sat, listening to this song on repeat. Doris Day was burned into my mind by the time I was finished with my feelings. It was still a beautiful song, but the lyrics took on a different meaning. I can now see it as a hopeful song about a blossoming romance and also about one that has gone awry. But why go on talking about this sadness now? Que sera, sera, as Doris said herself.

Love Me or Leave Me is a musical biography of Ruth Etting a famous singer of the 20s and 30s who was discovered and managed by her gangster husband Martin Snyder. I don’t know if they ever really loved each other. Martin seemed more obsessed with possessing her and controlling her. But he did love making her a success. He loved her in his way and she in her own. The film is a beautiful portrayal of her life, it shows great highs and lows and the acting is just terrific. James Cagney and Doris Day are dynamite together. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I didn’t even sniffle, I sang along. [My Rating: 8/10]

FILM of the WEEK: Father Takes a Wife [sadly unavailable] It was such a charming and funny picture. I simply adore Gloria Swanson and she was a delight here. Highly recommended (it’s even better when you fast forward through Desi Arnaz’s singing!)

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