September 22: The Old Maid
Bette Davis was a fabulous actress. You really can’t say that she wasn’t. I still am and will always be team Joan Crawford, but I respect and admire Bette’s body of work. This was another success for Bette in my mind, though incomparable to her later roles. I loved her roles later in life. In The Old Maid, she plays another Southern woman, always a joy for me, I adore the South. In it she plays, Charlotte, the cousin of Delia, who is marrying into a rich family instead of the poorer man, Clem, she truly loved. When Clem discovers this, he is heartbroken and begins a relationship with Charlotte who also adores Clem. Sadly, Clem dies in a Civil War battle and dies leaving Charlotte unwed and with child. Uh oh, olden days drama! To hide her dreadful secret, Charlotte opens a home for children and pretends that Tina, her daughter, is a foundling. This avoids all complications, though I can’t understand how she hid her pregnancy and birth. Charlotte eventually becomes engaged, but when Delia discovers her secret, she ruins the marriage for her, forever dooming Charlotte to be an old maid. As they age, they all live together, Charlotte becoming more sad and crone-like with each passing day. Before long, she is a loathsome creature that seems to do nothing but nag and moan. Tina can hardly stand her, and this kills Charlotte, but in her mind, she has decided to become this creature so that Tina will never have any suspicious about her birth. Delia adopts Tina officially so that she can have a good name and a bit of money allowing her a good marriage. This, too, kills Charlotte, who can now never claim Tina as her own. It’s quite a sad story, and though the truth is never revealed in the end, all the characters learn to deal with their particular melancholy. Good picture. [My Rating: 7/10]
September 23: The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
I have grown fonder of this film as time has gone by. When I first watched it a few nights ago, I enjoyed it, but an admiration has developed within me. Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth was genius. She was stunning. Her acting was brilliant, the design of the film was brilliant, and the story itself was rather brilliant.
It’s all about Queen Elizabeth’s doomed love affair with the Earl of Essex, played here by the ever dashing Errol Flynn. I still want his mustache. I was going to shave, but then I watched this, and I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of my own mustache. I’m surely being silly, but someday I’ll develop the perfect mustache. Vincent Price played Walter Raleigh, the explorer we’re all familiar with. In the 1930s, Vincent was like…remarkably handsome. I’d never noticed it before.
And, to round up the fabulous cast, my dear, beloved Olivia de Havilland played a lady in waiting. This film was destined to be wonderful and it was. Bette plays a romantically doomed queen so very well. It’s agonizing when she can’t succumb to her feelings. If she weren’t the Queen of England, she could have been the happiest woman in the world, but since she is in charge of her great nation, she can’t allow herself to marry the Earl of Essex. She can’t share her throne because she loves her country so very much. If she would let the Earl become King, he would do things for vanity that would be damaging to her country. So, she throws him in the Tower and lops his head off. It is so romantic! There was the most gorgeous quote at the end, but again, I have failed to find it. I should write these down as I hear them. It was something about love in an alien world, I can’t even recall the sentiment, but it was so beautiful. [My Rating: 8/10]
September 24: The Virgin Queen
Nearly twenty years after The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Bette portrayed her role as Queen Elizabeth once again. She looked just as striking, but the film itself was not as good as the prior. In this version, the Queen’s romantic interest was Sir Walter Raleigh, unfortunately not played by Vincent Price. Raleigh wants to convince the Queen to build him a fleet of ships to sail for the New World and bring home treasure and glory for England. She takes some time, but comes around to his way of thinking and has the ships built. Unfortunately for Raleigh, she has fallen in love with him and he has fallen in love with one of her ladies in waiting, with whom he is secretly wed and is with child! Drama! Plus, he plans on sailing to the New World with her! The indecency! The Queen is über pissed when all this is revealed to her and she has the woman locked up and plans on executing Raleigh. Her heart softens at the prospect of killing the father of an unborn child, since it happened to her, too. So, the two of them go off for the New World, and the Queen remains bitter and alone. Quite sad. [My Rating: 4/10]
September 25: The Man Who Lived Twice
[Can’t find a video.]
Judging by the title, I had assumed that this was going to be one of those quick seventy minute bits of dramatic fluff. It was, but it had a bit more sustenance than usual. In this picture, a hardened criminal wanted by the police convinces a scientist to preform a theoretical operation on him. The doctor believes that if he were to alter certain parts of the mind, he could convert criminal genius to a kind of genius that might better mankind. The operation is a success and because the criminal was given extensive plastic surgery, it was like his former self had never existed. When he awakens from his surgeries, he has no memories of his past and the doctor gives him a new name and the free will to do whatever he pleases. He decides to become a lawyer and is a tremendously good one. Unfortunately for him, his old cronies find his vocal patterns and behaviors similar to the criminal they thought to be dead. His past is finally revealed and that was a terrible shock for him, and he knows that he has to be punished for his old crimes. Rather boring, but it was an engaging story. [My Rating: 5/10]
September 26: Cronos
Over the past few years, I have discovered that Spanish cinema is rather marvelous, especially when it comes to horror. Now that I think of it, I’ve only really seen Spanish horror. Cronus has something or other to do with The Others. I don’t recall what, but since I love that film so very much, I put this on my queue. I was very excited to watch it and I really enjoyed then film, but it was very different from what I expected. It was a vampire story, but an entirely new interpretation. The film’s lead is Jesús, an aging antiquities dealer in Mexico who receives a shipment of wooden angels from an estate sale. Strange people take an interest in them and raise his suspicions, so he and his granddaughter, Aurora, investigate the statue. There is a hollow in the base that holds a strange golden machine. It is strange and unfamiliar to them both, so he cleans it up and begins tinkering with it. He winds it up and the machine comes to life. Little arms come out and then suddenly, they pierce deep into his skin. He is wounded quite badly by the machine. He hides it so that it won’t cause any more damage. After this incident, though, he begins to look and feel younger. He realizes that the device is the cause of this and he begins to use it again and again until he is addicted to it. It is then that he discovers his unnatural need for blood. He doesn’t feed like a traditional vampire, and denies it to himself, mainly because he doesn’t realize how much he needs it. He is tracked down by the nephew of a rich man who has spent dozens of years searching for the device. He is a murderous jerk and leads to the death of Jesús. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the only way for Jesús to truly die is to have his heart pierced through. So, he eventually comes back and looks awful. At this point, I wasn’t enjoying the film so much. I didn’t like the way Jesús looked and the story felt thin. His skin begins to peel off revealing a strange bluish-white skin beneath. Jesús realizes that life is not worth living this way and ends his life, the life of the rich man, and his murderous nephew. It’s rather tragic, but mainly because this all happens in front of Aurora. The poor girl will likely be scarred for life. Quite a good film, though, but not as good as it could have been. [My Rating: 8/10]
September 27: Baron Blood
Shit. [My Rating: 0/10]
September 28: Ready, Willing and Able
I liked the idea of this film, it had a good premise, but the plot irritated me. It was all about a lady who was mistaken for a British theater star and goes with it. Get it gurl. If somebody were to mistake me for Matt Bomer, which, let’s be honest, is more than likely, I would throw off my tearaway pants (which I need to invest in) and begin an excellent Magic Mike inspired strip tease. By the time it was discovered that I wasn’t actually Matt Bomer, I’d already have a modeling contract, so…whatever. This movie was rather boring. Don’t bother with it unless you’re like #supesbored. [My Rating: 2/10]
FILM of the WEEK: The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex Didn’t plan on liking this one so much, but it’s a wonderfully told and designed picture.