Breening A Movie: All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)

‘The Great Breening Blogathon is an opportunity to censor a movie based on the old Hollywood decency codes. I want to thank Tiffany Brannan for the invite to participate in this fascinating Blogathon; especially since, it provides me with some challenges as a writer and as a movie fan. For instance, it allowed me to see a wonderful film classic with a different perspective.  The film isn’t just a work of art with its own truths and lessons; instead, I viewed it with the eyes of a societal protector that uses a moral compass called the Hays Decency Code.

I have been following a blog, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS) for awhile now, and; I have enjoyed their posts. They have invited bloggers to honor the man whose control of movie content has produced many of the classic, timeless movies during a twenty year span (1934 to 1954), known as the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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The Process of Breening 

First, I carefully review the film by watching every detail in each scene for any objectionable material that might not have been allowed according the code.  The process of censoring these movies is called Breening. This is in honor the man, Joseph I. Breen, who perfected this system. For the purpose of this Blogathon, I had to choose a movie that was not  previously “Breened.” A movie not made between 1934 to 1954 and not made after 1968. So, my movie choice which was made in 1930 is considered one of the best films ever made, even by critics today: All Quiet on The Western Front.

Just think about it, this movie was made only one year after the introduction of sound pictures, in 1929.  In addition, this movie is bit historical considering that it was made only twelve years after WW I (1914- 1918) or “The Great War” as it was known then. This means most adult audiences, which saw this movie in 1930, were either in that war or affected by it in some way. This brilliantly made film won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director; and, it also earned two nominations for Best Writing, Achievement and Best Cinematography.

Could this movie even been allowed to be made using the Breening system?

The Movie is adapted from a popular book published in 1929 and written by a wounded, German WWI Veteran, Erich Maria Ramarque. So, basically it is an American made movie based on the viewpoint and experiences of an enemy soldier. Ironically, this is, in and of itself, enough too have stopped the release of this movie under the Hays Code. A general rule of the code claims: the sympathy of the audience must never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin.  In war, the other side is always wrong and evil.

 

Ramarque’s book became a best seller around the world. It is considered one of the greatest novels of all time.  It is still required reading in classrooms and colleges across the United States. A sequel to this book, The Road Back, was published in 1931. In this book, he opposed the rise of Nazis Germany. In 1933, Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s minister of Propaganda) banned his books and had them publicly burned them.  War hero, turned author was an anti-Nazis; so, Hitler deemed him as a traitor. In 1939, he immigrated to the United States; and, he became a U.S. citizen in 1947.

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The Movie and the book are still considered influential anti-war works and important chronicles of WWI. The leading actor in the movie, Lew Ayers, was so influence by the movie, he became a conscientious objector for the rest of his life. This did not make him popular in Hollywood; but, he continued to act in various roles for decades until his death in 1970.

 

 

The Great War (1914 – 1918)

Sadly, this war was tagged as the “War to end all wars.”  Many people of that time believed in stockpiles of modern weapons (militarism) as a defense against attack and eventually, war itself.  Their “new” weapons and machines would make the act of war obsolete. This delusional belief was based on the idea that the war would be fought mostly by machines instead of humans, who would just control the buttons. As a result, there would be fewer lives loss; and, the war would be over very quickly.  The technological arrogance of this assumption is deplorable. I guess they thought it would be like Robot Wars.  Of course, Trench Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Chemical Warfare, Tank Warfare, and even uses of the Aeroplanes (flying coffins),  radio, motor vehicles, animals (homing pigeons, horses, and dogs), flame throwers, hand grenades … just made destroying all known life easier to do and in much greater numbers. As a result of so many men killed in this war, the remaining survivors were known as being part of “The Lost Generation.”

What an enormous responsibility these film makers took in making a war movie that the viewing public was still healing from. Too much realism could repulse them and not enough would make the film sound dishonest and irrelevant. Would using the Bleen system change the quality of this two hour and 11 minute movie classic? After censoring this film, would it keep its integrity and possibly be a better movie?  Or, regrettably, with details left out or changed, would it have too much sugarcoat and therefore, unbelievable?

The Breen scenes

The Movie opens with a military parade in the streets. A professor in  boy’s classroom is nearly yelling at his students in order to be heard.  He is encouraging a whole class of boys how honorable and adventurous it is to fight the enemy on foreign soil.  He even quotes the Latin phrase that every Roman soldier said: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Sweet and Fitting it is to die for the fatherland.

The  need to join the fight becomes so overwhelming, they jump up from their desks and quit school. This displays their heart felt love for their country (Nationalism). The armies around the world would keep families and friends together as a fighting unit or company. They truly were a ” band of brothers” sent off to war together.

So, here is the first scene I would cut or at least rewritten.

Breen #1: Costumes – undressing scenes should be avoided.

Breen#2 Sex: scenes of passion –No excessive or lustful kissing and no suggestive postures or gestures.

It is a scene where the boys first arrive at boot camp and are assigned their uniforms and bunks. These young men sit on their beds together and excitedly talk about the weapons they will be soon trained to use. There is a close-up a man taking off his shirt as they talk. Many are half dressed playing around on beds. As one young man raises his hips off the bed to put on uniform pants, his friend, Paul Baumer (Lew Ayers) jokingly places the pointy Helmut under his butt. Of course, his butt lands on the point. He screams and then uses the Helmut to smack Paul, as they both laugh. Then one of the other friends, grabs another friend’s face in both his hands and kisses him squarely on the lips and then on the cheek while he laughingly says: you won a metal that time Mulller. Muller laughs too.

Personally, I love this scene; since, it displays their exuberance for life and their playfulness while they excitedly wait to start their imaginary adventure.  However, I am sure it would not pass decency code at the time. Since it is a long scene, in a long movie, over two hours, it would be easier to just delete it.

Second scene to Breen

When the men find out that their drill sergeant is their friendly post man back home, they literally laugh in his face. Part of boot camp training is to break down independent thinking and then build it up again with team thinking.  Immediately, the Corporal shows the men that he is not their friend and is on a power trip. So much so,  Himmelstoss delivers his cruel and sadistic orders.

Breen #3 Crimes Against the law – REVENGE in modern times are not presented in detail

After 6 weeks of grueling training, the men were denied leave to relax in town. Not one weekend were they allowed a break from training like other companies. They were given their orders to leave at midnight for the Western Front (trenches built between two warring enemies: French and the Germans). They had just enough time to clean the mud off their uniforms. Later, that same evening, they were given an opportunity to even the score.  They happened to witness a drunken Himmelstoss stumbling across the camp. They strung wire to trip him;  then, they covered his head in a blanket.  Then, they carried him into the woods and commenced to beat the “tar” out of him.  They each took turns beating his arse with canes.  Then, they dumped his unconscious body in the mud.

We see the men pre-plan their brutal attack and carry it out in detail against a superior officer.  This would definitely not be allowed under the decency code.  I would rewrite the scene as an accident witnessed by the men for their enjoyment. As the drunken Himmelstoss crosses the camp, he hits his head on a tree limb and falls unconscious into the mud while the men hilariously laugh.

Breen #4 Repellent subjects – Brutality and possible gruesomeness is not allowed

The scenes of men in combat are very graphic.  There is one scene that a soldiers hands are left grabbing wire while the rest of his body has been blown away. I would have deleted this scene.

The last scene I would like to Bleen, although there are many more, is a scene where they are bathing in a lake, NAKED.

Breen #5 Nudity can never be permitted as being necessary for the plot

After lusting for a woman on a poster, in a village pub behind enemy lines, the men decide to take a bath to try to feel human again. While bathing and swimming naked, they see three French girls across the river. The girls are giggling and laughing at these nude boys.  They see them and try to persuade them to join them. They girls only laugh and shake their heads in unbelief at their nudity and terrible attempts in speaking French.  Finally, one of them lures them with a bottle of wine and some bread he had retrieved from the embankment.

A guard on duty orders them back to across the river. The girls indicate their house and for welcome to a rendezvous later that night. They arrive in the dark: wet and naked (nakedness is implied).  The girls are shocked that they were butt naked. So, they grab the feminine clothing hanging on a clothesline. When they come into the house, they clothes are hanging on them in weird ways in their excitement to be admitted in the house. The women are starving and they quickly ravish the food.  One of the girls lead Paul to a kitchen chair beside her.  This is one of the sweetest scenes in the movie. Paul tenderly watches her as she devours the food. Then, she cups his cheek in her hand.  He slowly turns her hand over and delicately kisses her palm. You could almost feel his heart and read his mind as you witness the grossness of the war slowly fall away.

There is free love, nakedness, and sneaking around by breaking orders not to cross the river….let alone fraternising with the enemy. This whole scene would have to be rewritten where Paul is married and returns home for some love. Too bad because this scene, with these two strangers and enemies, reveal a lesson in the fact that humans have a basic need. In order to connect to our sense of humanity, we must do so through others. That is all this scene wants to convey; no more and no less. In a rewrite, Paul’s going back to the wife involves mutual expectations. He is not the man he was before the war.  His experiences have changed him into someone much more complex. All of that has to be included too with a wife.  These two scenes would be completely different lessons with different results. The plot does just thicken, it is changed.

Final Thoughts

There are many more scenes that I could Bleen for this movie; but, since I am a newbie at this, I think five scenes is enough for this post. What do I take away from this process? There are movie scenes that can be removed and rewritten to make a better movie. Fine editing is vital for a film’s success.  However, this classic masterpiece could not withstand too much Bleen censoring without changing the true sentiments of the storyline and plot.

This challenge of utilizing the Bleen system, not only entailed that I use someone else’s decency standards; but, also that I judge the merit of an art form purely based on the perceived notions of what is considered “good taste” or what is “right” for the common good.  It is stifling at best and at worst, it limits freedom of speech.  Anyone who has been involved in creating any art form knows that most artists look for the “Truth” from within their soul. Without a doubt, the artist and the censor have two separate perceptions of what Art should be. This difference creates an endless discussion and debate on defining Art and the limitations (if any) on the freedom of speech and expression.

I enjoyed participating in the Bleen process and again, I want to thank Tiffany for this lovely opportunity.  If you enjoyed critiquing this movie with me and you would enjoy reading more posts about other “Bleen” movies, please use the link:

https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/the-great-breening-blogathon-day-1/

 

 

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REFERENCE LINKS:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020629/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_152

http://www.notablebiographies.com/Pu-Ro/Remarque-Erich-Maria.html

http://www.artsreformation.com/a001/hays-code.html

The Mad Scientist Blogathon

What is it about “mad scientists ” that is so appealing to film audiences? Is it their crazy ideas that fascinates?  Or maybe, it is their passion for possibilities of the unthinkable.  Real scientists like Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, or Leonardo Da Vinci were thought “mad” at times too. Their ideas shocked their contemporaries; and yet, their passions eventually changed our perception of our world which resulted in changing our lives for the better too. It is only natural that we find ourselves drawn to these “mad” geniuses. Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings  invited bloggers to write a post about a mad scientist from the movies. Please use the link  below to read more blogs on movie scientists of all sorts:

https://christinawehner.wordpress.co

https://silverscreenings.org/2017/09/10/movie-scientist-blogathon-day-3-recap-the-lonely/

My original “mad scientist” was Doctor Frankenstein from the Mary Shelley’s book and from the multiple film incarnations of him. I also love comedies. Logically, I was going to write a post about Mel Brooks‘ Hilarious Young Frankenstein. However, as I was watching Igor (pronounced I-Gor not E-Gor) looking for a human brain, I had a better idea…Brains….the Human brain.

What if Dr. Frankenstein took the brain and put in in a dead body? I mean a body that wasn’t pieced together from many body parts. Just pick a whole dead body and put in a “good” brain.  Or, as Brain Surgeon Doctor Micheal Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) said:

Ladies and gentlemen, I can envision a day when the brains of brilliant men can be kept alive in the bodies of dumb people.

So instead of Young Frankenstein (1974), my post will be about another hilarious movie scientist, Dr. Hfuhruhurr, in the film, The Man Wiith Two Brains (1983).  This is the third of four movies that Carl Reiner directed that starred comedic, mastermind Steve Martin:

  1. The Jerk (1979)
  2. Dead Men Don’t Ware Plaid (1982)
  3. The Man With Two Brains (1983)
  4. All of Me (1984)

The three comedy writers who wrote The Man With Two Brains also wrote the screenplay for Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid: Carl Reiner, Steve Martin and George Gale. This movie mostly spoofs  horror films of by gone years. I feel it is only proper to mention each of the films since they not only inspired The Man With Two Brains; but, they have “mad” scientists who should not be ignored in a blog that honors them.

  • Donavan’s Brain (1953)
  • Blood Devils (1970)
  • They Saved Hitler’s Brian (1968)
  • The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1983)

A Brief look of these Four Horror Movies that Influenced The Man With Two Brains: All movie trailers are added at the end of this post. 

This first one, Donovan’s Brain, stars Nancy Davis. I think this is interesting because she will become the future First Lady married to President Ronald Reagan. In this film, she is marry to a kindly doctor who keeps a criminal’s brain alive; however, the evil brain slowly takes over the doctor’s mind and body.

The second movie is known as Blood Devils in the United States and Beast of Blood in the United Kingdom. This one is a rare treat because it is a Filipino Horror flick that is Dubbed in English. This movie has a disfigured evil doctor on an island who loves making zombies by transplanting heads. He keeps the head and body of a man-beast alive. The head controls its detached body. The last scene in this movie trailer is a funny due to the dubbing process.

Third movie has one of the most unique titles that I ever heard: They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Besides the title, the making of this movie is unique too.  They had a theatrical release of this 70-minute movie in 1963. Then in 1968, the movie distributor asked UCLA students to add 20-minutes more footage to the ending. This was adapted for television. According to this movie, Hitler didn’t shoot himself in the head. His Nazis henchmen smuggled his living head to an island near a country, Mandoras , in South America to be attached when the Third Reich could be revived. Hence, it prompted another movie title: The Madmen of Mandoras.

The last horror film to influence the comedy writers of The Man With Two Brains is The Brain That Would Not Die (1983).  This time the mad scientist has a girlfriend whose head is decapitated in a car wreck.  He keeps her head alive while she begs him to allow her to die. When he tells her he knows what he is doing because he has done it before.  Even though he created a living mess with the poor guy.  She really begins to hate her boyfriend as he goes lurking for a body to attach to her head.  He is little choosy too because his looks for victims at a burlesque show and a beauty pageant. The head really hates it when he decides to killed an old ex-girlfriend for a body. The head nags him so much, he tapes her mouth shut.

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These four movies influenced the making of The Man With Two Brains. In this film, we meet “mad scientist” or should I say mad Brain Surgeon, Doctor Hfuhruhurr who perfected the “cranial screw-top” brain surgery. He describes his over inflated talents  to a reporter in this way:

My brilliant research in brain transplantation is unsurpassed, and will probably make my name live beyond eternity.

When he asks the reporter to read his statement back, he asked him to remove the word “probably” because it made him sound to “wishy, washy.”

Dr. Hfuhruhurr is a widower who still grieves for the lost of his wife and soul mate. He explains to the reporter that a gardener, Ramon, gave him a Barbie doll that was made with his dead wife’s hair. He keeps the doll on the dash of his car. While driving he explains to the reporter. Suddenly, he accidentally hits Delores Bennett ( Kathleen Turner) with his car. He immediately goes to help her and tells a four-year little girl, who witnessed the accident, to go for help. Carl Reiner says this is his favorite scene in the whole movie because that amazing little girl, who could not read, memorized her lines so well that the scene was shot in one take.  The following video is that scene and many more chuckles too.

He operates to save her life. I love the cats that keep showing up during surgery.  Doctor “H” yells at them to “Scat! Damn cats around here.” Little does he know, Delores is a recent widower. She is looking for another wealthy man to marry in order to scam him from all of his money; until, he “accidentally” dies and will leave her even more money through his insurance which is left to her through his Will.

Kathleen Turner is so smooth, sexy, and decadent in this movie.  It was an eye opener for audiences to see her in a comedy after seeing her explosive portrayal as Matty Walker in noir thriller, Body Heat (1983). She claimed she wanted to do a comedy because Delores is so outrageous and “it wasn’t a token female role.”  Besides, the fact she could work with creative funny men like Reiner and Martin must have attracted her too.

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They marry.  But you feel this gold digger is going to be wife in name only. After the preacher pronounces them man and wife and that he may kiss the bride, she turns her cheek to the Doctor ” H” to kiss and says, “Not now.”  He is sexually frustrated for six weeks; before, he tells his new wife that he is going on  a business trip that can easily be a substitute for a honeymoon too. They travel to Venice where unbeknownst to them there is an “elevator killer” terrorizing the women of the city.  Here he meets another “mad scientist” Doctor Alfred Necessiter (David Warner). I love to watch Warner’s work in anything.  He is such a great actor.

Doctor Necessiter discovered a radical technique to store living brains of the victims of the Elevator Killer. Because the killer injects the victims with window cleaner, it allows the doctor to keep the brain alive. However, the brains only have a limited time to live in the liquid before it dies. In addition, he has perfected a method of transplanting a human brain in a gorilla.

While visiting the Necessiter, Dr. H finds he can communicate with one of the ladies brains. She has the sweetest voice (uncredited Sissy Spacek) and although, no one can hear hear her she communicates to Dr. H using telepathy. He is intrigued and wants to help her out of her darkness. He later learns the brain’s name is Annie Uumellmahaye. You just know by the unusual names that they are meant for each other: Hfuhruhurr and Uumellmahaye 💖

Carl Reiner wanted Annie and Dr. H to have a loving romance that time and memories could not prevent. He believes “Random Harvest” (1942) to be the greatest of movie love story. It stars Greer Garson and Ronald Colman This movie inspired the greatest romance of man and brain in the movie.

 

He decides to kidnap Annie and keep her until he finds a suitable dead body to attach her head. The trip to the morgue turns up some pretty bad options. He confessed to Dr. Necessiter  “I cannot F**k a gorilla.” Unfortunately, Dr. “H” decides to murder a woman for her body.

One of the funniest moments in this film is when jealous Delores follows her husband who goes out on a date with Annie’s stolen brain. Their confrontation is hilarious.

I am not going to spoil this movie but writing what happens from this point. I will say it has more surprises; and, it stays hilarious to the end.  Michael Hfuhruhurr represents all kinds of scientist.  He is good, mad and lonely. He is a perfect match for the Scientists Blogathon (2017).  Again, thank you Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings for allowing me to add this post late, despite Hurricane Irma (2017). I have decided to watch all five of these horror flicks Halloween week, one for each day.

I hope you will enjoy watching this very funny horror movie.  If you want to read more about a variety of film scientists in this Blogathon, please use the following links below.

https://christinawehner.wordpress.com

https://silverscreenings.org/2017/09/10/movie-scientist-blogathon-day-3-recap-the-lonely/

Print

 

The Man With Two Brains was inspired by the following movies. Here are the Trailers

 

 

Carl Reiner said he loved the movie, Random Harvest (1942). It is a tender love story. That tenderness inspired him as he help write somebody of the movie script for Man With Two Brains (1987).

Reference Links:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085894/

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/brain_that_wouldnt_die

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265870/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065456/

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/17516/Donovan-s-Brain/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_Harvest_(film)

 

 

 

 

Black Hawk Down(2001): The Colours Blogathon

The Colours Blogathon is hosted by Catherine from Thoughts of All Sorts. The movies reviewed in this blogathon must have a color adjective as part of the title.  I chose black since it encompasses all the colors on a color spectrum (complete adsorption of light without reflecting any rays). To match a “black titled” movie, I wanted to review a great movie that has a multilevel of emotions and actions.  So my favorite movie with these requisites is Black Hawk Down.  As far as war movies goes, this movie is one of the best. It is directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, GladiatorThelma and Louise…) and produced by Jerry Buckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2017; Top Gunn (2017); Geostrom (2017) ….

It has an all-star cast from around the globe.  However, none of the actors are from Somalia. Just take a look at the list of these actors who play crucial roles in this film:

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Josh Hartnett- USA (Eversmann)        Ewan McGregor – Scotland

Eric Bana – Australia (Hoot)      .           Tom Hardy- England (Twombly)

Tom Sizemore– USA (McKnight)          Orlando Bloom- England

William Fichtner- USA ( Sanderson)   Sam Shepard– USA (Garrison)

Ewen Brenner– Scotland (Nelson)        Kim  Coates- Canada (Wex)

Ron Eldard- USA (Durant)                      JoAn Gruffud, UK (Beales)

Jeremy Piven- USA (Wolcott)                   Jason Isaacs-English (Steele)

Gabriel Casseus- USA (Kurth)                Nicolas Coster-Waldau                                                                                         Denmark    (Gordon)

Hugh Dancy-England (Schmid)               Enrique Murciano- USA (Ruiz)

Ty Burrell- USA (Wilkinson)

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If I were to name “a lead star,” it would have to be Josh Hartnett (Eversmann).  This war movie presents each soldier (actor) in equal measure because that is how  real teams of soldiers operates: everyman matters and no one gets left behind.  They each have a job to do; and, they must watch each other’s back in order to survive and make it out alive.  All the courage, fear, and frustration to accomplish this is vividly felt throughout the movie. Realistic and gritty are just two words to describe this engrossing film.

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It is based on a book by journalist Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern Warfare (1999). The book is based on an incident that happened on October 3, 1993.  Bowden wrote 29 articles for the Philadelphia Inquirer researching and interviewing soldiers who were involved in this combat.

Historical Record:

In 1991, after the overthrow of Somali dictator, Siad Barre,  civil war broke out between different clans.  These clans arbitrarily attacked civilians and committed war crimes.  These attacks interrupted food production which resulted in a famine.  Across the globe, the news displayed disturbing images of starving people, some were babies.  By 1992, the Bush administration launched “Operation Restore Hope.” The United States in joint effort with the United Nations sent troops to Somali to “destabilize the government and bring food and humanitarian aid to a starving population.”

Warlords of the rival clans intercepted the food supplies sent from other countries to feed this starving population. They distributed the food to their ever-growing armies first. Then, they sold what was left. Essentially, there is no government. At some point, demonstrations of protest began.  When Pakistani soldiers, as part of the U.N. mission, fired into a crowd of protesters, Warlord, Aidid, counter attacked  and killed 24 soldiers. At this point, the U.N. Security Council authorized “All necessary measures to apprehend those responsible.” A $25,000 bounty was placed on Aidid’s head and a manhunt began.

By October 3rd 1993, U.S. Special forces were sent to the capital, Mogadishu on a mission to capture a key lieutenants of Aidid. Using U-H-60 Black Hawk helicopters, soldiers were lowered to the ground. Once the rebel “targets” were captured, the soldiers soon learned leaving the city became near impossible due to multiple road blocks and being under constant fire.

Just as this Snafu began, an unexpected attack by Somalian forces brought two helicopters down using RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades).  Mobs hacked the fallen pilots to death with machetes and dragged their bodies through the streets as trophies. One pilot was captured and was released weeks later. Humvees were used to transport the dead, wounded, and any soldiers they could fit into their vehicles in order to escape the thousands of Somali militia surrounding them.  Many had to be left behind; until, another rescue effort could be made.

Even with air support to direct them out of the city, Humvees found only blockades with militia shooting guns and mortar grenades at them. What should have taken only a few hours ended up taking 15 hours. This is known as the Battle of Mogadishu and it lasted for two days. The route that was “run” by the Army Rangers and Delta Force soldiers from the helicopter crash site to the rally point is known as The Mogadishu Mile. Some of the Rangers were forced to run on foot behind the rescue convoy of Humvees leaving the city.  Each Humvee was packed with dead, dying and/or wounded soldiers. The soldiers who had to run on foot did this unprotected and were still in constant harms way.  This incident is an extremely moving segment of the movie as they run to safety.

The Movie and a few facts:

Although this movie is an excellent film, be warned there are graphic shots and violence because of the nature of the story. There is also a great deal of colorful language and some dark humor. These are typical behaviors for most men and women who work within severely stressful conditions.  However, there is no nudity for those of you who are screamish about people in the buff. If you have not seen this truly great movie, just know that it is a compelling story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  In addition to being a bit anxious, there will be times that you will probably laugh and tear up too.

There has been much written about this film and this battle.  So, I will mention a few things that I noticed while I watched it.

Since all soldiers have similar hair cut and uniforms, the director had each character’s last name printed on the helmets; so, you could tell them apart. Printing names on helmets is not done in the “real” U.S. Army.

The scenes with Major General Garrison (Sam Shepard) in the control room had actual Satellite images of the real battles.  Also some of the radio chatter between the Humvees, helicopters, and command was taken from actual radio transmissions made during the Battle.

Regrettably, the film Black Hawk Down did not show the role of Malaysia and Pakistan Forces in Somalia. When U.S. troops were trapped in the center of Mogadishu, it was the Seventh Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army that went in to help them get out. When it is all said and done, at least 18 American soldiers were killed and thousands of Somali were killed.  President Clinton pulled U.S. military Forces out of the country. He justified the thousands killed with this statement:

When people kill us, they should be killed in great numbers.

As a result of U.S. forces pulling out, Somali is still a war-torn country and Mogadishu is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world: a hotbed of insurgents and a hide out for terrorists. But, controversially many considered this a failed mission. This film pays tribute to the spirit of those brave young men who went into a country and culture that they knew next to nothing about and risked and loss their lives. They followed orders and remained courageous and loyal to each of their brothers in arms.

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To read more posts in the colours Blogathon, please use the link below:

https://thoughtsallsorts.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/its-a-colourful-day-a-colourful-blogathon-day/

 

References Links:

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/153561

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hawk_Down_(book)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265086/

 

Third Ingrid Bergman Blogathon: Cactus Flower (1969)

In 1938, she was like no other actress in Hollywood.  She came to Hollywood already a film star in Sweden.  She made six Swedish films before David O. Selznick wanted to her to star in the remake of one those Swedish films, Intermezzo (1939). At first she refused because she did not like his terms. However, he changed the terms and offered again. With a better contract, she agreed to star in the American version that movie. However, Hollywood, being Hollywood, wanted to personally remake Bergman too. They immediately sent her instructions/demands. Again, she surprised them when she refused to have her teeth fixed, shave her eyebrows or change her German sounding name.

She was a healthy, natural beauty who preferred to not wear makeup except lightly, for work or special events. She was a professional when it came to work. She was never late or required special treatment while making her movies.  When she signed a contract, she never renegotiated for more money because the movie became more profitable than originally planned. For ten years, she was successful and well respected by her peers and the public.  She starred in such classics as Gaslight (1944); For Whom The Bells Toll (1943); The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945); Notorious (1946); Casablanca (1942); Spellbound (1945); Joan of Arc (1948) ….

Yet in 1950, she left Hollywood in the whirlwind of scandal.  She went from being one of the most respected actresses in Hollywood to the most despicable, at least in the eyes of public opinion. The “witch hunt” even went so far that a senator from Colorado claimed Ingrid Bergman as “a powerful influence for evil.”  Of course, she was Blacklisted and could not find work in Hollywood after that.

What did she do to deserve such a hateful public outcry?

She left her husband and daughter in the states, to go make a movie in Italy.  Roberto Rossellini was the director of her latest film, Stromboli (1950). Both, actress and director, were married to other people when they began their affair.  Then, she became pregnant; and, declared her love for Rossellini and refused to go back to her husband.  It didn’t matter to the public that they each had been separated from their spouses long before they met.

In 1956, she made her first comeback American movie, Anastasia.  Although this was an American film, it was made in England.  It was nearly 20 years later, before Bergman would walk on a sound stage in Hollywood California again. In 1969, the year of flower power, the sexual revolution, hippies, and Vietnam, Bergman came back to a different America and Hollywood. At age 54, she would star in her first comedy.  She is in full bloom in this 1969 romantic comedy: Cactus Flower. She was quoted as saying:

I always wanted to do comedies; but, nobody discovered this until my old age….they think all Swedes are like Greta Garbo.

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This movie’s premise uses the sexual revolution of the 60s as it’s backdrop for a comedy based on the complex relationships between the sexes. Comparing the strict sexual rules of the 50s to the slacked morales of the 60s and 70s is quite a jump in a cultural turn around. Much of this social change can be attributed to the FDA approving The Pill as a contraceptive in 1960.  For the first time in the history of women, we were given control of when, who, and where they wanted to have children. This equated to sexual freedom.

I had not seen this movie since 1969.  So, I rented it to refresh my memory. Surprisingly, enjoy the humor and one liner jokes.  The script is still witty and sharp. Also, the theme of the movie is still as relevant today as it was in 1969, since equality between the sexes continues to be debated today.

Some of The Other Actors

Walter Matthau is one of those actors with perfect comedic timing.  He has a dead pan delivery (like the straight man in a comedy act) that sounds authentic enough to make his one liners funny.  The amazing thing about this is he can be the finny straight man with any person in any scene. As I watched his hilarious performance in this movie, I realized how much I missed him in his other movies, especially the “grumpy old man” with Jack Lemmon.

Of course, it is a rare treat to see Bergman in a comedy. Who knew she could be so funny?  It is always wonderful to watch her in any movie at any age.  In this film, she plays a uptight, stern nurse in her 40s who is single; but, in love with her playboy boss.  Bergman always possesses that cinema magic with her on screen presence and stage performances. You literally cannot take your eyes off her.

Goldie Hawn was mostly known as Televison’s Rowen and Martin’s “it girl” who danced in her bikini with a ditzy blonde personal. It shocked many people at the time to learn that she shared the screen with the likes of Bergman. This is Goldie Hawn’s first feature in a big budget movie; and, she is so compelling as the booty call girlfriend she won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Bergman was nominated for Best actress but lost to Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brody.

Rick Lenz is an actor that mostly disappeared after this movie.  Too bad because he holds his own pretty well as the potential love interest behind Julian.  The whole time I watched his likable performance, I kept thinking of a young Jimmy Stewart.

Summary of the movie: Cactus Flower

A single dentist (Walter Matthau) who has an much younger girlfriend (Goldie Hawn) feels pressured to marry her. He has just one problem. In order to avoid commitment and marriage, he lied and told her that he is already married. After seeing each other for over a year, this young, idealistic girlfriend realizes she cannot continue the relationship; unless, he agrees to tell his wife the truth; then, they can get divorced so she and he, the dentist, can marry.

Despite the fact that this is a comedy, it begins with a very depressing subject, suicide. After Julian Winton (Matthau) misses their one year anniversary dinner, Toni (Hawn) decides to write Julian a letter explaining why she would rather kill herself then to continue living with constant disappointment and loneliness.

We see Toni coming out of her Greenwich Village flat, in her fluffy pink slippers and overcoat, to put a letter into the mail box. Once back in her flat, she slowly puts out the candles on the table set for two. After she sadly looks over the clean plates and unopened bottle of wine.  She goes to the gas stove and turns on the gas. She then proceeds to lie on her bed with her arms crossed, awaiting death.

Luckily, a neighbor, Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz) comes out of his apartment into the hall smelling gas.  He locates that the origin of the smell which is coming out of Toni”s apartment.  He bangs on her door and gets no answer.  He climbs out on the fire escape and breaks into her apartment through a window.  He turns off the gas and opens the windows and doors, fanning the gas with his arms.  Seeing Toni unconscious on her bed, he tries to wake her up; but, she doesn’t respond. He performs CPR on her. When she comes too, she thinks it is Julian trying to kiss he. She gives Igor a passionate kiss. They have a sweet conversation as to why she is dating a married man.  Ironically, Toni claims it is because Julian is honest. He told her right away that he was married.  According to Toni, she has been lied too all her life. Julian was the first descent man that she has ever met.

When Julian gets Toni’s letter, he runs out of the office scares to death that he would find her dead. Of course, she is not.  But, Toni insists he quit his wife and marry her. Julian is so relieved she is alive and shocked that she would attempt suicide over him, he promises to get a divorce right away. Then, Toni insists that she meet the wife as part of her conditions.  She wants the wife to know that they would be supportive of her too. Like I said, Toni is a very idealistic young lady.

Julian has a dilemma.  Where can he find a woman to pretend to be his wife? A wife that he has been married too for over ten years? He could of course tell Toni the truth and risk losing her forever. Then again, is her emotional well being strong enough to accept the truth without her trying to harm herself?

His dental assistant and office manager is Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman). She is extremely professional, competent and loyal; and, she is secretly in love with Julian. You probably know of a few women who match this description from the work place.  Sometimes, they jokingly refer to themselves as the “Work wife” as opposed to “house wife.”

Julian explains to his moocher friend, Harvey Greenfield (Jack Weston), why he likes Nurse/Miss Dickinson:

She is like a wife. A good wife, devoted, competent, takes care of everything for me during the day. And at night, she goes home, to her home. And I go home with no problems or cares, to my girl. My life is arranged the way I like it.

The title Catcus Flower is symbolic of Nurse Dickinson.  On the outside, she is sharpe, prickly and surviving.  But, as the years go by, there is a beautiful flower inside that is ready to bloom. You can actually see this in two different photographic of her taking care if this office plant.

Of course, Julian is going to ask Miss Dickinson out for a drink; so, he can ask her to lie and pretend to be his wife.  After working for him for over ten years, he has never asked her out for anything after work.  It is a mad guess to figure out what must have been going on in her love sick mind when he actually suggests they have a few drinks.

There are many funny one liners in this movie, I could barely keep up. In other words, I laughed a lot and the movie didn’t get dragged down by over sentimentality like many Romantic comedies. This comedy is so good that Adam Sandler did a remake in 2011,  Just Go With It, with Jennifer Anniston playing Bergman’ s role.

To give you an idea of a Bergman one liner, when she comes into the patient’s room to double check dental instruments and secure the body cover up on patient, Harvey Greenfield, he says to her:

“Hey! I was reading the other day about a dentist in New Jersey who had topless nurses.”  As she adjusts his cover up, she says, ” I didn’t know you were interested in reading.”

You can image how these lies begin to unravel into bigger lies which makes this movie a great comedy. Because, Nurse Dickinson will attempt to help Julian secure Toni’s love. I hope if you haven’t seen this Bergman comedy, you don’t miss a chance to see it. I just like to add a comment about Goldie Hawn. She wrote her autobiography titled: A Lotus Grows in Mud. I just thought it was meaningful that she picked another flower that will only bloom once it has beaten the odds of the struggle and surviving. This certainly speaks volumes for anyone who has gone though horrendous life events and out stronger and better from it.  This quote from the book explains it succinctly:

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one”.[1]

Ingrid Bergman’s last movie was made for television on the life of Israeli Prime Minister, Goldie Mier. Bergman died of breast cancer on her birthday, August 29th in 1982. She had just turned 67 years old. Without question, she left us far too soon. Thankfully, she also left us with over 50 films of her life work that will inspire actresses and women in general to be strong, work hard and to be true to themselves.

Ingrid Bergman, is honored in a Blogathon which is hosted by Virginie Pronvost of The Wonderful World of Cinema.  I would like to thank Virginie for the invitation to submit my post with various other excellent bloggers who are focused on a variety of Bergman’s movies. To read more posts about Bergman and her work, please use the link below.

https://thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/the-3rd-wonderful-ingrid-bergman-blogathon-is-here/

 

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Link References

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Lotus_Grows_in_the_Mud

http://www.alternet.org/story/153969/how_the_sexual_revolution_changed_america_forever

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/allen_steve_t.html

 

 

 

 

Hitchcock: Under “Suspicion” (1941) The Hitchcock Blogathon

It must have been an unusual life for Mrs. Hitchcock being married to a creative Filmmaker like “Hitch.”  If you can judge by her reaction in this picture, she never had a dull moment; but, perhaps, she had a lot of fun surprises.  Even in the best of marriages, there must be moments of doubt concerning the subject of trust. How can you tell if someone is telling you the truth or lying to you?  What if your intellect tells you they are lying, especially if the evidence points to them lying; yet, they vehemently deny it.

It is a is an extremely difficult situation on any level but more so when you love the lying suspect with your whole heart and soul. God help those who possess an analytical mind and put it in practice with something akin to an old Irish idiom: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half what you see!  The Master Director of mystery films and thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock, provides these questions and situations to ponder as we watch his 1941 film, Suspicion.

In this Hitchcock film, the person possibly lying is none other than the debonair, charismatic Cary Grant (Johnnie Aysgarth).  The person desperately wanting to believe his lies is the lovely, slightly naive Joan Fontaine (Lina Mclaidlaw Aysgarth), his wife.

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Lina, who lacks confidence in herself as an attractive woman along with being painfully shy, accidentally meets a man too good to be true. She finds herself falling madly in love. This begins as handsome Johnnie shows up in her first class train compartment with his third class train ticket. She never met anyone like him before.

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This is the first film out of three Hitchcock films that Grant plays the lead. According to Grant, it was going to be the last movie too.  He didn’t like how his character was handled; and, he thought Hitch gave more attention to Fontaine.  She won an academy award for her performance.  This picture was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture too.

 

I love the way this movie starts with a pitch black screen. Then, you hear a train whistle.  Then, the audience hears Grant’s voice apologizing for kicking a leg.  You hear him say, I didn’t mean to hurt you.  Nothing like a bit of foreshadowing by Hitchcock.  It is dark because the train is going through a tunnel; but, once the train is through it, the light reveals a bookish, nerdy kind of young lady wearing glasses (Lina) sitting alone in a compartment. She is staring, in amazement, at the uncouthness of Cary Grant (Johnnie). This sets the mood for this entire movie…The audience is in the dark and never sure what to believe.

 

This is their first meeting.  The porter checks the tickets and discovers Johnnie (Grant) has a third class ticket; yet, he is in a first class compartment.  He didn’t have enough money to upgrade his ticket.  He asks book girl if she has any extra change.  Again, her jaw drops.  As she fumbles for some money, he sees a postage stamp in her hand.  He takes it and gives it to the porter and says to him: it is legal tender. Now, go and mail a letter.

Later, he sees Lina atop a nervous horse at an equestrian event.  When her horse rears up on its hind legs, she skillfully reins him in; and, he settles down. She is clearly enjoying her ride upon this spirited horse. Johnnie can hardly believe it is the same girl on the train.  He asks his lady companions who she is. They know her and are a bit negative in their comments of her.  You know how jealous some women can be. The ladies decides to introduce Johnnie to her with a visit.  They ask her to join them for Sunday church services.

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Lina meets Johnnie and his groupies for church.  As she is about to go in, Johnnie holds her back.  He asks, You really don’t want to go to Church service? Do you?  Lina tries to pull away, Johnnie is stronger. He tells her they will toss a coin and decide whether to go inside with the others. He tosses a coin.  Head or tails, you just know that he will win. When the rest of the group notices the two missing, they look back but see nothing.

Next, we see another Hitchcock foreshadowing. There is a couple, in the distance, on a hill. They are physically struggling against one another. At first, I thought he was going to toss her over a cliff.  As the camera comes closer, we can see it is Johnnie and Lina. Lina can’t shake him off her. Then, Johnnie says, Why are you fighting me?  Did you think I was going to kiss you?  Lina replies: Yes! Why else would you try to put your arms around me.  Johnnie said he was trying to fix her hair. You know this is total nonsense.  Then, he plays with her hair and puts it in the most ridiculous styles. Which is actually pretty funny.

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Later, when they reach her house, they overhear through an open window, Lina’s mother and father talking about her being a spinster and how her father must leave her a fortune to live on. You can see the hurt in Lina’s face. As she turns away to leave, she sees Johnnie looking over her shoulder. She does not hesitate.  She wraps her arms around his neck and  passionately kisses him, full mouth. Then, she runs into the house.

Of course she cannot help herself. He has given her more attention, in the space of an hour, than she had ever had in her whole life from the opposite sex.  Besides, he is charming, witty, and so visually pleasing to the eyes. He convinces her that he has noted her peculiarities, and what’s more, he really likes how her uniqueness is packaged.  Really, what’s not to love? But, is he telling the truth?

Throughout this movie, we ask ourselves these questions, just like the heroine, Lina.  We really want Johnnie to be honest with her because they are both so likable and sweetly flawed. Does she see warning signs along the way that Johnnie may not be totally honest with her? Is he a pure selfish cad? Or is he a newbie with this whole “trust thing” and he’s just bumbling along?  Of course, she sees the signs. Like many people in love, she believes her mate, Cary Johnnie; even though, he has no job (most playboys/players do not have a job); and, he has acquired massive gambling debits. However, he appears to be so in love with Lina; that he promises to stop gambling and to get a job.

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Besides, Johnnie thinks Lina’s rich Daddy, General Mclaidlaw (Cecil Hardwicke) will give them an expensive wedding gift…Maybe a house or a lump sum of money?  With this in mind, they go on an expensive honeymoon. Since his investments seem to be going no where, Johnnie gets a job from his cousin, Melbeck  However, money turns up missing.  He tells Johnnie if he replaces the money, he will not call the police.  Desperate, Johnnie takes the wedding gift (two antique, heirloom chairs) from his father-in-law and sells them. Lina finds out and is so upset that Johnnie brings the chairs back.

 

When the General dies, the only inheritance he left Lina was his portrait.  Johnnie’s finances are drying up. Then, Johnnie’s best mate, dear amicable, Beaky (Nigel Bruce) shows up to invest in Johnnie’s failed financial adventure in land development.  Lina likes Beaky; and, she tries to talk him out of investing.  When Johnnie finds out she tries to talk Beaky out of investing, he warns her to stay out of his business. Later, he tells her he called off the deal with Beaky.  Instead, he travels with Beaky to London and from there Beaky travels alone to Paris for a business deal.

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However, during these series of unlucky financial events, Lina begins to feel ill most of the time.  A neighbor who writes murder mysteries told her that Johnnie was asking her questions about which poisons are undetectable. Johnnie insists on bringing her a glass of milk before bedtime. Hitchcock brilliantly films Grant carrying the glass of milk up the stairs, in the shadows, with web like shapes running throughout the scene…Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive (Sir Walter Scott).

Then tragedy strikes. Beaky turns up dead in Paris, and no one can find the money he bought with him for the business deal. Lina begins to do more than suspect her lovely, charming husband. She now fears him. With everyone around her is telling her not to trust him, Johnnie vehemently claims his love for her and he is telling her the truth. He demands that she should believe him. He is ready to leave if she wishes it; but, he will be heartbroken for the rest of his life if he isn’t loved by her anymore. Lina wants to leave and visit her mother.  Johnnie angrily insists that he drive her. This isn’t good.

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Of course, I  not going to tell you how it ends.  You have to enjoy it for yourself. However, I will tell you that in the book, Before The Fact (1932), the author, Frances Ike, made Johnnie’s character much more sinister.  He even had a baby with the maid. In the British version of this movie, Lina is indeed murdered by Johnnie. Luckily, for us, this film is in the capable hands of Hitchcock. The creative Mr Hitchcock has a surprise for his audience in this version.  Also, like Stan Lee in the Marvel comics, he always does a cameo.  Look for him in the scene. It’s about 45 minutes into the movie.  He is mailing a letter at the village post office.   Also, people claims he pulled a horse in front of the camera just before Grant is seen at the equestrian event. I hope you watch it or watch it again.  It truly is a great classic.

This is an entry for The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon hosted by Maddie Loves Classic Films.  You can read other posts on Hitchcock film using the following link:

https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/the-alfred-hitchcock-blogathon-day-2/#like-6815

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En Pointe: Blogathon of Ballet: Rimky-Koravok’s Scheheazade

Before the days of DVRs, Wifi, Fire sticks, Hulu and Netflix, and so on…movie choices on television were based on the decisions of big networks or a local broadcasting affiliates.  If you said “Binge watching” in the 60s, most people would have thought you meant that you somehow medically cared for an alcoholic. In other words, watching your favorite movie or show was not as easy as a pushing a few keys on your remote control.

Back in the late 60s, to find my favorite movie, I scanned the TV guide or the Marquee supplement of the Sunday newspaper. Every week, I would skim the television listings looking for one long word: Scheherazade. If I found it, I usually circled it and noted the time and channel.  If that movie came on at 1:00 am, the last show of night, I would wake up out of a dead sleep in order to sneak into the living room to watch it.  I turned the volume dial down so low that I had to almost put my ear on the TV speaker to hear it.  If my mother heard me out of bed, there would be hell to pay.  This is as close to binge watching as you could get in the 1960s.

Was that movie worth all that work plotting and sneaking around? Yes, Song of Scheherazade (1947) was absolutely worth it.  It was my first exposure to classical music and the world of ballet. It will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of my personal gateways to wonderful, exotic worlds. This film is based on an experience of one of the greatest Russian composers of all time Nickolai Rimsky-Korvakov.  He wrote a symphony based on one of the greatest storytellers of all time, Scheherazade.  Twenty four-year old Nikolai (Nicki) travelled around the world on a Russian clipper ship for three years (1863-1866).  When he was not working and off duty for the Imperial Russian Navy, he would compose music. His compositions were influenced by the diverse music and customs of the foreign countries he visited on this long voyage. This is only thing that is true in the Hollywood movie, Song of Scheherazade, concerning any aspect of Korvakov’s life in the navy.

 

The story of Scheherazade is worth mentioning, especially if you are not familiar with her tale. She was one of the many brides of a Sultan. Because, one of his wives, who he dearly loved, betrayed him and ran away with another, he decided to protect himself from heartbreak and disloyalty. Each night, he would consummate his marriage with one of his wives; and then, he would have her executed the following morning.

When it was Scheherazade’s turn to consummate their marriage, she devised a plan to not only save herself but all the other wives too. She held the Sultan spellbound with these fantastic stories about a thief named Aladdin, a heroic sailor named Sinbad and many others who had their own adventures and loves.  She would draw these stories out so when the morning came, her story was not finished.  The Sultan was so captivated by the story, he had to know how it would end. So each morning, he would tell the executioner to come back tomorrow morning. This continued for 1001 nights.  Until, the Sultan realized how much he loved Scheherazade and stopped all executions of his wives.

 

 

The Song of Scheherazade (1947): Summary

It was during a heat wave (116 degrees with no wind or breeze) in 1865, that a Russian clipper ship asked for a tow into the Spanish port of Morocco; as a result, the sailors were given two-day shore leave. Before they could be “cut loose” on the town, they had to undergo an inspection and lecture by their stern, cigar smoking and shirtless Captain Vladimir Grigorovich (Brian Donlevy).  We learn one of the sailors is a spoiled Prince (Phillip Reed).  He loves to carry an illegal bull whip on his person.  Another sailor is “Nicki” Korvakov ( Jean Pierre Aumont).  He is an aristocrat who is in the constant mode of composing operas. French actor, Aumont is perfect as the wide-eyed, innocent Russian musical genius.  His accent is definitely French but not too thick. You soon forget it is supposed to be a Russian accent. The English he speaks just gives his words an exotic European sound.

 

When the sailors are released to start their shore leave, Nicki locates his friend: the ship’s doctor, Dovctor Klim (Charles Kullmann: an Metropolitan opera singer).  Together they search the town looking for a piano for Nicki to play.  They wanted to hear how his newest composition sounded on an instrument.  Looking through the windows of upscale homes, they find a Piano.

I guess the plan is since Nicki is an aristocrat and a musician, the homeowner would allow these two sailors in their home to pound away on their expensive piano. Once they spy a piano through a window, they excitedly bang on the door. As they push pass the servants, they assure them that they come to only check out the piano, nearly knocking them down.  They relax as soon as Nicki begins to play. It is a beautiful melody that is heard by the mistress of the house, Madame de Talavera (Eve Arden). The Madame is a noble Spanish colonists living in Morocco.  She comes into to parlor from the outside to find two strange Russian sailors: one is playing the piano and the another one is studying the music sheets. She instantly enjoys the music. However, she wants to know who these young men are and interrupts the music.   When Nicki introduces himself, she says, “What a long name. Important people have long names.”  Arden supplies much of the comic relief in this film. She is very funny as the confused, gambling, exaggerating, widowed mother with one daughter. Arden is charming, and, her comedic timing is perfect.

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During the making of this movie, the codes of decency were strictly enforced. It required that all costumes be approved three days before filming.  Strangely, they had no problem with any garments; but, they had a lot to say about Arden’s blunging necklines.  De Tralavera’s daughter, Cara (Yvonne De Carlo), is not home to be introduced to these gentlemen. Finally, Doctor Klim uses his operatic voice to sing Nicki’s new song. This is the first song of the film.  The household enthusiastically applauds when the song ends.It is a success. Madame de Travers invites the young men to come back in hopes she can introduce them to her daughter, Cara.  Nicki and his friend are so happy with the song, they rush back to the ship to work the  on the opera some more.  However, their Captain stops them and orders them off the ship.  He wants them to enjoy their two-day leave.  Who knows when another would be feasible? He orders them to find a club for some drinks, some music and hopefully some women.

 

Nicki  finds himself in such a club, sitting alone at a table, working hard on his music.  None of his fellow crew members are there. Finally, the music changes and a beautiful Moroccan woman begins her dance on a small stage.  All activities stops and all eyes, including Nicki’s, is on this enchantress. He is bewitched by the dance and beauty of this woman (Yvonne De Carlo). Nicki does not know this is the daughter of Madame de Tralavera, Cara.  Most people remember De Carlo as TV character, Lillie, the wife of Hermann Munster on a hit show called The Munsters.  She had a long movie career before television.

 

As her performance ends, she walks through the crowd for donations. When she reaches Nicki, he sees a group of sailors loudly making their entrance into the club behind her.  Nicki tugs on her hand to sit next to him as he begs her to please play along.  He didn’t want any of his peers to report to his Captain or tease him in front of their captain about being alone while working on his music in a crowded club. The Prince sees him and is curious about the lovely woman with him. He walks over to investigate.

Nicki says they were just leaving for one of the rooms upstairs (a place to become more intimate with a working girl). Nicki leaves to pay for their accommodations. Cara walks ahead and enters one of the rooms.  She is surprised when she sees the Prince waiting for her.  He assures her that she would rather his company than Nicki’s. Then, he boldly removes her face scarf. He realizes that she is not oriental. Everything on her face is makeup.  She angrily replaces her covering as Nicki enters the room.  The two men come to near blows. Finally, Nicki asks Cara to choose.  Before she chooses, the Prince concedes to leave; since, he did not want the humiliation of her choosing Nicki over him.  As the Prince leaves, Cara tells him she would have chosen Nicki.

Once the Prince left, Nicki tells Cara to eat; and, she could leave whenever she wished to. He immediately starts working on his music. Cara looks confused; but, persuades him to not let her eat alone.  He joins her; and, they talk.  He jokes with her about how a lovely girl like her could end up in a place like this. He guesses that she was born with a silver spoon and all the wealth of her family was lost.  Now, she works here to survive.  She agrees that “his story” is true.  He is curious how she manages to keep her virtue and keep the company with men she “dates.” She explains that it depends on the type of man she is with.  She orders the right liquor and tells him fascinating stories to keep him entertained; until, they grow tired and fall asleep or leave.

Nicki realized that her story reminded him of the story of Scheherazade.  He asks her if she remembered the story.  As she recounts the tale, Nicki becomes inspired to write the storytelling music. Cara has quickly becomes his personal muse. Nicki is furiously back to work on the music; and, Cara is ignored and forgotten.  She quietly leaves with a hopelessly besotted look on her face.  The next day, Nicki will learn Cara’s true identity.  At this point, I hope you see this whole movie.  There is so much to see including De Carlo disguised as a Russian sailor, Donlevy doing the best cigarette trick ever seen on film, and the sad good-bye to Nicki.  Don’t fret, this is the golden age of Hollywood.  There will be happy faces and warm fuzzy feelings to go around at the end.

Besides, the ballet and the music, there is a lovely romance story and a sub plot of the Prince completely destroying what little wealth the Tralavera family has left.  The are various dances besides the ballet at the end.  There are waltzes and Russian folk dancing too. The mix of dance and music are a hypnotic enough on their own; but, to add visual adventures of a fun storyline transforms this film into pure aesthetic joy.

 

This post was written as part of an entry for the En Pointe: The Ballet Blogathon hosted by Christina Wehner and Love Letters to Old Hollywood.

Please use the links below to read more entries in this Blogathon:

https://christinawehner.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/en-pointe-the-ballet-blogathon-begins-today/

OR

https://loveletterstooldhollywood.blogspot.com/2017/07/en-pointe-ballet-blogathon-is-coming-up.html

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References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Nikolai_Rimsky-Korsakov

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039852/fullcredits

James Bond Blogathon: The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights (1987) is my favorite Bond movie. Of course, every Bond movie is a cinematic treat. They all have powerful musical scores playing in the background of exotic locations with super sexy men and women who are clothed in stunning garments and costumes. The action includes edgy and exciting chase scenes that are inspired by a unique, ultra villain who has a mission to harm the world.  The gadgets and fascinating technology is a science nerd’s dream.  Bond movies are fully loaded with adrenaline packed delights.

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From Sir Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, the Bond men are handsome, charismatic, witty, and deadly.  They all prefer coffee over tea, dry Vodka martinis, shaken not stirred, drive an some version of an Aston-Martin, answers to M, flirts with the female population, gets lectured from Q, are highly intelligent, willing risk takers, professional killers, and extremely complex human beings.

As a younger woman, I did not appreciate the Bond movies as much as my male friends and partners. I was especially uncomfortable with the some of the humor aimed at woman. The jokes I am referring to had nothing to do with what they done; instead, these jokes were aimed at all women, in general.  For instant, many women are given some of the dumbest/sexist names ever created: Pussy Galore, Chew Mee, Holly Goodhead, Xenia Onatop, Miss Moneypenny and more.

Let’s just say I enjoyed Bond movies for the most part but endured some aspects of them. Even so, there is one Bond movie that completely changed my perspective of all Bond films, forever. In 1986, I read an article about the new, improved Bond, Timothy Dalton, in the latest Bond movie, The Living Daylights. 

Personally, I think Timothy Dalton is the best Bond ever, if there is such a thing as a “Best Bond.”  Even though, he only starred in two of the 24 Bond movies: The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence To Kill (1989), his Bond is nearly perfect when compared to Ian Fleming’s book version of 007.  Fleming wrote 14 novels centered on MI6’s favorite spy.  The Living Daylights is the second short story in a collection of short stories, Octopussy is the first. It is also the last Bond story written by Fleming and many critics consider it his best story too. It first appeared in a magazine in 1962.  Later, it was published as part of a collection of stories in 1966.   It was printed two years after Fleming had died.  There is an excellent audio version of these collected stories narrated by Tom Hiddleston (Lokey in Thor).

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I believe some actors are born to play certain roles; and, Dalton was destined to play Bond.  He is an accomplished stage, film and television actor. He first caught the eye of Eon Productions (producers of Bond movies) in 1968 during the time when Connery was wishing to retire from making Bond movies. They were interested in Dalton as Bond after they saw him in a movie with Peter O’Toole (Henry II) and Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine), The Lion in The Winter (1968).  Dalton played Phillip II who was the ex-lover of Richard The Lionhearted played by Sir Anthony Hopkins.

 

Twenty four year old Dalton could not see himself replacing Connery. Following Connery would be a bit intimidating for any actor; but, Dalton felt he was too young to play the part well. Dalton also claimed Connery was far too good and wonderful to successfully replace as Bond.  In addition, Dalton was an avid fan of Fleming’s books; and, his perception of Bond was different from the producers. Eventually, the Bond they hired was George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

As luck would have it, Dalton was considered again for James Bond in 1979; but, after Connery and Moore’s portrayal of Bond, Dalton didn’t like the direction the producers had taken Bond’s character. Dalton didn’t think they were seriously looking for a “new” James Bond. Again, he refused.

It must be true when people say about the third time is a charm. When Pierce Brosnan was not allowed out of his Remington Steele contract to play Bond, Dalton was asked a third time to be the next Bond. Thankfully, he accepted with the hopes of putting the original book Bond on the screen.

So, in the 15th Bond movie produced by Eon Productions, Timothy Dalton brings a critically acclaimed Bond to the screen. Dalton and Flemings’ Bond was much more serious and darker. This Bond was a reluctant agent who didn’t relish his assignments.  At times, he even questioned and refused to fellow orders.  This Bond was in the burnt out stage of his career.  Dalton was so dedicated to doing right by his character that it was reported that he was often seen on set, between takes, re-reading and referencing the novels. Dalton’s Bond had an edgier, darker humor that reflected his suffering as a tired killing machine.

Internationally, the movie was a box office hit.  It bought in the fourth largest profit for a Bond movie at the time. Yet, it failed in the box offices across the United States. Some people blamed it on the marketing and changing the title to License Revoked.  Others blamed it on the major movie releases. That year Bond was up against Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade with Sean Connery, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon II.  More importantly, the reason for the poor box office results might have been the public’s perception of the new Bond. There was much publicity concerning the new Bond being more sensitive and politically correct when it came to women. This was interpreted to mean that sexy women, as the eye candy, in little or nothing outfits, was going to cease in the new Bond format.  In the eyes of the average American male, Bond had been neutered.  What kind of guy wants to see that?

 

In Dalton’s movie there is romance; however, it was not the gratuitous sex with multi-partners of earlier films.  Remember, in 1986, the AIDS scare was at its highest level. People were becoming more cautious and more selective in sexual partners and insisted on safe sex, even James Bond.  According to Bond Facts, James Bond has killed 370 people and slept with 55 women in 22 movies. Oddly, Bond might be having safer sex; but, the last two Bonds are more violent (Brosnan) and drinking more (Craig).

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Dalton was contracted to do three Bond films.  He did the second movie, License To Kill (1990). But, after the second movie and for nearly five years, Eon Productions was tied up in legal battles.  Dalton decided it had been too long and during contractual renegotiating, he made the decision to retired as Bond. Pierce Brosnan who was finally free from his television contract, was hired as the next James Bond.

I really liked the Bond in The Living Daylights.  This “new” older and hopefully wiser Bond realistic sense.  In one of the earlier scenes, located in Berlin, Bond is waiting to kill a KGB sharp shooter. This KGB agent has an ingenious cover. She, Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), is a cellist in the National Soviet Orchestra. She is sent to kill a defector, General Georgian Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe) who is trying to escape to the West and to freedom.  As Bond studies his cellist mark, he is urged to shoot her by another MI6 agent. In a split second, he decides not to kill the shooter.  Instead, he disobey orders and shoots the shooter’s weapon which allowed the defector to escape. The other British agent is “flipping out” that Bond refused to kill the KGB sharp shooter.  He even accuses Bond of refusing to shoot because the KGB shooter was a beautiful musican. Of course, he informs Bond he is reporting him to the Home Office. Bond doesn’t joke. He is emotionless and simply could care less. He continues his mission by escorting the Soviet General into Austria through an oil pipe line tank.

Later, we learn  that as Bond studied his mark, he noted that the “professional killer” is not holding the weapon properly and probably couldn’t hit the side of the building, let alone some running man at a distance and height that would challenge the best marksman.  Bond didn’t know why she had the gun; but, he knew she didn’t know one end from the other and was definitely not KGB.

Although Bond, rescues the defecting Soviet General Koskov, he is remarkably recaptured from MI6. Bond sets out to find answers and starts with the beautiful cellist.  Once he locates her, he realizes her life is in danger too. Surprisingly, she claims she was helping her boyfriend, General Koskov, to escape by shooting bullets in the wrong direction. Bond knows that she was set up to be killed by her boyfriend.

As this story evolves, Bond comes across gun dealers and the Taliban. Historical note****This movie was made at the time when the U.S.  was friends with the Taliban and supplying them with weapons to fight the Russians.  All the elements of a great Bond movie is here, including a sweet romance with only one woman.  If you haven’t seen this Bond movie, I urge you too.

This post has been part of The 007 Blogathon  hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. To read more Bond posts please use the link below.

https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/the-007-blogathon-begins/#like-6667

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Theme Song to the Living Daylights performed by A-Ha

References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Dalton

http://jamesbondkillcount.blogspot.com

‘Till Death Us Do Part Blogathon: Marriage Misfires and Midnight Lace(1960)

“This is a refreshing change of pace. A totally new kind of topic for a Blogathon.  Theresa Brown from Cine Maven’s Essays From The Couch invited Bloggers to write a post on a movie with a planned “Murder” as its plot. However, there is a twist: The victim must be a Spouse of the murderer. In reality, this type of murder happens more often than one would think. If you consider the three e three main motives for murder: Greed, lust, or revenge, and compare them to what most couples fight about: Money, sex, and past hurts, it should not be surprising that spousal murder is as old as time itself. As a result, it has been the theme for many stories.  These timeless tales come from around the world:  India’s Schehezade, Germany’s Grimm’s fairy tales, Shakespeare’s Othello, and shown in hundreds of movies.  Uxorcide (technical word for murder of one’s wife) or mariticide (technical word for killing one’s husband), are hideous tales that we have all heard, at some time or other.  As a result, they can be seen in a fictitious work or in a newspaper headline.

When I first received this invite, I thought of all kinds of different movies.  Strangely, I realized some of these were also personal favorites of mine. The best movies of this murder theme is either a thriller or a comedy. So, here are five of my personal favorites.  From the favorites, I chose Midnight Lace (1960) to explain more in detail.  All of them are deserving of a blog post; and, if you followed the link below,  you may find a blogger who chose one or more of your personal favorites to write about too.

https://cinemavensessaysfromthecouch.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/till-death-us-do-part-2/

1) I love the movie classic Gaslight (1944). This is the American version of a British movie with the same title from 1940.  In Britain, it is also know as A Strange Case of Murder.  Both British and American versions are based on a 1939 play by Patrick Hamilton. Usually, remakes are horrible.  But this film is anything but horrible. It is directed by George Cukor with an amazing cast. They include: Ingrid Berman, Charles Boyer, and Joseph Cotton and eighteen year old, Angela Lansbury.

This movie is made with the perfect mood of mystery and fear (Film Noir).  The Husband, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer),  tries to convince his wife, Paula (Ingrid Berman) she is going slowly going mad. With mental illness in her family, it is suggested that a number of tragic actions may eventually happen to her such as a suicide, or a deadly accident or possibly, she needs to be locked away in a mental hospital.

Paula’s aunt Alice, a famous Opera singer, was murdered years ago in the same house that she and Anton reside.  In this spooky house, Paula hears strange sounds, she images she see things, and personal items of Gregory’s turns up missing; but, are later found in Paula’s possession.

A young inspector from Scotland Yard, Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotton) notices Paula’s striking resemblance to her famous murdered aunt. As a boy, he had a huge crush on the Opera singer. Being a sharp detective, he senses something isn’t quite right between Paula and her husband. He begins to watch them both. This isn’t a good movie, this is a great movie.  If you claim to be a movie lover, this movie cannot be missed.  I must have watched it a dozen times; and, each time, I liked it more than the last time.

2) Then there is the French film, Les Diabolique (1955) with Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, and Paul Meurisse.  This is another psychological thriller; and, this is also another great movie Classic, that must be seen.  Yes, it has English subtitles for those of us who do not speak French. A fragile wife, Christina DeLassalle (Vera Clougzot), with a serious heart condition, is married to a sadistic, greedy man, Michel DeLasseelle (Paul Meurisse), who has a mistress, Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret).  Michel is bitterly cruel  to Christina and deliberately humiliated her in everyway that he can think of.  He even forces his wife to accept the fact he is in love with Nicole. Michel and Nicole plots to murder Christina. The plan is especially horrid…to scare her death. With her weak heart, this should not be too difficult to accomplish.  However, trying to figure out what actually happens has delightful surprises throughout the movie.

This film is as artistic film that takes terror to a whole other level at that time. Many considerate this film a cinema masterpiece.  There is a tamer, American version of this movie with nearly the same title, missing the article, Les.  This movie remake stars Sharon Stone, Isabelle IsjaniChazz Palminteri, and Kathy Bates.  When most critics compared the 1995 version to the 1955 classic, most felt the remake was a travesty.  It is rare to find a remake better than a near perfect Classic.

3)  My next choice is not a film Classic like Gaslight or Les Diabolique; but, Midnight Lace (1960) is an extremely enjoyable movie to watch nonetheless. This Hollywood movie unbelievably places wholesome Doris Day in harm’s way. Her real husband, Marty Melcher, co- produced this movie. Nothing like adding a bit more pressure to making a movie a success than a spouse who invested the family money into the deal.  Poor Doris, she had to “act” stressed outfor the movie and lived it at home. I will write more about this movie in more detail shortly.

4) Faithful (1996) This is my first comedy-drama favorite starting Cher, Ryan O’Neal, and Chazz Palminteri. Yes, Palminteri also played the husband in the remake of Diabolique (1995). He also wrote the movie screenplay that is based on his play.  In this film, he plays the hitman, Tony, hired to kill the Margaret (Cher) by her husband, Jack Connor (Ryan O’Neal) on there twentieth wedding anniversary. There is more comedy than drama.  Tony holds Margaret hostage as he waits for a call from Jack to signal the “go ahead” to kill her.  That is the drama.   Listening to Margaret outsmart her assailant while she bargains for her life is the comedy. In their discourse, we learn Tony is in therapy to help him to stop being a hitman.  He even becomes so frustrated, he calls his threapist, Dr. Susskind (Paul Marzursky) while he wrestled with his budding conscious. Marzursky is also the director of this movie.  This movie is fun regardless of its dark subject matter.

5) I Married An Axe Murder (1993) The is pure comedy about murdering your spouse with Mike Myers, Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Amanda Plummer, Brenda Fricker, Alan Arkin, Steven Wright, Phil Hartman, … It has great mix of background music, some Scottish culture, and it is Funny.  Mike Myers plays Charlie Mackenzie and Charlie’s father, Stuart Mackenzie.  Charlie’s Mum, Kay,  is played by Irish actress Brenda Fricker.  The times when Charlie visits his family’s Scottish/Canadian home is priceless. His best friend is police detective Tony Giardino (Anthony LaPagelia).

Charlie is a performing artist/ poet in a coffeehouse. He meets a lot of women; but, he hasn’t met the “woman.”  We learn about Charlie’s life through his conversations with his cop friend, Tony and his visits home to his Scottish parents.  On his way to a visit them, he stops by the butcher to buy some haggis for dinner.  The butcher is the lovely, mysterious Harriet (Nancy Travis).

There is instant chemistry.  Harriet might be “the woman.”  They start dating.  There is only a few problems: Harriet’s sister, Rose Michaels (Amanda Plummer) is oddly intense, Harriet’s dead husbands, and a “rag” magazine keeps running a story about a “Honeymood Killer.”

This is my favorite Mike Myers movie.  It has an all star cast that only helps to prolong the fun and the many surprises in this charming film.

My list of movies for spousal murders could go on.  These are just the top few that come to my mind, now. There is one of the four, I would like to go into with a bit more detail.

The Murder Blog….Midnight Lace with Doris Day

Doris Day was one of the highest paid Hollywood actresses during the 1960s and 1970s.  In all of the her forty plus movie roles, her screen presence was phenomenon and her audience was totally mesmerize by her.  She is best known for her light comedies and lovely singing voice. There is something so wholesome about her that made you feel good as you watched her on film. In dramas or comedies, when she smiled or laughed, we felt it. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t like and admire her.

Doris Day usually portrayed a strong, determined contemporary woman who had obstacles to overcome. She usually accomplished this with a smile on her face.  In many roles, she played a working woman, single or married, who was placed in unusual circumstances. She tried to lived an ordinary life surrounded by extraordinary circumstances.

One of the joys in watching Midnight Lace is to see Day in some of the most beautiful dresses, gowns, and coats made by designer, Irene  Lentz. They are so gorgeous she received a Oscar nomination for costume design for this film. Irene was one of Hollywood’s premier designers (Gaslight, Shall We Dance, Easter Parade….).  I can only guess how Day feels as she sees herself wearing fur lined and trimmed garments in this movie. She has been a staunch animal activist for many years now, which I greatly admire.

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Besides seeing Day in these stunning outfits, I am intrigued by Day’s performance. You can actually witness Kit Preston’s nervous breakdown spiralling out of control.  In Day’s autobiography, she confesses that in scenes where she displayed hysteria, she was not acting. She was hysterical because she relived events in her life where she feared for her own safety.  Unfortunately, she feared death from the hands of her ex-husband. After one such scene, she passed out.  They shut down production for a few days while Day recovered. This is one of five movies Day made that was not a comedy. Not surprisingly, Midnight Lace would be her last drama.

In Midnight Lace, Doris Day portrays an American heiress, Kit Preston, who recently marries wealthy, British Anthony Preston (Rex Harrison). In addition to Harrison, the rest of the cast is also very impressive: John Gavin, Myrna Loy, Roddy McDowell,

After moving to London, Kit finds herself stalked and threaten over the phone, in the thick London fog, on a lift (elevator), and just about everywhere she goes. She hears a mechanical, high pitched voice address her by name and tell her he cannot wait to squeeze the life out of her body. There are also attempts on her life.  As Kit fanatically tells Tony of these events, there is no actual witnesses. Tony tries to help and even calls Scotland Yard. Yet, no one can collaborate her stories. Overworked, Tony, is constantly being called back to work to deal with a corporate disaster. So, Kit reaches out to her Aunt Bea (Myrna Loy) and  her neighbor Peggy.

There are a list of suspects.  The construction site manager, John Gavin, who just happens to push her out of the way before a rail would have fallen on her head and killed her.  The construction is at a building adjacent to Kit’s building. Later, he saves her from a broken lift (elevator) in her building. He claims knows her name because he looked at her name on her post.  Why? When he invites her to  have a drink with him, she learns he is a WWII veteran who suffers from severe blackouts (PTSD: Past Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Which is kind of ironic since Day suffered from it also in her own life without the blackouts.

Another suspect is the son of Kit’s housekeeper, Nora. She is a sweetheart but her son is a narcissistic, deranged adult (Roddy McDowell) who keeps her poor.  Because Kit has a soft spot for maid,   she readily gives her money, if she foresees a need, like a new coat. Whatever money Nora receives, she gives it to her worthless son who has been passively and aggressively threatening Kit and his Mum for more money.

Aunt Bea’s boyfriend has some financial woes; and, he wants Tony to bail him out.  Then, there is Peggy, the neighbor.  She is the only witness who sees Kit pushed in front of a moving bus. Yet, she does not see who pushed her. Plus, Peggy claims she has a husband; but, he works away. We never see him.; but, we do see strange looking men who stalk Kit.

All of these people who surround Kit come under suspicion. While Kit suffers, Scotland Yard believes she is kind of lonely; and, she is unconsciously trying to get attention from Tony. Therefore, she is imagining these events and phone calls. “Gaslighting” at its best. This is a worthwhile movie to watch as it is a beautiful Hollywood film that will keep you guessing to the end.

So, if you have a free afternoon, you might like to watch any of these murder mysteries. Two are wonderfully perfect Classics;  two are endearing comedies; or, one is a fascinating Hollywood rarity with Doris Day. Any of these are worth your time, as a movie lover.

To read more posts written for this Death Do Us Part Blogathon, please use the following link:

https://cinemavensessaysfromthecouch.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/till-death-us-do-part-2/

REFERENCES:

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/76014/Gaslight/articles.html

Pirates, Myths and A Swashbuckling Blogathon: Nate and Heyes (1983)

It’s that time of year again when we are trying to cool down in the middle of Global Warming, aka the Summer, that we find more Sea Adventures on the telly and in local theaters.  Luckily, some of these cooling down movies are pirate movies. This past May, the 5th installment of Disney’s highly successful Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Lies was released in theaters around the world.  Like all pirate movies, it contained dangerous adventures with the lure of finding gold and other riches, some romance along the way, Good eventually conquering Evil, and witty comments, humorously found throughout the movie. Johnny Depp’s Captain Black Jack Sparrow supplies most of the humor with his drunken slurs and Keith Richards‘ swagger.

Despite Disneys’ success, most pirate movies in the last fifty years have been box office disappointments. One of the biggest flops in film history was Cutthroat Island (1996) with Geena Davis, Matthew Modine and Frank Langella.  And yet, I love this pirate movie. I have wondered why this movie flopped, that badly.  My personal best guess is that in America, 23 years ago, watching a powerful, successful woman using the Machiavellian tools of the trade (piracy, corrupt politics, lying…) would scare the bejesus out of most people. Martha Stewart and Leona Helmley going to prison are two real life cases in point.

After the results of the 2016 Election, I believe it still scares most people. However, when you compared Genna Davis’ pirate gal to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Women (2017), (Another movie, I love) we see a perfect 1940s version of a woman… Think of Rosie the Riveter. Wonder Woman is a powerful Amazon who is pure as the driven snow.  She would never stoop to lie, steal, or manipulate.  Power with some with taint on it is much more acceptable for men than for women.  Does this sounds a bit “Double Standard-ish?” Oh well, this topic is for another blog.

 

 

Fortunately, failing at the box office doesn’t really mean much over the years because it’s the audience who says weather a movie is entertaining enough to watch. If, in fact, it is binge worthy, it could indicate that it has held up over time: a possible, Classic.  Like CutThroat Island, Nate and Heyes definitely fits the criteria for being a pirate fan favorite/classic. It is not surprising to find it listed on many “Top Best Pirates movies ever.” Here is an example of one I borrowed off YouTube.com. Take a look a the five picks on this video.

Nate and Heyes (aka Savage Islands) stars the iconic Tommy Lee Jones, lovely Jenny Seagrove, adorable Michale O’Keefe and wonderful villian, Max Phipps.  It was filmed in New Zealand and Fiji; so, the scenery is gorgeous. There is no CGI in this movie.  What you see is what you get.  So, when I see Tommy Lee Jones riding a fast horse; then, jumps out of the saddle before the horse comes to a complete stop, I know Jones did that. How do I know it was not a stunt man? Because the camera angle stayed on him and did not change.  Besides, Texan Jones not only owns a polo team, he rides with his team in completions. His team won the U.S. Polo Association’s Western Challenge Cup of 1993. As a polo player and fan, every year, he invites the best polo players from Harvard university to practice on his ranch in Texas.

Jones is one of those “real”  people who just happens to be an actor too. His father worked on oil rigs and his mother owed a beauty salon. Growing up, Jones was not only intelligent but athletic too.  In fact, he earned his Harvard scholarship by playing football. He does not live in Los Angeles. He is a bit of a Hollywood rebel or as one interviewer put it, he is Anti-Hollywood.

A Bit of History?

Tommy Lee Jones gravelly voice and dead-pan delivery is perfect for the role of pirate Bully Heyes.  I seen a list of historical characters that Jones played: Thaddeus Stevens (Lincoln), Ty Cobb, Howard Huges, Gary Gilmore, Olivier Lynn, Douglas MacArthur and Clay Shaw.  However, I did not see Bully Heyes listed as one of his historical roles.  Probably because most of what was written was too exaggerated or just plain mythical.

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Bully Heyes and Ben Pease were real life pirates/businessmen in the late 1890s.  They mostly traveled near the Pacific Rim and within the South Pacific Islands, like Tahiti.  Hayes was an American born in Ohio. His experiences included various forms of con artistry, thievery and possibly murder. Many times he found himself as the Captain of a ship. Near the end of his life, he was even a vaudeville performer (black face minstrel show) in Australia. He was accused of being a Blackbirder (slavery); however, Heyes denied this. He and Pease were “friends” and some times “business partners.”  They had a fallen out over a native girl. Hayes wanted to make sure the young lady wanted to be in Pease’s company.  So, he pulled a gun on him. Hayes asked her if she wanted to go with Pease.  The young Lady told Heyes she did want to go with Pease; and, Heyes dropped the matter.  Pease did not.  Later, Heyes sails into a harbour on Pease’s ship. Hayes claimed he bought the ship from Pease. Hayes “thinks” Pease might have been killed in a fight with the French navy.  Few believed Heyes’ story.

 

 

Summary of the Movie That is Very Loosely Based on a True Story

For the most part, this is a jumbled mix of fact and fiction. However, it is still very entertaining film to watch. Besides, it cannot be too bad because John Huges ( Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Home Alone….) is credited as the writer for Savage Islands (aka Nate and Heyes) and co-screenwriter with David Odell.  The movie is based on a story by Lloyd Phillips who also co-produced this movie too.

The movie begins with Heyes (Jones) attempting to sell guns to a group of islanders whose Chief is a dishonest woman.  She says: Captain Heyes you got guns?  Heyes says: I got guns. You got gold? Chief says: I see guns; you see gold. Heyes’s men open a crate of guns.

Hayes loads a rifle, taken from the crate, with two bullets as he is walking toward the Chief. She asks: Spanish have? Hayes shakes his head, and says: U.S. Army madam.  Spanish do not have.

Hayes then fires one shot and laughs.  Chief takes the rifle. She proceeds to lock and load.  Mr Blake (Heyes’ Captain’s mate) warns the crewmen: Duck lads! Cheif shoots and kills two of her warriors while the natives giggle and laugh.  Hayes is shocked and disgusted. The Chief happily and says: Good!  Hayes says: No! It’s not good. It’s bad. Chief: Show me more guns. Hayes: you show me gold, I show you more guns. Chief: No gold!

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Hayes: I don’t think this is a honest woman, Blake.

Blake: Yeah, the heathens have been exposed to Western practices

Hayes: They used to be honest

Chief getting angry: Show me more guns now!

Hayes: Yes, ma’am

Hayes turns to leave: and says: See what happens with women and business? Future looks dark Blake.

Hayes removes a belt of bullets that is wrapped around his chest and holds them over a fire. Hayes says: Here’s your guns (tossing a rifle aside) and (dropping belt into the fire) here’s your bullets.

The crew run for their lives while at the same time fighting and shooting the natives.  The whole crew is either killed or captured, except for Heyes.  Just as he begins to realize he escaped, he finds himself staring into the barrel of a gun held by Ben Pease (Max Phipps).  Pease is working for the Spanish government. To find capture gun runners. Hayes is taken and sent to a prison in Manila, Philippines.  As he awaits execution, a reporter interviewing him tries to get his confession and his last words. It is true newspapers reported all kinds of stories about the real Heyes.  The real Bully Heyes is known as: The Last of the Buccaneers.

1983 Nate and Hayes (1983)_32

Hayes explains how he transported a missionary couple, Nathaniel and Sophie (Michale O’Keefe and Jenny Seagrove), to an island missionary outpost.  The journey took two months. This is more than enough time to get to know your passengers. Once they reach the island, Sophie reminds Heyes that she and Nathaniel are only engaged.  Nathaniel’s missionary uncle is to marry them soon. I thought it was funny when one of the natives refer  to the aunt and uncle as “Big Man God” and “Momma Jesus Christ.”  All the extras portraying islanders in this movie are local natives.

The real Heyes was known as a ladies man and had been married at least four or five times without the benefit of ever divorcing anyone. Nathaniel, aware of Heyes’ attentions to Sophie, carefully watches him. Poor Nathaniel, a nice guy but a bit of a “dandy.” Before Sophie says goodbye to Heyes, she informs him that her father recently died. She has a small inheritance. She asks Heyes to invest it in his business endeavors.  Hayes willingly accepts her money and sails away.

In real life, Heyes charmed both of the couple. He left the husband ashore and sailed away with the wife and their money.

 

 

When the uncle and aunt learns that it is Bully Heyes that delivered them, they are shocked that they made it to the island alive. He tells them that Heyes is a feared blackbirder (Slaver). The following day, Sophie and Nathaniel are about to be married and are attacked by Ben Pease and his pirate crew, who are blackbirders. Nathaniel is grazed by a bullet.  Sophie thinks he is dead.  She lies down beside him faking her own death. Pease tries to rip a gold necklace from her neck. She jumps up and screams and tries to escape.  Pease says: Women! You can’t trust them even when they are dead.

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When Nathaniel wakes up, he is told Blackbirders came to kill and enslave the natives, including Sophie. Nathaniel believes it is Bully Heyes who took Sophie.  He is helped by a native to make a boat raft.  He  uses it to sail away and to find his betrothed.  In the meanwhile, Heyes decides to return to the island. Why? I haven’t a clue.  To take her with him or to enslave the natives? Return her money? I am not sure why? He soon learns what has happened and he knows who is responsible. He also knows where the closest auction house is that Pease will use.  On his way, to save Sophie, he ends up saving a shipped wrecked Nathaniel who is sitting on a tiny a toll in the middle of no where.

 

Now, Heyes and Nate are working together to rescue sweet Sophie and fight Ben Pease. The movie is full of adventure and surprises as the two men form a mutual man crush.  Sophie, thinking Nate is dead, leaves a note for Bully. She briefly seen Heyes trying to rescue her before Pease moved her to another location. Nate finds the note and thinks Sophie has fallen in love with Heyes.   Pease wants to use Sophie as a bargaining chip for the German government. The Germans need coaling stations for their steamships.  Sophie is sold to an Island chief who practises cannibalism and human sacrifice. By trading Sophie, they have access to the island harbours for their steamships.  Now, Nate and Heyes not only have fight Pease and his crew, but also the German Army, and the cannibals too, in order to save Sophie.

 

 

After all of these adventures, we are bought back to the beginning of the movie.  In the jail cell, Heyes is awaiting  his execution. In real life, Heyes was released.  However, in this movie, the ending is different for Heyes.

It is true that Heyes was accused as being a Blackbirder.  However, people had come forward who thought it was Heyes.  Instead, they described  a big Irishman who spoke English and beat the crap out of his crew. It does sound like Bully Heyes!

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Actually, the ending for the real Heyes, happens a few years later. The ship’s cook, of all people, shoots him in the stomach, hits him over the head with an iron skillet and throws his body overboard. He claims Bully threatened him.  However, the whole crew looked for Heyes’ hidden treasure. They never found it. At least, this is the commonly believed ending of the Last Buccaneer. In truth, no one can prove any of it, including the murderous cook.  Who really knows how the infamous Heyes died?  Who knows, this movie ending might be closer to the truth.  Regardless what you choose to believe, this movie is solid fun.

This blog was written as part of the Swashbuckling Adventure Blogathon.  It is hosted by Movies Silently. Please use the link below to read more pirate movie posts.

http://moviessilently.com/2017/07/14/the-swashathon-is-here/

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***None of the images seen here are own by me

REFERENCES:

https://www.stuff.tv/news/25-best-pirate-movies-ever

James A. Michener & A. Grove Day, Bully Hayes, South Sea Buccaneer & Louis Becke, Adventurer and Writer in Rascals in Paradise, (London: Secker & Warburg 1957).

http://www.thepirateking.com/index.htm

http://www.hollywood.com/celebrities/tommy-lee-jones-57289072/

 

The 2017 Reel Infatuation Blogathon: Jamie and Claire Fraser

My literary crush is actually on a married couple.  A husband and wife team by the names of Jamie and Claire Fraser from the book series Outlander.  It may sound a bit odd to have a crush on a couple; but, it is more common than you think. They are not my first couple crush.  My first couple crush was on 1980s T.V. show, Hart to Hart.  Then another couple crush came from watching The Thin Man movies on TMC.

 

 

All these couples have some common elements in their relationships. Their spouse is their best friend, they live an adventurous life, and there is always some mystery or act they must perform to protect each other or society as a whole.  I loved the dynamics of their relationship and especially their intimacy or chemistry. They are ways smart, witty and fashionable.  I am in good company with this particular infatuation of Jamie and Claire Fraser because there are millions of fans following  Outlander books by brilliant author Diana Gabaldon and its adaptation on the cable network, Starz.

Outlander (1991) is not only the first book of the series, it is Gabaldon’s first novel too. Can you believe it? An author’s first book becomes a best seller and still is a best seller today. It happens but not often. Presently, there are a total of eight books in this historical, multi-genre series. Fans are thrilled by the near release of a Book 9, and promised Book 10 before the series is completed  As a matter of fact, Book #9, Go Tell The Bees That I am Gone, is a work in progress. No release date in 2017 has been announced. However, Gabaldon graciously posts excerpts of this book, for her fans, as she continues to work on it. To view them on her site, just click on the link below:

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/book-nine-outlander-series/

 

I and all fans are forever grateful for Gabaldon’s literary genius in the creation of these two fictional characters: Scottish Highlander, Jamie Fraser and his time travelling wife, Claire Randall.  To understand their phenomenal affect on women, it is important to analyze the entirety of Jamie and Claire’s characters, the circumstances that brought them together; and the kind of relationship they eventually develop.

The story begins:

Claire Randall (played by the lovely and talented Caitriona Balfe) is a married WWII combat nurse, who after the war, is trying to rekindle the magic that was in her marriage, before the war. She and her husband, Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies), plan a romantic trip to Scotland.  It is there that she accidentally time travels from 1945 to 1743.

How does this time travel come about?

Frank Randall was a MI6 operative (a British Spy/Special Forces) during WWII.  After the War, Frank becomes a history professor at Oxford. But, before he starts his new civilian job, he takes Claire on a second honeymoon to be reacquainted as a couple. They arrive on their second honeymoon in Scotland on Halloween (Samhain day: Ghosts of the dead are able to mingle with the living).

Unfortunately, un-romantic Frank spends most of his time doing research on his own family’s history.  There are times when Claire must persuade her husband to abandon his research for more intimate, physical couplings with her. In other words, he seems to be slightly resistant to take the opportunities to have sex with his wife. I wonder if he is hiding something? Maybe the fact he was or is a spy makes me suspicious of him.

On a rainy night, as Frank is returning (alone) to his and Claire’s room, he literally bumps into the ghost of 18th century of Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).  Frank finds Jamie staring up at a second story window.  Through the window, he can see Claire as she brushes her curly hair. Frank is totally shaken when the spirit passes so close as to pass through his shoulder. When he later discusses the incident to Claire, he reluctantly confesses that he might have seen a ghost. Then on second thought, he asks Claire if she tended a Scottish soldier. At first Claire remembers one that was scared of needles.  Then, she realizes Frank is asking her if she had a Scottish lover.

Many fans love Frank as a character; and, I admire the actor, Tobias Menzies, who skillfully plays both roles as lovely Frank and his villainous ancestor, Black Jack Randall; but, I suspect there is something inherently wrong with Frank’s character.

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While Frank searches through dusty old records with his friend, Reverend Wakefield (James Fleet), Claire tries to keep busy by searching for medicinal herbs. Mrs Graham (Tracey Wikinson) who is the housekeeper for Reverend Wakefield sees how bored Claire is and invites her to tea in the kitchen.  For a bit of fun, Mrs. Graham offers to read the tea leaves at the bottom of Claire’s cup.  The reading is very confusing to Mrs Graham; but, she continues to reveal it to Claire. She tells Claire that she will be married to two men at the same time, (bigamy?).  Also during this tea reading, Claire is informed that her husband (Which husband?) will not “stray from her bed” to be with other women (Boy, did she get that wrong). So much for tea readings!

Frank decides to do some voyeurism just before dawn. He is told by the Reverend Wakefield that on the Autumn solstice, a local ladies club (Druids) dress in white with lanterns, dance and sing, welcoming the new season.  Mrs Graham is one of them. He convinces Claire to secretly watch this ancient ritual with him.  They hide as they watch this mysterious performance. Once it is over, they begin to investigate the Standing Stones in an area called Craigh na Dun where all of this took place. Claire finds some very pretty blue flowers, maybe Forget-Me-Nots, growing very close to the face of one Stone. When one of the young dancing girls returns, they hide again and soon leave to keep from being discovered. Later, Frank announces he has more documents to research with Reverend Wakefield.  While they research, Claire decides to go back to the Stones alone and gather samples of those blue flowers.

Once, she begins to gather them, she hears a humming noise coming from the Stones. She places her hands on the stone and feels a vibration. Then, she feels herself falling among chaos and screams. The noise and pain is so overwhelming she passes out. When she awakes, the terrain has changed and her car is missing. Then, in disbelief, she sees British soldiers running through the woods. Next thing she knows, they are shooting at her.  While trying to escape, she runs into their captain, Black Jack Randall.  At first she is confused and thinks it is Frank. But after he assaults her, she definitely knows: he may look like Frank, but this man isn’t Frank.

Outlander 2014
Outlander 2014

She is saved by a stinky Highlander.  As Randall attempts to rape her, the Highlander comes up from behind and knocks him out.  Then, he grabs Claire and covers her mouth to keep her quite. A British patrol is very close.  Even though Claire is fighting for her life, the Highlander does not want to be discovered, so, he knocks her out with pummel of his sword as he hides them behind a tree as the British patrols passes them undetected. He then places her limp body on his horse.

Jamie Fraser Meets Claire Randall

He takes her to a cottage that is full of stinky, dirty Highlanders hiding from the British. These men are as shocked to see her as she is to see them. They are trying to find a logicial reason for her strange appearance: Claire, in her soiled 20th century dress, must be in her undergarments.  She is indecent; and, therefore, she must be a whore.  As she stands there in shock and being gawked at, she overheard a few of them discussing a young lad’s injuries.  Soon, their leader, Dougal, turns his attention to her and tries to figure out if she is a French spy or a whore.

He knows they have precious little time before they will be found by he British; so, he must make quick decisions about the lad and the strange looking lass. The young man’s shoulder is out of place and is in too much pain to guide a horse.  They are willing to take the chance to cripple him in order to set his shoulder or else they must leave him behind.  At first, Claire tries to keep quite, but the healer/nurse in her will not stand by and allow them to break the young man’s bones.  She yells at them to stop.  And like the combat nurse, she is, she takes over and properly sets Jamie Fraser’s shoulder.  Their first date is riding on horse together, in the rain, for two days.  That is when I knew that I was totally hooked on their love story.

In Season I, Claire befriends the love smitten Jamie.  He thinks she is a recent widow which explains, to him, why she is so sad and cries for Frank.  Claire needs Jamie to help her get back to Craigh na Dun and the Standing Stones. She must travel back to the future and back to Frank.

However, sadistic Captain Black Randall demands the right to arrest her and to interrogate her as a French spy. Jamie reveals his dark history with the Captain.  He tells Claire that he is a wanted for murder. Black Jack had Jamie arrested for stopping him for trying to rape Jenny (Jamie’s sister). That charge was for Obstruction of Justice.  They whipped him and then arrested him.  While Jamie is imprisoned, Black Jack has him fogged with a hundred lashes two separate times within a week.  Most men would have died from the injuries.   Jamie was flogged once for trying to escape and once for stealing a loaf of bread. He finally escapes for a second time; but, a soldier is killed during the process and Jamie is blamed.

To keep Claire safe from Black Jack, Jamie agrees to marry her.  With Claire as a Scottish citizen, Black Jack would need permission from the laird (Jamie’s uncle) or chieftain of the clan territory before he could arrest her. All awhile, Claire is still trying to figure out how to get back to the standing stones; so, she can go back to Frank and her 20th century life.  At this point, Claire and Jamie have become best friends. He has become her only trusted friend. But, she does not love him. Yes, she finds herself falling in love with him despite her best efforts not too.

To keep her out of the clutches of the evil Captain, she does marry Jamie. Soon she finds herself making the choice to stay with jamie in a dangerous time period or going back to the future with its comforts and Frank.  Let’s s face it, 20th century Claire really sticks out in 18th century Scotland; and, it does not take long for the locals to find a reason for Claire’s odd ways; so, they accuse her of being a witch. When Claire confesses to Jamie that she is not a witch but a time traveller, Jamie believes her, but; jokingly says it would have been easier to help her if she had been a witch.  All of this action takes place during  the first half of season I.  In Season II (book #2 Dragonfly in Amber), we find the Fraser’s living in France trying to stop the disastrous Jacobite Rebellion and Claire’s return to the 20th century.  Season III (book #3 Voyager) begins this Fall of 2017. Here we will see what the couple has been up during their 20 year separation; and, their reunion with much more adventures in store for them.

 

Jamie and Claire love each other, unconditionally. Jamie loves Claire when she endangers their lives, swears like a soldier, tests his patience over her devotion to Frank, or tells him outlandish stories about time travelling and the future. He loves her when he questions her sanity or believes she might be a witch.  He is there, through it all, for her.  He believes and trusts her. If actions speak louder than words, then Jamie has proved his love and devotion from the sheer number of times he risks his own life to save hers.

But the same can be said of Claire.  She too risks her life to save his.  As a combat nurse, she learned early the dangers of helping people, risking your life for stranger or fellow solider. It is in her DNA. Jamie is not as stranger. She would never have a second thought to die for him, if need be.  They give 150% to each other. Claire made a difficult decision in choosing Jamie over Frank.  She not only changed husbands but a whole way of life that is much harsher and dangerous compared to the life she left.

They nearly always puts the other one first. Not only do they risks their life for each other, they are willing to live a painful life without each other, if it will keep their unborn child safe.  Again, they prove this when Jamie painfully guides Claire to Craigh na Dun and the Standing Stones in order for her to go back to her time, not once, but twice!

Outlander Season 2 2016

Even when they are separated by 200 years, and haven’t seen each other for 20 years, their love for each other only grows stronger. In contrast, Frank and Claire were separated by a few war years and needed a second honeymoon to try to rekindle the magic in their relationship. When death beckons either Jamie or Claire to leave this world, it is their love for each other that holds them back and from crossing over. Their relationship is made up of  loyalty, faithfulness, trust, love, forgiveness and bravery.

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Jamie and Claire Fraser give hope to every potential relationship that true love does exists; but, it only happens with the “right” person. Frank was a good man; but, not the right man for Claire.

Jamie and Claire Fraser’s relationship also reminds us that it is possible to be happy in an unhappy situation and having a true friend maybe more valued than having a lover.  It is important for a person to be well loved, and feel home in the arms of their love one…at home and in a safer place.  For the millions of fans like myself, Jamie and Claire’s relationship represents our desire to be home, with our love; so, no matter where we are or where we go, as long as we share that mutual love, we are home.

This is a post for the 2017 Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings and Maedez from Font and Frock. From June 23rd through the 25th, use the following link to find more postings on character crushes ❤️

https://reelinfatuation.wordpress.com/

Reel Infatuation 2017

I started blogging last June of 2016. My second post, Why is Jamie Fraser the King of Men? would have been my first Blogathon entry; but, I missed the date for The 2016 Reel Infatuation Blogathon. This year, I did not want to make that same mistake. So, I saved some bits from last year and wrote some new bits for this year; and, the result is this post. My crush is on a fictional couple:  Outlander’s Claire and Jamie Fraser. Thank you Madeza from Front and Frock and Ruth from Silver Screenings, they have graciously extended the invitation for for this post.