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.

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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.

 

 

A Sexy Ghost? The Third Annual Sex Blogathon

Is there anything sexy about a ghost? Can ghosts have sex?  How can anyone fall in love with a ghost? I mean a stranger-ghost. Not like Patrick Swayze, who haunts his wife to protect her. Besides, they were married and in love before he was murdered and became a ghost. So, getting back to the subject, is it possible a stranger-ghost could hook up with the living?  Is it possible, that eHarmony or PlentyofFish missed a possible cash market? Yes, I am teasing!

The Silver Screen classic, The Ghost And Mrs. Muir (1947), and the subject of sex is the focus of this post. It is inspired by The Third Annual Sex Blogathon hosted by Steve at Movie, Movie Blog, Blog.  Thank you Steve for the invitation.  The link below with take you to other posts based on this theme in this blogathon:

https://moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com/

As we all know, sex is a basic human behavior much like the feelings of love. However, love and sex are two separate things.  You can express your love through the act of sex; but, love is not needed to have enjoyable sex.  Nor, do you have to have sex in order to love someone.  So, when a film is based on a romance, it doesn’t need to include explicit sex scenes to convey the emotions of love. However, it does need the sexual tension and the belief that a sexual union might take place. This subconscious implication of sex is what some people describe as “sexy.”  In other words, implied sex is the part of the sexual tension needed to make a film truly sexy.  When it comes to implied sex and sexual tension,  the film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, superbly utilizes both.

This gorgeous film is based on a book by an Irish writer, R. A. Dick (1945). If there ever was an explicit sexual pseudonym, this is it. The only other pseudonym that may surpass this one is, Seymour Butts. Forgive me, I digress. Her real name was Josephine Leslie.  Luckily when the book was adapted to screen, it was done by one of the best writers in Hollywood: Philip Dunne (The Last of the Mohicans (1992); How Green was My Valley (1942); The Robe (1953)….) When the movie rights were purchased by Twentieth Century Fox in 1946,  there were strong  “decency” codes in place for studios to follow.  Not a problem, because nothing in this film is sexually explicit.  However, it is loaded with implicit sexual or sexy innuendoes.  Take a look at the movie trailer to get an idea of some of those sexual implications.

This film has a wonderful cast of talented actors: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Edna Best, and little Natalie Wood. Along with the great love story, script, and actors.  I have to mention how beautifully this black and white film was shot. The cinematographer, Charles Lang, was nominated for an Academy Award for the stunning visuals .  For instance, this was filmed in California; but, you would never guess it because it really looks like London and the White Cliffs of Dover in England.  Joseph Mankiewicz admirably directs and Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, North By Northwest, Citizen Cane, Twilight Zone) wrote a haunting, melodic, score to make this a near perfect movie.  Herrmann said, he believed this was the best movie score that he had ever written.   Twentieth Century Fox must have thought so too; since, the film begins with his music instead of the blasting of trumpets that is done in most of their film’s opening.

The Beginning 

Lucy (Gene Tierney) is a young, beautiful British mother who has been  widowed for a year. Unfortunately, Lucy’s deceased husband, Edwin, was an unsuccessful architect and did not leave much money behind for his family, except for a few dividends from an old gold mine. As a result, there was very little money for his wife and child to survive on. Being a proper British woman in Victoria times (1900), she is forced to live with her mother-in-Law and  sister-in-law, Eva.   Since these two repressive in-laws have had little control or no control in their own lives (typical in that time period for women), they decide to micro-manage Lucy and her young daughter (Natalie Wood). Thank goodness Lucy was able to keep her loyal, personal maid, Martha (Edna Best), with her during this trying time.

The film opens with Lucy explaining to her in laws that she has decided to take her daughter and maid and move to another town, near the sea.

As  Lucy says it: I don’t mean to sound ungrateful.  You both have been kind: but, I am not really part of the family now that Edwin is gone. I never had a life of my own.  It’s been Edwin’s life, yours and Eva’s, never my own.

Of course, they think she is mad and ungrateful for all they have done for her.  Behind the door, we see little Anna and Martha, gleefully listening. They (Lucy, Anna and Martha) are a small crew of strong and supportive women.

To Gene Tierney’s credit, she realized very quickly that Lucy’s character, which was originally written as a ditzy, screwball type of gal, was not believable or true to the character.  It took a very strong willed woman who was determined to change the course of her life to leave the “comforts” of being cared for and wing it alone, especially, one that was near destitute as Lucy. So, they rewrote the script and reshot a few days of filming, to put the film on the right track.

Lucy meets with a rental agent, Mr Coombes, who keeps presenting overpriced homes for her to rent by the sea.  She sees a much cheaper one at 52£, a month.  He nervously tries to dissuade her; but, Lucy is determined to be shown Gull Cottage. Almost as soon as they arrive, Lucy senses it is haunted.  Nearly, every step they take through the house, he tries to convince her that it is not a good choice.  Yet, every step she takes, she knows that she belongs there.  Eventually, they hear an disembodied laugh and run out of the home. Coombe explains that no one has stayed in that house overnight.  The Sea captain, Daniel Gregg, who own the house, died there four years ago.  He committed suicide and has haunted the place since. Far from being afraid, Lucy finds it all exciting and she wants the house even more.

Meeting A Ghost

So Mrs Muir and crew, move into to house and b gin the cleaning task. As Martha scrubbed the floors, Lucy does the ironing. She hears Martha using nautical terms and phases she had never use before. Martha says it must be bought on by the sea air.  As Martha encourages Lucy to take a nap, Lucy reveals a regret or fear she has about herself.

Don’t say I am not strong enough. I feel useless, halfway through my life and what have I done?

Martha leds her up the stairs to take a short nap before tea.  As Lucy shuts the French doors, she scratches her finger. She settles in a nice leather easy chair as the ship’s clock chimes in at 4:00 pm. The door opens. Rummy, the pet doggie, begins a low growl. Then a manly shadow appears looming near a sleeping Lucy.

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As the clock chimes at 5:00 pm, Lucy awakes at the sound of the door banging against its frame. The very door that she scratched her finger closing. There is a strong wind and a ominous storm about to cut loose. As Martha comes back to fetch her for tea, Lucy asks her if she remembered her shutting the door. Of course, Martha does remember. Lucy is mystified at how the door opened in its own, or is she?

During the terrible storm, she tucks Anna in for bed and then says her good nights to Martha.  She goes to the kitchen to boil water for her hot water bottle. The gaslight goes out. She has to relight it. Then, it goes out again. Then, the candle she was using to light her way into the kitchen goes out. Finally, she is not only frightened, she is angry. Instead of running away, she demands the ghost to show himself, even calling him a coward. She hears a voice: light the candle. Lucy answers: How can I when you keep blowing it out? The voice shouts: LIGHT THE BLASTED CANDLE! Then, he appears from the shadows in a corner in the kitchen.

Upon materializing, Lucy is more amazed than scared. She asks: Are you Captain Gregg? He answers: Aye.

Meeting A Ghost Continues 

The discussion between the Captain and Mrs Muir is very funny and brilliantly written. Here are some of that discussion. I have highlighted the sexy bits from their discussion:

Mrs. Muir apologizes for calling him a coward because it must have embarrassed him.

Mrs Muir: Forgive me for calling you names. I really didn’t believe you…or I wouldn’t have ….it must have been embarrassing to you

The Captain is puzzled: Why?

Muir: Because of the way you died

Captain: The way I died, madam?

Muir: I mean because you committed suicide

Captain: What made you think I committed suicide?

Muir: Mr Coombe said…

Captain interrupts: Coombe is a fool. They are all fools. I went to sleep in front of that confounded gas heater in my bedroom. I must have kicked the gas on with my foot in my sleep.  It was a stormy night like this with a Gale wind blowing into my Windows (doors).  Like any sensible man would, I shut them.  The charwoman testified I always sleep with my windows (doors) open.  How the devil should she know how I slept?

Muir: I am so glad

Captain: You have a strange sense of humour Madame.

Muir: I mean that you you didn’t commit suicide.  Then, why do you haunt?

Captain: I still have plans for me house which doesn’t include a pack of strangers barging in and making themselves at home.

Muir: Then, you were trying to frighten me away!

Captain: You call that trying? I have barely started.

Muir: I think it is very mean of you to frighten people and childish too

Captain: In Your case, I am prepared to admit I charted the course with regret.  You are not a bad looking woman, especially when you are asleep.

Muir indignantly: So, you were in my room this afternoon.

Captain: My room madam

Muir: I thought I dream it. Did you open the widow (door) to frighten me?

Captain: I opened the window because I didn’t want another accident with the blasted gas.  Women are such fools.

Muir: You of all people should not have bought that up!

Captain: I wouldn’t call that remark in the best of taste.

Muir: Well, I’m sure it was very kind of you.  But, I am quite capable of taking care of myself.  Now, if you don’t mind.

Muir lights the stove to boil the water: Are you still there?

Captain: Of course, I am still here.  Long after you have packed up and gone.

Muir: I am not going.  The house suits me perfectly

Captain: My dear woman, it is not your house…and I want it turned into a home for retired Seamen

Muir: Then you should have said so in your Will

Captain: I didn’t leave a Will

Muir: Why not?

Captain: BECAUSE I DIDN’T EXPECT TO KICK THE BLASTED GAS ON WITH ME BLASTED FOOT!

Muir: I won’t be shouted at! Everyone shouts at me and orders me about and I’m sick of it.  DO YOU HEAR? BLAST! BLAST! BLAST!

Captain bursts out laughing.

Muir: I won’t be laughed at either. I won’t leave this house. You can’t make me leave it. I WONT!……I love this house. I thought I must stay here the moment I saw it. I can’t explain it. It was as if the house itself were welcoming me. Asking me to rescue it from being so empty. You can’t understand that, can you? I suppose you think I am a silly woman, but that is the way I feel.

Captain: Hmmm…Well, there might be some truth in it at that. I felt that way about a ship once…always swore she sailed twice as sweetly for me as she would any other master out of gratitude.

Well, you love the house. That counts for you. And you’ve spunk. You didn’t frighten like the others.  That counts for you too.  You may stay, on trial.

Muir rushes toward the Captain: Oh, thank you!

Captain: Keep your distance madam!

Muir: I am sorry.  You’ve made me so happy

Captain: I’ve no intention of making you happy. I am merely doing what is best for this house.

Muir: Then we’ll agreed.  And you will go right away and leave us alone.

Captain: I will not go right away! Why should I?

Muir: Because of my little girl Anna…..

Captain: Very well, I will make a bargain with you. Leave my bedroom as it is, and I promise not to go into any other room in the house. And your brat need never know anything about me.

Muir: But if you keep the best bedroom, where should I sleep?

Captain: In the best bedroom.

Mrs. Muir looks shocked.

Captain: I in heaven’s name madam, why not?  Why bless my soul, I am a spirit. I have no body. I haven’t had one for four years. Is that clear?

Muir: But, I can see you.

Captain: All you can see is an illusion. It’s like a blasted lantern slide

Muir: Well, it’s not very convincing, but I suppose….it’s alright.

Captain: Then, it is settled. I’m probably making a mistake. I was always a fool for a helpless woman.

Muir: I am not helpless

Captain: you’re kettle is about to boil over…one thing more.  I want me painting hung in the bedroom. The one that’s in the living room.

Muir: Must I? It’s a very poor painting.

Captain: It’s my painting. I didn’t invite your criticism. I make that a part of the bargain. I want you to put it there now, tonight. Good Night.

Muir: You might have turned on the light before you left.

The gaslight comes on.

Later, Mrs. Muir places the Captain’s painting in her room.  As she begins to unbutton the front of dress. She stops and buttons them back up.  She goes to the painting and covers it with a blanket. As she is a about to drift off to the land of nod, she hears the Captain’s voice:

My dear, never let anyone tell you to be ashamed of your figure.  The next morning, Lucy has Martha pack away all her mourning clothes.

Collaborating With A Ghost

So, the love story between Mrs. Muir and Captain Gregg continues and their bond is strengthen through their honesty and bravery.  From their first meeting, they overcome their fears of each other. Then, they confided in each other. Neither one, unrelenting for the sake of the other one until they bared their souls.  Then, a bit of flirting takes place during with their bargain. They find themselves in a strange, but nonetheless sexy predicament. The next morning the Captain reveals he built the house; and, it is based on a poem, The Nightingale, by Keats.

Soon, the in-laws show up to bring Lucy home because the gold mine petered out.  The Captain doesn’t tell her what to do, but he is very happy to support her decision to stay.  He (like the Invisible Man) escorts the ladies out the door. With no money left, and family jewels pawn, the Captain tells her to write a book on his adventurous Seaman life.  They will call it Blood and Swash by Captain X.  He tells her the stories as she writes it. He even tells her which publishers to give her manuscript too.

Captain: Since we are collaborators, call me Daniel. I shall call you Lucia.

Muir: My name is Lucy

Daniel: The name doesn’t do you justice, my dear.  Women named Lucy are always imposed upon; but, LUCIA, now there’s a name for an Amazon for a queen.

As Lucia writes this unvarnished biography of a Seaman, she must use words that have never left her mouth.  The Captain leaves nothing out, including his sexual escapades. As he explains his visit to a brothel in Marseilles, Lucy stops typing. Captain Gregg asks her why she stopped.

Looking affronted, Muir claims: I have never wrote that word before.

Captain: It is a perfectly good word

Muir: I think it is a horrid word

Captain: It means what it says, doesn’t it?

Muir:  All too clearly

Captain: What word do you use when you convey that meaning?

Muir: I don’t use any!

Captain: Hang it all, Lucia!  If you are going to be prudish, we will never get the book written. Now, put it down the way I give it to you.

She looks disgusted as she slowly types: Tick, Tick, Tick …Tick! Only four letters are typed.  Again, sex is implied; but, we can easily understand the sexual overtones.

Once the book is complete, Lucy realizes that her friendship with a ghost may not be in her future. She confides her misgivings to the Captain.

Mrs. Muir: When we were writing the book, I was happy. We were accomplishing something together. But now, when I think of the future, it’s all dark and confused, like trying to see into the fog.

The Captain offers her some advise: You need to get out in the world more, meeting people, meeting men.  Lucy says she doesn’t desire to meet men.  He reassures her that she should: You are a confoundedly attractive woman. Really, my dear, you owe it to yourself.

Going Out In The World And Meeting New People

When Lucy  visits the publisher, Mr Sproule, she also catches the roaming eye of another author.  Lucy meets Uncle Neddy (George Sanders).  He writes children books while at the same time, he “loathes” them.  His real name is Miles Fairley.  His is extremely experienced with the ladies and wastes no time letting Mrs. Muir that he wants to get to know her better.

He is charmingly caddish.  He gives his appointment with the publisher to Mrs Muir. Which was not a great sacrifice since we soon learn the publisher hates his little draft for a book. Once Lucy persuades Mr Sproule to read her manuscript, he laughs, almost immediately from the first page. Of course, he wants to publish her book; and, he wants to meet Captain X who wrote the book.  Mrs. Muir tells him that the Captain is on a long voyage.  Meanwhile, Mr Fairley has waited over three hours before Mrs. Muir emerges from her meeting with Mr Sproule.

After her meeting, Fairley who is trying to impress her, catches a cab; and, they both ride to the train station together. As she is about to leave, he grabs her hanky from her hand, as a memento. Lucy is flattered; but, The Captain is not impressed with Fairley and tells her so on the train.

Although the Captain does not feel Fairley is not good enough for Lucia, he knows he must leave her to live her life to the fullest with a man who is alive. Eventually, the Captain will visit Lucy in her dreams. He will tell her good bye and tell her she dream it all about hi. He never really existed.

Oh, I can’t help you now.  It will only confuse you more and destroy whatever chance you have left for happiness…what we have missed, Lucia.  What we both have missed. Good-bye, my darling.

Then, he fades away…

I have to praise the actors in this movie.  Each of them is perfect in their roles. Also, I now know why Rex Harrison was referred to as “Sexy Rexy!”

Even though the Captain went into the light, the movie does not end here.  It continues to show the passing years; until, Mrs Muir is old herself and near death. Anna grows up and marries a lovely man.  They name their daughter little Lucy.  Martha continues to be Lucy’s friend while taking care of her.  We even know what happens to Uncle Neddy as he became older too. It is a beautiful story with some surprises here and there.

So, is The Ghost and Mrs Muir sexy even though there isn’t the slightest kiss between them? Of course it is. Despite the fact that sex with a ghost is physically impossible; or, is it? He did physically throw out her in-laws.

If he can or cannot, the possibility is there.  Plus, there is sexual tension, at least on Lucy’s part.  Nearly, every time these two characters meet they make kind comments to each other; they are honest; they confide in one another; when they bicker, they always find their way back to each other; they laugh often together; and, they are true to themselves while bringing out the best in each other. For me, I think there is a lot of a sexy in this movie. As far Lucy falling in love with the Spirit of Captain Gregg and vice versa, I will leave you with the wise words of Oscar Wilde:

You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.

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The link below with take you to other posts based on this theme in this blogathon:

https://moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com/

I do not own any of the images used in this post

 

Judy Garland loves The Pirate (1948): A Garland Blogathon

Anyone who personally knows me will tell you that I am a sucker for pirate movies. Obviously, it is the “romantic notion” of a pirate that I enjoy and not the criminal element of real piracy that still exists today. The idea of a noble pirate like Sir Frances Drake, who historically was “the greatest sea dog” of all time, sailing around the world on The Golden Hind to escape capture by Phillip II of Spain is an exciting tale.  Just think of it, Drake was the first Englishman to circumvent the globe in order to keep the gold “booty” he stole from the Spanish king…classically, awesome. Drake aka el Draque (The Dragon) was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I and participated in the naval battle to stop the invasion of the Spanish Armada.  To the English he was a hero; to the Spanish he was a criminal. This is history; however, in the world of the arts our “Bad Boys” can do and be anything we so choose, even being chased by a crocodile with a clock in its belly.

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Basically, the romanticized idea of a  pirate or privateer is a talented captain who is much like a “James Bond,” but sailing the seas and not driving an Aston Martin. In reality, some of them secretly worked for a government or group of investors.  The fantastical captains were strategically brilliant, expert sword fighters, charmingly witty, loved music and the spirits (Ho, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum), had a lusty libido, and were fearless in face of danger.

From movies of all genres (dramas, comedies, horror, and musicals…) and even in Disney theme parks, the pirate is a common sight. So, when I was invited to pay tribute to the beautiful and glamorous Judy Garland, I immediately chose her pirate movie.  This post is part of a Blogathon celebrating the work of Judy Garland.  It is graciously hosted by Crystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.

https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/the-judy-garland-blogathon-has-now-arrived/

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Since, I admit to my pirate weaknesses, I should acknowledge that I am also a fan of television series Once Upon a Time.  Of course, I am happy Emma Snow (the savior) played beautifully by Jennifer Morrison fell in love with Captain Hook played by devilish handsome Colin O’Donoghue. Who could resist?

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Whatever the influence from history, movies, books, or location, pirates are part of the general population’s psyche.  Now, what does this have to do with a post about Judy Garland’s The Pirate?  Well it explains how I could fall (Hook, line and sinker) for the storyline of this MGM, 1948 musical. Although this film was a bust, it lost over two million dollars at the box office, I feel it had the potential to be a great movie.  Okay, given it is not a great movie, it is still enjoyable and has some of the greatest dance and song scenes ever recorded.

There is a myriad of reasons why movies fail.  For instance, a movie like Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (1971) is an example of a movie that failed at the box office: but, later not only becomes a children favorite, but a cult classic, and later a successful remake in 2005 with Johnny Depp.  Although the The Pirate (1948) is unforgivably underrated, it is enjoyable and  entertaining. This film not only stars the multi-talented actress and singing star, Judy Garland; but, also the versatile Gene Kelly. In addition, it showcases an energetic dance number by the amazing Nicholas Brothers; luscious music by the suave Cole Porter; and, all of this delivered under the artful direction of Vicente Minnelli (married to Garland at the time).

So, how did this movie become underrated?  

Part of the reason is because two dance and song scenes were cut from the movie for different reasons.  With these cuts, it left gaps that gave the audiences at the time a sense that something was missing.  Plus, this was released only three years after World War II.  Although Spain was a neutral country, it was still a fascist country under Franco.  The Cold War, and the House Committee of  Un-American Activities were beginning to rear their ugly heads.  Many American audiences were more than cautious about being influenced by what they perceived as propaganda. This is one explanation out of many that explains why this musical failed so miserly at the box office.

Another reason, some say it failed was a result of the music.  Some believe the Cole Porter Tunes didn’t match the story.  I personally do not feel that way.  It is true, there is not a heavy influence of Spanish rhythms or beats in the music to enhance the setting in the Spanish Caribbean Port of San Sebastian.  However, the emotional lyrics matched the story very well.  And, let’s face it, Garland could sing the words off a traffic ticket and people would swoon. There is one thing Cole Porter did that might have hurt this movie.  He agreed to write the music if he could name the pirate after a friend, Macoco. The name sounds like a special hot drink at Starbucks. Latte, anyone? You could find a better pirate name from the following list:

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If I could change anything, it would be the character development of the two main leads. Serafin’s character (Gene Kelly) trying to “sell the life of a traveling troupe” to Manuela’s character (Judy Garland) has an sound of untruthfulness or Con job. An actors life should have sounded as romantic as the life of a pirate. Plus, he speaks so quickly, he sounds too smug to be charming. Manuela is a nobleman’s daughter.  The romantic side of her character should have been developed more. Manuela’s final decision of what to do with the rest of her life should not have been so obvious.  The dilemma of choosing happiness over her family, reputation, duty and money is not an easy one to make. Yes, I did find the script to be lacking.  There were six writers involved in this project.  Only two of them were credited. So, another reason the movie might have failed could have been a simple matter of ” too many writers” spoiling the script.

Manuela Dreams of Life With The Black Macoco

Manuela (Judy Garland) is a young woman who has just come of age. Her aunt Inez (Gladys Cooper) has just told her that an arranged marriage has been negotiated on her behalf with the mayor of the city, Don Pedro Vargas (Walter Slezak).  Manuela learns of her newly betrothed just after she describes, (romantically sings “Mack The Black” to her lady friends.  When Judy Garland sings, you are in her world of possibilities.  No one interprets a song like she does.  She sings of “Mac’s” (Macoco) bravery; his heroic acts of fighting; and, his treasure and gold. She dreams of her pirate, the Black Macoco, falling desperately in love with her and sailing away with her to see the world.

Manuela is well aware that her aunt and uncle took her in as an orphan with no diary of her own to attract husbands. The mayor is a self made man who is at least 20 some years her senior.  She feels beholden to their care in taking care of her.  Plus, it isn’t so so bad since the Mayor is rich and is a world traveler.  Angela’s dream of seeing the world could come true.  During a meeting is set up between her and the mayor, he assures her that although he is not cultured, he has seen the world and will tell her all about it.  He has no wish to travel again because he  cannot bear the sea.  Instead, he enjoys just staying home since it is quite, peaceful and safe. Then, Manuela is told the mayor is paying for her new wardrobe.  To seal the deal, he gives her a beautiful bejeweled extremely expensive engagement ring.

Crushed, Manuela begs her aunt to allow her to take 30 minutes by herself to look at the sea wall.  They are in town to meet with the dressmaker who is making alterations to her new wardrobe from a famous Paris fashion House, Maison Worth.  Just one last  trip to the sea by herself, she begs.  At least then she could see some corner of their world on an adventure. The aunt nervously grants her that wish.  It is near the sea wall that she meets a touring actor, Serafin (Gene Kelly).  He falls instantly in love with Manuela.  How do we know? Because, he calls every woman he meets “Nina.”  It saves him the trouble of remembering their names.

There is a great song and dance that Kelly does as he sings about all the town Ninas. During his dance routine he uses carnival poles. This might be the first pole dancing performed on screen.  After a brief meeting with Manuela, he begs her to give him her name. She informs him that she will soon be married; and, he tells her that she must not marry a “pumpkin.”  Before, she leaves, he invites her to his performance later that evening.  Before the show begins,  Sarafin sees her in the audience and decides to hypothesize her as part of his act.  But, what he really wants to do is plant the idea that she might love him.

While under hypnoses and  to his surprise, she reveals her infatuation with the notorious pirate. She sings about the Black Macoco.  This is one of the song and dance routines taken out of the picture.  It is known as the Voodoo scene.  When Louis B. Meyer saw the clip of this song and dance, he became enraged and demanded all the negatives of it be destroyed. The recording of the song survived. Someone took some movie clips and pictures of the revised scene with Judy singing Mack the Black again but at a much faster tempo.   This video is on YouTube; but,  I added that link below.  The beginning of this song is kind of creepy.

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=WKhytfI1UKg

The Tale of Two Scenes (Dance and Song) Cuts: Too Much Sex or Too Much Diversity

Eventually, Serafin borrows Macoco’s identity in his pursuit of Menuela. There is a lot of fun here before Manuela has her revenge for his deception.  Serafin is so convincing in his act, the mayor has him arrested as Macoco. It is during his trial that one of the best dance scenes in the history of film was cut out of the movie, Be A Clown. Gene Kelly and the Nicholas Brothers are incredible in this unbelievable routine. It was cut out of the film before it could be showed in Southern cities.  This was a time of law enforced segregation.  It was the first time a white and black men were filmed dancing together. Eerily, there is a part of the routine where they dance to close to the gallows and see three nooses hanging.  All three of them cringe and quickly dance away as part of a joke.  Unfortunately,  after the Northern cities saw the film, the Nicholas Brothers were blackballed and could not find work in Hollywood. So, they left the continent to find work in Europe.  They would return in 1964 during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. This great dance routine can be seen in the DVD version.  Hereit is to view it now.  It is not to be missed.

Not to spoil the surprise ending, Garland and Kelly will sing and dance this song again, dressed as clowns. Four years later, the song Be a Clown will be plagiarized by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed for another Kelly film, Singing In The Rain. They changed the title to Make em Laugh. Kelly did not sing the song in that movie, Donald O’Connor did. Cole Porter did not legally make a claim that the  song was used without his permission.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=be+a+clown+garland&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=7f80993c1d3c4473a334e8398af45e26&cc=US&setlang=en-US

Final Thought

Despite the problems with the script and the cut and piece editing of the dance scenes, I still enjoyed this Garland movie. Personally, I am happy that she had the opportunity to share her romanticized pirate in one of her  movies.  Honestly, regardless of the movie, Garland and Kelly are simply a joy to watch and listen to.  This was the second of four projects planned for Garland and Kelly.  The first was For Me and My Gal (1942), The Pirate (1948), Easter Parade (1948) and Summer Stock (1950).  Kelly broke his ankle during the filming of Easter Parade and was replaced by Fred Astaire.     

What is truly amazing is that Garland, the consummate performer, could make this look and sound so good, especially  when you learn that she smoked four packs of cigarettes a day during the filming of this movie; and, she was also not at her best mentally or physically.  She missed 99 days out of the 135 filming days for illnesses.  It was during the filming of this movie that she received psychiatric treatment that was paid for by the studio. This was a first for any studio because they usually dock expenses out of their actors’ pay.

Like all Garland fans, I wish her life could have been better because she really deserved it. Who knows what may have happened if she went to nursing school and had a different life. What I do know is that she was so amazingly talented that even today, when we  hear her sing, watch one of her movies or listen to her interviews, we feel warm inside because she has made a special place in our hearts. With that said, here is a clip gym from the film, For Me And My Gal.  Garland and Kelly are shinning bright and at the top of their game as they “Show ’em.”

 

This post is part of a Blogathon celebrating the work of Judy Garland.  It is graciously hosted by Krystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.  To read more posts on the work of Judy Garland, please use the link below.

https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/the-judy-garland-blogathon-has-now-arrived/

 

SOURCES:

http://www.notablebiographies.com/Fi-Gi/Garland-Judy.html

Link list of historical Pirates:

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

 

 

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Medicine in the Movies Blogathon: Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

What an intriguing topic: Medicine in the movies.  I must confess that my knowledge in this field is limited beyond that as a patient under a doctor’s care.  So, I want to thank Charlene from Charlene’s (Mostly) Classics for hosting this Blogathon; since, it has allowed me to add some knowledge to what little I already knew.

In addition to acquiring a bit more knowledge, I’ve been given a rare opportunity to view one of my favorite movies, Suddenly Last Summer (1959) in a completely different light. This time my focus is not just mindless pleasure; but, a analytical view concerning the illnesses and the cures within the movie itself.

Before, I was only in awe of this wonderfully crafted film with a sublime cast (Katherine Hepburn, Montgomery Cliff, and Elizabeth Taylor), based on an one act play written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tennessee Williams (Streetcar Named Desire, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof), screen play written by famed author Gore Vidal (Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz  (The Philadelphia Story, All About Eve, Cleopatra …), and produced by Sam Spielgel (On The Waterfront, Lawrence of Arabia, African Queen …).  It is a beautiful, artistic movie enriched with Southern American gothic overtones and set in the Garden District of New Orleans.

The Story

The Venables are the wealthiest family in New Orleans.  Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn) is the matriarch of the Venable family and fortune along with her only son, Sebastian, who had died “Suddenly Last Summer” in 1937. Violet and her son, are extremely close, perhaps even suffocating. For years, they took all their vacations together.  People referred to them as “Vie and Sebastian” and not as mother and son. Sebastian was a sensitive poet who only wrote one unpublished poem a year; and, he wrote it only on his vacations with his Mother. Vie kept Sebastian’s collection of annual poems; until, they were to be published after his death, assuming his mother would survive him.

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Sebastian sensitivities only allowed him to be surrounded by beautiful people and things. He literally grew a wild jungle of natural beauty attached to their mansion in the center of town.  Buried in the center of this jungle, lies Sebastian’s  lovely studio. Vie refers to the jungle as the “Creation, before the dawn of man.”

After Vie has a stroke, the left side of her face is slightly “disfigured.” She has a slight tremble on that side. As a result, Sebastian decided she was not able to vacation with him that summer; so, he asked his beautiful, but poor cousin, Cathy (Elizabeth Taylor) to travel abroad with him instead. He paid for everything.  He even had dresses made for her when they travelled to Paris.

It was on a private beach in Spain that Sebastian had a “heart attack” and died. It was during his heart attack that Cathy has a nervous breakdown and must be escorted back to the states with a nurse. Vie has her placed at St. Mary’s Home for the Mentally Ill to try to help her with her mental break down. Poor Cathy, she keeps “bubbling obscene things” or “unspoken things” to Vie about her recently deceased son.  Vie is at her own breaking point with losing her only child and dealing with her own health problems. As luck will happen, she sees a community announcement in the paper from Lions View State Mental Hospital. A neurosurgeon is conducting a “new” procedure to the brain. However, the hospital has fallen into disrepair; and, there is not enough money to accommodate the 1,200 people who could benefit from this miraculous procedure called a lobotomy.

Violet sends the Head Director (Albert Dekker) of the state hospital a letter announcing her intention of setting up a million dollar memorial foundation in Sebastian’s name on the hospital grounds with the condition that she must meet with this young doctor Cukrowicz (Montgomery Cliff) and be assured that he can perform this new technique on her sick relative. Just like the Queen’s command performance, the doctor agrees to meet with her that very day.

Cukrowicz first hears Violent’s distinctive voice addressing him as she descends on an elaborate elevator in her mansion.  Even before she technically sees him, she is describing to him what Sebastian thought and liked about the Byzantine Empire. This is the first time I ever heard the words Byzantium and Byzantine used in the same sentence correctly. She explains to the doctor that unlike the Byzantine Emperor who ascends on his throne during an audience; she descends since it is much more democratic.  Instinctively, I laugh at this; but, I am not sure she meant it as a joke. As Violet gives the doctor her hand, she stumbles on his name. He pronounces his name, Cukrowicz, and explains it is polish word for sugar.  She then refers to him as Doctor Sugar.  Again, I laugh; but I was still not sure if she is being coy or condescending towards his polish heritage. Violet continues her one woman monologue as she bizarrely refers to her son likes and dislikes, his various views and his unique artistic abilities.

She leads the doctor into “The Jungle” where he witnesses Violet feeding flies to a plant, a Venus Fly Trap. The doctor looks shocked and amazed when he comments that this garden is “unexpected.” During their discussion, Violet revels two very important beliefs she now shared with her son. Since the gentle peace loving dinosaurs died off because they would not eat flesh, the world was left to the carnivores who did survive (Gators, lizards, cockroaches…) “and always do.”  The second belief she now shared with her son is that nature is cruel.  On one of their shared vacations, on the Galapagos Islands, Sebastian witnessed baby turtles being devoured by hungry birds.  The babies were too slow to escape the beach and flee into the ocean. The birds were trapped by their hunger and fed on the newest creations. Sebastian claims he saw the salvage face of God as the birds devoured these little baby turtles. Violet believes “killers inherit the earth; they always do.”

I know what you are thinking, this is pretty messed up thinking. However, the idea that “survival of the fittest” was and is still taught in schools today.  As a philosophical social teaching, it has influenced good and bad people for over 150 years, along with books like The Prince and The Art of War.

Finally, the doctor steers the discussion back to Cathy and what is wrong with her. Violet tells him her diagnosis is Dementian Praecox. As soon as he hears this term he tries repeatedly to explain that is just a general term that is meaningless and not a specific diagnosis.  Violet ignores his his comments.

Instead, she tells him how much she liked the way he described the new procedure in the newspaper article: A sharp knife To the mind kills the Devil in the soul. Even the doctor looked a bit embarrassed and admitted that he got carried away in describing it. Violet said it almost sounded poetic and reminded her of Sebastian ‘s “art in using people.” The doctor denies using people.  He claims that he is trying to help people. She further suggests that this technique gives the hopeless and unapproachable a chance for peace. She asks the doctor: Does it not? The doctor is very careful with his wording: it can bring peace but there is great risk and the patient will always be limited.  Violet replies: “What a blessing!  To suddenly be at peace ending the horrors and the nightmares.”

Violet pressures the doctor to commit to doing the surgery on her niece. He insists on meeting and establishing a correct diagnosis with Cathy before he gives his word to do the procedure. Violet tells the doctor that Cathy has fits of violence with hallucinations.  She even accused an elderly gardener of having sex with her. When the gardener was questioned, he denied it and said she made advances to him. Saint Mary’s decided Cathy could not stay there any longer; since,  they felt they could not give her the help she needed.

Later, at Saint Mary’s Mental hospital, the doctor observes Cathy interaction with one of the nuns as she is waiting for the meeting to begin with him. Cathy finds a pack of hidden cigarettes and begins puffing away. The nun demands the cigarette with an open hand. Cathy begs her to allow to finish the smoke. The nun becomes more insistent.  Cathy angrily thrusts the lit cigarette in her open hand.  The nun screams ands Cathy cries that she is sorry; but, she is so sick of being bullied. The doctor dismisses the nun and tells her to get medical attention for her hand.

During this first meeting, the doctor learns Cathy lost much of her memory before Spring of that year. He learns she is sane and totally cognizant of her surrounding. She explains she did falsely accused the hospital gardener of molesting her because that is what insane people do. He learns that she is charming and more importantly,  she is not hopeless.

Cukrowicz has her transferred to the Lions View, the state hospital where he works. He allows her to wear her own clothes and share a room with the nurses.  He wants her to trust him and feel as free as possible under hospital conditions. All goes well until Cathy’s mom and brother show up to tell her Sabastian left his fortune the their side of the family.

However, Aunt Vie is contesting the Will unless they agree to sign the papers to have a lobotomy done to Cathy.  They just came by to tell her the “good” news that they signed the papers and the inheritance will not be tied up in probate court. Her brother assures her that the surgery is nothing more than “like your getting her tonsils taken out.”  How any intelligence fell from this Darwin family tree is beyond me.

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Let’s just say Cathy did not take it well. There is an attempted suicide, more therapy, and some revelations about the family beliefs.  Love is being used by someone you love. No sane person can hate.  Hate is not being used.  A sane person cannot hate. The doctor also learns the real reason Sebastian took his mother or Cathy with him to vacation: He used them as “bait to procure” men and boys.  Remember homosexuality was considered an illness in the 50s. According to Cathy,  Sebastian would refer to people like food on a menu: that one looks delicious or I am famished for blondes. According to Vie, Sebastian was chaste.

Finally, the doctor with find more answers with the aid of socpolamine hydrobromide (truth serum).  During a budding romance between the doctor and Cathy, there are more family’s revelations discovered and finally,  an absolute shocking death scene. How this movie ever passed the movie moral codes of the 1950s is a miracle in and of itself. Everything is implied; but, it does not need interpretation for the mature audience.  I hope you see this classic, if you haven’t seen it. My only complaint is that it is a bit too long: one hour and fifty six minutes to be precise. So, be prepared to take a short break or two.

What  I learned

1) Tennessee Williams based this one act play, like many of his plays, on his personal life. He was raised in staunch puritanical home. This is a home where his own homosexuality would never be accepted.  He went through years of psychoanalysis to cure his homosexuality, depression, anxiety, and paranoia. While away at school, his sister, Rose, started to babble “unthinkable things” about their father.  His mother had her institutionalized where she was lobotomized. It forever silenced and incapacitated her. Williams always felt guilty that he was not there to stop it. He never forgave himself or his parents. His play “The Glass Menagerie” was written with her in mind. Williams’ sister Rose reminds me of another sister who name was Rose: Rosemary Kennedy who was President John F. Kennedy’s sister.  Rosemary was a shy and easygoing child but grew up to be a rebellious and moody teenager.  When she reached the age of 23, she had a lobotomy that left her with the mentality of an infant. She spent most of her life institutionalized.  The Special Olympics was founded in her name.

2) Lobotomy is a surgery that uses a thin brain needle (ice pick) that is inserted into the frontal lobe of the brain. It causes permanent brain damage. The United States has conducted over 50,000 of these operations between 1946 and 1956 on record. That is the most surgeries done than in any other country. It was used as a “cure” for anything from depression, compulsive disorders, epilepsy, schizophrenia etc…

3) Frontal Lobe is the part of the brain that controls:

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Some have referred to a lobotomy as “Soul Surgery.”  In many countries, it is illegal.  Some like the United Kingdom still perform a few of them under extreme conditions. It is said that a successful lobotomy alters the emotional state. However, it never improves cognitive abilities; but, it can make them worst.

3) American Actress Frances Farmer did not have a lobotomy.  Her biographer lied. She was scheduled to have it done; but, her father intervened and put a stop to it. She did suffer from acute alcoholism which led to being institutionalize several times during her life. Alcoholism destroyed her career and life.

Behind The Scenes

Montgomery Cliff was in a serious car crash in 1956.  He should have died from his injuries. Thankfully, he did not; but, he was left with multiple surgeries over the span of his life to fix his damaged body. This led him to alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs.  He was in constant pain for years after this accident.  Because of that, he could not physically work for long periods of time.  He needed constant breaks.  Apparently, the Director and Producer hated him for this; and, they might have been a homophobes too.  They were extremely condescending and  demeaning to him.  Katherine Hepburn tried to defend him, along with Taylor. The Story goes that Hepburn was so annoyed with the director that when the film was finished, she stood up and walked in front of him; then, she spat in his face.  I always liked the grit in Hepburn.

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There so much more that could be written about this film’s medical issues and the presumably cures; but, that cannot be done adequately in a one blog format. So, I hope you too view this film with a fresh pair of eyes and discover more medicine that I have missed. This film does provide a Hollywood romance and happy ending.  It it not so dark to depress the audience; but, it does make one contemplate many issues that arise in the movie. Just for it’s artistic elements alone, I would recommend it; but, also for a bit of history and the medical mindset of the 50s too.

For more blogs on medicine in the movies, please use the link below:

https://charsmoviereviews.wordpress.com

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References:

http://www.cinemaqueer.com/review%20pages%202/suddenlylastsummer.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002068/bio

Where Would We Be Without Villains? The Great Villain Blogaton 2017

Seriously, why would Billionaire Bruce Wayne ever need to put on the Batman suit if it wasn’t for the flavor of the week, villain?  Of course, he could wear it for Halloween or to attend a ComicCon convention, or even if he is a bit kinky in the bedroom.  But let’s face it, without a villain, a big part of who Wayne is would fade away.  The Batman would retire and not be needed anymore. He would probably end up as a CEO of various corporations worrying about profit margins and his trophy wife’s spending budget. The fact is that day agendas of the superrich is not as exciting as stopping a maniac from destroying the world.  The spice of life is making the world a better place for everyone and all living creatures. Simply, in the world of the arts, we need villains; so, men and women can become heroes.

One of my favorite Batman (1966 -1968) villains is Vincent Price as the Egghead.  To me, Price is the ultimate Villain.  He has great screen present with that low menacing voice and an evil laugh to die for. According to many actors, playing a villain is a lot of fun.  I used to laugh at how Egghead loved to pronounce words that started with “ex” as egg.  Like the word, excellent would be pronounced egg-cellent or egg-actly for exactly.  There is a humorous story about Price on the Batman set. He actually started an egg fight with the other actors and crew.  Price must have been a lot of fun to work with.  I often wondered if they cast him as Egghead because he was a was an actual gourmet chef, besides being an remarkable actor. Sometimes, villains can resemble other villains too.  Don’t you think Tom Hardy’s Bad boy Bronson looks a little like Egghead in these pictures?

Now that I have established the need for villains, on to the next questions: How is a villain defined; and, what is an example of a great villain? To find a working definition, I used the meaning of the word, nemesis.  In Greek mythology, Nemesis is the Greek goddess of indignation against undeserved good fortune. She is the goddess of fairness and a balanced proportion of reward.  In other words, she is the goddess of “sour grapes” and “that’s not fair” emotions.  This is the basic ingredient to the making of a villain.  It is also something that all humans have experienced, to some degree.

So, I believe it is safe to say that there must be a little villain in all of us.  You probably heard the Native American story of two dogs fighting within the soul of every man.  One is evil and the other is good. The kind of man you are depends on which dog wins the fight: one is a hero and the other is a villain.

Maybe this is why we have such guilty pleasure while watching our favorite villain on film.  The elements of a great villain is purely conjecture. However, I believe they must share similar characteristics with the hero.  Usually, they have:

  1. A Brilliant Mind
  2. Are Wealthy (at some point)
  3. Obsessive
  4. Have Unique Personality Traits
  5. Ingenious Plans and Strategies
  6. Some Minions or A Sidekick
  7. A Public or Secret Identity
  8. A Strong sense of a Wrong that must be Righted
  9. A Willingness To Sacrifice All In Order To Win

My favorite film villains are on a long list.  However, as I mentioned before, Vincent Price is at the top.  Price appeared in over 100 movies and has over 200 film credits to his name. They range from documentaries to voice overs. His voice overs include Saturday Morning cartoons, Scooby-Doo and the Thirteen Ghosts (1985);  animated Disney movie, The Great Mouse Detective (1986) and Tim Burton’s short Vincent (1982). This also includes work in the music industry.  For instance, his voice was recorded on rocker Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare album and in pop star Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982).

When it comes to film acting,  he is in superb company with the likes of Sir Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.  As a matter of fact, all three of them appeared in two horror movies together: Scream and Scream Again (1970) and House of Long Shadows (1983). Lee and Price were in a total of 4 films together and shared the same birthday, May 27th.  Price is ten years senior to Lee. Crushing’s birthday was May 26th and was 2 years younger than Price.

With a film career that spanned over 50 years, there are many great movies starring the villainous Price. To choose only one as a favorite is near impossible. However, there is one movie that I thought went beyond the pale in regards to horror movies. I first saw it in the 80s even though it came out in 1971: The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

This movie is described as a comedy-horror movie.  I did laugh quite often watching it, as well as being shocked and “grossed out…”   Yes, it truly was a lot of fun. The movie begins with a hooded dark figure who is playing a console organ on a platform with a red curtain background.  After all the credits roll by, the hooded figure finishes his song and steps off the platform onto a ballroom floor.

There are some doll-like figures with various musical instruments in their hands.  He (Phibes) places coin in a slot and turns a crank. They start to play their instruments while he begins to lead the small orchestra into playing a beautiful melody.  Then, a door opens and a gorgeous exotic women (Virginia North) sauntered down the steps. She approaches the conductor (Price); and, they begin to waltz around the room as the orchestra of robot dolls continues to play.

Once this new tune stops, the lady leaves.  The hooded figure lowers a covered bird-cage through a hole in the ballroom floor.  On the lower level is a car garage.  We see a fashionably dress lady receiving the cage.  As she places it in a car, the dark hooded man takes a seat in the back of the car.

In the next scene, an elderly gentleman is reading a newspaper in bed. His apartment is lavishly furnished.  Once he is asleep, we see a ceiling skylight window being slowly opened.  Gloved hands are gently lowering the covered bird-cage into his room. A few minutes later, the empty cage and its cover is pulled up by the same rope that lowered it into the room. The sleeping gentleman is awaken by an odd scratchy, sucky noise.  Soon, we see him being attacked by bats. The man is bitten to death by hundreds of bats in his London flat.

When Scotland Yard shows up, they are completely shocked and puzzled by the bats in his room and with the manner of his death. As inspector Trout (Peter Jeffery) says it: He was shredded to death.  Right here in the heart of London. Tom, the other inspector, remarks that it is the second strange death of a doctor in a week.  The other doctor/victim was discovered with boils all over his body made from Bee stings.  Inspector Trout asks: Bees in his Library?

So, 34 minutes into the movie, we have 4 doctors murdered in bizarre ways; and, Dr. Phibes has not uttered the first word; but, his music is great.  During another murder, a clue is found by the inspectors.  A necklace with a Hebrew symbol etched on an emblem was accidentally dropped at one of the crime scenes. It symbolized one of the ten curses/ plagues that God delivered to a pharaoh of ancient Egypt.  Which is kind of funny because Vincent Price played a baddie working for the same pharaoh in The Ten Commandments (1956) with Charlton Heston.

The inspectors are told by Dr. Vesalius, Joseph Cotton, that he found the connection to all murdered doctors, which included himself.  We learn that nine doctors had the same patient; Victoria Phibes; and, she died six minutes into surgery. Her husband, Dr. Phibes, raced to the hospital to be by her side; but, had a car accident.  His car plummets over a cliff, catches fire and blows up. Vesailus was the head surgeon.

Did he really die in that accident? Was that Dr. Phibes body in the coffin?  Or, was it someone else? It has been suggested that this is a spoof about avenging oneself against the medical industry.  In light of the medical profession today, I can understand the analogy.  Just a note, this is not the first time Price and Cotton were in the same movie. Cotton starred in Laura (1944) along with costar Price.

Without spoiling the ending for those who have not seen this film, I really urge you to watch this 70s movie classic.  Yes, it is dated; and, yes, the graphics may look silly compared to today’s films made with CGI and green screens; however, it is still a fun experience to watch and when it is all said and done, that is all that matters anyway.

This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon 2017.   Please read about more film Villains using the following links.  Many thanks to the three blog sites who hosted The Great Villain  Blogathan 2017: Shadows and Satin, Sliver Screenings and Speakeasy.

https://hqofk.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/the-great-villain-blogathon-2017-day-2-recap/

https://shadowsandsatin.wordpress.com

The Great Villain Blogathon 2017 – Day 2 Recap

Villains 2017

I do not own any of these images

References

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