Fading Fast

Connoisseur
m2mmatgmrv.jpg

Murder at the Gallop from 1963 with Margaret Rutherford, Charles Tingwell and Stringer Davis

There were four Agatha Christie Miss Marple movies made in the early sixties; based on the two I've seen, they are fun-enough efforts if thought of as good B-movies or TV-shows that happened to be made in a movie format.

The general story seems to be the same in the two I've seen so far. Miss Marple, a grandmotherly looking woman who lives in a small English village, stumbles upon a murder and doubts that the police are conducting a thorough-enough investigation. So, she pursues her own inquiry getting underfoot of the police inspector, Charles Tingwell, who likes Miss Marple, but is often irritated by her, to be honest, constantly upstaging him.

It's all lighthearted stuff as the fun is seeing a scripted-out-of-central-casting grandmother - as a somewhat antecedent of the Columbo-TV model - seemingly harmlessly following clues and asking questions as she's all but dismissed by everyone until, right at the end, they realize that grandma has figured it all out.

In Murder at the Gallop, the story is set amongst the horsey set as a patriarch of a wealthy family is murdered with all his relatives, and a few other people, suspects. To tell more isn't so much to risk giving anything away, but wasting effort as you've seen some version of the plot fifty or more times if you've watched any TV-detective-mystery dramas from the sixties through the nineties. Here, eventually, usually after an attempt is made on Miss Marple's life by the murderer, she, in her understated and almost clumsy manner, gathers everyone together in one room and exposes the guilty person.

In these films, there's a delicate balance between tongue-in-cheek whimsy and mystery story that leans toward the former but nods enough at the latter to hold the two ends together. But you don't watch a Miss Marple film for the story, you watch it because you enjoy the eccentric Miss Marple - it either works for you or it doesn't. I can only enjoy them with plenty of time between each one.

But if their quirkiness does appeal to you, the chemistry between the frustrated young police inspector and septuagenarian Miss Marple is movie gold. Not since Marie Dressler in the 1930s has there been an elderly female star who could carry a movie with such presence and personality. Plus, for us today, the time travel these movies provide to a small village in early '60s England is pure fun.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
unnamed-23.jpg

The Killer that Stalked New York from 1950 with Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin, Lola Albright and an underused Dorothy Malone as a mousy nurse, but look closely and you'll still see her flash those famous come-hither eyes (above left) from the classic bookshop pick-up scene in The Big Sleep.

Movies can walk and chew gum at the same time - tell two stories at once - but it does take some skill to seamlessly knit the separate threads together. In The Killer that Stalked New York, the writers and director Earl McEvoy failed to complete the knitting, so this overall solid movie suffers from being a bit of a bifurcated effort.

The main tale is one of New York City on the brink of a smallpox outbreak with eerily similar overtones to today's Covid pandemic. But it is also the story of Treasury Department officers tracking stolen diamonds smuggled in from Cuba to be fenced in New York. The connection between the two stories is diamond "mule" Evelyn Keyes who knowingly brings the gems into the city while unknowingly bringing in smallpox.

The knitting problem is mainly one of tone and style. The smallpox story is told kinda like a public service announcement film with a resonating-voiced narrator guiding us through how a city organizes its resources to prevent a pandemic. Conversely, the diamond-heist story has a traditional noir vibe of bad people doing bad things to both their friends and foes.

With Keyes as the link between the two tales, we see her arrive in the city already feeling sick and, thus, spreading the disease. She immediately tries to connect with her husband, Korvin, who is going to sell the gems. Yet unknown to her, while she was away, he was having an affair. And upping the noirness, he wasn't just cheating on Keyes with another woman, but with her sister - damn, people can do really bad things to each other. Pause on that for a moment, while Keyes is down in Cuba getting the stolen diamonds and risking arrest smuggling them into the country for her husband, he's banging her sister, ouch.

And if that isn't enough, while Keyes lies sick in bed, hubby takes the diamonds and whatever money she has and, employing a scorched-earth policy, skedaddles on both of the sisters. Keyes, with the sickness advancing to the point where her skin is showing the blisters - she's a bit frightening to look at now - is hellbent on finding her, no other word for it, scumbag husband. But all this noir stuff plays on in the background as the movie mainly focuses on the politicians' and healthcare community's efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

Here, the parallels to today's Covid pandemic are jarring: an initial test and trace efforts fails; a public education outreach includes discussion of how the virus is transmitted through the air and by touch; once available, a huge public campaign ensues to convince everyone to get vaccinated; at times, there is not enough vaccine and, finally, we see a push by others against the vaccine who believe it is some sort of conspiracy. I know, it's frighteningly similar to today.

Both stories are good and are, at the end, connected, once again, through Keyes because the Treasury officers and healthcare officials eventually team up to find her as the latter are now looking for her as patient zero. Unfortunately, the distinctive style and arc of the two stories leaves the viewer feeling as if he or she is almost watching separate movies at the same time. The combined effort is worth it, but you just can't help wishing the two narratives had been harmonized better.


A double N.B. for this one. One, the 1950 on-location footage of New York City is time-travel heaven. And, two, in the opening scene, Keyes wears a houndstooth wool suit with a hat and coat lined in the same fabric (see below, it's the best pic I could find, but it doesn't do it justice). She looks impressive; she's a woman to be reckoned with, but that outfit must have cost a small fortune and probably explains why she needed to steal the diamonds in the first place.
The KTSNY opup.jpg copy.jpg
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
1d9e2bc006f6baf5ab85cfe99a85dd8b.jpg

The Blue Dahlia from 1946 with Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Hugh Beaumont and Howard Da Silva

Yes, The Blue Dahlia is another noir pairing of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, but it's also a disturbing look at a returning WWII serviceman with severe PTSD and, if that's not enough, it's also a fine "who killed the cheatin' wife" murder mystery.

Character actor William Bendix delivers a career performance as the damaged veteran who can't keep the noises in his head straight and whose violent anger is sparked by loud music (or, sometimes, nothing). This man needs serious medical attention, but other than hanging with his two former service buddies, Ladd and Hugh Beaumont, he's on his own.

When those three return from the war, Ladd finds his wife partying at their Los Angeles bungalow apartment where she is clearly having an affair with local nightclub-owner Howard Da Silva. Ladd and the wife fight, then after the party, they fight again and he leaves (and leaves his service revolver behind, gun-wall-hung). Later that evening, separately, Da Silva (looking for nooky) and Bendix (looking for Ladd) come by - all spied on by the slimy apartment-complex house detective.

But when the wife is found shot dead the following morning, Ladd is the lead suspect owing to, one, the loud and public fight he had with his wife at the party and, two, his gun being the murder weapon. Realizing he looks guilty, Ladd goes on the lam so that he can find the real killer and clear his name.

In a fortuitous occurrence that only happens in movieland, Veronica freakin' Lake drives by and stops to pick up Ladd as he's walking down the road. And in another movieland-only occurrence, she just happens to be the somewhat estranged wife of the man, Da Silva, who was having an affair with Ladd's wife (yes, it's a bit confusing). So, these two kinda sorta team up to help Ladd clear his name.

The rest of the movie is solid noir - no surprise as the screenplay was penned by Raymond Chandler - as Ladd mixes it up with Da Silva and his henchmen, he and Lake quarrel on the surface but fall in love beneath it, the police stay a step behind both the bad guys and Ladd and damaged Bendix is all but beaten by the police into confessing, true or not, to killing the wife.

Chandler's original ending, according to the TCM host, was changed for the movie, at the request of the Navy, to a new ending that you might or might not like, but as with most noir movies, the journey is the real joy. And the journey in this one is greatly enhanced by Lake and Ladd who have palpable screen chemistry as they are, arguably, the first couple of Noirland. And if all that's not enough, there's plenty of 1940s period details, noir cinematography and Art Deco architecture to make it a fun time capsule for us today.


N.B. Check out the early on massive-downpour scene that runs for at least twenty minutes of screen time and that has the actors constantly soaked to the bone. It had to be challenging to film and unpleasant to act in, but it is powerfully effective in setting the mood by subliminally telling the viewer that this noir movie will be no sunny Los Angeles story.


Three returning WWII vets showing us what men looked like in the 1940s.
D4ddY7YX4AAhUwo.jpg

Really wanted to post another pic of Veronica Lake, but this one ⇧ was just too good to pass up.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 55316
The Blue Dahlia from 1946 with Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Hugh Beaumont and Howard Da Silva

Yes, The Blue Dahlia is another noir pairing of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, but it's also a disturbing look at a returning WWII serviceman with severe PTSD and, if that's not enough, it's also a fine "who killed the cheatin' wife" murder mystery.

Character actor William Bendix delivers a career performance as the damaged veteran who can't keep the noises in his head straight and whose violent anger is sparked by loud music (or, sometimes, nothing). This man needs serious medical attention, but other than hanging with his two former service buddies, Ladd and Hugh Beaumont, he's on his own.

When those three return from the war, Ladd finds his wife partying at their Los Angeles bungalow apartment where she is clearly having an affair with local nightclub-owner Howard Da Silva. Ladd and the wife fight, then after the party, they fight again and he leaves (and leaves his service revolver behind, gun-wall-hung). Later that evening, separately, Da Silva (looking for nooky) and Bendix (looking for Ladd) come by - all spied on by the slimy apartment-complex house detective.

But when the wife is found shot dead the following morning, Ladd is the lead suspect owing to, one, the loud and public fight he had with his wife at the party and, two, his gun being the murder weapon. Realizing he looks guilty, Ladd goes on the lam so that he can find the real killer and clear his name.

In a fortuitous occurrence that only happens in movieland, Veronica freakin' Lake drives by and stops to pick up Ladd as he's walking down the road. And in another movieland-only occurrence, she just happens to be the somewhat estranged wife of the man, Da Silva, who was having an affair with Ladd's wife (yes, it's a bit confusing). So, these two kinda sorta team up to help Ladd clear his name.

The rest of the movie is solid noir - no surprise as the screenplay was penned by Raymond Chandler - as Ladd mixes it up with Da Silva and his henchmen, he and Lake quarrel on the surface but fall in love beneath it, the police stay a step behind both the bad guys and Ladd and damaged Bendix is all but beaten by the police into confessing, true or not, to killing the wife.

Chandler's original ending, according to the TCM host, was changed for the movie, at the request of the Navy, to a new ending that you might or might not like, but as with most noir movies, the journey is the real joy. And the journey in this one is greatly enhanced by Lake and Ladd who have palpable screen chemistry as they are, arguably, the first couple of Noirland. And if all that's not enough, there's plenty of 1940s period details, noir cinematography and Art Deco architecture to make it a fun time capsule for us today.


N.B. Check out the early on massive-downpour scene that runs for at least twenty minutes of screen time and that has the actors constantly soaked to the bone. It had to be challenging to film and unpleasant to act in, but it is powerfully effective in setting the mood by subliminally telling the viewer that this noir movie will be no sunny Los Angeles story.


Three returning WWII vets showing us what men looked like in the 1940s. View attachment 55317
Really wanted to post another pic of Veronica Lake, but this one ⇧ was just too good to pass up.
Great review! This is one I've seen before, but it would certainly be worth a second viewing. Thanks. ;)
 

TKI67

Advanced Member
We watched Bright Young Things the other evening. It was a delightful prewar period piece (my how time flies) with an absolutely over the top cast. Stephen Campbell Moore, Emily Mortimer, Michael Sheen, Imelda Staunton, James McAvoy, Peter O'Toole, Simon Callow, Stephen Fry, Stockard Channing, Dan Ackroyd, David Tennant, Jim Broadbent, Jim Carter, and more. Fenella Woolgar is awesome. The story revolves around Moore's efforts to collect money from Broadbent, money he desperately needs to marry Mortimer. I hope we shall be treated to a typically superlative review by Fading Fast. (I searched but did not find such a review on the fora.)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
We watched Bright Young Things the other evening. It was a delightful prewar period piece (my how time flies) with an absolutely over the top cast. Stephen Campbell Moore, Emily Mortimer, Michael Sheen, Imelda Staunton, James McAvoy, Peter O'Toole, Simon Callow, Stephen Fry, Stockard Channing, Dan Ackroyd, David Tennant, Jim Broadbent, Jim Carter, and more. Fenella Woolgar is awesome. The story revolves around Moore's efforts to collect money from Broadbent, money he desperately needs to marry Mortimer. I hope we shall be treated to a typically superlative review by Fading Fast. (I searched but did not find such a review on the fora.)
I haven't seen it, but will be looking for now as it sounds fantastic. And thank you for your kind words, they are very nice to hear.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
image20.jpg

Ever Since Eve from 1937 with Marion Davies, Robert Montgomery, Allen Jenkins, Patsy Kelly and Frank McHugh

Every once in a while, even during the code era, studios snuck stuff past the sensors, surprisingly, right out in the open. Ever Since Eve is chockablock with gender-bending scenes and characters, including a lesbian-like reference to "motorcycle girls of the Everglades," a man named Mabel and woman name Mr. Bellldam dressed in traditionally masculine-ish clothing.

It's so out there and obvious to us today, that maybe it came across more as farce than sexual fluidity back then, at least to the sensors. Though, I'd bet in the underground gay and lesbian communities of the time, this movie was well known.

And while all the above is there, the story itself is one Hollywood has told since there was a Hollywood. A pretty woman, Marion Davies (in her last career role), is a secretary who keeps getting propositioned by her bosses and, then, fired when she rejects their advances or she isn't offered a position at all as the companies don't want to hire attractive secretaries for just that reason.

So, in order to get a secretarial job with a handsome novelist, Robert Montgomery, who has run through his share of pretty secretaries, Davies makes herself over into a dowdy-looking woman.

It all plays to the standard Hollywood formula as, after initially being turned off by plain Davies, Montgomery begins to see the pretty girl camouflaged beneath the big-framed glasses, mousy hair and drab clothing. And since he's a lazy playboy who is running up against his publisher's deadline (or he'll have to give back an advance he's already spent), Davies' efficiency is just what he needs and proves attractive in a way that surprises him.

The rest of the movie is also off-the-shelf stuff for this type of story as Montgomery's greedy society girlfriend high hats Davies, but becomes jealous of her as she sees the connection Davies has with Montgomery. Then, Davis falls for Montgomery while he accidentally meets and falls for pretty, not-camouflaged Davies, but doesn't recognize that she is also his secretary (it's a movie, you just go with it). Finally more confusion and hijinks ensue.

You know practically from the first scene how it will all work out, but it's still a fun-enough hour and twenty minutes as Davies and Montgomery seem to be enjoying themselves. Plus, there's all that incredible-for-the-time gender-bending stuff hiding in plain sight.

It's pretty fantastic that, somehow or other, despite a strongly enforced Motion Picture Production Code, Warner Bros. produced an A-list movie with gay and lesbian characters and innuendos that made it right passed the censors. And, oddly, the gay and lesbian stuff isn't even important to the overall story. Somebody at Warner Bros. was looking to make a point...and made it.


And if you are wondering what "dowdy" Marian Davies, as seen in the top pic, looks like out of her alter-ego getup, see below.
ever-since-eve.jpeg
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
6ebbb5c9ce96f44160b41f8f2d1d595c.jpg

Shane from 1953 with Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance and Brandon De Wilde

Somehow, before now, I had never seen anything other than clips of this movie despite its reputation as one of the best Westerns ever - a heavy burden on a first-time viewer.

It is very good, but maybe it's because my expectations were set so high that I only liked, but didn't love it. Also, I didn't feel any need to bounce a movie out of my top-three-Westerns list (of this admittedly not huge fan of Westerns): High Noon, The Big Country and, a more modern one, Open Range (with an honorable mention to The Gunfighter).

Shane is a darn good movie of archetypes: the religious-and-family-oriented homesteaders being pushed off their land by arrogant cattle ranchers (free rangers, I think, but never said, so maybe not) that requires the iconic "reluctant gunman," Alan Ladd as Shane, to settle the score in favor of the homesteaders.

That framework provides a too-simple-for-my-taste good-versus-evil narrative that is pounded home by director George Stevens who seems to be making love to his movie with all its sweeping shots, heroic speeches, meaningful closeups and Capraesque-moments of underdog declamations and victories.

It all works fine for what it is, but it feels over constructed as I could see the seams and director-driven emotional manipulation, most of which I usually don't pick up until the second or third viewing of a movie. Also, I couldn't stand Jean Arthur's obviously fake blonde curly haired wig. That said, she delivers an outstanding performance as the female lead and woman at the center of an understated love triangle at the age of, good for her, fifty three.

The strong cast also includes Elisha Cook Jr., as a hotheaded but well-meaning settler whose accent sounds less "Old West" and more like his tongue has swollen up from a bee sting. And making an early career appearance, Jack Palance might have set a new standard for evil gunmen at the time, but today his rendering in Shane feels two dimensional (yet, I admit, I was still glad when he got his).

Even the outstanding acting by Brandon De Wilde as little Joey is so clearly directed to be a paradigm of youthful innocence and wonder (right down to the obligatory loyal dog) that he feels less like a kid than an ideal.

Shane is a good epic Western with many fine scenes and performances, including Van Heflin as the settlers' leader who has to cede the heroic moment to Shane, but I couldn't help being put off by the stark good-guys-versus-bad-guys construct that only occasionally let some real-life grey sneak in. Maybe the next time I see it, with my expectations set back down to earth, I'll just be swept up by its fairytale story.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 55511
Shane from 1953 with Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance and Brandon De Wilde

Somehow, before now, I had never seen anything other than clips of this movie despite its reputation as one of the best Westerns ever - a heavy burden on a first-time viewer.

It is very good, but maybe it's because my expectations were set so high that I only liked, but didn't love it. Also, I didn't feel any need to bounce a movie out of my top-three-Westerns list (of this admittedly not huge fan of Westerns): High Noon, The Big Country and, a more modern one, Open Range (with an honorable mention to The Gunfighter).

Shane is a darn good movie of archetypes: the religious-and-family-oriented homesteaders being pushed off their land by arrogant cattle ranchers (free rangers, I think, but never said, so maybe not) that requires the iconic "reluctant gunman," Alan Ladd as Shane, to settle the score in favor of the homesteaders.

That framework provides a too-simple-for-my-taste good-versus-evil narrative that is pounded home by director George Stevens who seems to be making love to his movie with all its sweeping shots, heroic speeches, meaningful closeups and Capraesque-moments of underdog declamations and victories.

It all works fine for what it is, but it feels over constructed as I could see the seams and director-driven emotional manipulation, most of which I usually don't pick up until the second or third viewing of a movie. Also, I couldn't stand Jean Arthur's obviously fake blonde curly haired wig. That said, she delivers an outstanding performance as the female lead and woman at the center of an understated love triangle at the age of, good for her, fifty three.

The strong cast also includes Elisha Cook Jr., as a hotheaded but well-meaning settler whose accent sounds less "Old West" and more like his tongue has swollen up from a bee sting. And making an early career appearance, Jack Palance might have set a new standard for evil gunmen at the time, but today his rendering in Shane feels two dimensional (yet, I admit, I was still glad when he got his).

Even the outstanding acting by Brandon De Wilde as little Joey is so clearly directed to be a paradigm of youthful innocence and wonder (right down to the obligatory loyal dog) that he feels less like a kid than an ideal.

Shane is a good epic Western with many fine scenes and performances, including Van Heflin as the settlers' leader who has to cede the heroic moment to Shane, but I couldn't help being put off by the stark good-guys-versus-bad-guys construct that only occasionally let some real-life grey sneak in. Maybe the next time I see it, with my expectations set back down to earth, I'll just be swept up by its fairytale story.
I've enjoyed watching Shane in it's entirety at least a couple of times and have caught clips of the movie on countless occasions. It is a very watchable movie, for sure. Every time I see that final scene with Shane riding off into the night, the blood stain from a gut shot seemingly ever growing.on the waist of his rawhide shooter's jacket, I find myself wondering...'has that shootist participated in his last gunfight?' I suspect he has and I like to think it is by choice that he does so! Thanks for another great review. ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I've enjoyed watching Shane in it's entirety at least a couple of times and have caught clips of the movie on countless occasions. It is a very watchable movie, for sure. Every time I see that final scene with Shane riding off into the night, the blood stain from a gut shot seemingly ever growing.on the waist of his rawhide shooter's jacket, I find myself wondering...'has that shootist participated in his last gunfight?' I suspect he has and I like to think it is by choice that he does so! Thanks for another great review. ;)
I agree, I think the point is he's done - there's nothing left for him in life with his past - and his exit was saving the settlers.

And thank you for the kind compliment.
 

Corcovado

Senior Member


I watched a movie this week from 1977 called "Rolling Thunder." It stars William Devane, and features a young Tommy Lee Jones in a supporting role. Kind of an odd and sad movie, and honestly not as action packed as the title might suggest, but I enjoyed it.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator


I watched a movie this week from 1977 called "Rolling Thunder." It stars William Devane, and features a young Tommy Lee Jones in a supporting role. Kind of an odd and sad movie, and honestly not as action packed as the title might suggest, but I enjoyed it.
Interesting twist on a theme. At first I assumed the film title referred to Operation Rolling Thunder, a series of air strikes carried out by the magnificent B52 air frame, BUFF's (Big Ugly Fat Fellows) against North Vietnamese targets, dropping more than 860,000 tons of bombs and killing more than 52,000 North Vietnamese. The B52 has been in service since 1955, still serving the defensive needs of this beloved Country of ours, flying cautionary "Don't Tread on Me" missions as recently as this month in the mid-east to put Iran on notice to be careful with the games they have been playing. They just don't make em like the B52 anymore. ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
rear-window-1954-jeff-jefferies-lisa-carol-fremont-stella-camera-hd-grace-kelly-james-stewart-...jpg

Rear Window from 1954 with James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr

The joy in watching a classic like Hitchcock's Rear Window for the fifth or sixth time in over a few decades - away from it just being a darn good movie - is focusing on things other than the main plot. This time, for me, it was Grace Kelly, someone eminently easy to focus on.

Surprisingly not stuck in my memory from prior viewings is that Kelly is pursuing a proposal from James Stewart, real hard, and he's resisting, real hard. He's on the far side of middle aged and she's Grace freakin' Kelly in her ethereal prime. Plus he's a just-getting-by photojournalist and she's a model and Park Avenue regular.

Yet, these two acting pros have you believing that she's willing to humble herself time and again before him and he genuinely doesn't want to get married to her, despite, shall I say it again, she's Grace freakin' Kelly. He doesn't believe she could adjust to his hardscrabble, adventure-driven lifestyle.

As difficult as it is to imagine ever feeling bad for Grace Kelly (or Tom Brady), you do feel bad for this prepossessingly gorgeous, but still rejected woman who tries everything including even bringing, unannounced, an overnight bag to win Stewart over.

To be clear, that's Grace Kelly saying she's here to have sex with you. Yet, while the rest of the male population would spontaneously combust at this point, he just sees her as a pretty thing that won't fit into his peripatetic and dangerous photojournalist life. It's not lighthearted, as you can feel her hurt.

Most of this happens before the main story really gets going. So, while you initially feel bad for Kelly, by the time you're considering that Stewart's neighbor may have killed his wife and might now be cutting up her body in the bathtub so that he can carry it out in several trips in a suitcase, Kelly's woes seem less important.

However, none of the Kelly-Stewart relationship stuff even stayed with me from the prior times that I've seen this one, as the main story is that gripping: Stewart, recovering from a broken leg, innocently watching his neighbors out the window, starts to suspect something is very wrong.

The voyeurism by proxy is delicious and when we, like Stewart, begin to distrust the neighbor, your mind is completely occupied sifting through clues everywhere. Even Kelly, unconvinced of Stewart's suspicions at first, has a wonderfully acted epiphany moment where you see her facial expression go from dismissal to dread in an instant.

Aided by his nurse and super-talented actress Thelma Ritter, Stewart and Kelly are in full amateur-detective mode, especially when Stewart's police inspector friend, Wendell Corey, all but ignores Stewart's importuning him to investigate. Neatly tying the two plot threads together, the climactic scene has immobile Stewart watching his presumed-precious girlfriend scale fire escapes and heroically confront a murderer to prevent his attempted getaway.

It is a heck of an effort even for Hitchcock as it all takes place on one set - a busy multi-apartment-building courtyard during a hot summer where everyone's shades are up, windows are open and lives are on display. Ranking Hitchcock films is hard, but Rear Window, with Grace Kelly believably suffering unrequited love and a man in a wheelchair solving a murder mystery from his living room window, is pretty impressive stuff even for the master director.

unnamed-23.jpg
 

TKI67

Advanced Member
View attachment 55621
Rear Window from 1954 with James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr

The joy in watching a classic like Hitchcock's Rear Window for the fifth or sixth time in over a few decades - away from it just being a darn good movie - is focusing on things other than the main plot. This time, for me, it was Grace Kelly, someone eminently easy to focus on.

Surprisingly not stuck in my memory from prior viewings is that Kelly is pursuing a proposal from James Stewart, real hard, and he's resisting, real hard. He's on the far side of middle aged and she's Grace freakin' Kelly in her ethereal prime. Plus he's a just-getting-by photojournalist and she's a model and Park Avenue regular.

Yet, these two acting pros have you believing that she's willing to humble herself time and again before him and he genuinely doesn't want to get married to her, despite, shall I say it again, she's Grace freakin' Kelly. He doesn't believe she could adjust to his hardscrabble, adventure-driven lifestyle.

As difficult as it is to imagine ever feeling bad for Grace Kelly (or Tom Brady), you do feel bad for this prepossessingly gorgeous, but still rejected woman who tries everything including even bringing, unannounced, an overnight bag to win Stewart over.

To be clear, that's Grace Kelly saying she's here to have sex with you. Yet, while the rest of the male population would spontaneously combust at this point, he just sees her as a pretty thing that won't fit into his peripatetic and dangerous photojournalist life. It's not lighthearted, as you can feel her hurt.

Most of this happens before the main story really gets going. So, while you initially feel bad for Kelly, by the time you're considering that Stewart's neighbor may have killed his wife and might now be cutting up her body in the bathtub so that he can carry it out in several trips in a suitcase, Kelly's woes seem less important.

However, none of the Kelly-Stewart relationship stuff even stayed with me from the prior times that I've seen this one, as the main story is that gripping: Stewart, recovering from a broken leg, innocently watching his neighbors out the window, starts to suspect something is very wrong.

The voyeurism by proxy is delicious and when we, like Stewart, begin to distrust the neighbor, your mind is completely occupied sifting through clues everywhere. Even Kelly, unconvinced of Stewart's suspicions at first, has a wonderfully acted epiphany moment where you see her facial expression go from dismissal to dread in an instant.

Aided by his nurse and super-talented actress Thelma Ritter, Stewart and Kelly are in full amateur-detective mode, especially when Stewart's police inspector friend, Wendell Corey, all but ignores Stewart's importuning him to investigate. Neatly tying the two plot threads together, the climactic scene has immobile Stewart watching his presumed-precious girlfriend scale fire escapes and heroically confront a murderer to prevent his attempted getaway.

It is a heck of an effort even for Hitchcock as it all takes place on one set - a busy multi-apartment-building courtyard during a hot summer where everyone's shades are up, windows are open and lives are on display. Ranking Hitchcock films is hard, but Rear Window, with Grace Kelly believably suffering unrequited love and a man in a wheelchair solving a murder mystery from his living room window, is pretty impressive stuff even for the master director.

View attachment 55622
A favorite movie of ours, the notion of having Grace Kelly after you and not yielding is sci-fi at its finest.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
A favorite movie of ours, the notion of having Grace Kelly after you and not yielding is sci-fi at its finest.
At one point (all in fun), my girlfriend (who knows I'm a huge Grace Kelly fan) asked if I would cheat on her with GK, to which, without missing a beat, I told her I'd have sex with Grace Kelly right in front of her. To which, she responded without missing a beat, "yeah, I get that."
 
Last edited:

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
SlightlyDangerous6.jpg

Slightly Dangerous from 1943 with Lana Turner, Robert Young, Walter Brennan and May Whitty

This one proves the value of stars, a view shared by its studio MGM, famous for claiming to have "more stars than there are in heaven." Take away the famous and talented actors in this one and you have, well, not much here but a very silly story.

Small-town girl Lana Turner, bored with her shopgirl job and going nowhere, moves to a big city without much of a plan. Once there, and adumbrating, by a decade, Judy Holiday in It Should Happen to You, she spends a chunk of her small funds on a glamorous makeover (I thought she looked cuter pre makeover). Then, through a series of happenstances that only make sense in the mind of a screenwriter, Turner ends up faking amnesia in order to be mistaken for the long-lost daughter of a millionaire - uh-huh.

And while that crazy plan, surprisingly, is working, her former hometown boss, Robert Young, comes looking for Turner as he needs to prove he didn't drive her to suicide, which is what most of her old town believes happened to her - uh-huh, again. But Young's presence and persistence in Turner's big-city life threatens her with exposure and the loss of her new wealthy family.

Most of the rest of the movie is Young trying to get Turner to admit her real identity even as a romance sparks between the two. Meanwhile, Turner tries to keep the lost-daughter charade going, especially as she and her new family, including father Walter Brennan and governess May Whitty, begin to form a real bond.

Sometimes movies are less silly on screen than they sound...not this one. You've probably figured it out already, but the plot is nothing more than a reason to give Lana Turner, rocking her famous "sweater girl" figure, a vehicle to advance her career. To that end, it was probably successful as it is mildly entertaining because of its deep pool of MGM acting talent and Turner's look-at-me body. If nothing else, Slightly Dangerous justified MGM's belief in its star system.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Last evening the wife and I watched our recently acquired copy of the Rear Window DVD. This was a colorized version and frankly I prefer watching the movie in black and white...it shows to better effect that way! ;)
So here's something funny. Growing up in the '70s, I watched all these old movies in B&W because I watched them on a '50s-era B&W TV.

Later on in life, it was funny to see that some where actually made in color. It also got confusing when, for awhile, "colorizing" was a thing.

Like you, I originally thought "Rear Window" was a B&W movie, but it was actually filmed and shown in color right from the start.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
So here's something funny. Growing up in the '70s, I watched all these old movies in B&W because I watched them on a '50s-era B&W TV.

Later on in life, it was funny to see that some where actually made in color. It also got confusing when, for awhile, "colorizing" was a thing.

Like you, I originally thought "Rear Window" was a B&W movie, but it was actually filmed and shown in color right from the start.
My friend, you are one of the AAAC membership, from whom I am always learning something new. Thank you for that! ;)
 
Your email address will not be publicly visible. We will only use it to contact you to confirm your post.

IMPORTANT: BEFORE POSTING PLEASE CHECK THE DATE OF THE LAST POST OF THIS THREAD. IF IT'S VERY OLD, PLEASE CONSIDER REGISTERING FIRST, AND STARTING A NEW THREAD ABOUT THIS TOPIC.