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Archive for the ‘Evelyn Keyes’ Category

Gone With The Wind

08 Sep

Gone With The Wind – Directed by George Cukor, Victor Fleming, Sam Wood, Alfred Hitchcock. Drama. A selfish misguided flirt becomes a misguided survivalist. 220 minutes Color 1939.

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It is the greatest movie ever made– because of its generosity of spirit. Everyone who made it hated everyone else who made it, and everyone hated David O. Selznick who produced it, produced it in the sense that he himself made it, and remade it, to his exact and exacting specifications. He was a terrible intruder, interloper, interferer, and one longs to know which particular details he interfered with. Perhaps and probably all details. I saw it when it came out. White dishes with red borders were the door prizes, given out in intermission at the Roosevelt Theatre in Flushing, now no longer existent. My mother took us, and I was restless; I was six. On its re-release I saw it, and was mightily moved. I thought it was the story of Melanie Wilkes. I took myself to be that devoted soul, though I lacked the deep kindness. I was more like Oona Munson as Belle Watling. Later on when I saw it, I realized it was the story of Scarlett O’Hara. The part is perfectly cast, because Vivien Leigh had a divinity’s charm, the inner hellcat, the greed for life’s rewards, and the daring to go for them, and it is her greatest screen work. Scarlett seizes other people’s property to gain her ends, and she is perfectly matched in this by Selznick himself. We hand it to Scarlett on the grounds of her sheer vivacity. And we never blame her. Why? Because she represents the triumph of what, despite our failings and meanness, we all deserve and what we will sacrifice for it. Scarlett is an accomplishment, Vivien Leigh’s performance is an accomplishment, and the film is an accomplishment, and it is all the same accomplishment, and that remains stirring to this day. The production is splendid. William Cameron Menzies sets, Jack Cosgrove’s backgrounds, Max Steiner’s moving score – all are exemplary, as are the pens of those responsible for its screenplay, Sydney Howard, Ben Hecht, Oliver Garrett and others. Olivia de Haviland wept selfishly at the Oscars when her Melanie lost to the first black actor ever to win an acting award, Miss Hattie McDaniel, who is tops. Everyone is at their best except Leslie Howard who, as an actor, in fact actually appears to be the milksop someone accuses Ashley Wilkes as being. And, above all, if he is forgotten for every other picture he ever made, he will be known and remembered perfectly for the part which captures his humor, his great charm, his mountainous masculinity, his physical beauty, his irresistible sexiness, and his great skill as an actor – in the part of Rhett Butler — Clark Gable.

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Desperadoes

01 Mar

Desperadoes – directed by Charles Vidor – Western. A former gunman tries to go straight. 86 minutes color 1943.

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Desperadoes is a curious name for this un-desperate story. We have the always-dubious presence of the inestimable Edgar Buchanan with his sly eyes and crumbly voice. Which centralizes the picture as a musical comedy, especially in view of the gaudy women’s costumes, worn elegantly by Claire Trevor and Evelyn Keyes. However, young Glenn Ford plays a hell-bent gunman. His sidekick is called Nitro because he is always blowing up places unexpectedly, and this comic personage takes the edge off how seriously we should take Glenn Ford’s plight. Randolph Scott gives us another of his easy gentlemanly sheriffs, but his role is submerged by the attention afforded Ford. Scott is never out of humor, and even stranded in the desert, he meets with his rescuer with blithe nonchalance. Charles Vidor directed this pleasant mishmash, and the Technicolor is beautiful; Technicolor was notorious difficult to use; this was the first Technicolor film Columbia released. There is a splendid wild horse stampede and some sensational chases through what is supposed to be Utah and may indeed be so. There is a funny dustup in a saloon — twice — and a comic bartender. Let’s see. What else? If Cyd Charisse had played the Claire Trevor part, and if Jane Powell had played the Evelyn Keyes parts and if Ford and Scott could sing, and if Edgar Buchanan could dance — nothing else would be needed to bring this do-dad into the classic western musical category, if such a category actually exists.

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