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Archive for the ‘Fay Wray’ Category

Crime of Passion

06 Oct

Crime Of Passion – Directed by Gerd Osward. Murder Drama. A successful newspaper columnist gives up her career to marry a decent chap and finds him unambitious and dull. 84 minutes Black and White 1957.

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Stanwyck is really superb in this picture – and so is Sterling Haydn. There’s a lot of nonsense talk about it’s being film noir. It aint. Film noir depended upon being shot in black and white, and it also depended upon a downbeat and beaten down male character or a ruthless female character as the lead and the sense no one can be trusted. This is not noir. Neither is House Of Bamboo or Clash by Night or a lot of other films talked about as noir. Just because a film is beautifully lit and in black and white does not make it noir. This picture is a good old fashioned woman’s picture – the story of an able and prominent newspaper reporter careerist who falls for a good hearted cop and is driven to distraction by his lack of ambition. The scenes with Raymond Burr are interesting because Burr, who made his career throwing his weight around, is quite sympathetic here. Odd to see it. Barbara Stanwyck is a commanding actress who holds the screen with a minimum of histrionics. She’s older here, but only in years. Her hair was going grey but it looks blond. And her figure is tops. You’ll find it  satisfying to see how many fabulous designer housecoats and negligees can be purchased on an ordinary police detective’s salary. This was Hollywood in the 50s. Fay Wray, Stuart Whitman, and Royal Dano are on hand as well. It’s not noir. It’s pulp. You’ll enjoy it.

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Adam Had Four Sons

31 Jul

Adam Had Four Sons – Directed by Gregory Ratoff. A governess raises four motherless sons happily until one of them marries a minx. 81 minutes Black and White 1941.

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Fay Wray, who plays the mother who dies, said of Bergman, “Her heart was so in the film.  She treated the film as though it were the most important one ever done. I knew this was a girl who had to be an actress or her heart would surely break. She wasn’t working for the money, for fame, for success, even for fun, but because she had to be an actress.” And this Bergman said of herself, and it is certainly to her credit. But it is odd to contemplate how often she was seen as the same sort of actress, that of a stalwart milkmaid who is much put-upon. In role after role this is the character she plays. Ratoff directed her first American film; this is her second; the pattern is in place. And I wonder why? Why did people see only that in her? The role is not an inheritance of the females in film before that, for from Mary Pickford on most major female stars were powerhouses. Bergman, however, is always servile. Her endurance is there to carry her through many reels of her being abused. And her radiant smile is there to attest to her beauty. But just as she is almost always photographed three-quarters from the left, we only see her as hard-done-to, always only Joan of Arc. Here she is quite good in a film that is not. Two sets of four young males clutter up the screen with false exuberance and Warren William presents a stolid bourgeois father for romance. Bergman’s heartfelt relations with the boys is lovely to behold, but the story crumbles through too many of the same ingredients, the last being the introduction of Susan Hayward as a slatternly wife of one of them. She’s full of herself and very good. So is Bergman. You’ve got to hand it to her.  You may lament her casting, but her heart is in it.

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