Archive for the ‘Charles Dingle’ Category

Together Again

11 Feb

Together Again – directed by Charles Vidor. Romantic Comedy. The square mayor of a small town falls apart over the sculptor she hires to make a statue of her former husband. 93 minutes. Black and White. 1944.

Irene Dunne is 46 when she makes this, and Charles Boyer is 45. Those were the days! They had grown-ups in movies.

The title is a publicity scheme to announce the re-mating of the stars of the big women’s weeper Love Story. However, there is a curious lack of oomph between them here. Boyer looks middle-aged, but he is an actor who can rise to any occasion, and he is more acceptable than Dunne, who looks great but lacks the inner-madcap for the role. Charles Coburn is far sexier as the stout cupid leading them on. But then Coburn was one of the great film actors, a performer of admirable technical certainty, natural appeal, and lots of juice.

To play comedy you don’t have to do funny things – Betty Hutton had this. You don’t have to be inherently funny either – Rosalind Russell had this. Although both things are nice, what you have got to have is the inner permission for things to be funny around you – Claudette Colbert had this; so does Clint Eastwood. And Irene Dunne does not. Cary Grant said she was delightfully funny on the set, but on film she seems to be a prig who would really rather be a lady than a woman, a feature we see in Greer Garson and Deborah Kerr.

Irene Dunne (who added an “e” to her last name, perhaps as touch of antique Royalty) was a performer whom the studios thought added “tone” to a picture. But “tone” is at variance with Dunne’s role, which is that of a high profile politician longing to cut up. What you get instead is Helen Hokenson, so there is no possible way an actor opposite her could play sexual attraction in her direction.

She does sing a bit, and Dunne was a true singer and is best when singing, because most honest and simple, for she does care about music, and music is never respectable. Her “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” in Roberta is just lovely. See her in Anna And The King Of Siam. Or see her in George Stevens’ I Remember Mama or his Penny Serenade. In a certain kind of role, she is a seriously dedicated actress and very worthwhile.

The film is beautifully mounted and well constructed, and simply and clearly directed. If you like the old studio, A-movie production values, there is much to enjoy here, for they, more in black and white movies than in color movies, tell the story as much as the script tells it.

Why is that?

Because black and white engages one’s narrative imagination and color supplants it.


The Talk Of The Town

10 Jul


The Talk Of The Town – directed by George Stevens. Comedy Of Justice. An escaped prisoner hides out in the summer home of a famous law professor, and both fall for their landlady. 118 minutes Black and White 1942.


I laughed a lot and I loved it. Grant is really good as a lower class type  (which is what he was), a rabble-rouser, a trouble-maker, and general bad boy from the other side of the tracks. He is sly and outspoken and not a gent – but bright and seeking justice. The great matinee idol Ronald Coleman plays the academic legal wizard in whose house he takes secret refuge. And Jean Arthur is the befuddled landlady. She’s just wonderful – exasperation was her comic specialty. As a comedy, like all comedies, the script has a serious center (for a dramatic version of the story see Lang’s Fury), and the legal eagle and the con become friends and expatiate on the law. The film is beautifully shot and the supporting people are first class: the great Glenda Farrell once again as the town floozy, Edgar Buchanan as the foghorn voiced lawyer pal of Grant, Charles Dingle as the contriving factory owner. The themes continue on into A Place In The Sun and Shane. It is, as are most of Stevens’ films, a story of values – not American values, but values in a broader sense, such as, in this case, fairness in love and law. But all this Stevens is able to weave back and capture us by a small town American flavor, the familiar collisions of Main Street, the flimsy bias of free people, the barking of dogs on a hot summer night under the elms. He had a genius for it. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

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