Archive for the ‘Ronald Reagan’ Category

Tennessee’s Partner

05 May

Tennessee’s Partner. Directed by Allan Dwan. Gold-rush Western. Two men remain loyal to one another despite it all. 87 minutes Color 1955.

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None of the four leads, John Payne, Rhonda Fleming, Ronald Reagan, Coleen Gray, was a movie star in the sense that they alone could carry a picture, nor can they do so collectively. In his later career Disney carried Reagan, who was really a personable actor, with a particular rolling vocal twang, and a bright eye, and an easy-to-look-at face. What carries the picture is our interest in its writing and in its particular eccentricities of casting, for Coleen Gray, always the nice, loyal girl, plays a gold-digging tart, and plays it well. And Rhonda Fleming, that Queen Of The Foundation Garment, a title which ordinarily extended to her face, plays a wised-up madam, and gloms onto the freedom she finds in the writing of the part to make her unusually flexible and easy to take; good for her. The louche John Payne is perfectly cast as the gambler. The film is over-costumed with a vulgarity that only 50s could achieve, but the great John Alton films it all greedily, so why not? The film resembles an earlier better film about homo-loyalty, Canyon Passage, with Brian Donlevy and Dana Andrews as the males. Here, as there, the film is carried by the eccentricities of the writing of a story which is itself conventional, and which therefore lends itself to unorthodoxy in the execution. Unlike Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward, here it is clear that Payne and Fleming are screwing, but Payne remains chastely averse to marriage or even romance. Payne, as always, exudes sexuality, and, as always, Reagan exudes nothing of the kind, so that alone presents an interesting tension between them. There’s nothing much here, but a certain humor, a certain cynicism, and the garishness of all one beholds.



Storm Warning

22 Mar

Storm Warning — directed by Jerry Wald — Drama. On a visit to her younger sister in a small southern town, a woman witnesses a murder that appears to be committed by her brother-in-law.

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What about Ginger Rogers? Was she some good actress or not? Boy she certainly is good here. And set her up against Doris Day and you can see what authority and readiness she had. She was, in Hello Dolly, rumored to be hateful to work with, and she may in her personal life have been humorless. She certainly had that peculiar way of ending her eyebrows at the center with an apostrophe. But what a wonderful chin she had. And she is a slender as can can be. She looks wonderful, and here she is already 39. She’s too classy and smart to be the touring model (as if there ever was such a thing), but one passes that over because of the conviction she gives to all her dramatic work, her simply being in the material, walking through a bowling alley, running in the rain. She was a strong athlete and tennis player, and of course was a national star dancer in her teens, touring and holding her own on Broadway, where she first met Astaire, who helped choreograph one of her shows. She had an acid touch, if needed. And here it works well against Steve Cochran, who is gorgeous, but not really a good enough actor to play the part of someone who is stupid. This required someone like Dan Duryea or Richard Widmark who both played stupid people as though they were canny. Doris Day had no training as an actor, and it always showed, but at least she was always fully invested in what she did, and could turn on a dime and come up with it. Here we also have Ronald Reagan, really quite good as the wised up DA who can’t forge a case against the Klan. He is never without a tipped-back fedora and a slangy approach to the townsfolk, none of whom have Southern accents, if you will. The ending is good. One of Jerry Wald’s social statements, and not a moment too soon. Not a bad picture, not a great one, but with what makes a Star a Star, Rogers is worth the ticket.


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