- The Letter (Jean de Limur)
- The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström)
- Exodus (Otto Preminger)
- Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (Kaneto Shindo)
- Employee’s Entrance (Roy Del Ruth)
- Paisan (Roberto Rossellini)
- Heroes For Sale (William Wellman)
- Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli)
- Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock)
- The Chosen (Joshua Kagan)
1. In All About Eve, at one point Addison DeWitt says:
“I have lived in the theater as a Trappist monk lives in his faith. I have no other world; no other life – and once in a great while, I experience that moment of revelation for which all true believers wait and pray. You were one. Jeanne Eagels another…there are others, three or four. Eve Harrington will be among them. ”
So just who is Jeanne Eagels? I knew the name from a weird Robert Aldrich pseudo-biography starring Kim Novak. Once again, TCM to the rescue! They recently showed one of the handful of films this legendary stage actress made before her death by drug addiction at the age of 39. Interestingly, it is the first film version of W. Somerset Maugham’s story The Letter, which would later be remade as a star vehicle for Bette Davis. This 1929 version is much rougher than the Davis version, the story grittier. As with much of early talking pictures starring stage stars it is, well, stagy. But what a treat to see and hear this theatrical ghost in one of her signature roles. Apparently there is film out there of Eleanora Duse and of course that wacky Queen Elizabeth film with Sarah Bernhardt. This though, was a historical treat.
2. Do we all now agree that, despite his mostly self-created image as a great film director, Otto Preminger really stank? Exodus was torture to sit through. Between the dead camera work and the Actors’ Studio Method crap of Paul Newman I barely got out of it alive.
3. How nice to know that Under Capricorn is not the great failure that Hitchcock lovers paint it to be. It is not a suspense or horror story. It is a romantic historical drama in style of Daphne Du Maurier. It is quite lovely, but I will grant you the experimentation with long takes doesn’t quite work.
4. How did Some Came Running get pitched as a project? I guess it was from a best selling novel by the guy who wrote From Here To Eternity but it is ultimately about nothing, except a lot of really interesting characters in conflict. I guess that should be enough!
5- Please see my post on Heroes For Sale, then please watch this little masterpiece.
6- What a trip down Memory Lane to see The Chosen! I read the book when it came out in 1970 and don’t believe I ever saw the film. A pleasure revisiting this lovely characters as well as the nostalgic look at Brooklyn during WWII and just after.