A Double Life

Hollywood’s penchant for picking away at the veneer of its own glamorous facade to steal a furtive glance at the preening, grasping and backstabbing that lies beneath has been noted before. It tends to be fascinating, to this viewer at least, to watch people indulge in this type of cathartic soul-baring. A Double Life (1947) offers a variation on this theme, inviting us not only backstage on Broadway to peer behind the greasepaint of the performers, but drawing us deep into the soul and psyche of that master of duality, the actor. And in this case, it’s a journey into darkness indeed.

How does one go about describing a man, catching the essence of the person concisely? There are people who seem to be the epitome of simplicity itself, engendering responses from those around them to the effect that he’s a great guy, or perhaps not such a great guy. Sometimes there is a general consensus on this point. Then again, many a man is a much more complex proposition, a walking cocktail of positive and negative characteristics where the question of whether or not he’s a right guy is wholly dependent  on the opinions and experiences of the person one happens to ask. Anthony John (Ronald Colman) is an actor and is also an example of the complexity I referred to. The sense of the dual nature of man is apparent right from the beginning in both visual and narrative terms. He is first presented in the lobby of the theater where his latest successful play is running and he is caught in a brief pose in front of a portrait of himself, looking over his own shoulder in a sense, and this is then reinforced as he strolls through the city on his way to see his agent, provoking varying reactions from the individuals he encounters, some of whom sing his praises while others are somewhat less flattering.

He is about to be offered the role of Othello, one he has shied away from in the past but the allure is to prove too powerful to resist on this occasion. His ex-wife Brita (Signe Hasso) is to play the part of Desdemona, and all of this prompts hesitation and trepidation. This legally estranged couple remain close, Anthony is still in love and Brita, though more cautious and reluctant to expose herself to hurt, clearly retains feelings too. Obviously, there is the potential for two people working together under such circumstances to get swept along, or even carried away, by their passions. Initially, Anthony busies himself with rehearsals and a casual fling with a smitten waitress (Shelley Winters) but as the success of the production grows and the run is extended he  finds himself drawn more and more to Brita. All well and good, but the fact is this man is known to be an actor who throws himself body and soul into his characters and that’s not good news when he starts to suspect Brita of being in love with press agent Bill Friend (Edmond O’Brien). Slowly, he finds himself identifying more and more with the murderous jealousy of the man he has been portraying night after night on stage.

Frankly, I don’t readily associate George Cukor with films noir, although he did make a few movies which to a greater or lesser extent drifted in that direction, such as A Woman’s Face, Keeper of the Flame and Gaslight. However, A Double Life heads determinedly down those half-lit byways of the human psyche, aided enormously by the rich, shadow-laden cinematography of Milton Krasner. While there is no shortage of talent among the principal players the quality of those behind the camera is every bit as impressive and the presence of such depth and experience adds immeasurably to the finished picture. Besides Cukor and Krasner, the writing of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, the lush scoring of Miklós Rózsa, and the editing of future director Robert Parrish all contribute to what is an undoubtedly classy production.

Ronald Colman won the Best Actor Oscar, as well as a Golden Globe, for his work in A Double Life, which I feel was well deserved. It’s a complex and challenging role, and it’s to Colman’s great credit that he embraces its inherent melodrama and plays it with resolute conviction and the type of sensitivity that is vital in retaining the sympathy of the viewer. After all, he is breathing life into a character who in less capable hands could so easily alienate the audience. I’m reminded of something I once read by the critic Ian Cameron in relation to the viewer’s identification or sympathy with noir protagonists. As I recall, he spoke about both the comfort and discomfort this can provoke in the audience. We get drawn in by those characters for whom we can feel some affinity, those whose positive qualities are clear to see and are more than simply cardboard heroes or villains. Still, when they are at best ambiguous or at worst outright criminals then there is an undeniable sense of discomfort on our part too; we don’t really want to find ourselves sympathizing or identifying with such types, and when we have been manipulated into that position the duality that characterizes the better, or more nuanced, films noir becomes apparent. As viewers, our comfort and discomfort (and perhaps the ethical no man’s land in between) is a reflection of the movies’ blending of light and dark, of its frequent sallies into the murky grey areas of moral ambivalence.

A Double Life has a tight core cast with Colman obviously remaining the focal point of it all. Signe Hasso gets across the conflicted feelings of her character effectively and brings the audience along with her. Her continued love for he ex is apparent as are the reservations she has about allowing those now dormant emotions to be awakened. The delicate balance of such contrasting desires can be tricky to convey successfully but Hasso remains convincing throughout, this emotional tightrope walk as well as her portrayal of Desdemona in the drama within the onscreen drama acting as another example of the ever present theme of duality.

Shelley Winters turns in another solid performance as the earthy and ultimately tragic waitress. It’s not a big part in terms of screen time but it is pivotal and Winters handles it well. I know that in the past I wasn’t so taken with her work but with some recent viewings I find I’m increasingly impressed. Edmond O’Brien makes yet another appearance in yet another noir. He is good enough here, but it has to be said the part doesn’t offer him as much as some others he was doing around this time. Still, what he does is fine and his presence is always welcome.

A Double Life has been given a Blu-ray release in the US by Olive, but I’ve been making do with my old DVD so far. This is a beautifully shot movie that oozes the noir visual aesthetic while the tragic conflict at the heart of the story anchors it firmly in the choppy waters of dark melodrama. This is a very polished production and one which I find repays repeated viewings.

90 thoughts on “A Double Life

  1. Great piece Colin. One need only compare Colman in RANDOM HARVEST (a crackpot film I love) to see what a classy and well thought-out film this is. Winters is always good in these roles but my goodness she got cast as the downtrodden victim or “other woman” a lot around this time!

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  2. Colin

    Excellent write up.. Only seen parts of this over the years so I need to sit myself down and watch it from the start. My Colman jacket is rather threadbare with just LOST HORIZON, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA and TALE OF TWO CITIES having been seen.

    Gord

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  3. William Smith, R.I.P.
    Film tough guy William Smith has passed at 88. Motorcycle nasties, western tv series, LARADO, Eastwood movies etc. A big dangerous looking man with over 300 screen and television credits.

    Gord

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  4. As Colin mentioned, there’s a formidable array of talent on both sides of the camera that contributed to the production of a “Double Life”. One additional name that caught my attention in the opening credits was Walter Hampden, the great American stage actor who played Hamlet three times on Broadway. He apparently coached Ronald Coleman in playing Othello. I mainly know Hampden from his role in the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” where he played the evil Frollo’s (Cedrick Hardwicke) kindly brother.

    Coleman is brilliant as Anthony John (aka as “Tony”), an actor afflicted with mental illness who plummets into madness (Tony, on the other hand, is a lousy Othello but this is actually a tribute to Coleman’s uncanny performance). Shelly Winters is outstanding in her small but important role. I too used to be annoyed by Ms. Winters, especially as she aged, but there’s no denying her earlier accomplishments. While she was typecast as the frumpy, cloying sad sack who wound up getting murdered (“The Night of the Hunter”) or was driven to her death (“A Place in The Sun”, “Lolita”) by the man with whom she is in love, she nonetheless performed marvelously in those roles. I also admired Signe Hasso’s performance. I wish she had been given more challenging roles like Brita / Desdemona and had become a bigger star

    Alas, I had problems with “A Double Life” and I lay the blame on Kanin’s and Garson’s screenplay. I understand that “A Double Life” is not a production of “Othello” and should not be strictly judged in comparison to Shakespeare’s tragedy. Nonetheless, the screenwriters chose to use the story of Othello as the conceit that drives the story. The problem is that they make the classic error of telling us what’s going on instead of showing us. This problem arises from the fact that they’ve eliminated Iago – there’s no “Othello” without Iago. Some people think he is the most important character in the play (certainly he is the most interesting). By removing Iago as an agent provocateur, Kanin and Garson remove the catalyst for Tony’s sin and self-destruction. Instead, insanity becomes the sole rationale for his actions. So, we have him hearing voices and hallucinating immediately after the opening night of “Othello”. Notice that I said above that Tony “plummets” into madness. There’s no gradual descent, no enticement or seduction by a tempter who places the seed of jealousy in his mind. What explains his jealousy toward Bill (Edmond O’Brien)? Well, the screenwriters tell through the mouth of Bill himself, that Tony has a “gift” that allows him to sense that Bill loves Brita. For me, this is a convenient ploy on the part of Kanin and Gordon who fail to show us Tony’s jealousy slowly building to the point of his going mad. O’Brien’s part isn’t really nuanced, so his character doesn’t give many hints that Tony could reasonably churn into jealousy.

    Of course, I admit that Shakespeare himself used ghosts, “voice-overs”, etc. to push some of his plays along, so the screenwriters are using time-honored devices. I just think they were faced with a daunting challenge in chronicling Tony’s fall. I take the side of those characters in the movie who think that AJ was a “stinker” to start with, so I don’t see his fate as “tragedy.”

    But overall, the production of “A Double Life” has plenty going for it and is miles above the run-of-the-mill efforts of the last several decades of cinema output. And, as always, Colin’s essay is a lesson in eloquent and clear writing.

    P.S. – I have seen Orson Welles’ “Othello” which is, in my opinion, a masterpiece of cinema as well as Laurence Olivier’s “Othello” (1965) which, though good, is really a stage play on film. Lastly, I have seen Kenneth Branagh’s “Othello” though, I have to admit, I can’t recall much about it.

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    • You make a very good point here, Frank. You’re better versed in Shakespeare than I – that said, I am familiar with Othello through Welles’ production, and with most of his other plays in one form or another – and I’m glad you picked up on this and expounded on it here. Would it be fair though to argue that Gordon and Kanin weren’t trying to entirely mirror Shakespeare’s work? Could we perhaps say they were using an aspect of the tragedy, the jealousy of the lead, regardless of the source of the response, to highlight a weakness or flaw in the character of their own lead? Are we to view “Tony” as a disturbed individual who is quick to identify with the murderous side of his role and to allow that to influence his actions? Or maybe I’m being too generous.

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  5. Miklos Rozsa won his second Oscar for this film, just a couple of years after “Spellbound,” thus cementing his rise to the top of Hollywood’s musical community. It’s not one of his richest scores but does feature a strong contrast between the modernism of the nightmarish scenes and the stately Venetian airs for the “Othello” production. The latter approach of course prefigures Rozsa’s historical/biblical “epic” period of the 1950s

    Interestingly, he chose the title “Double Life” for his 1982 memoir. Describing the film in his preface, he continues: “In other words, [Tony] allows two quite independent strands of his life to become enmeshed, and tragedy is the outcome. Now this is precisely what I have always been at pains to ensure did *not* happen in the case of my own professional life. My ‘public’ career as a composer for films ran alongside my ‘private’ development as a composer for myself, or at least for non-utilitarian purposes: two parallel lines, and in the interest of both my concern has always been to prevent them from meeting. . . . For me, it was best that they be kept apart. This has been the dominant theme of my creative career, and is therefore the theme of this book.”

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    • Thank you for sharing the composer’s thoughts, not just on the movie in question but on his own approach to his work. I’ll have to admit I’m not as knowledgeable about composers as I ought to be. I will be able to recognize the work of most of the major figures of course, but I don’t know anywhere near as much about how they went about working or what they were aiming for in the way I would were we talking about directors, or actors or writers. Bearing in mind how great their contribution to the whole creative endeavor is, it’s something I should try to rectify.

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    • Miklos Rozsa is one of my favorite composers along with Dimitri Tiomkin, Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman followed by Alfred Newman, Bronislau Kaper, Heinz Roemheld, Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, Leigh Harline, Victor Young, Richard Hageman and so many other composers from the late 30s to the early 60s. Many of these men were born in Europe or were the sons of Eastern European immigrants. My wife never tires of telling me that it is their training in classical music that enriches their scores. Then there are composers whose contributions were not prolific but who nonetheless hit home runs with an individual score: Jerome Morass with “The Big Country” and Leonard Bernstein with “On the Waterfront”. I also love Leonard Rosenman’s first composition for the cinema, “East of Eden”, though he would go on to be active for four decades.

      I guess I favor Rosza’s scores for costume epics like “Ivanhoe”, “Ben Hur”, “King of Kings”, and “El Cid”. “Ben Hur” is among my top film scores of all-time along with the “Big Country”, “On the Waterfront”, “Vertigo”, and “The Song of Bernadette”. I own the scores of “Ben Hur”, “The Big Country” and “Vertigo” on CD and have the suite from “On the Waterfront” on a compilation CD of Berstein’s music. I’ve seen far more movies from the 40s and 50s than from other decades and the music scores are undoubtedly one reason I favor films from this period.

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      • Yes, it’s impossible to overstate how much the emotional tone of a movie is affected and guided by a strong score. And one has only to think of how damaging a poorly thought out piece can be to appreciate how much of a key element we’re looking at here.
        By the way, that’s a fairly comprehensive group of composers you mentioned, to which I’d also like to add the name of George Duning.

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  6. A very well-explored and written piece, Colin. Ronald Colman was, like Herbert Marshall, blessed with a beautiful speaking voice, to my ears at least. Both were very fine actors who were capable of nuanced and textured performances, Marshall very able to turn up on the dark side of things. Colman though also shows his extensive capabilities in “A DOUBLE LIFE” to great effect. It is many a year since I saw this film and I have recently been toying with picking up a copy. That idea now receives acceleration!

    Colin, I won’t add any spoilers either about “RANDOM HARVEST” but I would prompt you to pull it off the shelf. It was, rightly, a successful film.
    Our great Talking Pictures TV channel ran a series of early talkies Colman films and I made a point of watching all of them. It confirmed my opinion of the actor.

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    • Jerry, I watched Random Harvest over the weekend, having been reminded to do so by Sergio’s comments above.
      It is rather wonderful, indulging and exploring the romanticism of the story with a directness that makes implausibilities appear entirely plausible and building up a to an immensely satisfying conclusion. Colman and Garson are both terrific, that slightly bewildered detachment on the one hand playing successfully off the carefully modulated emotions on the other.
      I enjoyed it a lot and am only sorry it took me so long to catch up with it.

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      • I’m so glad you did, Colin, and equally glad you enjoyed it so much. I feel certain Sergio will also be very pleased.

        Excuse me, Colin, if I briefly move ‘off piste’ but I have just bought the BluRay of “RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY” – I know, how did it take me so long!!! Considering I have, perhaps rather unwisely, gone on record here that it is my all-time favourite movie, why not sooner (?)
        It really benefits a lot from high-def compared to my long-owned DVD and I just sat and watched the film all over again. I still feel moved by it. A wonderful story of redemption, self-pride and integrity and the most important factor that it stars probably my two favourite western actors – together.
        PLUS of course the title is the name basis for your great blogsite.

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      • My sentiments exactly relative to Random Harvest, but as the thread is about A Double Life, the only sign of sanity this pretentious idiot had was killing Shelley Winters. Who would not want to do that?

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          • I know, but Barry’s comment made me laugh out loud! I recently watched for the first time a witty thriller from 1949 “TAKE ONE FALSE STEP” with William Powell and enjoyed it very much. But it did strike me that Shelley Winters’ character in it was so awful that if any of the film’s characters DESERVED being bumped off………

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  7. The place A Double Life holds in my movie viewing is one, long ago screening that left a tight feeling in my stomach. Coincidentally, the movie has been on my mind lately and I am past due for a mature viewing.
    Colman is an actor who always feels right for the role I am watching, drama, comedy or adventure. That he is not that man or character I am spending time with at the moment occasionally troubles my mind but we veteran movie fans know how to get rid of that thought. Perhaps I haven’t wanted to spend time with Anthony John, but perhaps I must.

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    • I find it fascinating to ponder how we react to the leads in various movies. The straightforward heroes are easy but far less interesting in this regard. I do think the conflict the more ambiguous types provoke in our minds adds a very satisfying layer to our viewing.

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    • @CaftanWoman…..

      Thank you for your comments. It was particularly interesting to hear your thoughts about the film and how it impacted you regarding it’s main star, Ronald Colman. I’ve always looked upon Colman with highest of esteem, standing at the top of his profession. I have seen all the classics he graced the screen with. He was genuinely unique, his soothing verbal and visual eloquence are legendary. Of course, this was always my perspective of the man and the actor I admired.

      Strangely enough, I had never recollected seeing A DOUBLE LIFE, maybe it was because of the Shakespearean backdrop that failed to interest me. Just after COLIN’s review I gave it a go. It confirmed to me it was indeed the backdrop that must have steered me away, in particular when the theatrics of Othello started. However, I did continue on this time around. After all, the man did receive an Oscar for his performance. A much deserved Oscar it was…..although a good performance, the award seemed to be in recognition for the many fine performances he had accumulated previously. Of course, many may disagree. Continuing on…….at the conclusion of the film I remained disappointed with what I viewed. I just did not care for it. I kept thinking maybe if Hitchcock would have been involved in the Screenplay and Direction he could have turned it into more of a thriller-noir which would improve all elements of the story and it’s portrayal of characters. As it was, I had little sympathy for Anthony John and his troubled life.

      A side note – PAT……… As you stated “Perhaps I haven’t wanted to spend time with Anthony John, but perhaps I must.” So I did view the movie again yesterday. In concluding, the film flowed much easier for me this time around. If I was to rate it……..a 7. My thoughts about Ronald Colman he was good. But, would have preferred someone else to play Anthony John. Although, for the life of me, I can’t think of anyone with the stature of Colman to portray Anthony John……for that matter, who would want to?

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      • Scott,

        IMDB claims that “The role of Anthony John was originally written for Laurence Olivier. Olivier was unavailable when the film finally went into production.” Somehow, I don’t think Olivier would have wanted this role and, as much as I admire him, I’m not sure he could carry it off as well as Coleman did. Ruth Gordon, a friend of Olivier, doesn’t mention it in any of the books she wrote about her life and I don’t see it mentioned in Olivier’s biographies. One role that Olivier might have secured if illness didn’t get in the way was that of Vito Corleone. The Paramount execs lobbied for him. Robert Duval. who saw a filmed screen test of Olivier, said he spoke with a perfectly enunciated Italian accent and had “a sneer on his mouth with happiness in his eye”.

        By the way, there are many biographies and books about movies that can be accessed free on “Internet Archive”. The beauty is that you can search the contents of a book for a word or a phrase.

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        • Hi Frank…….

          I also read that Cary Grant rejected the role because he thought it would tarnish his screen image. Colman wasn’t exactly keen on the idea himself until they dangled the inside track to the Oscar his way.

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          • It’s interesting to consider the roles turned down by actors. A number of American actors turned down the role of Norman Maine in the 1954 version of “A Star is Born” before James Mason accepted the part. They feared playing an alcoholic actor on the downside of his career. I think Alan Ladd made a mistake turning down James Dean’s character in “Giant”. Ladd made a number of forgettable movies after “Shane” and this was his chance to work with George Stevens again. Stevens literally handed him the part. I’ve read that Ladd’s wife, who may have been his agent at the time, was against him taking the part and also that Ladd didn’t want to be third-billed behind Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. I’m not a fan of “Giant” but it might have garnered Ladd an Academy Award nomination. Kirk Douglas turned down the role of Messala in “Ben Hur” because he didn’t want to be a “second-rate baddie.” I thought Steven Boyd was terrific but it’s disappointing to think that Douglas couldn’t accept a supporting role. Mia Farrow turned down the part of Mattie in “True Grit” because Robert Mitchum told her that Henry Hathaway was a cruel taskmaster (he was!). Farrow later expressed regret over her decision. Olivier turned down the part of Col. Nicholson in “Bridge on the River Kwai” because he felt he wasn’t right for the part. The list is endless. Of course, much of the information about who turned down what role is just hearsay.

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            • An interesting set of “what ifs” there.
              By the way, you mentioned Giant, and not liking it. I watched it myself on Blu-ray a while back after not having seen it for a very long time. I found it enjoyable overall. With a production of that scale and ambition, not everything is going to work and there are sections which are not so successful. However, it is visually impressive at all times and some of the sequences are frankly superb.

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          • To add…….now I read this on IMDb, quote…
            “With Laurence Olivier not available for the Anthony John role it was then offered to Frederick March before going to Ronald Coleman.”

            After reading the following I think Fredric March would have been the ideal choice to portray Anthony John, quote…..
            “March’s special ability was to suggest genuine mental pain. As a portrayer of tortured and distressed men, he has no equal. The complete physical control which allows him convincingly to sag, stoop and collapse is assisted by a face suggesting at the same time both intelligence and sensitivity”—Australian-born film historian John Baxter.

            So what was Fredric March doing in 1947? He was appearing in Broadway play “Years ago” (Dec 03, 1946 – May 31, 1947). Was there a connection in being offered the part of Anthony John? Seems possible because both Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin were part of the production team of “Years Ago” and immediately following up with “A Double Life” (June 1947 – September 1947).

            So I will rant on and try to connect the dots…..only guessing mind you. Maybe in very early production we have Kanin Productions and team. First considering the lead going to March, then Olivier with Grant following. Enter George Cukor brought over from MGM by Kanin Productions. Still looking for that leading man, I think it could have very well been Cukor that first considered Colman with further nudging by Academy Hollywood elites. Consequently, any further thoughts about March was now gone. So the dye had been cast, it was going to be Colman and all the necessary shoring up that would follow, i.e. Technical Advisor Walter Hampden for the Othello sequences.

            Just more of my imagination kicking in. Any thoughts folks?

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            • This is not a movie star part, which is one of the several reasons Cary Grant turned it down, a thought I will continue with, and one that is applicable to others.
              Cary Gant, after establishing his film persona in his final Paramount years, and most other actors who were managing a significant career, with notable exceptions, won the girl, and did not die at the film’s conclusion. With an extra anti-Cukor flavor for Grant. In the thirties, he did several films with the director, his least successful, and greatest performance was in Sylvia Scarlet, in which he lived but did not win the girl, losing Katharine Hepburn in drag to a dull Brian Aherne. A year or so later, came Holiday, well-received but also not a success at the cash desk. His final pairing with Hepburn and Cukor was The Philadelphia Story, a great success and the only one of the Grant-Hepburn pairings, including,astonishingly enough, Bringing Up Baby, to be profitable. AFter that, he turned down, a wide array of films for Billy Wilder, including The Major and the Minor, probably because Ginger Rogers had the better part; The Lost Weekend, no drunks or gay characters; Sabrina, who could possibly believe there would be a contest for the love of Hepburn, and finally Love in the afternoon. Cary Grant old? Not on screen, he was in business, and March, Olivier, Colman was not in the movie star business, at least not any longer as quick examination of their post-1948 careers will illustrate.

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                • My favorite Cary Grant performance is that of Devlin in “Notorius”. While still debonair, he manifests cruelty and bitterness toward the woman he has fallen for. It’s a great movie in my book and Grant, Bergman and Rains are all superb.

                  Of course, I love Jonathan Brewster, Roger Thornhill, Sergeant Archibald Cutter, John Robie, and so many others. But Devlin, for me, is his most complex role.

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                  • Grant’s Devlin is quite right to be bitter and angry, his world, and course, is and was filled with nazi vicouenss and weakness in others, represented cleverly by the soft-voiced mother fixated Claude Rains and lovely but foolish Ingrid Bergman. A great concept, performance, and as near reality as Hitch ever came. His later films, with and without Grant are romantic comedies disguised as thrillers, Pyscho the exception, at least of his successes.

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  8. I see that a Dale Robertson film I have never heard of is coming up on cable here. SON OF SINBAD 1955 with Sally Forest, Lili St Cyr, Mari Blanchard and Vincent Price. Any info on it from you good folks? I’m not sure I have ever seen a non-western with Robertson in it.

    Gord

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    • The only non-western with Dale that worked for me, Take Care of My Little Girl, a coming-of-age collegiate story with Jeanne Crain. On a personal note, I would never watch Son of Sinbad with that cast.

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  9. I liked A DOUBLE LIFE, but I liked A WOMAN’S FACE better.

    Now I’ll have to watch RANDOM HARVEST which I’ve never seen.

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  10. Stumbled on to first two season of the Gene Barry series, BURKES LAW on You Tube. Look like they are dvd rips and include the complete seasons.
    The site is LondonHearts16
    First episode guest stars include, Gary Conway, William Bendix, Regis Toomey, Bruce Cabot, JC Flippen, Rod Cameron, Cedric Hardwicke and Stephen McNally. I recall my mother watching this back in the early 60s.

    Gord

    .

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  11. I don’t know if anyone feels the same but I am missing the knowledgable and ‘fun’ input from our good buddy, John Knight, lately. John, if you’re out there somewhere, chum, we need you!

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  12. That’s awful sweet of you Jerry………….. and I might add “look who’s talking”
    Health reasons are keeping me off the blogs these days hopefully I will get hip replacement surgery in the Autumn and in the meantime I’m hopped up on painkillers which generally knock me out. With “the Plague” we never know what’s ’round the corner but my health check at the hospital recently seemed to be positive about surgery late October or early November. I use the communal computer suite in the apartment building where I live but I’m only online perhaps once a week if that either because I’m too tired or it’s too painful to walk.
    Anyway,enough of that,I just ran into anolther Gerry who’s Italian,and one of our brilliant team of in house maintenance guys and had the pleasure of congratulating him on his teams winning the European cup, very well deserved in my opinion.
    As I’ve been nowhere lately except for hospital check up’s I have enjoyed watching all of the Euro matches despite my disgust of the British sub moronic fans-can this country sink any lower. The fact we are pitching for the World Cup in 2030 is a joke it’s just not going to happen. As I mentioned Italy well deserved their win and Denmark SHOULD have won their match-their first goal was the best in the entire tournament. England had a supreme advantage with 65.000 rabid fans in the final matches at Wembly but The Italians overcame all of this, despite our horrible fans; what ever happened to English fair play. Now they are talking about England winning the World Cup next year….it’s not gonna happen folks!

    I recently got the new Blu Ray of LAST TRAIN TO GUN HILL and it’s a doozy! Paramount have done a supreme remastering job on this Sturges
    classic., The disc is region free and apart from a brief Leonard Maltin piece on the film there are several other Paramount trailers. The strikingly shot opening sequence looks sensational in high def as does everything else that follows in this “Greek Tragedy” of a Western there are no winners in this grim frontier saga and Kirk Doiuglas and Anthony Quinn are at the top of their game. Sturges film does have similar elements to Delmer Daves 3.10 TO YUMA and overall in terms of artistic merit I wouild say Daves’ film has a slight edge,but I give the Blu Ray of Sturges film my highest recommendation. Colin,sorry I’ve gone so off topic here (blame Jerry) finally I would like to ask if you have now got an all region Blu Ray player,I ask this because you mentioned you have ordered LARCENY.

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    • John, I sincerely hope the hip problems get sorted out as quickly and successfully as possible – best wishes and positive vibes are on their way to you.

      That’s great to hear about the Sturges film, especially the fact it’s region free. And because of the region coding issue I’ve ordered the DVD version of Larceny, which I think should be with me tomorrow or Saturday at the latest.

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  13. Thanks so much Colin & Barry for your
    kind words-it’s not the operation that worries me it’s
    being on crutches for 6 weeks!
    Actually (if anyone cares) I think the England team are
    certainly talented and developing, if over hyped, and Gareth
    Southgate is a top drawer manager and human being
    it’s just the so called fans that are so horrible.

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      • My wife had a hip replacement 4 years ago and she recovered pretty quickly, John. We would recommend Arnica tablets before, during and after as it aids reducing bruising massively. Then you need to keep up the strengthening exercises regularly after.
        Who knows – in a few months you could be ‘tripping the light fantastic’ and I even might get to see yer ugly mug again if we could meet in London when things are better all round!

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    • John

      I ‘ll chip in here with the others and say it is good to hear from you. I know of what you speak about in the walking department. My knee surgery was delayed last year because of the Covid , Still no word on when they will get to it. In the last year I have went from a cane to a wheeled walker to get around. The pain is shall we say, “less than pleasing”..
      Been many years since I have seen, LAST TRAIN TO GUN HILL. I quite liked it.

      Gord

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My wife had a hip replacement 4 years ago and she recovered pretty quickly, John. We would recommend Arnica tablets before, during and after as it aids reducing bruising massively. Then you need to keep up the strengthening exercises regularly after.
    Who knows – in a few months you could be ‘tripping the light fantastic’ and I even might get to see yer ugly mug again if we could meet in London when things are better all round!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Off-topic, but has anyone hear seen the Chase (1946) with Robert Cummings? I watched it the other night and really enjoyed it. Apparently, the director, Arthur Ripley, doesn’t have an impressive CV but I thought he did a nice job with this noir entry. Great camera work by five-time Oscar nominee Franz Planer. Steve Cochran is a great bad guy who is thoroughly evil and Michele Morgan impresses as his abused wife. I knew the movie had a dream sequence in it, but it took me entirely off-guard which pleased me. There’s a pristine print on Youtube though the sound was soft. Maybe he’s not in league with the heavy hitters we’ve been discussing on this thread, but I like Robert Cummings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I like it too. I think the guys on the Blackboard film noir forum rated it as the most hard-boiled of the various Cornell Woolrich adaptations, a lot of the movies of the author’s works leaning a bit more in the melodrama direction.
      For years The Chase was viewable in rather muddy and murky prints but was then released in a restored version that breathes new life into it. Robert Cummings? I know some find him lightweight and so on but I’ve stood up for him consistently – Hitchcock seemed to like him too. I watched and enjoyed Dieterle’s The Accused recently with a view to writing something on it, which didn’t happen but I may well return to it at some point. It’s Loretta Young’s picture really but Cummings is fine alongside her.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Weekend films
    Just finished the 1955 Fred Sears helmed J. D. film, TEEN-AGE CRIME WAVE.. A bunch of teen-age thugs and their girls kill a cop and go on the run. Tommy Cook, Mollie McCart and Sue England headline. Despite the low budget, veteran B-director Sears keeps it fast moving and violent.-Needless to say it is not difficult to see what will happen to the lowlife types..

    Gord

    Like

    • I’ve been watching some 50 minute episodes of Danger Man – McGoohan was such a watchable presence. I also caught up with a late period gangster effort with Bogart and Kay Francis King of the Underworld, as well as a Hemingway adaptation I hope to feature in the coming week.

      Like

  17. Sunday I took in one of my fav Sci-Fi films, ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS 1964 Former Best Effects and Special Effects man Byron Haskin directs. Gaskin was nominated for 4 effects Oscars before switching to direction. I WALK ALONE, THE FIRST TEXAN, TOO LATE FOR TEARS, TREASURE ISLAND, WARPATH, THE NAKED JUNGLE, DENVER AND RIO GRANDE and WAR OF THE WORLDS are a few of the films he helmed.

    Gord

    Like

  18. I tend to avoid movies directed by George Cukor. He is too much of a summer-stock-theatre director. His movies tend to look like canned theater. Double Life is the exception — it’s a wonderfully stylish piece of post-war noir. And Colman is superb — a case study of method acting going awry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • a case study of method acting going awry
      Very good – I like that phrase.
      On the other hand, I don’t share your dislike of Cukor’s films. Some are more to my taste than others but I admire his versatility – Heller in Pink Tights is a delightfully unusual western, in my opinion, the comedies had class and I feel he brought an intelligent sensitivity to his dramas. That said, if his work doesn’t appeal then it doesn’t, we all react differently to cinema.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cukor is great with actors, but in my opinion, he never really understood the technical aspects of filmmaking (I believe that was the main reason he was fired from Gone with the Wind). For example, My Fair Lady is essentially a photographed stage show (same goes for Philadelphia Story and Born Yesterday). That said, I’ve enjoyed some of his films: A Double Life, A Woman’s Face, Gaslight, etc. (BTW, I liked Heller in Pink Tights).

        Like

          • “I believe you to be with regard to George Cukor 100% wrong.” Maybe. Cukor said many times that the viewer shouldn’t be aware of technique thus his predilection for simple camera set ups and minimum editing. Plus, he insisted that the script and actors should always take priority over anything else. I couldn’t disagree with him more. I guess it is a matter of taste.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Personal tastes play a major part in these matters, I think. If everybody felt the same about everything, it would make conversations intolerably dull, and it would probably mean the work in question was intensely mediocre. A range of reactions never hurt any piece of work.

              Liked by 1 person

          • I wouldn’t take the same line as Eric has on Cukor either, but I also think it’s interesting to hear why someone who isn’t a fan of the man’s work in general finds it unsatisfying. I find that people pointing out what doesn’t do it for them gets me thinking about what I do enjoy.

            Liked by 2 people

          • My Favorite Cukor movies
            (in chronological order):

            Dinner at Eight
            David Copperfield
            Camille
            The Women
            A Woman’s Face
            The Philadelphia Story
            Gaslight
            A Double Life
            Adam’s Rib
            A Star Is Born (1954 version)

            What about you?

            Liked by 1 person

            • The Philadelphia Story, Dinner at Eight and A star is Born, mutilated by Jack Warner, but add for sheer audacity and nuttiness, Sylvia Scarlett, a film that lost a ton of money and was blasted by the critics, nevertheless, it unleashed an original and brilliant Cary Grant, a project that was alternately, or simultaneously, brilliant and annoying A must-see.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Good question, and the always attractive opportunity to compile a list!. There are some overlaps with your picks of course, but I’d go for:

              Dinner at Eight
              The Philadelphia Story
              A Woman’s Face
              Gaslight
              Adam’s Rib
              A Double Life
              Born Yesterday
              It Should Happen to You
              Bhowani Junction
              Heller in Pink Tights

              Liked by 2 people

              • Bhowani Junction, a brilliantly realized film but manipulated in terms of story content by the executive suite. In John Masters original work, the two leads do not get together, but she marries a half-caste like herself. The studio wanted Granger and Gardner together so they killed off the half-caste and left the audience with the hope of a successful interracial love affair, also one in which the lovers looked like classic movie stars. It worked, but it was not Cukor’s or Granger’s view when they signed on, and sophisticated viewers who knew nothing of the novel, could not help but feel something was wrong.

                Liked by 1 person

          • Or any that he did not have complete control of each sequence from a directorial point of view. As for Gone With The Wind, Selznick loved Cukor’s work in the years prior to that production, but the size and investment made him nervous about Geroge’s pace, not within any sequence, but overall. Victor Fleming was a dynamo. He made the lion roar, as has been said. It just happened that Gable preferred Fleming who had directed him in several major successes, but Gable was not instrumental. There is a great book compiled and edited by Rudy Behlmer called Memo from David Selznick. All of the early notes were just brilliant and insightful, but after GWTW David had it in his head to succeed on a broader basis, which, as it turned out, was not a viable motive. In any case, he couldn’t do it.

            Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: The Velvet Touch | Riding the High Country

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