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JonnyGeetar

Seeing Something Where There's Nothing: The Song of Bernadette

47 posts in this topic

I live in the Headlands, not the Heartlands... :)

Ann Arbor is so liberal, that Republicans are almost extinct here. The few that have survived, now call themselves Dems on the ballot. They've evolved camouflage... :D

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:^0

 

"Camouflage" ya say, huh VX???

 

Well, you DO know, don't ya, that that there word is(OH MY GOD!) French?!

 

And you know how "THOSE people" are, DON'T CHA???!!!

 

:^0

 

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HEY now, Charlotte! Are you tryin' to talk like I've VERY recently heard how "those people" talk in Michigan???

 

(...specifically the Ann Arbor area!)

 

;)

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Sorry, Jonny, but I totally disagree. I hadnt seen the film in many years and just loved it. (Maybe being an ex-Catholic helps) I thought Jennifer was wonderful and totally deserved the award. Maybe they overdid the Supporting Nominations, but Gladys certainly deserved hers......

 

I read somewhere that Linda Darnell played Mary (LOL).......

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> {quote:title=gomarx wrote:}{quote}Geez, Geetar your critique of this film is a bit overbearing.Me thinks your liberal slip is showing.

oh pthhhhpt!

 

First off, one can have issues with the mechanics of a film and with someone's performance without dragging one's political persuasions into it. Secondly, whilst I like to keep the subjects of politics and faith as seperate as is humanly possible, I think both have one big thing in common: feel free to disclose the depth and direction of your own faith and opinions, but please don't presume to know what other people believe in and/or stand for and/or the depths and sincerity of those beliefs and how said beliefs influence the way they see something.

 

Bernadette was, at best, okay. Three out of four stars- could have been a lot shorter, should have been in color, would have been more effective with a French cast (get why it wasn;'t though) and would have been better with an actual 18(?) year old in the role instead of Jennifer Jones, who as aforementioned, I love as an actress, but feel that her performance completely lacked depth of any sort whatsoever. I also felt like the sets were lacking, it's no big deal, certainly a small part of the production, but yes- it gave the sense that the whole thing was being done on a soundstage in Century City (of course, I have this same issue with a lot of Fox Films, their art department just couldn't measure up to the grandiose feel over at MGM and Warner's.)

 

My gripe about what I saw in the film as a flaw in their VIVID DEPICTION of Bernadette's vision is specifically because I am a person of faith, who admires faith in others, and really wish the filmakers had given a little credit to the faith of the audience.

 

My post was solely about the film and how I thought it could have been a lot better- it has nothing to do with whether or not I believe young Bernadette actually saw anything on that day in Lourdes. The title of the post was solely about how the film went over gangbusters in 1943 and got a lot more praise than I (and others) feel it deserved, looking back with the distance of time.

 

I am reminded somewhat of a post I did a while back in the Films and Filmakers forum about how I had just seen The Exorcist for the first time and how I thought it was a ridiculous, awful movie. All sorts of people replied with tongue-clucking and head wagging, informing me how I did not see the magnificent, eloquent horror of this goofy movie simply because I was not a member in the Catholic Club...If indeed that is the case, then never have I been more grateful got my nice, quaint, "let's leave after communion because we have a noon reservation at the club" Episcopalian upbringing.

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>I wish they had not shown us "the vision." What was the problem with asking THE AUDIENCE to suspend THEIR disbelief and/or make THEIR OWN assumptions as to what Bernadette saw?

 

And that's exactly what's wrong with the movie. Franz Werfel's foreward to his novel (reproduced at the beginning of the film) states "For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible; for those who do believe, no explanation is necessary" (certainly a nice turn of phrase, and applicable to a great many things).

 

Everyone in the film scoffs at Bernadette's account of her vision; most are brought around to her view, either by the appearance of the unexplained (the miraculous), or Bernadettte's suffering adherence to that account as she's devoured by cancer.

 

Unlike the characters in the story, the [/i]audience[/i], are already privy to her version of events, so there's no room for doubt or debate. Bernadette's vision is what she says it is from the moment we see it (reinforced by Fox's decision to cast the more-than-comely Linda Darnell as the Virgin Mary). The movie gives us absolutely no opportunity to make up our minds and see the progress of events as everyone in the film does.

 

That's cheating, plain and simple. It's a fait accompli (in keeping with the French character of the story). When Vincent Price's characters scoffs time and again, what can any of us do except think, "We know what you don't, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah." In many ways, then, the tack the film takes is counterproductive to its aims: there's an undercurrent of resentment toward a movie (and, by extension, the religion it's promoting -- that blatant promotion being part of the problem -- that seems to have so little faith in its own message that it feels it necessary to cook the cinematic and dramatic books.

 

 

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Hi jonny,

 

It is common in movies to show the audience what only one of the cast members in the movie can see, which other cast members in the movie can't see. Such as in THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR.

 

It wouldn't make for much of a movie if we just saw and heard Mrs. Muir talking all during the movie, if we didn't see and hear the ghost talking to her.

 

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kwZO0O9p29g/TFWc43PcXBI/AAAAAAAAAT4/ca-XS0STWIw/s1600/muir.jpg

 

And we all saw what Shirley Temple saw when Cary Grant turned into a knight in shining armor in THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY SOXER. Nobody else saw that image but Shirley, us in the audience, and later her sister saw it too. :)

 

http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lp1r4hCOOd1qhpmnao1_500.jpg

 

And I can't imagine any of the TOPPER movies if we couldn't see the ghosts like Topper could see them. Only we and Topper saw them, and the films wouldn't make any sense if the audience couldn't see them too.

 

I know people who believe in ghosts, and I know people who don't believe in ghosts. A lot of people who don't believe in ghosts enjoy the Mrs. Muir and Topper movies very much.

 

The Bernadette movie very cleverly handled the belief and non-belief situation this way:

 

For skeptics in the audience, the wild rose bush FAILED to bloom in February. There was NO spring until Bernadette dug one out at the base of the cliff. And that DEAD baby that was revived by being plunged into that very cold spring water... the screenwriters made it very clear that the shock of the cold water might have been what revived and saved the kid, who might have not been dead at all but only in a coma. The guy with the one blind eye CLAIMED he could see again with that eye, although the local doctor said the eye looked just as damaged to him as it did before the blind man claimed he could see out of it again, and the film NEVER proved that he could see out of it again.

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What kind of depth can you bring to the role of a poor, peasant girl?? Did you want her to speak in tongues or what? I felt she played the part the only way it could be played.. She was pure, innocent and believed in her vision..... I bought her performance totally. As if she walked in from the 19th century countryside.....

 

Edited by: Hibi on Feb 22, 2012 3:31 PM

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LOL, Fred. I wondered about that rose bush. I never saw it blooming after that!

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}What kind of depth can you bring to the role of a poor, peasant girl?? Did you want her to speak in tongues or what?

So are you saying that poor peasant girls are shallow, depthless, vapid creatures? (I know you're not.) As to JJ speaking in tongues, well, that would have been fabulous but no...

 

First off: I like JJ very, very much. In the annals of Great Hollywood Actresses her name has always been left out- I think largely because she was seen as "Selznick's girl" who made a Katie Holmes-like Faustian bargain, selling out her husband (the doomed Robert Walker) and having a career handed to her on a platter (the ostensible deal worked out better for Jen-Doll than poor Kate, at least thus far.) I'm not saying this is the truth, mind you, only the perception.

 

I put this last tidbit out of my mind as I watched Bernadette, although it is an interesting irony- that the saintly Bernadette pulled a fast one and succeeded Irene Mayer as the next Mrs. David O. doubtlessly making some enemies in the process.

 

I have always been intrigued by how JJ was summarily dismissed by Hollywood once her relationship with David O. ended and her Box Office waned- after the failures of The Barrets of Wimpole Street and Tender is the Night, she was cast aside- appearing in the jaw-droppingly bad Angel, Angel Down We go aka Cult of the Damned and re-emerging in The Towering Inferno- only to be given one of the cruellest, most shocking departure scenes in all filmdom- which ultimately turned out to be a final farewell.

 

One could almost say of her career arc: She was welcomed with red carpet and trumpet fanfare then tossed off a roof some three decades later.

 

I admire JJ because, like Audrey Hepburn 10 years later- she was (more or less) a complete unknown who beat some big established names to win an Oscar. Whereas this has happened other times- Judy Holliday, Shirley Booth and Vivien Leigh come to mind- each of those women did not go on to have major film careers, Holliday and Leigh making only a handful of post-Oscar movies- albeit good ones- and Booth evaporating completely from the scene. JJ could so easily have cracked under the pressure but she didn't, she went on to improve as an actress and make some damn interesting movies for a fifteen year run any performer would envy.

 

She was a beautiful woman and a sexy woman, quite frankly better at being bad than good (check out her great turn in Ruby Gentry next month or Beat the Devil; which TCM will surely re-air soon as it's in the public domain.)

 

Which (finally) brings me to Bernadette. Just as I tried to put the whole Selznick cout d'etat out of my mind as I watched it, I also tried to put JJ's much more successful post- Bernadette performances out. Maybe it is the fact that she's better at playing the innocent-type in Cluny Brown and Portrait of Jennie (AGAIN a child and five years later!) playing young, but managing depth and soul as well; maybe it's that she has more fire in Duel in the Sun and Ruby Gentry, or maybe it's just that- I'm sorry- she's just not fully there in Bernadette.

 

As aforementioned, the scene where she sees the vision (and no, I'm not an expert on acting, silent or otherwise) I just sensed an emptiness. I got nothing then, and nothing for the nest two hours: no life, no fire, no anger, no fear, no indignation, no conviction, no vibrancy, no sense of WHO BERNADETTE WAS.

 

It wasn't a performance, it was sleepwalking. Passionless, heavily sedated, thoroughly milquetoast sleepwalking from start to finish. Of course, it is quite likely this was the director's fault.

 

But like I said, she got better.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 22, 2012 6:00 PM

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Love this movie. I haven't seen it for a long time, so I may not like it as much if I saw it again, but I really enjoyed it when I was a kid and saw it again about 7 or 8 years ago and still liked it a lot.

 

Great supporting cast and a compelling, moving story. I thought Jennifer Jones was very effective, and I remember liking her performance, but I'm not sure I'd give her the Oscar for her performance either. Seemed to me her biggest "challenge" was in maintaining an air of quiet serenity in the face of all the accusations and persecution Bernadette had to put up with.

 

Personally, before the cancer got to me, I'd have belted crabby, creepy old Gladys Cooper one right in the puss. (It could only be an improvement.)

 

Yeah, the movie's probably a little overlong, but, as someone Leonard Maltin) said about it once: "The message of Faith is superbly told."

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No, I just dont see what depth you wanted her to show in this girl. She was just a young, peasant girl. I dont think it's that easy to play simple. (and I dont mean stupid) She captured the serenity and the innocence of the character........

 

 

I will agree with you about her swan song. A rather cruel exit as it turned out...........

 

Edited by: Hibi on Feb 22, 2012 6:21 PM

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*I admire JJ because, like Audrey Hepburn 10 years later- she was (more or less) a complete unknown who beat some big established names to win an Oscar.*

 

I wouldn't say she didn't deserve to win, but a consideration must be made for the power and money of David Selznick PLUS the might and employee votes of 20th-Century Fox in JJ winning that Oscar.

 

*Whereas this has happened other times- Judy Holliday, Shirley Booth and Vivien Leigh come to mind- each of those women did not go on to have major film careers, Holliday and Leigh making only a handful of post-Oscar movies- albeit good ones- and Booth evaporating completely from the scene.*

 

I beg to differ here. Judy Holliday was Columbia's top-ranking female star throughout the 50s (alongside Rita Hayworth from when she returned to films after divorcing the prince-1952- until her next marital problems in the the mid-50s; in the last half of the 50s there was Kim Novak. Holliday had specially tailored vehicles assembled for her due to her continued popularity. She also returned to the stage, and her last movie was a hit version of the musical she had done on Broadway-BELLS ARE RINGING. In the early 60s, her illness lept her from filming, until succumbing to an early death. The point is, after BORN YESTERDAY, she DID go on to have a major film career.

 

Vivien Leigh had immediate hits after GWTW: WATERLOO BRIDGE and THAT HAMILTON WOMAN (or its alternate title). She also did stage productions with her husband Laurence Olivier. It is true that she filmed intermittently later in the 40s, 50s and into the 60s, but between stage work and bouts of illness (mental and otherwise), she kept her career going for over 25 years, mostly important roles in important films, until her death. A quarter of a century of that definitely adds up to a major film career in my book.

 

Shirley Booth, unlike the others, wasn't and KNEW she wasn't glamorous Hollywood material, and chose to focus on Broadway. As a character actress, she knew that leading parts would be in short supply on the big screen. She did do some important film work in the 50s, but that wasn't where her heart was. Then in the 60s, she was the star of a popular sitcom for several seasons, HAZEL, and became a household name. So not being from the usual Hollywood mold limited her, she knew it, and backed off from what probably would never have amounted to a major film career.

 

The main differences between JJ and these three others, was that they had thriving stage careeers in tandem with movies. They ran the gamut from Holliday, who did movies on a regular basis for about 10 years, to Leigh who had larger gaps off the screen, mainly due to stagework, but never lacked for a strong movie role whenever she deigned to do one, to Booth, who wisely focused her talents largely on Broadway. The other main difference was that JJ had Selznick pushing her to be what he saw her to be, the biggest most glamorous movie star EVER.

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On Judy Holliday and Vivien Leigh not having what I would call "significant" film careers:

 

*J'ADORE* Judy Holliday and *J'ADORE* Vivien Leigh. They are about the only two performers I can think of who frankly deserved Oscar nominations for pretty much every screen performance they ever gave (and I honestly mean that, okay, maybe I wouldn't nominate Holliday for Pfft! or Leigh for her pre-GWTW work but pretty much everything else is gold standard.)

 

Yet they made in retrospect very few films. Holliday did only eight(ish) and Leigh was maybe in a dozen- that's not a lot, and nowhere near as many as I WISH they had done. So "not as significant as I would've liked" is better. Both had some troubles and both died tragically young- each allegedly suffering from performance anxiety (of course, what actors don't?)

 

 

In Holliday's case, maybe notsomuch Leigh's, I wonder if maybe that Oscar win her first time at bat contributed somewhat to the anxiety that made her film appearances so few and far between(ish.) I'd hate to think so.

 

 

Shirley Booth is a whole other story altogether, and I SWEAR every time I make even a fleeting mention to Shirley Booth it derails a thread completely. People f**ing love their Shirley Booth and that's fine, I leave it alone.

 

 

(And I don't know why they never show Hot Spell. on TCM.)

 

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 22, 2012 9:56 PM

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I didnt know that about the Gladys Cooper character. According to imdb, the Charles Bickford character died BEFORE Bernadette so that business about the holy card was just a Hollywood touch apparently.

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I'll just add two words to the discussion:

 

ALFRED NEWMAN

 

 

 

 

And, by the way, THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA was filmed in WarnerColor, not Technicolor. The former was not a dye-transfer process.

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If I was sure you had any past posts that nitpicked any nonreligious film as much as you did this one then I will admit my assumption of your motive was strictly as a critic not because of any political persusion. And by the wayI was born and raised on the left coast with no particular religious affiliation.

 

 

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Uhh, excuse me. I'm logging in via a back door, trying to find a way to log in through the front door. Foxfire doesn't help.

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Hi, using a back door again.

 

I've been on the internet for 12 years and I've been on dozens and dozens of message boards.

 

THIS is the ONLY one I've ever had trouble with, and this board will not allow me to log in for several hours of each day now, while I'm using either IE 8 OR Foxfire.

 

So, the trouble is not with me or my computer or my ISP, or with IE 8 or with Foxfire. The problem is here.

 

I might be the only one who has the time to keep trying, and I suspect that other people just give up and go elsewhere. For example Nitrateville.com is beginning to get some TCM board people. Nitrateville leaves members signed in all the time.

 

Fred

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