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I handled Random Harvest (1942) pretty well this time.


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I was decently calm at the end tonight, I'm happy to say.  I normally break up, hating myself.  It's disgraceful.  I mean my breaking up.  Oh, yes, and what the movie does, too.  Shamelessly manipulative.  The whole picture's like that.  Cold blooded button-pushing.  Even worse than Disney movies.  I should loathe this movie.  Syrup on treacle, dripping with sentimentality.  It should be intolerable for me to sit still with it on.  My personalized hell to be in a room with it playing for eternity.  The Mervyn LeRoy direction is fine, but that wouldn't make it watchable.  So's the cinematography (nod to Joseph Ruttenberg), but that wouldn't do it.

 

But--not only do I watch it, I--I. . . .like it.  Yes, and I get that hum in me when a movie resonates.  I loose consciousness of myself and go into that semi-trance state when I am absorbed in a movie.  And how is it so?  Two reasons:  Greer Garson and Ronald Colman.  They have the ability to take impossible dialog and turn it into a mesmerizing duet.  Take contrived (even for Hollywood) circumstances and turn them into great and dignified human drama.  Their poise, their carriage, their self-possession, even in unguarded moments elevate the movie.  They are refinement personified, without elitism.  They are ingenuous in their enjoyment of simple pleasures, and appreciation of high culture, and unaffected in their friendship with people from all stations.  This is the best example of a movie, otherwise not worth wasting time on, made watchable and even fine by some actor's presence. In this case, we get two.

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I was decently calm at the end tonight, I'm happy to say.  I normally break up, hating myself.  It's disgraceful.  I mean my breaking up.  Oh, yes, and what the movie does, too.  Shamelessly manipulative.  The whole picture's like that.  Cold blooded button-pushing.  Even worse than Disney movies.  I should loathe this movie.  Syrup on treacle, dripping with sentimentality.  It should be intolerable for me to sit still with it on.  My personalized hell to be in a room with it playing for eternity.  The Mervyn LeRoy direction is fine, but that wouldn't make it watchable.  So's the cinematography (nod to Joseph Ruttenberg), but that wouldn't do it.

 

But--not only do I watch it, I--I. . . .like it.  Yes, and I get that hum in me when a movie resonates.  I loose consciousness of myself and go into that semi-trance state when I am absorbed in a movie.  And how is it so?  Two reasons:  Greer Garson and Ronald Colman.  They have the ability to take impossible dialog and turn it into a mesmerizing duet.  Take contrived (even for Hollywood) circumstances and turn them into great and dignified human drama.  Their poise, their carriage, their self-possession, even in unguarded moments elevate the movie.  They are refinement personified, without elitism.  They are ingenuous in their enjoyment of simple pleasures, and appreciation of high culture, and unaffected in their friendship with people from all stations.  This is the best example of a movie, otherwise not worth wasting time on, made watchable and even fine by some actor's presence. In this case, we get two.

 

I haven't seen this film yet, but recorded it on my DVR tonight.  I'm looking forward to watching it on a night when there are no distractions.  I'll pour myself a glass (or three) of wine, get some popcorn and settle in.  While I have heard that it is a bit on the sappy side, sometimes that is something that I enjoy.  The fact that it sounds very intense and sad, makes it sound like it'll be worthwhile.

 

Sometimes you're in the mood for an intensely sad film.  I can't explain it, but sometimes it's true.

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Thank you so much Slayton for your commentary on this wonderful film, as I am like-minded. I believe it is one of Greer's finer outings. In lesser hands it would, I agree, have been cringeworthy. Superlatives all around and major kudos to the film makers ability to transcend the mundane.

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I like it well enough.  True, in other hands it would have really drowned us in thick, gooey syrup.  But I gotta admit.

 

I didn't know anything about this movie until I saw a rerun of the Carol Burnett parody of it on TV about 10 years ago or so.  ;)

 

Kind of disappointed the original didn't have the "radio that wouldn't die!"  :D

 

Sepiatone

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I like it well enough.  True, in other hands it would have really drowned us in thick, gooey syrup.  But I gotta admit.

 

I didn't know anything about this movie until I saw a rerun of the Carol Burnett parody of it on TV about 10 years ago or so.  ;)

 

Kind of disappointed the original didn't have the "radio that wouldn't die!"  :D

 

Sepiatone

 

Was among R. 0sborne's favs.

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Thank you so much Slayton for your commentary on this wonderful film, as I am like-minded. I believe it is one of Greer's finer outings. In lesser hands it would, I agree, have been cringeworthy. Superlatives all around and major kudos to the film makers ability to transcend the mundane.

 

you could make a far more solid case that since 1942 was "The Year of Greer" and she was a lock for Best Actress no matter what,  she should've won for RANDOM HARVEST and not MRS. MINIVER- HARVEST gives her a far better role where she's single-handedly responsible for winning the audience over and making them buy into a pretty far-fetched scenario, and while I have some issues with the movie overall, I think she succeeds.

 

Also I have to admit that I enjoy her musical number and she does have a damn fine set of legs.

 

HARVEST is like NOW, VOYAGER and MR SMITH, in that it's been "done to death" by Guest Programmers with only a basic overview of classic movies, it's one of those classics you can point to as encapsulating everything about the Golden Era of film- even the shortcomings- like ludicrous plot lines and dialogue and slightly stiff acting from some....but besides the performances of Garson and ESPECIALLY Susan Peters (who was a revelation to me) and the wonderful sets and lighting, it's Mehsville for me.

 

I do appreciate that it is a film that means a lot to a lot of people though....

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I agree Lorna; I am a major Greer fan, but Mrs Min is near the bottom of my list...maybe because it's just too obvious in its purpose. I never get emotionally invested. Good craftmanship, but doesn't rise to the emotionally appealing level of Harvest.

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I would agree with the posters who say that this is one of Greer's better performances.  As I watchced the early parts, in which she was a music-hall type performer, I got this impression that she had this natural sense of spontanaeity, impulsiveness, and fun and even a bit of sex appeal.  In some ways, she resembles Catherine in ​Good By Mr. Chips, ​another film in which a warm and extroverted character wins someone who is more introverted.  After ​Mrs. Miniver​, Garson always played these noble, virtuous women, except in The Forsythe Saga​, and then her adultery was with strong motivation.  Like those who say they prefer Doris Day before she was a virgin, I might say I prefer Greer before she was Mrs. Miniver, the dignified stiff-upper lip matron.

 

I am more moved by Colman's character, however.  There is an innate sadness in his performance, this strong need for healing.  He is too old for the part, yet transcends that.  When his memory is restored, he still retains the desire for something lost.  I wonder whether he drew on his own experience as a WWI vet for his performance.  HIs restraint and quiet vulnerability rescue the movie from its more treacly moments.

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I would agree with the posters who say that this is one of Greer's better performances.  As I watchced the early parts, in which she was a music-hall type performer, I got this impression that she had this natural sense of spontanaeity, impulsiveness, and fun and even a bit of sex appeal.  In some ways, she resembles Catherine in ​Good By Mr. Chips, ​another film in which a warm and extroverted character wins someone who is more introverted.  After ​Mrs. Miniver​, Garson always played these noble, virtuous women, except in The Forsythe Saga​, and then her adultery was with strong motivation.  Like those who say they prefer Doris Day before she was a virgin, I might say I prefer Greer before she was Mrs. Miniver, the dignified stiff-upper lip matron.

 

I am more moved by Colman's character, however.  There is an innate sadness in his performance, this strong need for healing.  He is too old for the part, yet transcends that.  When his memory is restored, he still retains the desire for something lost.  I wonder whether he drew on his own experience as a WWI vet for his performance.  HIs restraint and quiet vulnerability rescue the movie from its more treacly moments.

 

Well said;   Until I saw RH,  I always viewed Greer as beautiful (e.g. her facial features are flawless),  but not sexy.  I.e. she was the type of beauty women would notice, more so than men.     But that POV was driven by those Mrs. Miniver type roles.  

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I was decently calm at the end tonight, I'm happy to say.  I normally break up, hating myself.  It's disgraceful.  I mean my breaking up.  Oh, yes, and what the movie does, too.  Shamelessly manipulative.  The whole picture's like that.  Cold blooded button-pushing.  Even worse than Disney movies.  I should loathe this movie.  Syrup on treacle, dripping with sentimentality.  It should be intolerable for me to sit still with it on.  My personalized hell to be in a room with it playing for eternity.  The Mervyn LeRoy direction is fine, but that wouldn't make it watchable.  So's the cinematography (nod to Joseph Ruttenberg), but that wouldn't do it.

 

But--not only do I watch it, I--I. . . .like it.  Yes, and I get that hum in me when a movie resonates.  I loose consciousness of myself and go into that semi-trance state when I am absorbed in a movie.  And how is it so?  Two reasons:  Greer Garson and Ronald Colman.  They have the ability to take impossible dialog and turn it into a mesmerizing duet.  Take contrived (even for Hollywood) circumstances and turn them into great and dignified human drama.  Their poise, their carriage, their self-possession, even in unguarded moments elevate the movie.  They are refinement personified, without elitism.  They are ingenuous in their enjoyment of simple pleasures, and appreciation of high culture, and unaffected in their friendship with people from all stations.  This is the best example of a movie, otherwise not worth wasting time on, made watchable and even fine by some actor's presence. In this case, we get two.

I'd like to agree with you as everything you say is true, yet I can't since thanks to TCM and Ronald Colman month, the wife and I have been at odds daily. She wonders, why can't I be as suave as he? Why don't I have such a resonant voice? Why am I cavalier while he is gentlemanly at all times. Why does he look good in everything while I am sitting on the coach in my skivvies. I'm starting to hate Ronald Colman and he even had good hair into his late years. She says he makes George Clooney look like a dumb hick from the hinterlands. And yeah, she watched RH and started crying at the beginning saying she knew what was going to happen so she was crying early. She worries each time that he might actually marry Susan Peters. Okay, yeah...it's a great film even if treacly since Garson and Colman make it work. But it's gonna send me and the little woman to a marriage counselor real soon.

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I'd like to agree with you as everything you say is true, yet I can't since thanks to TCM and Ronald Colman month, the wife and I have been at odds daily. She wonders, why can't I be as suave as he? Why don't I have such a resonant voice? Why am I cavalier while he is gentlemanly at all times. Why does he look good in everything while I am sitting on the coach in my skivvies. I'm starting to hate Ronald Colman and he even had good hair into his late years. She says he makes George Clooney look like a dumb hick from the hinterlands. And yeah, she watched RH and started crying at the beginning saying she knew what was going to happen so she was crying early. She worries each time that he might actually marry Susan Peters. Okay, yeah...it's a great film even if treacly since Garson and Colman make it work. But it's gonna send me and the little woman to a marriage counselor real soon.

 

I'm convinced that my father introduced me to old movies at an early age to keep me away from boys.  After all, how can some gangling, acne-ridden, inarticulate adolescent compete with Ronald Colman and Cary Grant?  Despite his efforts, I did end up marrying, and now my husband has to share his bed with someone watching impeccably tailored men speak in sonorous English accents.  However, my husband did go through a passive-aggressive period in response to my adulation of Colman, Flynn, Grant, Power, et al.  A few years back when we had a certain cable service, whenever I was engrossed in a movie on TCM, particularly one with a handsome leading man, the signal would break up, and I couldn't finish the movie.  One night, I was watching Captain from Castile, drooling during the sultry scene where Ty dances by firelight with Jean Peters.  At that moment, I could hear hub's car pulling into the garage, and my TV signal started to break up.  I realized that something related to my spouse was conspiring against me.  It turned out that if hub's 4G was turned on his cell phone, TCM's signal would experience interference.   Until we changed cable provider, the rule was that if I was watching TCM, the 4G had to be turned off.

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I was decently calm at the end tonight, I'm happy to say. I normally break up, hating myself. It's disgraceful. I mean my breaking up. Oh, yes, and what the movie does, too. Shamelessly manipulative. The whole picture's like that. Cold blooded button-pushing. Even worse than Disney movies. I should loathe this movie. Syrup on treacle, dripping with sentimentality.

Don't worry, when it comes to Random Harvest I have enough hate for ten people.

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I didn't know anything about this movie until I saw a rerun of the Carol Burnett parody of it on TV about 10 years ago or so.  ;)

 

Yeah, I wanted to say that the first time I had ever heard of the movie was Carol's "Rancid Harvest", but I couldn't find a YouTube clip.  And I didn't want to rely on my memory of 80's syndicated clips.

 

Kind of disappointed the original didn't have the "radio that wouldn't die!"   :D

 

(Carol about to smash radio with fireplace poker)

Radio:  "A downed flier was reported missing in the...no, no, not the poker!!"

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Don't worry, when it comes to Random Harvest I have enough hate for ten people.

 

I completely understand why people would feel that way about RH.   Unlike most films made in a similar vein this one is blatant about it, proudly going where we all know it is going to go. 

 

I found these statements in the 'quote' funny;  Cold blooded button-pushing,,,   syrup on treacle, dripping with sentimentality.   

 

Nothing worst then a cold blooded sentimentalist.    :lol:

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Also I have to admit that I enjoy her musical number and she does have a damn fine set of legs.

 

I resisted a great temptation to mention that.  Yes, she was quite the sexy performer.  I read she performed on stage a bit before coming to Hollywood.  But it doesn't look like she had any musical experience.  Too bad she didn't appear in a movie musical, she would have been good.

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I resisted a great temptation to mention that.  Yes, she was quite the sexy performer.  I read she performed on stage a bit before coming to Hollywood.  But it doesn't look like she had any musical experience.  Too bad she didn't appear in a movie musical, she would have been good.

 

Well, Garson was SUPPOSED to do Judy Garland's number in "The Ziegfeld Follies", but didn't want to be typecast in Marie Curie jokes.

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The contemporaneous reviews of Random Harvest were generally harsh.  But I love it for its sentimentality.  Like a minor horror film that you like for its blatant, well, horror, or a mindless chase movie that you like for its sheer energy, I like this movie for its complete and utter sentimentality -- and for the two great leads.  I can't get enough of Garson saying, "Smithy..."

 

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The contemporaneous reviews of Random Harvest were generally harsh.  But I love it for its sentimentality.  Like a minor horror film that you like for its blatant, well, horror, or a mindless chase movie that you like for its sheer energy, I like this movie for its complete and utter sentimentality -- and for the two great leads.  I can't get enough of Garson saying, "Smithy..."

 

 

May I put some syrup on your treacle?

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I would definitely consider this a "chick flick," for the most part. I used to think very highly of this film, but now that I think about it, hit on the head 3 times, really? I became a fan of Greer Garson's after watching this, and I guess Ronald Colman is okay too. I still enjoy this movie (despite the somewhat strong words I had for it at the beginning of this post). I still am able to feel the pain and heartache Greer's character has to go through even after seeing this film about 3 or 4 times. 

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Slayton & Co. have summed up the Random Harvest conundrum really well: as a self-respecting intellectual and movie maven I can't possibly be sobbing that the world is going to, like, end if Greer and Ronald don't get back together . . . but they're such a perfect couple . . . .

 

And Greer really does have great legs and is so much fun when she sings her song, and Ronald is such a perfect man . . . .

 

So much for being a self-respecting intellectual.

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I would definitely consider this a "chick flick," for the most part. I used to think very highly of this film, but now that I think about it, hit on the head 3 times, really? I became a fan of Greer Garson's after watching this, and I guess Ronald Colman is okay too. I still enjoy this movie (despite the somewhat strong words I had for it at the beginning of this post). I still am able to feel the pain and heartache Greer's character has to go through even after seeing this film about 3 or 4 times. 

 

 

I think you have identified exactly what Greer Garson achieves in the movie.  Despite the absurd situation, where she installs herself as the executive assistant (as we would call it these days) for her amnesiac husband, and afterwards, his wife, marrying him a second time.  And of course, it's a loveless marriage, at least one way.  And sexless, which, for a woman like her in the prime of life--and no one has ever appeared in a movie a more vital, beautiful and alive woman--must have been a considerable sacrifice.  And she keeps up the noble pretense with grace and dignity.  Despite that, I say, she makes us accept it and understand the exquisite, magnificent agony she undergoes daily.  And every act of affection on his part, done out of friendship and gratitude, she knows, but which should be out of love for her, and which burns and tortures her, but for which she cannot feel anything but greater love for him. . . .oh, it's getting too much.  Anyway it's one fine performance.

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Slayton & Co. have summed up the Random Harvest conundrum really well: as a self-respecting intellectual and movie maven I can't possibly be sobbing that the world is going to, like, end if Greer and Ronald don't get back together . . . but they're such a perfect couple . . . .

 

And Greer really does have great legs and is so much fun when she sings her song, and Ronald is such a perfect man . . . .

 

So much for being a self-respecting intellectual.

 

You sound just like the character Leslie Howard plays in The Petrified Forest.     I love the comeback line the Bogie criminal character says back to him;  yea, I guess we're all a bunch of suckers!

 

I'm no exception!    :lol:

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