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I watched two Ida Lupino films on Amazon Prime that were produced in the mid-50s at Allied Artists. I will recommend one today and the other one later on. Both are worth a look. Especially STRANGE INTRUDER. Don't let the sensational title throw you-- it's the story of a Korean war vet (Edmund Purdom) who returns to civilian life, and strangely intrudes on the lives of those that went on while guys were off fighting the war. But the twist here is that Purdom doesn't go home to his own family, but rather the family of a dead buddy, where he feels inordinately compelled to right their wrongs. This means, in highly dramatic fashion, that he will visit the man's widow (Ida Lupino) who was committing adultery and feeling bad about it; as well as spend time with the man's children, which may mean sparing them a life with such a mother. Yes, it's that unconventional a plot, that insane almost.

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Purdom is no great shakes as an actor, but director Irving Rapper and costar Lupino (herself a director) each guide Purdom to a credible performance. The film also benefits from supporting work by Ann Harding in her last big screen role, and Jacques Bergerac who plays the cad that Lupino's unfaithful character somehow got tangled up with. But it's really Rapper's sharp compositions that make this a compelling melodrama to watch. So much happens on so many levels of this film, both within the characters, and around them the way intelligent staging helps frame the action. There is one shot where Purdom goes to open an old grandfather clock to set the time, and as he pulls back the mirror-like glass panel, we see multiple images of his face reflected. As Rapper shoots it through the hollowed out insides of the clock-- we get this very intimate glimpse for a brief moment or two revealing how Purdom ticks, literally and figuratively. 

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There are several scenes, too, where Purdom plays piano and Lupino hovers around him, trying to find out what he knows (more accurately, what her husband knew before he died in Korea) about her infidelity. The music stops, and the focus goes back to the children and how Purdom must save them. There are follow-up scenes in a barn where Purdom wrestles with his own demons about what to do to help the children. It's chilling, and if you add Lupino's tenseness and guilt, there is much added in terms of narrative dimension. 

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Somehow, miraculously, there is a happy ending. And the ending is certainly plausible, if unexpected. As the film concludes, one gets the impression that if he didn't know better, he would think Douglas Sirk put STRANGE INTRUDER together. It's so sure and so smooth, with Lupino's flawless performance at the center of it all, that it stays with a viewer a long time afterward. And that's what classic films should do.

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I wasn't going to recommend the other Ida Lupino film I watched on Amazon Prime right away, but because I am rewatching it tonight, I figured I would. JENNIFER is a film that merits on-going appreciation, since there are so many ways to interpret the narrative. Deeper meanings can be found and enjoyed with subsequent viewings. 

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I think what I most love about this film is the way we are kept off-guard about who the title character is, and why she has this power over a meek caretaker named Agnes (played by Lupino). To say Jennifer is a ghost is only half-right. Maybe it is easer to say she is a living woman or a way of life that possesses the weak. But the story maintains its hold on the viewer as Lupino's character struggles to get to the bottom of things. It plays out in spots as an unhealthy obsession. And Howard Duff, Lupino's real-life husband, who plays the love interest seems to have his own obsession where Agnes is concerned, wresting her away from Jennifer.

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If you get the chance to look at JENNIFER, and especially if you see JENNIFER twice or more, listen carefully as you hear the dialogue. The lines lead in multiple directions, and it is like the mystery only grows deeper about who and what is overtaking Lupino and Duff until they finally confront the truth about the life they live. Also, listen carefully to the music. There's a record that Lupino's character finds and plays, that is replayed throughout the story. Plus during a nightclub scene, we are shown a man singing a tune called 'Angel Eyes,' while Duff holds Lupino close and looks into her eyes. But Lupino may not actually be using her own set of angel eyes yet. So while everything may not be clear for her, it is certainly clear for us the audience as to what is unravelling.

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It's a profound film, infused with the type of atmospheric touches that can only come from smart cinematography that takes full advantage of on-location filming. And it is anchored with an extraordinary performance by its lead actress. Ida Lupino shined in so many classics over the years, but I think this one has to be her best. Just look at the photos I've selected to go with this text, and you can see how dynamic she is.

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I couldn't sleep at four a.m. this morning, so I came into the living room and turned the television on...I clicked the button for Amazon Prime and thought I'd find a two-hour movie that could put me back to sleep, so I'd at least snooze till six. I shouldn't have picked Sam Peckinpah's THE GETAWAY, because it was so good I had to stay awake and see the whole thing. Why I hadn't seen this film before, I have no idea. And why people do not talk about it more or rate it as highly as Peckinpah's other works, or Steve McQueen's other films, I have no idea about that either.

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But people should be discussing this truly excellent film, and that is why I am mentioning it here in this thread. Maybe someone will come along at some later point and do a search for this title, quote this review and add to it. I can only hope so. A side note-- in another thread a year or two ago, I chose my top ten Hollywood films by decade. Definitely, if I had seen THE GETAWAY, I would have put it on the list for the 70s. I may go back and revise that.

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For the film itself, how can it get any better than Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in an anti-establishment fable directed by Peckinpah? There is the requisite violence, but it is arguably needed in this story and cannot be implied. It has to be shown, so we can see what kinds of dangers (and odds) the main characters must overcome on their way to freedom. Probably because I had seen THELMA AND LOUISE and had it in my memory, I half expected Steve & Ali to not really getaway and to wind up shot or driving over the edge of a cliff as they cross the border into Mexico. That doesn't happen, and if you haven't seen the film, you can find out for yourself how it doesn't play out that way.

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What makes the film so excellent, in addition to its well-crafted, well-directed and mostly well-acted story, is the use of location filming, tense chase scenes that give us action-action-action...and a smattering of supporting players (many having found greater fame on television by the time they were cast in these roles) that give the story flavor, energy and colorful characterization. Among these folks, I want to mention Jack Dodson as a hostage forced to drive; Dub Taylor as a seedy motel manager; Slim Pickens as a cowboy; and of course, Sally Struthers as Fran, a wannabe Bonnie Parker whose heart inevitably gets broken on the run. Struthers should have had a supporting actress nomination, because she is that good. Do not miss the rib-throwing scene about two-thirds of the way through the movie. It's classic.

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As for the leads, I understand they fell in love during the making of this picture and divorced their respective spouses to marry each other. To say they share a special chemistry is underestimating the laws of physical attraction. I expected MacGraw to be a bit of a pushover, but she is given some powerful moments where her character explodes and gets exploded at. She is deceptively calm and then when she faces a crisis, we are wondering how she will react, and if she will ever fully self-destruct. McQueen is perfectly cool, and there is a great scene where the runaway couple emerges from a pile of trash that has been dumped along a gulch in a remote waste site. In this scene, we see him stand up, grab the bag of money and his rifle, then move off with MacGraw as only he can. Nothing rumples him. In fact, nothing rumples this movie. It's as crisp as a new twenty-dollar bill.

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I couldn't sleep at four a.m. this morning, so I came into the living room and turned the television on...I clicked the button for Amazon Prime and thought I'd find a two-hour movie that could put me back to sleep, so I'd at least snooze till six. I shouldn't have picked Sam Peckinpah's THE GETAWAY, because it was so good I had to stay awake and see the whole thing. Why I hadn't seen this film before, I have no idea. And why people do not talk about it more or rate it as highly as Peckinpah's other works, or Steve McQueen's other films, I have no idea about that either.

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But people should be discussing this truly excellent film, and that is why I am mentioning it here in this thread. Maybe someone will come along at some later point and do a search for this title, quote this review and add to it. I can only hope so. A side note-- in another thread a year or two ago, I chose my top ten Hollywood films by decade. Definitely, if I had seen THE GETAWAY, I would have put it on the list for the 70s. I may go back and revise that.

images-13.jpg

For the film itself, how can it get any better than Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in an anti-establishment fable directed by Peckinpah? There is the requisite violence, but it is arguably needed in this story and cannot be implied. It has to be shown, so we can see what kinds of dangers (and odds) the main characters must overcome on their way to freedom. Probably because I had seen THELMA AND LOUISE and had it in my memory, I half expected Steve & Ali to not really getaway and to wind up shot or driving over the edge of a cliff as they cross the border into Mexico. That doesn't happen, and if you haven't seen the film, you can find out for yourself how it doesn't play out that way.

screen-shot-2015-09-19-at-8-13-09-am.png

What makes the film so excellent, in addition to its well-crafted, well-directed and mostly well-acted story, is the use of location filming, tense chase scenes that give us action-action-action...and a smattering of supporting players (many having found greater fame on television by the time they were cast in these roles) that give the story flavor, energy and colorful characterization. Among these folks, I want to mention Jack Dodson as a hostage forced to drive; Dub Taylor as a seedy motel manager; Slim Pickens as a cowboy; and of course, Sally Struthers as Fran, a wannabe Bonnie Parker whose heart inevitably gets broken on the run. Struthers should have had a supporting actress nomination, because she is that good. Do not miss the rib-throwing scene about two-thirds of the way through the movie. It's classic.

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As for the leads, I understand they fell in love during the making of this picture and divorced their respective spouses to marry each other. To say they share a special chemistry is underestimating the laws of physical attraction. I expected MacGraw to be a bit of a pushover, but she is given some powerful moments where her character explodes and gets exploded at. She is deceptively calm and then when she faces a crisis, we are wondering how she will react, and if she will ever fully self-destruct. McQueen is perfectly cool, and there is a great scene where the runaway couple emerges from a pile of trash that has been dumped along a gulch in a remote waste site. In this scene, we see him stand up, grab the bag of money and his rifle, then move off with MacGraw as only he can. Nothing rumples him. In fact, nothing rumples this movie. It's as crisp as a new twenty-dollar bill.

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a great, great, great, great film probably peckinpah's best, topbilled. so many great scenes and fun. gloria stivic ain't no friend to poor howard sprague. well, at least al lettieri threw him some chicken wings while he was driving. :lol:

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a great, great, great, great film probably peckinpah's best, topbilled. so many great scenes and fun. gloria stivic ain't no friend to poor howard sprague. well, at least al lettieri threw him some chicken wings while he was driving. :lol:

Love the Texas locations in THE GETAWAY. And the ribs...and chicken wings too. Right? LOL

 

At first I thought Struthers was playing Dodson's daughter. Interesting that Dodson was a veterinarian in this movie. When Struthers was given a television spinoff in the 80s, called Gloria, it was set in a veterinarian's office. Only that time Burgess Meredith was the vet.

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I watched several films over the weekend, and I am trying to decide which one stands out most and deserves a recommendation on this thread. I am probably leaning towards a Vera Ralston film at Republic which I found quite good.

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Today I am recommending a film that I watched twice last night on Amazon Prime, because it is perfect in almost every way. I am probably going to expand my top ten list of classics to a top twenty list, just so I can mention this title, which has to be number eleven at least.

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Why do I love ABOUT MRS. LESLIE so much? Because every now and then, we just need a good solid character study with sharp acting. And that is exactly what this film offers. Plus it has Hal Wallis' trademark polish all over it. I feel like I go into another world with this story and these characters, and to me, that is what a truly classic film should do.

Sorry TB I am a little late with my reply, but I went home to New York to see my daughter. I love ABOUT MRS. LESLIE  1954 also, but it makes me a little sad that Shirley Booth did not have the opportunity to appear in more films. She is so good in the role who falls in love with Robert Ryan against judgement. The scene with Shirley singing in the nightclub is so good.Since she made so few movies, it makes us wish for HOT SPELL 1958 all the more. I will watch your Ida Lupino recommendations soon.

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Sorry TB I am a little late with my reply, but I went home to New York to see my daughter. I love ABOUT MRS. LESLIE  1954 also, but it makes me a little sad that Shirley Booth did not have the opportunity to appear in more films. She is so good in the role who falls in love with Robert Ryan against judgement. The scene with Shirley singing in the nightclub is so good.Since she made so few movies, it makes us wish for HOT SPELL 1958 all the more. I will watch your Ida Lupino recommendations soon.

Hope you had a nice time visiting with your daughter! 

 

I was definitely on an Ida Lupino kick a few days ago...both those films of hers I mentioned are exceptional. 

 

I couldn't agree more about Shirley Booth. Only five feature films (one a cameo, so four really). All of them are gems. Yes, ABOUT MRS. LESLIE as you indicated, is made even more special because she gets to sing in it, like she occasionally did on her television series.

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I am in good company...or so I think. I watched Republic's FAIR WIND TO JAVA this weekend on Amazon Prime, starring Fred MacMurray and Vera Ralston. And as I looked up notes online (which I usually do after I have had a chance to watch something and form my own opinions) I learned that Martin Scorsese is a big fan of this film. In fact, Scorsese is such a fan that he was responsible for the picture being restored, and later, for helping screen the restoration at UCLA. Supposedly, Marty told the audience at the special screening that this is 50s matinee movie watching in all its glory. I'm paraphrasing, because if he didn't say those words exactly, his thoughts seemed to be along those lines.

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As I began watching the movie, it certainly did have a Saturday matinee feel to it-- not that I know entirely what that is, but I'll take the idea and run with it. Filmed with the studio's Trucolor process, it overflows with bright green, blue, red and orange. The script is very sharply written, and we learn a lot about what makes these sailors behave as they do. We're given the backstory of MacMurray's character, how he ascended the ranks and was given a ship of his own; how it led to the sea near Java. He meets Ralston's character as the movies gets underway, and he frees her from slavery. Yes, it is one of those kinds of love stories. 

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Several things impress me about FAIR WIND TO JAVA. First, the supporting cast couldn't be better-- Victor McLaglen, Claude Jarman Jr. and John Russell are all men under MacMurray's command; while Robert Douglas plays a rival treasure seeker. Also, the music is grand-- sweeping and romantic each time it comes up on the soundtrack. So much that honestly one can't tell if the sea is supposed to be just as romantic in this tale as the relationship between MacMurray and Ralston. And then there is all the boisterous action.

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What's a good swashbuckler adventure story without rousing fights on board the ship, or a hunt for diamonds on land that is soon obscured by debris from a very active volcano? And speaking of the volcanic eruption that occurs near the end (perhaps symbolizing the passion shared by the main characters), Herbert Yates-- Republic's boss and Miss Ralston's husband-- has gone all out to present the most spectacular special effects you could ever imagine. Yes. There's a reason Martin Scorsese had this gem restored. It's worth more than all the diamonds in Java.

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I am obsessing on a Barbara Stanwyck flick from 1950 that I keep rewatching. So it may very well be my next recommendation...check back.

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No Fair Wind to Java on Netflix. Too bad. And I don't have Amazon Prime. Interesting to view films that are favored by the greats. Just what are they seeing? Presumably something that influenced them a lot. That might to be difficult to ascertain with Scorcese. He was so versatile, or eclectic. He did things as disparate as Kundun and Taxi Driver. But it would be fun to try and figure it out.

 

Everybody knows that Welles watched Stagecoach over and over while making Citizen Kane, so there's another example. I love Stagecoach and have seen it (only) two or three times. The next time I do so I will try to keep Welles in mind, view the film with his eyes, as it were.

 

It would be fun to come up with other examples, not just casual likes by the greats, but movies that they were really fascinated with.

 

=

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No Fair Wind to Java on Netflix. Too bad. And I don't have Amazon Prime. Interesting to view films that are favored by the greats. Just what are they seeing? Presumably something that influenced them a lot. That might to be difficult to ascertain with Scorcese. He was so versatile, or eclectic. He did things as disparate as Kundun and Taxi Driver. But it would be fun to try and figure it out.

 

Everybody knows that Welles watched Stagecoach over and over while making Citizen Kane, so there's another example. I love Stagecoach and have seen it (only) two or three times. The next time I do so I will try to keep Welles in mind, view the film with his eyes, as it were.

 

It would be fun to come up with other examples, not just casual likes by the greats, but movies that they were really fascinated with.

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. For all we know, Scorsese had a Saturday afternoon with nothing better to do as a kid, went to see FAIR WIND TO JAVA, and it made an impression on a ten year old boy that stuck with him for a lifetime. It could be as simple as that. I agree that his tastes are rather eclectic. But I love the idea that because he enjoyed a film like this so much he used his influence and resources to restore it. It benefits us all.

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A lot can be said about NO MAN OF HER OWN, a 1950 offering from Paramount's in-house director Mitchell Leisen. Leisen directed many hits for the studio over a twenty-year period and one of them back in 1939 starred Barbara Stanwyck. He had a chance to work with Stanwyck again on this film, and in my opinion, they both collaborated on a masterpiece.

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First, one must realize the film itself is hard to define. It's based on a Cornell Woolrich crime story, so by most accounts it would seem like a noir. But in some ways, it takes a cue from Stanwyck's previous Stella Dallas, and it is also a melodrama. But despite being both a noir and a tearjerker, it does manage to have a happy ending. Though I think the upbeat conclusion was the only way they could get it by the production code office. Stanwyck's character in this story has to be redeemed somehow in the last few minutes in order for the errors in judgment that existed in the early parts of the narrative to be counteracted. I'm okay with that, and if you view this film on Amazon Prime, I trust you will be okay with it, too. On any level, it's still a satisfying motion picture.

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Some of the reasons it is so satisfying? Well, there's the careful methodical way Leisen establishes the pace not to mention Stanwyck's heart wrenching performance at nearly every turn. Plus the cinematography is particuarly sharp-- don't miss the train wreck scene near the beginning, where Stanwyck and costar Phyllis Thaxter take a tumble. The special effects are superb in this sequence, and the violence it shocking and just pulls you right into what's happening.

 

I can't neglect discussing the excellent supporting cast. As I write more of these reviews, I am coming to the realization that a good group of supporting players is what helps make an above average film a sublime film. Here, we have Jane Cowl in her last screen role as an anguished mother-in-law trying to give her son and daughter-in-law one real shot at love and enduring happiness. She almost walks off with the movie. Also in the cast is the superb Esther Dale as a fussy but well-meaning housekeeper; Richard Denning as a doomed son; the already mentioned Phyllis Thaxter as his equally doomed wife; as well as John Lund and Lyle Bettger as Stanwyck's various love interests. Bettger is especially smooth here as a cad who nearly sabotages her chance at a good life.

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NO MAN OF HER OWN has a lot going for it. I hope I haven't spoiled the plot very much. I think it's something you should see and experience going into it with no prior (mis)conceptions. It will work its magic on you. It will grab your attention and not let go. And when you get to the end of the story, I am confident you will feel like I did-- knowing full well that you just watched a truly great classic Hollywood film.

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Thank you for thanking me for sharing, the exercise of which springst the fruit of our kind attention and yes, enthusiasm, for the great art of cinema, the subject of our musings, and for which we in this place are so assembled.

 

In my mailbox today was a bevy of DVDs, purchased last week on eBay, and I was inexpressibly delighted to see that one of them was none other than Stagecoach, the masterpiece (one of them anyway) of the great John Ford, extraordinary example of its genre, incomparable road show, as well the subject of one my recent columns about the enumerable times the young genius Orson Welles watched this film as he created his own undying masterpiece, Citizen Kane.

 

To what degree it can be ascertained by a mere mortal (such as myself) what exactly Orson saw that so excited him is not assured, but as I said before it might be fun to have a go at it. Orson was a young, svelt, genius of unquestionable repute during the time of Kane, and I am not young at all, stout (sorta) of heart and mind, though quite devoid of any particular distinction as a movie maven, and with indicators of genius not to be found anywhere. But with the purpose of realizing at least a modicum of verisimilitude in the endeavor I have ordered several cases of ice cream that I am consuming in great quantity in the hope of gaining several hundred pounds so that I might at least resemble good Orson as he was in later life---in physical girth, if not mental prowess. I am so looking forward to this exciting experience. The ice cream is really delicious.

 

FACTOID: When Orson was nearing the end of life, living in Las Vegas and spending a great deal of time on the Merv Griffin Show, there was an evening when he was occupied in his study watching The Magnificent Ambersons. His wife walked into the room and found him balling.

 

PS

 

Dear Ottosenselessor: Since it well-known that you are contextually challenged, let me assure you that by balling, I mean crying.

 

--

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For my next pick, I am going to review the Claudette Colbert war-time melodrama TOMORROW IS FOREVER. I will be watching it on Amazon Prime and writing about it. 

 

I have asked fellow reviewer Ian Patrick whose video commentaries on classic films are posted in the genre sub-forums to discuss this film as well. He said he would (and I don't think he's seen it before). Please check back for more.

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TOMORROW IS FOREVER is a film I recall watching about ten years ago in Southern California. I found a VHS copy one day at the West Hollywood library. At the time I was on an Orson Welles kick and was interested in looking at films where he played lead roles but did not direct. However, in retrospect, I'd say this picture has many Wellesian touches, meaning he probably provided director Irving Pichel with suggestions, as was his custom on sets where he was not technically in charge. But even with Welles at the center of what can be termed a bittersweet wartime melodrama, this picture is a team effort, and it boasts a remarkable cast. 

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TOMORROW IS FOREVER was made shortly after Claudette Colbert had left her home studio Paramount to freelance. At this point, she was taking on more maternal roles and plays teenager Richard Long's mother. Costar George Brent had also left his home studio (Warner Brothers), and he was eager to stretch himself in more substantive dramatic parts. This is one of the rare times when he played a father on screen, and added to that is the fact he's playing a middle-aged character, with slightly graying hair. And we mustn't overlook the contributions of veteran character actress Lucile Watson as well as child star Natalie Wood, who portrays a war orphan in one of her very first movies.

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The story, which seems to mirror war-time anxieties, plays out like a version of Enoch Arden. For those not familiar with the Enoch Arden theme, it's a contemporary reworking of Homer's Ullyses, where a man comes home from the war to learn his wife has believed him to be dead. In this case, Colbert is the spouse who has moved on with a new husband (Brent). Of course, Welles' character did not really die, and he returns to town in disguise. And while it seems gimmicky in spots, the dramatic intensity and heartbreak with which Welles and Colbert infuse their scenes makes this picture riveting and must-see. In particular, there is a point in the narrative where Colbert is beginning to put the pieces together that Welles might be her long-dead husband, and they share a very intriguing and poignant exchange at the old house they lived in as a newlywed couple. These emotions are revisited again when their son (Long) is going off to war, and Welles all but confirms his true identity to her.

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Of course, because this is a story about sacrifice and moving forward (directly relating to what moviegoers were dealing with at the close of the Second World War), we do not get the requisite happy ending. Instead, we get an ending filled with hope and new possibilities. We are able to realize these people have changed because of the war, and in so many ways now the home front is not what it once was. And as the picture comes to its mostly satisfying conclusion, we walk away from it wiser and a bit more in touch with our own strengths as human beings. 

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Ian Patrick tells me he watched TOMORROW IS FOREVER and loved it. 

 

I'd like to know what others think about this great film, too.

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I have always enjoyed TOMORROW IS FOREVER. Orson Welles preferred to direct, but I enjoy his acting in this movie, THE STRANGER, and TOUCH OF EVIL. His accent is so convincing, and the scenes with Natalie Wood are very touching. When he brings his son back to his mother at the risk of his own health, it is truly heartbreaking. I would rate this film one of my favorite Claudette Colbert  performances.

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I have always enjoyed TOMORROW IS FOREVER. Orson Welles preferred to direct, but I enjoy his acting in this movie, THE STRANGER, and TOUCH OF EVIL. His accent is so convincing, and the scenes with Natalie Wood are very touching. When he brings his son back to his mother at the risk of his own health, it is truly heartbreaking. I would rate this film one of my favorite Claudette Colbert  performances.

Thanks sapphiere. I agree that the train station sequence is a highlight of the film. The irony that Long doesn't know Welles is his father just makes it more poignant. Very well acted.

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Ian Patrick has completed his review for TOMORROW IS FOREVER, and he posted it in the Romance sub-forum. You can find it here:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/55157-tomorrow-is-forever-1946-video-movie-review-44-stars-orson-welles-with-an-outstanding-performance/

 

He has some very cool things to say about this classic movie!

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I have a new film that I am going to recommend and review tomorrow. Please check back for my comments on...

 

Basil Dearden's THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960).

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The folks at Criterion selected three of Basil Dearden's films to include in a recent collection that pays homage to the great British director. Two of them are currently available for streaming on Hulu. This review covers one of those titles-- the marvelous heist film THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN from 1960.

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GENTLEMEN resonates rather well for me, though I am not exactly a fan of this sub-genre due to its often repetitive plot twists. You know, where the caper promises to be a perfect crime, but then it all falls apart and fails miserably. But perhaps I enjoy Dearden's treatment of this subject, because he manages to avoid the cliches, and his version wisely does not lapse into predictability or sentimentality. It also helps considerably that such material is placed into the hands of a distinguished set of actors who slyly punch up the more dramatic aspects of the story, which was scripted by Bryan Forbes, who happens to number among the crooks.

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Besides Forbes, the cast includes several first-rate performers. Roger Livesey plays a member of the cohort nicknamed Padre; Richard Attenborough is Lexy, a womanizing associate; and Robert Coote has a funny bit as a meddling outsider who inextricably becomes involved in the criminal activity. But it's star Jack Hawkins who holds it all together with his smooth portrayal of an ex-colonel that masterminds the robbery with his right-hand man-- I mean, major-- played by Nigel Patrick.

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Another great thing about this picture is the pacing. The gathering of the gang; the next sequence of stealing the guns from a government base; the heist itself at a nearby bank; and the 'victory' party at the end are all evenly presented. It's a nearly two-hour movie that hums along nicely and gives us, at every turn, a sense of being pleasantly entertained. Yes, two hours of movie-watching time has been stolen from us by these gentlemen, but it is well worth the price.

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I am going to do another joint-review with Ian Patrick. There's a film we've both been wanting to talk about, and it's time to do that.

 

I will soon post my written review of the classic horror-suspense drama THE RED HOUSE (1947). And I believe Ian is going to post his video commentary about the film, too.

 

Check back...

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Made in 1946 and released a year later, THE RED HOUSE is a United Artists release starring Edward G. Robinson as a man concealing an ugly secret with his spinster sister. The sister is played by Judith Anderson. Also in the cast are future stars Rory Calhoun and Julie London.

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The story, based on George Chamberlain's novel, takes many dramatic twists and turns. This is no small feat considering we already know early into the film that Robinson is covering up a crime, one he likely committed years ago. But in some ways, he is backgrounded until the last act.

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Instead, the specter of danger casts its long shadow over two high school couples who are foregrounded-- one played by attractive Allene Roberts and wholesome Lon McCallister, and the other couple being London and Calhoun. The innocence of these young lovers is at risk due to the evil forces that surround them.

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It should be noted that at an overall running time of 100 minutes, the narrative is gradual and somewhat leisurely until the end. Yet this gives director Delmer Daves plenty of time to emphasize the bucolic countryside and its inhabitants, as well as establish the more sinister atmospheric touches that dot the rural landscape and threaten to overtake it. I won't spoil the final sequence for those who haven't seen it, but when Anderson's life is in jeopardy because she's gone into the woods where the titular dwelling and its secret exist, Robinson's character snaps. He truly goes berserk, setting up a spectacular death scene for the actor to play.

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Is this Edward G. Robinson's best movie performance? Possibly. For what it's worth, THE RED HOUSE is not only a showcase for him, but for all the performers who make the most of their roles. As for the film itself, it's a glimpse into a simpler post-war time. And it proves that even those simpler times had complicated people dealing with a complicated situation.

 

A restored print is currently available on Hulu. 

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