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TCM Presents Jean Negulesco


kingrat
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{font:Calibri}Thursday TCM will present seven films directed by Jean Negulesco, but they are augmenting these by including his films in other tributes. TCM has made a particular effort here and in the past to provide a clearer view of this director, and I am grateful. SCANDAL IN SCOURIE was included for Greer Garson month, the fine THREE CAME HOME (1950) will be in Friday night’s women in war presentation (I’m really looking forward to those films), and late tonight a lineup of mostly noir leads off with THREE STRANGERS (1946), a little-known but most interesting and unusual movie with a John Huston script. Geraldine Fitzgerald, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre are the three strangers who share a lottery ticket. Negulesco fought to get Fitzgerald for the lead and Lorre for the romantic role in the subplot. He had previously cast Lorre as the writer who’s the normal person in THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS. These are interesting examples of how casting helps reveal the director’s vision.{font}

 

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{font:Calibri}Thursday morning the Negulesco tribute begins. Instead of mentioning them in the order they’ll be shown, I’m going to mention them in chronological order to talk about the shape of his career. {font}

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{font:Calibri}NOBODY LIVES FOREVER (1946) is the kind of unpretentious mix of noir and woman’s film that looks even better on second viewing. John Garfield is the con man who falls for his mark, Geraldine Fitzgerald. Walter Brennan leaves his bag of cutes behind and gives a moving performance as an aging con man. Faye Emerson grabs the attention as a no-good gal.{font}

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{font:Calibri}DEEP VALLEY (1947). A shout-out to moirafinnie for insisting that I see this film, which is my favorite Negulesco. Ida Lupino’s best role as the shy who falls for convict Dane Clark (his best role, too). Fay Bainter and Henry Hull are perfect as Ida’s neurotic parents, and there are many remarkable directorial touches. {font}

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{font:Calibri}JOHNNY BELINDA (1948). One of Negulesco’s best-known films, and his personal favorite. The 12 Oscar nominations had something to do with that. A well-made tale with Jane Wyman as the deaf mute heroine, Lew Ayres as a kindly doctor, and Agnes Moorehead and Charles Bickford as her parents.{font}

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{font:Calibri}TITANIC (1953). Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, and an iceberg. Richard Basehart as a drunken ex-priest and a very young Robert Wagner. These later Negulesco films are capably directed entertainments, but without the many personal touches of his earlier films. Perhaps he isn’t hungry and ambitious for greatness any more, and it shows.{font}

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{font:Calibri}THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954). This seems to me one of the quintessential 1950s films, love it or hate it. Rome, great scenery, love stories.{font}

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{font:Calibri}COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS (1959). Never heard of it? What does the title say? Maybe you’ll be able to finish it and even like it. Deborah Kerr, Rossano Brazzi, and Maurice Chevalier, which ought to be good. Brazzi plays a French soldier who keeps getting called back into service and away from neglected wife Deborah.{font}

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{font:Calibri}JESSICA (1962). This one I haven’t seen, and will record. “When a sexy midwife comes to town, the local women abstain from sex rather than risk having her deliver their babies.” Angie Dickinson, Maurice Chevalier, Noel-Noel. Angie will be convincingly sexy, I have no doubt of that.{font}

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Edited by: kingrat on Apr 9, 2013 1:50 PM

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*TCM should show ROADHOUSE & UNDER MY SKIN as films of more interest. When it comes down to it.*

These are Fox films (as are a couple listed below), and while FMC hasn't shown either in awhile, they will have three Negulesco films this weekend: THREE CAME HOME (twice), PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER (twice), and BOY ON A DOLPHIN. Check the "Upcoming 20th-Century Fox...' thread in Hot topics for more info, time, etc.
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Hey.

 

You know, I actually made it a point to stop everything and check out Deep Valley (1947) yesterday as per your recommendation...I didn't dislike it, but (FORGIVENESS IS BEGGED) I thought it had some problems- but it was (no doubt) *an inn-teresting film and, yes, a magnificent performance by La Lupino* (and Fay Bainter and Henry Hull and actually, I have to say that I thought the guy who played the supervisor who has the hots for Ida was *really, really good* too. I imdb'd him and he died young at 45. Did a ton of TV.)

 

I guess I maybe came at it with too modern a sensibility...or maybe too cynical. I had issues with the 180 her parents do after she runs away and comes back and I just had *major* issues with the her relationship with the convict...I just...again, the cynicism is kicking in...Part of me kept thinking "yeah Ida, you picked a real winner. Out of the frying pan and into the fire..." I think had it taken a darker turn and less of a romantic, slightly florid one...it would've been more true.

 

 

...of course, one could argue it is a grim, gritty ugly tale told in a highly artistic, romantic, studio-bedecked manner. Maybe the stylization just makes you ignore the fact that in the end, forget it Jake- this may as well be Chinatown.

 

 

It's a story that would- I imagine- have been quite difficut to tell between 1934 and 1960. Nonetheless, sex was all over this thing...I kept laughing to myself over the title.

 

 

And again, Ida was great- and by this time she'd lost the last vestiges of her accent and, while glamorous to a slightly anachronistic degree, she managed to invest herself into the role in a way that I can't see any other actress at Warner's doing with such success.

 

 

*I think it's a film that needs to be viewed more than once.* Hopefully I'll get the chance to see it again soon.

 

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Apr 12, 2013 7:57 AM

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Yes, the major weakness of DEEP VALLEY is that the psychological plot (the parents' alienation from each other, Ida's stuttering) gets resolved too quickly so that the film can turn its attention to the working out of the romantic plot. The bittersweet ending is one of the things I like best about it, and the final shot catches this exactly.

 

 

DEEP VALLEY is one of those films you can watch a second time with the dialogue turned down and just enjoy what Negulesco is doing with the camera. The way he films the mother coming down the stairs for the first time in years is especially nice. So is the totally unexpected cut from Ida looking dreamily off the top of a hill (at a beautiful view, I was sure) to the convicts working on the road.

 

 

I hope I didn't oversell the film, but, at the very least, this is Ida Lupino at her best.

 

 

RO's intro to THREE STRANGERS was really interesting. John Huston had written the script before he made THE MALTESE FALCON (which, I think, was supposed to be directed by Negulesco). After the great success of THE MALTESE FALCON, Huston proposed re-working the script as a sequel to THE MALTESE FALCON, with the three characters being Sam Spade, Bridget O'Shaughnessy, and Caspar Gutman. However, Warner Brothers didn't own the rights to the characters, only to THE MALTESE FALCON itself. Eventually Negulesco made the film, although Huston didn't like the changes that were made (I've read or heard this from other sources). I'm guessing that the romantic subplot, which is very Negulesco, did not appeal to Huston, although the ironic ending is very much Huston. To me THREE STRANGERS is as satisfying as it is unusual.

 

 

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> {quote:title=kingrat wrote:}{quote}

>

> DEEP VALLEY is one of those films you can watch a second time with the dialogue turned down and just enjoy what Negulesco is doing with the camera.

>

Agree.

 

And I very much feel that way about Humoresque, which really excels in the portions where there is no dialogue (esp- the suicide finale) . It's one of the most clear-cut examples of a well-directed, well-acted movie where the screenplay stinks.

 

The man could move a camera and paint a scene.

 

FALLING LEAVES are to DOUGLAS SIRK as WAVES CRASHING ON ROCKS are to JEAN NEGULESCO.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Apr 12, 2013 1:38 PM

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Comcast did several things since they bought Universal/NBC. They used their computers to analyse my acct. What I watch & when, my financial status, disability, everything about me. When I went to pay my bill it was $10 less! In addition, Comcast chose in my interest without my initiative to reprogram my acct. So that Fox Movie Channel & other channels were added. But now I know they know everything about me and are keeping files on my viewing habits, food, amazon purchases etc. Everything there is to know they know. What prescriptions I get from a doctor, what drug store I use, etc. Everything. Israel owns Comcast.

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