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FLAMINGO ROAD


HoldenIsHere
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FLAMINGO ROAD is airiing this morning on TCM.

 

This is a movie (like PORTRAIT OF JENNIE) that I saw on cable TV as a kid home from school and was captivated by.

I have seen PORTRAIT OF JENNIE as an adult and loved the movie still. 

I'm wondering if I will have a similar reaction to FLAMINGO ROAD when I see it as an adultt for the first time.

When I first saw FLAMINGO ROAD I'm not sure if I even knew who Joan Crawford was.

 

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Well, I did watch FLAMINGO ROAD today for the first since I saw it as a kid and it certainly does hold up as a very entertaining movie although it doesn't have the "heart" of PORTRAIT OF JENNIE.

 

I will say that I did not remember most of the plot of this movie. The part where Joan Crawford is sent to prison for "soliciting men" (a false charge) I had no recollection of whatsoever. (Perhaps it went over my head as a kid but that is highly unlikely.)  Her going back to that town after her release seems a bit far-fetched but it was a nice twist to see her character get her house on Flamingo Road.

And, as has been pointed out, Joan Crawford has some great lines in this movie; the one about the "dead elephant" is indeed one of the best. 

There are actually a lot of jabs at Sydney Greenstreet's weight in this movie.

But Greenstreet has some great lines of his own.

 

It was a great twist that Zachary Scott's character did NOT turn out to be Joan's hero since he was set up as such at the beginning of the movie.

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Holden, I'm sorry, I did not realize you'd already started a thread on this movie when I created my thread on it.

I'm pasting what I wrote on "my" thread about Flamingo Road here, and then, I hope, everyone will comment on this thread, and let the second one fade away. 

Here are a few of my thoughts on this film:

 

Posted Today, 04:57 PM

"I thought this sounded intriguing, so set aside my Sunday morning to watch it. And for the most part, I was not disappointed.

I love movies that show the shady, seedy side. There's Joan, lounging about in an abandoned carnival tent, singing along to the radio. Then she goes on an impromptu date with Zachery Scott to a "just folks" town diner. Gets a job there (of course) as a waitress, where (of course) she does great, better even than all the other waitresses.

 

Later, she gets arrested for walking home. A trumped-up charge of propositioning some man. Does if faze her? Nope, she does the 30 days in the stir like a trooper, picking up a useful job hunt tip on the way out.

 

I enjoyed the scenes where she and Scott go on their "dates". Joan's so obviously smarter (than the other waitresses and such) and stronger (than Scott) and more fun (than that whiney prissy rich girl Scott marries.)

This is a really typical "Joan Crawford" role, and Joan's not afraid to bite right into it. 

 

On the down side, I was disappointed in Zachary Scott's character, who ended up much weaker than he started out. In fact, I thought the movie did a 180 degree turn around halfway through, when David Brian comes on the scene.Not that I mind either him or his character, but I thought we were rooting for Scott ("Field Carlisle".) I thought he was going to ditch his boring wife and go back to Joan, taking a slug at Sydney Greenstreet along the way.

 

But she settles down with her new guy.

I find in these Joan-o-dramas, the first half of the film is often more interesting than the second half. I always like it when she's hanging out in those diners and river-bank parks much more than when she "makes it" and starts sashaying down the grand curving staircase. 

The "lower side" always seems more compelling to me than than the "upper side". At least in movies."

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On the down side, I was disappointed in Zachary Scott's character, who ended up much weaker than he started out. In fact, I thought the movie did a 180 degree turn around halfway through, when David Brian comes on the scene.Not that I mind either him or his character, but I thought we were rooting for Scott ("Field Carlisle".) I thought he was going to ditch his boring wife and go back to Joan, taking a slug at Sydney Greenstreet along the way.

 

 

In researching FLAMINGO ROAD online, I discovered that there was a short-lived American TV series (primetime soap opera) in the 1980s with that name, based on the source novel and the 1949 movie.

In the TV series apparently the most compelling character was Field's "boring wife."

In the 1949 movie his socialite wife was called Anabelle Weldon; in the 1980s TV series the character was called Constance Weldon and was played as a rich b*tch by Morgan Fairchild. In the TV series it was revealed that Constance Weldon's biological mother was Lute-Mae Sanders (the character played by Gladys George in the 1949 movie). I'm not sure if that twist comes from the original novel or if it was added for the soap.

I was looking for some clips from the series on YouTube but the only ones I could find were from airings outside North America dubbed into other languages. 

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Thanks, Holden, that's interesting stuff.

Although it doesn't explain why the story abandons Carlisle half-way through. Why does he agree so readily to marry Annbelle, when it's so clear he doesn't love her or even like her? I did miss the first five minutes or so; is there something in those first few minutes to explain why he is so driven to become governor, apparently at the cost of his self-respect?

Yet, in his early scenes, he's presented as a man who wont' do anything he doesn't feel like doing, a man who can't be pushed around.

And what's the deal with all the fuss about the cowboy hat? At first I thought it was representative of how Fielding was "his own man", and the hat was an emblem of his quirky, won't -bow -to -convention side.

But then, immediately after he and Joan have (more or less) demonstrated that they're serious about each other, Titus Semple tells him to marry Annabelle, so off he goes and marries her. 

After that, his character just falls apart.

I wonder if the novel was like that, or if they altered things somewhat for the movie.

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Yeah, misswonderly, Field's shift from hero to zero in the 1949 movie struck me as very atypical for a movie released during the production code where the "good guys" were usually good "through and through."

I suspect that Field's character turned out similarly in the novel because I can't imagine a movie from that time consciously creating that grayness for the character if it wasn't in the source material.

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ah, it does me shriveled little heart good to see people discussing Le Boulevard du Passions, (Flamingo Road) one of my favorites of the forties.

 

while i've seen the movie over a dozen times, I had the unique experience of watching it while house/dog sitting for some friends of mine who own a classic sprawling white Colonial manse (replete with grand staircase) quite a bit like the model Crawford scores for herself in Act II of Flamingo Road...I kept running across rambling living room, throwing open the pocket doors to the study and shouting "Field!" just like Joan in the scene where she discovers Zachary Scott has shot himself.

 

This, of course, confused their Labrador Retriever considerably, but I got a kick out of it.

 

It was also the first time I've been able to see Flamingo Road on a really substantial screen (they've got one of those huge flat screen Vizio deals) and all sorts of details were noticed I'd missed before.

 

While it is one of my favorites, I concede it's got some faults, most notably a little lag somewhere around the middle and the fact that David Brian's character is kind of boring. I've also heretofore felt that the ending lacks a little something, but seeing now it on a screen a yard across, I actually noticed it's quite artfully done, with the struggle between Greenstreet and Crawford reflected in the shattered mirror shards while the soundtrack ramps it up to an eleven.I also noticed more of Crawford's expressions that went with her performance, which is absolutely one of her best. (She kills the final line "Oh, Dan Reynolds, I told you one of these days that you'd make me cry!")

 

One thing about Flamingo Road that hooks me is: it's a slender story that I don't think anyone (Curtiz, Crawford, Scott etc) was terribly excited about making- but they all throw themselves into it with 100% commitment, Crawford with her incredible performance where she succeeds in doing the kind fo role she would've done well 15 years before, and Curtiz whose visuals and snappy pacing keep the whole thing barrelling down the track until the finale.  (Crawford in fact, was ordered by Jack Warner to do the picture instead of a sappy biopic about a suffering grade school teacher that she wanted to make, a knock-off of Our Miss Brooks, thank God she did Flamingo Road instead.) It's a gallery of wonderful WB supporting players and makes use of some great sets and exteriors (and even the scenes that use obvious rear projections I find endearing) great sets and the standard shady post-Mildred lighting scheme that Crawford's films are shot in.

 

The film is like a shark, it never stops moving in order to stay alive.

 

It's also one of those "post-Code pre-Code" movies that somehow (maybe Crawford's age and stature as a recentish Oscar winner had something to do with it) manages to not hide the fact that sex is everywhere in it. Lute Maes has "been called many things, most recently a roadhouse"- I think we know what else it's been called; Crawford takes her clothes off in front of Scott (and the audience ) with a blase resignation; she's been around the block and makes it clear  "I'm tired of greasy food and one night stands..."; Crawford is put in stir for hooking, she and Zachary Scott clearly sleep together in the scene by the lake before he ditches her and marries Annabelle (which really adds to the sense of desolation we feel for her character once she is really broken down and forced out of town, and makes us cheer her triumph when she returns bedecked in mink and designs by Travilla.)

 

And nothing beats the scene between her and Greenstreet on the porch of The Palmer House: "I'm not leaving, do you get that?!"

 

(slap slap)

 

A great film for anyone who's ever been pushed around or unfairly forced out by miopic, small-mided, territorial, petty people...

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a few other things re: Flamingo Road: I recently discovered that the music score was recycled from an earlier Warner's film, whose title I forget (everything about it was pretty forgettable, it was a rip off of Boy's Town, featuring (I think) the Dead End Kids, or at the very least Huntz Hall.

 

A lot of good use is made of the classic Ruth Etting tune If I Could be with You (One Hour Tonight) ; it shows up in different arrangments throughout the score; reflects the mood of the story quite nicely.

 

If I Could Be... also features prominently in Casablanca, perhaps a few other Curtiz pics; it certainly shows up in a lot of WB films; it also shows up a lot in Mister Roberts, courtesy of Jack Lemmon- where the risque undercurrent of the lyrics bust the dam. Crawford sings it briefly in the film; it's a great moment, and a great song.

 

Here is Clara Bixby's version:

 

 

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a few other things re: Flamingo Road: I recently discovered that the music score was recycled from an earlier Warner's film, whose title I forget (everything about it was pretty forgettable, it was a rip off of Boy's Town, featuring (I think) the Dead End Kids, or at the very least Huntz Hall.

 

A lot of good use is made of the classic Ruth Etting tune If I Could be with You (One Hour Tonight) ; it shows up in different arrangments throughout the score; reflects the mood of the story quite nicely.

 

If I Could Be... also features prominently in Casablanca, perhaps a few other Curtiz pics; it certainly shows up in a lot of WB films; it also shows up a lot in Mister Roberts, courtesy of Jack Lemmon- where the risque undercurrent of the lyrics bust the dam. Crawford sings it briefly in the film; it's a great moment, and a great song.

 

Here is Clara Bixby's version:

 

 

The 'Boy's Town' rip-off might be Crime School released in 1938 starring Bogie and the Dead-End kids.   It could also be The Mayor of Hell released in 1933 with James Cagney  (but no Dead-End kids).

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The 'Boy's Town' rip-off might be Crime School released in 1938 starring Bogie and the Dead-End kids.   It could also be The Mayor of Hell released in 1933 with James Cagney  (but no Dead-End kids).

 

A Child Is Born, which was shown yesterday for Gladys George, is almost a carbon copy of Loretta Young's Life Begins, which was filmed eight years earlier.  I liked them both, but for sentimental reasons I prefer the Young version, since it was at least partially filmed on location in the Manhattan hospital in which I was born twelve years later.

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And nothing beats the scene between her and Greenstreet on the porch of The Palmer House: "I'm not leaving, do you get that?!"

 

(slap slap)

 

 

 

Agreed.

 

Is that "both side of the face" slap a uniquely Crawford thing or did other actresses also use it? 

I know she slaps her daughter like this in MILDRED PIERCE

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ah, it does me shriveled little heart good to see people discussing Le Boulevard du Passions, (Flamingo Road) one of my favorites of the forties.

 

while i've seen the movie over a dozen times, I had the unique experience of watching it while house/dog sitting for some friends of mine who own a classic sprawling white Colonial manse (replete with grand staircase) quite a bit like the model Crawford scores for herself in Act II of Flamingo Road...I kept running across rambling living room, throwing open the pocket doors to the study and shouting "Field!" just like Joan in the scene where she discovers Zachary Scott has shot himself.

 

This, of course, confused their Labrador Retriever considerably, but I got a kick out of it.

 

It was also the first time I've been able to see Flamingo Road on a really substantial screen (they've got one of those huge flat screen Vizio deals) and all sorts of details were noticed I'd missed before.

 

While it is one of my favorites, I concede it's got some faults, most notably a little lag somewhere around the middle and the fact that David Brian's character is kind of boring. I've also heretofore felt that the ending lacks a little something, but seeing now it on a screen a yard across, I actually noticed it's quite artfully done, with the struggle between Greenstreet and Crawford reflected in the shattered mirror shards while the soundtrack ramps it up to an eleven.I also noticed more of Crawford's expressions that went with her performance, which is absolutely one of her best. (She kills the final line "Oh, Dan Reynolds, I told you one of these days that you'd make me cry!")

 

One thing about Flamingo Road that hooks me is: it's a slender story that I don't think anyone (Curtiz, Crawford, Scott etc) was terribly excited about making- but they all throw themselves into it with 100% commitment, Crawford with her incredible performance where she succeeds in doing the kind fo role she would've done well 15 years before, and Curtiz whose visuals and snappy pacing keep the whole thing barrelling down the track until the finale.  (Crawford in fact, was ordered by Jack Warner to do the picture instead of a sappy biopic about a suffering grade school teacher that she wanted to make, a knock-off of Our Miss Brooks, thank God she did Flamingo Road instead.) It's a gallery of wonderful WB supporting players and makes use of some great sets and exteriors (and even the scenes that use obvious rear projections I find endearing) great sets and the standard shady post-Mildred lighting scheme that Crawford's films are shot in.

 

The film is like a shark, it never stops moving in order to stay alive.

 

It's also one of those "post-Code pre-Code" movies that somehow (maybe Crawford's age and stature as a recentish Oscar winner had something to do with it) manages to not hide the fact that sex is everywhere in it. Lute Maes has "been called many things, most recently a roadhouse"- I think we know what else it's been called; Crawford takes her clothes off in front of Scott (and the audience ) with a blase resignation; she's been around the block and makes it clear  "I'm tired of greasy food and one night stands..."; Crawford is put in stir for hooking, she and Zachary Scott clearly sleep together in the scene by the lake before he ditches her and marries Annabelle (which really adds to the sense of desolation we feel for her character once she is really broken down and forced out of town, and makes us cheer her triumph when she returns bedecked in mink and designs by Travilla.)

 

And nothing beats the scene between her and Greenstreet on the porch of The Palmer House: "I'm not leaving, do you get that?!"

 

(slap slap)

 

A great film for anyone who's ever been pushed around or unfairly forced out by miopic, small-mided, territorial, petty people...

 

 

LOL. Lorna. I can just picture you descending that staircase.....Flamingo Road is one of my Joan Guilty Pleasures. Not great by any means, but very entertaining and trashy fun. I didn't watch it this time around, but have seen it many times. Sydney G. looks very unhealthy in this film. In one scene (I think on the porch) he's clearly perspiring profusely. Did he die soon after the film was made? I think he died in the late 40s.........

 

Clearly there was a lot of "suggestion" to get around the code. But I'm sure most people picked up on it.........

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Something I didn't quite get about Flamingo Road was Sheriff Titus Semple's obsession with trying to make Joan get out and stay out of his town.

Ok, so he saw her as a low-life tramp (right, a "****-koochie" girl in the carnival - hey, I got to say "****-koochie "!), not the sort of woman he wanted his yes-man Field Carlisle to be going around town with, certainly not marrying.

But honestly, it seems so obsessive ! Of course, Greenstreet's hatred for Joan is largely what makes this movie spin, and without it, or even with a weaker version of it, we might have a less memorable Flamingo Road.

Still, such relentless persecution ! I wondered at one point if Semple had a secret thing for Joan ("Lane") himself, was afraid of it, and hence dealt with it by becoming her worst enemy. But this is too ridiculous, it just doesn't feel right. I love Sydney Greenstreet, but he's got to be one of the most sexless actors from the "golden", or for that matter, any, era.

 

ps: they edited out "h o o c h i e - k o o c h i e"?  I thought it was one of those vague expressions that meant  good time dance hall girl at its lightest, outright prostitute at its most extreme. Either way, it hardly merits a **** out by OttoCensor, unless it has some deeper raunchier meaning that I"m unaware of.

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Something I didn't quite get about Flamingo Road was Sheriff Titus Semple's obsession with trying to make Joan get out and stay out of his town.

Ok, so he saw her as a low-life tramp (right, a "****-koochie" girl in the carnival - hey, I got to say "****-koochie "!),

 

Actually, you didn't!

 

(I like "four star kootchie" better anyhow.)

 

ps- why is kootchie acceptable but the "h" one isn't?

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Agreed.

 

Is that "both side of the face" slap a uniquely Crawford thing or did other actresses also use it? 

I know she slaps her daughter like this in MILDRED PIERCE

 

Oh, she patented that s***; it was her trademark- along with the eyebrows and intensity. It was known as the "Crawford Around-the-World-And-Back Slap."

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Sydney G. looks very unhealthy in this film. In one scene (I think on the porch) he's clearly perspiring profusely. Did he die soon after the film was made? I think he died in the late 40s.........

Flamingo Road was Greenstreet's swan song. He died, I believe, the year it was released.

 

He looks on the verge of death in every scene he's in, but he still pulls it off (while still being vaguely British) and is another of the reasons I just love the film.

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Something I didn't quite get about Flamingo Road was Sheriff Titus Semple's obsession with trying to make Joan get out and stay out of his town.

Ok, so he saw her as a low-life tramp (right, a "****-koochie" girl in the carnival - hey, I got to say "****-koochie "!), not the sort of woman he wanted his yes-man Field Carlisle to be going around town with, certainly not marrying.

But honestly, it seems so obsessive ! Of course, Greenstreet's hatred for Joan is largely what makes this movie spin, and without it, or even with a weaker version of it, we might have a less memorable Flamingo Road.

Still, such relentless persecution ! I wondered at one point if Semple had a secret thing for Joan ("Lane") himself, was afraid of it, and hence dealt with it by becoming her worst enemy. But this is too ridiculous, it just doesn't feel right. I love Sydney Greenstreet, but he's got to be one of the most sexless actors from the "golden", or for that matter, any, era.

 

ps: they edited out "h o o c h i e - k o o c h i e"?  I thought it was one of those vague expressions that meant  good time dance hall girl at its lightest, outright prostitute at its most extreme. Either way, it hardly merits a **** out by OttoCensor, unless it has some deeper raunchier meaning that I"m unaware of.

 

 

Yes,  you are right about Sydney's obsession w/Joan. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but then there wouldn't be much of a movie w/out it..........

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Actually, you didn't!

 

(I like "four star kootchie" better anyhow.)

 

ps- why is kootchie acceptable but the "h" one isn't?

 

 

Funny they only censor the first word. Apparently kootchie is ok? (LOL)

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Flamingo Road was Greenstreet's swan song. He died, I believe, the year it was released.

 

He looks on the verge of death in every scene he's in, but he still pulls it off (while still being vaguely British) and is another of the reasons I just love the film.

 

 

Yes, I wondered. He doesn't look well in this film..........

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Something I didn't quite get about Flamingo Road was Sheriff Titus Semple's obsession with trying to make Joan get out and stay out of his town.

 

Of course, Greenstreet's hatred for Joan is largely what makes this movie spin, and without it, or even with a weaker version of it, we might have a less memorable Flamingo Road.

Still, such relentless persecution ! I wondered at one point if Semple had a secret thing for Joan ("Lane") himself, was afraid of it, and hence dealt with it by becoming her worst enemy.

 

Apparently in the 1980s TV series FLAMINGO ROAD, Sheriff Semple was originally going to be revealed as Lane's "long-lost" father but this plot twist was dropped before the show's pilot was produced.

I don't know if this twist occurred in the source novel. 

 

(I am intrigued by this series and am still looking for some video clips in English. Has anyone on this board ever seen any episodes of this show? Apparently it lasted only 2 seasons on American television.) 

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Apparently in the 1980s TV series FLAMINGO ROAD, Sheriff Semple was originally going to be revealed as Lane's "long-lost" father but this plot twist was dropped before the show's pilot was produced.

I don't know if this twist occurred in the source novel. 

 

(I am intrigued by this series and am still looking for some video clips in English. Has anyone on this board ever seen any episodes of this show? Apparently it lasted only 2 seasons on American television.) 

I believe I saw the series completely, and was sad it got cancelled.  I was familiar with, and preferred, the Crawford movie, especially as Cristina Rains (?) was no Joan; Mark harmon didn't measure up to his predecessor either, but Morgan Fairchild was deicious as the rich b i t c h.....in any case, the storyline is one of those compelling guilty pleasures which I enjoyed in my early teen years.

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