Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

I Love a Good Melodrama.


lydecker
 Share

Recommended Posts

Sometimes there is nothing quite so satisfying as a well written, well produced Golden Age melodrama which is something I realized yesterday as I watched "The Young Philadelphians" on TCM.  Based on a best selling novel by Richard Powell this film is one my ultimate guilty pleasures.  It's a great melding of some of the best resources of "Old Hollywood"   -- Billie Burke, John Williams, Otto Kruger, Alexis Smith, director Vincent Sherman, DP Harry Stradling, Sr.  -- and the brightest up and comers of 1950's "New Hollywood" -- Paul Newman, Robert Vaughn, Brian Keith (who played Paul Newman's father, even though he was only 4 years old than Newman!) and Barbara Rush.  It also gives a fairly prominent role to the terrific Paul Picerni, who had a long career in film and TV.  "Melodrama" is a term critics often use to disparage a novel or film but sometimes a melodrama, well done, can be quite enjoyable!

 

Do you have a favorite melodrama?

 

Lydecker

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes there is nothing quite so satisfying as a well written, well produced Golden Age melodrama which is something I realized yesterday as I watched "The Young Philadelphians" on TCM.  Based on a best selling novel by Richard Powell this film is one my ultimate guilty pleasures.  It's a great melding of some of the best resources of "Old Hollywood"   -- Billie Burke, John Williams, Otto Kruger, Alexis Smith, director Vincent Sherman, DP Harry Stradling, Sr.  -- and the brightest up and comers of 1950's "New Hollywood" -- Paul Newman, Robert Vaughn, Brian Keith (who played Paul Newman's father, even though he was only 4 years old than Newman!) and Barbara Rush.  It also gives a fairly prominent role to the terrific Paul Picerni, who had a long career in film and TV.  "Melodrama" is a term critics often use to disparage a novel or film but sometimes a melodrama, well done, can be quite enjoyable!

 

Do you have a favorite melodrama?

 

Lydecker

 

I love The Young Philadelphians (still my favorite Paul Newman movie) -- though I wouldn't call it a melodrama. I'm not sure what a melodrama is. When I was a kid, the TV Guide used to call classic Universal horror films melodramas.

 

One question about The Young Philadelphians, that has been bothering me for years. How did they know that Richard Deacon was going to drink the "water?"  Much of the case seemed to hinge on that, as I recall. (I recorded it yesterday).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whenever I see the word melodrama the first film that comes to mind for me is Mildred Pierce. Now that's melodrama - the strong black and white visuals (though black and white is not a necessity but this film's cinematography is particularly striking), a man being shot in the film's opening scene, the emotionally churning interactions of its lead characters, including self sacrificing mother and manipulative daughter from hell. Plus Joan Crawford with a gun in her hand.

 

I haven't seen The Young Philadelphians in ages but I always sort of thought that it fell into the category of being a soap opera. Maybe I'm wrong. As I said, it's been a while.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whenever I see the word melodrama the first film that comes to mind for me is Mildred Pierce. Now that's melodrama - the strong black and white visuals (though black and white is not a necessity but this film's cinematography is particularly striking), a man being shot in the film's opening scene, the emotionally churning interactions of its lead characters, including self sacrificing mother and manipulative daughter from hell. Plus Joan Crawford with a gun in her hand.

 

I haven't seen The Young Philadelphians in ages but I always sort of thought that it fell into the category of being a soap opera. Maybe I'm wrong. As I said, it's been a while.

I like melodramas too and the mention of Mildred Pierce puts me in mind of The Dark Mirror with Olivia DeHavilland and Lew Ayres.  What a suspenseful story with beautiful Black and White photography. 

I like the Young Philadelphians and it is a good soap-opera film.  Would love to catch it again.  In the late 50's and 60's we had some great melodramas; Home Before Dark with Jean Simmons and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.  Another melodrama, but in Color! 

 

Thoughts about another one from the late 50's come to mind with Richard Burton, Angie Dickinson and Barbara Rush.  Drat!  I've gone and forgotten the title --  50 demerits!  I know it starts with a B!  Sorry for mentioning it, but.....  Anyway, it was very touching in spots about a man with cancer who is dying and wants his Dr, friend Richard Burton to give him an injection to end it all.  He withstands this  And adding to the pathos of the story is his secret love for his friend's lovely wife, Barbara Rush.  In the background Angie is a lovely nurse ....    Great soap opera melodrama!  (Jack Carson is good in supporting role as jealous of the doctor and wanting to smear his name and good standing).

Just remembered!  The Bramble Bush is the title and it really grabs the viewer. I had taped it long ago -  about 10 or 12 years - at least - LOL~! 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Black & White--"Flamingo Road" (1949)--Joan Crawford goes from Nothing in Society, to Something, and then to??  FR also involves Joan with revolvers.  Also starring Sidney Greenstreet, David Brian, and Gladys George.

 

Color--"Not As A Stranger" (1955)--The stable scene makes the film.  With Robert Mitchum & Gloria Grahame in said scene; also starring Frank Sinatra and Olivia de Havilland.  "A Summer Place" (1959) is a close 2nd.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Black & White--"Flamingo Road" (1949)--Joan Crawford goes from Nothing in Society, to Something, and then to??  FR also involves Joan with revolvers.  Also starring Sidney Greenstreet, David Brian, and Gladys George.

 

Color--"Not As A Stranger" (1955)--The stable scene makes the film.  With Robert Mitchum & Gloria Grahame in said scene; also starring Frank Sinatra and Olivia de Havilland.  "A Summer Place" (1959) is a close 2nd.

I agree on these 2 films and A Summer Place.  They make really good melodramas, as well the films I  mentioned earlier;

Home Before Dark -- with Jean Simmons and The Bramble Bush with Richard Burton and Barbara Rush.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree on these 2 films and A Summer Place.  They make really good melodramas, as well the films I  mentioned earlier;

Home Before Dark -- with Jean Simmons and The Bramble Bush with Richard Burton and Barbara Rush.

There you go...A Summer PlacePeyton Place, Parrish, or most of Douglas Sirk's 50s movies. That's what I think of as melodrama.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes there is nothing quite so satisfying as a well written, well produced Golden Age melodrama which is something I realized yesterday as I watched "The Young Philadelphians" on TCM.  Based on a best selling novel by Richard Powell this film is one my ultimate guilty pleasures.  It's a great melding of some of the best resources of "Old Hollywood"   -- Billie Burke, John Williams, Otto Kruger, Alexis Smith, director Vincent Sherman, DP Harry Stradling, Sr.  -- and the brightest up and comers of 1950's "New Hollywood" -- Paul Newman, Robert Vaughn, Brian Keith (who played Paul Newman's father, even though he was only 4 years old than Newman!) and Barbara Rush.  It also gives a fairly prominent role to the terrific Paul Picerni, who had a long career in film and TV.  "Melodrama" is a term critics often use to disparage a novel or film but sometimes a melodrama, well done, can be quite enjoyable!

 

Do you have a favorite melodrama?

 

Lydecker

I just saw this movie for the first time this year and wondered how I managed to miss it thus far.  I love this movie.  It has got great acting, great courtroom drama-I am a big fan of courtroom dramas - and lots o plot twists especially with Vaughn.

 

Adam West of TV Batman fame is in the beginning of the movie as the man everyone including Newman thinks is his father.  This character dies shortly after getting married. 

 

 

Melodramas for me depend really upon the actual movie in question.  Some I love, and others make me cringe.

 

I'll list some favourites in a separate post than this reply.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love The Young Philadelphians (still my favorite Paul Newman movie) -- though I wouldn't call it a melodrama. I'm not sure what a melodrama is. When I was a kid, the TV Guide used to call classic Universal horror films melodramas.

 

One question about The Young Philadelphians, that has been bothering me for years. How did they know that Richard Deacon was going to drink the "water?"  Much of the case seemed to hinge on that, as I recall. (I recorded it yesterday).

 

 

 

Spoiler about the water drinking............................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my opinion, they knew that Deacon would drink the "water" because they had built him up to feel superior and that if he did drik it, it would  prove his testimony all along.  Deacon's character was smug-and smug people are predictable in how they will react in the same type of circumstances.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never known how to properly classify a melodrama. I've always thought of them having over-heated emotional moments, usually about romantic situations or family situations. Basically, soap operas.

Yes, I have always had a feeling of soap opera in the back of my mind when I think of melodrama.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

FAVOURITE MELODRAMAS:

 

Written in the Wind

Summer Place

Summer of '42

The Magnificent Obsession

Good titles!  I like all of the above and re-watched a very poignant melodrama with Richard Burton and Barbara Rush a couple of nights ago. In The Bramble Bush  Richard was outstanding as a small-town doctor asscusd of mercy-killing a patient. It has multi-interest elements and really reaches the viewer. Angie Dickinson was marvelous in a supporting role, as was Jack Carson.

 

My Latest Melodrama List:

Portrait in Black

The Bramble Bush    (mentioned above)

This Love of Ours      (with Merle Oberon and Charlves Korvin)

Come Back, Little Sheba

About Mrs. Leslie

Corridor of Mirrors

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes there is nothing quite so satisfying as a well written, well produced Golden Age melodrama which is something I realized yesterday as I watched "The Young Philadelphians" on TCM.  Based on a best selling novel by Richard Powell this film is one my ultimate guilty pleasures.  It's a great melding of some of the best resources of "Old Hollywood"   -- Billie Burke, John Williams, Otto Kruger, Alexis Smith, director Vincent Sherman, DP Harry Stradling, Sr.  -- and the brightest up and comers of 1950's "New Hollywood" -- Paul Newman, Robert Vaughn, Brian Keith (who played Paul Newman's father, even though he was only 4 years old than Newman!) and Barbara Rush.  It also gives a fairly prominent role to the terrific Paul Picerni, who had a long career in film and TV.  "Melodrama" is a term critics often use to disparage a novel or film but sometimes a melodrama, well done, can be quite enjoyable!

 

Do you have a favorite melodrama?

 

Lydecker

Actually, Laura is one of the best murder-mystery melodramas I have ever seen.  Another great melodrama / murder mystery is

Leave Her to Heaven!  What a coincidence that the marvelous talents of Gene Tierney and Vincent Price graced the screen in both!

 

There is another one called Corridor of Mirrors which is an outstanding British Film Noir of the 40's.  Eric Portman and Edana Romney are the stars and it is a wonderful  combination of a melodrama and a murder mystery. 

 

About ten or twelve years ago I found a great catalog from a company that specialized in these films.  I randomly chose this film.  I was getting into British Film Noir, so was lucky to find the wonderful Video Yesteryear that had many British melodramas. of the 40's and 50's.   Well, they went out of business not long after.  Sadly, they would (or could)  not sell their VHS tapes, though I offered to pay the old price of $15 apiece for a few.  I would have transferred them to DVD.  After calling and writing, I gave it up.

 

After that an ad for another company arrived, but it was not quite the same.  Luckily, I have found a few 40'5 and 50's British "mellows" and they are good too.  So I keep an eye out and have a lot of "NEW" favorites including Jean Kent, Jean Simmons and Guy Rolf films.   There is also a poignant murder / melodrama with Dirk Bogard as an "accidental" killer on the run called Hunted from the early 50's.  Another from '55 is the suspenseful Footsteps in the Fog,  an intriguing (Color) murder / melodrama.  Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger are outstanding in this film.

 

Some of these movies  have more than a murder mystery to tell;  included for us to find are often interesting character studies .  Many of these tales are timeless and have quite a story within.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There you go...A Summer PlacePeyton Place, Parrish, or most of Douglas Sirk's 50s movies. That's what I think of as melodrama.

Me too!  I just re-watched all three films..  I love Douglas Sirk films.  I just ordered a neat book called Love in the 50's (which really

centers around the 40's) and it features a lot of interesting info. on some great Douglas Sirk films.  The book profiles

Douglas himself, which makes for an interesting read.  He was very imaginative and brought out a wonderful performance in

others.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oops!  Bear with me.  Everyone has been a good sport about my annoying habit of.... 

 

At the end of a line I have a 20 plus year habit to hit the Return button to make the text look balanced.  This makes for the line cutting off in the middle of the page on the next line!  THis time I caught myself in the above line and will try not to do it  (I am a former Secretary from the 70's and 80's and always typed so fast so as to balance the line to fit with the next one.  Now I see what I have been doing!  On the Typewriter we could do it successfully!  But not with Computers! 

 

When I get to the end of a line I will try really hard not to hit the RETURN button!   After we had computers installed all went well.

 

Just recently I have been out of the workplace (due to a medical condition with my spine which prevents me walking) and went back to the old, annoying habit!  Will try to cool it  .. for awhile!

For the sake of all my TCM Message Board pals I will work on it!

:)

Thanks Everybody!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with "melodrama" is that the term has several different meanings.

 

1. The word comes from the Greek, meaning a drama with music. We don't use this definition much, but when Max Steiner uses the full orchestra, we're close to this original meaning.

2. There's the generally unflattering sense that Swithin mentions: characters are all black or all white, situations are exaggerated and highly improbable. Any genre can be melodramatic in this sense. If I called Billy Zane's character in TITANIC melodramatic, and is it ever, it would be in this pejorative sense.

3. Melodrama = soap opera. Enter amnesia, evil twins, etc.

4. Melodrama = domestic drama. Our Douglas Sirk and Delmer Daves favorites.

5. Some academics seem to use drama and melodrama interchangeably, but this isn't helpful. Calling A FACE IN THE CROWD drama and WRITTEN ON THE WIND melodrama is a sensible distinction. (I love both pictures.)

6. Some of the melodramas in categories 3 & 4 were traditionally called "women's pictures." A friend suggested that more men will watch these films, which many of us love, if they are called "domestic melodramas."

 

Of course, a film may fit several of these meanings at the same time, just as MILDRED PIERCE is both a film noir and a woman's picture, er, "domestic melodrama."

 

 

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, Laura is one of the best murder-mystery melodramas I have ever seen.  Another great melodrama / murder mystery is

Leave Her to Heaven!  What a coincidence that the marvelous talents of Gene Tierney and Vincent Price graced the screen in both!

 

There is another one called Corridor of Mirrors which is an outstanding British Film Noir of the 40's.  Eric Portman and Edana Romney are the stars and it is a wonderful  combination of a melodrama and a murder mystery. 

 

About ten or twelve years ago I found a great catalog from a company that specialized in these films.  I randomly chose this film.  I was getting into British Film Noir, so was lucky to find the wonderful Video Yesteryear that had many British melodramas. of the 40's and 50's.   Well, they went out of business not long after.  Sadly, they would (or could)  not sell their VHS tapes, though I offered to pay the old price of $15 apiece for a few.  I would have transferred them to DVD.  After calling and writing, I gave it up.

 

After that an ad for another company arrived, but it was not quite the same.  Luckily, I have found a few 40'5 and 50's British "mellows" and they are good too.  So I keep an eye out and have a lot of "NEW" favorites including Jean Kent, Jean Simmons and Guy Rolf films.   There is also a poignant murder / melodrama with Dirk Bogard as an "accidental" killer on the run called Hunted from the early 50's.  Another from '55 is the suspenseful Footsteps in the Fog,  an intriguing (Color) murder / melodrama.  Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger are outstanding in this film.

 

Some of these movies  have more than a murder mystery to tell;  included for us to find are often interesting character studies .  Many of these tales are timeless and have quite a story within.

I have seen some of these movies but not all of them.

 

Laura is one of my favourite movies of all time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oops!  Bear with me.  Everyone has been a good sport about my annoying habit of.... 

 

At the end of a line I have a 20 plus year habit to hit the Return button to make the text look balanced.  This makes for the line cutting off in the middle of the page on the next line!  THis time I caught myself in the above line and will try not to do it  (I am a former Secretary from the 70's and 80's and always typed so fast so as to balance the line to fit with the next one.  Now I see what I have been doing!  On the Typewriter we could do it successfully!  But not with Computers! 

 

When I get to the end of a line I will try really hard not to hit the RETURN button!   After we had computers installed all went well.

 

Just recently I have been out of the workplace (due to a medical condition with my spine which prevents me walking) and went back to the old, annoying habit!  Will try to cool it  .. for awhile!

For the sake of all my TCM Message Board pals I will work on it!

:)

Thanks Everybody!

Take care.

Don't worry about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like I better see THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS sometime, thanks for mentioning it here.

 

I just finished watching CONFESSION ('37) the Kay Francis film that recently aired recommended for Basil Rathbone's evil role. It certainly fits the criteria: over the top acting, inplausable situations, emotionally driven shootings & dramatic courtroom scenes. It certainly was meaty watching with Kay Francis as a blonde nightclub singer! 

The lighting, sets & costumes made it feel like a German noir but the situations were all American soap. I especially loved the plot point of being marked a horrible wife just for getting drunk & falling asleep at a party! (ok I suppose infidelity is implied, but really

 

This was especially clever for the same scenes played from different points of view.

 

This movie reminded me of the ultimate soaper MILDRED PIERCE, mentioned earlier. I think whenever you get a drama queen & a  daughter, it's a recipe for disaster. Bonus if the mother is Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or even often cool Kay Francis.

 

The rare male drama queen can sometimes be spotted, but the drama always revolves around wimmen or career. THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL comes to mind. My favorite Kirk Douglas scream is in that one, "Maybe I like being cheap once in awhile. Get out....get OUT!"

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is another one called Corridor of Mirrors which is an outstanding British Film Noir of the 40's.  Eric Portman and Edana Romney are the stars and it is a wonderful  combination of a melodrama and a murder mystery. 

 

Yes, Corridor of Mirrors is, among other things, a great visual and aural treat, highly reminiscent of Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast in its surrealist presentation. Eric Portman plays a wealthy artist obsessed with Edana Romney, a woman he meets who bears a striking resemblance to a woman in a centuries-old painting he owns. He becomes convinced that they were lovers in a previous life.

 

It would be a special treat if TCM was to broadcast a print of this, unfortunately, quite rare film.

 

corridorofmirrors460.jpg

 

corridor-of-mirrors11.jpg

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with "melodrama" is that the term has several different meanings.

 

1. The word comes from the Greek, meaning a drama with music. We don't use this definition much, but when Max Steiner uses the full orchestra, we're close to this original meaning.

2. There's the generally unflattering sense that Swithin mentions: characters are all black or all white, situations are exaggerated and highly improbable. Any genre can be melodramatic in this sense. If I called Billy Zane's character in TITANIC melodramatic, and is it ever, it would be in this pejorative sense.

3. Melodrama = soap opera. Enter amnesia, evil twins, etc.

4. Melodrama = domestic drama. Our Douglas Sirk and Delmer Daves favorites.

5. Some academics seem to use drama and melodrama interchangeably, but this isn't helpful. Calling A FACE IN THE CROWD drama and WRITTEN ON THE WIND melodrama is a sensible distinction. (I love both pictures.)

6. Some of the melodramas in categories 3 & 4 were traditionally called "women's pictures." A friend suggested that more men will watch these films, which many of us love, if they are called "domestic melodramas."

 

Of course, a film may fit several of these meanings at the same time, just as MILDRED PIERCE is both a film noir and a woman's picture, er, "domestic melodrama."

These are great definitions.  I find that most critics use the term "melodrama" solely as a pejorative, which is unfortunate.  What is Casablanca if not a "melodrama" of sorts?  Or any of the great Bette Davis films such as Jezebel or Now Voyager? To me, definition #4 fits the bill most succinctly  --  "Melodrama = Domestic Drama."

 

Lydecker

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like I better see THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS sometime, thanks for mentioning it here.

 

I just finished watching CONFESSION ('37) the Kay Francis film that recently aired recommended for Basil Rathbone's evil role. It certainly fits the criteria: over the top acting, inplausable situations, emotionally driven shootings & dramatic courtroom scenes. It certainly was meaty watching with Kay Francis as a blonde nightclub singer! 

The lighting, sets & costumes made it feel like a German noir but the situations were all American soap. I especially loved the plot point of being marked a horrible wife just for getting drunk & falling asleep at a party! (ok I suppose infidelity is implied, but really

 

This was especially clever for the same scenes played from different points of view.

 

This movie reminded me of the ultimate soaper MILDRED PIERCE, mentioned earlier. I think whenever you get a drama queen & a  daughter, it's a recipe for disaster. Bonus if the mother is Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or even often cool Kay Francis.

 

The rare male drama queen can sometimes be spotted, but the drama always revolves around wimmen or career. THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL comes to mind. My favorite Kirk Douglas scream is in that one, "Maybe I like being cheap once in awhile. Get out....get OUT!"

Confession was an American remake of a German movie which was based upon a real-life event.

 

I've gotten to know a lot of Kay Francis due to TCM.  Her fans liked to go to her movies for a good cry.

 

Regarding Basil Rathbone, he is a great example of how some artists who have two separate movie identities  will be thought of by some fans from one perspective and by others another.  I know Rathbone is most famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, but I've rarely seen his Holmes movies compared to the films where he is the bad  guy.  I think of him always as an evil swordfighter, Nazi, cad etc.

 

The Bad and the Beautiful is one of my favourites too.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...