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25. Love Me Tonight

prince

By Stephen Mullen

Love Me Tonight starts with the ringing of bells, then fades in to shots of Paris – rooftops, streets, the Seine. We see a lone bicyclist, hear the swish of his tires on the street, then see an overhead shot of one street, with a man pushing a wheelbarrow. We hear its wheels; he stops, tosses his tools into the street (clank, clank), and he starts working, pounding a steady rhythm. We cut to an overhead shot of a bum, asleep, snoring. Then to a woman sweeping; to steam whistling from a chimney; to windows opening, a baby crying, to a man with a sawhorse, kids in the street, another man opening a store; women hanging out clothes, flapping them off their balconies; two cobblers sit down to their work, pounding nails (bang: tap/tap – bang: tap/tap); a knife grinder grinds, there’s traffic in the streets, there’s a woman pounding a rug, a car horn sounds – all of it mixes together, layered on everything else, a symphony of sounds, finished, so to speak, by a woman opening her window and turning on her gramophone, the whole street come together in music. And the camera goes into one room and finds Maurice Chevalier, dressing for the day, trying to shut out the noise, but not able to resist it – give him a second, and he’ll be singing along. Continue Reading »

1 troubleinparadise WitD

By Duane Porter

In the darkness, light filters through the glass panes of a closed door. A man steps up and takes hold of a garbage can that has been left outside the door. He carries it to the edge of a canal and adds it’s contents to the already huge pile of garbage in his waiting gondola. Setting down the empty can, he exuberantly breaks into song with “O Sole Mio” as he pushes off on his way down the canal. This is Ernst Lubitsch’s Venice.

Having just pulled off an audacious robbery, master thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall), posing as some sort of baron, is making plans to have a most romantic dinner with a beautiful visiting countess.

“It must be the most marvelous supper. We may not eat it, but it must be marvelous.”

“And, waiter. You see that moon?”

“Yes, Baron.”

“I want to see that moon in the champagne.”

The countess arrives in a fluster, worried that she has been seen entering his rooms and that, surely, a scandal will ensue. His suave soothing manner seems to put her at ease and they start the evening with a kiss and a cocktail. She is Lily Vautier (Miriam Hopkins), but she is no more a countess than he is a baron. As the evening progresses, they each become aware that neither is who they purport to be. She has lifted a wallet from his pocket and guesses it to be from the earlier robbery, news of which has traveled very fast. Not easily taken unaware, Gaston now knows that his guest is a charming little pickpocket. He grabs her by the shoulders and shakes her until the wallet falls to the floor. He picks it up, puts it in his pocket, and resumes his dinner. Delighted, they begin returning various items they have taken from each other. He has her pin. She has his watch. They are surprised and excited by the other’s prowess. Continue Reading »

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Screen capture from A Nagy Fuzet (The Notebook)

by Sam Juliano

Labor Day.  Summer’s End.  The arrival of September.  The time the year’s most prestigious movies are released.  The opening of the opera and classical concert season.  The launching of the NFL Season.  The final weeks of MLB.  The start of cooler weather.  The opening of the school year.  Back to work for some late vacationers.   Lucille, the kids and I will be attending a holiday barbecue at the home of our lifelong friends Tony and Sara Lucibello today (Monday, that is).  A nice group, including my brother Paul and his family, and some cherished friends will also be in attendance.

The Romantic countdown is set to examine the Top 25 tomorrow.  Its hard to believe that three-quarters of the marathon project is complete, but here we are in the final lap.  The superlative quality of the writing continues, and no doubt will continue to right up until the final entry on October 6th.  It has not been an easy endeavor for a number of people -myself included- but in just five weeks many will earn a well-earned extended rest.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time to comment and follow the unveiling, and especially to the writers, all of whom have worked their tails off to offer unique new interpretations of the films that landed in the countdown. Continue Reading »

penistan crag

by Sam Juliano

Heathcliff, it’s me, your Cathy, I’ve come home
I’m so cold, let me into your window
Heathcliff, it’s me, your Cathy, I’ve come home
I’m so cold, let me into your window

                                            -Kate Bush, 1978

Emily Bronte’s wildly-popular Victorian Age novel Wuthering Heights is surely one of the half dozen greatest novels ever written in the English language.  It is also one of the most adapted works for television and the screen, with nearly twenty titular interpretations, including a 1920 British version directed by A.V. Bramble that appears to be lost.  The most recent adaptation was a visually resplendent 2011 revamping by Andrea Arnold, while the most faithful to its source is undoubtedly the 1978 television series, directed by Peter Hammond,which practically followed the book line by line because of its 255 minute running time.  Some of the most famous of the films based on the novel include Luis Bunuel’s Spanish-language Abismos de Pasion, filmed in Mexico, which accurately reflections the original personalities of the characters while largely eschewing narrative fidelity; the stylish and primordial Japanese Onimaru by master Yoshishige Yoshida which features a serpent-like Heathcliff and a story of taboo desires; French maestro Jacques Rivette’s spiritually provocative and beautifully shot. Hurlevelent, which covers the first half of the novel; and a 1992 interpretation by Peter Kominsky and starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche that divided the critics.

Two operas were written on the novel – one an extraordinary work by celebrated American opera composer Carlisle Floyd that was released in 1958 and the other by film maestro Bernard Herrmann, who wrote it in the late 40’s, though it wasn’t actually recorded in its entirety until 1966.  The British pop singer Kate Bush, who was just 18 at the time, never wrote a more popular song in her distinguished career than her 1978 “Wuthering Heights” whose plaintive refrain “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy…I’ve come home” helped bring the complex romantic novel new life with teenagers, many of whom were motivated to tackle the novel as a result of the Number 1 charts single. Continue Reading »

 

My Darling Chico,

You have been away from me for nearly 2 years now at war. I simply can’t believe you’ve been away that long. It’s also been so long since I’ve heard from you. I miss you so much. We parted on our wedding day and I relive those last moments together as if they exist outside of time. I wonder how you are and pray to God that you will return home soon. I long for you to hold me in your arms. So many moments of our short life together come flooding back to me. I woke up on the street that day to you holding a violet over my face to wake me up. Words can’t express how much I wanted you to take me in your arms and carry me away to safety. I had hardly met you but quickly I knew you were something special. You so selflessly gave of yourself to me, saving my life, when even I didn’t think it worth saving. Claiming me as your wife to keep me from going to jail….. I could tell you had a good heart right from the start and I knew we were meant to be.

Continue Reading »

By Jon Warner

Is there a romance that is as cute as this one? I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I think this film is immensely delightful. It’s unabashedly sentimental and romantic, yet the earnestness of the filmmaking propels it onward and upward. It’s also one of cinema’s great romance films, and one of its most unsung. Romance films can be accused of being too manipulative, sentimental, and slight and when done poorly. True they can be. However when done right, there is an intelligence, a wit, and a keen perception of our humanity on display. I think of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, or even Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The two stars of Lonesome, Barbara Kent and Glenn Tryon, don’t have nearly the same cachet as other classic on-screen pairings, but they sure give it the old college try in this lively and charming, late silent film masterpiece. Until Criterion’s release a few years ago, this film had little exposure. It sure deserves it’s high ranking on this countdown, and in my personal opinion, ranks right up there with the best of them. Continue Reading »

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by John Grant

US / 93 minutes / bw / Santana, Columbia Dir: Nicholas Ray Pr: Robert Lord Scr: Edmund H. North, Andrew Solt Story: In a Lonely Place (1947) by Dorothy B. Hughes Cine: Burnett Guffey Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid, Art Smith, Jeff Donnell, Martha Stewart, Robert Warwick, Morris Ankrum, William Ching, Steven Geray, Hadda Brooks, Jack Reynolds, Ruth Gillette, Alix Talton, Lewis Howard, Don Hamin.

Dorothy B. Hughes’s psychological thriller In a Lonely Place (1947) is one of those marvelous novels that make the hardboiled pulp literature of the 1940s and 1950s such a rich trove for lovers of what one might call vernacular literature. Its central character is a serial strangler called Dixon “Dix” Steele. He has murdered the tenant of the apartment in which he now dwells—and he’s living off the dead man’s allowance—but most of his murders are sex killings. To the world, and to his old army buddy Brub Nicolai, now a cop, he pretends he’s a wildly talented upcoming writer; like so many such, he never in fact writes anything. Against all the odds, he strikes up a passionate relationship with the redhead who lives in a neighboring apartment, Laurel Gray. What he doesn’t know is that she has recognized the cigarette lighter she gave to the man he killed; with Brub, Brub’s wife Sylvia and Brub’s boss, Captain Lochner, she works to bring the serial killer to justice . . .

To aficionados of the 1950 Nick Ray movie, the names will seem familiar and likewise some of the circumstances, but the whole basis of the plot disturbingly different, as if Hughes had capriciously thrown together the elements of the movie and made something willfully other out of them. Of course, the reality is the other way round; but the movie has become so very much more a part of the popular consciousness than the half-forgotten novel that it has come to dominate our perceptions of what’s the “right” version. Continue Reading »

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