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Archive for April 26th, 2011

Director: Nicholas Ray

Producer: Robert Lord

Screenwriters: Edmund H. North and Andrew Solt

Cinematographer: Burnett Guffey

Music: George Antheil

Studio: Columbia Pictures 1950

Main Acting: Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame

John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” I wonder what he would make of Nicholas Ray’s In A Lonely Place, a profound and moving look at not just one person’s detachment from all those around him, but also the fallacy of male masculinity and the curse of an artist’s temperament. Ray’s film is equally about all three things. You get the sense that Donne’s quote may not be entirely absolute, at least in regards to this film—sometimes one can become an island through the actions he chooses.

Ray was always fascinated with exploring the outsiders of society, those who for whatever reason have either been pushed or gladly removed themselves from normal human interaction. Dix Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is such a figure. A screenwriter who can’t seem to connect with other people, he is a stunning mass of contradictions. Equally intelligent and sensitive one moment, then he’s animalistic and tortured another. This is an exploration of how someone could possess both an acute discerning eye for the depths of human emotion, while succumbing to every base conceived injury or insult. A violent yin and yang split that constantly leads to his continual drift away from everyone in which he comes in contact. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1934 90m) DVD2

A little springtime in your heart

p  Michael Balcon  d  Victor Saville  w  Emlyn Williams, Marjorie Gaffney  play  “Ever Green” by Benn W.Levy  ph  Glen MacWilliams  ed  Ian Dalrymple, Paul Capon  md  Louis Levy  m/ly  Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Harry Woods  art  Alfred Junge, Peter Proud  ch  Buddy Bradley

Jessie Matthews (Harriet Green/Harriet Hawkes), Sonnie Hale (Leslie Benn), Betty Balfour (Maudie), Barry Mackay (Tommy Thompson), Ivor McLaren (Marquis of Staines), Hartley Power (George Treadwell), Betty Shale (Mrs Hawkes), Marjorie Brooks (Marjorie Moore), Miles Malleson,

Evergreen manages to live up to its title.  It’s that most bizarre of contradictions in terms, an excellent British musical.  If I’m perfectly honest with myself, it might not quite be worthy of the classic epithet seventy years and more on, and yet it represents so much of cultural importance.  It represents the British cinema of the time as much as the early thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock and costume histories of Alexander Korda.  It also starred one of the great musical stars of them all, Jessie Matthews, at her absolute zenith.

            Harriet Green is a top-liner music hall entertainer in the Edwardian period – or ‘yesterday’ as the caption tells us – giving her final performance before retiring to marry aristocrat the Marquis of Staines.  Everything seems ideal, only for her bad penny ex-, George, to return and blackmail her into giving him more money in exchange for keeping quite about their past, which included a daughter.  Harriet decides she must escape from everything, running away to South Africa, leaving her beloved fiancé behind and her daughter in the care of her friend, Hawkie.  Cut forward a generation to ‘today’ and Harriet’s daughter is struggling to make her way in the same profession, until she finds the backing of the besotted Tommy Thompson and one of Harriet’s old friends, the recently widowed Lady Shropshire, better known as Maudie.  They cook up a scheme for Harriet to impersonate her mother, complete with grey hair, in the greatest comeback of the British stage, but her perpetual bad penny father steps in to try and get a piece of the action again.  (more…)

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