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THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

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feaito
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THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 2nd, 2012, 4:25 pm

It’s indeed very seldom that I write a thread dedicated to one single film and I haven’t done it for a long time, but after revisiting this unique film on New Year’s Eve (I chose to end year 2011 watching a remarkable movie), I felt compelled to do it.

Martin Gabel –the film’s director- created a one-of-a-kind experience comparable to other works of art in my top ten list like “Portrait of Jennie” (1948), “Peter Ibbetson” (1935), “Letter from an Unknown Woman” (1948) and “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947). Sadly, Mr. Gabel never directed another film again, but appeared in some films, most notably in Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964)

The film begins with an elderly Lewis Venable, an American publisher who once had Jeffrey Ashton’s (a famous poet of the mid XIXth Century; a sort of Lord Byron) epic love letters to the legendary beauty Juliana Bordereau in his hands; letters which were lost forever and he begins to tell their story…

The story of how he managed to become a lodger in Juliana Bordereau’s Palazzo in Venice, pretending to be an aspiring writer in order to get hold of the aforementioned letters to publish them, thus becoming a celebrity and winning large amounts of money…

Juliana Bordereau has been living in that Palazzo where she met Ashton and they fell in love, when he came to visit her father –a famous painter who painted a miniature painting of him- ever since the poet disappeared circa 1842.

The script is by Leonardo Bercovicci, who manages to transform the source upon which the film is based (Henry James’ novella The Aspern Papers) into a romantic, eerie, gothic, supernatural story.

Bercovicci outlines Venable’s character (an excellent Robert Cummings) not as a mercenary publisher, but as a man obsessed with beauty who’ll do all that is in his powers to obtain the letters to the entire world to know and enjoy them, as he says later to Tina Bordereau, they belong to posterity and everyone has the right to witness such a perfect love as the one Ashton felt for Miss Bordereau…

He arrives to the Palazzo and is coldly received by Juliana’s niece (an outstanding Susan Hayward in one of her more subtle and restrained performances). In Citadel Press’ book by Eduardo Moreno “The Films of Susan Hayward” the author states that the actress and the director clashed and that it was an unpleasant experience for her. One could never tell, because she’s magnificent in this “double” role: during the day she’s the stern, bitter, no-nonsense Tina, but at night she becomes a lovely, passionate, otherworldy creature from another time, dreamily playing piano and showing her love for Jeffrey Ashton with all her being….

Tina’s not really Juliana’s niece, because she’s young and the elderly lady is 105 years old! She was born (and abandoned by her parents) and raised at the Palazzo by Juliana, who read Ashton’s love letters to her since she was a small girl….and has become a woman who has only known love through Ashton’s poetry….thus becoming a borderline case of dual personality…

Agnes Moorehead plays the legendary beauty Juliana Bordereau –now blind-, under layers of excellent make-up credited to Bud Westmore; the detailed work on her hands and face is amazing. –the camera tends to focus on her hands- and she is utterly believable as a very old woman, using her voice inflections to great effect.

Here are links to a couple of webpages showing the amazing transformation of Ms. Moorehead:

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/the_lost_moment

http://www.themakeupgallery.info/age/1940s/moment.htm

The film has a melancholic quality that definitely appeals to me; the story unfolds at a perfect pace, building up into a long awaited climax, and it captured me completely in spite of being the second or third time I was watching it, keeping me absorbed and enthralled, just like “Portrait of Jennie” has amazed me each time I’ve watched it. The B&W cinematography and the camera work (Hal Mohr) are superb. The evocative musical score by Daniele Amfitheatrof is first rate.

It is a film that I will continue to revisit many, many times and which deserves to be better known, restored and released on a decent DVD/Blu Ray edition.
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JackFavell
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby JackFavell » January 2nd, 2012, 6:15 pm

Fer -

thank you for creating a thread for the movie. I am going to watch this movie soon, because of what you have written here. It's available from Netflix for instant streaming, and I thought I would add a link to a radio version of The Aspern Papers that I listened to last year and liked a lot. It might serve as a preview to the movie.

http://ia600300.us.archive.org/8/items/ ... Papers.mp3

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby Rita Hayworth » January 2nd, 2012, 6:36 pm

feaito wrote:Agnes Moorehead plays the legendary beauty Juliana Bordereau –now blind-, under layers of excellent make-up credited to Bud Westmore; the detailed work on her hands and face is amazing. –the camera tends to focus on her hands- and she is utterly believable as a very old woman, using her voice inflections to great effect.

The film has a melancholic quality that definitely appeals to me; the story unfolds at a perfect pace, building up into a long awaited climax, and it captured me completely in spite of being the second or third time I was watching it, keeping me absorbed and enthralled, just like “Portrait of Jennie” has amazed me each time I’ve watched it. The B&W cinematography and the camera work (Hal Mohr) are superb. The evocative musical score by Daniele Amfitheatrof is first rate.

It is a film that I will continue to revisit many, many times and which deserves to be better known, restored and released on a decent DVD/Blu Ray edition.


This is one of my favorite Agnes Moorehead films that she done in her career!

She did an incredible job in this movie and I just love the story of this movie. I would love to see it again!

Fer -

Great Write Up Here ... Utterly Fantastic!

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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 2nd, 2012, 9:02 pm

Thank you for the kind comments Wendy and Kingme.

Wendy, the novella is quite different from the film. From what I've read the novella is darker and more realistic and lacks the film's surrealistic, magic quality. The true genius of Gabel and Bercovicci, was creating a different story altogether. Also, as I've always said films and books cannot be compared.

Kingme, it contains indeed one of Ms. Moorehead's most impressive performances.
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JackFavell
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby JackFavell » January 3rd, 2012, 6:48 am

I would love to see a movie version of this story - as you say, they are not the same thing, and I found the story rather dry, so I am really looking forward to the magical qualities of hte movie.

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feaito
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 3rd, 2012, 7:07 am

Dear Wendy, let us know your opinion of the film after you watch it. I'm glad it's available on Netflix.
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby Rita Hayworth » January 3rd, 2012, 7:53 am

feaito wrote:Dear Wendy, let us know your opinion of the film after you watch it. I'm glad it's available on Netflix.


Thanks for telling Wendy about it. I have Netflix ... I will order it right away!

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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 3rd, 2012, 9:40 am

Hi Kingme, it was Wendy who wrote on her post about the availability of TLM on Netflix. In Chile Netflix offers far, far less titles.

I came across this excellent essay on TLM on the net written by a Spanish film buff. I post the link in case anybody understands Spanish. It's truly a remarkable essay and a re-assessment of the film:

http://tiny.cc/14qrx
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby Rita Hayworth » January 3rd, 2012, 2:32 pm

My Bad, Thanks for correcting the oversight feaito ... Wendy thanks for letting us know about it and I will be getting it a week from today! I just can't wait to watch it!

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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby Jezebel38 » January 3rd, 2012, 2:50 pm

Hi Gang - Fernando's review and others chat led me to look on Youtube - the movie is posted there in full and I plan to watch it ASAP. I gave up my Netflix subscription, and always check YTB now for films. Here is the link, if you don't mind watching this way, and those goofy subtitles:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZNLemXhCDc[/youtube]

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feaito
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 3rd, 2012, 3:47 pm

That's great Jezebel! I've watched quite a few films thanks to YTB, including Queen of Spades, Liebelei, His Woman, The Story of Temple Drake, Don't be Afraid of the Dark, The Last Mile, Berkeley Square & many more.
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feaito
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 5th, 2012, 8:11 pm

Image

A scan of Susan Hayward as Tina Bordereau "possessed" by Juliana's spirit from the Citadel Press Book "The Films of Susan Hayward". She looks ravishing!
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JackFavell
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby JackFavell » January 5th, 2012, 9:21 pm

I watched The Lost Moment! I thought it had, right from the start, a really....oh, I don't know how to put it..... a creepy, somber feel to it...ghostly? Susan Hayward was very good, and Agnes was outstanding! I wanted a better final scene for her character so much..you know, I didn't want it to end for Julianna that way! I also convinced myself at one point that there was going to be one more twist in the plot in which all along he was actually with the old woman, not with Tina. :roll: :roll: I guess with that kind of spooky story my mind runs away with itself. :roll:

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feaito
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby feaito » January 5th, 2012, 10:24 pm

I'm glad you watched it Wendy....It was sad about Juliana....but after living 105 years, she deserved to rest from the demons that haunted her... ***spoilers*** especially the crime she committed....Maybe you expected something more like "The Uninvited"?
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Re: THE LOST MOMENT (1947)

Postby JackFavell » January 6th, 2012, 7:06 am

I really love these late forties ghost or creepy old house stories! I loved the setting and the direction, they captured Venice pretty well and made everything seem unusual and suspenseful. I guess my mind ran toward Julianna because they kept her a secret from us for so long at the beginning. The makeup was outstanding! She also was the most sympathetic character for me, so I wanted more of her. Wasn't that dress Susan wore when she took on the personality of Julianna stunning? That line at the end, about how Julianna would never die as long as she lived in the house, but Tina would never live, really got me.


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