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NIGHT SONG (1947)

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JackFavell
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NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby JackFavell » November 12th, 2012, 9:00 pm

I wanted to start this thread because Maven and I had an interesting discussion about this film, and I wanted to see how others felt about it, as well as continuing to talk about it here, rather than hogging the Films You've Seen Lately thread.

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NIGHT SONG SPOILERS

For those who haven't seen the film, but want a briefish description, the plot is this: Dana is a musician, a pianist and composer who has been blinded in the war, and he's angry. He won't listen to anyone about moving on with his life, not even his buddy Hoagy Carmichael. One night, at a party or nightspot, Merle Oberon hears him playing , and is drawn to the music. She instinctively goes to the piano, she asks if he wrote the music. He berates her, tells her she's just slumming, coming to stare at the blind guy. She is terribly upset, partly because her rich friends ARE slumming, but that's why she left them to come to the piano. She goes to Hoagy to ask who the musician is, and in discussing his problems gets an idea - he won't listen to anyone sighted, so she decides to impersonate a blind girl to show him that he CAN do anything he wants. She sets up a meeting, along with her aunt Ethel Barrymore, and the two young people become close.

Dana relaxes a little, and sure enough, soon he is writing again, and he even wins a competition, thanks to Merle, earning enough money to get an operation to fix his eyes. He leaves blind Merle, who has taken the alias name of Mary, and goes to the city. He is to hear his music played, but first gets the operation. Once sighted, he doesn't want to go back to Mary... too many memories, and well... she's blind. He meets Merle as her own rich self now, and they have an affair. Eventually, he hears his music played by Arthur Rubinstein, but something happens to him when he listens, and he runs home to Mary, who, thankfully hired a jet plane to get her home in time for him to come and see that she is the same woman. After the initial shock on his part, they fall into each other's arms and live happily ever after.


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After watching the film, I made some comment about how only in the movies would a guy forgive a woman for tricking him like that, but that Dana Andrews really pulled it off. I really enjoyed the movie even with some of the seemingly less believable plot twists.Somehow, it all worked, probably thanks to the good acting of the leads.

Maven asked me some questions and here's how I answered (I thought the questions quite good, it made me think hard about my reactions to the movie):

Let's see...I'll start by saying I just take it as a given that Dana Andrews was an 'angry blind man' even after seeing all those terribly well adjusted folks on TCM telling us that they moved on fine after becoming challenged. For me, this is just the macguffin of the movie so if you can't believe in it, well give up on classic film then, lol. I bought into it hook line and sinker.

1. * Do you think Dana should have been angry about being manipulated (at the end of the film)?

As for thinking that Dana should have been angry at being manipulated, yeah, in the real world! But we are in movie land now, the world of the imagination. That would have been the standard way to go with this movie and I'm GLAD they didn't go that way.

I think he actually had a moment where it could have gone either way - and that's the GENIUS of Dana Andrews. He actually did register shock, then surprise, then something smoldering underneath, and finally decided he was sitting in the catbird seat, having both girls in one. So no, I didn't miss it that he wasn't angry... I was expecting it, but was pleased with the outcome the way it was.


2. * Do you think Merle should have been happy to have Dana whether he knew she was Mary or Catherine?


Merle did play those emotions you mention - the conflict of feeling hurt that he did not go back to her as the blind helpmeet, but also of just wanting to be herself to him, her full self, which includes the sexy woman he met later. Yeah, maybe I might have been a little more "You a**hole!" if it was me, but that's not the story they were telling. It was interesting that they were both sort of fragmented people. He because of his blindness and the rage that made him feel helpless (even though he was not), and she because she was playing a certain role that wasn't her whole self. They were able through each other to become whole people and that's a message I can get behind. And they appreciated each other so much more when they were whole, the multi layeredness of the other. So I bought it.

3. * Does Hoagy remind you of a Black guy? A cool cat in music who could've been the 'sidekick' in the movie if the world was different? He reads "black" to me. In any case Hoagy was one cool sexy cat.

I never thought of it, but yeah, he sure does give off that vibe. He's kind of in that role of mystic sage that many African Americans fell into, the few who were able to break out of stereotypical maid and butler roles. I think of Juano Hernandez as Art Hazzard in Young Man with a Horn, the older guy whose seen it ALL, the guy who knows before you do where it's all headed. I know Hoagy was a southern guy, but certainly not traditional. He's definitely a cool cat, a musician's musician. I think I find him rather sphinxlike, I'd love to know what he was really like. In the movies, you get a feel for him, a warmth of character, but you never really get to know him. I always think of him as this easy going guy, but then there's that stunning moment in Best Years of Our Lives where he says to Homer, "Give 'em time, kid; they'll catch on. You know your folks'll get used to you, and you'll get used to them. Then everything'll settle down nicely. Unless we have another war. Then none of us have to worry because we'll all be blown to bits the first day. So cheer up, huh?"

That sort of puts everything into perspective.

It would be interesting to line up all those wise visionary sidekicks in a list, the mystic ones, the person who can see the end coming from a mile away.

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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby Maricatrin » November 12th, 2012, 10:53 pm

Wendy, I haven't seen this yet, so I didn't read through your post too thoroughly (thanks for the spoiler warning) but what I did read sounds intriguing. Dana Andrews is such an amazing actor, it's hard to think of an acting job he can't pull off; initially I was interested in seeing Night Song just because Andrews was in it. But now, based on your review, I'm interested to see the film as a whole.

How many times did Carmichael and Andrews work together? Besides this one, there's Best Years of Our Lives and Canyon Passage.
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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby JackFavell » November 13th, 2012, 7:31 am

I don't know, but I LOVE Hoagy, and I LOVE Dana. The combo is always a winner to me. Ethel Barrymore is great too.

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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby CineMaven » November 13th, 2012, 8:46 am

SEE ME, FEEL ME, TOUCH ME...LOVE ME

Is all’s fair in love and war?

What would you do for love? Is there a price to pay for dishonesty...or honesty? Does it matter if you’re lying for your lover’s good or your own good? Are you still your own person when you pretend to be something you’re not? Isn't that identity just another facet of you?

I enjoyed “NIGHT SONG” very much, my second time around. As I was watching it, another movie was tickling the back of my cinematic braincells.

“VERTIGO.”


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TWISTS & SPOILERS

I’m wracking my brains trying to think of other movies with similar themes ( besides “Batman” or “Superman” ) that deal with dual identities. “TW0-FACED WOMAN” with Garbo? The parallel between what John Cromwell does with “Night Song” and what Hitchcock does with “Vertigo” are interesting to ponder. One director lets us witness the identity ruse and the other does not. I like Hitchcock’s way because at the very least, it does ensure at least one more viewing of the movie to see what might’ve been hiding in plain sight. Cromwell uses a linear, straight-forward approach. But he also throws in a twist. Once our hero is well...he no longer wants to deal with the girl who helped him. I admit I was movie-shocked by that turn of events.

TO BE or NOT TO BE

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MERLE OBERON / KIM NOVAK

MERLE OBERON plays Catherine Mallory and her ‘doppelganger’ Mary Willey. KIM NOVAK plays Judy Barton and Madeleine Elster. The men they love are DANA ANDREWS as Dan, the bitter, blind musician and JAMES STEWART as Scotty, the precariously mentally unbalanced and vertigo-challenged ex-detective.

* Catherine hides her identity for music

* Judy hides her identity for money

* Catherine starts off high society and brings it down a notch to the warmer more natural Mary

* Judy plays the elegant aloof blonde Madeleine but her real self is garish and brunette and lower on the socio-economic scale but she's very giving

* Catherine makes herself over to help Dan’s music and quickly grows to love him; love at first “sound”

* Judy allows herself to be made over twice ( :shock: :shock: ) by two men ( Scottie and Elster ) both for their own needs ( "You were a very apt pupil! )

* Catherine has at least two angels looking over her shoulder to advise and guide and warn her ( HOAGY and ETHEL - and no better angels in the business for a movie heroine to have! )

* Judy must go it alone; after all...she IS an accessory to a murder ( but I am biased! ) with no one to guide her but her own foolish heart ( hey Soooosan Hayward! )

* * * * * * *

Now you’d think it’d be a win-win situation for the boys. ( I like how you put it - the 'catbird seat.' ) After all, they’re going to get The Girl; their girl. - - - trust and manipulation be damned. When Dan finds out he’s been duped, a slew of emotions run across his face. Finally acceptance and joy. Scottie is a different kettle of fish. He’s very angry. This played with his emotions especially when Pygmalion thought he was building his very own Galatea. He was already in a precarious mental state to begin with. If only he’d accept Judy’s Madeleine; yes be upset, but talk it over with her. What am I saying, he couldn’t...it really was a dastardly plan that I can’t rationalize. But I say to Scottie, “Scottie! Isn’t a dream better to have, than NOT have?”

Does it matter what a person does or who a person is.

Catherine and Judy. They were their own disguises. In the midst of hiding behind themselves they ran into love. Sometimes it works out. And sometimes it doesn’t.

Well...my Twizzlers are gone ( thank you Andrew ) but I still have a pack of Raisinets. So I'll take my CineMaven and Theresa identities to the movies to catch James Bond. Perhaps not as exciting as the "Peyton Place" over at the CIA, but I prefer the dream anyway. Au revoir Simone...Bonjour Wally Ford!
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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby Maricatrin » November 13th, 2012, 9:13 am

CineMaven wrote:I’m wracking my brains trying to think of other movies with similar themes ( besides “Batman” or “Superman” ) that deal with dual identities.


A Stolen Life (1946), No Man of Her Own (1950)? And of course there's several versions of Prisoner of Zenda.

Of course Paula and Smitty both had their circumstances forced upon them, which is why I'm hesitant to include Random Harvest (1942) too.
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ChiO
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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby ChiO » November 13th, 2012, 9:49 am

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Nutty Professor, Three Faces of Eve (does triple personalities count?)
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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JackFavell
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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby JackFavell » November 13th, 2012, 9:52 am

Wow! That was so beautiful, Maven! I never in a million years could have thought up that connection! Let's let it stand for a while. I hope others get a chance to read it.

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Re: NIGHT SONG (1947)

Postby kingrat » November 13th, 2012, 12:41 pm

Maven and JF, I love your comments about Night Song.


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