Allison, where are you getting to see these movies ("Down Three Dark Streets" etc.)? Are you renting the DVDs, your local library, aired on TCM in England? Just curious. I love
"B" movies. In fact, I ordered and received yesterday my first time Warner Archive purchase. I've got "HIGHWAY 301."
Look, I don't have high hopes or great expectations for that one. I have my own reasons for wallowing in Cochran's muddy waters.
Wally Cox was explained nicely by Knitty, but why R.R. injected him into the conversation in the first place, is his own
brand of humor.
And less you think the Maven is just a low-brow kinda gal, (I am...or I should say I have my moments) I also got in the mail my order of Henri-Georges Clouzot's "QUAI DES ORFEVRES"
which I've been wanting to see again, for years. I can't wait to settle in for a night, and watch and see if it's as good as I remembered. I'd been blown away.
Now, for a film I've seen lately (here on TCM)...it was last night's screening of: "WRITTEN ON THE WIND."
Ohhhhhh sure...it's a 1950's hyper melodramatic soap opera all the way. And that's a bad thing??? Naaaaah!!! Not bad at all. I love the way the movie starts...with its BIG MUSIC and the Universal logo (oh my...even the earth looks so gorgeously blue
and glamorous as it slowly rotates!) We see Robert Stack tear down the road in his little banana-colored roadster, guzzling a whole bottle of Scotch (or is it whiskey? What DO
the rich drink? We already know they eat caviar every night) before the title of the film appears. I like that way of introducing a movie. I remember "The Tattered Dress"
used that formula too. It's like the movie and I are saying:
THE MOVIE: "Let's get this party started...quickly!"
CINEMAVEN: "Well boy, I'm ready...let's go go go!!!" IAGO as a hot blonde.
In "Written on the Wind"
I revel in the goings on of the dipsomaniacal siblings played by Robert Stack
and Dorothy Malone
...both suffering from self-esteem issues. And they're the hoot of the movie. (Not that I'm laughing at them; I just enjoy their shenanigans soooo much!) Stack is all glassy-eyed with booze, jealousy, feelings of inadequacy and his love/hate for his childhood friend, played by 6'4", stalwart, slightly boring, but g*^$#@!!! handsome Rock Hudson
. Yeah, Stack chews up the scenery but he's great in the role. A tortured man...with millions!!! (I should be so tortured!) I like when the old classics pit the lead and the second lead a bit against each other; think Paul Newman and Robert Vaughn in "The Young Philadelphians." Vaughn and Stack had similar tortured whiny roles and I liked them both in their respective movies.
I like the bi-play between Hudson and Stack...their healthy competition for girls. I like that Hudson never lords it over Stack that he really is
the better man. He knows he has Stack's dad's admiration (just wonderfully played by Robert Keith who I LOVE
in this), but never threw it in Stack's face.
I find Rock Hudson so very natural in this movie...and very subtle too. He's not over the top at all. (Oh, maybe when he shouts at Stack to "GET OUT BEFORE I KILL YOU!!!!!"
) But all in all his quiet longing for Lauren Bacall is handled well. He gives her quiet and quick looks, glances. I like how he quietly sits in a dark room, fiddling his ukelele while the raging Mambo engagement party was going on downstairs. Very convincing. I believe him. I like when the reporter, twangy William Schallert (love that guy) says "Don't look now, but your torch is burning."
He's got it bad and that's so goooood...for a soap opera.Lauren Bacall
...I think she's solid in this. Smart gal. Now, she doesn't have her smoldering panther-like persona of her early forays as Bogey's baby ("To Have & Have Not"
or "The Big Sleep"
). Here, she's a smart career girl; love her tailored outfits, the muted gray skirt and blouse. She's so angular...her feline eyes, shock of red
lipstick and still that voice
. She could have been quite the "career girl" in movies; more appropriately: business woman. Could've been an Executive (not merely an Executive Secretary). I like her confident way in the office scene with Hudson in the beginning of the movie. I love how they're both slightly sanctimoniously contemptuous of the monied "Hadleys." They have that in common. Yet they stay hangin' with the Hadleys. Wassup with that?! I didn't see them shrinking away from a $500 martini because it smells of grease. She switches gears once she's picked up by Stack. All that sharp confidence is gone, though the gauzy camera filter she's shot with remains on her throughout the film. She should have followed her gut. Now she has buyer's remorse.
I never could figure out WHY she married Stack in the first place, so quickly. After all, she saw
his desperation...the full court press he put on her in sweeping her off her feet for some "fun." That over-the-top hotel suite spelled over-compensation if I ever saw it. And she wasn't that kind of a girl. (At least for one
night Betty Bacall??? Well, I guess not. Ack! Principles...so over-rated). She rejects him...but then he quickly wins her over, woos her (in all of five minutes of screen time). I never figured that out. Trust me, I accept it...but I never fully understand that as anything more than a plot point. And even at that, it doesn't really bother me. (I took the Sirkian Pledge
back in 1968 before I was allowed to watch ANY
of his movies). But before you think the movie blands her out in soapy 50's style...I like her sharpness in her scene with Dorothy Malone. They're both competing for Hudson's affections through talk of Stack. (And yes, I'm sure you know the movie trivia of a brunette Malone appearing with Bogart in "The Big Sleep"
). Bacall and Malone...a little circling each other...sizing up each other...brushing one out of one's hair, and killing plants with alcohol. Nice edge to that scene.
But heck, we all know this is DOROTHY MALONE's picture. I have to IMDB her and see where in her filmography this movie comes. I've got to see what comes before. Maybe that'll help me see WHY she won an Oscar for this. Hey, I think the Oscar was well-deserved. (Yeah, let me IMDB Oscar nominees that year too. Oh wait, I can look it up in my Robert Osborne book on Oscar history). Dorothy Malone played the hell outta that role. She is truly a house on fire in this movie. Is Malone's glass half-empty or half-full? You can say she plays a poor spoiled little rich girl. I prefer to say she's a woman whose unrequited love for childhood friend Hudson is so intense, that it practically destroys all around her including herself. (That's part of the Sirkian Pledge I took). Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...I ask you. How does this poor girl spend her days? (We already know how she spends her nights). She spends her days pining for Hudson's Mitch. "I love you Mitch. I'm desperate for you...I'll wait and I'll have you. Marriage or no marriage."
NO MARRIAGE? WHOA!! She wants what every girl of the 50's was indoctrinated to want. A husband, a home...children. Well, maybe not the kids. To me that just means she recognizes she hasn't got the maternal instinct. Geeez Rock Hudson (I call him by his first and last name). He should have been a gentleman and just put her out of her misery by taking her on a nice Club Med weekend getaway rendezvous (paid for with her daddy's money). She could have "worked" it out of her system and be done with it. I even think Freud would have recommended that bit of therapy. (Or is that Karl Jung's stand?) But noooooooo. His character has to be an upright, stand-up guy; not stringing her along...pining for his friend's wife. Ha! Some friend.
And with Malone's transference of lust and emotion, ev'ry cheap temporarily thrilling and satisfying/unsatisfying dalliance is just another nail in her poor ol' Dad's coffin...and in her self-esteem. Mitch could've bitten the bullet for the good of the Hadleys and just gone to bed with MaryLou. Integrity. Sheesh! Underrated. (Loved when the cops bring her home from the Motel and through the window we see her fix her mink wrap. Can she peripherally see her father looking at her through that window?)
But then here's my half-empty/half-full conflict...Could she not learn a trade? (A different trade). Couldn't she have learned the oil business, become a secretary, a teacher? A NURSE for corn flakes? No other option? No other fish in the sea? No other fish to fry?
I guess Malone's Mary Lou was of stronger stock. She wasn't going to go out like crazy Sister Ruth in "Black Narcissus." She wasn't going to go out batty with desire. This is what happens when a woman's potential is limited. The Supreme Court should remember that.
I had a great time watching "Written on the Wind"
last night. TCM should add this film to their film festival roster this April...and bring out DOROTHY MALONE!!!! It's a double triangle, and the triangles are intertwined. With lights out, my comfy bed, a drink, some popcorn and Douglas Sirk. Mmmmmm. I can't think of a better time.