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Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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JackFavell
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby JackFavell » November 10th, 2012, 1:16 pm

I'm beginning to have an out and out girl crush on Joan Crawford! I think she's pretty great lately. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I think she out acts even Huston in this film. Huston is a bit of a cipher as rev. Davidson, but he kind of has to be.

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby RedRiver » November 10th, 2012, 5:11 pm

I completely agree. She turns that classic character inside and out!

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby CineMaven » November 12th, 2012, 7:53 am

JACK FAVELL wrote:I'm beginning to have an out and out girl crush on Joan Crawford! I think she's pretty great lately. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I think she out acts even Huston in this film. Huston is a bit of a cipher as rev. Davidson, but he kind of has to be.

I don't blame you. I'm with you there. I think she's pretty swell myself. She tried so hard to have and maintain a career. She's gotten short shrift since her daughter's biography. But if you just look at her in...the...movies...no denying she was a Star:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k9wjqUtXm0&feature=endscreen[/youtube][youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bHXjk6gzE4[/youtube]
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby CineMaven » November 12th, 2012, 7:54 am

JACK FAVELL elsewhere wrote:
The more I see her, the better Joan gets. There are very few films of hers that don't work. Torch Song for instance, lol. Everything else I've seen her in, she delivers, even when the movie itself does not. She always has true moments as an actress, whatever her circumstances are in the movie, she makes it work. Her Sadie Thompson is one of the most maligned performances, but I think it's extremely good. There hasn't been a Crawford picture I've seen that I haven't liked her in, or where she didn't get the job done. She was a pro and took her job seriously. What's not to like?


Image

Look at those Bette Davis eyes Joan Crawford has! I love the entrance Crawford makes into this film. A shot of each hand on the door jamb, a shot of each foot in the door way. Joanie sliiiiiides into frame and with cigarette dangling from that mouth, she says "BOYS."

HOLY SANCTIMONY


When religious salvation gets in bed with sexual desire...somebody has to cry Uncle. I saw all manner of Woman when TCM aired films based on W. Somerset Maugham stories the other morning; sugar ‘n spice...not.

Now I know these two gals would hate me for linking them up, yet again, but I can’t help it. Joan Crawford is as blazing hot as Sadie Thompson, as Bette Davis is as Mildred in “OF HUMAN BONDAGE.” I might as well go for the trifecta and add Dorothy Mackaill to the mix as Gilda in “SAFE IN HELL.” Three pre-code era women who faced life on their own terms. ( Would it be a stretch to add Ann Dvorak as Vivian in "Three On A Match"? She did it her way even if it did land her smackdab on the pavement. )

Image Image

TCM aired “RAIN”, a spirited little movie to watch with your bowl of Rice Krispies. I thought Crawford did a great job as Sadie, a pal to all the boys. They treated her with good-natured respect, which is more than I could say for how the judgmental ‘respectable’ folks she’s sharing space with treated her. Now you can call me crazy, call me cynical, call me cinemaniacal, but I see this movie as a kidnapping / hostage sitchy-ation. Yeah, I do. I find this psalm-singing, silly old maid...wait. I’ve got the wrong movie. The Reverend wants to save Sadie’s soul. Yeah, a’ight. I’m trying to see his point of view, but naaaaah...can’t do it. Oh yeah, you can say he just strongly believes in his faith, but naaaaah...can’t do that one either. It’s so so much more.

There’s a jughead who loves Sadie ( William Gargan...who, by the way, has very very short teeth ) and wants to marry her. He sees the good in her through all her lipstick, powder and paint. He can’t protect her while he’s in the brig and here’s when Sadie must put up the fight for her... "soul" against a reverend who has power and influence and all sorts of “God” on his side.

Walter Huston is good as Reverend Davidson. He's just plain good in EVERYTHING he's done...that I've seen. Here, he's no wild-eye fanatic. He doesn’t breathe fire and brimstone. He plays it very calmly, even-handedly, firmly. He’s rigid and unyielding, but bolstered by the firm belief in his belief. I love the scene where he is praying over her and she is fighting and cursing him and her last head nod to add a period to it all:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEYhe1SRooY[/youtube]

Yes, perhaps her concession/transition to his side could have been a little smoother when she goes down to her knees and starts repeating his prayer. You might say the Reverend wins. I say Sadie loses. )

Seemingly helpful to Sadie reaching salvation...the Reverend's insidious intentions soon come to life. Confession leads to repentance... repentance leads to salvation. Not here.

* Confession: The Rev. wants her to confess her sins alright. You can see he wants to hear every sordid...salacious...sin-ridden little detail. (( Your honor, I contend the Reverend is badgering the witness. ))
* Repentance: Doesn’t that connote forgiveness, charity? He will not allow her that. He browbeats, he does not accept her “I’m sorrys.”
* Salvation: To come out the other side being saved. Yeah, okay. But before the Reverend lets her do that...she must be punished. He will see to it that she is punished.

As an actress I think Joanie might’ve been more in tuned with her real emotions in the 30’s than the studied and hardened way she became in the 1950’s...but I’m a “Crawford For All Eras” fan. "Rain" is a winner for Joan Crawford.

RedRiver wrote:...Not only is Huston fine in this moody morality play, Ms. Joan Crawford is exceptional. Taking a possible backseat to MILDRED PIERCE, I believe this is the best work of this completely unpredictable actress.

I second your nomination. And I enjoyed her very much in "POSSESSED" and "DAISY KENYON" ( both in 1947. )

The first half of this classic tale is breathtaking. Not in the way grand scale is impressive, but in the opposite sense. The action is contained, confined. The atmosphere, with the almost constant patter of the rain, is claustrophobic to the point of threatening.

Great observation, Red. It was oppressive...and relentless and Milestone represented that in a good way. Kudoes to the SOUND DEPARTMENT. HA! Sound just came into play in the movies a few scant years before, too!

I said the first half is outstanding. The follow up is fine too. It becomes subdued, takes pause. It's obviously the second act of a play. But this is not a big problem. I'd hate to walk in late on this one. But RAIN is well worth watching throughout. And that Joan!

You've got that right, Bub. Walking in late on this one is a baaaad move. You've got to see the build-up, from where Joan started to where she wound up to where she finished. I make a case above for her being a hostage. Any thoughts any one, pro or con?
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby JackFavell » November 12th, 2012, 12:29 pm

Great post, Maven. I totally agree that Sadie is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. When he leaves her no way out but to go back and face certain jail time, she falls at his knees, praying. She's gone dead inside. It's not guilt for her sins she feels, it's plain guilt for her lifestyle. She says all along she didn't do anything wrong, and I believe that. He's got her so warped that she feels she MUST atone for what she IS not what she's done. Shades of Patty Hearst!

I read the story, and it's no more clear than any of the films as to Davidson's character or soul. He's not meant to be understood, just as Gauguin is not meant to be understood, for leaving his wife and kiddies and running off to the south seas. In fact, Davidson's wife plays a bigger role in the book than he does. She is a fervent, witch-hunting shrew of a woman, just as Beulah plays her in the film only more so. She is his most ardent admirer, follower. I think we're actually supposed to feel sorry for him in the end, but I never really do. His warped world view should go down to the depths forever as far as I am concerned. The doctor is the only one who has any heart in the story, feeling sorry for Sadie, questioning why anyone could be so heartless as to send her back. I think he's another of those Maugham stand ins, the ones usually played by Herbert Marshall. Rev. Davidson is a plaster saint, the ones who flagellate themselves in private and his false sainthood simply can't stand up against someone as earthy as Sadie and win out. Real humanity, the dirt of it and the emotion, will always win out against coldness and lack of feeling. His own humanity finally came out, with a vengeance and he couldn't deal with it. Joan's practical, maybe cynical nature will always win in the end. Because she's a force of nature.

Now you need to see Gloria Swanson's version. They are quite the interesting contrast.

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby RedRiver » November 12th, 2012, 1:20 pm

Kudoes to the SOUND DEPARTMENT

I'd love to see this on stage. A sound tech's dream!

Any thoughts any one

Hmm...Your own analysis is pretty deep, and covers the scenario nicely. But consider this. Are we sure our Sadie is REALLY repentant? Might she merely be doing the expedient thing? Whatever is required to get her safely and sanely through the situation? This is probably what Miss Thompson has always done. From Kansas to San Francisco to here! I'm not completely secure in this interpretation. But it fits as well as any other.

The Reverend wants to save Sadie’s soul. Yeah, a’ight

I knew a guy in Chicago who boasted that he had befriended a prostitute. Wanted to help her leave the life behind. And having been born yesterday...
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby RedRiver » November 12th, 2012, 1:24 pm

I love the entrance Crawford makes into this film

This is one for the records! Like Errol Flynn's "Welcome to Sherwood," Frankenstein's creature, Bond's first appearance at the gaming table. Again, faces!

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby CineMaven » November 12th, 2012, 6:47 pm

JackFavell wrote:Great post, Maven. I totally agree that Sadie is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. When he leaves her no way out but to go back and face certain jail time, she falls at his knees, praying. She's gone dead inside. It's not guilt for her sins she feels, it's plain guilt for her lifestyle. She says all along she didn't do anything wrong, and I believe that. He's got her so warped that she feels she MUST atone for what she IS not what she's done. Shades of Patty Hearst!

Thanks J.F. 'The Stockholm Syndrome' is the exact word! I didn't even think she felt guilt for her lifestyle. Looks like she'd been burnt badly back in the States and was going to make the most out of lemons. Patty Hearst! Ha! Did the Symbionese ever get liberated?

I read the story, and it's no more clear than any of the films as to Davidson's character or soul. He's not meant to be understood, just as Gauguin is not meant to be understood, for leaving his wife and kiddies and running off to the south seas.

I can sort of see going off to the South Seas. I saw "Lincoln" today and I was sitting in front of two little kids who were a little chattery. ( Yeah, I kept saying "SSsshhh!" ) And their moms weren't minding them. Ugh! I can see why a guy'd run off to the South Seas; especially since they didn't have movies in Gaugain's day. ACK!

In fact, Davidson's wife plays a bigger role in the book than he does. She is a fervent, witch-hunting shrew of a woman, just as Beulah plays her in the film only more so. She is his most ardent admirer, follower. I think we're actually supposed to feel sorry for him in the end, but I never really do. His warped world view should go down to the depths forever as far as I am concerned.

Why do they always make these wives so, soooo yucky? I've never read the book, but I sort of picture the more fervent a preacher, the more one is suppressing something.

Rev. Davidson is a plaster saint, the ones who flagellate themselves in private and his false sainthood simply can't stand up against someone as earthy as Sadie and win out. Real humanity, the dirt of it and the emotion, will always win out against coldness and lack of feeling. His own humanity finally came out, with a vengeance and he couldn't deal with it. Joan's practical, maybe cynical nature will always win in the end. Because she's a force of nature.

I like how you put this. Perhaps the most honorable thing he could have done is to take a long walk off a short pier. But secretly, the film noir in me wanted Sadie to have cut his throat b'cuz she saw his proselytization was the bunk. Awwwwwright...I'm no Somerset Maugham.

Now you need to see Gloria Swanson's version. They are quite the interesting contrast.

I'd love to compare and contrast. Jeanne Eagels' handling of "The Letter" is very interesting.
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby CineMaven » November 12th, 2012, 7:10 pm

Kudoes to the SOUND DEPARTMENT
RedRiver wrote:I'd love to see this on stage. A sound tech's dream!

More like a nightmare I'd think.

Hmm...Your own analysis is pretty deep, and covers the scenario nicely. But consider this. Are we sure our Sadie is REALLY repentant? Might she merely be doing the expedient thing? Whatever is required to get her safely and sanely through the situation? This is probably what Miss Thompson has always done. From Kansas to San Francisco to here! I'm not completely secure in this interpretation. But it fits as well as any other.

You know what, that thought actually did occur to me. The thing that dissuaded me from that line of thought was when Gargan comes back to get her, and she doesn't want to go --- ( "What would the Reverend think?" )

The Reverend wants to save Sadie’s soul. Yeah, a’ight.
I knew a guy in Chicago who boasted that he had befriended a prostitute. Wanted to help her leave the life behind. And having been born yesterday...

D'Ohhhh!! :shock: Saaaay, I'm selling one of these:

Image
I'll give that Chicago guy a good price.
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby RedRiver » November 13th, 2012, 11:58 am

How was LINCOLN? With a stretch, we can even tie it into this thread. Walter Huston was in Griffith's Lincoln film!

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby CineMaven » November 14th, 2012, 5:22 am

RedRiver wrote:How was LINCOLN? With a stretch, we can even tie it into this thread. Walter Huston was in Griffith's Lincoln film!


ImageImage

Red, I've never seen Huston play Lincoln...but I'm sure as with ev'rything Huston touches, he was great. I've gotta tell ya, RUN don't walk to Spielberg's "LINC0LN." It was so topsy turvy. Ev'rything that I associate with today's Democratic Party was espoused by Lincoln's party of Republicans. Fighting with the House, lobbying...and two big issues ( slavery and ending the Civil War ) at once made the film seem so relevant to what's happening today. What a towering effort. The acting was superb by ev'ryone involved including Sally Field, David Strathairn and Tommy Lee Jones; Daniel Day-Lewis will win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal. I had no preconceived notions going in. I came out the theatre in tears.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN wrote:Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...

Yes Mr. President. Yes.
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby feaito » November 14th, 2012, 8:46 am

Theresa, I tend to biased against Spielberg´s films and I would never had dreamed of being interested to watch this super-production if it weren't for that hearty & sincere recommendation of yours. :wink:

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby RedRiver » November 14th, 2012, 12:58 pm

And no vampires, right? This will probably be my winter movie! You couldn't ask for a better story.

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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby CineMaven » November 15th, 2012, 6:39 am

RedRiver wrote:And no vampires, right? This will probably be my winter movie! You couldn't ask for a better story.

Uhmmm...no Red. No vampires. ( And I went to see that movie, too. )

* * * * * *

feaito wrote:Theresa, I tend to biased against Spielberg´s films and I would never had dreamed of being interested to watch this super-production if it weren't for that hearty & sincere recommendation of yours. :wink:

Well I tell you, Feaitito...liking the film is just my opinion. But recommending it is tempered with having an inkling of the other person's film tastes. I've been unenamored of Spielberg in recent years. But the sentimental "WAR HORSE" had me sobbing. And "Lincoln" I found very moving.

Why are you biased against Spielberg?
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Re: Walter Huston: Lesser and Better Known Work

Postby feaito » November 15th, 2012, 8:37 am

Why? It's not easy to explain Theresa, but I bet that I'm biased against him, because his films tend to be overblown super-productions. I am biased against contemporary Hollywood super-productions, which does not mean that I haven't enjoyed some of them (i.e.: Avatar), but I prefer films produced on a smaller scale.

The same applies to Classic films....give me any day "Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948), "Dodsworth" (1936), "The Wedding Night" (1935) or "The Lost Moment" (1947) rather than "Cleopatra" (1963), "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952), "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), etc., although I'm very fond of some films that were super-productions in its day (especially those filmed in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s; i.e.: "The Big Parade" (1925), "Wings" (1927), "Cleopatra" (1934), "GWTW" (1939), "Duel in the Sun" (1946) or even "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957).)


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