Saturday, December 29, 2012
Now, Voyager (1942). A drama starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, and directed by Irving Rapper. The screenplay by Casey Robinson is based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Olive Higgins Prouty. Prouty borrowed her title from the Walt Whitman poem "The Untold Want," which reads in its entirety, "The untold want by life and land ne'er granted, Now, voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find."
The very plain Charlotte Vale, lives in Boston with her domineering, wealthy mother. Believing, Charlotte is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her sister-in-law Lisa brings psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith to examine her. Jaquith, is convinced that she is, very ill, and he recommends that she be admitted to his sanitarium, Cascade.
Away from her domineering mother, Charlotte recovers quickly, but not really wanting to return home, accepts Lisa's invitation to go on a long cruise. On board the ship, the now very stylish Charlotte is introduced to Jerry Durrance.
The two spend the day sight-seeing and the married Jerry asks Charlotte, to help him choose gifts for his two daughters. Touched when Jerry thanks her with a small bottle of perfume, she tells him about her family and her breakdown. She later learns from his friends, Deb and Frank McIntyre, that Jerry is unhappily married but will never leave his family.
After the ship docks in Rio de Janeiro, Jerry and Charlotte miss getting back on the boat and Charlotte stays with Jerry in Rio for five days before flying to Buenos Aires to rejoin her cruise.
Even though they have fallen in love, they promise not to see each other again. Back in Boston, Charlotte's family is shocked by her transformation. Her mother, is determined to regain control over her daughter.
Charlotte, receives a bouquet of camellias with no card... she knows the flowers are from Jerry because he had called her "Camille," and, reminded of his love, she is able to stand up to her mother.
Charlotte becomes engaged to the widower Elliot Livingston. One night, at a party, Charlotte runs into Jerry, who is now working as an architect. His youngest daughter Tina is now seeing Dr. Jaquith, for her emotional problems. Charlotte tells Jerry, not to feel guilty over their affair, because she gained strength from knowing that he loved her.
Charlotte, now realizes that she could never love Elliot and they break off their engagement, angering Mrs. Vale that during an argument with Charlotte, she has a heart attack and dies.
Feeling Guilty, Charlotte returns to Cascade, where she meets Tina. Seeing herself in the girl, Charlotte takes charge of her. When Tina's spirits improve, Charlotte takes her home to Boston.
Later, Jerry and Jaquith visit them and Jerry is very happy in the wonderful change in Tina. Charlotte tells him that she is only able to keep Tina with her on condition that she and Jerry end their affair. Jerry then asks if Charlotte is happy and she says.. "Well, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon; we have the stars."
Edmund Goulding was first attached to the project as director. He wanted Irene Dunne to play Charlotte Vale. When Goulding fell ill, however, the project passed to Michael Curtiz, who had either Norma Shearer or Ginger Rogers in mind for the lead. In the meantime, Bette Davis was lobbying hard for the part. She was able to convince producer Hal B. Wallis that she would make a perfect Charlotte Vale, but she refused to work with Curtiz. Consequently Irving Rapper landed the director's job.
The biggest box office hit of Bette Davis's career.
Paul Henreid's act of lighting two cigarettes at once caught the public's imagination and he couldn't go anywhere without being accosted by women begging him to light cigarettes for them.
"Now Voyager" was actually the third book in a four-part saga of the Vales, a high-class Boston family, written by Olive Higgins Prouty over a 12-year period from 1936 to 1947. When Warner Brothers bought the film rights to the novel, Prouty wrote a lengthy letter to her literary agent, setting out how she felt the production should be mounted. She felt strongly that the best way to dramatize the flashbacks would be to feature short silent segments woven into the main sound narrative. Her letter made its way to producer Hal B. Wallis at Warners, who subsequently ignored her suggestions.
Claude Rains initially turned down the Jaquith role, finding it too insubstantial. The part was built up for him and he was paid $5000 a week for six weeks' work.
Filming went a few weeks over schedule, which in turn caused some conflicts with Casablanca, which also starred Claude Rains and Paul Henreid. Rains finished work on this movie June 3rd in 1942 and did his first scene on Casablanca at 10:30 the next morning.
All Bette Davis fans will love this film. She truly was an actress that knew how to pull on your heart strings. She had the power to transform herself into the many strong women she played. The transformation of the plain Charlotte to the stylish woman, is something that a lot of girls can relate to. The rest of the cast was excellent: Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville and Ilka Chase.
Chase made her society debut in 1923 and her Broadway debut a year later in, The Red Falcon. Her stage performances include: Days Without End, Forsaking All Others, While Parents Sleep, On to Fortune, Tampico, Co-Respondent Unknown, Revenge With Music, Keep Off the Grass and In Bed We Cry, which was an adaptation of her novel of the same name.
She was in the first Broadway cast in the play, The Women (1938) and later performed in the play, Barefoot in the Park.
Her films: Fast and Loose, Once a Sinner, The Animal Kingdom, The Big Knife, and Now, Voyager.
For several years, she was host of a radio program, Luncheon at the Waldorf. In 1957, she performed the role of the Stepmother in the television production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which starred Julie Andrews.
Her last movie performance was in, Ocean's 11 (1960) as the mother of the Peter Lawford character. Chase made a rare television sitcom appearance as "Aunt Pauline" on The Patty Duke Show.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
They Won't Forget (1937). Directed by Mervyn LeRoy (who was uncredited). Based on a novel by Ward Greene called Death in The Deep South, which was a fictionalized account of a real life case: the trial and lynching of Leo Frank after the murder of Mary Phagan in 1913. The film was also the film debut of 16 year old actress Lana Turner, who played the murder victim, Mary Clay. It is considered by many critics to be one of the best films of the 1930s.
The story begins on Memorial Day, when Mary Clay and her best friend, Imogene Mayfield, decide to go for a soda after they are dismissed from their business classes for the day.
Mary, decides to go back for her lipstick that she left in her desk. When she returns to the empty room, she is murdered.
District Attorney Andy Griffin, sees Mary's murder has a perfect opportunity to boost his political career by making a case against her teacher, Robert Hale. Before long, Michael Gleason a famous Northern attorney, comes to defend Hale, but he is unable to convince the jury of Hale's innocence despite the lack of evedence.
The news-media turns the story into a three ring circus and accuses Griffin of fighting the Civil War in the courtroom, but... he is successful and Hale is sentenced to death. Gleason appeals to the governor, who sacrifices his career and changes the penalty to life imprisonment. Will Hale be safely taken out of town, before he is lynched by Mary's brothers?
This is a fast/well written/acted moving film, with Claude Rain taken over scene he is in. This will make you wonder if justice was served. I think everyone will enjoy watching a very young Lana Turner..
In April 1936, she was spotted by Warner Brothers talent scout Max Arnow who signed her to a Warner contract. Her film debut in 1937's They Won't Forget landed her on the top of Hollywood's short list of important up and comers.
In autumn 1937, she was in many magazine covers and was the subject of several movie magazine articles.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Following The Invisible Man, Universal Studios tried to typecast him in horror films, but he broke free, starting with the role of Prince John in, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), then with his Academy Award-nominated performance as a corrupt senator in, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and followed with probably his most famous role, the French police Captain Renault in, Casablanca (1942).
Next Rains, performed as, Julius Caesar in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He also played a refugee Nazi agent opposite Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in, Notorious (1946). He then performed in, The Passionate Friends(1949).
Rains remained a popular character actor in the 1950s and 1960 and performed in many films. Two of his well-known later screen roles were as Dryden, a cynical British diplomat in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and King Herod in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), his final film role.
TCM is celebrating Claude Rains birthday with the films listed below:
They Won't Forget (1937) . Bigotry flares when a Jewish businessman is accused of killing a small-town girl in the South. Cast: Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Allyn Joslyn. Dir: Mervyn LeRoy.
Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1938). The bandit king of Sherwood Forest leads his Merry Men in a battle against the corrupt Prince John. Cast: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone. Dir: William Keighley, Michael Curtiz.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) .An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption. Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains. Dir: Frank Capra.
Saturday's Children (1940) .A young inventor's new marriage is jeopardized by financial problems. Cast: John Garfield, Claude Rains, Anne Shirley. Dir: Vincent Sherman.
Now, Voyager (1942) . A repressed spinster is transformed by psychiatry and her love for a married man. Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains. Dir: Irving Rapper.
Mr. Skeffington (1944) . A flighty beauty marries a stockbroker for convenience and almost ruins both their lives. Cast: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel. Dir: Vincent Sherman.
Passage to Marseille (1944) . Devil's Island escapees join up with the Allies during World War II. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Michele Morgan. Dir: Michael Curtiz.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Mr. Skeffington (1944). Directed by Vincent Sherman, based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth von Arnim. Cast: Bette Davis and Claude Rains.
When Fanny learns that her brother Trippy, has embezzled money from Jewish stockbroker Job Skeffington, she would do anything to save him, including marry his boss. Because of his prejudice against Skeffington being a Jew, Trippy leaves to fight in the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I.
Job loves Fanny, but.. she does not return his feelings and mostly ignores him. She becomes pregnant with his child, but, after she learns of Trippy death, she blames him and leaves his bed. She enjoys playing the wealthy socialite, with a long line of younger lovers.
Lonely, Job has his own affairs, when Fanny finds out, she divorces him. Her daughter, also named Fanny, wants to be with her father and begs him to take her with him to Europe. Fanny is relieved to be free of her child and does not see her for many years.
Even though Fanny lives a fast party girl life, she keeps her beauty until she catches diphtheria, it takes over health and her beauty. In denial, she invites her old lovers (and their wives) to a party. Everyone is shocked by how much Fanny has changed. To make things more complected, her latest suitor Johnny Mitchell, falls in love and marries her daughter, who has returned from Europe because of the rise of the Nazis. Now, Fanny is left very much alone.
Fanny's cousin George Trellis, brings Job back to Fanny's home, unannounced. The Nazis have left Job penniless and blind, George tells Fanny and he asks her if she will help Job, as he has nowhere else to go..
When she enters the parlor, Fanny, sobbing, takes his arm and guides him up the staircase, she tells the maid that "Mr. Skeffington has come home." Job had once, told Fanny that, "A woman is beautiful when she's loved, and only then." George tells Fanny that, at that moment, she has never been more beautiful.
I thought Claude Rains was wonderful as the patient Job Skeffington. Bette Davis, seems to really take her part as Fanny very seriously. Even though this may not be one of the best movies of Bette Davis career, it is one of my favorite movies.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Deception (1946). Directed Irving Rapper. The film is based on the play Monsieur Lamberthier by Louis Verneuil. The screenplay was written by John Collier and Joseph Than. Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains who had also performed together in, Now, Voyager (1942).
After a long separation, pianist Christine Radcliffe is reunited in New York with her fiancee, cellist Karel Novak. When Karel wants to know how Christine can afford such a beautiful apartment and clothes, Christine says that she is giving music lessons. Soon Christine receives a call from composer Alexander Hollenius, whose mistress she has been, and informs him of her up coming marriage. Hollenius arrives at a party celebrating the marriage and tells Karel that he believes the marriage will interfere with Christine's music. The following day, Christine visits Hollenius and begs him not to reveal their relationship. Later, Karel visits Hollenius, to his surprise, he finds Hollenius listening to a recording that Karel made. Hollenius is impressed by Karel's talent and offers him a cello concerto that he has just written. When Christine hears Karel practicing Hollenius' concerto, she becomes convinced that Hollenius intends to use the concerto to destroy Karel. When Christine shares her fears to Karel, he demands to know why she is afraid that Hollenius will take the concerto away from him, but Christine still refuses to tell her husband the truth. The next day, Christine returns to Hollenius' apartment to beg him not to take out his anger on Karel, he tells her that his first duty is to his music and that he is sure Karel will perform well. As she leaves the apartment, Christine sees Bertram Gribble, the orchestra's first cellist, waiting in the foyer and is sure that Hollenius intends to replace Karel with Gribble. On the night of the performance, after Karel has left for the concert hall, Christine again visits Hollenius and begs him to promise that he will not tell Karel of their relationship and again when Hollenius refuses, what will Christine do to keep her secret?
If you're in the mood Bette Davis-Claude Rains melodrama, you have to add this film to your "gotta see" list. Rains has some of the cruelest and wittiest lines in this film. Bette matches him with her display of emotions.
Paul Henreid, performed in his two most important films. In Now, Voyager(1942) and Casablanca(1942). He made regular film performances in the 1940s, and in the early 1950s began directing for both film and television. His film credits include The Spanish Main (1945), Of Human Bondage (1946), Song of Love (1947), Thief of Damascus (1952), Siren of Bagdad (1953), and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961). His television directorial credits include Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, Bonanza and The Big Valley. In 1964, Henreid directed Dead Ringer, which starred Bette Davis and featured, in a minor role, the director's daughter, Monika.