I've dedicated this section of my website to my love for American Classic Movies. Classic means different things to different people but for me it's the transition from silent to sound films from 1930-1945. This period is considered by many as the Golden age of Hollywood. There's also the postwar period Hollywood movies from 1946-1959 that I enjoy watching particularly the morally ambiguous crime dramas of the Film Noir style movies like Laura, Double Indemnity, The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Anyway the idea here is for me to spotlight one of my favorite classic movies on my website every now and then with a short commentary.
American Classic Movies 2016
Spotlight Of The Month
Mildred Pierce 10/01/16
Mildred Pierce played by Joan Crawford is about a working class woman who after separating from her unemployed husband struggles to make ends meet. She moonlights as an independent baker while devoting all her spare time and energy to her spoiled bratty 16 year old teenage daughter “Vida” who is obsessed with material wealth played by Ann Blyth. From the trailer you would think that Mildred is evil however you soon find out that she is actually the victim of mental abuse from everyone around her and from her selfish and spoiled daughter. My favorite scene is when Mildred takes the check from money-hungry Veda’s hands, tears it up and gets bitch-slap by her daughter, unforgettable!
This film is considered by many to be Joan Crawford's greatest performance although I liked Humoresque and Autumn just as much. It was her famous comeback when most people wrote her off as washed up. It won her best actress in a leading role at the Academy Awards in 1946. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca). Cast includes pencil mustache “Monty” the attractive snake played by Zachary Scott, Jack Carson (Wally Fry) Eve Arden the wisecracking pal (Ida Corwin) Bruce Bernett (Bert Pierce her husband) and Butterfly McQueen as Lottie the house maid. Parodies of Crawford have been played by Carol Bennett and a few others. Her exaggerated eyebrows, lips and shoulder pads have been a staple of drag acts. My favorite line is when she gives Vida the spit venom look after getting pimp slapped, “Get out, Veda…Get out of here before I kill you.”
IDA (Eve Arden): "Personally, Veda's convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young."
IDA (to Wally, when she notices him leering at her): "Leave something on me. I might catch cold."WALLY: "Just thinking. Not about you."
MONTE (Zachary Scott): "With me, loafing is a science."
MONTE: "I wish I could get that interested in work."
IDA: "You were probably frightened by a callous at an early age."
WALLY: "I hate all women."
IDA: "My, my."
WALLY: "Thank goodness you're not one."
MONTE: "Yes, I take money from you, Mildred. But not enough to make me like kitchens or cooks. They smell of grease."
MILDRED: "I don't notice you shrinking away from a fifty dollar bill because it happens to smell of grease."
MILDRED: "I think I'm seeing you for the first time, and you're cheap and horrible."
VEDA (Ann Blyth): "You think just because you made a little money you can get a new hairdo and turn yourself into a lady, but you can't. Because you've never been anything but a common frump whose father lived above a grocery and whose mother took in laundry."
MILDRED: "Get out, Veda. Get your things out of this house right now before I throw them into the street and you with them. Get out before I kill you!"
The 400 Blows 07/05/16
Director Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" is a wonderful 1959 film centered around a young boy's troubles and mistakes, inspired by Truffaut's own difficult childhood. Antoine Doinel played by Jean-Pierre Leaud is struggling to fit into society and understand life with no help or guidance from anyone including his parents. It's a powerful story told in a subtle way without much dialog from the main character. Post war Paris is capture beautifully in this movie not so much the iconic landmarks but the regular streets and common people. There's a simplistic beauty about this movie seen through the eyes of an young innocent misunderstood French boy. The tight sweater mother is played by Claire Maurier and the friendly easy going step father is played by Albert Remy. This documentary style movie is not complete tragedy there are moments of fun and joy. It's definitely one of my favorites French classic new wave films.
The World of Suzie Wong 05/08/16
In “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960) William Holden is Robert Lomax, a forty-ish struggling American artist, who has moved to Hong Kong to find out if he can really paint. He meets Suzie Wong Mee Ling (played by Nancy Kwan) in a fateful encounter on-board Hong Kong's Star Ferry. Departing and expecting never to find each other again, Robert checks into a local Wan Chai hotel. To his great surprise, he learns that the hotel is actually a brothel, and Mee Ling is actually Suzie Wong, the ring leader of a group of happy hookers. Robert's relationship with Suzie begins as a purely artistic one he hires her to be his model but soon he falls in love.
What I love about this film is it captures the colorful streets of a long-vanished Hong Kong before it became the gleaming commercial capital it is today. The scenery is brilliantly and sensually conveyed. The film also popularized the cheongsam, the body-hugging one-piece Chinese silk dress for women which afterwards became known as the Suzie Wong dress in America. There is a real chemistry between William Holden and Nancy Kwan and the supporting cast (Sylvia Syms as Kay O'Neil and Michael Wilding as Ben Marlowe) turns in good performances. But what really makes this film great is the brand new star Nancy Kwan's wonderful portrayal of Suzie Wong, her very first screen role. She was awarded a Golden Globe. Don't let this melodramatic soap opera scare you away go watch it "for goodness sake!"
Screen play by John Patrick, adapted from the play by Paul Osborn and the novel by Richard Mason; directed by Richard Quine; produced by Ray Stark and released by Paramount Pictures.
Suzie Wong: Buy me drinkee, joe?"