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The Attic (1980)
An interesting character study
I found this movie interesting. Cheap thrillers or horror movies are not for me, and this movie is neither. It is a very realistic character study and therefore rather depressing, as reality unfortunately often is. It also shows how luck can play an important role in how happy or unhappy we can become. Louise was a normal, happy girl that bad luck transformed into a miserable woman, unable to control her life. She lost the man she loved at their wedding day and then was obliged to serve her crippled father, out of remorse, because she was made to believe that she was responsible. She can only imagine ways of escape or revenge, but never takes any real action to free herself, remorse is there to prevent her. Yet when it concerns others, as her colleague, she is capable to provide sound advice and show a revolutionary spirit. But her father, Wendell? He is healthy and has money, so he could live an easy and happy life. And what does he do? He kills his daughter's husband to be, and spends most of his hours in a wheelchair, spying on her, abusing her verbally, forbidding her any joy, and is tied with her in a life of misery and contempt. He is crazy alright, an extreme case of control freak who should be straight jacketed long ago. His punishment comes too late and when Louise discovers the hidden truth in the attic, it is also too late for her to make a new start, she practically cannot move from this terrible environment, to which her bad luck has condemned her to live all her life. It is very sad, but cases such as this, in various percentages of intensity, happen quite often around us. So this movie, in its extremity, is a reminder not to allow anyone to control us and always fight for or individual rights. So I call it a "constructionally" depressing movie. Both Carrie Snodgress and Ray Milland are superb in their respective roles. I wish that we could see Carrie in happier roles, because she was really something. As for Ray Milland, he had so much vitality that even from his wheelchair he could liven up every scene he was in. Although his role is hateful, he manages to provide a much needed comic relief at times, through the absurdity of his behavior to his victim. And I do not agree that he is degrading himself by playing such roles. From the beginning of his long career, and unlike many other "stars", he was never afraid to play villains, not giving any consideration to the possible damage to his "image". He was always a true professional and a fine actor, who chose to share with his public all the phases of his life, daring to reveal the changes that time has brought to him. I find this touching and I admire him all the more for this.
Hotel Imperial (1939)
A little gem, worth of a first rate DVD release.
I am surprised that I write the first review for Hotel Imperial. This movie is a little gem, and should be officially released in DVD by Universal, after proper restoration. Today only a DVD release by Loving the Classics is available, but only a real remastering by Universal could take away the dust and let its sparkle come to the surface.
This is one of those few movies that combine social satire, adventure and romance in a unique way... During World War I, a little Austrian town is conquered alternatively by Russian and Austrian troops, so that its inhabitants no longer know who is to govern them tomorrow and they finally learn to live with this. The "Hotel Imperial" is a sort of headquarters for the masters of the day, with its whole clientele departing in a hurry one day, only to be replaced by a new one, but in different uniforms, shortly after.
Isa Miranda plays Anna, a theater singer from Poland, who disguises as the hotel's chambermaid, in order to find the Austrian officer who was the cause for her little sister's suicide. Her humble clothes, however, cannot conceal her striking beauty nor her strong personality, determined as she is for revenge. Young Austrial lieutenant Nemassy, (Ray Milland, heavenly handsome in his Hussar's uniform!), falls for her, and their adventures begin.... We have two genuinely hilarious characters in the hotel's porter and the hotel's general duties clerk (Gene Lockhart and Curt Bois respectively), whose roles are very cleverly written. Also the eccentric Russian general Videnko, marvelously played by Reginald Owen and the corrupt Austrian officer and spy Kuprin (Carrol Naish), among various other characters. I should not forget to mention the excellent Russian male choir, that sing Christmas songs and the dancers who perform traditional Russian dances and are really a treat. Hotel Imperial is very expertly directed by R. Florey who leads us, at a pace that never slacks, to the well deserved happy end. What I like most in this movie is the ambiance, this feeling of constant change and constant danger, and how the human nature reacts, adjusts to this and tries to survive and make the most of it.
Hotel Imperial is a delightful movie and should not be missed by anyone who loves the romantic and the adventurous, with a touch of satire on the side.
Let's Do It Again (1953)
Light entertainment in the Hollywood tradition
I would say that remakes are never as good as the original. In this case, however, the musical adaptation of the "Awful Truth", I have not seen the original, so I watched this movie with fresh eyes, uninfluenced by any previous first impressions. And I found it funny and entertaining. It has that "back then" feeling, a sort of old fashioned charm, like the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies, which, let's face it, apart from the first hit, Pillow Talk, were all repetitive.
There is obviously a question of miscasting the lady lead role, here. A really sexy female star in the role of Jane Wyman, would have been much more suitable and convincing. I like Jane Wyman a lot, but she is best at dramatic roles, as in Lost Weekend or in Douglas Sirk melodramas. She is so decent looking, with that innocent and shy face that it is not easy to imagine her as a sensational Broadway star. Yet she is beautiful, dances well and wears some glorious gowns. But, she is not sexy enough for this particular role.
This is a musical adaptation so we have many songs, which are good and correspond to the type of Broadway musicals of the time. However, I strongly object to the dubbing of Ray Milland's songs. I think his own voice would have been much more interesting than that of a professional singer. After all, he was the COMPOSER, not the PERFORMER of the songs, so technical perfection was not an issue here.
Ray Milland was not happy about this movie, or about remakes in general. He wrote in his autobiography: " I was once inveigled into a remake of The Awful Truth, which turned out to be a fizzle of the worst kind, for which I still haven't been paid, and rightly so." But he needed not be so over-critical and austere to himself. Because the movie is funny and he is really good at his role. He has many exceptionally fine scenes, as at the beginning, playing the drums, or wearing his wife's yellow robe, or the scene with the change of hats, as well as numerous other moments where he is funny and outstanding. To be noted that he does not play his role in a "Cary Grant" way, he is totally himself, as he himself would react in similar situations, always truthful and real, never over the top. That is what makes him so delightful in every role, be it in comedy, drama, adventure or thriller.
I recommend this movie for guaranteed light entertainment, and for giving us an inside look at the world of Broadway stars.
A love affair, during the time California became a State.
I don't particularly like westerns. I am usually bored with their macho heroes and their stereotypes. In "California", however, stars my all-time favorite actor, Ray Milland, so I wanted to see whether he is as good in this genre as he is in romantic comedies, adventures and dramas. Not to my surprise, he proved to be much above the typical western hero. He is realistic and effective, without excessiveness, mannerisms or gimmicks. What I consider one of the best westerns, "A Man Alone", is played and directed by Ray himself...
Returning to California, it is an epic movie, a large scale production, in glorious color, rich in costumes, settings and extras. It covers important historical ground, including the 1848 mass migration, the gold rush and the political struggles that led to the incorporation of California to the United States. All this is the background of the tumultuous love-hate relationship between Trumbo and Lily, Ray Milland and Barbara Stanwyck.
One cannot find fault with this movie: It is aptly directed by John Farrow, the music score by Victor Young is memorable, the script, in the 98 minutes duration of the movie, gives a balanced account of the personal story and the ampler historical events of the time, while a plethora of talented character actors contribute to its authentic touch. My only objection is the folklore singing at the movie's opening sequence, which could well be omitted, and the same goes for other singing interludes as well as the songs, supposedly sung by Barbara Stanwyck, all of which interrupt the action. Maybe the Studio heads imposed them, as a sort of lyric accentuation, but they actually steal valuable time that could be used for better character development.
As for the two stars: Although very beautiful in her own way, I think Barbara Stanwyck is not cut for period roles, her type is not that of the traditionally classic beauty. Also her acting in the first half of the movie is more aggressive than required. Ray Milland, on the other hand, has the correct approach of the man who does not trust women, after a previous involvement that made him desert his post in the army. Their mutual distrust causes a fierce antagonism, and they go to extremes to conceal their true feeling for each other. Of course, love finds its way in the end and the final scene is very tender. Trumbo must pay his due to the army, and Lily is ready to wait for his return, for as long as it takes. They are both charismatic actors, and if the movie concentrated more on them and less on the "epic" side, it would have been immensely richer. Nevertheless, the movie is very much worth seeing and great entertainment.
The Lost Weekend (1945)
When everything... conspires to make a masterpiece....
"The Lost Weekend" is the first film with Ray Milland that I have seen, it is the film that revealed to me this immense actor, until then unknown to me, and yet I was reluctant, until now, to write a review for it. I was afraid that my English would be inadequate in order to do it justice. So it is with great humility that I will try it now...
From the very first scene, I knew that this film was a masterpiece, far superior to other Billy Wilder works I had seen, and this impression grew as the film advanced.
It deals with a man who is no "hero", who is not involved in earth shattering events or conflicts. It is the story of Don Birnam, a man who drinks and can't stop drinking, although there is no real cause for him to be unhappy or desperate. He is handsome, cultured, intelligent, educated, loved by a beautiful and kind woman and by a devoted brother. Very much qualified to work in a decent job, and make his life very pleasant, happy even. But, he was unfortunate in having a very promising start as a writer, and when this talent proved somewhat short-lived, he could not settle for less and instead, took refuge in drinking. We follow his footsteps as he goes lower and lower, losing his dignity and his self-respect, and all the time we feel no pity for him, only anger. Anger because he throws everything good that life has to offer him, for nothing, for an illusion, for the fake reality of the bottle...
The film is superbly written and directed by Billy Wilder, simplicity and lack of pompousness being the key words, designed on the basis of CINEMA VERITE, almost like a documentary, only not about a humdrum individual,but about a gifted child that goes to waste because he refuses to compromise. To say that Ray Milland is magnificent as Don Birnam, is to say very little. He has BECOME that lost man, he lives his misery, minute by minute, and he is even more heart-breaking because he never allows us to forget the quality of the man underneath the surface, which is in direct contradiction with the degrading exterior. And despite the fact that the situations in which Birnam is involved are so excessive, Milland manages admirably to maintain a good measure. He alternates the bitter humor and self sarcasm of the frustrated writer with the dramatic climax some scenes call for, and brings to life this complex and fascinating human being. Milland carries the whole film and makes the experience an unforgettable one for the viewer. One of the most deserved Academy Awards of all time! The other actors are all very good. Jane Wyman is perfect as Helen, the supportive girl friend, Doris Dowling amazing as Gloria, the bar girl in love with Don, Phillip Terry as Don's brother Wick, Howard Da Silva as Nat, the bar-tender and Frank Faylen as Bim, the male nurse. I loved everything in this film, from the atmospheric photography, to the eerie music by Miklos Rozsa, all contributed to make this a very unique film... The ending did not appear unrealistic to me, after all we know that the real Don, the novelist Charles Jackson, managed to control his drinking and write his book, and be there when it was transported to film. The film's happy ending was an.. intermediate one, and it does not exclude the possibility that later on Don might not start again this vicious circle, since we also know that Jackson finally committed suicide. No assurances for a permanent happy ending can be given, anyway. After all, even when the boy marries the girl and they live happily ever after, how can we be sure that they will still be together after some years?
One final point that I MUST make, although slightly irrelevant: Apart and beyond the acting, Ray Milland is so sexy in this film, it is unbelievable! Tall and very slender, he is like a horse whip, and so intense and so vulnerable at the same time, that our imagination runs wild.... Poor Gloria, how I understand you!
"On ne badine pas avec l'amour", as the French say....
I found this movie engrossing and worth seeing and having as a DVD. It is a lavish production, in glorious color and crystal clear image, the era is represented perfectly, with splendid costumes and superb settings. It is true that the script does not go into the depths of the characters' personalities, but presents the drama as it "appeared" to the public eye at the time. With the real Evelyn Nesbit acting as consultant, it is to be expected that the story would be embellished and the hard edges rounded. So we do not have a "shocker", but the plot has sufficient dramatic elements to make the movie interesting and original. Rather than exposing the naked truth, they lead us to guess what is hidden, by reading between the lines and correctly translating the innuendos provided. E.g., it is plain that White is a womanizer, we see him being friendly with show girls and keeping a notebook full of female names, to be summoned for his amusement in his private quarters. Evelyn, though depicted as an innocent, is also shown eager to enter the circle of the "rich and famous" and ready to pop up from a cake at a stag party or to accept presents from men she hardly knew. As for Thaw, his madness is evident throughout the movie. Avoiding to present him also as a drug addict does not signify much, as it would rather give him another excuse for his acts, being "under the influence". There are two points that bothered me about the direction: The inauguration ceremony at the Hall of Fame, if I remember well, which was obviously made at the studio against a background photograph, and the same goes for the scene in the Alps, where Thaw proposed to Evelyn. With so much money spent on the movie, I think they could have shot these scenes in the actual locations.... Also there are not quite so many close-ups of the actors as I would like. Otherwise, the direction was very effective. About the performances: I believe the movie would greatly benefit, if Marilyn Monroe had played the role of Evelyn. Joan Collins was surely very beautiful, but lacks Marilyn's sensual magnetism and therefore is not so believable as the object of such fatal obsessions... Monroe would be ideal, because both physically and in the acting department, she was superior to Collins. In such a case, of course, her co-stars would have suffered from her tantrums and insecurities, but that is another story... Ray Milland as Stanford White, is exactly what the role demands, once more delivering the essence of the character in his usual effortless way, never over the top, but always realistic and human. We see him as a very authoritative figure of his time, respected and admired, a bit cynical and stand-offish, charming and classy, with a sense of humor and basically a decent man. One would easily understand that the attraction for his "conquests" was his charm and not his high position. The scene with the swing in really a piece of cinematic anthology. It is a love scene, the act of love disguised as a game, and it is easy to imagine what follows after that.... Pity that we did not see the real thing, but it seems that an actual love scene with a minor would be taboo at the time. Hollywood was very hypocritical then and Milland himself had a personal experience only the year before, 1954, when his involvement with the much younger Grace Kelly almost jeopardized his career. As for Granger, he succeeds in making Thaw appear disturbing --and disturbed-- as well as irritating, which is enough to make him believable. Thaw's trial and Evelyn's manipulation and callous rejection by her husband's family are drawn in large and effective strokes. And there could not be a more appropriate epilogue to this story than the final scene with the swing -- so different from the first one, as bitter and degrading as the other was romantic and delightful.. The loss of innocence and the harsh realities of life, again disguised as a game. Love is a very dangerous game to play, indeed...
Not equal to my expectations
Do you have to see the full movie, in order to write a review? I only saw about one hour of this movie before I wanted to leave the theater. So I will not call this a "review", for which I am not qualified, anyway, just the expression of my personal disappointment . I expected to see a great movie about one of the greatest figures of the American History, and saw a movie about a petty politician, a joke cracker, a "little" man. I seems as if they deliberately made this movie as talky, awkward, tedious and uninspired as possible. If this was their intention, they were certainly successful. As for D.D.Lewis portrayal of Lincoln, I am afraid he left me totally unmoved. I believe he has by now established himself as a character actor. His mannerisms, his weird expressions, bizarre half-smiles and small voice, in combination with his "restrained" acting, makes me wonder if this is really "Lincoln", or an insignificant and unimportant relative that took his place by mistake. And yet I read that he prepared for this role for years and he got the Academy Award. What can one say except that this brings to mind Andersen's tale of "the Emperor's new clothes"... Maybe when this movie is released as DVD, I will try to see it again, in case I discover something that I missed in the first viewing, although I believe that first impressions are always right.
Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
Enjoyable tale of the old south.
I liked this film very much, it is a wonderful tale about the old south, the rich ship-owners , the captains of the ships, and the pirates who destroy these ships. It is a romantic story, but also an adventure and an action film, so it has something for everyone. I personally liked most the scenes in the rich houses in Charleston, the tea parties and the dances, they were magnificently shot and most realistic. Some great actors and actresses give their best performances to make the characters believable. The leading man, Ray Milland, portrays with gusto and charm Steeve Tolliver, a clever sea lawyer, head of a big ship owner firm. He seems interested only in frivolous games, an eccentric who dresses in the latest fashion for men, goes to dances and promenades always with his "son", a dog that "speaks" , and his impeccable manners fool everyone into believing that he is not cut for rough action. Later on, we see that this is not the case. His love, Loxy,(Paulette Godard) is a head strong girl that loves , or thinks she loves, captain Stuart, a "real man" (John Wayne). Later on, we see that this is not the case with him, as well. There are a lot of other characters, all played very well by great actors. What I did not like so much was the sequence with the giant squid underwater. The danger of the deep, the struggle of the two men could be shown without using this "special effect" that diminishes the credibility of the story. Also the end scene was somewhat abrupt and short. I would have liked a little more development on how Loxy made the comparison between her two "suitors" and understood her real feelings. All in all, it is a film worth seeing, mostly for the scenery, the costumes, the colors, and the acting. Ray Milland is the most credible of all, he never over-acts, despite his difficult and contradictory role, and manages to maintain a perfect balance between the romantic, the daring and the comic, that is not to be missed. Paulette Godard is trying a little too much, but she is undeniably very beautiful and spontaneous, while John Wayne has got the correct expression of the man of force but lacking in intellect and self control.
Hostile Witness (1969)
A very well made courtroom drama, that you can enjoy again and again.
I was lucky enough to see this film when it was recently released, in a DVD with crystal clear image and perfect sound, practically as good as a Blu-ray disc. Since then, this film has become one of my favorites among Ray Milland films, and I have almost every film he ever made. This is not a crime film or a thriller, so there is no ground to compare it with Hitchcock movies. It is a court room drama, and is perfect as such in every way. The script is very well written (adapted from a play that ran both in London and in Broadway). It is full of twists and until the end one has doubts as to whether the crime was actually committed by the barrister, just out of a clinic for a nervous breakdown, and his subconscious has buried this memory, or that he was framed. All the characters are so wonderfully British, and all very well drawn. Special mention to the major that makes a complete mess of his testimony, a delight to watch. Also the prosecutor is pompous enough and shrewd enough to stand out -- I remember him in an equally odious role in "So Evil my Love".. The judge is not just a figure, his character is drawn in vivid colors -- I also remember him as the Archbishop in "Becket". Sylvis Syms' Miss Larkin, secretly in love with her boss, is equally dynamic and clever as she is vulnerable and emotional, and a real beauty at that time. And finally Ray Milland gives us another super interpretation as Simon Crawford, the authoritative and strict barrister, that keeps everyone in awe. I can't take my eyes off him, watching every nuance of his expressive face, that gives away all his sentiments as the trial progresses, without ever going over the top. I particularly like he way he orders around his staff, he is used to being respected and obeyed, but he is not bossy just for the sake of it, he simply hates to waste time, wants everyone to meet his own quick pace. The final scene at the court when , in lack of any evidence, Simon bluffs all the way to get the real culprit to reveal himself, is very intense and leaves the viewer with the satisfaction that justice was served. The direction by Ray Milland was very able, the film advances at a correct speed, every detail is attended to, and we follow the plot with interest, feeling that this film respects our intelligence, from beginning to end.
Till We Meet Again (1944)
Love for a man , love for God, is there so much difference?
This is the first film of the director Franc Borzage that I've seen, but it does not need previous recommendation, in order to gain our admiration. The film is marvelous, wonderfully written and made with the utmost care and love, full of high sentiments,and with a plot that engrosses you from beginning to end. It is set in war world two, in occupied France and shows us two separate worlds, the one of the German conquerors and that of the french underground, with which a young novice nun is involved unexpectedly, trying to help an American aviator escape. For a short time they live close together , and share a love and emotion until then unknown to them. Ray Milland is in one of his finest moments, so human, so sensitive, so tender, so expressive, so handsome also, it is a treat just to watch him and hear him speak. It is evident in this film what a brilliant "raconteur" Ray is, he can tell a story in his unique way and make it come to life for us, in a simple but so effective way. I've never seen this special talent in any other actor, even among those considered great. With Barbara Britton they make a couple "made in heaven". There could be no other end to their story, although we secretly wished for a "miracle" that would reverse the odds and bring a full happy end for them. An amazing film, and I can only imagine the effect it would have on me if I were to watch it in an brand new DVD, and not in a poor quality copy. What are the studios officials thinking and do not release this film immediately in a digitally restored DVD, I really wonder.
Lessons in marital happiness
Although I saw this film in a copy of rather poor quality, I enjoyed it very much. The script was clever, very efficiently tackling a problem commonly faced by married couples: the husband is so devoted to his career that he neglects his wife without even understanding it and a third person is soon there to take advantage of the situation. We follow with interest the reactions of the heroes. At first, we completely justify the wife, but later on we take sides with the husband, and wish that true love wins. Both Ray Milland and Claudette Colbert deliver lessons in acting, they are simply magnificent. Brian Aherne and Walter Abel are also very good. In short, a very entertaining film, that leaves you with a sense of good feeling when it ends. I sincerely hope that it is soon available in an official DVD, it certainly deserves it much more than so many mediocre films that are currently in circulation.
The Safecracker (1958)
What would one concede to pay to acquire an object of real beauty?
I just watched this film, which surely has not any pretensions to be a major spy or war or even police story, and for this reason the mistakes about the types of cars or planes etc that have been mentioned, do not affect me personally. I would not be able to spot them,anyway, my attention was concentrated elsewhere. This film seemed to me as an interlude rather than a musical symphony, a short chapter than a full book, some verses from a longer poem... Despite the smaller scale, though, the film touched a sensitive cord for some of its viewers! I suspect, moreover, that its intention was not to be touching: Very abstractedly, almost like a play by Albert Camus, it relates how this man lost his freedom first, and then his very life, not because he was greedy for money or power, but because of his love for beauty, wherever it may be found, fine art, a car, a woman... This love, implanted in him quite unaccountably, and in direct contrast to his average social background and financial situation, alienated him from everyone, and so he kept silent about it. While others who could afford it, paid huge sums of money with utter nonchalance,(but without any personal risk), to illegally possess a rare art object, he had to steal it, risk his freedom for it. This became an obsession, he could not stop, so he was finally caught, and put to prison. When British intelligence requested his skills as a Safecracker to snatch military secrets from the enemy, he accepted, but not out of patriotism.He was totally indifferent to war, arm service, ranks, heroism, discipline and such notions. He just wanted to be liberated from prison, so he went along with the project, but with his mind elsewhere... And when the mission was accomplished, he delayed there, to steal a last piece of fine art, and was shot by a German. No matter, he was happy to die holding that "beauty" in his hands ... Equally happy was his mother, when she was informed of his "heroism" by the army officials... Neither she, nor them, were ever able to understand him! Ray Milland is excellent in the role of this dreamer, creating a fine portrait of the rather complex hero, while never over-dramatizing. The film was shot on 1958, Ray was 51 years old then, always very handsome and impressive, more so than many of much younger age. As he has said himself, he was obliged to play the lead in the films he wanted to direct, and I would not have it any other way! As a director, he once again keeps a perfect pace,very easy to follow, not too quick, not too slow, like narrating a charming story, and he does this in such an unaffected way! It is a special film,a little out of the ordinary, difficult to put a label to or file it in a genre , but 100% worth seeing, so I recommend it to all lovers of beauty and to all fans of beautiful films! I only deduct 1 point from it, for not paying full attention to car and plane models...
French Without Tears (1940)
Playing with words and with love, in a totally playful and enchanting comedy....
Unfortunately this film is not yet released as an original DVD, and I saw it in a DVD-R, as copied from TV. I found it delightful and charming, a light and witty comedy, in the European tradition. It is about English students of french, in a boarding school in France. We have therefore the English sense of humor set against the french mentality, resulting in hilarious situations . The sister of one of the students arrives, a very beautiful girl and a terrible flirt, that becomes the love interest for almost everyone, except the one she really wants. The dialogs by T.Rattigan are very clever and refreshing, the direction of A.Asquith discreet, never overwhelming or pompous, and the special touch of the editor David Lean is evident throughout but especially in the scene of the carnival dance. All the actors are very good in the various characters they portray. Ellen Drew is both a doll with fairy-tale princess eyes, and exactly as she should be for her role. Ray Milland is as natural and as astonishing in this English type comedy, as he is in the American screwball comedy (Easy Living etc), plus so handsome and so sexy, once again a treat for our eyes!! This film is perfect without fanfares and exaggerations, and every time I watch it, it invariably makes me feel good....
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Apart from the plot, this is a film that you can enjoy again and again, for its unique atmosphere ...
After all the previous reviews, what can one add? Simply that I adore this film, see it again and again, always with the same delight, never getting tired of it. Curiously, though, it does not seem to me like a typical Hitchcock film... There is not a "good guy" fighting some "bad guys". The hero is a cold blooded schemer, who wants to murder his wife, but she is not so innocent herself, since she has a secret affair with another man, while her lover comes into their house seemingly as a friend, but is determined to make her leave her husband. There are no action filled scenes, the story is confined within the couple's house, and all is done with the utmost politeness and keeping of appearances. There is no "murderer", because the one that commits the actual killing does so in self defense.And yet, we are watching with undiminished interest, to see what will happen next. All the fascination emanates from the "plan", the setting, the idea, the master mind that orchestrates the crime scene,like a director does his movie, only his "actors" play it differently from what he had arranged. He swiftly opts for an alternative plan, and concludes his "scenario" with success, until a police inspector with unorthodox methods finds the loose end, the small detail that leads to the truth... At least 80% of the film's value is due to the performance of Ray Milland, he is pure perfection in his portrayal of the ex champion, the sportsman who organizes his last game, and almost wins the bet... I am very much surprised that he did not get a second academy award for this one, it really shows how unfair the whole system is. It is impossible to point out any favorable scenes, as he is brilliant from the first to the very last moment he is on screen. I especially love, though, the little scene when he hides Margot's handbag behind his back in order to steal her key , while she clings to him, so as to prevent him , both laughing while they struggle... Grace Kelly was very very beautiful in this film, more girlish and sexy than in any of her other roles, not at all like her usual sophisticated and coolly aristocratic self. With Ray Milland they made such a charming couple, that one is almost disappointed that things did not work well for them in the film. If only Tony had a way of knowing that Margot had decided to abandon her ex lover and stay with her husband, the story would have a totally different end! In such a case we would have a romantic film instead of a thriller, but I would surely love such a happy end! Something else that should be said is that Tony would not get the death penalty for what he did, because he did not actually kill anyone, he just PLANNED a murder that did not take place in the end, so he would probably be out after one year or so... I trust that he would be able to make a new life for himself quite easily after that! A film that has no need of any recommendation, its value is well established over the years, but I give mine just the same, as well as 10 points out of ten.
Arise, My Love (1940)
Just one of the best romances ever captured on film.
I loved this film from beginning to end. It made me laugh and it made me cry, and it left me with the feeling that I had watched one of the best screen romances ever. The script was so wonderfully written, the dialogues really sparkled like diamonds and ... Ray Milland was handsomer here than in any other film I have seen him!! He treated Clodette Colbere with a mixture of humor ,tenderness and respect, that was very endearing and touching. At moments, he seemed like an insecure little boy, and I am sure that he was never like that with any other of his co-stars. Needless to say, I loved this aspect of his very much!!! Something else that I found interesting is that the film was made almost simultaneously with the historical events it describes. This adds to its authenticity and gives us a sense of watching history in the making. The mixing of comedy and drama does not annoy me. It is more than realistic and in fact welcome, here. We deal with two very smart and out of the ordinary people, living very unusual lives, taking active parts in what goes on around them, so it is to be expected that they will have an acute sense of humor as well as forceful feelings about the war and about each other. In our lives there is place for both comedy and drama, why it should not be so for a movie, who depicts life? Just to add that the DVD now available, (spanish edition but with English audio)has very good quality of sound and picture, and does justice to this uniquely beautiful film.
Golden Earrings (1947)
A fascinating love story set in the German countryside just before the beginning of WWII.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this film. I believe it has a magic touch,I see it as a wonderful fairy tale, with only minimal historical or topographical attachments, without paying any attention to plausibility or credibility or any such restricting considerations. It is the story of two completely dissimilar human beings, that experience a love above and beyond realism or logic,a love that unites them to the mysterious forces of nature, and leads them to create their own universe of beauty and happiness. Ray Milland was so wonderful (and so sexy) in this role, that requires a fine balance between comedy, drama and fairy tale stuff, and Marlene Dietrich had, for once, a warm and sincere role, that she plays to perfection, the prototype of a woman in love, who does everything for her man. I know the rumors about their mutual dislike, but honestly they matched perfectly together in this movie and this only proves how professionals both of them were.