Sunday, April 21, 2013

Three Actresses

Mary Astor, "Dodsworth," 1936.
This is probably my favorite Mary Astor performance.  She plays a wealthy widow (or divorcee? I forget.) living in Italy; she meets wealthy retired auto manufacturer Dodsworth (Walter Huston) and his annoying, social-climbing wife.  Dodsworth eventually sees how Astor is a lovely, caring woman and he leaves his wife (after she comes crawling back to him when she is rejected by a new lover for being too old).  It's a little melodramatic but Astor and Huston make an interesting on-screen couple who really seem to enjoy each others' company. 
Joan Bennett, "Me and My Gal," 1932.
 Joan Bennett is becoming one of my favorite actresses.  In this great film she plays a waitress who falls for a young cop (Spencer Tracy).  The plot is silly; the best moments are the courtship between Bennett and Tracy.  There's a great scene where she makes fun of his bowler hat.  She takes it from him and puts it on, cocking it to one side.  She's adorable.  Later in that scene, reminiscent of a moment in "Annie Hall," we hear how the two would-be lovers really feel as they say one thing but think another.   It's pretty avant garde and a nice touch by director Raoul Walsh.
Ruth Hussey, "Tender Comrade," 1943.
Ruth Hussey first won me over, and probably you too, as the wise cracking photographer in "The Philadelphia Story."  In this film she's one of a group of women dealing with the home front during World War II.  She and her friends work in an airplane factory; they decide to live together to get a bigger house and save on the rent.  Hussey plays a married woman who sees other men while her husband is serving in the Navy.  Her excuse?  He's a heel with a girl in every port.  But she changes her tune when she hears he's missing in action.  This is a funny little movie; it really stresses comradeship among friends living in a household democracy where both chores, and rewards, are shared.  AND there is an interesting "good German" element I need to write in another blog post . . .

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