Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Three Stars: Arden, Henreid, Kelly

Eve Arden

Eve Arden, "Comrade X," 1940.
Eve Arden plays a smart-mouthed girl reporter in this Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer penned comedy.  The big stars are Clark Gable as an investigative reporter black-mailed into marrying strident Communist Hedy Lamarr (as if one needs to be blackmailed into that marriage).  He's supposed to get her out of Russia because she's a target of a potential purge.  It's a funny film with patented Hecht/Lederer banter, in many ways reminiscent of "The Front Page."  And Eve Arden is great in her supporting role as the "best friend" gal pal who might be a better reporter than Gable.

Paul Henreid

Paul Henreid, "Deception," 1946.
Paul Henreid plays Bette Davis' cellist husband in this psychological drama.  She's an artist who has been living the high life as the "companion" of demanding, eccentric maestro Claude Rains.  When she marries Henreid she tries to keep her life with Rains secret (hence the title), but Rains butts into their life, writing a concerto for Henreid to perform.  What is Rains' motive? To destroy the young couple, or to help a new protege?  Will Davis ever come clean to Henreid?  And can Henreid's fragile psyche manage the drama AND perform the concerto?  It's a good, complicated Warner Bros. drama.


Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly, "An American in Paris," 1951.
I could sketch Gene Kelly all day.  This is from late in "An American in Paris," as he watches Leslie Caron leave with her French cabaret singer for a boat to America.  He's brooding.  He's serious.  And he's about to dance his "ballet." 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dick Powell, Susan Hayward X 2, and Jane Greer

Murder, My Sweet

Dick Powell, "Murder, My Sweet," 1944.
This is Powell as Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe in "Murder, My Sweet,"  the great adaptation of "Farewell, My Lovely."  I like Powell as Marlowe, especially in the scenes with the big bruiser Moose Malloy, the guy looking for "his Velma" that sets the story in motion.  Powell is both hard-boiled and sardonic, as only someone who had been through the Hollywood trenches as he had could be.   


They Won't Believe Me

Jane Greer, "They Won't Believe Me," 1947.
"They Won't Believe Me" is a screwy film noir starring Robert Young as a cheating husband.  That's putting it lightly; he cheats on his nagging, but innocent, wife first with nice-girl Jane Greer; then when forced by his wife to take a job out of town, he cheats on his wife with bad girl Susan Hayward.  

Susan Hayward, "They Won't Believe Me," 1947.
The wife kills herself; Susan Hayward dies in a car crash; and Young gets blamed for both deaths.  Greer tricks him into turning himself in.  At his murder trial, she sees he's really innocent, but unable to overcome his guilt (and satisfy the Production Code) he tries to kill himself, but he's shot and killed before he can finish jumping out the window.  The verdict, read post mortem?  Innocent.  Like I said, screwy film. 


Deadline at Dawn 

Susan Hayward, "Deadline at Dawn," 1946.
Talk about screwy, "Deadline at Dawn" needs multiple flow charts and power point slides to explain the plot.  A sailor gets accused of murder and Susan Hayward plays the dance hall girl who, along with a philosophical cabbie, try to figure out if he actually killed her.  Maybe he imagined it?  Or maybe it's the gangster, or the blind piano player, or any one of a dozen other real and false leads.  Susan has lots of crazy lines and Paul Lukas is great as the cabbie.