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|Index||28 reviews in total|
What I love about this film, is the fact that it includes a respectful
and loving relationship between a black woman and a white man during
the apartheid era of racism here in the United States (before the
"Freedom Rides," which occurred not long after).
I admire Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood (especially), as rising young stars in Hollywood, for taking the chance to be in this type of picture at that time in history.
When Susan Kohner's character calls Pearl Bailey a "nigger," Robert Wagner whacks her one but good! And then he educates Miss spoiled brat and much misinformed Kohner, that Pearl is more decent than any of the white people in this movie! And more deserving of love and respect.
And folks, was he right. Bailey's character and performance are the most worthwhile in the film.
Yes, the basic story between Natalie Wood (poor country girl looking to move up in the world by passing Wagner's baby off as rich boy Hamilton's), Robert Wagner (poor confused misunderstood boy with talent for "race" music, but seemingly not much ambition to do anything with it), George Hamilton and Susan Kohner (spoiled RICH siblings taken in by Wood and Wagner -- but both hopelessly in love with the two)is schlock.
But the story between Wagner and Pearl Bailey (suicidal famous singer mourning the loss of her lover, who becomes charmed with Wagner and does her best to help him before she purposely succumbs to alcoholism) saves the day.
Also, Natalie Wood is simply outrageously gorgeous in this picture. And Robert Wagner and Hamilton are pretty easy on the yes as well. So, when the story gets to be too much, just enjoy the view!
I wish that Wood and Wagner had more screen time together in this film (and that they ended up together), but that's because I love RJ and Nat together as a couple under any circumstances (and believe me one has to love them unconditionally -- as their story lines and acting and accents don't feature either near the top of their talents).
Still, a brave story to undertake. Its bad/good and very interesting. I recommend it for having the guts to be ahead of its time.
Nancy J Ordinaryfool
I happened to see this film years ago in a sleepless night, zapping through some of the less commercial public canals we still had at the time in Europe. It really opened my soul because of the music included. I will not comment on the quality of the script or the acting of the young couple Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner; others can do better than I. But I like the slow pace, the melodramatic story, the dialogue lines that stay in your head, and - above all - I was thrilled by the singing and acting of Pearl Bailey as Ruby Jones. If ever you have to explain the feelings that gave rise to the blues, ahead of the ubiquitous slavery hardships and working in the cotton fields, then this movie is a 'must-see'. When Chad is in the lowest of spirits and ends up in a morning-after hang-out, he runs into this Ruby Jones, an alcoholic, but warm-hearted black singer. And she treats him with a song, unaccompanied, raw voice, that expresses his feelings so well, and gives him the idea he is not the only unhappy, lost man on this globe. I don't know if Mrs Bailey sung the track herself or was dubbed, but she succeeds in getting the blues feeling across as I've never heard thereafter. Same when later on in the movie she sings to Chad, playing the trumpet: "What am I heading for? Blues is knocking at my door". Alas! this song is spoiled by a dubbed in band and even background vocals if I remember well - anyhow, it takes away from the simplicity of just a singer and a "horn player" (as she puts it throughout the picture). The sad story of the twists and impossibilities of human relationships is to me more real-life than most of the soapy Hollywood plots that come to us by shiploads these days. Endearing, that's probably the word that says it all.
A very interesting soaper, certainly much better than the Maltin review gives it credit for. The sharp dialogue is probably its best feature; the characters say things very bluntly and pseudo-honestly, like people struggling to be clever when they know, as members of a "postmodern" generation, that it's all been said before and they are doomed to re-enact old cliches themselves. They understand their own ailments and continually refer to how spoiled, afraid and enervated they are. Plot is in territory similar to "Splendor in the Grass" (love is a sickness you grow out of and can eventually re-create where you have settled) but it's real subject is how restless, discontented people spread their unhappiness around, and how this is symptomatic of these modern times. Despite Wagner playing trumpet (he does not make any attempt to sound like Chet Baker, although he IS pretty) and Pearl imitating Billie Holiday (down to a performance of "God Bless the Child") with some unfortunate prescience before Holiday's death, this is not really a music film. It's like a delayed "beat" movie that should have been made in the 50s. (Hollywood is always some years behind.) 40 years later, we needn't worry whether it seems out of date; time has been kind to this film.
**SPOILERS** With no money and no future to look forward to a young
couple from the dirt-poor Texas town of Pine Alley Chad Bixby & Sarah
"Salome" Davis, Robert Wagner & Natalie Wood, went out in the world to
find a better life for themselves. With his abusive father, the town's
minister, passing away Chad felt that he can now do what he wanted to
do for so long pay his horn and marry Salome. Things got a bit strained
when Salome turned out to be pregnant with Chad being the father of her
Salome running away from home runs into Yale Ivy Leaguer Tony McDowell, George Hamilton,on a train going north. Tony on summer vacation had met Salome earlier back in Deep Elem, the black part of the town of Pine Valley, under not the best of circumstances.
Not having any money and with Tony having a slight acquaintance with Salome he pays her way to ride with him to New Haven Connecticut. During that long ride up north they fall in love with each other. Salome and Tony getting married and settling down soon have a new member of the McDowell family a son Peter, what Tony doesn't know is that Peter is not really his son but Chad's.
Chad meanwhile back in the sticks strikes up a friendship with the burnt out former jazz great Ruby Jones, Pearl Bailey, who since her husband left her for a younger women, as well as took all her money,is slowly drinking herself to death. It's Chad concern and compassion for her that gave Ruby a new lease on life as well as it gave Chad the opportunity to show his talents as a jazz musician. In no time at all Chad made it big in the Big Apple's,New York city, nightclub scene.
Salome now happily married and with a young child gets the news from her sister-in-law Catherine, Susan Kohner, about Clad's success in the music world. Salome talks Tony into going to New York in order to see his act which in the end opens up the old wounds, that both Salome & Chad had from their failed and sorrowful relationship back in Texas.
Big budget soap opera that has both Chad and Salome trying to get even and hurt each other, over what happened between them back in Texas. In the end only hurting those who were nothing more then innocent bystanders as well as the only one's that really and truly loved and cared for them.
Chad marries Catherine just to get back at Salome for leaving him. Cathy is driven to where she almost ends up killing herself by Chad's, being so obsessed to hurt Salome, total disregard for her and the love that she genuinely had for him. Salome is also guilt-ridden over the fact that her and Tony's son Peter isn't really Tony's and feels that if he ever found out the truth it would end up killing him. Clad is also hit with the double tragedy of Ruby dying from the effects of alcoholism and it's her sudden, but not unexpected death, that finally brings him back to earth in not just realizing what he did to Salome but what he did to his wife Cathy as well. When Tony is finally told by Salome the truth about their son Peter it hits him so hard that for a moment you would have thought that he would walk right in the middle of the highway in front of a speeding 18 wheeler and end it all.
The movie "All the Fine Young Cannibals" does in fact have a happy ending that in it's own way counterbalances all the depressing aspects that are in the film up until then. Not as bad as you would think it would be from all the bad reviews that it got "All the Fine Young Cannibals" may be a bit too depressing to take at first but the cast does it's best to keep it both interesting and poignant. The ending, though a bit too artificial, didn't hurt the storyline that much in it's attempt to right all the wrongs that were in it at the conclusion of the movie.
Anderson's movie is derivative.It looks like lite Douglas Sirk: the
spoiled kid sister (played by Susan Kohner who worked with Sirk) is not
unlike Marylee (Dorothy Malone) in "Written on the wind" ;besides
,Ruby's funeral will fatally make you think of that of Annie in
"Imitation of life" ,a black choir singing "Free at last" replacing
Mahalia Jackson.The screenwriters also borrow from Kazan's "splendor in
the grass" as far as the two leads' fate is concerned.And the baby
trick was used a hundred times or more in the thirties and forties
melodramas (notably Bette Davis' "the big lie" and "the old maid"
;Olivia De Havilland' s "to each his own").
Having said this,one must credit Natalie Wood for making the best of the stereotyped part of a go-getter;Robert Wagner's moody looks work wonders too when he plays the trumpet and in the scene when he backs Pearl Bailey's impressive vocals.
This is the kind of movie they don't do anymore;this is the kind of story which could go on and on and on and on;in a word,it's the perfect soap opera ,and it still exists today in the form of the TV series.
Like this?try these.......
Peyton Place Mark Robson 1957
Imitation of life Douglas Sirk 1959
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember seeing (and taping) this movie off of Superchannel one
night. It was part of a "Natalie Wood Double Feature", and it was
followed by "Love With The Proper Stranger", and, being a die-hard fan
of her, I wasn't about to pass this one up.
This film seems, initially, as a soapy, over-the-top, melodramatic feature like many movies of the time. However, if you can overlook the flaws, you will find it very interesting and rewarding. The original attraction of this movie was, for me, the early on-screen teaming of real-life couple Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Wood was apparently worried as to whether Wagner could handle a dramatic role, and in retrospect she was justified in that concern. Wagner is more of a personality than an actor, and his performance as the sullen musician comes across as stiff. And Wood's southern accent can be distracting at times - her pronunciation of her lover's name, "Chaad" can get a bit grating! That aside, the most interesting aspects of the story happen later, after Sarah/Salome becomes pregnant by Chad, leaves her overbearing, zealous-nut father and her stifling, confining home life and meets up with Tony McDowall.
Her vulnerability and his love for her helped sustain my interest, as did the character of Catherine, Tony's spoiled, bored and man-hungry sister. Pearl Bailey also scores points for her portrayal of the down-on-her-luck, boozing blues singer Ruby Jones. In fact, Wagner's Chad has the best relationship and chemistry with her. When Chad reappears in Salome's life, of course that adds to the tension within the plot. After a while, though, I couldn't understand how Salome could still tolerate him (especially when he marries Catherine out of spite), and I don't get why Tony didn't suspect that the baby was not his (ever think of doing the math, Tone?) The character of Tony, for me, is one of the most sympathetic. His love and concern for Salome, his devotion to Catherine and to little Peter, makes him much more emotionally reachable.(Why didn't Salome realize that she loved him earlier?). Chad only speaks of Peter as if the boy is his property, and doesn't seem to care about his welfare, only revenge on Salome. Granted, she should have told him that she married someone else and that she was passing off the child as her husband's. You can almost feel Salome's longing for Chad, but I don't know how she could pine for him with Tony lying right next to her! When it comes right down to it, I couldn't tear myself away, even now, a few years later after I first saw it, it has some sentimental value. I was already a fan of Natalie, but I barely knew George Hamilton existed before - although was interested after! - and I developed a great respect not only for Wood but also Susan Kohner, who deserved a longer career. Fun little bit of trivia : Did you know that Susan and George had made a film together before this and that at one point, they were engaged? The music makes the moody, longing tone of the film - in fact, it's one of the highlights. And if you enjoyed it, see the 1959 version of "Imitation Of Life" starring Lana Turner, Sandra Dee, John Gavin and Susan Kohner. I recommend "All The Fine Young Cannibals" to adventurous viewers who are willing to take the risk. See if you can tear your eyes away!
If you're looking for happy moments, then this isn't
your film. The problems grow and grow and you never
see a solution for them. Under my point of view, it's not
bad film, but the story hasn't got a message and it's
so sad that the only way
to enjoy the film is by appreciating the acting,
the directing, etc...
My rating is 7 out of 10
This film suffers from most of the shortcomings mentioned in many of the comments above. Nevertheless, it's worth watching for two principal reasons: The breath-taking, youthful beauty of Natalie Woods, the most beautiful young woman I've ever seen, and the performance of Pearl Bailey, a fascinating personality and a marvelous actress and singer. Sadly, Pearl doesn't get to sing nearly enough (2 blues songs), but her part alone was decently written, and she acquits herself quite well in the meaty role. Wagner does a creditable job despite having to recite the idiotic and banal lines of his character, and the others are passable at best. Hamilton is borderline OK and Kohner munches the scenery something awful in most of her scenes. Were it not for Woods' stunning beauty and Bailey's excellent work, this one would truly stink.
You see the provocative title ALL THE FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS. Then you
see the cast; NATALIE WOOD, ROBERT WAGNER, PEARL BAILEY and you think,
this one's going to be good !
Very glossy with obviously decent production values hardly compensates for this awful movie. Four young and very attractive actors (WOOD, WAGNER, HAMILTON & KOHNER) interact with one another in over the top soap opera that has got to be one of the most unnecessary melodramas of all time. Actresses (NATALIE WOOD & SUSAN KOHNER) are gorgeous and dressed and coiffed to the nines thanks to Helen Rose and Sydney Guilaroff, but they almost come across like little girls in dress up as you watch them wallow in miseries of their own making. WAGNER tries too hard as hip trumpet player who is befriended by PEARL BAILEY, an alcoholic singer hellbent on self-destruction over a lost love. All involved must have thought that they were making something 'cutting edge' because of the relationship of white boy WAGNER with black woman BAILEY. WAGNER evens gets to get on a soapbox, slap KOHNER afters she refers to BAILEY'S character 'Ruby' as the 'N' word and then describe the black woman as the only truly decent person he's ever known ! Aside from the visual richness of the film, you'll quickly realize that the story is so apparently vacuous that it's like witnessing a vicious circle in motion.
TRIVIA : The piano player 'Redd' is none other than REDD FOXX, a good dozen years before the success
Utterly silly melodrama, adapted by Robert Thom from Rosamond Marshall's book "The Bixby Girls", plays like bad Tennessee Williams. Robert Wagner is alternately sullen and constipated as Texas trumpet-player who finds success in New York City; pregnant girlfriend Natalie Wood (Wagner's wife in real-life) ends up there too, and eventually their paths cross again. Unlikely, overripe star-laden product has some good jazz music to its credit, nice production design, but precious little else. Natalie tries hard, Pearl Bailey gets to belt out two numbers, but the dopey dialogue and characters sinks this one like a stone. *1/2 from ****
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